CARROLLTON -- Area officials and schoolchildren broke ground Thursday for a new educational facility that one speaker at the event said would change the lives of thousands of people over the next 50 years.
"This is just the beginning," said David Quattrochi, superintendent of Carrollton Exempted Village Schools. "There are many more things to come. As (former football coach) Lou Holtz once said, 'You're either growing or you're dying.' We want to continue - and will continue - to grow this community."
Added Ed Robinson, the school's director of programs, "All of us have very high hopes for this new school, its future students and its future graduates. We hope that this school represents the value that this proud community places on education."
A large crowd gathered on the lawn of the administration building at 205 Scio Road south of Carrollton on a warm, sunny afternoon to witness the first shovels of dirt turned for the new building, which will be built at the same location. The Carrollton High School Marching Band was on hand to provide music.
The unique feature of the new $38 million middle school and high school is that no new taxes were necessary to pay for the project. The bulk of the money - 61 percent - will be coming from Carroll County Energy, which is building an electric generating plant north of Carrollton.
An enterprise zone agreement signed in 2014 guarantees Carrollton Schools $1.3 million for the next 30 years from Carroll County Energy. The remainder of the money will come from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.
Michael Murphy, site construction manager for Carroll County Energy, told the crowd that it was a unique experience for him to be involved in a project that will change lives for generations. And he noted that the funding formula is unique for Ohio and most parts of the country.
"When everybody went to the state to continue the project, the state says, no, you can't do this," he said. "Why? We've never done this before. Not really a good reason. So people continued to work and work and so it became something that actually did happen. And because of what was pioneered here, the same thing is happening on the next (power plant) project that's going to happen, and that's in the Wellsville area."
The plant there also will fund a new school, he said.
Commissioner Jeff Ohler, who was involved in negotiating the 2014 enterprise zone agreement, said commissioners were proud to have played a part in funding the new school.
He then gave a somewhat tongue-in-cheek account of the first meeting between Quattrochi and Jonathan Winslow, project manager for Carroll County Energy, when the agreement was discussed.
"Jonathan asked Dave, 'What are you trying to accomplish out of this, Dave?' " Ohler said. "And the first thing out of Dave's mouth was, 'Well, we're going to build a new school.' I thought there might be a little warm-up period, but there wasn't. And when he (Quattrochi) says that Jonathan was extremely on-board with that, we provided CPR and got him (Winslow) back on his feet and then he was fine. And I can assure you that when Jonathan walked into that session, he wasn't expecting a new high school to be built, but by the time he walked out, he knew Dr. Dave was serious, that that school was going to be built."
Ohler said the new building will help with economic development in Carroll County.
"I don't know how many times we met with companies that maybe wanted to locate here," he said. "There were always two big factors that prevented that from happening. One was water and sewer, and we're working diligently on that.
"And the other thing they said was, 'We're not crazy about your schools. We're not sure if we want to bring our employees and their families to this community with the type of facilities here.' I can assure you their tone is going to change pretty quick when that shovel goes into the ground in June."
Ohler added a personal note, saying he had been a football official for 39 years and that had given him the chance to look at high school facilities across eastern Ohio.
"I was always extremely envious when I go to those facilities and look around," he said. "I'd say, 'Why can't we do that?' And you know what, we don't have to do that anymore because it's going to happen."
The new school is expected to open for the 2019-20 school year.