BOTETOURT – Lord Botetourt and James River High School football fields are getting new lighting this spring.

The Botetourt County School Board unanimously agreed last week to approve a $320,235 bid to put new poles and lights at the two high schools, and to put wiring underground at LBHS. Wiring is already underground at JRHS.

Appalachian Power Co. (Apco) was the low bidder for the project that will be paid for from the school division’s minor capital reserve fund. Superintendent Dr. Tony Brads said the bid is about $100,000 less than the cost estimate the school division got 18 months ago.

The school administration recommended the School Board put the project out to bid last month because of safety concerns over the nearly 50-year-old poles and lights, and overhead wiring at LBHS. He said then that if the bids were favorable the board could elect to move forward with the project this month.

With a very tight budget facing the school division, Brads reiterated to the board and the public that the project was recommended because of safety concerns and the reason it had not made it into the regular capital improvements plan was because of so much roof replacement work the school division has been doing in recent years.

“These are items of vital necessity that need to be done for safety and liability reasons,” newly elected School Board Chairman Michael Beahm said.

The school division has two other capital projects under way, and Brads updated the board on those.

He said renovations at Breckinridge Elementary School are moving along well despite a 10-day weather delay on outside work. He said new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units at the school should be in operation in early February.

Weather also delayed roof work about three weeks on the Central Administration Office in Fincastle, and HVAC work is expected to start after the first of February.

Brads also told the School Board that the maintenance staff prepared Lord Botetourt High School for an emergency shelter on December 19 when the area got as much as 20 inches of snow which, in some instances, stranded motorists on I-81 and caused power outages.

He said the maintenance staff removed snow from the parking lot at the county emergency services department’s request. The school wasn’t needed for a shelter, although in neighboring counties, emergency shelters were needed.

The snow and cold weather over the Christmas/New Year’s break did create a few problems because of power outages and broken water lines at a few schools. Brads complimented the staff and students for accommodating the disruptions those caused.