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I-beam tops off school's fine arts site

by I.C. Murrell | January 14, 2022 at 3:16 a.m.
Nabholz Construction Superintendent Jason Rehm, center, leads a tour of the Fine Arts Center at White Hall High School as school board Trustees Scott Ray, second from right, and Scott Lockhart listen Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

White Hall School District leaders witnessed a piece of history Thursday.

A crane placed the last I-beam at the Fine Arts Center in ceremonial fashion, topping off the latest addition to White Hall High School, which is under construction.

The center is one of many projects resulting from a $26.5 million bond measure that voters favored in January 2020. The center is scheduled to open in late September, but the band and choir practice rooms will be ready for use by the start of classes in August, Superintendent Doug Dorris said.

"It's a real big deal," said Dorris, who will retire after June 30. "People wondered why we had to start tearing the bridge down. That's what people couldn't understand. It's really a remarkable looking thing. It's come a long way in two years."

A pedestrian bridge, where contractors and school officials gathered to see the top-off, linked a parking lot facing Holland Avenue to Bert Honey Gymnasium inside the high school, but it was partially torn down because of the construction.

School officials signed the beam outside the district administration building before Tuesday's regular board meeting. A display inside the boardroom described the motive behind the design of the Fine Arts Center, which is to "create a point of convergence that will hold a reception area." The center will also serve as a lobby for the gym and include a 1,233-seat theater.

"It's going to be one of the top [fine arts centers], I'm sure," architect Randy Palculict of Jackson Brown Palculict said. "We do a lot of them and try to get better each time. A lot of details have been put into the acoustics of the space and making sure it functions right there."

Nabholz Construction is the contractor behind the new facility and the recently opened multipurpose room, which houses the football team. Dorris said lockers will arrive for that building Monday.

"It's a wonderful day for the community here at White Hall, all these students and the faculty and staff," School Board trustee Scott Lockhart said. "It's going to be an amazing thing once it's completed. The children and our staff will benefit from this greatly."

  photo  From left, Nabholz Construction Project Manager Stephen Fulton, Jackson Brown Palculict architect Randy Palculict, White Hall School District Superintendent Doug Dorris, White Hall School Board Trustee Scott Lockhart and Nabholz Superintendent Jason Rehm pose following the topping-off ceremony in front of the high school Fine Arts Center on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  The final I-beam is placed on top of the Fine Arts Center at White Hall High School on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

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