By William Kincaid
COLDWATER -- It has taken three years, but the Coldwater Exempted Village Schools $30.1 million renovation and construction project is finally finished .... almost.
A public dedication ceremony for the K-12 school will occur at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Palace (the high school gym), followed by an open house from 2-4 p.m. and building tours.
"Even though we started talking about the project in 2000, and the building is almost completed in 2006, we are looking at another year or two yet of ongoing updates, punch lists, reports and other detail items before the project is complete," Treasurer Sherry Shaffer said. "In the end, we'll have spent more than eight years or more working on this project in the superintendent's and treasurer's offices."
In November 2002, voters kicked off the project by agreeing to pay for $9.5 million of the work. The remaining $20.6 million was paid for by the Ohio School Facilities Commission.
"If we had to foot the entire bill for this, we couldn't have done it," Superintendent Rich Seas told the paper. "This was a great gift." All existing spaces were renovated and a 47,000-square-foot addition was constructed that now connects the two buildings into one K-12 facility.
Seas praised the work of Custodial/Maintenance Supervisor Gary Sudhoff and staff for working with the construction crews.
"The students really surprised me," Sudhoff said about their behavior, patience and cooperation during times of construction obstacles.
The renovation and construction project was completed in different phases, but the demolition, Sudhoff said, was the worst part of the project as walls and ceilings were torn down.
Sudhoff said his maintenance crew -- which also consisted of high school and college students during the summer -- worked vigorously rearranging and preparing the facility for the beginning of the school year, which endured, "right to the last minute."
One of the highlights of the project is the new 6,349-square-foot auditeria, located between the Palace gymnasium and the renovated junior high building. The auditeria gets its name from its two main uses -- as a cafeteria during the school day and as an auditorium with a stage for school or community events during the evenings and weekends.
The complex is designed to hold 800 spectators, according to Seas, and has a technologically-advanced acoustic atmosphere.
Technology Director Casey Nuttle said the renovated school now has multiple state-of-the-art equipment, including a climate control system, security cameras, automatic door locking system, fire suppression system and computers. Each classroom, he said, has a 37-inch LCD television and DVD/VHS combo.
Also, the school now has a complete wireless computer network with 42 access points and six computer labs with 24 laptop computers in each -- which can be checked out by students for various projects.
There also are two video-projectors in the auditeria and the CAV Room.
The Tri Star horticulture class, according to Seas, is installing all of the landscaping on the grounds.
Seas said the newly renovated school is an embodiment of the community and its dedication to education -- one the biggest events to happen in the history of the village.
Although he is proud of the multi-million dollar facility, Seas emphasized the heart of the school is people, not bricks and mortar.
"What defines us is how we deal with the kids on a day-to-day basis," he said. "We are who we are."