Demolition officially kicks off SHJH work

Sean C. Morgan

Demolition at Sweet Home Junior High School began last week with students swinging sledgehammers at a door.

It was a truly memorable day for junior high students.

Vice Principal Terry Augustadt gave the student body some pointers before they departed the gym to watch the demolition process begin.

He said the six students, who were chosen in a “golden ticket” lottery from Tiger Pride qualifiers who have demonstrated good behavior and responsibility, would get one swing “kind of like a piñata,” at the door. He also warned the teens: “Don’t drop the sledgehammer on your foot.”

He told all of the students that they needed to be responsible around the construction site and be careful to stay where they were supposed to.

“Be aware of your surroundings,” Augustadt said. “Talk to an adult about what’s in-bounds and what’s out-of-bounds.”

The 365 students and staff gathered on the school’s athletic field were clearly impressed as a number of chosen students got a chance to take a swing at the door, which was fitted with a piece of sheetrock to make it easily demolished.

Principal Colleen Henry and Supt. Tom Yahraes both took swings before Augustadt brought the house down, rather literally, by running up to the door and launching himself through what was left, then crawling out. Sweet Home School District personnel quickly took over and knocked over the two outbuildings that housed the school’s old art room, cafeteria and Basic Life Skills classroom.

The demolition makes way for additions to the school, including a new gymnasium, a new cafeteria, new locker rooms, a new office area, new security features, sloping for the roof, and aesthetic and infrastructure improvements. The parking area and vehicle access will change, with buses accessing the school via Mountain View, allowing parents to enter and exit a drop-off area off 22nd Avenue.

The project is funded by a $4 million bond approved by voters in May 2017. The state provided matching funds of $4 million. The bond is paying for various improvements at each of the district’s schools, including security enhancements.

Additional funding for the junior high project will come from the district’s Long-Term Maintenance Fund. The School District anticipates the project could cost more than $10 million.

The estimate for a contractor to complete the demolition was about $320,000, said Maintenance Supervisor Josh Darwood.

“The contractors (Gerding Construction of Corvallis) moved in their job trailer,” said Business Manager Kevin Strong. The contractor also is installing an access road, separate from the public areas of the school, to begin working on the site.

The outbuildings were demolished Tuesday, Nov. 6, said Darwood. “We’re going to clean those up, then we’ll start on the main building.”

The district will take down the locker rooms completely to make room for the new cafeteria on the north side of the gymnasium, Darwood said. That demolition will begin after Gerding cuts the building apart and divides the locker rooms from the gym.

“At the end of the month, (Gerding) going to start on the ground work,” Darwood said. “It’s going really well actually.”