UPDATE: Transition Plans Set for New Huntington East Middle School

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 10/3/12 @ 11:05 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Students will head to the new Huntington East Middle School for the first time after their 2013 Christmas break.

During a school board meeting Tuesday night, plans were shown for the transition of students and teachers into the new school.

Construction on the new middle school started nearly a year ago. The project has a $22 million price tag and Cabell County School officials tell WSAZ.com it is on track to be the most environmentally-friendly school in the state of West Virginia.

According to the timeline, packing at Enslow and Beverly Hills Middle Schools will begin in Spring of 2013 and the move will begin during Summer break.

Construction on the building is set to be completed by September 30, 2013. Once the work is complete, teacher will pack their final boxes and move into the school over Christmas break 2013.

The school is being built on the old University Heights property along U.S. 60 in Huntington. The location was of much debate leading up to construction, because of a historic building that was located on the lot. But, in the ultimate truce, the district got to demolish the former West Virginia Colored Children's Home and in return leave a rich history that otherwise may have been lost.

January 6, 2014 will be the first day of school for students at the new environmentally-friendly school.

UPDATE 11/3/11 @ 7:30 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Construction crews are prepping the site for the new Huntington East Middle School in Cabell County.

After months of working through eminent domain and preservation issues, the former University Heights property is slowly but surely transforming into what will be the new site for a consolidated school of Enslow and Beverly Hills Middle.

The project has a $22 million dollar price tag and Cabell County School officials tell WSAZ.com it is on track to be the most environmentally-friendly school in the state of West Virginia.

"We'll have exterior lighting that'll be solar lighting, a rain collection basin to reuse that water to flush toilets, monitors in each wing so kids can monitor the utility usage and have competitions. It'll be a learning laboratory," Michael O'Dell said.

They say Cabell County 911 has been contacted to make a brand new road leading up to the school.

All the prep work is expected to be completed by the end of the year, weather permitting

The project is about a year behind schedule because the legal tie up;
The goal is for the school to be finished by summer of 2013.

UPDATE 4/20/11 @ 10:55 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A company has been chosen for demolition at the former University Heights property in Huntington where a new middle school will be built.

At Tuesday night's school board meeting, the board approved a $1.497 million bid with Atlantic Plant Services, Inc. from Huntington.

The bid now must be accepted by the West Virginia School Building Authority, who is providing funding for the school project.

Jedd Flowers with Cabell County Schools tells WSAZ.com they plan to start asbestos abatement in May and hope they'll be able to start the demolition soon after.

As of now, the first building to be demolished will be the former West Virginia Colored Children's Home, Flowers says.

Flowers tells WSAZ.com they hope construction on the new school can start in August. They expect it to last a year and a half to two years, with a projected opening date of August 2013.

The new school will be called Huntington East Middle School and will be a consolidated school of Enslow and Beverly Hills Middle.

UPDATE 4/5/11
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Cabell County’s new middle school now has a name.

Tuesday night, Board of Education members decided that Huntington East Middle School will be the name for the new consolidated Enslow and Beverly Hills Middle School.

The school mascot will be a bear, and the colors will be purple and white.

"You've got a brand new name though it's a name with tradition and some pride in the area so that's nice,” said Todd Alexander.

The new school is being built along U.S.60 on the old University Heights property.

UPDATE 4/4/11
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Cabell County School Board members could pick the name for a new consolidated school during their meeting on Tuesday.

The two schools consolidating are Enslow and Beverly Hills middle schools.

The school is being built on the old University Heights property along U.S. 60 in Huntington.

Huntington East Middle, River City Middle and University Heights Middle are three names selected as finalists by the two schools LSIC’s, according to a school board release.

The board will also consider “bears” as the school mascot. This is in reference to the West Virginia state animal, the black bear. They will also vote on the school colors of purple and white.

The School Board meeting is set for Tuesday at 5:30 and is open to the public.

UPDATE 3/9/11
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Want to have a say in naming the new consolidated Beverly Hills /Enslow Middle School in Huntington?

Cabell County Schools is seeking input for the name, colors, and mascot for the new school that will be built along U.S 60 in Huntington.

Suggestions can be made from March 14th thru March 25th. Suggestion boxes are being set up at both Beverly Hills and Enslow Middle Schools.

You can also provide your input by going to www.cabellcountyschools.com and following the naming link on the "Schools" page which will allow you to e-mail your suggestions.

The school board is also accepting suggestions by mail. You can send your suggestions to the attention of the Naming Committee at 2850 5th Ave., Huntington, WV 25702. Please include your name and address.

UPDATE 2/24/11@ 4:30 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It's full speed ahead for a new consolidated middle school in Cabell County. That will mean tearing out the old to build the new.

It's an historic building that's been the source of great debate. But, in the ultimate truce, the district gets to demolish the structure and in return leave a rich history that otherwise may have been lost.

Karen Nance is an historic preservationist. Historic buildings are her life. That's why she fought so hard to save the historic West Virginia Colored Orphan's Home. It's located just off Route 60 behind Prestera. But, this piece of history that was originally built in 1905 by the African American orphans who went on to live there is coming down.

Cabell County Schools Superintendent Bill Smith says an agreement made with the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office will mean the history of this building will get far more exposure now than before.

“No one knew the history before. Now, the Board has come up with a plan to really allow the history to shine,” Mr. Smith said.

The Board will do that by launching a website that will preserve the history through stories and photos plus a permanent exhibit to go in the school with more of the same. Finally, there will be a lesson plan for students.

“We’ll start a curriculum for our 8th graders where students across the district will learn about this piece of history in their WV History class,” Mr. Smith said.

Another element of the agreement, the school board will further contribute to African American history in the area by surveying other sites important in the community.

Mr. Smith said a consulting firm also surveyed the property where an historic cemetery was believed to be buried. Sonars and small digs determined that was not the case.

Work demolishing the home could begin this spring.

UPDATE 2/24/11@10:30 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Cabell County Schools and the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that allows the school system to proceed with its plan to build a new consolidated Enslow Middle School and Beverly Hills Middle School.

The school is being built on property along U.S. 60 in Huntington that currently houses the former West Virginia Colored Orphans Home building. In recent years, the historic building had been converted to serve as student housing for married Marshall University students. In order to build the new school, the Orphans Home will have to be demolished.

“Although the Board regrets that the new middle school project will require the structure to be torn down, it is proud of the extraordinary measures it will be taking to mitigate the loss of this historic resource,” says Suzanne Oxley, President of the Cabell County Board of Education. “The MOA guarantees the story of the orphanage will be kept alive and shared with generations of students to come.”

Under the district’s mitigation plan, the history of the Orphans Home and its residents will be preserved through projects including the following:

• A curriculum unit focusing on the Orphans Home and the lives of its residents will be developed by professional historians in cooperation with the Board. This unit will be taught to all eighth grade students in Cabell County as part of the West Virginia Studies course.

• A comprehensive written history of the Orphans Home will be prepared by professional historians, using archival resources as well as interviews with former Orphans Home residents and their families. This history will also include historic photographs of the Orphans Home.

• A website has been established to provide access to the written history, curriculum unit, and related documentation. That website will also provide updates on the Board’s mitigation efforts.

• A permanent exhibit, commemorating the history of the Orphans Home and its residents, will be established in a prominent location inside the new middle school. The exhibit will incorporate architectural artifacts from the Orphans Home if feasible.

The School Board also says that an archaeological survey of the entire property found no evidence that a cemetery or graves exist on the property.

“I am very pleased with the agreement,” says William A. Smith, Superintendent of Cabell County Schools. “The work completed by the professional historians we have been working with will not only bring accuracy to the story of the orphanage, but we will also be able to bring history to life for our Cabell County students."

With the MOA in place, the school board plans to begin taking bids for the project immediately.

UPDATE 11/10
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A long running citizen battle against the Cabell County Board of Education ended at the W.Va. Supreme Court Wednesday.

Karen Nance led a small group of concerned citizens who went before the justices to argue the high court should hear their appeal.

They were hoping to reverse a lower court decision about funding for the University Heights construction project. This is the U.S. 60 property for a new consolidated Beverly Hill-Enslow Middle School in Huntington.

The justices said the money was used properly, but Nance argued the funding was unfair and denied voter’s rights.

The court decided 5 to 0 against hearing the full appeal.

“They chose to do what they wanted and made no point to listen to voters rights to collect our taxes and spend it the way they wanted instead of what was on the ballot," said Susan Gillette a concerned citizen.

Groundbreaking for the new consolidated school is at least a year away.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Cabell County School Board won't have to slow down their efforts to build a consolidated middle school, consolidating Enslow and Beverly Hill middle.

Cabell County Circuit Judge David Pancake heard opening arguments Wednesday and decided West Virginia law allowed the Cabell County School Board to proceed.

In July, a lawsuit was filed by four Huntington residents trying to stop the Cabell County School Board from building the new consolidated middle school on the University Heights property. Instead they wanted Huntington East High School used for the consolidated school.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs say voters should decide where the new school should be built as stated in the 1990 bond call. The plaintiffs think the new site should be put to a ballot.

They are also wanting to protect a historic building that is located on the property.

Judge Pancake set an arguments and decision date of February 12, 2010. In essence ruling the site was appropriate and they used appropriate means to acquire it.

In the meantime the Cabell County School Board can continue their work.

In August, the school board completed deal with the Prestera Center to buy the property off U.S. 60 behind the WV State Police barracks.

Back in November 2008, Prestera outbid the school board for the property that Marshall University owned at the time.

But in January, the school board voted to use eminent domain to get the property.

That paperwork was never filed because the two sides reached an agreement.

The board paid nearly 2.5 million dollars to close the deal.

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