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No Restart Date Yet For Unity School

Unity — Architect Scott Vaughn said he will find out from the state fire marshal early next month whether he can resume construction on the new elementary school.

“On Sept. 6, I meet with the state fire marshal and will find out if we are back in business,” Vaughn said at Tuesday night’s School Board meeting attended by about a dozen residents.

Construction on the building was halted several weeks ago by the fire marshal for reasons including an alternative installation method Vaughn developed for the insulated metal wall panels that will hold the windows, which the state must approve to insure that it is up to code. He cited improved energy performance and lower construction costs as reasons why he chose the method.

“It needs to be proven and that is what we are in the process of going through,” Vaughn said after giving a detailed engineering explanation of the panel installation. He called it a “technical solution” that needs to be fully vetted.

Vaughn recently flew to Texas to meet with Metl-Span, the company that makes the wall panels, to explain his installation. He said company officials will complete their review of the process and he anticipates they will provide a letter stating the solution is acceptable.

“Based on our conversations last week, they appear comfortable with issuing the letter,” Vaughn said.

If the state fire marshal allows construction to resume, Vaughn said it would take eight to 12 weeks to finish the building, once subcontractors are back on site. The building is 75 percent complete, he said.

The school district is also waiting to hear on a waiver request from the state for the square foot size of two classrooms.

Despite most of the work being on hold, grinding and polishing of the concrete floors inside and demolition of the old school continues.

Vaughn said after the meeting that once he has the approval to use his method for the panels, the windows will go in and they can begin hanging dry wall.

The School Board also learned Tuesday night that the district was awarded at $50,000 grant from Common Sense Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation to help with the cost of completing construction of the new school.

Meanwhile, plans are continuing to be developed to temporarily relocate Unity’s roughly 110 students in grades K-8 to Disnard Elementary School and the Claremont Middle School.

Unity Principal Chip Baldwin explained the bus schedule and said an open house will be held for Unity parents and students Aug. 21 at Disnard from 5:30 to 6:15 and at the middle school from 6:30 to 7:15. Bus schedules are available on the school’s website.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.