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Renovation Zone

Renovation Zone Renovation Zone

Renovation work of the North Harrison Middle School commenced last month.
‘This (project) is a big deal for the school community,’ Lance Richards, assistant superintendent of the North Harrison Community School Corp., said.
The middle school was built in 1954 as the high school. A gymnasium was added to the building in 1956, and, in 1971 and again in 1987, the library was expanded. When the new high school was built in the early 1990s just to the east, the structure became the middle school.
Midway through the 2014-15 school years, a proposal to renovate the middle school began. Then, in February 2015, the school board of trustees unanimously approved the middle school project and voted to refinance the current outstanding debt on the North Harrison Elementary School project and combine the outstanding debt with $10 million that would allow for the middle school renovation without increasing taxes for the project.
Mold issues, asbestos, a leaking roof and water-line problems, with maintenance costing several thousands of dollars a year, were some of the major concerns of the aging building.
Richards said a ‘very aggressive time line’ has been established for the project.
Bids for the project were awarded in January. The four primary contractors are EH Construction (general construction), Huntingburg Machine Works (HVAC), Weyer Electric and Delta Services (technology). With the exception of Weyer Electric, these contractors were used for the Morgan Elementary School project a few years ago.
‘They all cited their positive experiences at Morgan as a reason why they were very aggressive in their bids,’ Richards said.
Two other companies, architectural firm Kovert-Hawkins and Shireman Construction, as project manager, used for the MES project return to head up the middle school project.
The removal of ceilings and grids in the two-story portion of the school building began Feb. 1. That was coupled with some minor demolition in that same area of the building in preparation of work to be completed this summer.
Then last month, construction fencing was put up in front of the building and a temporary front entry was created.
Phase 2 of the project, which is expected to last through January, got underway last week. This includes starting the new academic wing, which will extend east from the middle school library toward the high school, and the new front office/entry.
‘The biggest impact on our daily operations is that all foot traffic will have to go through the west-wing doors,’ Richards said. ‘Faculty, staff and students will lose access to the rear parking area located behind the band and choir area. Everyone will need to park out front and enter that way.
‘We will still have emergency exits in those rear areas,’ he said. ‘We just can’t have it for general use.’
Phase 3 work ‘ windows, ceilings, lights, flooring, wiring, plumbing, HVAC ‘ is to be completed between June and August.
‘I can’t promise it will all be 100-percent complete in this time frame,’ Richards said. ‘However, we will occupy that space in August’ for the start of the 2016-17 school year.
The final phase, set to commence early next year, includes the demolition of the west wing/old upper elementary school, with that area made into parking, and tearing out the cafeteria and constructing a new one, as well as a kitchen.
‘This new cafeteria will be larger than our existing facility,’ Richards said. ‘The new kitchen will actually extend into what is now the computer lab in the west wing.
‘We will have to serve lunch in the gym’ during the process, with the middle school kitchen staff sharing space with another school, like what occurred during the MES project, and transporting the food to the middle school, he said.
If all goes as planned, most of the work will be finished by the start of the 2017-18 school year.
‘In the construction world, they call that ‘substantial completion’,’ said Richards, who was principal when the Morgan Elementary project commenced. ‘It is an aggressive time line, and weather, or some other unknown, can always shift plans. If we figure out we can get into an area or complete something earlier, we will.’
The key word to keep in mind, Richards said, is flexibility.
‘As you well know, it will be worth it in the long run,’ Richards said. ‘We have sincerely appreciated the support we have received from everyone in our system and throughout our school community as we have moved forward with this project.’
Anyone with questions or wanting more information is encouraged to call Richards at 812-347-2407 or Nathan Freed, principal at NHMS, at 812-347-2421.