FOR RENT: Faculty housing in South Plaquemines!Aug 14th, 2012 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: top story
Built on the site of the former Buras High School, the new apartments are raised on concrete pilings. In fact 4,600 cubic yards of concrete was used to build the 32-units, making it durable in 150 mph winds, said Chris Barker of HOV Services, the construction managing company for the apartments and the campuses of South Plaq. High, Phoenix and South Plaq. Elementary, to name the larger projects. There are two elevators and 47,000 square-feet of living space.
Half full with the teaching staff of Southern Plaquemines Parish Schools, the South Plaquemines Teacher Housing Facility was granted a warm welcome with a ceremonial ribbon cutting. On hand were, from left: Helen Barrois, former PPSB; Paul Lemaire Jr, PPSB; William Mertz, PPSB President; Nancy LaHaye, PPSB; Andrew Elkins, FEMA; Fran Bayhi-Martinez, PPSB; Joyce Lamkin, PPSB; Joe Threat, FEMA; Dan Pedigo, FEMA; Anthony St. Philip, PPSB; Chuck Soileau, PPSB; Bob Carington, GOHSEP; Superintendent Denis Rousselle; James Clark, GOHSEP; Carlton LaFrance, PPSB; and Rev. Michael Jiles Sr., PPSB.
Photo By Terri Sercovich
“It’s wonderful! Wonderful!” said Gina Green, South Plaquemines High School’s librarian.
Green is one of the new residents of the Buras teacher apartments, the muted pastel colored, raised buildings on the site of the former Buras High School.
“I just didn’t want to live in Belle Chasse,” she said. Coming from the Morgan City area, Green lived in a FEMA trailer until the apartments were ready for tenants.
“I love this parish,” she gushed. “I like the rural thing. I always wanted to live in the country.”
Green has a three-bedroom unit she shares with her 16-year-old son.
In a parish with 70-miles of highway from end to end, getting certified teachers to the southern schools is a struggle. Qualified teachers from the New Orleans Metro area turn down or leave positions not because of the school or student, as often happens with Recovery School District schools, but because it is too far of a commute.
The considerably affordable teacher-apartments have been a way the Plaquemines Parish School Board could persuade those certified teachers to work at schools past Belle Chasse. Katrina flooded the former teacher apartments in the Sunrise area; Buras High and Middle School, and Port Suphur High School were deemed totaled. The School Board consolidated the three former high schools into one, South Plaquemines High School, and decided the campus should be at the Buras Middle Campus in Sunrise.
And now, there are new teacher apartments to match the soon to be opened campus of South Plaq High. Built on the site of the former Buras High School, the new apartments are raised on concrete pilings. In fact 4,600 cubic yards of concrete was used to build the 32-units, making it durable in 150 mph winds, said Chris Barker of HOV Services, the construction managing company for the apartments and the campuses of South Plaq. High, Phoenix and South Plaq. Elementary, to name the larger projects. There are two elevators and 47,000 square-feet of living space.
“A lot of imagination and a lot of effort,” described Barker of all companies involved, especially the architect, Verges Rome.
“What a creative way to get teachers down here—create housing,” complimented Joe Threat, Acting Executive Director of the Louisiana Recovery Office.
James Clark, with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), commented on the structural integrity: “You can knock out everything from I-10, and this sucker will still be standing!”
Threat and Clark were on hand for the ceremonial ribbon cutting on August 6 before the regular board meeting at Boothville-Venice Elementary School. They joined the school board, FEMA reps, and the firms involved in the construction to mark the completion of construction: general contractor, Woodward Design + Build; construction managers, HOV Services/Meridian; architect, Verges Rome Architects; structural engineering, Drake Engineering; mechanical engineering, Ritter Consulting Engineers; and civil engineering, All South Consulting Engineers.
To date, half of the 32 units are occupied.