HUMPHREYS COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The United States Department of Agriculture is giving financial relief to an aging high school in Humphreys County, the same school district hit by raging flood waters back in August 2021.
McEwen High School will get an 88,000 square foot, state-of-the-art masonry style building to accommodate 700 students.
McEwen High School was built back in 1948 and was in need of remodeling well before a flood ripped through homes and much of the Humphreys County School district, including its central office.
“We been working on a new McEwen school for about 4-5 years now,” said Richard Rye, Director of Schools for Humphreys County. “We tried it back 12 years ago and the funding didn’t come through.”
The USDA has approved a $23,813,515 direct loan solely dedicated to rebuilding McEwen High.
Plans for the two-story facility were in the works before the 2021 flood.
In Waverly, just a few miles away from McEwen, an elementary school and Jr. High School sit empty. Flood waters destroyed those buildings last summer, leaving the district with yet another building project to tackle.
“Two separate deals there,” Rye explained. “That happened right before we lost our two schools in Waverly. I’m working with FEMA every day just about, trying to help with the funds for those two schools.”
Rye says it will likely take three to four years before those schools are rebuilt. In the interim, the district wants to use the old boot factory on Hwy 70 as a temporary school. Once refurbished, it will house about 69 classes of middle and elementary students.
Rye says he hopes to have the temporary facility open by fall semester, but supply chain issues are holding up their progress.
“We’re fighting that,” said Rye. “We’re waiting on the weather to be a certain temperature, so we can replace the roof on the boot plant down there.”
The $23 million dollar loan cannot be used for the schools in Waverly, unfortunately. Approximately 1,100 students attended those schools.
The district also lost 17 buses in the flood. Contracts are already in the works to replace 15 of those.