UCS selects construction management firm for CCA building and other projects

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Charles Black Construction construction management firm

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – In a called online board meeting on January 28, 2020, Union County School (UCS) board chose Charles Black Construction as the construction management team for upcoming projects.

Five firms responded to the construction professional services RFP with proposals. The construction committee presented Charles Black Construction as the recommended firm. Charles Black Construction previously assisted UCS with the field house renovation.

UCS hired Charles Black with four projects in mind: CCA/CTAE building, vocational building renovation, Union County High School Cafeteria expansion, and flooring replacement. The contract lasts two years. Altogether, the projects equal around $7 million, but some numbers could fluctuate because they don’t have the designs yet.
$3.75 million in grant funds will go toward the CCA/CTAE building, and the remainder would come from ESPLOST 5.

A construction management company writes all the subcontracts from site work to the end and assists the architect with the design.

“We can do some construction management processes, and it will actually save money on the design,” Facilities Manager Mike Patton explained. “We can do some value engineering along with the architect. They keep each other in check basically.”

Facilities Director Mike Patton

Facilities Director Mike Patton explained why they chose Charles Black Construction.

Charles Black would operate within a set budget and ensure the architect does too. The firm’s headquartered in Cleveland, Ga. Patton vouched for their experience and expertise in their field.

Check out the company’s portfolio here.

“They are small. They aren’t hardly as large a company as others that have submitted, but we feel like we get a lot more personal service,” Patton commented.

A site manager would always be on location. Charles Black will help UCS find the best materials for the best prices too.

As for costs, Patton added Charles Black came in on the low end of the proposals with a multiple dollar fee – a preconstruction fee, and a 2.95 percent construction fee. The company also offered a lower rate for new construction and the standard rate for renovations.

Another RFP would be necessary for the primary school renovation, but UCS will apply for more state grant money for the project.

Superintendent John Hill announced September as the hopeful groundbreaking date for the CCA building.

UCS chose the architect in November 2020. 

Feature image: courtesy of Charles Black Construction and an example of the firm’s previous work.

UCS awarded $3 million grant for college and career academy

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college and career academy

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Union County Schools (UCS) was one of three districts in the state to receive the College and Career Academy (CCA) grant for $3 million. The school will establish the first multi-state CCA in Georgia.

UCS has several similar program initiatives with its Career, technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) efforts, but the grant money will allow them to expand their offerings. Students will also have opportunities for dual enrollment through some of the CTAE programs.

CTAE Director Josh Davis explained why UCS decided to apply, “After researching the grant process last summer and discussing with our stakeholders, we realized we already had many of the CCA best practices in place. We decided to write the grant and go through the grant process, and all of our business, community, and post-secondary partners played a big role.”

It’s a reimbursable facility grant, and the school will move forward with the College and Career Academy with the board of education’s guidance. The grant was appropriated through the Georgia legislature and gives a school system five years to spend the allotted funds.  The first year will focus on planning and strategy to identify the best path forward.

CTAE Director Josh Davis spearheaded the CCA grant process.

As for the area of focus, Davis added, “Initially, we will utilize our current program offerings including automotive technologies, computer programming, construction, cybersecurity, engineering, entrepreneurship, nursing, sports medicine, and welding. We will develop new programs if needed as local workforce needs change and resources are available.”

The skilled training provided by a CCA allows students to seek out specific high demand, high wage jobs available within the region, which will enhance their employment opportunities. It’s a win-win for students and regional employers.

“We’ve had wonderful support from our business community. They’re hungry for employees,” explained Superintendent John Hill. “They’re a lot of employers that need employees in their high skilled, high wage jobs…Now some go to college, but a bulk goes to technical school and receives some really good training, and a lot of it, we can do in-house here.”

Chairman Hunter spoke with Technical College System Project Manager Frank Pinson over the phone.

Current Union County business partners include Advanced Digital Cable, Bank OZK, Chick-fil-A, Corrugated Replacements Inc., Lamin-X, Nelson Tractor, Panel Built, Pat’s Hallmark, The Saw Mill Place, Union General Hospital, Union County Chamber of Commerce, Union County Economic Development Authority, United Community Bank Inc., and WJRB Radio. Community partners from neighboring counties and North Carolina include Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, Brasstown Valley Resort, Moog Industries Inc, and Snap-On. North Georgia Technical College, the University of North Georgia, and Young Harris College are the post-secondary education partners.

Technical College System of Georgia Project Manager Frank Pinson called into the July Board of Education meeting to congratulate UCS and expressed his enthusiasm for the school’s initial idea.

“You’re going to establish Georgia’s first multi-district model that extends across state lines…we had the privilege way back in March of coming up and visiting with them. John and Josh took us over to neighboring counties that you’ll be partnering with. We just couldn’t be more excited about Union County and everything that you’re going to be able to accomplish up there,” Pinson expressed.

“We’re equally excited about this. I can’t wait. Once we get this going, you’ll be able to take a tour of our facilities again and see what we’ve done with the good taxpayer monies that we’ve been able to secure from you guys,” said Chairman Tony Hunter.

Evans and Appling County were the other two school systems to receive the CCA grant.

Feature image from Georgia Career Academies Facebook.

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