The Gilmer School Board on Tuesday night accepted a New Jersey firm’s bid on the issuance of $2,110,000 in maintenance tax notes to finance the renovation of Buckeye Stadium.
The winning bid, out of five submitted, came from Robert W. Baird and Co., Inc., of Red Bank, N.J. John L. Martin, Jr., senior vice-president of Southwest Securities (which received the bids by Internet Tuesday), said Baird submitted an “outstanding” and “incredibly low interest rate” of 2.03 percent for a 17 1/2-year note issue.
“The national average is three and a half (percent). You blew through that,” Martin told trustees.
“The taxpayers will appreciate it,” he said, adding it “seems to be a pretty good time to sell bonds at this time in January.”
“I think we did all right and we’ve got some good news for you tonight,” he said.
Martin further said Gilmer ISD’s bond rating of “A Plus” is “outstanding” for a district that is considered neither urban nor suburban.
Board President Jeff Rash credited School Supt. Rick Albritton for the rating, saying he believed Albrittion is the “best (superintendent) in the state of Texas.”
Rash said that when people comment to him on Albritton’s salary ($150,000 base), he replies, “We could pay him on commission. . .(and) he’d be the highest-paid guy in the state.”
As for the stadium project, Albritton told the board the $1.8 million renovation is “progressing—moving along,” and that the bottom slab for the new 2-story press box was scheduled to be poured the next morning.
WRL General Contractors, Ltd. of Flint is construction manager for the project, which will add more than 1,000 seats to the home side of the 50-year-old stadium.
The approximately 50-year-old one-story press box was recently demolished, and Albritton said new stands will be delivered in February. The project is slated for completion in June.
Albritton told trustees all plumbing for the project has been completed.
Board member Diedra Camp said building the new press box “has to do with interest rates and wise financial planning,” rather than the fact the Gilmer Buckeyes reached their fourth state championship football game in nine seasons in 2012.
Thacker/Davis Architects, Inc. of Longview is architect for the project. Albritton has said the renovation was needed partly because concrete put in place when the stadium was built in 1962 is deteriorating.
He also expressed gratitude to Gilmer National Bank for purchasing scoreboards for the softball and baseball fields, and two headsets.
In other business, trustees called the annual school board election for May 11. Rash’s and Mike Tackett’s board seats are up for election to 3-year terms.
Candidates can sign up starting Jan. 30.
The board also approved the Gilmer High School band making a trip to Southern California June 8 to 14, during which the band will perform at Disneyland.
Band Director Eric Gray told the board the trip will include stops at the Grand Canyon and Universal Studios. Each band member must somehow raise $150, and the Band Boosters Club will pay the remainder of the trip’s expense, he said.
After meeting in closed session to discuss personnel, the board also hired Coty Pratt as a Spanish teacher at the high school, said Albritton’s secretary, Judy Moore.
Earlier, the board presented “GISD Pride” awards to representatives of several student groups, Gilmer High Principal Greg Watson, and recently-retired Gilmer Housing Authority Executive Director Gordon Finney.
Albritton said the Gilmer Buckeyes’ reaching of the state championship game on Dec. 21 in Arlington was “not just a football event. . . Our entire school got to be showcased.”
The board presented certificates to representatives of the football team, band, cheerleaders, junior ROTC, and drill team.
When Watson’s certificate was presented, board Rash quipped, “Also, Greg, that’s in lieu of a raise.”
“This means so much more,” Watson jokingly replied.
The 81-year-old Finney, who was honored for annually presenting the school a check from the Housing Authority, noted he had spent many “sweaty hours” in what is now the board’s meeting room as a school student with “Miz Crosby trying to beat history into my head. Bless her heart. ’Bout all I finished was that Columbus did discover America.”
Albritton also noted that January is “School Board Appreciation Month,” and that students are asked to show gratitude by providing the unpaid board members with a gift from each campus. Representatives of various school groups told the board about their gifts, ranging from Gilmer Buckeye football helmets to pound cakes, cookies, coffee mugs and calendars, among other items.