News

Pride on parade at dedication ceremony

New schools shine for town that's had its share of struggles
By KEN ESTEN COOKE Reporter Publisher

From left: RISD Supt. Dr. Howell Wright presents a plaque to architect Tom Clements of Bay Architects; school board president James Birkhead, Citizens Committee leaders Jack Chelf and Ward Roddam helped drive bond vote for new schools; former Tiger State Champ football coach Fred Johnson and wife Martha made the trip from Burnet to see the dedication ceremony. From left: RISD Supt. Dr. Howell Wright presents a plaque to architect Tom Clements of Bay Architects; school board president James Birkhead, Citizens Committee leaders Jack Chelf and Ward Roddam helped drive bond vote for new schools; former Tiger State Champ football coach Fred Johnson and wife Martha made the trip from Burnet to see the dedication ceremony. Though most in attendance had already seen parts of the new high school, the pride was still high dur ing a dedication ceremony last Wednesday at the new front entrance of Rockdale High School.

Though one protester drove by slowly and yelled "...several million dollars" from his car, the mood in the crowd seemed to say, "Yes, and it was worth every penny."

The bond issue for a doubling of the high school, a new intermediate campus, an expansion at the junior high and improvements at the elementary totaled $28.8 million. But these first new school facilities in over a quarter century have lifted spirits in Rockdale.

"I just want to thank everyone involved with these new schools and tell you all that we are loving it!" intermediate campus principal Pam Kaufmann told the crowd.

Former Supt. Walter Pond said that through maintenance, the district was able to make 50-year-old facilities acceptable until a bond issue was passed.

Pond thanked Bay Architects, Southwest Milam Water Supply Corp., Collier Construction and others for helping with the project, which capped his 20-year tenure as RISD head. He also thanked his successor, Dr. Howell Wright, for taking charge after Pond's retirement last year.

School board president James Birkhead thanked everyone reaching back to the citizens committees that first discussed the need for new facilities.

"We decided that the facilities were so important we called a $28.8 million bond issue on May 12, 2007," Birkhead said. "Now, a little over two years later, we are enjoying this new facility today."

Birkhead said he remembered driving with then Supt. Pond and, while turning north onto Childress Drive, wondering what the new school entrance would look like.

Citizens committee heads Jack Chelf and Ward Roddam also spoke, remembering how some prioritized a new elementary campus, while others wanted high school improvements.

Chelf said the Collier Construction team were "good people," rewarding to work with.

Roddam said maintenance of the older buildings would have become a huge issue.

"Until I took a tour with (maintenance director) Gerry Mitchan, I had no clue of the issues we had deep down," Roddam said of the buildings. "But we are proud of these new facilities and proud of the quality image it gives to visitors."

Chad Jones, two-year principal at RHS, said he feels like someone who walks in late to Thanksgiving dinner, carries out the food, then gets the credit.

Jones and Kaufmann also cut the ribbons for the new high school and intermediate campus. And both praised the new facilities, claiming that even discipline problems have dropped as students take pride in their new facilities.

Rockdale Intermediate School student Andres Luna, along with Brady Nelson and Lilly Schweitzer, helped pass out appreciation plaques to school trustees. Rockdale Intermediate School student Andres Luna, along with Brady Nelson and Lilly Schweitzer, helped pass out appreciation plaques to school trustees. Reporter photos/Ken Esten Cooke Trustees, construction officials, faculty gather as Intermediate School Principal Pam Kaufmann and students Brady Nelson, Andres Luna and Lilly Schweltzer cut ribbon for new school. Reporter photos/Ken Esten Cooke Trustees, construction officials, faculty gather as Intermediate School Principal Pam Kaufmann and students Brady Nelson, Andres Luna and Lilly Schweltzer cut ribbon for new school. Architect, trustees, faculty gather as school board president James Birkhead, RHS Principal Chad MILLER-Jones cut ribbon to dedicate new high school facility. Architect, trustees, faculty gather as school board president James Birkhead, RHS Principal Chad MILLER-Jones cut ribbon to dedicate new high school facility.


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2009-11-26 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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