Groundbreaking for new high school

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SALYERSVILLE - The community gathered on Monday to celebrate the groundbreaking for the new Magoffin County High School. 


Superintendent Stanley Holbrook accredited the Board of Education’s diligent work toward a vision “to improve Magoffin County Schools.”

Through their hard work, along with the local planning committee, insurance settlements, and government support from Senators Robert Stivers and Brandon Smith and Representative John Short, Holbrook said they were not only able to build the athletic complex, which is nearly finished, they were able to build a new school, as well.

The $40 million project is financially covered, with only $3 million coming from Magoffin County citizens, Holbrook said referring to the five cent tax raise. The construction of the new high school will be the first time Magoffin has ever built a school at state high school specifications, Holbrook said.

While the school is scheduled to be completed before school begins in 2016, the football complex will be ready for the first home game, which Holbrook invited the community to attend and check out the new facilities. The first game of the season will be August 22 against South Floyd.

Work is set to begin next week on the new high school site, and Holbrook said crews plan to start work on the baseball and softball fields in October.

Holbrook acknowledged all the Board members at the groundbreaking: Chair Caroline Isaac, Minus Ray Helton, Assistant Chair Carl J. Howard, Bill May and David Smith.

Isaac said, “We’ve dreamed about this for so long, so I get a little emotional. We feel blessed.” 

Senator Stivers talked to the audience, explaining that this project is basically his last as Magoffin’s senator, with the redistricting shifting Senator Smith to cover Magoffin. He said when he came in 1996, the courthouse was in disarray, and he saw this county needed a lot. Since then, he said they have been able to build a new courthouse, judicial center, health department, and two schools.

“Today, this is a milestone in the future of Magoffin and the future of the children,” Stivers said. “This group got a plan to bring out the silver lining in a dark cloud. I’ve represented this area for 17 years and I’m proud to say it. If people from other areas come see everything this county has accomplished, all because of the people of Magoffin and Salyersville, this is a great place with great people. They have come together for a great purpose and look what has been accomplished.”

Senator Smith equated Magoffin with quilting. “Being from the mountains, they know how to stand on their legs and work all day, then stand beside the football field that night. We quilt here in the mountains, using scraps to make new things, but even a quilt needs new fabric from time to time, and that’s what you all have done here.”

Smith said when he first came to Frankfort, he can remember a group from Magoffin meeting down there all the time.

“That kind of dedication comes from someone showing them how to be,” Smith said. “The fact is we all knew it was for something important and I’m glad we had a role in it.”

Superintendent Holbrook said he received a text from Senator Smith at 3:45 a.m. when the budget passed, allotting additional funding that made the construction of the new high school possible.

Representative John Short explained that when he first took office, the state was talking about bypassing Salyersville, which they were able to make them change the plans. Then they were told it was not economically feasible to put in an off ramp for the industrial park, but Short said they’ve added those plans, as well. He said a new library is the next item he plans to work on, but projects like this one, remembering to keep kids first, will make Magoffin grow.

Magoffin County High School Principal Tony Skaggs thanked the Board and the representatives for their work to make the new facilities possible.

“I never thought I’d see that, but our kids deserve this and it’s been a long time coming,” Skaggs said.

Bill May said he was thankful to be present, that he had been praying to be able to live to see this project happen.

“If we will all come together for the overall betterment of Magoffin County, we’ll see good things happen,” May said. 

Former Superintendent Don Cecil said he doesn’t know what can be done for the drug problem in Magoffin, but he knows what it has done to the county and region. 

“But I know this can’t be bad, what we’re doing here,” Cecil said. 

He talked about how the school system has had to adjust after the tornado, still carrying on after losing facilities.

“We’ve got to do something,” Cecil said. “We’ve seen what can be done with a lot of energy and it will be unbelievable to see what can happen.”