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Facilities nearing completion: New gyms take shape in the county

Completion of the new gymnasiums at Bogue Chitto and Enterprise Attendance Centers is set for August – well ahead of the Bobcats’ and Yellow Jackets’ next basketball season, according to Lincoln County School District Superintendent Terry Brister.

Construction began on the new gymnasiums after the board accepted bids by Paul Jackson and Sons Inc. on June 25, 2012, after months of declining offers from other bidders.

The cost was set at $2.6 million for Enterprise and $2.7 million for Bogue Chitto.

Brister said funding for the construction came from years of careful budgeting and setting money back given by the state.

“This is a process that has been accumulating over the last eight or nine years,” he said. “This didn’t happen yesterday.”

He continued, “When we are given money from the state, it’s up to the district at that point to earmark those funds for transportation costs, curriculum, salaries and construction.”

According to Brister, the decision to build new gyms at the two county schools was based on circumstances pertaining to the individual campuses as well as a similar determinant.

“These buildings are going to serve not only as gymnasiums but auditoriums for special events, assembly programs or whatever is needed in the community,” he said. “Now we can have graduation inside in a comfortable situation.”

Enterprise Principal Shannon Eubanks agreed with Brister’s initiative.

“This will allow me to have all my student meetings, pep rallies, etc.,” Eubanks said. “The old gym was not designed for our size.”

The new gyms at Enterprise and Bogue Chitto are identical with obvious exception of the trim color and are designed to seat more than 1,000 people.

At Enterprise, a primary factor in building a new gym was to provide a venue to expand the cafeteria facilities in the renovated old gym.

“We’re at the point where something has to be done,” Brister said. “Our kitchens and serving areas are not efficient for what we are trying to do.”

“We decided to leave the cafeteria centrally located,” Brister continued. “If we had to build a new cafeteria right now we would have to move it way back. After looking at all the costs, we decided the most financially feasible thing to do was to renovate the old gym.”

At Bogue Chitto, Brister explained the option of renovation would be too costly based on foundation issues and the opinions from architects and engineers from two different companies.

Loyd Star Attendance Center’s gym will also be seeing some upgrades. Representatives from Dungan Engineering are currently in the process of drawing out plans and blue prints for renovations. Brister said the cost or time of completion has not yet been determined, as the board has not accepted any bids yet for the construction.

Brister emphasized that these efforts would not be possible without the careful financial management of the district.

“This is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our business manager Cheryl Shelby and the board,” he said.