Kindergartners and fifth-graders donned hardhats and eagerly dug into the ground with golden shovels near the entrance of Colham Ferry Elementary last Friday during a ceremony symbolizing the start of construction work at the school.
The children were surrounded by Oconee County Schools officials, Chamber of Commerce members, and representatives from Bowen and Watson Inc., the company recently selected to serve as construction manager-at-risk for the renovation projects that will take place over the next two summers.
"We're very excited about it -- the paint on the wall and ceilings, the carpets-- all something that we need and are excited about it," Principal Keith Carter said. He motioned to the children. " This is why we're here, this is what we do. We love our students, we love our school."
"It's always a challenge to renovate a school, especially when it's condensed into a summer renovation," Dutton said following the ceremony. "We're up to the challenge."
Bowen and Watson will be advertising through media and the school district's website to encourage local participation in the form of subcontractors and vendors. The company's commitment to supporting the local economy factored into the recommendation that it be awarded the contract, school officials said last week.
"Not only do we welcome local participation, but we demand it and require it," Dutton said.
Over next couple of months, plans will be finalized for Phase One. Construction is slated to begin by mid-May and conclude by Aug 1, according to Dutton. Phase Two will take place the following summer.