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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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To Present School Needs Study Proposals May 24

Peshtigo Middle School/ High School Citizens Advisory Committee continues to look at the benefits of remodeling and adding on to the existing middle/high school building or constructing an entirely new facility. Consensus is that some facility improvements are needed, but how extensive the work should be, what the improvements will cost, and how they will be paid for are the main questions that need to be answered.

Three firms, Unesco, Nexus Design Group and Zeise/Architects Group Ltd. - are being considered to do the studies that should provide the answers. Representatives of each have already done walk-through facility assessment tours of the building.

There will be a price for the reports, so money is involved. The Citizens Committee can make recommendations, but only the school board can authorize spending. Representatives of the firms have been invited to each make 45-minute presentations at a special committee meeting starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 24 in the Middle/High School lecture hall. Like all meetings of the Citizens Committee, this meeting is open to the public. School Board members and interested citizens are invited to attend.

The committee plans to listen to the presentations individually and then have 15 minutes of discussion before calling in the next presenter. They may have a study firm recommendation for the school board before the May 24 meeting adjourns. If they need more time to consider the proposals, there will be another committee meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6. Plans are to ask the School Board to approve contracting for a bricks and mortar, dollars and cents study by one of the firms when it meets on Wednesday, June 14.

The committee continues to work toward its goal of having a facility recommendation ready in time for a funding referendum in January. Twice in recent years district voters have rejected referendum attempts to finance construction of an entirely new school.

At its meeting on Wednesday, May 18, the committee heard brief summaries from representatives of two architectural design firms being considered to prepare the feasibility/cost estimates.

They were Carl E. Winnekins of Architects Group, Ltd., of Green Bay, and Ron Garrison of Unesco, which is based in Minnesota but has offices in Madison and other areas of Wisconsin.

Both have wives who came from Peshtigo and Winnekins owns land in Peshtigo School District.

"As a landowner in this community, it's very important for me to have a successful project," Winnekins told the committee. He said his firm's part in the study would be to recommend what should be done, and Zeise's role would be to get cost estimates. He gave a cost estimate for Phase One of the Facilities Needs Assessment services, but said he wanted to hold off on his initial assessment report until the formal presentation. Total cost of the Phase One Facilities needs Assessment was listed at $9,850, with the Phase Two fee to be provided after Phase One is completed, reviewed and commented upon. The AGI breakdown listed $3,580 for architectural work, and $2,000 each for plumbing, HVAC and electrical assessments. Phase One is to include recommendations for corrective work, and start programming of spaces from what is current to what is needed to meet operation requirements of the school at present and into the future.

Garrison presented a 150-page initial assessment report, of which the first half consisted of information on the firm and what it has done. The second section included results of a survey they had taken of Peshtigo staff, including school and departmental goals, and facility needs, indoors and out. The High School/Middle School staff frequently commented on too hot in summer and too cold in winter.

There also were analysis of utility costs and potential operating and maintenance cost savings, as well as a summary of general condition of the elementary and middle/high school buildings as they are now. Elementary was found to be in generally good condition. The Middle/High School building structure is termed fair to good in the report. Most roofs are newer. Some exterior tuck pointing is needed. Most of the windows are older and in poor working condition. Some exterior doors need to be replaced. More natural light in the building was recommended.

Interior of the building was termed generally fair to poor condition, with asbestos containing materials in flooring, piping and possibly ceilings. Carpet is in poor condition. Floor tile is fair, but gym flooring is good. Ceilings are fair. Doors, frames and hardware are in poor condition.

There are ADA accessibility issues with restrooms, lockers, wrestling room and second floor classrooms. HVAC systems were termed fair.

In general, the report said the general educational adequacy of the building is poor, with inadequate gym space, dated science labs, and CNC machines in poor environment. Plumbing is fair, electrical was found to be fair to poor. The report said the lighting system is generally good, but could be upgraded to reduce energy use and improve aesthetics.

There also is a section on funding mechanisms other than referendum debt, tax levy history, and enrollment projections. Garrison said they work with districts to get referendums passed, and function as "program master managers," from concept through construction. However, he stressed his firm comes into this with no pre-conceived conclusions, and with the belief that, "This isn't Unesco's project, this is Peshtigo's project."

The committee discussed the summaries briefly with the two representatives and then scheduled the May 24 follow-up meeting for formal presentations. To eliminate any semblance of favoritism, order of the presentations was determined by drawing business cards.

At the start of the meeting Committee Chair Clarence Coble said one question he had gotten answered is whether or not it would be possible to get a foot bridge over Trout Creek to the Elementary School campus on the north and the adjoining former Zak/Gard property the district purchased for construction of a possible building.

Coble said DNR people have told him there can be a bridge, they would need a permit. It also would be possible to build a catwalk or slightly raised wooden walking path over the wetland area, but that would require a separate permit. Both the bridge and the catwalk can be done, Coble repeated, but cost is unknown at this time.

Before the meeting adjourned, several committee members commented the community had wanted a fresh new look at the facilities needs. One commented that there had been so much community distrust, but he recently has been hearing people say "thank you" for the committee's work.

Coble said he has been getting feedback that the community understands something needs to be done. He said if you sit down with people and explain the impact of Open Enrollment, they understand that as well. He said for one thing, Open Enrollment evens out enrollment from year to year, making the best use of instructors. He said people want to live in Peshtigo School District. Peshtigo Town Hall gets at least three or four calls a month from potential home buyers wanting to make sure they property they're interested in is in Peshtigo School District.

Another committee member said the biggest complaint she had about the previous referendums was that there was not enough information prior to the votes. She felt there should be at least a preliminary floor plan. She also said they need to realistically ask for a building that meets the needs of the district for the next five to 10 to 20 years. Coble agreed. He said the School Board told them at the start that, "If we're going to do a 20-year referendum, what we build should be good for the next 20 years."

"Next week, come with an empty mind, ready to fill it up," Coble urged committee members as the meeting adjourned. He told the business spokesmen to come prepared to answer technical questions, and eventually provide flood plain information and an artist's sketch (not in Phase One) of what they propose to build.


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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