Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 21, 2010

Building for the future

Blazer upgrades almost finished

Mike James
The Independent

ASHLAND — Seniors at Paul G. Blazer High have gone to school amid construction crews, heavy equipment and yellow caution tape since they were freshmen.

The multiyear, two-phase facelift of the Blazer campus has been such an integral part of their academic lives that the theme of the 2010 yearbook is “Under Construction.”

The renovation, which encompassed five of the seven buildings on the bucolic hillside campus, is all but finished, and earlier this year groundsworkers put the crowning touch: rich, green turf on the open space in between.

Now, in their last days at Blazer, the seniors can walk to class on new sidewalks amid a park-like setting, protected on rainy days by canopies overhead.

The renovation started brewing as far back as 2005, when the district started studying ways to pay the tab.

Since then, the campus has been transformed. Starting in 2006, the main building got a new facade, kitchen, cafeteria and library.

This year’s seniors remember eating lunch in the gym lobby when they were freshmen.

Now they buy their lunches in a facility designed food-court style, with multiple choices and two lines to speed up payment.

Architects conferred with faculty to design a library with adequate space for reading, study, computers and bookshelves. Two areas in the library can be used as classroom spaces.

The parking lot was relocated and a softball field built, bringing Blazer into compliance with federal Title IX requirements to offer equal athletic opportunities to girls.

All the buildings except Buildings 4 and 5 were reroofed and got interior facelifts such as paint, tile and lighting.

Some of the buildings got new, energy-efficient windows and heat pumps to replace outmoded boiler systems.

The gym lobby got a new floor. The music department was expanded to include a keyboard lab, practice rooms and a larger choir room.

The project included new restrooms across the campus.

The total bill came to more than $9 million.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.