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Hurrah, School Is Done

CORNWALL — It seems an apology is in order to Cornwall Consolidated School Building Committee members. They finally closed out accounting on the school expansion project, and hardly anyone noticed.

Well, we all thought the big news was last October’s issuance of a certificate of occupancy, after two years on a temporary CO.

There was glitter tossed in celebration at the school board meeting that month.

But intrepid committee members are due at least one more pat on the back. Despite the need to correct all sorts of construction deficiencies, then abandonment of the project by the contractor, the project was brought in under budget.

Both committee Chairman Jim Terrall and Treasurer John LaPorta, who took up the reins from a "burnt-out" Terrall last summer, reported to the school board Feb. 15 there is an official balance of $5,860.

All that’s left to be done is an audit by the state.

Board members voted unanimously to declare the project complete; to recommend the Board of Selectmen do the same; and to dismiss the committee with their thanks. Emphasis on the latter could not be made strongly enough in a motion, all agreed.

Overall, the project was a success. Community members have said the new gymnasium, classrooms and renovations are beautiful and functional.

Last summer, it was determined that Casle Construction had legally abandoned the project. The building committee met to formulate a plan to address the last of the tasks remaining to be done (mostly site work and the filing of plans; and an improperly installed septic system had to be re-installed).

Luckily, of the $3.55-million project fund, a balance of more than $25,000 remained, which was more than enough to do the work.

"There were a lot of people and voting and hard work to get that last little bit done," Terrall said. "Thank goodness John was willing to step up to the plate."

The committee requested the excess funds be used toward a school project. Specifically, they recommended it be used to renovate the school ballfield, a project that has long been on the back burner.

"Most good committees would have spent it already," Terrall said, "but we ran out of steam."

LaPorta said it is not clear who makes the decision. The Board of Finance agreed at its meeting later that evening that not only would they like to see the leftover funds used at the school, but it is believed that is the only place they can legally be used, since the money was bonded for the project.

Some $40,000 in interest earned while the funding was untapped is another matter for the finance board to investigate. It’s been five years of planning and building, Terrall noted. He put it into perspective by relating comments made by first graders, who only know what they are enjoying now.

"They made a poster as a thank- you to the committee. Their teacher, Bonnie Burdick, told them it was for the new gym. They said, ‘What do you mean, a new gym?’ "


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