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High school, Events Center construction on schedule

Posted 8/25/15 (Tue)

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

The new high school, a joint-venture project with Kraus-Anderson and Construction Engineers in Watford City, is close to 70 percent complete and is still on schedule for teachers and students to move in to by Jan. 31, 2016.
“We’re right there on schedule,” said Ron Shatto, area superintendent with Kraus-Anderson Construction Engineers. “We’re still anticipating a first of the year opening. We’re probably in the 60-70 percent range of being done.”
“Kraus-Anderson and Construction Engineers are equal partners on this joint venture,” said Bill Blair, on-site project manager for Kraus-Anderson Construction Engineers. “We both went after the school very hard and ultimately combined companies for the joint project. The school board asked us to join together and we did. We built the elementary school expansion in 2013 so the school board knew us and our work.”
Construction on the new high school started at the end of October 2014. Currently, the construction crew still has some framing to complete, material wall construction, dry wall, and all of their finishes including paint, ceilings, and flooring. According to Blair, tiling started at the end of last week and painting started this week.
“Once you get all of your wiring in, etc., there is still a lot of work to get everything up and running,” said Blair. “But I’ll be tickled pink when the kids are able to come to their new school. It’s not just about building something, it’s personal to me. It’ll be a good feeling for the kids to be in the new building.”
Shatto says the building is really going to start looking like a finished product in the upcoming weeks.
“This has kind of been a unique experience for me,” said Shatto. “We’ve all helped each other out and we’ve all worked well together on this project. There’s none of this ‘that’s mine, this is yours’ stuff going on like there has been on other past venture products.”
Blair added that the joint venture with Kraus-Anderson and Construction Engineers has been what they term a ‘team.’
“We work together well,” said Blair. “All of us have our responsibilities. Our two companies function well together. Our field operations have done a great job, and everyone has been working together to get this school up and running. We’ve been able to forge ahead well.”
With the expansion of the cafeteria space, an additional 3,000 square feet was added to the total square footage of the building. With that additional space added, the total square footage of the entire building will be approximately 160,000 square feet, with a capacity of 800 students. According to Steve Holen, superintendent for McKenzie County Public School District No. 1, there are contingencies built in to add in the future as and if needed.
With 600 students enrolled in the existing Watford City High School at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, there was no denying that those students were feeling cramped in a much smaller space. The existing high school building, built in 1985, is only 120,000 square feet, with a capacity of 500 to 600 students. With that capacity fully maxed out, students are undeniably looking forward to the transition into their new high school facility.
The new high school will boast several features and upgrades including a new full-fledged theatre with an orchestra pit, a larger gym, a student Grill area, a student store, updated and changed spaces for the vocational agriculture and family consumer science departments, five computer lab classrooms, several commons areas for team teaching, several teacher office/working spaces, an extensive amount of parking, and an underground walk-way to the new Events Center.
The new Events Center officially began construction on April 6, 2015, which was about a month late due to the weather, with a completion date of August or September of next year.  According to Chad Larson, project manager for the Events Center for Kraus-Anderson Construction Company and Mike McMonigal, project superintendent for the Events Center for Kraus-Anderson Construction Company, they are currently at about 20 percent done with the new Events Center project.
They have completed pre-casting, have concrete wall panels up, structural steel, and roof decking.
“Roofing is just starting,” said Larson. “We have some exterior curtain walls up. Structural wood is complete. We’ve put in the plumbing and electrical rough ends. And we’ve done a lot of earth work. Also, utilities are pretty much done. ”
Over the next couple of months, the construction crew will continue curtain wall parcels and glazing. They will continue with roofing. Concrete floors will be laid and structural steel will continue. In another week or two, a 130-foot long roof joist will have to be specially escorted through town with city police because it’s so large.
The $83 million building will be approximately 269,000 square feet. And according to Larson, another $10 million still has yet to be determined to finish the athletic fields, etc.
“The community is going to like the facility, I’m sure,” said Larson. “There’s some really cool things in it. It’ll be a great space for the high school and the community. It’s an exciting project.”