The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Junior High remodeling project includes mix of local ingenuity


June 12, 2019

Sean C. Morgan

SCHOOL DISTRICT MAINTENANCE staff members Scott May and Jeff Landtroop, on the ladder, attach a new siding frame to the Junior High.

Of The New Era

Recent visitors to Sweet Home Junior High will have seen School District maintenance crews busy putting up the the framework for the new exterior walls.

District crews have been increasing their level of involvement in the Junior High renovation project, taking on more of the project directly as the cost of hiring contractors has been increasing, said Maintenance Supervisor Josh Darwood, who was a local contractor prior to working for the district. Under the contract manager-general contractor model for construction, Darwood and the district have been working with Gerding Builders to adjust the project.

The project is funded by a $4 million bond levy approved by voters in May 2016. The bond levy was matched by a $4 million grant from the State of Oregon. District officials estimated the junior high project at about $7 million at the time of the bond. Approximately $1 million was slated for remodeling elementary schools with secure entrances and smaller building improvements across the district.

Since then, the district included changes in the scope of the project. To offset the expansion of the scope and rising construction costs, the board agreed to use funding from the Long-Term Maintenance Fund to make up any differences.

Those changes included a new bus loop, updated parking and parent drop-off zone, additional bracing for the roof structure, a new full-size gym instead of auxiliary gym, an expanded warming kitchen for the cafeteria, a mezzanine level above the new locker room to provide storage space, music equipment storage, a video production studio, upgraded windows and doors for greater durability and lifespan, a loading dock at the kitchen, a fire suppression system in existing classroom wings, seismic upgrades and two exterior basketball courts.

The district, Gerding and the architect have continued to adjust the plan to keep costs down, something Darwood said wouldn't be possible under the traditional bid-build process.

Construction began in earnest in April.

District maintenance staff began building the underlying panels for the new walls, Darwood said, and last week, "we started panelizing all the walls to go around the school. Gerding did the excavation and put in the sub-base for the road and dug out the footings."

R.J. Armstrong, a local contractor, completed the excavation, Darwood said.

By late May, Gerding was working on the frames for the footings, Darwood said. The rock used for the sub-base came from Liberty Rock's quarry on Berlin Road. Cascade Timber Consulting donated decorative boulders, from a rock pit off Green Mountain Road, for the courtyard which is located at the former main entrance.

"They're (Gerding and contractors) going to keep working on the new construction," Darwood said. "As soon as school's out, the roof's going to get torn apart."

The HVAC equipment will come off the roof, he said, and then the contractor will install new tapered insulation to give the flat roof a slope. A "chase" accessible to a person will run along the roof to contain data and low-voltage cables and fire sprinkler lines.

District workers will begin expanding classroom windows around the school to match the new siding panels, Darwood said.

Construction of the new cafe-teria and office area is scheduled to begin July 2, said Wayne Lund of Gerding. Construction on the locker rooms is scheduled to begin July 10. The rest of the new gymnasium is scheduled for July 24. Those two pieces are scheduled for completion by Aug. 6 and followed by roofing.

Then crews will begin framing and finishing the interiors, Darwood said. "It'll be pretty near a year before that stuff's finished."

The goal is to have the eastern part of the building ready to go before school starts in September, he said.

Renovation of the current office will begin in summer 2020, he said. That part of the project will create a new "maker space" and art area, teacher's lounge and Basic Life Skills room. It also will include renovation in the library.

As soon as school is out, the district also will go to work on projects at Foster and Holley elementary schools, he said. The two projects are primarily seismic upgrades funded by $3 million in state grants and handled by Gerding.

During the project, the district will renovate the office areas, similar to the renovation at Hawthorne Elementary School last summer.

As part of those projects, the district will rearrange offices, Darwood said. Holley will get a new cafeteria, and Foster will have a new entrance for parent pickup and drop-off on the east side, the Quince-Poplar street side, of the building.

Those projects are scheduled for completion in late August.


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