Vicksburg school improvements on pace

Roof work is underway at Vicksburg High School.

By Jef Rietsma

Vicksburg Community Schools Board of Education members at a June 10 were given a construction update from Maintenance Director Dewey Waterman on work taking place over the summer at the middle school and high school.

Waterman said work started moments after the 2022-23 academic year concluded June 9.

“The kids had a half day of school; literally, the kids are getting on the bus and Two Men and a Truck are pulling in … I’m not even exaggerating, it was that fast,” he said. “They grabbed boxes, threw bar codes on them, beeped them, so that when they come to put them back in the classrooms … it’s going to be (a very efficient process).”

Within the first week of summer break, high school classroom materials and furniture were moved to hallways, and ceilings tiles were taken down. Waterman explained much of the work at the high school is mechanical and infrastructure.

By the end of the second week, work areas were gutted, he said. He joked that technology wires, at this point, were “strung like spaghetti.” Within three weeks, work on the high school roof started and by the fourth week, new lighting was being installed.

At Vicksburg Middle School, Waterman said 10 pallets of protection were laid to cover floor surfaces. Within the first week, the school library and a number of classrooms were gutted in advance of improvements, he said.

Also within the first week, a 61-year-old boiler was removed and replaced with four modular boilers. Waterman said the modern boiler system will greatly improve energy efficiency at the school.

Waterman showed a series of still photos, including an exterior shot of where a new transformer will be placed.

“We’re going from a single phase to a three-phase transformer because of all the load with the extra air conditioning,” he said. “Where two five-inch conduits came up to where the transformer feeds the school, we have nine now. So, there’s more load going into this building with this air conditioning (addition).”

Waterman said he is pleased with the pace at which the work is unfolding. He said work is being done over the course of two summers, with the balance to be completed in 2024.

Waterman said in the end, the two schools will have updated infrastructure, including LED lighting, full air conditioning and more-efficient heating systems.

In a separate matter, board president Skip Knowles acknowledged the passing of former superintendent Larry Cole. Cole served as Vicksburg’s superintendent twice: 1975-1979 and 1984-1994. He was Schoolcraft superintendent 1969-1975.

Knowles said Cole was largely responsible for creation of the high school’s performing arts center.

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