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Central Point school bid puts project on 'Go'

CENTRAL POINT - A construction contract for a new Central Point Elementary School recently came in $1.2 million under estimates, paving the way for the project to begin next week.

The low bidder, Vitus Construction of Gold Hill, will build a new 62,000-square-foot campus next to the old building on South Fourth Street for $7.7 million, compared to the original estimate of $8.9 million.

"We're hoping to start next Monday," said Vicki Robinson, district business service director. "Vitus is moving their shop trailers onto the site."

The project is part of a $30 million voter-approved construction bond that will upgrade many of the district's run-down buildings.

Corey Vitus, president of Vitus Construction, said the project came in below estimates because of efficient design decisions such as the use of precast concrete panels for the exteriors.

Vitus said his company will begin site work next week in preparation for the yearlong project.

A new playground, built by a different contractor, should be completed after the spring break, he said.

The district also has an apparent low bidder for Crater High School after rejecting all bids recently to avoid potential lawsuits over bid disputes.

Robinson said the contract hasn't officially been awarded yet, but Merrill Contractors of Vancouver, Wash., came in at $6.9 million, slightly ahead of estimates of $6.7 million.

The extra expense will pay for a remodeled kitchen area and upgrades to parking that will make it easier to enter and exit the front parking lot.

The high school project includes a science classroom building, auditorium, agricultural science complex, commons building, site work and landscaping. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for April 2.

Robinson said the school will hold fund-raisers that could pay for such things as a better lighting and sound system in the auditorium.

Robinson welcomed the lower-than-expected bid for Central Point Elementary and said it would offset any potential overbids on other projects.

She is particularly worried about planned upgrades to the 1908 Central Point Elementary brick building that will be turned into district offices at a projected cost of $2.2 million, of which $1.8 million is slated for construction. "Our biggest unknown is the brick building," she said.

Other projects financed by the bond also have begun.

Mark Wendt Construction in Klamath Falls began work last Thursday at Hanby Middle School to build a two-story addition with six classrooms, a new cafeteria and a music room.

A groundbreaking at Mae Richardson Elementary is scheduled for Friday to build two classrooms and a media and computer center at a cost of about $2.2 million.

Despite projected cutbacks in revenues from the state, Robinson hopes the new campus construction saves the district money in annual operating expenses. "Most new buildings have less upkeep than older buildings," she said.

Even so, Central Point, like most districts in the county, could be looking at reducing staff at its new buildings. "How many staff we won't know until we get our budget from the state," she said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail