Though Long County High School has been open since August, officials held a grand-opening ceremony and open house last week.
Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters kicked off the festivities by welcoming a crowd of more than 200 and then recognizing several dignitaries in the audience. Sheriff Craig Nobles; Judge Jeffrey Arnold; Tax Commissioner Becky Fowler; Ludowici City Council members Mark Chesser, Kathy Phillips and Mary Hamilton; Long County Commissioners Dwight Gordon, Robert Long, Gerald Blocker and Willie Thompson; Sen. Jeff Chapman, R-Brunswick; and Sen. Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, attended the event.
“I’m so thankful for all of our guests coming out tonight and being a part of this great day,” Waters said. “Also, a big thank you goes out to Coca-Cola United out of Brunswick and Optima Orthopedics for sponsoring our celebration.”
Long County Board of Education Chairwoman Janet Watford followed Waters and introduced fellow members Florence Baggs, Julie Dawson and Carolyn Williamson. BoE member Dennis DeLoach was unable to attend the ceremony. Watford also recognized previous board members Dempsey Golden, Linda DeLoach, Billy Hall and Emma Strickland, who helped orchestrate the three-year project. Baggs also was serving on the board during the new high school’s inception and construction.
Watford said that raising taxes wasn’t necessary to pay for the school, which was funded largely by ESPLOST. She added that officials expect the school system to continue its current growth trend.
“We’re pushing 3,200 kids now, and I don’t see us slowing down,” Watford said.
Project architect Craig Buckley told the crowd that the school was built using high-grade, economical features, such as terrazzo flooring and brick walls, so it will last for generations. He praised school Finance Officer Bridget Welch, school system Chief of Staff Glenn Purcell and Waters, commending them for being frugal with taxpayers’ money.
“This is truly a showplace in Georgia, and other school systems are now wanting what Long County has,” Buckley said.
Williams, who also attended the school’s ground breaking, said, “I’m happy for Long County. Counties like Long, who aren’t bringing in a lot of tax revenue from their sales tax, struggle to build a school this nice. These leaders pinched pennies and they built one as good as I’ve seen in the state.”
Chapman echoed Williams’ sentiment.
“I have been so impressed with this project from the beginning to the end, and I can tell you these guys have gotten the most bang for their buck,” he said.
Long County High School Principal Scotty Hattaway said he is thankful for being able to work in Long County, adding that he is surrounded by great kids, parents, staffers, teachers, board members and administrators.
“It’s a blessing to work in Long County. Thank all of you for your continued support,” he said.