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Bond construction and high school repair projects have begun, with some projects planned to be done before school starts

INDEPENDENT PHOTO: LINDSAY KEEFER - John O. Henri stands beside a mural at Woodburn High School that was recently uncovered after demolition and construction work began to reconstruct the part of the school that fell victim to a fire five years ago. The murals will unfortunately be covered up again, Henri said, but plans are in the works to have new ones painted when the project is finished.
Woodburn School District construction projects funded by the $65 million bond passed by voters in 2015 are set to see progress this summer, according to recently released updates by the school district.

The welcome center and new district office, of which the district has been a temporary occupant since June 2016 due to inadequate screening for the building's rooftop HVAC unit, will soon be checked off the bond project to-do list.

For months the district grappled with how to screen the unit pursuant to the city's development ordinances without compromising the roof. A solution was reached in April— the district would install two wood columns inside the building below the HVAC unit that would support the weight of the screening.

As of last week, John O. Henri, the project manager for the bond projects, said the district was waiting on the delivery of the screening material, which he said would arrive by the end of the week.

Success Alternative High School, a project originally scheduled to be completed this year, has been plagued with delays, but may finally be reaching a turning point — its conditional use application may soon be reviewed by the city's Planning Commission.

"I think they're coming out of the woods," said Chris Kerr, the city's community development director, of the Success project. Kerr said the district is getting close to submitting an application that the city's planning office can deem complete, making it possible for the Planning Commission to review the application.

The biggest hold-up in the project, and the biggest barrier to it the application being deemed complete, was the lack of access to the building site. In April the district condemned part of a nearby property, which created the access necessary for the project.

At his presentation at the June 15 school board meeting, Henri said the district is working with the city to ensure the application reaches completeness.

"They're trying to help us get out of this pickle with the ordinances," Henri said.

In order to streamline the application, Kerr has recommended that the district partition Success from both the Welcome Center and Woodburn High School, saying that it will prevent the unrelatedbuildings from being under review when the application is submitted to the planning commission.

"It became an unnecessary burden for them, so our recommendation was to modify and tweak their plans, and I think it makes it really easy to review," Kerr said.

Once the conditional use application is deemed complete, Kerr said it will take a few weeks for the application to be brought to a public hearing and reviewed by the Planning Commission. After that, the district would begin the process of getting the project ready for bids.INDEPENDENT PHOTO: LINDSAY KEEFER - Construction is beginning at Washington Elementary School, which already saw the demolition of two neighboring houses, purchased by Woodburn School District. The project won't be complete before the end of next summer.

The district has also been making headway with the Washington Elementary School project. In May, the demolitions of the structures located at 839 and 845 E. Lincoln St. were completed. As of last week, the contractor for the Washington classroom addition project was issued a building permit and has started construction on that project.

All of the upgrades at Washington, including the classroom addition, the new gymnasium, a new media center and upgraded building support systems, are scheduled to be done in August 2018.

The Heritage and Valor roofing projects are on track to be completed at the end of the summer, according to Henri. The district awarded the contract for that project to Salem-based JCR Construction, and the project is scheduled to be done in August.

And at Woodburn High School, Henri said the construction team is "going gangbusters." Woodburn Construction, the firm contracted with the district for the fire restoration project, has begun demolition and started the excavation work to build a new foundation.

"We're going to start seeing the building grow now, as far as concrete going in, steel going up in the next few weeks," Henri said.

Henri said the goal is for the classroom renovation (a project not funded by the capital improvement bond) to be done by the end of the summer.

"The schedule is for September, get students into rooms by September. We're pushing really hard for that," Henri said.

Julia Comnes covers all things Woodburn. She can be reached at 503-765-1195 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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