The ground-breaking ceremony for the new school, which merges single-A high schools Matewan, Burch, Gilbert and Williamson into a new, state-of-the-art double-A school, will be August 12 at 10:30 a.m. and the new football field will be dedicated at 1 p.m.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will be attending the ground breaking ceremony, according to a spokesperson from Tomblin’s office.
The new school is located on a 90-acre reclaimed mine site at Newtown, just outside Matewan and Red Jacket. It lies along what will be U.S. Route 73, which is also known as the King Coal Highway. The school will be for students grades 9-12.
Mingo Central’s mascot will be the Miners and the school’s colors are powderpuff blue, black and white.
The consolidation was first announced in 1999 to a group of about 50 Mingo County residents who were tasked to come up with a comprehensive plan for Mingo County’s school system that was suffering from declining enrollment and poor test scores.
The news of possible consolidation was broken by The Logan Banner a day after the first meeting was held in Williamson, but other area media outlets continued to say the reports weren’t true.
The group actually worked to form a plan to keep the four schools open, but Mingo County Board of Education members voted to go ahead and consolidate the schools into what was then being called Mingo South High School. Gilbert was originally being left out of the consolidation, pending the construction of the King Coal Highway.
But, voters did not want their schools consolidated and voted out members who were for the merger. That didn’t matter much, because the state came in and took over and forced the consolidation.
Ground was then broken on the highway and the school in 2001.
Plans for the consolidation were drawn up around 2005, but funds were not in place. The school cost around $40 million to build and has a gymnasium that seats 2,500 and a turfed football stadium that seats 4,000. The school will reportedly offer more classes geared toward preparing students for college and the vocational school is also located on the campus.
Gordon Carter, the school’s assistant principal and athletics director, said enrollment is at 820, which will make Mingo Central a large, Class AA school.
Feeder schools for Mingo Central will be Burch Middle School, Gilbert K-8, Matewan Middle and Williamson Middle.
The Mingo Miners will participate in sports that include football, basketball, baseball, track and field, volleyball, softball and golf.
Former Matewan Football Coach Danny “Yogi” Kinder was the first coach hired and he is currently coaching nearly 100 players from the four merged schools.
Former Tug Valley Principal Deborah Harris is the principal. Harris came out of retirement to take the helm of the new school.
The football team, along with several other fall sports teams, are scheduled to conduct their first practices at the new school on Monday, August 8, Carter said.