District breaks ground at site of newest school
Farmland that Basehor resident Jerry Mussett has cultivated for 65 years is about to undergo a major change.
And he couldn't be happier to have a front row seat to watch the progress.
Basehor-Linwood School District officials, board members, teachers, patrons, students, Basehor residents and city employees gathered on the farmland Monday evening for the long-awaited groundbreaking ceremony for the Basehor third- through fifth-grade intermediate school.
"I would like to thank all of those present for bringing us to this historic event," school board vice president Dayna Miller said in the opening remarks of the ceremony.
A long gravel construction road runs from just south of 155th and Hickory streets and winds between Mussett's house and barn and out into a field that has been in Mussett's family since his grandfather bought the land in 1915. Soybeans still stretch as far as the eye can see today, but soon it will transform into not only a school, but the heart of an improved downtown Basehor through the development of Basehor Town Center.
All the elements seemed to come together last year when the school district was trying to put together a bond issue and Affinity Development was negotiating with the Mussetts and the city of Basehor on the plans for Basehor Town Center. Jerry and his wife, Ruth, decided to donate 10 acres to the school district for a new school.
"We being ever so gracious said 'thank you very much, but could you make it 12 acres,'" Superintendent Bob Albers said, receiving a laugh from the audience. "We thank you from the bottom of our hearts," he continued as the audience stood up to show their appreciation.
Not only will some of Mussett's grandchildren attend the new school as the fourth generation to attend Basehor-Linwood schools, but the vested interest in the district is even greater. His grandfather and father were both members of the school board, he said, and his father-in-law was the principal of Basehor High School in the 1930s and Ruth was a library aide in the district for 10 years.
"It's going to be pretty neat," he said. "The roots run pretty deep."
Albers acknowledged the people involved in the process such as the members of the facility planning committee, steering committee and "vote yes" committee involved in the concept, planning and voter awareness stages; Basehor Elementary School principal Teri Boyd who led planning meetings and Chris Claflin, construction supervisor who continues to oversee all projects; design and construction partners Affinity Development, Horst Terrill and Karst Architects, McPherson Contractors, Level 4 Engineers and the city of Basehor; school board members, school district staff and of course, patron voters.
"This is a very special day for all of us, but it is a truly special day for the students of the Basehor-Linwood School District and future students of the Basehor Intermediate School," Albers said.
Members of the school board donned hard hats and Jerry Mussett passed out golden shovels to several young students to turn over the first shovels of dirt at the site.
The sixth grade choir performed "Your Life is Now" before Assistant Superintendent David Howard made closing remarks. Howard, who will become superintendent next year when Albers retires and oversees the construction and occupation of the new district buildings, began by recognizing Albers for his role in initiating the bond projects.
"His experience and leadership were truly instrumental in making this project happen," Howard said about Albers.
Howard also credited the students of the district for inspiring the district to explore these opportunities.
"This vision, this future school is for you," he said.