Board approves bids on QZAB project
By Katie Zerr
The Mobridge-Pollock School Board approved bids for the renovation of the Middle School Theater along with other bids on Monday, June18 at a special meeting after failing to do so at the regular meeting last week.
All five members of the board were present for the vote that last week caused a controversial action, leaving the bid unapproved after there was no second on the approval motion.
After having time to research the lighting and electrical situation in the theater, board members came to the meeting prepared for the vote. In case there was any doubt in their minds about the theater renovation, a group of instructors and network administrator Brian Helm attended the meeting to answer questions about the theater problems.
Helm began by telling the board the chairs were beyond repair and more were breaking each time the theater was used. He said there have been 25-30 seats that have been removed because they were unusable.
He then explained the condition and history of the lighting board. He told the group that in his 27 years working for the district the board had undergone many transformations after a fire in the wiring. He said an expert had told the district at that time the board needed to be replaced. The district could not afford that so they began a series of rewiring and jerry rigging over the years to make it work.
He told them through the years the stage lights blew out at an accelerated rate, all but two spotlights were trashed, and series of burnouts had caused irreparable damage.
In order to have some kind of a system, lights controls were moved off of the board to wall switches, instructors used extension cords to get enough light for concerts and that blew circuit breakers, blowing out more spot lights.
“Fifty percent of that board does not function,” he said. “You have to replace the lighting system. All of our community uses that theater. It is an absolute shame and an embarrassment the lighting is in the shape it is.”
Music instructors Kim Bruguier, Sara Bakken and Lisa Zahn and drama coach Holly Hitland explained to the board that in the past five years, spotlights were borrowed from a local business to provid enough lighting for concerts. They said they have also borrowed lighting from the Wakpala School.
“Schools in our area use this theater for their one-act plays,” Zahn told the board. “It is embarrassing that we only have two spots that work and they can’t dim the stage lights.”
Board member Todd Wagner asked about the dressing room behind the stage.
“I wish we had one that worked,” Hitland replied.
She explained the bathroom does not work, which means finding another to use during make-up for plays and productions.
Helm said the sound system in the theater was a bright spot and could be improved by adding equipment such as more speakers and headset and wireless microphones.
Superintendent Tim Frederick explained that 64 percent of the cost of the theater renovation was for materials for the stage and theater lights leaving only $7,000 for other renovations in the theater.
“We will see what we have left over and to improve the sound system and fix the bathroom,” he said. “We need to prioritize our directions with this project.”
Frederick explained a new ramp for wheelchair access is a requirement of the federal government, but implored the board to consider if the current ramp is “reasonable.”
“Is our current ramp a good option for our elderly residents and those with a handicap?” he asked.
Board member Eric Stroeder, who is employed by the South Dakota Department of Transportation, told the board they put in ramps wherever feasible to avoid lawsuits.
“Whenever we make improvements for the able-bodied, we always make the change for handicapped individuals,” he told the board. “They could make the claim that we were discriminating if we do not.”
A motion was made to approve accept the bids with the acception of an $11, 750 bid for painting the theater and the bids for the project were approved.
The bids included projects that will be funded through a program that allows the district to complete needed renovations now and pay back the $866,000 loan (not $86,600 as was reported in last week’s story) at a .6 percent interest rate. The district must pay back $90,000 a year with $45,000 going to principal, $5,200 towards the interest and $39,800 is returned to the district to go into the general fund or capital outlay.
There is $270,000 authorized for the theater renovation. Of that amount $74,900 will be used for new seating; $68,280 will be used on lighting; $5,198 will used on new carpet; and $59,900 will be used for the new stairs and ramp at the west entrance.
The $11,750 bid for painting was rejected and will be re-bid. There is funding left over for the contingencies and change orders.
Other project costs include $126,000 for the new roof at Freeman Davis; and $241,300 to convert the bus barn into career and technical education classrooms.
In other business the Mobridge-Pollock School Board approved the resignation of custodian Doug Orth and middle school special education instructor Bethany Singrey.
The board also consulted by teleconference with staff at HKG and Associates of Aberdeen concerning the renovation of the bus barn. They discussed the merits of in-floor heating versus suspended gas driven heaters and the need for three-phase electrical service for the shop area.
The board approved advertising for bids for the various phases of that project beginning June 27 through July 12.
– Katie Zerr –