Marion County High School to receive 'big' gift

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By The Staff

One of the biggest complaints about the Marion County High School gymnasium is that it's not air-conditioned and events, such as the Marion County Junior Miss and sporting events, can sometimes be very uncomfortable for spectators.

According to Scott Spalding, transportation and maintenance director for the district, MCHS is getting a big gift that will help with that problem. And when he says big, he means it. Thanks to an anonymous, private local donor, MCHS is going to receive two "Big Ass Fans" from the Big Ass Fan Co., Spalding reported to the Marion County Board of Education during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday of last week. According to Spalding, the Marion County Area Technology Center addition renovation project already includes one of these fans and he thought installing similar fans in the MCHS gym could work well. Spalding approached Stacey Hall, athletic director and assistant principal at MCHS, about the fans and Hall said he had a possible donor in mind. The donor agreed to cover 100 percent of the cost, Spalding said. "It's not going to cost the board a penny," he said. The total cost of the fans will be $20,790, and the private donor gave the school system an even, $21,000, Spalding said. The fans will not only help cool the gym, but also help with the humidity that is causing the gym floor to buckle. If the school were to have to replace the floor, it would cost $70,000 to $90,000, Spalding said. He said the fans should be installed this month. In the meantime, the gym floor installer has agreed to fix portions of the gym floor that are in need of repair, Spalding said. According to The Big Ass Fan Company's web site, the HVLS fans (High Volume/Low Speed) move a lot of air with their size (which is up to 24-feet in diameter), not speed. Moving at a low speed means less energy used for operation, translating into more energy savings. And, in some cases, the fans make the surrounding area feel between 8-16 degrees cooler, the company reports. The company also claims that the fans gently distribute the heat trapped at the ceiling down to the floor, causing the heating system to cycle less frequently, thus reducing heating bills. Big Ass Fan Co. designs and manufactures fans for large commercial, industrial, agricultural and institutional buildings. In the U.S., the company is based in Lexington.   New air-conditioning system to be installed at WMES After 23 years, the air-conditioning system at West Marion Elementary School is going to have to be replaced. More specifically, a new cooling tower and pumps will be installed by Harshaw Trane at a total cost of $88,670. The new system will be installed during fall break, Oct. 11-15, Spalding said.   Smith and local students participating in "Call Me MISTER" program Marion County Superintendent Donald Smith reported to the board that he and 17 local African American male students would be participating in the "Call Me MISTER" program at Eastern Kentucky University, which began yesterday, Sept. 21. According to material provided by the university, African American children comprise 17 percent of the student population nationwide, but their chances of seeing an African-American male teacher in front of their classroom are about 1 in 100. Hoping to close that gap, Eastern Kentucky University recently became the first college or university in the Commonwealth or any adjacent state to join the Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Modeling) program, a national initiative begun at Clemson University that seeks to attract more African American males to the teaching profession. The MISTER acronym also refers to the classic film "In the Heat of the Night," in which Sidney Poitier's character demands respect with the line, "They call me Mister Tibbs!"   Special meeting is scheduled The school board voted to reschedule the Oct. 12 board meeting to Thursday, Oct. 7 at 6 p.m. because of fall break.