First Posted: 12/28/2009
DOBSON Recent construction projects are allowing Surry County Schools to discontinue use of mobile classrooms, and now the system is exploring the disposal of structures criticized by many over the years.
Educational officials have offered Surry County government a first crack at acquiring any of the 12 mobile classroom units expected to be available at the end of the 2009-10 school year. This would allow a new public purpose for facilities previously filled with students.
Ive grown to hate those things, Commissioner Jim Harrell Jr. of Elkin said of mobile units added at various county campuses in recent decades as an alternative to costlier permanent classroom construction.
A building program under way recently has helped meet a goal of phasing out mobile units, which are unpopular among parents and others, with 40 of the structures targeted for elimination as a result.
I dont want to see them again, Harrell said last week when he and other commissioners discussed the 12 units soon to be available for sale or other disposition as a result of projects at several campuses recently.
Yet, possible new uses by the county government were suggested, including having one of the former mobile classrooms being converted into a shop facility for its maintenance staff. Officials were told that each is equipped with a heating unit, but no restroom facilities.
Storage was another possibility suggested by county officials, who were given the opportunity by school leaders earlier this month to request those units before they are offered for sale to the general public.
While the mobile units would not cost the county government anything, the expense of moving one from a school to a new location is $7,000 to $9,000, based on discussion at last weeks meeting.
The commissioners agreed to explore the re-use of the mobile facilities among the various county departments, with a final tally of possibilities to be prepared for consideration for a later meeting.
Commissioner Craig Hunter said he was OK with that plan, but questioned which entity would receive funds from any surplus sales of the units: the county government or school system. Hunter suggested that it should be the county since were the ones who paid for it, he added of their installation.
But County Attorney Edwin Woltz said the mobile units do not constitute real property such as land, which ultimately is owned by Surrys government.
Hunter said he would like to see any of the structures acquired by the county government to be painted and otherwise improved in terms of appearance.
In other recent activity regarding facilities, Surrys commissioners have given unanimous approval to an agreement under which a Charlotte firm will study ways of saving energy in the countys buildings and infrastructure.
The cost of the performance agreement with Johnson Controls Inc. is $62,000. This will cover a detailed evaluation study of structures, equipment and operating procedures to identify potential strategies for improving efficiency and reducing costs.
But under terms of the pact, the county will not have to pay the $62,000 if it agrees to enter into an implementation agreement within 60 days after receiving the study results. Another provision that will eliminate the payment is if the projected benefits of the arrangement do not offset the cost of the project with a payback period of 15 years or less.
As part of the implementation of the improvements and efficiency measures, a written savings guarantee would be provided by Johnson Controls in accordance with state legislation governing guaranteed energy-savings contracts.
Both County Manager Dennis Thompson and Woltz, the county attorney, recommended the commissioners approval of the final agreement for the evaluation study.
Paul Johnson, chairman of the board, believes federal stimulus money could be available to help make facilities in Surry County more energy-efficient as it proceeds with measures identified through the new agreement.
Landfill Space Secure
One thing Surry officials will not have to worry about in the near future is the availability of landfill space.
A disclosure that the county landfill operation now has enough capacity for another 10 years was made last week when the commissioners discussed a new operating permit being granted to Surry County by a state agency.
The permit issued by the N.C. Division of Waste Management in late November covers a recent expansion at the waste facility, located on SR 2015 about four miles southeast of Mount Airy, as well as older sections of the landfill.
Jerry Snow, the countys public works director, told the commissioners last week that they wont have to worry about developing more landfill space for at least eight to 10 years, counting planning time for the effort.
A permit to construct the latest phase of the landfill operation had been granted by the state in September 2008.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.