School projects postponed 8.13

Written by David Green.

Don’t expect to see new exterior doors when entering Morenci’s elementary and high school this fall. Parking lots will remain in their rough condition and the old classroom floor tile in elementary school classrooms will stay in place for another year.

Bids for a host of maintenance projects came in far above estimates and work won’t get underway any time soon.

Voters approved a bond issue for the projects totaling $1.4 million and work was expected to be completed this summer.

The time needed to authorize and sell bonds for the project took longer than expected, but when bids were finally opened, school officials were surprised at the prices.

The bids came in about 37 percent higher than projected, Superintendent of Schools Kyle Griffith said. The board’s building and grounds committee will recommend that the board reject all bids and try again over the winter.

Griffith agrees because he wants to make the best use of funds.

“Although this is disappointing, we must be careful with the funds we have, as well as keep the trust of the voters who passed this bond in trying economic times.”

Griffith said the 37 percent discrepancy  is not acceptable. Some reasons exist for the differences between projected costs and bid costs, but the reasons aren’t solid enough to explain the enormous disparity.

Griffith expects to see a larger number of bidders participating when the process starts over this winter.

One project will be completed this summer since preparations had already begun. The elementary school gymnasium floor was scheduled for replacement and tile was removed last month. The district will seek its own bids for that project, Griffith said, rather than using the Skanska construction management firm.

Because the running track was expected to be torn up for replacement, the opening football game against Oakland Christian School was moved to Adrian College.

Griffith said a decision was made to play at the college even though Morenci’s field will be available.

“Arrangements have already made to have it there,” he said, “and it will be a great experience for our kids to play there.”

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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