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Old CHS Demolition Under Way

CAPTION: Just about the time the first day of summer school classes let out, four portions of the Chillicothe R-2 School District's "learning cottage" were hauled into town and carried west down Polk Street, which was blocked off by Chillicothe police. District officials say the remaining six portions of the modular structure are scheduled to arrive next Wednesday or Thursday. When assembled, the structure will measure 160-by-60 feet and will house office and storage space as well as classrooms which will be needed in August after the old high school is demolished.

Demolition is well underway at the old Chillicothe High School on Calhoun Street and four of 10 portions of a "learning cottage" have arrived in town to give the district needed classroom, office and storage space this fall, once the historic building is demolished.

According to Dr. Linda Gray Smith, R-2 superintendent, Red Rock CDT, of Hamilton, Mo., which purchased the three story structure for $195,000 last fall, is currently conducting asbestos abatement with the appropriate permits from the Department of Natural Resources. Additional items, such as the wood work and metal have been removed to ensure the fill is clean that will be removed, Smith said. "While everyone is saddened that the facility will be removed, the timing of the demolition is such that the education of the 400 middle school students who will return in August will be disrupted as little as possible. In addition, the safety of the students when they return is critical," Smith said.

The board of education has considered the razing over a period of months. In May 2008, the district received reports from two structural engineering firms, which showed that extensive renovations would have been required to return all portions of the building to use for the students. Smith also noted that building codes have changed since the facility was originally built 85 years ago.

She added that plans are forming to replace the facility with partnered facility including a senior center, an early childhood center, and middle school classroom space. In the meantime, however, middle school students and staff will be utilizing a "learning cottage," measuring 160-by-60 feet - four portions of which arrived in town Thursday afternoon.

The Chillicothe R-2 school board approved a three-year lease with Jim's Mobile Offices, or Marion, Ill., for the large mobile building. The lease will total $44,000 a year and comes with a $14,000 set-up fee. Delivery of the structure comes at no cost, but the district is responsible for the necessary ground and utility work prior to the placement of the structure at a cost of about $15,000. When assembled, the "learning cottage" will be located north of the existing Chillicothe Middle School building, just east of the practice field.

CAPTION: The ticket booth in the old high school has been given to the Grand River Historical Society.

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