A portion of the Houston R-1 School District campus.

Five companies submitted qualifications before a Sept. 10 deadline to become project manager for an estimated $6 million project at the Houston School District campus.

Members of the Houston board of education heard Sept. 10 that the five packets outlining the firms were received before the deadline earlier that day. A sixth came in too late.

School board members will score the qualifications of each company and interviews with the candidates begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday. At that time, the firms will outline their qualifications and fees. (The meeting was to have been Thursday, but was changed. A headline in the print edition of this week’s Herald is incorrect because of the meeting date change).

The five firms submitting proposals were: Gentry Construction Co. Inc., Houston; DeWitt & Associates, Springfield; Branco Enterprises, Neosho and Springfield; Nabholz, Springfield; and Federal Construction, Springfield.

Patrons in April overwhelmingly approved a $6 million plan that will be completed in two phases to improve security, renovate current facilities and build a new gymnasium on campus. The structure will seat 1,650 — more than doubling the size of Hiett Gymnasium — with an additional 500 seats to be added by another bond issue in 4-5 years.

If all goes as planned, Dr. Allen Moss, superintendent, said that a project manager might be in place by the end of the month. That would allow it to work with the district and the school’s architect, Paragon Architecture of Springfield, as revisions begin on the architectural plans. Moss said that would lessen the number of change orders expected during the construction phase, which could take about a year.

Moss told the board that he was also beginning to develop a plan to replace the district’s deteriorated track that is no longer used for competition. He said an architectural firm might not be required. He said there are firms that specialize in track construction.

He also gave a report on a new wood boiler system that is nearing completion. The project is nearly done with some additional testing next month before putting it into operation this winter. The new unit will be a big plus for the district and reduce labor costs for staff  members who often were required to closely monitor the aged system, Moss said. A Missouri Department of Conservation Fuels for Schools Grant paid $305,000 of the $800,000 project.

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