• 50°

Alumni, Duke Energy help repair ROTC tower at South Rowan High School

CHINA GROVE — It’s been a long wait, but South Rowan High School’s ROTC tower is rising from the ashes at last.

The 40-foot tower burned to the ground on Jan. 10. Maj. Bill Lowe, head of the ROTC program, said the tower is one of the first obstacles cadets conquer — teaching them that they can succeed despite fear.

According to Landis Police Chief Kenny Isenhour, a 911 caller reported the fire about midnight Jan. 10. It is unclear if the fire was an accident or if it was set deliberately.

The tower’s loss was a major one for JROTC programs across the county, as it was one of two such rappelling towers in the district. The other is at East Rowan High School. Having an on-site rappel tower drew lots of students to the program, Lowe said.

On Feb. 12, the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education voted to rebuild the tower. Assistant Superintendent Anthony Vann said insurance should cover the construction costs.

But the story of its rebirth is also one of community. Lowe said in a previous interview that if insurance hadn’t covered the cost of rebuilding the tower, current and former ROTC students and South Rowan alumni were waiting in the wings to donate, run fundraisers and restore what had been lost.

According to Vann, the contract amount to rebuild the tower will be about $144,300. That will will be covered by insurance, but the contract must be approved by the Board of Education at its August business meeting. Vann said the lowest bid on the project was submitted by LaFave Construction of Landis.

However, work has already begun on the site of the old tower, thanks to some South Rowan alumni and Duke Energy Corp.

On July 23, Duke Energy sent a 10-man crew of line technicians to install tall wooden poles that will support the tower. Half of them formerly attended the high school, said Randy Welch, district area manager for Duke Energy.

Line technicians work on maintaining and repairing high-voltage lines and setting power poles.

“So South Rowan was kind of right in their skill set. They wanted to use those skills to help the community and give back to the community,” Welch said.

After the tower burned in January, Mike Yost, a South Rowan graduate and Duke Energy lineman, approached his supervisors and asked if Duke might be able to lend a hand.

“He was kind of the organizer from the employee team,” Welch said.

The Duke Energy Foundation provided about $4,000 to purchase the poles and coordinated with the school system on the specifications and setting up an installation date.

Yost was joined on July 23 by fellow alumni Mark Beaver, Jon Beaver, David Tilley and Jonathan Basinger. Several other linemen also “felt the call,” Welch said, including Chris Whitley, Jon Lageman, Duane Stutler, Greg Johnson and Zach Brubaker.

The crew, supervised by Andie Hunter, volunteered the time to install the poles.

Welch said the project was part of Duke Energy’s Action Month, when the company tries to do community outreach or projects.

“This is something we want to do,” he said.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.

Comments

Nation/World

Senate Democrats strike deal on jobless aid, move relief bill closer to approval

News

Duke Life Flight pilot may have shut down wrong engine in fatal crash

News

Two NC counties get to participate in satellite internet pilot for students

Local

PETA protesters gather in front of police department

Coronavirus

Seven new COVID-19 deaths, 166 positives reported in county this week

Crime

Sheriff’s office: Two charged after suitcase of marijuana found in Jeep

Crime

Thomasville officer hospitalized after chase that started in Rowan County

Local

Board of elections discusses upgrading voting machines, making precinct changes

News

Lawmakers finalize how state will spend COVID-19 funds

Local

Salisbury Station one of several ‘hot spots’ included in NCDOT rail safety study

Education

Essie Mae Kiser Foxx appeal denied, school considering options

News

Iredell County votes to move Confederate memorial to cemetery

Nation/World

Lara Trump may have eyes on running for a Senate seat

Local

Rowan among counties in Biden’s disaster declaration from November floods

Local

PETA plans protest at Salisbury Police Department on Friday

Education

Essie Mae Kiser Foxx appeal denied, charter revoked

Coronavirus

29 new positives, no new COVID-19 deaths reported

Crime

Blotter: Woman charged with drug crimes

News

Nesting no more: Eagles appear to have moved on from Duke’s Buck Station

Business

The Smoke Pit leaving downtown Salisbury for standalone building on Faith Road

Education

Shoutouts

High School

High school football: Hornets’ Gaither set the tone against West

Local

Salisbury to show off new fire station

Education

Livingstone College to host virtual Big Read events this month