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Workers started on the south side of the school and moved their way to the north side.

New Hoosac High School On Pace and On Budget

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Building Committee Co-Chairman Howard Wineberg and Gilbane's Project Manager Dave DeForest chat about how the new rainwater harvesting retention tank will reduce water consumption.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Construction on the new Hoosac Valley High School is proceeding on time and on budget, according to Superintendent Alfred Skrocki.

The $40.5 million school that will house Grades 6 through 12 broke ground in June and six months later most of the infrastructure is complete as hundreds of contractors move their way through the process.

According to Dave DeForest, project manager for Gilbane Building Co., the company overseeing construction, work is 35 to 40 percent complete and all of the 28 trade bids have been awarded.

"I think we're in a good place," Skrocki said on Tuesday. "Everything is running on time."

The school was broken into six sections and tradesmen, a total of 125 currently working on the rebuild, are following each other through the sections to complete their portion of the work. A maximum of 150 workers will be on-site at a given time, DeForest said, and will work through the winter. The school itself should be completed by June with some outside work completed during the summer.

Workers started in the southwest end of the school, moved east, then to middle and then the north end. Some areas of the school are in the painting stage while others are just now getting insulation.

"We're adding a lot of insulation. It will take our R-value from 14 to the high 30s," Skrocki said.

The south side will be the majority of the academic rooms with the middle school students on the backside and high school students in the front — each with their own entrances. In the middle, there will be offices, cafeteria and library and the north end will be home to the arts and gymnasiums.

A third of the property consisting of outside work such as parking and a photo voltaic array are currently being held off until the summer to make sure costs do not increase and to focus all the work to making the school habitable. Bids to build the 150 or 225 kilowatt photovoltaic array are due on Thursday.

"The main priority is to get the students here in September," Skrocki said.

DeForest says he does not expect much for surprise changes that could raise the cost. Work is already past the stage where engineers typically find major problems with the infrastructure and things such as asbestos removal were identified before construction began, he said.

The one surprise he said workers did encounter were large boulders buried underneath the school that needed to be removed or worked around. The school's contingency budget is sufficient to cover any change orders from now on out, Skrocki said.

Overall, the school's footprint will grow by 16,000 square feet — from 158,000 to 174,000 — to accommodate the additional middle school students. About 10 new classrooms are being built and many more former spaces are being transformed into classrooms. There will be two gymnasiums.

"We barely had enough space when the seventh- and eigth-graders came up here," Skrocki said.

The swimming pool room will be the middle school gymnasium but the deep end of the pool is retained to house a rainwater harvesting tank that will collect rainwater for toilets. The current gym will stay put, including the floor and scoreboard, but will get brand-new bleachers. The school is retaining its roof, which is constantly inspected because it is still under warranty, the floor on the auditorium stage and many other things that are still in good condition.

"Some of this stuff will last forever. Whatever we could save that would last a long time, we're going to save it," Skrocki said. "We're keeping as much as we can."

The inside infrastructure, however, is being completely redone to accommodate energy efficiency — including new ventilation system, water and boilers — state-of-the-art technology, upgraded science labs and space for the community, which were all priorities of the building committee, Skrocki said.

But while things seem to be cruising along, there is still a lot of work to be done by the building committee. It is still fine-tuning portions of the project and is in charge of the billing at weekly meetings. Once a month,  committee members tour the school to make sure they are paying for what has actually been built.

"I don't think anybody realized how much work goes into this," Skrocki said. "It's still an extensive role."

At this rate, in six months or so, the committee will be able to sign off on the project as a whole and the doors will be reopened.

Tags: building project,   Hoosac Valley,   schools,   

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New Police Chief Takes Command in Adams

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Chief K. Scott Kelley takes the oath from Town Clerk Haley Meczywor.  Kelley is the town's third police chief in a year.
ADAMS, Mass. — New Police Chief K. Scott Kelley says he "already feels at home" and is looking forward to spending time getting to know his officers. 
"The thing that I'm looking forward to the most is actually spending time with my officers," he said on Tuesday. "I can't say it enough, and I mean every word of it. I have learned throughout my years that the only way to succeed in leadership is to make sure that everyone under you has input. These officers know what is needed, what is wanted, where we need to go, what our goal should be."
Kelley was sworn in on Tuesday morning in front of Town Hall, the town's third police chief in less than year. He particularly thanked his immediate predecessor Troy Bacon, along with Town Administrator Jay Green and Selectmen Chairwoman Christine Hoyt, for ensuring a seamless transition in leadership. 
Bacon had been leading the force since July in an interim capacity following the retirement of Chief Richard Tarsa, a 36-year member of the Adams force. He had initially indicated interest in taking on the post permanently but declined late last year for personal reasons and returned to Indiana. 
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