It’s amazing how much can happen in one year. In the case of Westmoreland County, the site for the new high school has gone, in the span of a year, from a farm field to a construction site, as more and more blocks are set down, more rebar put in place and more concrete is poured. And while there have been a few setbacks, by and large, progress continues. At the final School Board meeting of the year last month, Superintendent Dr. Michael Perry brought out a field report on what had been going on at the construction site.

“Some of it’s good, some of it’s bad,” he stated. According to the report, there have been several cracks in the foundational concrete. Fortunately, they can be fixed, and a few already have been.

Several more cracks were shown, and all throughout Dr. Perry remained optimistic. Several of the concrete floors still had standing water as well, which means the floors will need to be leveled out. There were several more examples of these puddles and cracks shown, and the connection between them is a pretty easy one to make when the weather gets as cold as it has at several points in the month.

However, the news was not all gloomy, as several milestones in the building’s construction had also been reached. Electrical work has been started, while the landings on the stairwells are now in place. Outside sheathing on the walls has also begun, and the second-to-last bit of framing is in the works. Other features that Dr. Perry called attention to were the massive firewalls being erected, which should keep a fire from jumping from one section of the building to another. Insulation is also being installed and the second floor’s concrete has gone in.

According to Chairman Ralph Fallin and Dr. Perry, the folks from Branch Builds were impressed with the design.

“They don’t always see that type of firewall,” Fallin explained. “And they were impressed by how substantial it is.”

“I’ve heard them make some of the same comments,” Dr. Perry added. “They have made a lot of great comments about the design, because some of the projects they have done are not this meticulous. It’s an incredible facility out there.”

Another good bit of news is that to date, only about $130,000 of the contingency fund has been used. As Dr. Perry has noted several times, most of the change orders came around before anything went into the ground, and that is often the most taxing phase on a contingency fund. Fortunately, however, the amount of change orders was low, allowing the School Board to enter the construction phase with a much healthier contingency than usual, in the neighborhood of $1.8 or 1.68 million.

“That leaves us very confident about getting the auditorium complete,” Chairman Fallin added at the end of the report. There’s still quite a bit of work to be done, but at the rate the school is going up, it will probably be only a year or two more before the new high school stands completed.