UNION – (Information provided by Cassie Hibbert, Project Manager) Union School District students returned for their first day of school on September 7 to exciting changes on their campus. Construction on the District’s bond projects is concluding this fall, with additional seismic grant construction for the Gymnasium planned during Summer 2022.
The Union community approved a $4 million general obligation bond in November 2019 to improve the District’s buildings, which enabled the District to secure an additional $7 million in grant funding to extend the community’s investment.
Bond project construction this year included accessibility upgrades, HVAC replacement, electrical service upgrades, safety and security upgrades including secure entrances at the High School and SE Miller Elementary, restoring the use of the historic main entry at the High School, a new parking lot, and drop-off area at SE Miller Elementary with a new entrance facing Main Street, High School Gymnasium entry addition, expanded gym and multi-purpose space in SE Miller Elementary, new roof and windows in JF Hutchinson Elementary, interior and exterior painting of buildings, and the creation of a commons area in the High School for a student gathering space.
Due to nationwide delays in building materials, parts of the bond project are being completed this fall. Kirby Nagelhout Construction Company of Pendleton has been working closely with the District to coordinate remaining work so it does not disrupt student activities during the school day. Construction activities inside the buildings are happening in the evenings and on Fridays, as the District maintains a 4-day school week.
The new Gymnasium entry addition will open to the public in conjunction with Homecoming activities Thursday, October 21. The addition includes new restrooms, a new concession stand, and an ADA-accessible ramp at the entry to meet the District’s bond goal to “Ensure every person can access the campus with dignity.” The High School elevator, which will make all levels of the historic building accessible to students and visitors, is slated for completion in mid-November 2021.
The District received two grants last summer to extend the improvements to the buildings.
The District was awarded a $20,000 Preserving Oregon grant from the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office for the cleaning and re-pointing of the historic masonry on the High School building, built in 1911. This effort will improve structural and waterproofing qualities of the building by replacing missing mortar and damaged brick, as well as removing decades of accumulated dirt. The masonry work will be performed during Fall 2021 by the subcontractor Houk Masonry of Walla Walla.
The District was also awarded a $2.5 million seismic rehabilitation grant from Business Oregon for seismic upgrades to the Gymnasium. The scope of the seismic upgrade is to strengthen the building walls and roof structure, replace the roof, reinforce the connection between the roof and walls, and brace all hanging items. Replacement of the wood gym floor will be the final project at the conclusion of the seismic grant work. When the seismic work is complete, the District’s historic Gymnasium will look nearly the same but the additional seismic protections will enable the building to continue be used for many years as a hub for community gatherings and in case of emergency.
Design for the seismic grant is underway this fall with BLRB Architects and Walker Structural Engineering. Both firms are located in Bend and also provided the design for the bond project. The Gymnasium seismic work will occur during Summer 2022 and be constructed by Kirby Nagelhout, the general contractor for the bond project.
Photos and illustrations are provided by Cassie Hibbert, Project Manager.