Crews dig into new school projects

Dirt work and soil remediation has moved quickly at the site of a new elementary school.

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August 26, 2020 - 9:59 AM

Workers with RenTerra clear soil from the site of a new elementary school on the east side of Iola. In the background is the intersection of Vermont and Willow streets, which will be on the back side of the new school. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Dirt work and soil remediation at the site of Iola’s new elementary school continues to move quickly. 

School board officials expect to have a building pad ready by Labor Day.

The work is being done by RenTerra, a company associated with the Veterans Worldwide group that is remediating soil throughout Iola as part of an EPA Superfund site. 

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RenTerra has demolished some existing structures, including the remains of an old brick plant. The site of the former brick plant will be the location of the elementary school building.

To the west was once an old ironworks foundry. That will become a parking lot.

A zinc smelting plant also was located in the vicinity, to the east. That area will be remediated under the EPA, and work will begin after the building pad is completed. Some buildings have not yet been demolished because they are part of the EPA portion.

Eventually, the east area will become a playground and recreational area. 

The board is expected to hear final construction bid proposals for the elementary school project at its Sept. 28 meeting. Preliminary estimates indicated the project was expected to come in very near the $25 million mark as approved by voters in 2019.

A construction crew works on a building pad and foundation for a new science and technology building at the Iola High School campus.Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Meanwhile, work continues on the building pad for a new science and technology building with a cafeteria at the Iola High School campus. The board in July approved total costs of $7,288,693 for that project, but had to make some adjustments to materials because of higher than expected costs because of the pandemic. Among the major factors was higher costs for delivery, masonry and metal. Bidders were wary to commit to new projects, as they were unsure about the potential impact of the pandemic.

Those extra expenses were expected to affect the elementary school project, too, but preliminary estimates came within $400,000. That should be easier to adjust because of the larger scale of the project, according to architects the construction manager.

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