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Spring Valley superindentent Jim Hermes (left) sees a well-organized machine of construction crews as he leads a tour of progress at John F. Kennedy School’s new addition. “Guys are going everywhere. It’s just amazing,” Hermes said.
As you walk into the south wing of the John F. Kennedy School addition in Spring Valley, the atmosphere seems to come alive.
Lining the center of the multipurpose room and gym are large metal air ducts which would almost remind someone of a child’s playground. Around the massive pipes, a well-tuned orchestra of about forty workmen buzzes, pounds, lifts and grinds away as the interior takes shape.
Stepping into the north wing of the building the music seems to fade. The dark rooms and slow dripping of water from the ceiling are picturesque of a damp cave. The livelihood of the place is gone and only a few brave workers withstand the cold laying large cement bricks.
“I come out here and this is a machine,” said superintendent Jim Hermes. “Guys are going everywhere. It’s just amazing.”
The south wing of the addition is completely enclosed with a few temporary measures here and there as some windows are still waiting to be installed. Late last week, crews were finishing up the large window panels which make up the front entrance to the new building. Temporary heat has been installed to give the workers a more comfortable environment.
The interior skeletal system of the rooms and offices are being placed and some equipment is already or ready to be installed, including the cafeteria equipment and heating and cooling systems for the geothermal wells.
“They really haven’t done much on the other side, but they are kind of ahead of schedule on this (south) side,” Hermes said.
The north wing has not been so lucky. In order to keep construction moving, more temporary measures were used to enclose the building. A roof is over the north side, but it has not been waterproofed and the melting snow and condensation leak down through. Crews still try to pour cement flooring, but have to measure the moisture, compaction and temperature of the soil beforehand.
“Right now they can’t pour in any of the classrooms because there is too much moisture in the ground,” said John Weissberg, construction observer for Allied Design.
Big propane heaters try to keep the north side warm, and even though it is not as cool as the outside it is still a chilly atmosphere.
“There is a difference,” Weissberg said with a laugh. “Nobody wants to leave (the south side) and start work over there (north wing).”
As Hermes surveys the construction site he can picture the completed rooms and talks about each of their functions from the library to the technology presentation room and even the life skills room in the north section. Much of the new space will be used by all grade levels, said Hermes. He added the goal was not to segregate the grades between the buildings but provide space to bring students together.
The building also will have additional space for offices, a nurse station and meetings. Hermes said the space in the current building which is now used for offices will be used in other ways, including space for special education needs.
“We are over crowded now so a nice problem to have is extra room,” said Hermes.
At a recent board meeting, color schemes for painting the walls was the popular topic. The board decided to add stripes of the school’s Kelly green on the walls and ductwork with a yellow and light grey accent to the gym and a cream color with earth tones splashed throughout to the multipurpose room.
The board also is looking at moving back the start date for next year’s school calendar to be after labor day giving the school more time to move into the new addition. The board is still debating on whether to run classes to June 19, 2015 or to cut some vacation days throughout the school year to end earlier.
Hermes said the project continues to stay on schedule despite some areas falling behind due to weather. The school hopes to be complete by July 2014.
Hall battles frozen ground Only a few blocks away, Hall High School is busy with its own project. Since December construction crews have worked tirelessly breaking up the frozen ground to build a construction pad for the new school. However, the below freezing temperatures and snow that hit the Illinois Valley left construction at a stand still from Dec. 22 till Monday.
“Work on mass excavation was slowed down by the severe weather,” said superintendent Mike Struna.
The groundwork which was part of the first bid package approved by the school board was supposed to be finished right after the new year. However, the equipment has began to move again. The about 70,000 square foot pad needed to be lifted to provide a sturdy foundation for the new three level building. When all is said and done, the base of the new school will rest about four feet below the entrance to the current building.
The crews with John Pohar and Sons in La Salle removed and stockpiled for reuse 6,000 cubic yards of topsoil. Damian Eallonardo from Leopardo said about 22 cubic yards of soil would fit into a semi trailer. The crews also found that 1,145 cubic yards of soil were not sufficient for bearing the structural load of the building and were replaced by 14,000 tons or 640 truckloads of stone for the pad.
Another 7,000 tons of stone needs to be placed before the pad can be complete. Eallonardo informed the board this week that the groundwork was 90 percent done and should finish by Jan. 24.
“We are confident that the work for bid package one will be complete in time for bid package two work to begin in early February,” Struna said.
At the board meeting, bid package two also was rewarded for a total of about $5.8 million. This included Vissering Construction, Streator being awarded the concrete foundations, precast walls and structural steel contracts. Vissering offered a discount if it was awarded all three and included an alternative bid for doing the foundations for the band room and garage which still came in under budget. Sterling roofing received the waterproofing contract and Thyssen Krupp the elevator contract.
“The project right now is meeting all our expectations according to budget,” said Eallonardo.
“The local participation that the board was looking forward to is happening,” said David Patton, architect with Healy, Bender.
The board hoped to attract local contractors to work on the new school and Patton said that by awarding Vissering and Pohar contracts they were successful.
The foundation work is scheduled to begin Feb. 10 with the steel structure work starting March 24.
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