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JFK project winding down

Hermes: ‘It’s just a building, but seeing what takes place afterwards in the building will be the neat thing’

SPRING VALLEY — The John F. Kennedy School addition project is just weeks away from being completed.

Workers are checking off the last items on their punch lists, making final inspections of their work and preparing to pick up the tools and head to the next project.

Superintendent of the project, Chris Rossman of Williams Brothers Construction, is looking at Aug. 15 as being the last day workers will be in the building.

“A lot has been accomplished in one year,” he said. “The first footing was dug on July 3 of last year. Sometimes we hit stagnant parts of the job when we felt like nothing was getting accomplished, and then boom, it all came together at once.”

As for school Superintendent Jim Hermes ... he’s itching for that first day of school on Sept. 6 and can’t wait to see the expressions of students as they take their first walk down the new hallways.

“I cannot wait. I’m just going to sit back and relax. There’s going to be a sense of pride of what we were able to provide for our students,” he said.

As this marks his first school construction project, Hermes explained the experience of seeing it progress over time will be unforgettable.

“I’ve learned so much from the people on the job … how things are coordinated and how meetings are run to keep projects on tasks. Looking around, just a year ago, this was a field, and to see what we have now, it’s incredible,” he said.

During the months of progression, Hermes admits challenges were met along the way.

“Not everything goes as planned in a big project like this. We knew not everything was going to happen perfect, but we’re very pleased with the outcome. We wanted a certain product, and we think the workers really delivered,” he said.

The new facility was built based on a plethora of ideas, methods and factors collaborated over the years by teachers, administration, community members and the school board. Not only did the district have a plan to build a bigger space for students, but they wanted to create a place that would provide new opportunities, ideas, experiences, and overall, improve student education.

“The board, administration and teachers all worked to set goals for the district and took many things into consideration when planning for this building,” Hermes explained. “We met with teachers and community members and sat down with the board and discussed how we were going to carry on as we did in the past, but make something that would be little grander and better help us do our day-to-day jobs.”

The new addition will allow the district to expand and enhance programs offered to students. For example, art class in the district used to be an “art on a cart” concept, because there was no space to provide a classroom. In the new addition, a new art room has been constructed — complete with sinks, cupboard space and it’s own display case to show off the work of students.

“The best thing is we now have room to grow,” Hermes said.

Another exciting factor for the district will be watching the amount of money saved throughout the years with the several cost saving/energy efficient choices selected for the new building. The biggest energy efficiency feature is the geothermal heating and cooling system, which will replace a boiler system. Also, the LED lightbulbs, which won’t have to be changed for 30 years and the special flooring laid down that doesn’t require waxing.

“When we made these choices, we knew the upfront expense would be higher, but after years of never buying wax for the floors or having to purchase lightbulbs, it’s going to be something else,” Hermes said.

The geothermal heating and cooling system is expected to pay for itself in just eight to 10 years, according to Hermes.

As previously reported, the total cost of the building addition was estimated to be around $17 million. The district was awarded a grant by the state that covered 75 percent of the costs. The other portion of money is being covered by bonds, which the district has been paying on throughout the last five years.

As the days tick down to the finals days of construction, Hermes is busy making sure the final tasks stay on track.

“Working with all the people on the job and seeing what it all takes to build a school like this, it really makes you appreciate what the final product is,” he said. “It’s just a building, but seeing what takes place afterwards in the building will be the neat thing.”

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