Tenth Street Elementary demolition begins

Kylie Schepers/The Herald
Lechner Excavating works on tearing down Tenth Street Elementary in Jasper on Thursday. Demolition began Tuesday and is on track to be finished in two weeks. Once the old school is completely torn down, the land will be turned into a parking lot for nearby Ruxer Field.

By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
cstephenson@dcherald.com

JASPER — Despite almost a half-foot of snow and freezing weather, plans to raze the Tenth Street Elementary building in Jasper are moving forward.

Construction workers from Lechner Excavating, owned by LAN Construction, began tearing down the building Tuesday after all the salvageable items from inside were removed. It will take about two weeks, weather-permitting, to completely tear down the building so it can be turned into a parking lot for nearby Ruxer Field, a LAN Construction representative said Thursday.

The school corporation vacated the Tenth and Fifth street elementary school buildings last year and consolidated into Jasper Elementary School at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. The Tenth Street building housed third through fifth grade, whereas the new school has preschool through fifth grade.

Some Dubois County residents commented on Facebook they were disappointed about the school being torn down, sometimes saying they attended the school years ago and were sad to see it be replaced with another parking lot. Others were happy there would soon be more parking space for the baseball field and for other things such as overflow parking for St. Joseph Catholic Church.

The project officially began last year after the Greater Jasper School Board approved a proposal from Gibraltar Design of Indianapolis to develop a plan for the demolition. But the plan to vacate the schools had been in the works for much longer.

The school corporation had been working with the company on projects concerning the two old elementary schools since 2013.

Then, in 2017, the school board began talking about possibly constructing a combined elementary school after a study showed nearly $20 million in necessary repairs at the Fifth and Tenth street schools.

“We did everything we could to solve those problems, and they could not be solved,” Bernie Vogler, then-school board president, said at the Jasper Elementary School groundbreaking ceremony in 2018. “So, we ended up doing this, and I think from what I’ve heard, we’ve never had one remonstrator, and all I’ve ever heard personally is that we did the right thing.”

After discussion of combining the schools, Gibraltar Design created a preview of what the new parking lot replacing Tenth Street Elementary would look like — 168 spots that could be used for baseball games, for activities at the nearby tennis courts and for overflow parking for the church.

At Fifth Street Elementary, the city recently approved the Southwestern Indiana Child Advocacy Center Coalition to operate in the 1988 addition of the building. SWICACC is a local nonprofit that serves child victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

“This was a school that provided a safe haven for children since the '50s, and now we’re gonna be able to do that just in a different manner,” Tammy Lampert, executive director of SWICACC, said in a December 2020 Jasper Board of Zoning Appeals meeting.

In August 2020, students and staff from both schools combined for the first time into Jasper Elementary School, an approximately 111,000-square-foot school with more than 30 classrooms, a gym, art and music rooms and a library. The school, which has about 850 students, cost about $30 million.

Construction to make the new parking lot will begin after the 10th Street school is completely demolished.




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