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Material delays, COVID-19 slow civic center work


November 4, 2020


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Ironwood — Product delays and COVID-19 cases have slowed the work schedule at the Pat O’Donnell Civic Center, according to Jim Collins, chair of the civic center board at its meeting Monday.

“It’s slow, and there is a ton of work to do,” Collins said.

Now that construction is focused inside of the civic center with most exterior shell work completed, there are components that need to be completed before other things begin, he said. Some of the work done so far includes the storage room, the coaches room and the restrooms. But delays in deliveries create an indefinite scheduling status, which means other work and winter activities could start as late as January, he said.

“We figured we’d be ahead of the ball game or somewhere near the end of the ball game, but we’re not,” Collins said. 

A schedule update should be ready this week, possibly Tuesday, he said. It is difficult to calculate the timeline when there are workers of the subcontractors who are out with COVID-19 or are quarantined for contact. 

“We have people out there trying to find more block layers but we can’t because of COVID,” Collins said. “We are moving forward but slowly.”

The plumbing and electrical work is limited to what can be done until more workers return and materials arrive, he said. There is also a lot of mud.

“It’s out of our hands,” said Jim Mildren, a civic center board member and city commissioner. “We need people who have been quarantined for the required time.”

There is a contingency plan for lost revenue for a situation where there is no fault and is out of the board’s and the city’s control, Collins said.

Board member Mae Moderson said the parents of children in the Polar Bear Hockey Club and the Ice Crystals Figure Skating Club are asking a lot of questions. Parents want to know if they should wait it out or put their kids in other programs out of town, she said.

“At this point I am saying to hold on and that at some point we are going to be setting up practices,” Moderson said, adding that she doesn’t expect things to be rolling until after the New Year.

Collins said that parents should be aware there aren’t many alternatives with area programs and indoor rinks larger than the civic center are currently under strict COVID-19 regulations. Pandemic policies do not allow use of locker rooms or concessions and limit players to bringing two guests per game. There are no travel hockey teams right now, he said.

The league players must arrive dressed to play 15 minutes before a game and vacate the building within 15 minutes of the game’s end. That plan was approved by the Marquette rink which is owned by the city, he said.

“There is no pickup hockey or open skating,” Collins said. “That is where they are at today.”

Civic center manager Michelle Rigoni-Sivula said she is in conversation with the Western Upper Peninsula Department of Health, and Andrew DiGiorgio, director of Ironwood Public Safety Department, regarding a review of the civic center for the purpose of creating operational guidelines for COVID-19. She will request that DiGiorgio speak to the board at the December meeting.

In other business, the board 6-1 approved the civic center manager to consult with the city information technology director and purchase a laptop computer and, if necessary, a printer up to $3,000. Mildren voted against saying the research could be done before approving the purchase.

The board unanimously approved placing surplus property from the former civic center that is being replaced up for online auction. The list will be presented to the city commission for consideration. 

The list includes items including rubber matting, a hockey stick chair, a boat motor, a gas furnace, hot water boiler system, church benches, an overhead concession door, four garage doors, benches, wall speakers, a hot water heater tank, two dehumidifiers and Modine heaters. Other furniture will be disposed of for age and lack of value.

The board delayed a decision on scheduling the civic center to serve as home ice for a 2 p.m. Jan. 23 hockey game of the Ashland club hockey program that includes Hurley players. The board members were confident the rink would be ready and perhaps make the game the inaugural event but felt the decision should wait until December.

“We will have a conversation and say that we are uncertain of the (construction) end date,” Collins said. “We will say we would like to have them but there has to be an understanding that the building might be unfinished or there might be other circumstances with COVID-19.”

The next civic center board meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, Dec 7 at the Memorial Building.


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