King and Queen County officials hope to build up their rural community in 2019.
The county and schools have several capital projects and small improvement projects on tap this year, including a fire-rescue station, a telecommunications center and renovation of the high school auditorium floor.
The county recently acquired land for a new fire-rescue station, which was approved for $400,000 in the county’s 2018-19 budget.
The site is on Route 14 just south of the courthouse on a 7 and a half acre lot.
“We expect to break ground and begin site work this spring,” said county administrator Thomas Swartzwelder. “The budget for the project will be refined as we put it out to bid and choose an engineer.”
The county has been working since last year with Virginia Department of Transportation to secure an engineering/architectural firm to build a telecommunications center.
The center will include 25 telecommuting work stations, 13 office spaces, parking for the building and a bus stop on a 3.5-acre site behind the farmers market on Route 33, according to Swartzwelder.
The center will act as a public portal for telecommuters or anyone who needs internet access in the county.
Swartzwelder said a construction time frame will be made after project leaders select a design company and a site plan.
The county courthouse recently unveiled a new paved parking lot, and new drains are being put in around the building. The county is considering other minor maintenance improvements to buildings, according to Swartzwelder.
The Board of Supervisors will review a proposal for the county’s comprehensive plan this month, an effort to look into the county’s economic needs and wants of the future, according to Swartzwelder.
“There is always a significant focus on economic development and several projects are anticipated this year,” Swartzwelder said. “Currently, a large solar project — Walnut Farms — has filed an application and plan for review. We have also received an application from Tucker’s Recreation Park for a significant expansion for recreation vehicle camping and supporting infrastructure.”
In terms of broadband service, the county is finalizing the cost of a new service tower, according to Swartzwelder.
“We are also looking at several other types of technology to deliver a fixed wireless solution to residents,” Swartzwelder said. “There are many moving parts to this project with permitting and new technology that delivers greater speeds at greater distances.”
King and Queen County Public Schools is finishing up its $1.5 million heating and air conditioning project at Central High School, according to Superintendent Carol Carter.
“We started doing the replacements this summer and are putting the finishing touches on the project,” Carter said.
Two other parts of the high school also are getting worked on: the auditorium floors in the auditorium and sections of the roof.
“We are replacing our hardwood floors and putting in new hardwood which has a cost of $15,000,” Carter said. “This will really just refresh the whole space.”
The project is out for bid and is expected to cost $50,000, according to Carter.
All three schools in the division will get a new telephone system and emergency lockdown buttons this year, according to Carter.
The current divisionwide telephone system is outdated and slow, and the new system will be faster and more effective. The system project is expected to cost just over $100,000, according to Carter.
The division recently received an $80,000 security grant from the Virginia Department of Education and will use the grant to place emergency lockdown buttons in central locations of the schools, according to Carter.
“With these buttons all of the interior doors will immediately lock,” Carter said. “The Department of Education funded two of the schools’ buttons with the grant, King and Queen Elementary and Central High, the Board of Supervisors funded the additional button at Lawson-Marriott Elementary for $24,000.”
The division plans to purchase two new buses in the spring for $80,000; as well as start planning a renovation project of all student bathrooms for up to $120,000, Carter said.
As for academic focuses and improvements, Carter said they are always looking to improve their Standards of Learning test scores, attendance and on time graduation rates.
As the division does not have a middle school, the school division has started experimenting with four teachers and core subjects for sixth and seventh graders at the elementary schools to model a middle school, according to Carter.
“We are always looking to provide more opportunities for our students,” Carter said. “Including identifying and guiding our gifted and English learning students.”
Review archives were used in this story.
Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, email@example.com or @ashleyrluck on Twitter.