CLEAR FORK VALLEY — The final part of the show — building new school buildings and tearing down the old — is about to occur.
The old Hines Avenue building in Bellville, which housed administrative offices and classrooms, will soon be razed.
The Clear Fork Valley Local School District started on a project two years ago, to design and build two new elementary buildings. That done, the next goal was to “deconstruct” three older structures: the elementary buildings in Butler and Bellville, and the Hines Avenue building.
Two new elementary buildings opened in January.
The old structures had to undergo asbestos abatement before the L.J. Irving firm of Napoleon could take them down.
Jesse Gaines, of L J. Irving, said he isn’t sure what day procedures will start. But much preliminary work has been done.
A crew from the Irving firm took down the two 100-year old elementary buildings.
The procedure in Bellville had followers. People would sit on their front porches, or drive to the school area, to watch the old school come don.
Gaines said early on the correct terminology for his firm’s work is “deconstruction,” not demolition. He explained his firm is interested in protecting any valuable items in old buildings, and safety is also a major precaution.
In the annex building for the district in Bellville, pieces of wood have been set aside in boxes. Kevin Carr, director of physical facilities, said many of those old pieces have signatures, in pencil.
The process to build new buildings and take down the old has moved smoothly, including times when permission for some procedures had to go before village council meetings.
The annex building, which had set adjacent to the 100 year-old Bellville elementary building, has been converted into administrative offices. It is at 211 School Street.
The Hines building is now a shell, with pipes exposed. Gaines said he and another worker must monitor anyone who wishes to see the inside of the structure now because of safety concerns.
When the “deconstruction” of the building starts, the same procedures used on the other structures will be followed.
Demolition equipment, giant cranes, are used. Water lines will snake through the area so spraying can be done to keep down dust. Bricks from the old buildings were placed in an area outside the Bellville and Butler schools, for people to gather for their own use.
The gym area in the Hines building has high ceilings. It was a place where kids would get their meals. They had to leave the Bellville building on the hill and go down to that location to get their lunches.
One leftover element of the building’s former school days remains in the gym. It is a brightly colored alphabet rug, once in a classroom.