Archive for Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Public invited to tour middle school

Water tower must be operational before move-in

November 15, 2006

Construction of Tonganoxie's new middle school is about 98 percent complete.

But the new water tower behind it still is empty.

Kris Roberts, construction manager for the district, said new furniture has been delivered to the school.

"It's being assembled and put together and it's starting to look like a school," Roberts told board members at Monday night's meeting.

However, no matter how complete the school is, it cannot be fully used until the water tower is filled.

The school does have water, but the pressure is only about 40 pounds per square inch, barely enough to run the sprinkler fire-system.

"The biggest thing that needs to be resolved is that the water tower has to be done," Roberts said. "That water in the tower is needed volume-wise to fight a fire and pressure-wise in the building to operate the building's sprinklers."

At Monday's city council meeting, City Administrator Mike Yanez said he was unsure exactly when the new water tower would be operational. City crews are working on a new water line that will connect the tower to the city's water system. The tower also will need to be filled, sanitized, drained and refilled, Yanez said, before it can provide service to the school.

Council member Jim Truesdell asked Yanez whether the school would have water by Dec. 8 or 9, to which Yanez estimated a "50-50" chance it would be finished by then.

In the week after that, he said the percentages improve to "70-30."

"We're feeling better as each day progresses," Yanez said. "You can't say we can guarantee this day it will be open."

On Tuesday, Yanez reiterated that the project is going well, and that the public works department is putting in many extra hours to work to meet the school's schedule.

"The bottom line is I'm not feeling any sense of alarm," Yanez said.

But school board members expressed concern about whether the district could go ahead with Monday's open house, which will include tours of the new middle school.

"The open house is fine," Roberts said. "But the fire department is going to have a presence there. They will be there but not in an intrusive manner."

Superintendent Richard Erickson said he hoped the water tower would be filled the first week in December so that the Madrigal Feaste, set for Dec. 8 and 9, could be held at the new school as planned.

But Erickson said if the building doesn't have an adequate supply of water by then, the Madrigal Feaste likely could be held at the junior high.

Meanwhile, Roberts said the school district may move furniture into the new middle school. But until there is adequate water for fire protection, paper, books, or anything else that would easily burn, they cannot be moved inside.

At the high school, Roberts said, construction is about 70 percent complete.

"We're still working on the auditorium, band areas and public toilets," Roberts said. "We're on track to be able to turn the rest of the high school over in mid- to late-December."

-- Shawn Linenberger contributed to this story.

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