HomeNewsJMCSS Board members tour Pope site

JMCSS Board members tour Pope site

The Jackson-Madison County School Board had a work session on Monday, March 18, before their monthly meeting the following Thursday.

One thing discussed during the meeting was an update on the construction of Pope School on Ashport Road.

But contractor Cary Henson of Henson Construction wasn’t there to make the presentation. That was done this time by Deputy Superintendent Ricky Catlett with input from some of the board members.

That’s because Henson and some of his crew took Catlett along with five board members – Jason Compton, Andre Darnell, Sherry Franks, James “Pete” Johnson and Harvey Walden through the project so far.

Walls for one section of the building are up, and they were able to walk down that hallway and begin to get a vision of what the school will look like, even if cinderblock walls are all that’s up with no roof yet.

“We got to walk down the hallway and finally see this coming together that so many people have been calling and advocating for for so long,” Franks said. “And it’s coming along. There’s obviously still a lot of work to do.”

The bulk of the discussion after that was about the off-site improvements, their cost and paying for them.

The off-site improvements required by the City of Jackson’s Board of Zoning Appeals are divided into four phases: A turn lane on Ashport in front of the school, a roundabout at the intersection of Ashport and Pleasant Plains Drive, widening Ashport and Old Humboldt Road at their intersection to add turning lanes to both roads and extending the right turn lane on Old Humboldt at the Highway 45 Bypass.

In the approved budget for the school, they earmarked $500,000 for offsite improvements, the turn lane on Ashport. The other three were brought to their attention in January of 2023 after the BZA had a traffic study done in the fall of 2022.

Most estimations for the turn lane are close to the budgeted $500,000, but Henson stops short of committing to that price because of supply costs.

“Mr. Henson wants to get in front of us at this month’s meeting to get the approval to take bids for the improvements to open those bids near the end of April, so we won’t have hard numbers on the cost until that process is done,” Catlett told the Board. He added that sewers and lines for Southwest Electirc, JEA, AT&T and other services need to be moved along with five light poles and some fire hydrants.

He added that Henson wants to be able to get the process started as soon as school is out for the summer so they can hopefully get all the construction done before school starts back in August to cut down on traffic detour concerns during the process.

“It was good to see the progress so far,” said Board Chairman James “Pete” Johnson. “Things are going well there, and hopefully the weather and everything will work out to where we can stay on schedule with that.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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