What is taking shape beyond that high chain-link fence? People see trucks and cranes and big machinery…but it’s difficult to actually get a peek at how the elementary school building project is coming along.
According to Miller School Superintendent Mike Ruth, much of the preliminary work is already completed, and building is progressing according to plan.
“We’re about a month behind the original schedule,” Ruth said. “But we’re still looking at a mid-May completion date.”
Ruth says all foundations are poured; you can determine the outline of the school.
He enumerated, “The utility work is done, the water, sewer and electric. The plumbing is roughed in. The masonry work on the locker rooms and the common area is complete. The low-bearing walls (concrete blocks) are installed.”
Ruth said right now the new gym is held up by beam supports, but steel bar-joists will soon arrive and will be placed by crane to support the walls and the roof. “Once that is done, they will be ready to enclose the gym, the commons and the lockers,” he explained.
In addition to all the building erection underway, a parking area is being readied to the north of Hand In Hand Daycare, where the tennis courts had been located. “The parking area for sure will be used for football patrons,” Ruth said. “It will probably also be used for school parking.”
Also complete is installation of the geo-thermal field. The tank that holds fuel oil has been re-buried in a new location. It had to be removed from its original “burial site” to make room for the project.
Ruth is hoping the school building walls will be up by mid-October/early November. At that time, work inside the building can get underway.
Brooke Peterson, Bossardt Corporation, is construction manager, and he’s responsible for overseeing the day-to-day, on-site construction. He was happy to give a tour, even in 98-degee weather.
The gym, he reported, was erected in one week, using high-tech panels that were constructed off-site, then hauled to Miller and installed by sections.
“The foundation (of the school) is complete, and you can see the full footprint of the building,” Peterson said. “Our goal is to have the shell of the building ready by November, so we can work inside during the winter.”
Obviously, the elementary teachers are excited about the progress being made. Peterson showed carpet samples that have been chosen. “This is tough carpeting, and it really cuts down on sound. The teachers and Principal Caffee have been involved all the way through on designs, colors…you can see their ‘fingerprints’ all over the place.”
Although the project was a bit behind at the beginning, Peterson says things are clicking right along now.
“The City utility guys have been great to work with. The construction workers at the site vary, depending on what’s being done, but on average we have 30 or more working here every day, both union and non-union, and everyone gets along.”
The workers are nearly all from South Dakota. “I’m impressed with the minority participation we have on this project,” Peterson said. “All different tribes from South Dakota are represented, and they are multi-talented. They easily move from one task to another.”
The lengthy construction venture is good for the area’s economy. “Depending on the length of time they’ll be here, several stay in motels. And of course, everybody eats in town,” Peterson said. “The electric guys have rented a house, because they’ll be here longer.”
Peterson is pleased with the work, and he is especially impressed with the geo-thermal system that will heat and cool the new school. “There are 98 wells, each one 250 feet deep,” he said. Everything will be located under the parking lot that will be just north of the ag shop. “It’s a neat high-tech system. It’s the best energy bang for the buck.”
Peterson, the HKG architect, the school board building committee, the board chairman and the superintendent meet each Tuesday morning to go over progress, and discuss any concerns or problems. “I talk to Mike every day, and the whole group meets every week,” Peterson elaborated.
“When everything is all said and done, all outside walls will be power-washed, ready for public inspection. And when the entire project is complete, I’m certain the public will be impressed with their new elementary school.”
Phontos this page by Ruth A. Moller|The Miller Press
WORK IN PROGRESS…counter-clockwise from the top. 1) Looking into the new gym. 2) Music room on right, gym on left. Corridor will be enclosed walkway to the elementary classrooms. 3) Working in the new gym. 4) Masonry work is underway, placing the concrete blocks for the lower section of walls. 5) The “outline” of the school building is now recognizable. 6) Gym walls, being braced.