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Building nears completion at high school

Crews in the new Career and Technical building are close to finishing the building’s utilities. The building will house such classes as photography, auto shop and pottery.  - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
Crews in the new Career and Technical building are close to finishing the building’s utilities. The building will house such classes as photography, auto shop and pottery.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

About three months ago, Oak Harbor High School’s new Career and Technical Building was in the skeletal stage, a mass of interlocked steel beams.

Now, with 70 percent of drywall finished and 90 percent of windows installed, the building is only six weeks from completion, project manager Mitch Romero said.

“We expect to be finished by the end of spring break,” he said.

The construction is considered Phase 1 of the high school makeover. The $69.3-million high school modernization began last May and will add 240,000 extra square feet to campus. Phase 2 will include renovation of the A and B wings and construction of a building that will house the cafeteria, classrooms and the auditorium.

Last year, the school district accepted bids from two firms, Ebenal Construction and Spee West.

While crews are currently on-schedule for the CTE building, Romero said last month’s snow storm cut out nine working days.

“Either the ground was too cold or no one could get here,” he said.

The setback was considered a contractual force majeure, or act of God. To speed up crews, workers will need to be paid for their overtime.

“We aren’t planning to do that with Spee West because they have more time in their contract, but we will with Ebenal,” Romero said. “It’s more important to finish on time without any extra expenses. It’s within our budget to do so.”

Workers are now finishing the building’s utilities. A tour of the construction site Tuesday showed that the large sheets of drywall in the 3-D art, wood shop and photography classrooms are in place.

“It’s hard to drywall in cold, damp conditions because it never dries out. But we have heater units in there that dehumidify,” Romero said.

Crews also began work on the massive amount of underground cabling for data, which will set the facility at “state of the art” in technology. Conduits will be spread around the campus.

Saturday, power to the school will be shut down for 12 hours so that Puget Sound Energy can work on the main power line. Romero warned that alarms to the building may go off accidentally.

As completion nears, Oak Harbor High School is planning events to thank the workers, staff and the city for their cooperation.

On Monday, Feb. 2, teachers can tour the new CTE building throughout the day. And Feb. 27, is the “topping out” ceremony. Part of century-old tradition, before ironworkers place the building’s final beam, they all sign it, then put an evergreen tree on top. It symbolizes a job well done and is said to promote good luck.

Romero said that of his five high school projects, and 12 total school projects, the Oak Harbor High School project has been the most complicated, but not the most costly.

“There are so many phases and we need to keep the kids in the building,” Romero said. “But the contractors have been great and the staff and students are also very accommodating and patient. It’s no picnic in an office when someone is outside with a jackhammer.”

Both phases of construction will be completed in January 2011.

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