School District Works to Repair Storm Damage

When the Garretson community was hit by severe winds on June 22, much of the community experienced significant damage.  The School District was no exception.  Just as the rest of the community has worked to repair the damage to homes and trees, we have been doing the same at the school.   There have been many questions asked in the community regarding the damage to our school, and what we’re doing about getting things set straight for our students.

The most significant damage is still visible at the athletic complex, where the winds blew down four of the six light poles.  When one of the poles failed, it damaged the crow’s nest as well as the main bleachers at the complex.  The storage building was leveled, minor damage to the concession stand and visible damage to the fencing around the perimeter was also evident.  Upon advice from the School District’s insurance adjuster, a structural engineer was called in to verify the safety of the two light poles that still stand at the field.  The engineer discovered hairline cracks in the base of those two poles as well as cracking in the concrete foundations for all six light poles.  The structural engineer’s recommendation was complete replacement of all the light poles at the complex.

At this time, we are making progress on the repairs at the complex.  We have received quotes from a number of companies to repair the damage, but as of Thursday, July 23, we are still waiting on quotes to replace the lights at the field.  Most of the repairs are straight-forward, but the lights are a complex project in itself.  The company to replace the lights will also have to safely remove the existing lights without causing more damage, and then they will need to pour new foundations and install the sixty and eighty foot poles.  When the quotes come in, we will know more about the timeline for the replacement, and if necessary, we will make adjustments to our events held at the complex at that time.  We are on the schedule with various companies for repairs to the concession stand, the storage building, fence and the bleachers.

Storm damage at the school was limited to mostly to trees, fencing and damage to the roof.  Some windows were also damaged on the south side of the building.  One of the broken windows resulted in extreme pressure in one classroom, which damaged the brick and mortar structure around the interior upper perimeter of the room.  Another classroom had a window pushed in by the wind, which led to pressure inside the wall, and sheetrock repairs will need to be made. The same structural engineer who inspected the lights also inspected the exterior of the building and the classroom with the damaged brickwork.  As the engineer went about his work, he noted that the exterior of the building is sound, and the intense pressure from the wind likely lifted the roof deck a few inches to cause damage to the top two rows of bricks in that classroom.  While we are still waiting for a quote on those rooms, the engineer assured me that repairs of this sort are somewhat routine for large construction companies, and will not take much time when the work begins.

There have been a number of questions asked about the roofing project and the loss of materials during the storm.  We feel fortunate to be working with a quality roofing company on the roof project.  John Murren, owner of Roof Systems, Inc. has coordinated well with us to ensure that any damage done to areas outside of our planned roof replacement has been repaired, and the roof replacement project continues on schedule as insurance companies work out coverage for the loss of materials.

Our biggest concern is getting all of the work completed by the time school begins.  I am thankful that we have good people working in our maintenance, building and grounds departments.  Dave Gaddis and Gary Hanson have both worked hard since the storm to ensure that we are coordinating the repair efforts and also working through our normal preparation work over the summer in order to get ready for our students.  As I have talked with our insurance adjuster, one of the comments I have heard frequently is that we have good insurance coverage, and the necessary repairs will be covered.  The school district will be responsible for a portion of the cost for the repairs, so there will be some financial impact to the school as the total cost of the repairs are tallied up, but we do not expect the impact to be severe.   We will continue to work with our insurance company and local contractors to get the repair work done so that our school and our community get back to normal as quickly as possible.

Guy Johnson