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MHS renovation update given
Thursday, July 26, 2012
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Most demolition needed for renovations to Martinsville High School (MHS) is being done this summer to reduce the inconvenience to students when they return to classes Aug. 13, said city school Superintendent Pam Heath.
She discussed the project’s status with Martinsville City Council on Tuesday.
MHS has not undergone major upgrades since it was built in the late 1960s. Renovations to science labs, the cafeteria and common areas are part of the project, which is expected to take up to three years to complete.
The council in October approved $9.3 million in federal Qualified School Construction Bonds for the project.
In late June, Blair Construction of Gretna received a $7.93 million contract for the renovations. The company had submitted a bid of almost $10.2 million in May but school officials negotiated a lower cost. Blair also negotiated with some of its subcontractors to reduce expenses, Heath said.
There were two bidders, and the other bid was higher.
“We were surprised” that bids came in so high, Heath said of school officials. “I think we hit a very quirky time in the market” when contractors were busy with many other projects.
Also, she said renovations often are more costly than constructing new buildings due to the possibility of unanticipated problems arising during the building process.
Several weeks ago, Service Roofing of Martinsville received a contract for $333,588 for the school’s roof repairs.
Changes made to trim the project’s overall cost include altering connectors between buildings. There now will be security fencing instead of full enclosures, but Heath said “it will be very attractive.”
“It will not look like a prison,” she emphasized.
Among other changes are replacing one boiler instead of two, changing the type of roofing membrane to be used and only removing asbestos disturbed during the construction. Undisturbed asbestos will not pose a health hazard, according to Ben Motley of RRMM Architects.
Some offices at the school have been moved temporarily while construction occurs, Heath said.
About 95 percent of the materials to be used in the construction are being bought locally, she said. Vice Mayor Kimble Reynolds Jr. said he appreciated that.
Heath mentioned that one business — which she did not name — told her that it might have closed if it had not been for the project.
Council members asked no questions about the renovations.
Also Tuesday, the council recognized the city staff for receiving the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada.
The certificate was received for the city’s fiscal 2011 audit report. It is the highest form of recognition for positive accounting and government financial reporting practices, said Interim City Manager Leon Towarnicki.
The city usually receives it each year. However, only about 5 percent of localities that apply for the certificate receive it, Towarnicki said.
Receiving the recognition were city Finance Director Linda Conover and finance department employees Kathy Dodson, Lisa Holiday and Mary Kay Washington.
GFOA is a nonprofit professional association serving about 17,000 local government finance workers.
The council also:
• Met Dr. Angeline Godwin, the new president of Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC). She pledged that she and the college will do whatever they can to try and help the community meet its needs.
PHCC is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Godwin, who succeeded former president Max Wingett on July 1, said that over the years the college has become “a solid, stable bedrock” of the community.
“That’s the kind of college I want to be associated with,” she said.
• Appropriated $24,987 in new revenue into the current fiscal year’s budget.
Most of the money is from grants for fire department programs and water resources department equipment, a document shows.
• Authorized its clerk, Brenda Prillaman, to schedule quarterly neighborhood focus meetings.
• Heard from city resident Ural Harris, who wondered how many jobs in the area are being lost as new companies are creating new jobs.
• Listened to Regina Harris of Fieldale, who urged the city to continue helping to fund the Martinsville-Henry County SPCA.
A closed session listed on the agenda to discuss a personnel matter was not held. Mayor Kim Adkins said there no longer was a need for it.