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NHBA donates to schools
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Alan Freeman, president of the Newton County Home Builders Association, presented $500 checks to the principals of Rocky Plains and Livingston elementary schools at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting.

Rocky Plains Principal Miranda Jones and Livingston Principal Wendy Hughes accepted the checks which they said will go toward the purchase of books at their schools' libraries.

Jones said expanding Rocky Plains' library is a top priority for her and her employees because it is the newest elementary school in the county. The school opened in 2005.

"We have grown, as you all know, with all the new subdivision out there," Jones said to the board.

Hughes, new principal for one of oldest elementary schools in the county, said students always love new books.

"Also, this money will be used to support non-fictional reading in third, fourth and fifth grades," Hughes said.

The NCHBA regularly assists the county schools with monetary donations as well as provides college scholarships.

"It's an honor to do this," Freeman said, "and we are pleased to do it."

In other news from Tuesday night's board meeting:

• Carroll Daniel Construction Company of Gainsville was awarded the construction contract with the low bid of $13,297,598 for the county's fifth middle school adjacent to the elementary school currently under construction by the company on Salem Road.  

 The four bids received were publicly opened at 3 p.m. Oct. 18. Carroll Daniel underbid the next lowest bidder, Meja Construction Inc. of Jackson by $662,402. Architect of record Ray Moore said bids were expected at approximately $14 million.

The Newton County Board of Education has requested $8,758,656 in state funds for the school's construction.

The school, which has a projected size nine regular classrooms larger than the four other middle schools with additions, will house 1,000 students and be constructed to accommodate future classroom additions if needed.

The school is scheduled to open for the 2009-2010 school year.

• For the sixth consecutive year, the Newton High School Marine Corps Junior Reserve Training Corps has earned national distinction as a Naval Honor Unit.

Lt. Col. Rick Stanford said selection as an honor unit is based on several different criteria.

First, a program must be bi-annually inspected and receive a "mission capable" rating by meeting all Marine Corps requirements for program continuation as well as maintaining the required number of cadets in the program, receiving scholarships and academy appointments and logging hours spent participating in community service activities.

The Marine Corps Training and Education Command in Quantico, Va., collects data from each program and evaluates and compares it to other programs around the country.

Stanford explained selection as a Naval Honor Unit gives ROTC cadets who wish to pursue an appointment to the Naval Academy, West Point or the Air Force Academy a greater advantage.

He added the honor also gives the cadets some "nice bragging rights."

Stanford, Newton High Principal Joe Gheesling and Newton County Schools Superintendent Steve Whatley said this honor proves Newton's MCJROTC program is one of the best in the state.