School of hard knocks

Instead of students crunching numbers, heavy equipment is crunching lumber at the old North Whidbey Middle School.

Demolition of the 1950’s-era school is in full swing, and is expected to be completed by the end of October, according to Gary Goltz, school district construction manager.

While there seem to be huge piles of chewed up debris everywhere, not everything is going in the dumpster.

“I would say we have recycled 80 percent of the materials,” Goltz said, as a shovel behind him bit a large chunk out of the science building, then swung it into a waiting semi truck trailer.

The district first went through the buildings and salvaged what they could, to be reused in other schools, then held a public surplus sale.

Re-Store, a salvage company in Bellingham, took out 10 truckloads of re-useable items, such as doors and plumbing fixtures.

Three Kings Environmental from Battleground, Wash. is now completing the tear down. Some lumber, metal and bricks are being salvaged as the buildings come apart, as are the rows of orange lockers. A big blue concrete grinding machine will start work soon, reducing large chunks of broken foundation into cement-like gravel.

The demolition is being supervised by Ernest Edwards, “industrial hygienist” for PBS Environmental in Seattle.

Piles of debris are drenched to keep down dust containing asbestos from ceiling tiles and pipe wrappings, and the buildings are shrouded in plastic for the same purpose.

Goltz said asbestos abatement procedures account for $250,00 of the total $370,000 demolition cost.

When they are done, the lot adjacent to the new North Whidbey Middle School will be ready for development. The plan is to build a track on the property, replacing the aging one being used next door at the middle school.

You can reach News-Times reporter Marcie Miller at or call 675-6611.

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