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Demolition of former Charles Carroll Elementary School begins, plans for community center continue progress

Demolition begins on former Charles Carroll Elementary School. (Emily Chappell l Carroll County Times)

The sound of glass breaking and bricks falling to the pavement permeated the damp, cold air Monday morning, as men in machinery began to tear down the former Charles Carroll Elementary School.

Slowly, the crew used an excavator to begin tearing away at the brick and knocking through the windows.

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Demolition of the former school began Monday, though a bit later than the planned 7 a.m. start after rain and snow pushed back the timetable. While full demolition began this week, selective demolition occurred previously.

The Board of County Commissioners voted 5-0 in January to award the contract to P&J Contracting Co. in the amount of $302,450 after deciding a year ago to bring the building down. Carroll County Public Schools voted to close the building at the end of the 2015-2016 school year along with North Carroll High School and New Windsor Middle School.

Last April, commissioners voted unanimously to raze the current structure and build a new facility for $3.5 million, with a large gymnasium and rooms for the community to use. The plan calls for a 12,000-square-foot structure that is one story and would include a 6,800-square-foot gym with bleachers, as well as two multipurpose rooms.

Shawn Eicholtz, a project manager in Carroll County’s Department of Public Works said the facility is being taken down mainly by a track excavator, which can have different attachments put on it depending on what the crew needs.

“As they’re tearing the building down, they’re going to load [materials] into different containers,” Eicholtz said.

The crew will sort materials out by type to be able to recycle a lot of it, from the steel to the bricks, he said.

“[Some of the items get] made into new things,” he added.

Eicholtz said they’re starting in the two newest sections of the school — the 1950s addition and the 1970s addition. The facility was constructed in 1929, though a previous structure built in 1921 was destroyed by a fire in 1928. In 1950, an addition was put on and then in 1973, a second addition was constructed.

The county held two walk-throughs of the building last summer, allowing the community to see the structure one last time and to say goodbye.

While the building is being demolished, commissioners — especially Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, whose district includes the former school — asked that certain items from the school be saved and that some of them be incorporated into the new facility.

The county plans to save the building’s front doors that face Md. 97, the Charles Carroll stone that sits on that side, about 2,000 bricks and the building’s cornerstones.

Eicholtz said they’ll be doing demolition of the oldest portion, which includes many of the items they plan to save, later in the process.

Department of Public Works Deputy Director Scott Moser said demolition will take about two months, and includes preparing the site for a future build. Moser said the timeline is weather-dependent.

The plan is to have a new facility in place and complete in fall or winter of 2019, he said. The county is in the process of hiring an architect, he added.

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Wantz said they recently held their first Silver Run-Union Mills Citizen Advisory Group meeting, and those who are involved are excited about the future of the new facility. Wantz added that he’s pleased at the way the community has gotten together to embrace the project moving forward.

“I’m saddened by the fact that we’re losing the school up there,” Wantz said Monday, adding, “I’m excited at what the community center will bring to that community.”

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