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New Berkeley County Board of Education gets to work

July 02, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
  • The new Berkeley County Board of Education was sworn in during a special meeting Thursday night in Martinsburg, W.Va. Pictured, from left, are board president Bill Queen, newcomer Ron Gray, Rick Pill, Todd Beckwith and newcomer Darin L. Gilpin.
Photo by Matthew Umstead,

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A newly organized Berkeley County Board of Education on Thursday delved into familiar work -- school construction -- in their first regular meeting.

In a unanimous vote, the board authorized the school district to negotiate with Triad Engineering to perform geotechnical engineering services at the future high school site on the Spring Mills educational campus.

"It's important that we take care of this in a timely fashion," Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II told board members, four of whom were sworn in by the superintendent in a special statutory meeting on Thursday.

Arvon said this week that he hoped to bid the site work in the next four to six weeks, with the goal having the construction bid in late fall.

The geotechnical work done in advance allows for changes to the building footprint if the engineering firm discovers something in the construction site area, such as substantial rock or sinkholes, Arvon explained after the meeting.

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Triad Engineering was the only firm to express interest in negotiating a contract with the school district for the work, Arvon said. If the fees for service proposed is not acceptable, the school board was assured they could re-advertise the work.

The county's fourth high school is on track to open in August 2013, Arvon said in an interview this week.

The new primary school already under construction at the Spring Mills campus is about 40 percent complete, Arvon said.

Last month, Minghini's General Contractors Inc. in Martinsburg was awarded a $3.8 million general contracting bid to build two, 20-classroom additions at Musselman High School and Martinsburg North Middle School.

Separate packages awarded for utility and furnishing the additions increased the school district's total outlay for the two projects to $7,396,823.50, which Arvon said was "excellent."

Both projects are to be complete by August 2011, Arvon said.

New board member Darin L. Gilpin said he was excited to be sworn in on Thursday and was looking forward to his first term on the board.

"A lot of good things are happening, building the new schools and things are going in the right direction," Gilpin said. "Hopefully (we will) try to continue in that direction."

J. Ronald "Ron" Gray, who was elected in May to finish the unexpired four-year term of William "Bill" Norris, said serving on the board is something he has wanted to do since retiring from teaching.

"It is a privilege and honor to be able to give back to the community, to the schools, to the kids," Gray said.

Incumbent board members Richard A. "Rick" Pill and Todd M. Beck, who easily won re-election in May, began their third and fifth, four-year terms respectively on Thursday.

William F. Queen was elected by fellow board members to serve as board president, a post he held last year.

Pill was elected vice-president, a post he has held since Norris resigned earlier this year to run for the new five-member Berkeley County Council, which replaces the three-member County Commission.

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