Vo-Ag building

Work might start as early as this week on the remodeling/renovation of the Abilene High School Vo-Ag building. While the outside will look much the same, the interior will be gutted and reconfigured to better serve the needs of today’s vocational students.

During a special Abilene Public Schools board meeting Friday morning, board members approved bids to renovate the Abilene High School Vo-Ag building and voted to begin construction of a new track and football field at Cowboy Stadium. 

Brian Newell, vice-president of Riley Construction Company, presented board members with construction cost summaries and after board approval, mentioned that work would begin as early as this week at the existing Vo-Ag building.

The Vocational-Ag building and stadium projects were originally planned to be completed as part of the district wide remodel of all USD 435 facilities funded by a $24.2 million bond issue approved by district patrons in 2014. However, when costs came in higher than anticipated, three projects were cut at the time but the board vowed to address them in the future.

During the past year, the board created a facility committee to take another look at getting those projects done.  Still remaining to be addressed is plans for the district’s bus barn. 

Vo-Ag overview

Newell outlined the costs and body of work to be done in reconfiguring classrooms and facilities in the building. 

Riley Construction is the general contractor. Newell said he will use local subcontractors throughout the project. Anderson Knight Architects of Manhattan will design the project.

Newell said that his company and members of USD 435 personally contacted individual subcontractors to make sure everyone had an opportunity to bid on the project. He mentioned that many felt that the project was too large, but thanked them for the invitation to participate.

Local involvement

Riley Construction has two employees out of their 25 working crew that live in Abilene and he mentioned that the remaining subcontractors are from Salina, Solomon, Junction City, Alta Vista, Manhattan, Wamego or other surrounding communities.

Local suppliers will provide lumber, supplies and rental equipment to be used during the construction project. Newell specifically pointed out that the Aluminum Door contractor is an Abilene High School graduate.

Wray Roofing, the original roofing contractor at the facility, will handle all roofing needs during the rebuild.

Beginning soon

Newell said crews would possibly begin this week, capping off the utilities in preparation for the demo work inside the building.

The base cost came in at $1,289.9 million, higher than the $1 million target price, and excludes other options that could be added to the base bid if the board chooses.

Members discussed ways to lower costs, including downsizing the proposed greenhouse. Newell thought the original plan for the greenhouse may have been too large, but noted the structure could always be added onto whenever needed.

A large greenhouse will likely not be needed at this time because of the recent resignation of a horticulture teacher who planned to use the extra space for aquaponics. 

New personnel may mean a change in function, Newell said.

Newell expects when completed in November, the Vo-Ag building will have all new secure classrooms for classes in horticulture, welding and woods.

Board members approved several optional costs including replacement of the main electrical distribution panel, rebuilding the welder plug in system and painting all exposed ceilings in the shop area as items to be added to the project.

Abilene Superintendent of Schools Greg Brown provided board members with the estimated balance of the Capital Outlay budget projection as of June 30, 2020 at $3,480,537.

Board member Jeff Bathurst moved the approval of the bids for the Vo-Ag project.

“The board is very excited about moving forward on both the vocational education remodel and the stadium,” Brown said.

In other business:

The board approved the construction of a new track and turf football field at Cowboy Stadium. (See related story).

Approved the resignations of Cheri Tajchman as AMS sixth grade science teacher, Katie Kohman as AHS secretary and Casey Bell as AHS Spanish Teacher and coach.

Approved the hire of Chad Hite, AMS night custodian.

Kathy Hageman contributed to this story.

Contact Ron Preston at sports@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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