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Plan to fix Morrison School problem
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Concerns about the upside down roof joists in the new Morrison School gym have led Warren County School System officials to request guarantees in writing that the load-bearing joists will be repaired and certified by the contractor at no cost to the county.
A letter from current Director of Schools Dr. Jerry Hale asked for “documentation stating all codes have been met and the modifications that are proposed will in no way cause a reduction in the original design capacity.”
Chris Myers, the project engineer for the new Morrison School, has been working with joist manufacturer Carpenter Wright to come up with an effective repair plan which includes installing extra vertical supports and shoring up diagonal supports to ensure proper load-bearing specifications are met. School architect Paul McCall of Red Chair Architects, formerly Cockrill Design & Planning, presented drawings illustrating the joist modifications to School Board members over the weekend.
Hale’s letter further stated, “We are requesting that certified welders perform the work and GeoServices provide us with a letter that all welds have been tested and are acceptable, then a final inspection by Chris stating that all modifications have been done to his satisfaction.”
The joists were installed incorrectly over Christmas break by a subcontractor of Biscan Construction, the overall project contractor. When photos of the installation were presented to project engineers after the break, the mistake was discovered.
Since the gym roof had already been installed, with the joists welded to the metal sheeting, the contractor reported it could take four to six weeks to remove the joists, flip them, and re-weld them.
Incoming Director of Schools Bobby Cox says that wasn’t a viable solution for a number of reasons, not only the time restraints.
“They would have had to take the roof off,” Cox said. “Those joists are welded in place. They’re not screwed in place, so it’s not as simple as taking a bolt off. You’ve actually got to break that weld and they were concerned about maybe doing structural damage to the walls by breaking that weld and taking them off and flipping them.”
McCall, Myers, and representatives of joist manufacturer Carpenter Wright have all been involved in plans to reinforce the joists.
“By the drawings, you can see they’re going to be braced up in the center so that the pressure points are taken care of,” Cox said, noting the diagonal supports are going to be reinforced as well. “They’re going to weld the bracing in on each side which should make that stronger so there shouldn’t be any problem. The architects, engineers, everybody is in agreement that’s probably the best way to fix the issue.
“They feel comfortable with doing that and having that done on site,” Cox said. “They feel like that will correct any issues caused by the joists being put up incorrectly.”
It’s important the roof meet load-bearing specifications since there will eventually be a couple of heavy air conditioning units mounted on it, and it has to be built for a certain amount of snow load. The roof is also sloped so there should be no pooling of water.
Cox says there is currently no estimate on how long the modifications will take.
“I don’t really have a time frame on that,” Cox said. “We just got those drawings this weekend and they said possibly a couple of weeks, but that won’t slow down the construction of the other parts of the building. They can do the field welding and bracing on site.”
Another concern was the cost of the modifications.
“That’s not going to be at the expense of the school system or the county,” Cox said. “That’s at the expense of the contractor.”
Cox said the school system made sure there will be a full 25-year warranty on the work.
“That’s one thing we have insisted on all along, that our warranty will be intact for the full 25 years,” Cox said. “And that Mr. Myers will stamp off on it, the contractor will stamp off on it, and everybody’s in agreement so we won’t have any issues down the road.”