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Cleaning up the rubble

The Eagle Point School District begins the monthlong task of demolishing and removing its fire-damaged middle school

Twisted metal and charred timbers have stood as unsettling reminders of an accidental blaze that destroyed the middle school Aug. 29.

This week, crews began a monthlong process to remove the eyesore that sits across the street from Glenn D. Hale and Little Butte elementary schools.

We're anxious to get it cleaned up, said Superintendent Bill Jones.

The &

36;117,000 demolition costs will be picked up by the district's insurance company.

Jones said the district still hasn't received information about a settlement that could pay for a replacement school or provide a cash payout.

We'll be interested to see what they come up with, because we know how much it costs to build a middle school, he said. We'll just have to wait.

The district, in a project not connected with the fire, has begun building a new 56,000-square-foot middle school at the north end of Eagle Point for &

36;8 million derived from &

36;34 million in voter-approved bonds.

The August fire, which was ignited by an electrical short in one of the two gyms, destroyed about 50,000 square feet of the existing 93,000-square-foot middle school.

The cleanup activities won't be obvious immediately because Western States Environmental Services will initially concentrate on removing asbestos tiles from the floors of the old classrooms.

Earlier this week, crews were removing counters and other fixtures attached to the flooring before they lifted the tiles.

Rick Martin, district maintenance supervisor, said demolition work that will be visible from the street should start next week as bulldozers load debris into trucks to be transported away from the site.

More fencing will be installed around some of the buildings to act as a buffer between the demolition and the playing fields behind the campus.

Martin said one of the gyms, undamaged by the fire, should be ready for students later this week.

It'll help with winter sports like wrestling and basketball, he said.

Greg Lecuyer, district finance director, said the school board and district have tabled discussions about what to do with the insurance money until a settlement has been presented to the district.

The district worries it would receive a far lesser amount from a cash settlement rather than the replacement cost of a new campus.

The district received &

36;200,000 earlier in insurance money that helped set up double shifts at the high school to accommodate the displaced students.

Ben Dombrowsky of Central Point cleans up debris in one of the Eagle Point Middle School classrooms still standing after an August fire destroyed the school. Demolition of exterior walls should begin next week. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell