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Architects address school

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By Brandon Mattingly

Representatives from Ross Tarrant Architects were on hand at last Monday’s Washington County School Board meeting, and discussions about the progress made in construction of the new high school was at the forefront of talks.

Leonard Bowers of Ross Tarrant informed the board that a “lot of progress has been made” since school officials last met with the architects on-site, and that many of the issues that the board had concerns about are being taken care of.

One of the big issues was displeasure with the flooring in some areas of the school, and Bowers said much has been done to quell those concerns. He said representatives from CDI (Carpet Decorators, Inc.) worked diligently from Friday, July 11 to Monday, July 14 to correct the issues, and that much of it was addressed. Bowers did say the group had to put a halt to the work when the necessary materials ran low, but that another order is on the way and the final corrections should be made in the near future.

Bowers also noted that asphalt has been put down for the student and staff parking lots.

“We’re working hard to get a lot of things ready,” Bowers said, “so when you do move into the school, you’ll have everything ready to go.”

School officials also reiterated concerns they have over some of the concrete work — particularly the front sidewalk and the loading dock area —in regard to psi (pounder per square inch) levels not matching the original specifications, as well as not having the look that officials expected.

“The aesthetics of the concrete in the front; it’s awful,” said Superintendent Robin Cochran. “You have gaps that are an inch or three-fourths of an inch all the way down to one-fourth of an inch. It matters. On a loading dock, if it doesn’t look as good, that’s one thing, but out front it matters.”

Ron Murrell of Ross Tarrant said the layout of the concrete sections matches the specifications and that any replacements would have a similar look.

“You do understand that you have different widths of joints based upon the type of joint that you have,” Bowers added. “Some of them are tool joints that are smaller, some are expansion joints that are larger and they will be caulked.”

Murrell said the district’s options were to have the concrete removed and replaced or to accept the work as it stands for a savings of $19,300 that could be used to replace any necessary sections in the future.

Murrell also discussed the loading dock area, stating that the elevated slab (non-traffic area of concrete) should not need to be replaced, but that coring and testing could be done on the pavement (vehicular use area) to check the psi and thickness of the cement.

He also noted that the psi requirements that have been brought into question are recent changes that were made at the state level. He said the requirements were changed not to increase the strength of the concrete, but to keep the installer from overworking and spalling the cement, bringing up water and blemishing the surface.

Murrell said that regardless of psi, avoiding aggressive de-icers and salts is the best way to make sure the sidewalks last.

The Washington County School Board held a special-called meeting on Thursday to discuss what action to take in regard to the sidewalk issue and representatives from Alliance — the company responsible for the construction — were in attendance.

Following Monday’s meeting, the group decided to move forward with the removal of the front walk, taking those discussions off the table prior to Thursday. Cochran said on Monday that the district’s stance in the discussion was to avoid leaving any unnecessary work for future generations.

“I don’t want to leave a mess for anyone,” she said. “I don’t want people to be struggling with, ‘Well, why wasn’t the concrete dealt with when they had the opportunity to deal with it?’”

Alliance requested that the concrete pads at the fire/emergency exits that do not connect with any sidewalks be allowed to remain, as they won’t receive as much attention from salts and de-icers. After discussion, the board decided to remove all but two of the pads that did not look bad and will not be frequently used.

The board also decided to allow the apron of the loading dock area to remain, after coring was done during the week that revealed the concrete to be at 4000 psi. The specs required 4500 psi, but a discrepancy in the plans led to the change.

Cochran said the rush to get the changes completed show why it was necessary to schedule the move to the new school for October.

“Extending the move to fall break, while it’s frustrating to some, was the right thing to do, because look at all of this,” she said. “We’re a week before school starting, and the concrete may get poured today, tomorrow and Thursday, and it may be ready, but it would not have given teachers time to get in and do what they need to do to prepare.”