In a landslide, voters approved a $50 million grant from the state of Connecticut at Newtown Middle School Saturday -- funds that will now go to pay for a new Sandy Hook Elementary School, to be built on the site of the old school at 12 Dickenson Drive.
Supporters cheered as the vote was announced at about 8:26 pm.
"It's relief and an exhilaration at the same time," said Selectman Jim Gaston. "It's a tremendous endorsement and expression of support for Sandy Hook from the whole town."
Advocates for the measure took to the street Saturday, stationing sign-bearers at the corner of Church Hill and Queen Street and in the center of Sandy Hook. Prior to the results, Legislative Council member Mary Ann Jacob credited a "Text 5" grassroots campaign with turning out voters.
"We asked people to text 5 friends to [remind them to vote]," she said. "Our challenge is always the same: get the yes votes out. And we like to see strong showings."
Board of Education member Laura Roche, who stood outside Newtown Middle School during the day holding signs with other advocates, said she was "speechless" with joy after the results were announced.
"This has been an emotional vote, obviously," she said. "This will help our town heal and move forward. But I wish we could have brought all of our kids back to Sandy Hook ... That's the most emotional part of all."
Now that the measure has been approved, officials say work can begin in earnest on the school. Prior to the vote, First Selectman Pat Llodra said the goal is to have the school open by September 2016, but construction firm Consigli Construction feels they might be able to get the school completed by January 2016.
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