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March 13, 2014 7:33 am

Old high school project approved

Written by Tessa Schweigert

Most of building coming down; remaining one-story section to be renovated 

Demolishing the old three-story Powell High School building and renovating a one-story section for continued use will cost upwards of $2.6 million.

Park County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees unanimously approved a $2,660,390 bid from Sletten Construction of Wyoming on Tuesday night. The bid was the lowest of four received.

“We’re hoping to have the contract documents all done and ready for them to start April 1,” Todd Wilder, coordinator of support services for the school district, said Tuesday.

The three-story section totaling 80,000 square feet will be completely torn down, and the old footprint will become green space for the renovated one-story facility, Wilder said.

“We’re keeping a fairly significant portion of the building that will continue to facilitate student learning,” Wilder said.

Of the project’s $2.6 million cost, about one third of that is for demolition and the rest will go toward renovations of the remaining 26,000-square-foot section, said Austin Allen, project manager with Sletten Construction in Cody.

Before demolition begins, crews must remove asbestos from the building, which was built in 1957. That will take about three to four weeks. After the asbestos abatement, demolition is expected to take about six weeks from start to finish, Allen said.

He said crews will make sure the demolition is done safely and as quickly as possible, since the school district will continue to use the one-story section of the building.

“We don’t want to disrupt anything that they’re doing,” he said, adding that it’s “definitely possible” for the district to maintain their operations while the work is going on.

The one-story section of the building that will remain totals 26,000 square feet. By comparison, the old Southside Elementary School building — now the home of Trinity Bible Church — is nearly 30,000 square feet.

Renovations will create two functional areas in the one-story section — one that is educational and one that is more industrial in nature, Wilder said.

Some of the section will be renovated to house multi-learning spaces that will support the district’s Pre-Kindergarten Transition Program, a district training room for educators and staff, a classroom to serve emotionally and behaviorally disturbed students and an in-school suspension room, Wilder said.

Another part of the one-story section will continue to be used for the school district’s Support Services Department and also to house the district warehouse and secure storage facility. The space also is used for the district’s print shop, its IT department offices, workspaces, maintenance shop and District Credit Union.

“It’s going to be a very good space for the district’s staff and students,” Allen said.

During Tuesday’s school board meeting, Trustee Trace Paul asked how the district will protect all of its computer equipment in the IT department from dust, ground vibration and other activity during the demolition of the three-story building.

“Through all that, we’ll be watching it very close and protecting the equipment,” Wilder said.

Wilder said there will be very little renovation work on that side of the building. While asbestos is being removed, everything will be enclosed to prevent dust from getting into the remaining section of the building.

Plastic material will cover the areas where asbestos is being removed, and fans will help crews control air in the building, he said.

“They will have full control over the dust that occurs during the work,” Wilder said. “I’m really confident we won’t have dust in there.”

While the one-story building still will house employees and equipment this spring and summer, the district will work closely with contractors to ensure safety aspects, Wilder said.

“Our number-one concern on any project is safety, and that’s magnified on a demolition project,” Allen said.

During demolition work, crews will salvage and recycle what they can, such as steel and copper wire and pipes.

The general contractor can salvage anything that’s left in the building, Wilder said.

If groups or individuals are interested in salvaged bricks or other materials from the building, they should contact Sletten Construction. Allen said the company is open to working with folks, adding, “we’re a community member, too.”

Allen said Sletten employees are looking forward to the project in Powell, noting a number of them live here.

He also said he’s pleased with the number of local subcontractors on the project. Wilder said the demolition/renovation project is utilizing more local subcontractors than any other project he’s worked on in the district or state.

“Ninety-two percent of the work is being done by local contractors,” Wilder said.

That means about 92 percent of the money from the $2.6 million project is going back into the local economy, he said.

Of the 14 subcontractors on the project, only three are from out of state, and those all are Billings companies. The list of subcontractors includes two from Powell, five from Cody and one from Burlington. The farthest subcontractors are from Jackson and Casper, which isn’t very far by Wyoming standards, Wilder said.

The four bids submitted from general contractors attest to the fact that “the market is very competitive right now,” Allen said.

The other three bids were from the Wright Brothers — The Building Company at $2,674,507, Groathouse Construction at $2,827,000 and GH Phipps at $2,829,900.

The contract completion date for the old high school demolition/renovation project is Sept. 30.

The old Powell High School housed students through May 2008, but the building’s cafeteria and kitchen were used through May 2012 for middle school students. A new addition to Powell Middle School completed in 2012 features a cafeteria and kitchen.

Allen said Powell has some of the nicest school facilities in Wyoming, and credited Wilder and Superintendent Kevin Mitchell for their work and wise use of resources.

“Powell is really ahead of the curve compared to other communities,” Allen said.

  It’s only a drill

The old Powell High School is being turned into something of a law enforcement classroom.

Local police officers used the facility for training exercises last week, again on Wednesday and will use it next week as well.

School district officials notified parents about Wednesday’s exercises to calm any concerns about a heavy police presence at the empty building; Powell police also contacted surrounding residents in advance.

2 comments

  • Comment Link March 16, 2014 11:47 am posted by clipstein

    sad only for delusions it would still be hearing the high schoolers making all the noise they could

  • Comment Link March 18, 2014 9:19 am posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    I hear shades of the leaky pool...now just who built that.

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