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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • 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.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.

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