The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Preparations begin again for new school windows


October 28, 2020

Charity Smith/Daily Globe

Workers with St. George Glass of Iron Mountain work on installing flashings to the window sills at Washington Elementary School in Bessemer Tuesday morning. The work was in preparation for the new windows which are anticipated to arrive next week. The school has had plywood in place of the windows since the glass block windows were removed in August.


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Bessemer - Dan Niemi, superintendent of Bessemer Area Schools told the school board Monday that workers from St. George Glass of Iron Mountain have started to install the framing for the new windows at Washington Elementary School.

"That's finally starting to make some movement," Niemi said.

The original glass block windows were removed in August, before school resumed, to help speed up the process of installing the windows and protect kids from shattered glass. In place of the windows, plywood and small temporary windows were put up, until the new windows arrived.

The custom windows were back ordered because of limited staffing at the manufacturer as a result of COVID-19, school business manager Chris Bergquist said at a August board meeting.

"It would be exceptional if they could get it done in the two weeks that we are out," said board president Jim Partanen on Monday.

Kurt Oman of St. George Glass told the Daily Globe Tuesday they are installing flashings right now. He said they have to make a base for the new windows besides other preparations before installation of the new windows. He said that he believes the windows will be in next week.

"We're just getting a little ahead of the game, instead of having to do everything at once," Oman said. "This way we get a whole bunch of prep done. That way we can start sitting windows in once they get here."

Niemi also told the board Monday that the secondary boiler is out at Washington. He said there is a crack in one of the cast iron tubes where the hot water comes down through the boiler. He said that he was told they could shorten the boiler and the cost was going to be close to $40,000 or $50,000, or replace the back end which would be close to $90,000. Niemi said this boiler is a back-up so they are looking at having a welder repair the cracked pipe.

"What we are looking at is getting an expert welder in there. Fix it up, seal it and then probably put some funds away in the next year, year and a half to two years to shorten that up and make sure that is solid," Niemi said.

If the welding does not correct the problem, Niemi said they will have to look into shortening the boiler sooner then expected, but he is "80% confident" that the patch job will be successful.

Niemi said he thinks the welding job will buy the district another two, possibly three years before they have to shorten the boiler. He said he will have more information to bring to the board at the next meeting, after he gets the results of the welder's assessment.

According to Niemi COVID cases amongst the district have increased. He said as of Saturday, they've had 13 positive cases and seven probables.

"We had a spike," Niemi said. "We need to look at getting this kind of eradicated from our district."

He cited there could be a problem with finding enough substitute teachers if too many instructors are out.

Partanen said he understands the kind of "monkey wrench" that the switch to a virtual learning platform throws in people's plans for work and other issues. He said that's why it is so important that people in the community are doing things to stop the spread.


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