Project manager touts experience


Local News

August 13, 2019 - 10:40 AM

Randy Coonrod, chairman of the board of Coonrod and Associates, Wichita, introduces himself to USD 257 Board of Education members Monday. Coonrod will oversee $35 million in construction projects, including a new elementary school for USD 257.

USD 257 board members welcomed the leader of a construction company that will oversee $35 million in school projects over the next three years or so. 

Randy Coonrod, chairman of the board for Coonrod & Associates, introduced himself to board members Monday. A committee selected Coonrod last week after interviewing three companies; the board officially approved a contract with the firm Monday night.

Coonrod will manage all aspects of construction related to a new $25.5 million elementary school, a $7 million science and technology building at Iola High School, and new heating, ventilation and cooling systems at Iola Middle School.

“Thank you for selecting us. We’re excited about getting started,” Coonrod said. “This project fits perfectly with us. This is an area of the state that’s very dear to me. My homestead was between Fort Scott and Pittsburg.”

Coonrod & Associates have been in business for about 35 years, but sprung out of other construction companies dating to 1921 including Bulmer Construction, he said. They are known for school construction projects across the state, as well as other facilities for health, recreation and more.

Coonrod was a contractor for a major renovation project at Iola Middle School in the 1990s, one of the last bond issues voters approved until this new project.

“We’re a little different than other construction managers in that we came out of the construction industry as a self-performing contractor,” Coonrod said. “We’ve always done our own excavation, our own dirt work, masonry, concrete and steel. We’re very known for our masonry.”

Coonrod likely will bid those types of projects, as will other contractors. If Coonrod doesn’t win the bid, he said, “with our knowledge of these trades, we know what it takes to do the job properly and I assure you we will make them do that.”

Coonrod said he is concerned about soil testing and remediation needed at the elementary school site at Kentucky and Monroe streets. 

“Sometimes those things drag on and we don’t want to get held up on that,” he said.

Terracon, an environmental consulting firm, began soil testing last week, board president Dan Willis said. Results could be available in September.


IN OTHER news, the board:

— Made plans for an open house at the Rural Regional Technical Center, and throughout the district, Tuesday evening. Construction is wrapping up at the tech center, with new classrooms for construction trades and wind energy technology programs, a new ceiling and insulation, air conditioning in the classroom areas and new overhead doors. The construction trades class will build tiny houses this year, and the overhead doors will allow them to move the completed houses in and out of the facility.

— Explained the presence of a very large rock in front of Iola High School. The intent was to place an aesthetically pleasing boulder in front of the library’s windows near the entrance, to protect students if a vehicle jumped the curb and struck the building. But the rock that was delivered was much larger than expected. Administrators found a smaller rock, painted it blue and sandblasted “IHS” on the front. The flat top can be used as a bench for students or others.

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