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Wise County demolition projects back on track | News

WISE – Demolition of two former high schools and a former jail in Wise County is resuming after a delay caused by fuel delivery issues.

Wise County Administrator Mike Hatfield told the Board of Supervisors on Thursday that contractor SAFECO Environmental Inc. was finally able to begin receiving fuel deliveries for on-site equipment at the former Pound High School, the first of three sites to be demolished.

Pound School, the old JJ Kelly High School building and the old county jail were to be demolished late last year under an $847,372 contract, and the removal of the unexposed asbestos had been completed in January.

Hatfield said the Pound School annex, football pitch bleachers and grandstand have been demolished and work on the main building is expected to start on Monday and be completed in around two to three weeks.

Work is expected to begin on the Kelly site in late March, Hatfield said, and demolition of the prison is expected to be completed in late April.

Wise County is reviewing both school sites for potential commercial or mixed commercial-residential development, Hatfield added. Once the jail is demolished, he said, short-term plans call for it to become a courthouse parking lot.

The schools have been vacant since the county school system consolidated Pound and Kelly into Central High School in 2014.

The Board of Supervisors in 2019 and 2020 considered renovating Kelly into a county administration building that could have housed county offices as well as the health department, school board administrative offices, and social services department.

However, the multi-agency building plan fell through in 2020, when supervisors first decided on a new county social services building. The council then moved to make that department’s temporary quarters permanent in the former Sykes Building at Lonesome Pine Business and Technology Park.

The jail ceased operations in 2005 when the county joined the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority and sent prisoners to Duffield Regional Jail. County dispatch operations continued at the Wise site until 2011 when the County Justice Center opened.

Plans originally called for the demolition of the old social services building on Coeburn Road, but inspectors found the structure suitable as a storage building.