CARUTHERSVILLE, MO -- Wednesday is bittersweet for residents of one Region 8 town as they take the first step in rebuilding their high school that was destroyed two years ago by a tornado. Since April of 2006 the people of Caruthersville have been trying to find a way to build a new school and now that dream is closer to being made a reality.
"I'm really sad. It's kind of like going to a funeral. I feel like we should be celebrating but it's sad to see this building come down," said Caruthersville Superintendent J.J. Bullington.
At a ceremony held on Wednesday over 1,000 people watched as demolition started.
"It's just so wonderful. It's so exciting that we're finally getting our school and that we're going to have this," said Caruthersville High School teacher Ellen Madison.
"With the new school it will make us all come back together like we were and I'm ready for it," said student Casey Moss.
The new school is projected to cost about $10,000,000 and will be paid for by insurance money, FEMA money and a no-interest loan from the state through Senate Bill 1170. United States Senator Claire McCaskill said this has been a long time coming.
"The good news is FEMA is going to pay the vast majority of paying for a new school and the community will have to pay a small part of that," said McCaskill.
Superintendent Bullington said they will probably need about $3,000,000 from the state from Senate Bill 1170.
"It's a true example of government for the people. They've come forward, they've stepped up to the plate and said what do you need," said Bullington.
There are many people who attended the ceremony who went to school in the Caruthersville High School Building.
"I'm sad. I'll be sad when I see the ball knocked down but I'm excited because it's going to be a wonderful thing for our students to have a new school," said Madison.
Over 700 middle and high school students were there for the ceremony and the start of demolition. Most of those students have never had the opportunity to even attend a class in the old high school building.
"For Juniors, it means a lot to us because we were so ready to go into the high school but we didn't have a chance to," said Moss.
"We have many fond memories of our high school years and part of that is being in a building and all the activities that go along with it. They've missed out on all that," said Bullington.
The demolition of the school is expected to take about five weeks.
The projected completion date for the new high school is May of 2010. The class of 2011 will be the first graduating class out of the school.