Warm, safe and dry: School improvements continue at IM


Staff Writer

IRON MOUNTAIN – With the completion of the new east entrance to Iron Mountain High School, the first two phases of projects from the $9.5 million bond issue have been realized.

There are a total of four phases of projects to be completed with bids for phases three and four ready to be let, said Scott Helminen of Gundlach-Champion, the project manager.

During the summer months, a lot of the focus was on getting technology in place for the start of the school year as well as the movement of classrooms to North and East Elementary schools. Currently, like classes and teachers are all in one building – grades K-3 are at North Elementary and grades 4-6 at East Elementary School.

Other projects included new playground equipment at East Elementary as well as more than 220 lockers and new energy efficient lights in the gym. A new voice over internet protocol phone system was put in place at a cost savings of 70 percent savings off the district’s phone bill.

Two new boilers were also in place at North Elementary. Keeping with the theme of “warm, safe and dry,” the heating and lights and security access doors and cameras came next.

The second phase of projects included classroom technology with bids for a lot of the items in the first two phases coming well below the estimates, school officials noted.

The replacement of the exterior stairs at the high school included a ramp to make the area handicapped accessible. The work was done by Zawada Supply of Niagara, Wis. and recently was completed with new lighting outside the school building.

“The safe, warm and dry projects have been completed within the school buildings,” Helminen said. “Phase three project bids will be out by the end of this month and Phase four, which is mainly the high school work in late March. Work on these projects will be completed during the summers of 2014 and 2015.”

Supt. Tom Jayne said that many hours have gone into meetings to design and come up with the remaining work to be done from the bond issue.

“I really have to thank OHM, the architect as well as Gundlach Champion for all they have done as well as the teachers and staff and school board members who were all involved with coming up with these plans. Our budget is within the $9.5 million from the bond and encompasses what we wanted to make sure that all our buildings are covered in the areas of warm, safe and dry. From separate boilers to roofs and security – this all has been completed. There will be a drastic difference in the buildings especially with the work yet to be done in the high school building. In August, we will see the building work starting to take place to make the building bigger.”

Jayne added that in addition to making some of the rooms bigger, there will be more bathrooms in the high school and his office will move over the high school as a part of the scope of the work.

“Everything we hoped for is coming to fruition. With a contingency fund moving into the last two phases, we feel we have met our goal of being good stewards of the money. We are ready for the bids to come in and see where they will be for phases three and four.”

Helminen agreed. “We will be busy this summer and will have three full time staff on site. You can expect some disruptions this summer as we move forward,” he said.

Jayne also said that getting the east entrance to the high school completed was a big project.

“Zawada did a nice job. And along with where we are going next, I’m very happy with the budget and the scope of the projects to be completed,” Jayne said.

Another project, he said, to be completed this summer will be the new locker rooms at the high school gym area.

“Everyone is very happy to see this work be done, and we got input from our teachers and coaches as to what should be done there,” Jayne said.

Board member Steve Brooks, a member of the buildings and grounds committee, added that the committee had been meeting with Gundlach Champion concerning the next phases of projects and was pleased with the results.

“We sharpened our pencils, made our priorities, and we are in a good position with the budget and what we will accomplish as we go forward,” Brooks said.

A $9.5 million bond proposal was approved by voters in the Iron Mountain School District in February 2013, and the money was available to the district starting on May 29.

The district was able to sell the bonds at a lower rate, which meant a savings to taxpayers of $1.8 million in taxes and interest.

Linda Lobeck’s e-mail address is llobeck@ironmountaindailynews.com.