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Projected costs for new middle school and alternative high school building have also increased

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - David Etchart, a consultant with HEERY International, speaks during a St. Helens School District board of directors meeting Wednesday, Sept. 27. Etchart updated to board of directors about the projected timeline and budget for two new buildings being built in the district.Construction of two new buildings in the St. Helens School District will cost more than initially forecasted and the construction timeline for one of the buildings has been pushed back slightly, according to consultants working with the district.

David Etchart, an engineering consultant with HEERY International, spoke with the St. Helens School District board of directors during a meeting Wednesday, Sept. 27, about the status of construction plans for a new Columbia County Education Campus building and a new St. Helens Middle School, which are both scheduled to begin construction later this school year.

Projected construction of the CCEC building has increased by $800,000, to a total $4.7 million, while construction of the middle school has increased $3.2 million to $42 million, Etchart explained. During the meeting, Etchart explained that previously unforeseen circumstances, including high demand for builders and construction workers in the industry, has put a financial strain on the projected budget for both projects.

On the construction side, the timeline for construction of the CCEC building, which is still scheduled to begin this

school year, was pushed back slightly, but consultants still expect to have the building ready for occupancy by early January.

The construction schedule for the middle school has not changed, Etchart explained. The St. Helens Planning Commission recently approved a land use permit with conditions for the construction of the two new buildings, which is a major hurdle in the process. Several conditions proposed by the planning commission, including completion of frontage improvements such as sidewalks on the property before construction can begin, will pose challenges, but are still doable.

"We think we can work through those things and we're working with the planning commission as we speak," Etchart said.

Next on the docket will be obtaining building permits and ground-breaking on the building is scheduled to take place in early February 2018.

The school district has not awarded any construction contracts to any company yet, but has completed its prescreening process for construction applicants and has selected five companies to be in its pool — Kirby Nagelhout, Todd Construction, Triplett Wellman, Robinson Construction and Emerick Construction.

Two board members were absent from Wednesday's meeting — Kellie Smith and Jeff Howell.

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