By Emily Younker
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The first beams of steel went up Wednesday, just as the sun was beginning to rise, at the site of the new Joplin High School.
The beams, erected along Grand Avenue near 23rd Street, will provide the structure for one of the five wings that will make up the three-story high school. Each wing will connect to the others via walkways and will house classes geared toward one of the school district’s five identified career paths: health sciences, arts and communication, technical sciences, business and information technology, and human services.
Mike Johnson, director of construction for the school district, said the start of steel work on the site is a milestone.
“For us, it’s a big one because we’re going to see stuff coming out of the ground,” he said. “People seem to think something’s not going on until you see stuff coming up out of the ground, but this will show.”
Superintendent C.J. Huff said the beginning of the steel work — about 22 months after the former building was destroyed by the May 2011 tornado — has been “a long time coming.” He said it marks another step toward the August 2014 finish line, when the high school, combined with Franklin Technology Center, is projected to be complete.
“Joplin High School, in and of itself, has always been a landmark in this community,” he said. “The steel is on site, and it’s going to go up fast. It’s another step in the process — one of many steps.”
Construction crews remain busy across the rest of the high school site. In some places, they continue to work on the foundations and drill piers in preparation for the structural steel. They also are filling in one of the larger ponds on the northern end of the property that has been used to collect stormwater runoff.
Johnson said progress at the high school site has moved more slowly than at the district’s other construction sites because the project is “more complicated” than the others. The district received final architectural drawings for the school earlier this year.
Structural steel work at Irving Elementary School on McClelland Boulevard is nearing completion, and construction crews are working on closing in part of the building, Johnson said.
Workers are inside the two-story section of the school, installing fire sprinklers, putting up interior walls, continuing electrical and plumbing work, and building the roof.
“That one’s coming along nicely,” Johnson said.
At East Middle School on East 20th Street, crews are almost finished with steel work. Inside it’s much the same story as at Irving, with crews working on electrical and plumbing systems, interior walls and roofing, Johnson said.
Up next at the East site: the adjacent unnamed elementary school.
“As soon as they finish steel (at the middle school), they’ll start on the elementary school,” Johnson said. The elementary school will be the successor to Duquesne and Duenweg elementary schools.
SEVERAL NEW BID PACKAGES for work at the new Joplin High School are expected to be considered Tuesday by the Joplin Board of Education, according to Mike Johnson, director of construction for the school district.