The Central Virginian

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Block by block, the school’s rising

Posted on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Robert Moore, Louisa County Public Schools’ Clerk of the Works, talks about construction progress of the new Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.

Revised from the May 2 print edition

Construction of the approximately $11 million Thomas Jefferson Elementary School is moving right along. The building is gradually beginning to take shape as contractors work to complete the project on time.

The new construction, which will replace the old building that was damaged by the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck  Mineral in August of 2011, is expected to be completed by June of 2014.

Despite losing 90 construction days, of which 78 were lost early this year due to snow and rain, Louisa County Public Schools Clerk of the Works Robert Moore believes the time will be made up over the next two months.

“We are excited about the progress being made at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. There were some delays due to the harsh winter condition,” Doug Straley, assistant superintendent for administration at Louisa County Public Schools said. “The crews have been working, day, night, evenings and on the weekend.”

The nearly 85,000-square-foot brick-faced school will house just over 700 students.

The building design is an exact replica of Moss-Nuckols Elementary School, except for the color of the exterior brick and roofing.  The school board will decide on those colors in the near future.

According to Moore, No special earthquake design features has been factored into the structural details of the school.

“The school is being designed to be built with the newer codes that were in place when Moss-Nuckols Elementary was built, and that school fared very well during the earthquake,” Straley said.

Currently, contractors are building the two-story portion of the facility which will contain the gym, cafeteria, kitchen and mechanical rooms.

Once the block work is done on that section of the building, steel framing will be erected for the gymnasium roof.

The school is comprised of four sections.  The other three one-story portions of the school will be built and attached to the two-story-high portion once the gym is completed.

All site work is complete, as is the work below the floor slab.  The foundation walls are in and water service from the county was installed at the end of March, according to Moore.

The site was cut down in some portions between two to four feet and built up in others by as much as 14 feet. Special inspectors and geo-technical engineers set sediment plates at the start of the project to watch the soil settlement and compaction.

Froehling and Robertson, special inspectors for the job,  perform daily and weekly inspections. All of the inspections to date have either met or exceeded design standards, Moore said.

The existing entry at the school will be moved to accommodate a redesign of the bus loop, which will pick up and drop off students on the side of the building, in the area where the circa-1960 Z.C. Morton Elementary School was located.

A cornerstone from the A. G. Richardson High School, which was built in 1953 and later became Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, will be set in the new building’s foundation as a memorial.

Next up will be finishing grouting on the walls below the floor slab of the new elementary school.

“We’re ready for concrete slabs to go in,” Moore said, and are in the process of finishing the electrical and plumbing rough-ins.

An old well on the property, which had been abandoned for years, has been filled and capped. A sediment pond was built at the rear of the site to capture run-off and will be fenced in prior to the school’s opening.

Wooden floors will be used in the gym, which will accommodate basketball and volleyball play. A stage will also be built in the gymnasium for assemblies. A walking track will be built on the property.

According to Moore, ballfields and a tennis court are not included in the current plan.

The school division has saved money with some of its decisions. The existing asphalt torn up, milled and is stored on-site to be used as the base for the fire road that will go around to the rear of the building.

“This site is totally self-sustaining,” Moore said.

A smaller building will be constructed on the property to house water service and pump houses for fire protection.  Five 1,000 gallon propane gas tanks will be installed to heat the building and fuel hot water boilers for the school. The air conditioning units will be electricity-based.

Oyster Point Construction of Newport News is the general contractor for the elementary school project, while Rancorn Wildman Architects, which designed the school, is also based in Newport News.

“I can’t praise the contractors and the architect enough  for all the work they’ve done to rearrange the schedule to accommodate for all the rain we’ve had,” Moore said.

School officials are pleased with progress of the building.

“We are pleased with how things are coming along,” Straley said. “We are excited about the August 2014 opening.”