Purchase photos

Ellis project building students' skills

1/19/2014

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

ELLIS -- It was back to the drawing board for the USD 388 board of education and superintendent Bob Young after a $10 million bond issue failed last June.

That scratched plans for a proposed Ellis High School addition, including a wrestling room and a weight room to replace the second-story wrestling room in the old high school, which was intended for temporary use in 1978. A small building on the same property also is used as a weight room.

Faced with costly repairs to make an old facility safe, the board voted in August to ask for proposals for a new building to house a wrestling room and a weight room.

Young said the board vote for the new building was unanimous.

Liberty Buildings of Plainville was selected to construct the pre-engineered building on the northwest corner of the high school parking lot.

Not only was the Liberty bid the lowest, the building they offered also was the most energy efficient, Young said.

The approximately 8,000 square-foot building is the second largest building they've put up, said Rod Cellmer, Liberty operations manager.

For four months of the year, the wrestling room will be walled with mats. The rest of the time, it will be available to the community. Some community members also pay a nominal fee to use the weight room, and that will continue, Young said.

Each room has its own heating and air conditioning unit, "so if we're not using a room, we can shut it down and conserve energy. We're doing everything we can to make this as cost-effective as we can both in the short term and the long term," Young said.

There also will be restrooms and locker rooms for boys and girls, as well as a small utility area.

Work started last fall, and district officials hope to be able to move in by the end of the month.

"Mother Nature is a challenge, but we've been working around her," Cellmer said.

Young said the building itself costs $210,000, and he estimates the district's total cost of the project at $325,000.

"By the time we put everything else that we'll put in the bathrooms, showers, what not, we'll eat up another $100,000 to $125,000," he said

The money is coming from the capital outlay fund.

"I've already got it in capital outlay and (I'm) ready to write a check for it," Young said.

The district's emphasis has been on putting away money to pay back the high interest HVAC loan since he became superintendent, he said.

"We determined that the wrestling and weight rooms were a higher priority, so we're taking some of what we had earmarked for paying off that loan, and we're putting it into this, putting it back for the kids and the community," he said.

No other capital outlay projects will be cut to build the facility, Young said.

EHS students in Alex Jost's industrial education and Matt Carroll's residential carpenters classes are getting hands-on experience working on the building.

Their projects included building interior walls and welding HVAC platforms.

"It's just a good real-world experience," Carroll said. "This is something we can give back to the school. When kids come here and use the weight room, they can take pride."

The school district has abandoned the old wrestling facility, and is making do with two gyms until the new facility is ready.

"The coaches have done a wonderful job of working together," Young said.

The new building isn't just for high school athletes.

"Our junior high students will be using it as well," said John Befort, Washington Grade School principal. "I grew up here (and) it's a good thing for our community."

"Two days a week we have conditioning -- a body resistance program for third through sixth (grades)," said Corey Burton, EHS principal. "We have a group of kids who come in after school."

"It'll get used a lot and really be beneficial to the kids," Befort said.

"The bond was a big package. This is an immediate need," Young said. "It's already paid for. We've got the money in the bank. ... We're addressing the needs of our students, and that's the best that we can do."