The Railroaders are receiving an upgrade to their home court, thanks to an overwhelming vote of support from the community.
The special election to approve a capital project to renovate the school’s junior/senior high gymnasium passed easily on Sept. 23, with 142 voting in favor of the renovations and four voting against.
Along with the approval of the building project, the voters also passed a resolution allowing the school to purchase two new vehicles by a vote of 135 in favor to 12 against.
“We are thankful that the voters approved these items and we are looking forward to getting the work moving forward,” said Whitehall Superintendent James Watson.
Watson said the first item of business that will be taken care of is the purchase and delivery of a new school van.
“We will probably have the van within a few weeks,” said Watson. “We will get the van through state contract and what it comes down to is a matter of coordinating the purchase with the state education department.”
Watson said the other vehicle, which will be a handicap-accessible van, will be sent out for bid proposals.
“That will need to go out for bid, but we could likely have that vehicle by the holidays or the first of the year, depending on how the bid process goes,” said Watson.
As for the gymnasium repairs and upgrades, Watson said, the designs were in a preliminary stage until the vote decided the fate of the project.
“We did not want to go any deeper into the engineering because we didn’t want to be left with a bill for full designs if the voters had voted against it,” said Watson. “That is the next step that we have, to take the preliminary plans and finalize them along with the specifications for the project and submit that them to the state.”
Watson said once the state education department has the plans, it will take between 12 and 14 weeks to finalize them.
“We hope to have the plans in to the state for the end of October,” said Watson. “Based on the state’s timetable, we hope to be able to have the plans approved and ready for the bidding process by the end of February, and award the bid for the work at our March meeting.”
Once the contracts are awarded, Watson said, work would hopefully begin in May.
“We would shoot for at least the work on the roof to begin in early May,” said Watson. “We would look to fully get into the job as soon as the prom was over, and that way we are beyond the need for the use of our gym by the athletic teams.”
Watson said the work would continue throughout the rest of the current school year, summer, and into the first part of the 2010-11 school year.
“We would want to make sure that we have everything done and ready for the start of the full winter sports season,” said Watson.
The renovation starts at the top with the roof, where workers would remove the two layers of roofing and replace it with a new roof.
The project also calls for renovations to the ceiling, including the re-application of acoustic and ceiling coating and new lighting. The project will also include installing new variable-speed motors for the current ventilation system.
Also scheduled to be replaced is the partition that can divide the gymnasium in two, with the builders removing the current divider and replacing it with a portable curtain divider.
Other work includes new motors and switches for the backboards and the repair and sanding of the floor.
The school also plans to replace the current bleachers, removing the wood bleachers in favor of a composite molding.