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Middle school renovation focus of Lewis Board meeting

by James Fisher

REGIONAL WRITER

Lewis County Board of Education members were expected to choose an architectural firm at Monday night's special meeting to begin looking at renovating Robert L. Bland Middle School, said board president Willie Parker.

Board members also were expected to look at submitted bids for ventilation improvements to the gymnasium at Lewis County High School, Parker said.

"We put out a request for expression of interest in the Robert L. Bland renovations," Parker said. "We received six proposals and have interviewed three firms."

Parker did not want to say which firms submitted proposals or had been interviewed, but said at least one local firm was on the list.

Robert L. Bland Middle School needs about $2.5 million in renovations, Parker said, and about $700,000 has been allocated from the school levy that county voters passed Feb. 19. During the next five years, school officials will be trying several other ways to secure more funding, Parker said, including School Bond Authority funding.

Finding an architectural firm to begin initial work on the renovations is different from finding a contractor, Parker said. While a contractor for the ventilation improvements at Lewis County High School will most likely be chosen based on submitted bids, architectural firms do not submit bids, he said.

"By state law, we don't negotiate a price or a percentage of the project until after the firms are interviewed," Parker said. "You look at the firms and their qualifications, rank them and pick who you think is the best qualified. The key here is to make sure someone has the technical expertise or has access to that expertise before you hire them."

Board members were expected to open the sealed bids for the gymnasium work, Parker said, but were not expected to choose a contractor.

"It gets very warm in there if you get a large crowd and we want to do something to keep it a little cooler," Parker said.

Improvements needed at Robert L. Bland Middle School include window replacement, improvements to the heating/ventilation/air conditioning system, and upgraded lighting and electrical work, Parker said.

Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446

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