Fayette school board votes to buy Herald-Leader building

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Fayette County Board of Education voted unanimously to purchase the Lexington Herald-Leader building for $7.5 million, according to the school district.

“We are excited to acquire and repurpose this tremendous location,” said Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk. “The Herald-Leader has played a central role in our community for decades and we are grateful for their partnership in this endeavor.”

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The district’s plan is to bring its existing career and technical education (CTE) programs – currently split between two campuses at Eastside Technical Center and Southside Technical Center – together under one roof in the newspaper building.

“We are looking not just to have the best CTE offerings in the central Kentucky region or the state; we want to make sure that the students who come through our career programs are the best prepared students in the nation,” Caulk said. “This also allows us to take the existing properties, which are landlocked and use those facilities in a different way.”

Wholesale renovation of the Eastside and Southside buildings have been priorities on the District Facilities Plan with a total price tag of $23 million for more than eight years, according to Chief Operating Officer Myron Thompson.  He says as the district was scouting possible locations for other innovative offerings, officials began discussing the synergy that could come from merging all of the CTE offerings.

“The District’s Strategic Plan calls for Excellent Student Opportunities where students are able to explore a spectrum of industries and sectors to discover and develop their talents, interests and passions,” Caulk said. “Combining these two programs gives us the opportunity to create a 22nd Century future-forward career and technical education campus and expand offerings.”

The Herald-Leader building is 162,476-square-feet, located on a 6.73-acre campus at 100 Midland Avenue.

“While we can’t grow in our existing spaces, this will provide a large space that is flexible enough to continually upgrade and prepare our students for rapidly advancing industry standards,” Caulk said.

The property purchase will not be final until the district completes several due diligence steps and receives final approval from the Kentucky Department of Education. The Local Planning Committee is in the process of amending the district facility plan to include a merged career and technical center, according to the school district.

“It has always been our hope and goal that, once our building was sold, its new use would have a positive impact on the community and downtown Lexington,” said Lexington Herald-Leader Executive Editor/General Manager Peter Baniak. “This new use as a school campus achieves that goal.”

The Herald-Leader’s main operations will continue to be based at 100 Midland until the property sale closes, which is likely to happen this fall. The Herald Leader, United Way of the Bluegrass and Seikowave, Inc. will remain in the building for up to 6 months after closing at $11.67 per square foot per year, according to the district.

There is no timeline for construction, according to FCPS.

“Acquiring this location is a huge step in that direction,” Thompson said. “Land and properties that meet our unique educational and operational needs are very scarce. We have been very fortunate in recent years to obtain some great properties and I’m glad we are putting this in our real estate portfolio to enhance our CTE programs.”

The school district says the programs at Southside include carpentry construction, electrical technology, electronics technology, advanced manufacturing, welding, culinary arts, pre-nursing and medical sciences. The programs at Eastside include automotive and transportation technology, media arts: video/studio production/cinematography, digital design & game development, fire & emergency services, law enforcement, and homeland security.

 

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.