Vo-Ag problems continue to mount, mediation not started

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Nearly two years later, a litany of issues – leaking windows, buckling floors and icy rooms – have not been resolved at Beaverhead County High School’s brand new Vo-Ag building.

And new problems continue to crop up, frustrating school board members and administrators anxious to wrap up the project.

“The length of time to do this has been astronomical,” BCHS Superintendent Gary Haverfield said at the school board’s Feb. 8 meeting.

The nearly $10 million building project updated the main school building, renovated the BW Lodge Gymnasium and created a new Vo-Ag building. Students began using the Vo-Ag building in 2019, and the issues began cropping up not long afterward. Haverfield battled to get issues corrected with the general contractors on the project; the school board hired new owner’s representative Dan McGee to take that over as well as oversee the BW Lodge renovation.

BW Lodge’s renovation is largely completed and students are using the building.

The main school building also had problems that took months to rectify. The school board chose to accept a credit on the uncorrected work done by Pierce Flooring for that building, and had another company replace those floors.

The newest issues involve leaking welding gas manifolds and the build-up of carbon monoxide in the boiler room when the building’s air handling system clears out the air.

McGee is now working with the district’s legal counsel on an insurance claim for the Vo-Ag building to get the work completed. The next step is to work with a mediator in the process, but the mediators have not yet been selected.

McGee told the school board the flooring contractors, Pierce Flooring, agreed to some fixes to the Vo-Ag’s floors, but Haverfield argued he wanted that agreement in writing before the work is scheduled to be done.

“They’ve given us the runaround on multiple occasions – on multiple parts of the project,” Haverfield said. “We need that signed agreement.”

McGee has been documenting all the ongoing issues and adding it to the insurance claim, along with the cost for his time to manage it.

Ideally, the work could be done this summer while students are on break, McGee said.

The mediation process can take at least a couple of months but has not started at this point, Haverfield said. The hope is the mediation can be scheduled soon to get the ball rolling.