New high school to be ready by June

Construction of the “multi-use” facility at Westfort here is continuing at a steady pace, with Rainy River District superintendent Murray Quinn saying it should be ready to move into before students break for summer vacation.
Taking a quick tour of the site last Wednesday, Quinn noted several rooms on the second floor of the renovated part of the building already are finished, with only furniture to be moved in and a final coat of paint to be applied.
“We’re locking areas off that are finished to prevent mistakes and damages,” he said. “We’re at a state where we’re seeing big changes throughout all of the project.”
One of the big challenges working at the old Westfort site is making renovations that don’t look like “renovated” areas, Quinn said. Chipped blocks were squared off by masonry workers and new rows of bricks were blended in with existing ones perfectly.
“I can’t say enough on the masons who did this,” he enthused. “You can’t tell the difference between the old and the new. In doing that, we’re going to get a high-quality finish.”
One problem encountered in the old portion of the school was the backing behind lockers. Quinn said replacing rotten or destroyed backing was an extra cost to the project but a necessary one.
“Because we’re upgrading the building, we can’t leave it like this,” he said. “We’re in a situation where the renovations we’re doing cost extra money but we know we had to make it to last.”
The comfort level at the Westfort campus also has gone up much from what former students there may remember. In addition to an improved ventilation system, the walls of the new school are now made of eight inches of block, four inches of styrofoam insulation, and eight inches of brick.
Compared to the four inches of block and four inches of brick with a two-inch airspace in between at the old school, Quinn said the insulation value of the walls have about quadrupled.
He also said the floor tiles were an heavy-duty industrial strength material meant to resist wear and tear.
“So many projects are ruined because they try to save money in that area,” he noted.
Meanwhile, work on the new part of the school also is continuing at a steady pace, Quinn said. Pillars are starting to be put up and the new stairwells are almost completed.
In the new double gymnasium, the light fixtures are all up and the walls are ready to be painted. And in the administration area, stud walls have gone up and individual offices are taking shape.
The main part is that the miles of wiring, piping, and ventilation are all in, Quinn said, which was what required much of the work. Once a hallway has all of that in, it only takes a matter of days to do the tiling, suspended ceiling, and painting.
“We’ve got people in all areas working all the time,” he stressed. “We’ve got as many people on site as we can handle.”
Quinn also noted there is a very good working atmosphere on the site between the trades, which isn’t always common in construction.
“They should have a real clap on the back for what they do,” he said. “Everybody has to be in sequence for this project to run smoothly–and that’s what’s happened.”