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Site Preparation Begins at New Spanish Fort High School

Mon January 05, 2004 - Southeast Edition
Beverly B. Nichols

Site preparation for a $12.8 million high school is under way in Spanish Fort, AL, a city incorporated only 10 years ago. The school is to open in 2005.

The Baldwin County Board of Education arranged for the funding, which comes from both public money and private donations. The 116,729-sq.-ft. (10,848 sq m) high school will initially hold a student body of 800 with the possibility of accommodating 1,500 students.

Rod Cook Construction Inc., Mobile, AL, is the head contractor on the project, and Russell Arnette is the general superintendent.

Site work began in August and, according to Arnette, has been on schedule.

“One of our ongoing challenges has been the protection of the wet lands that surround us on three sides,” he said. “We’ve installed a mile-long silt fence to protect them from the dirt being moved or from dirt being washed away by storms.”

Arnette said that so far crews have moved more than 100,000 cu. yds. (76,000 cu m) of dirt.

“Much of the dirt came from a hill on the property that had to be topped.The dirt from that hill is being recycled as fill for other areas,” he said, noting that only .5 acres (.2 ha) of wetland required filling.

Numerous pieces of equipment are operating at the site. As leveling continues, three excavators –– two John Deere and a Komatsu –– load dirt into Volvo A25 articulated trucks.

A-1 Backhoe, Wilmer, AL, is the subcontractor for dirt removal and leveling. Once site preparation is complete, Alford Construction Inc., also of Wilmer, will erect the structural steel.

The single-level school’s design will use simple, classic lines in keeping with the old Spanish style seen throughout the area, according to the office of David Volkert & Associates, the architectural firm in charge of the building’s design.

One of the school’s more innovative aspects is the air-conditioning system that uses the earth’s consistent temperature of 65 to 70 degrees fahrenheit to cool the refrigerant, keeping the interior climate comfortable throughout the year.

Arnette has a force of 35 employees working six days a week at the site. In the upcoming months, that number will increase to as many as 100 people as the actual construction of the school begins.

Not a stranger to supervising school construction, Arnette oversaw the building of J.E. Turner Elementary School in Mobile County, AL, in 2002. That same year, he managed the structural aspect of Menton Graphics at the University of Southern Alabama’s research park.

In 1993, Spanish Fort, AL, was incorporated as a city with fewer than 900 votes.

Since then, the city has doubled in size, growing initially at a rate of two families per week. By 2000, the population had increased by 33 percent to 5,423. Growth from annexations has expanded the city limits to a radius of 12 miles and it continues to expand.

-"Baldwin Register"

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