MOULTRIE -- Local contractors remain in the forefront on securing Colquitt County Schools' renovation projects.

Tuesday, the county school board awarded JCI General Contracting, Inc. of Moultrie the project for the total renovation of Willie J. Williams Middle School. JCI was the lowest bidder at $7.197 million.

Colquitt County Schools Superintendent Leonard McCoy described it as one of the more satisfying bids in his 18 years as a superintendent. The state legislature approved $5.9 million in allocations for this project, which should be done by August 2006, McCoy said.

"The neat thing about this project is that it will have no effect on ongoing school," he said.

Barber Construction, another local contractor that lost out on the Williams Middle School bid by $666,000, should complete the second phase of renovations at Hamilton Elementary before the end of summer, so students will "return going to a virtually new school," McCoy said.

JCI also is the contractor for renovations at Cox Elementary and C.A. Gray Middle School. Cox renovations will be complete before school starts. The school will have a brand new building and the older wings will be completely renovated. Portable classrooms will be removed, but the parking lot likely won't be finished, Facilities Director Rick Gehle said. Gray should be finished around the end of the year, he said.

Bids for renovations at R.B. Wright and Sunset elementary schools will be opened June 23, a few months behind schedule, with construction to begin shortly after the school board picks a contractor, McCoy said. Construction on these campuses will continue through next school year. No mobile units will be required at either school, Gehle said.

Gehle said the plan is to first work on the entranceway and parking lots, especially at Sunset, to get them ready for the start of school.

Construction projects at Okapilco and Odom elementary schools will be bid out in Spring 2006 for work to start the following summer.

Site preparation for the 214-acre site off Veterans Parkway, part of which will be a sports complex, has begun in the past week. Gehle said he wasn't sure if the ballfields will be ready for baseball season next spring.

"We've got a lot of earth to move," he said.

Barber Construction landed the contract for sandblasting and painting bleachers at Mack Tharpe Stadium next to Williams Middle School and building a new press box. The school system will improve the field house and building at the new practice field. That work is scheduled to finish before football season this fall, McCoy said.

"When it comes to facility construction, I doubt that there's few in the State of Georgia -- any school system of our size -- that have the volume of work that's been going on and is planned for the future than we do. Our facilities were very outdated. It's a pleasure to be a part of bringing about those improvements. We're generally staying on schedule, and our bids coming in within budget," the superintendent said.

"Conceivably, when it's all said and done, every school will be completely modernized and up to date and should last for the next 50 years. The last time they had any significant improvement was 50 years ago when they were built," Gehle said.

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