Ground broken a year after fire destroys school

On Monday, Dec. 5, Latham R-V School students join the administrators, board members and Rep. Caleb Jones to officially break ground for the new Latham R-V School facility.

On Monday, Dec. 5, Latham R-V School students join the administrators, board members and Rep. Caleb Jones to officially break ground for the new Latham R-V School facility. Photo by David Wilson.

In Latham, the official groundbreaking for the new R-V school facility took place Monday, Dec. 5, just under a year after the old school was destroyed by fire.

The fire, which left the Latham R-V School devastated and the community in shock, occurred in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Dec. 15.

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Rep. Caleb Jones and Latham School Administrator Tanya Brown answering questions after the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Latham R-V School.

The students returned to their studies, first in temporary facilities courtesy of two local churches on Jan. 3, and then in portable classrooms on the school grounds on Feb. 28.

With a completion date of July 31, 2012, it appears that the students will now start the new school year in August in a new classroom building and gym. The School Board met in emergency session immediately after the fire and set about securing space for classes and activities.

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Latham students, past and present, join teachers, parents, board members and staff at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new school.

The fire and its aftermath drew attention to the community and everyone, not just Latham, but also of Mid-Missouri, seemed to get in on the act with fundraising activities and donations and grants for library books and other materials and school supplies. Area newspapers, television and radio which were on the story at the outset and continued to let everyone know what was needed.

The media attention still continues and as a result, three local television stations were on hand with cameras to record the groundbreaking.

With insurance money, more than $100,000 from various fundraisers and $80,000 which must come from school funds, construction will start on the new classroom and gym facility.

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Three members on one large family with Latham school attendance in its history attend the groundbreaking ceremony. From left are Mary Allee Coleman, Rita Allee Dallmeyer and Faye Allee Moser.

According to Administrator Tanya Brown, insurance was held up for a while because of a problem with the gym, which had survived the fire. In spite of cleaning and painting, the gym was still not useable by the students. Currently it is being used for storage, but its longterm future is uncertain.

According to Brown, there was never any doubt of the school being rebuilt.

School Board members are President Kerry Baumgartner, Vice President Jill Meisenheimer, Lance Fulks, Dee Irey, Michael Bolinger, Tim Gish and Shawn Higgins.

"The Community has been a great help," said Fulks.

"The Jones Law Firm has been a great help in getting the insurance settled," said Administrator Brown.

"I'm just glad everything is rolling along," said Rep. Jones, a member of the Jones Law Firm.

The brick building which burned a year ago was built in 1930, following a Dec. 19, 1929 fire. The previous building dated to 1897.

The new building will be the fourth Latham School facility. The town has had a school since at least 1865. The office, main foyer, and gym were added in 1951-52.

Latham R-V School currently has 61 students.

Asked what was still needed, Brown said cash donations can always be used. The construction company which was awarded the bid is Curtis, Maness and Schulte, Eldon. The job supervisor is Richard Cotten.

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