District to repair leaky roofs

By Dick Mason, The Observer March 13, 2013 01:29 pm

by Dick Mason/The Observer

 A $1.2 million roof replacement project is set to begin soon in the La Grande School District.

Work will start in mid-June and will involve the replacement of roofs at La Grande High School, Greenwood Elementary School and Willow Elementary School. The need for roof replacement is greatest at LHS and Greenwood.

“The roofs we have at La Grande High School and Greenwood have lived beyond their life expectancy. They are starting to leak which is leading to mold, mildew and rotting,” said La Grande School District Superintendent Larry Glaze. 

The expense of repairing the damage caused by leaking roofs would be much higher than replacing them.

“We are protecting the taxpayers’ investment by keeping our buildings dry,” Glaze said.

The roof over the high school library, which is in the west side of LHS, has drawn attention to the need for roof replacement in recent years. It leaked so constantly that buckets were placed under the area where the water fell and sometimes a potted plant was put there. Patching work was done to temporarily stop the library leak last year.

The entire roof of the main part of west LHS will be replaced as part of Phase I of the project. The roofs over the vocational education and the wood shop buildings will not be replaced. Phase I should be complete by late August, said Chris Panike, the La Grande School District’s director of business and plant operations. 

The Phase I work will be done by the Upson Company of Caldwell, Idaho. Upson was recently awarded the contract for the first phase of work. The firm was one of four companies which bid for the project. 

Phase II of the project will involve replacing all the east LHS roofs except the ones over the auditorium and the gym. A small portion of Willow’s roof will be replaced and half of Greenwood’s roof will be replaced as part of Phase II work. Half of Greenwood’s roof is rubber and half is metal. Only the rubber portion of the school’s roof will be replaced. 

The school district will soon begin accepting bids for Phase II of the project. Panike hopes that a roofing company can be awarded a contract for the project by mid May. Phase II work will also start in mid-June. Panike hopes that it can be completed by late August. If not, it will be finished in the summer of 2014. 

Panike hopes that it can be completed this summer because the cost of roof work will likely jump by the summer of 2014. 

“Inflationary pressure may increase as we emerge from the recession,” Panike said.

All the roof work will be funded with a no-interest loan through the federal Qualified Zone Academy Bond program. QZAB loans are given by banks who receive federal tax credits for providing interest-free loans to school districts.

Sterling Bank of Island City will provide the $1.2 million QZAB loan to the La Grande School District. Glaze credits the work of Ryan Hildebrandt, branch manager of Sterling Bank of Island City, with playing a key role in helping his school district get its QZAB loan.

“We really appreciate his willingness to step to the plate and help fund this project. (Sterling Bank) are not seeing that much of a financial advantage through this transaction,’’ Glaze said.