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Nevis School construction nearing completion

Nevis School’s recent construction included renovations to the band room.

Last year, Nevis public schools proposed a referendum to the community they teach. It’s passing, administration officials said, would add much needed funding to the district and would be used to add necessary upgrades to its outdated and aging building.

When the referendum passed last November by a vote of 773 yes to 754 no, the district was granted $2.445 million in funds to pursue and implement the proposed upgrades. Those include complete renovations to the choir and band rooms, a new gym floor, a new wing addition dedicated to early childhood development, new high school classrooms and the renovation of the boys’ high school locker room (enabling it to be handicap accessible). A new sprinkler system, to be installed on the building’s lawns, is to be added before spring.

Now, nearly a year removed from ballots being cast, the construction projects are nearly completed.

Construction started in the middle of May 2013.

“We knew we wouldn’t be able to get everything done before school started the next year, but we kind of knew the order in which we wanted everything done. Everything fell into place really nicely,” said Steve Rassier, superintendent of Nevis schools.

The construction process has gone relatively smoothly, with no major delays along the way.

Although funding was primarily covered by the referendum itself, costs associated with the project were more expensive than anticipated. Nevis public school’s budget shows the entire project total running $51,048.63 over the intended budget.

“In some cases (expenses) went a little cheaper with changes made during construction, like when we converted from copper electrical wiring into aluminum, saving about $8,000,” Rassier said. “But most of the time any changes are going to be an added expense that gets tacked on.”

Rassier said that additional funding is also available elsewhere.

“We received a $500,000 grant from the Department of Human Services, which will assist us in building the early childhood building. This addition will be operational soon,” Rassier said.

“We will also access a local tax levy that will provide $120,000 for handicap access, which will allow us to convert the existing locker rooms to ones that are handicap accessible. This should get us pretty close to the amount we need. If not, then you put district dollars into it, because we did some extra things in the project that weren’t included in the initial design,” Rassier said.

Budget overages aside, Rassier is pleased with the additions made as well as the construction’s intended completion timing.

“(The construction projects) are just finally wrapping up. They should be done within the next couple of weeks,” Rassier said. “We are still finishing up the handicap accessible boys locker room. It has maybe a week or two left. Then we will be completely done. We fully expect everything to be done within the next couple of weeks.”

With the referendum’s passing and construction nearly done, Rassier sees the needs of the district being met for years to come.

“These projects will take care of a lot of our building issues” Rassier said. “We’re very appreciative of the ‘yes’ vote that provided the funds for all this construction. When this is all done, the building needs for this district should be taken care of for the next 20 years.”

Nick Longworth
A graduate from St. Cloud State University, Nick photographs and writes a variety of stories for nearly every section of The Park Rapids Enterprise. His duties also include section layouts and online content submission.
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