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After wet spring delay, MLMS construction winds down on budget, on time

Cheney Free Press of Cheney, Washington

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Construction at Medical Lake Middle School will wrap up at the end of January, with the district receiving the final set of keys Feb. 1.

Currently, all that remains to complete in the building are the new locker rooms and a set of bleachers in the gymnasium. Superintendent Pam Veltri said the bleachers would be finished sometime next week.

Aside from some difficulty last spring with wet weather, the construction has progressed right on track. With the weather, the district amended the construction timeline, as some elements could not be placed until the foundation was dry enough. The project was originally slated for completion in August, and then adjusted to January,

"They've worked really well with us to meet deadlines," Veltri said.

In addition, some minor work remains on the school's grounds, particularly in one of the ground swales. Construction crews found that some materials absorbed too much water in the swale, and others didn't release it well enough.

"If you put grass down, it's. one of the swales that will have water in it most of the time," Veltri said.

The district is funding the construction through a $15.65 million capital improvement bond passed by voters in February last year, which included remodeling work at Hallett Elementary and the middle school project. Finance director Don

Johnson said the total construction cost for the middle school is approximately $11.5 million, including sales tax.

"We have a single construction contract for Hallett Elementary and the middle school," he said in an email.

Veltri said some additional money was taken out of the district's capital projects fund, mainly for technology purposes. The money provided projectors in each room, which were installed over winter break.

Teachers and students went into their classrooms for the first time Tuesday, Jan. 3, and Veltri said the reception was very good.

"They've just been excited," she said. "When I went down there early Tuesday morning, everybody was really excited."

The addition at the middle school totals around 44,000 square feet. Twelve new classrooms, a larger gymnasium with lockers, a cafeteria and a kitchen were| all involved in the remodeling effort. In addition, the existing middle school saw improvements to its administrative office area, library/new teacher/staff work rooms, two new computer labs and upgrades to the existing safety, communications and FIVAC systems. >

In order to house students during the construction effort, portable units wera placed behind the building. Veltri said the portable classroom units were recently purchased by Carl Grub, of the Jensen Youth Ranch. A mover will likely come to the school in the spring to move the portables.

Walker Construction bid the low $10.3 million on the projects, which Veltri believes will be the last major construction effort in the district for a long time. She said ill of the district's bonds will be paid off before a new one is needed.

"Some buildings might need a new roof, but we won't need to go out for a bond again," she said.

An open house is in the works, and will be announced in the coming weeks. Until then, students are looking forward to their new learning space."It's just really exciting," she said. "You see the kids so excited about their building. That's why we did it."

James Eik can be reached at

"They've been excited. When I went down there early Tuesday morning, everybody was really excited."

Superintendent Pam Veltri, Medical Lake School District.

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Original Publication Date: January 12, 2012

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