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School board's first JK to Grade 12 facility in Renfrew County

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

DEEP RIVER -A simple sod-turning ceremony Wednesday launched construction of a Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 facility at Mackenzie High School.

As contractors began the initial work to retrofit the school, dignitaries and the project's supervisors gathered outside to recognize the commencement of the Renfrew County District School Board's first major infrastructure initiative since Arnprior's A.J. Charbonneau Public School in the 1990s.

"This is a historical moment," claimed board chair Roy Reiche as he addressed those in attendance, including project managers George Fournier and Tom Sullivan, of contractors M. Sullivan & Son Limited, project architect Wendy Brawley, trustee Barbara Basso, Lisa Kuehl, superintendent of business, superintendent of education Debra Rantz and director of education Roger Clarke.

"This will be the board's first JK-12 facility in Renfrew County and we want this to be done right," added Mr. Reiche.

The plan will see Mackenzie High School converted into a junior kindergarten to Grade 12 school and students from Morison Public School moving in for the 2011-2012 school year. The project will be done in stages with modifications being done to the existing structure while students will continue to attend classes, Mr. Reiche noted.

Last year, the ministry announced $4,876,588 under the province's Energy Efficiency Program for one capital project to address the accommodation needs of students at Morison Public School in Deep River. The ministry stipulated, however, that the project had to be completed no later than the 2011-2012 school year.

"It will be a busy summer," Mr. Reiche said. "Most of the work on this project will be completed during the summer months of 2010 and 2011. This summer's retrofits and renovations will be focused on the office area and classrooms to accommodate program changes for secondary students."

Deep River deputy mayor Glenn Doncaster said making Mackenzie into a state-of-the-art facility will enhance the community and hopefully attract more young families to the town.

"It's been a long time getting to this moment," said Deputy Mayor Doncaster. "This we can consider an investment in our community."

The board is asking for tience from the community as parts of the facility will be closed to accommodate construction.

"We also want to thank community groups for their understanding as they are relocated to accommodate the renovations," said Mr. Clarke. "We are confident the completed project will improve and enhance education delivery in the North Renfrew community."

Sean Chase is a Daily Observer reporter

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