The Marion County Board of Education (MCBOE) selected The Omni Associates—Architects to provide full-service architectural and engineering services. After seeking input and suggestions from the citizens of Marion County, WV, the MCBOE set a priority on construction of a new middle school to replace the existing Dunbar Middle and Miller Junior High Schools which were built in the 1920’s. Both schools enrolled approximately 350 students. This project was very important on several fronts. A new facility would replace outdated and unusable facilities. The project could be a redevelopment catalyst for a neglected community within the city of Fairmont and perhaps, equally important, regain the trust of the citizens of Marion County. Several prior projects that the County undertook were met with project delays, setbacks and cost overruns that resulted in a long history of ill feelings between the Marion County population and the MCBOE.
As planned, the new school is acting as a catalyst in an area of Fairmont that has been earmarked for development, “The Beltline Area”. Along with the MCBOE, the city and county government have desired to develop this Beltline Area into a viable mixed-use neighborhood for several years. Upon the completion of this school those plans have been set into motion.