The new digs

Published 9:37 am Monday, July 14, 2008

Former students and interested community members gathered Saturday to tour the additions and renovations of the Lake Mills Community School, an event in participation with the city’s annual July Jubilee.

“It’s just another opportunity for people who haven’t been able to come to the school and walk around,” said Lake Mills School Board Vice President Debra Georgia.

Renovations were needed to bring the school up to code with fire and life safety requirements, according to Superintendent Daryl Sherman, especially in the science rooms. When the plans were brought to community meetings, Sherman said the community members requested a larger middle school gym.

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“I’m very proud of our community for supporting these renovations,” Georgia said.

Construction started on the needed changes in July 2006, seven months after a bond issue passed with 75 percent of voters’ approval. After just over a year of hammering and sawing, the school was ready for students and teachers to use at the beginning of the 2007-08 school year.

The entire expansion and renovation was a $2.34 million project.

The school got a new elementary art room, a new greenhouse, new space for science rooms now in the main floor, a new middle school gym and concession stand.

“It wasn’t that old, but it never was the right size,” Sherman said of the middle school gym. “And that’s why the public asked for a new gym.”

The new bleachers seat 288 spectators. The gym floor is 82 feet by 102 feet. According to Sherman, the gym floor is the same as that on the Milwaukee Bucks’ court, and the man who installed the basketball hoops also installed hoops for country singer Garth Brooks.

“It’s great,” said Janice Canny, who was on the tour Saturday. “They really couldn’t want for anything more, could they.”

“Anyone would be proud to bring their family into Lake Mills after looking at this school system,” added Chuck Nelson.

There is a new space for the fitness and weight room. Two new locker rooms and one renovated locker room are on the lower level.

“It smells new,” said one tour-goer.

Renovations include changing the former science rooms on the third floor into middle school classrooms for seventh- and eight-graders. Changes and expansions to the industrial and vocational technology rooms now meet safety standards.

Now, only 12 classrooms are not air conditioned, Sherman said. All the new classrooms and the new gym — adding up to one-third of the school — are under the new geothermal heating system with ground source heat pumps. The pipes are 300 feet deep with 30 ground wells under the south parking lot and eight ground wells on the other side of the school.

Tours of the building were conducted in December 2007, too, and Georgia said community members were surprised at what was built for the amount of money.

“It was a north Iowa project,” Georgia said, adding the architect was from Mason City, Iowa, and the contractor was from Forest City, Iowa.