Officials break ground for school projects
Nearly 18 months after Lansing school district voters approved a bond issue for a new elementary school and high school auditorium, district officials joined community leaders and schoolchildren in turning ceremonial dirt for the project.
"This is a wonderful day for the Lansing community, and it's an even better day for the kids in Lansing," School Board president Shelly Gowdy told a crowd of about 40 people gathered at the site of the new auditorium.
School bond projects groundbreaking
About 40 people gathered in light rain on Thursday, Sept. 21, at Lansing High School to commemorate the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Lansing Elementary School and LHS auditorium.
The ceremony, Thursday, Sept. 21, commemorated the start of construction on the $23.6 million in bond projects approved by voters in April 2005.
Rainshowers moved the groundbreaking from the elementary school site on West Mary Street to the high school. And school officials canceled plans for more than 600 Lansing Elementary School students to attend.
With sprinkles falling, Lansing School Board members wielded the first turns at the ceremonial gold shovels.
They were then joined by local dignitaries, including Lansing Mayor Kenneth Bernard, Lansing City Council members, bond supporters and Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce board members.
Bernard thanked voters for recognizing the need "to keep the education in this community on a top scale."
"I will assure you that the City Council well realizes that education is one of the primary legs of economic development," he said.
Accompanied by their parents, a handful of children also attended the ceremony. They, too, had an opportunity to dig in the muck.
Later, some of the children released red and white balloons into the damp air.
Reclining in his carrier, 4-month-old Lansing resident Lucien Rader soaked up the celebration.
His parents, Bret and Susan Rader, said they were there to show their support for the school district and also because their daughter, Lansing Intermediate School fourth-grader Lily Rader, asked them to attend.
Bret Rader attended the Lansing schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. He and daughter Lily even had the same kindergarten teacher, Jean Salmon.
A former member of the LES Site Council, Bret Rader said he looked forward to seeing his family benefit from the improvements.
"Our daughter's education has been outstanding here," Susan Rader added.
Gowdy asked the crowd for patience during the projects - especially at the high school, where construction is expected to reduce parking and impede traffic flow.
"But in the end, this is gonna be a fantastic addition for our community and for our kids," she said.
McPherson Contractors and its subcontractors began work on the projects earlier this month.
Bond supporters and board members originally expected construction to be finished by August 2007. Completion dates are now estimated at Dec. 10, 2007, for the elementary school and high school band room, and Jan. 15, 2008, for the high school auditorium.
Gowdy said she knew it had taken longer than some had anticipated getting the project off the ground.
But, she said, the school board needed that extra time to ensure it could deliver what it had promised voters in the bond campaign.
Superintendent Randal Bagby said he wished the rain hadn't kept most of the schoolchildren away, but there would be an opportunity for the school to celebrate en masse later, possibly at the opening of the new school.
Bagby said he was most looking forward to the day when construction would be completed at both sites and the community could watch performances in the high school auditorium.
For now, he's appreciating the groundbreaking he's awaited since he came to the district two years ago.
"It feels very good," he said.