Fort Polk Progress
Press Release
August 14, 2014
For Immediate Release
Contact: Tammy Sharp
Fort Polk Progress
Officials break ground on new South Polk Elementary

LEESVILLE, La.--The Vernon Parish School District, along with Fort Polk officials, the Office of Economic Adjustment, state and local elected officials and Fort Polk Progress broke ground today on the new South Polk Elementary School during a 10 a.m. ceremony.  


In July 2012, area leaders announced that $20 million in funding had been secured for the construction of a new South Polk Elementary School along La. 467. Sixteen million dollars of the funding will come through the federal government, and the state of Louisiana and the Vernon Parish School District will contribute $1 million each to the project. The school district will also contribute $2 million in additional in-kind construction services.


"It is with great pride, I take this opportunity to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for Polk Elementary School," said James Williams, Superintendent of the Vernon Parish School District. "This day is the result of the hard work and dedication of a lot of people. It is more evidence of the strong commitment that the Vernon Parish School Board, General Hickman, former superintendent Jackie Self, Fort Polk Progress, and elected officials on the local, state, and federal levels all possess for the educational excellence standard for all the children in Vernon Parish. I express my personal gratitude to all involved in the construction of this new state-of-the-art facility."


"Today's groundbreaking ceremony for a new elementary school is another visible sign of Vernon Parish's commitment to providing a quality education for the children of the parish," said Brig. Gen. William Hickman, commanding general of Fort Polk and the Joint Readiness Training Center. "Fort Polk Families are thankful for that commitment."


"We're excited to be a part of the process of providing excellent educational opportunities for our military children here at Fort Polk," said Michael Reese, chairman of Fort Polk Progress. "It is through strong partnerships such as these that we're able to achieve such great things for our military families and for our communities. I look forward to the future, when we'll see further fruits of our labor, as we strive for continued excellence in all the communities surrounding Fort Polk."


"In 2011, the State of Louisiana committed $25.2 million in capital outlay and Community Development Block Grant funding to pay for the expansion of a water and sewer system along La. 467 as well as the construction of a parkway connecting La. 467 to La. 468 and La. 468 to La. 28," said state Senator John Smith (R-Leesville). "Today, with the groundbreaking of a new school along that proposed parkway, we mark another milestone in our plan to improve the quality of life for not only our soldiers but our civilians."


"All of us together worked hard to make this happen," said state Representative James Armes (D-Leesville). "Our parish is growing in leaps and bounds. I believe that when this new school opens, it will become the new jewel in the crown of elementary schools around Fort Polk."


"Vernon Parish is proud to be a part of the process of improving quality of life through creating quality housing, retail and educational opportunities for our military families and the community at large. We're excited about the future that is being ushered in by this groundbreaking," said Vernon Parish Police Jury President Jim Tuck.


"Surveying is underway on the construction of the Sub-Regional Parkway from LA 467 to LA 468," said Leesville Mayor Rick Allen. "Already we're expanding both the City's water system and sewer system so that we can accommodate growth in this area. We are also very excited about the future and making our community the best hometown in the world."


The project to secure funding for the new elementary school began in September 2011, when representatives from the Vernon Parish School Board and Fort Polk traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) officials. The visit came on the heels of a report released by the Department of Defense ranking the current South Polk Elementary sixth out of 160 schools on military bases in terms of buildings which needed replacing.

Mike Holt of Yeager and Watson created this rendering of the new South Polk Elementary.

Sen. John Smith and Representative James Armes were also instrumental in helping secure funding to renovate the current South Polk Elementary, buying the school district time to seek funding for the larger project of replacing the school altogether.


The new school, designed by Yaeger and Watson Associates, Inc.,  will serve more than 800 students, preparing the children of our military families for jobs of the 21st century workforce.


Yaeger and Watson, of Alexandria and Ruston, La., has been in business since 1904, and primarily focuses on school design. The firm is the architect of record and designer of the South Polk Elementary project and has been involved with the Vernon Parish School Board from the beginning concerning conceptual design, programming and the creation of construction documents. The firm will also be involved with the upcoming construction observation.



Fort Polk Progress is a regional community organization that takes a proactive stance toward Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) by maintaining relationships and partnering with decision makers in Congress, at the Pentagon and at the state level, ensuring that the most up to date information concerning Fort Polk and the surrounding communities is used in decisions concerning the base. In addition, Fort Polk Progress actively markets the base to the military as the most cost effective place to provide soldiers with the best training possible and strives to help ensure the best possible quality of life for soldiers, civilians and their families. Most recently, Fort Polk Progress has spear-headed an Education Initiative, which acknowledges exceptional educational achievements in the region and pursues continued excellence in education for military families throughout the region. 


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