A spring downpour did nothing to dampen the spirit of the day. Matanuska Susitna Borough mayor Larry DeVilbiss, wearing a hard hat, stood with other state and Borough officials and school district leaders to work gold painted shovels into the dirt for the ceremonial first dig at the construction site.
“This is the first major school project in ten years. And this is a complex, it includes high school, middle and elementary school. So, it’s a big step out into the future where our growing center is. “
DeVilbiss says the school project is keeping up with the growth in the area. He says if Knik -Fairview incorporated, it would be the fifth largest city in the state.
The new Joe Reddington, Sr, junior/senior high school will house some 550 students as soon as the doors open in the fall of next year. Catherine Esary, spokeswoman for the Mat Su School District, says it will be a junior -senior high school to begin with, then convert to a high school.
“Actually, we have enough students out here to fill it. When we open it, it will be full, because we’ll be bringing kids from Wasilla middle and high school. We have twenty portables there now. So this will help decrease that crowding. And also, we have two elementary feeder schools already at Knik and Goose Bay. They house 400 and 450 students, so we already have 800 kids ready to come. You know, these are not built out into the future, these are just in time construction projects, which we thank our voters for.”
The 65 million dollar project is being paid for out of a bond package that Borough voters approved in 2011.
Barbara Redington, Raymie Redington’s wife and daughter in law of Joe, says she’s proud the school is named after him
“It’s such a great honor for Joe, and for Vi [Redington]. What an honor for Joe, especially in the Knik area, where he homesteaded. He homesteaded here to Knik in 1948.”
The once remote Redington homestead now fronts on one of the busiest highways in the state. Despite the congestion along Knik – Goose Bay Road, the school ‘s location about a mile off the highway is quiet and surrounded by forest.
Construction machinery droned in the background during the event. Bulldozers were still leveling the recently cleared 103 acres for the project.
Mike Brown with the Borough’s capital projects department, says the plan calls for a second school to be built on the site after the new building is complete. The two schools will address over crowding in Borough schools. I’m Ellen Lockyer