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HUNTINGTON — Cabell County commissioners on Thursday morning got a first look at what future school district improvements could look like should voters pass the new $87.5 million public school bond in August.

Cabell County Schools Superintendent Ryan Saxe presented the bond order, passed by the Board of Education in early June and developed through community engagement meetings, which will bring the county’s facilities into the future over the next 10 years. Residents will have a chance to vote on the action Aug. 22, as the district’s current bond purchased in 2006 will expire in early 2021.

“This is one of the reasons we want to be able to bring a new 2020 bond, because we will have paid that 2006 bond off,” Saxe said.

The current bond helped build Milton Middle, Barboursville Middle, Huntington Middle and Southside Elementary, among other improvements that could not have been made without its passage, Saxe said.

Renovations for the county, should the 2020 bond be approved, include, but are not limited to, safe school entrances at both Huntington and Cabell Midland high schools and extensive expansion or relocation of the Career Technology Center.

The order also calls for Meadows Elementary in Huntington, Davis Creek Elementary near Barboursville and Milton Elementary to be completely rebuilt, either on site or off, and major renovations like new HVAC and sprinkler systems to both Nichols Elementary near Barboursville and Hite-Saunders Elementary in Huntington.

Saxe said while the district is asking voters to approve the $87.5 million sale, about $10 million from county funds and a possible $10 million from the School Building Authority would also go toward the projects, bringing the total to about $107.2 million.

“It’s also important to note that this totality of projects equaling $107 million, that the total economic impact based upon research from the West Virginia Contractor’s Association would be approximately $321 million to the local economy over the next 18 to 24 months of construction,” Saxe said. “We think the economic impact of being able to do this at this time is of high benefit to our community.”

In regard to the special election, Commissioner Kelli Sobonya questioned whether the number of polling places in the county could be consolidated in August, since the COVID-19 crisis brought struggles finding poll workers for June’s primary election.

“We can (consolidate) to a point,” County Clerk Phyllis Smith said. “In the polling places this time, if there were two or three precincts in one and there weren’t enough poll workers, they worked together, which was wonderful.”

Saxe said the school district will likely provide the personal protective equipment (PPE) to those poll workers in August, as well.

“For this special election, I would think for those poll workers, we would need to do that,” Saxe said.

Bill Bissett, president and CEO of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, also attended the meeting to pledge the chamber’s support for the project and special election.

Follow reporter Hanna Pennington via Twitter @hpennHD.

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