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Old Wesson school project progressing

Despite a number of rainy days in November and December, workhas gotten under way and progressed well at the Old Wesson School,according to construction officials working on the renovation ofthe 1839 building.

“It’s coming along and we’re doing the best we can with theweather we’ve had,” said Jan Scarbrough of Scarbrough ConstructionCompany, which has been contracted out for the renovation.

Scarbrough said construction crews had made some headway instarting a number of projects that will span the next few months aspreparation begins for the St. Ambrose Leadership College to takeresidence in the building on Eighth Street.

The leadership school will offer a unique learning experiencefor about 30 of the state’s most outstanding male high schoolgraduates, beginning in 2004 or 2005.

Prior to the school’s opening, the Old Wesson School will haveto undergo a multi-million dollar renovation through grants andother funding secured by town officials, school administrators andstate representatives.

The first step in securing the building will be the addition ofa new roof to protect the school, which was listed on theDepartment of Archives and History most endangered places list forMississippi last year.

“We’ve been taking the old roof off and getting ready for themodified rubber, commercial roof,” said Scarbrough. “It will be agood roof.”

Several areas in and around the school were cleaned up duringthe first week of work. The towers of the two-story building havealso been cleared out in preparation for the renovation. Thestairwells in the towers had become inaccessible over the yearsfrom dilapidation.

Scarbrough believes the good start has the first phase of therenovation project on target to be completed within the 210 daysallotted for the initial work.

“We’re also redoing windows when we can’t work outside, andwe’re making sure everything is restored all in accordance withMississippi (Department of) Archives and History,” saidScarbrough.

Partial funding for the renovation of the approximately 80windows or doors in the school will come from citizens andbusinesses “adopting” an opening for $500 each. Wesson Mayor BillTigner has already secured funding for several of the windows, andhopes the contributions continue as the school begins to takeshape.

A plaque will recognize each contributor once the school isopen, said Tigner.