LINCOLN, Maine — A $2.33 million renovation and expansion of the Northern Penobscot Tech Region III school largely funded by federal stimulus money is halfway done and ahead of schedule, officials said Monday.
Insulation has been sprayed into the school’s second floor, the plumbing and electrical wiring and the second floor’s framing are finished, and about half the sheetrock work is done, said Keith Collins, superintendent of Nichols Construction LLC of Hudson, the job’s lead contractor.
The assembly of steel girder supports for the building’s addition is almost finished.
“It’s going decently well,” Collins said Monday. “It’s kind of a piecemeal job. Everybody has to do a bit here and a bit there for it all to come together.”
The renovation plan calls for closing two 35-year-old steel buildings in Howland and Lee and building a two-story, 12,000-square-foot addition to the 87-year-old school, which is on West Broadway.
Besides two new shop areas and five classrooms, the renovation will give the school energy-efficient windows, LED lighting and R-50 insulation in its walls and ceilings. That should create annual savings of $22,000 in heating oil and $15,000 in electricity, officials have said.
The renovation will leave the region with one consolidated, energy-efficient building and replace the inefficient Region III Howland and Lee structures.
“It’s an exciting project,” Region III Assistant Director Mary Hawkes said. “It’s been, what, not since 1974 or so that any renovations have been done here.”
The work will cost Region III’s 28 northern Penobscot County towns a total of $19,281 annually for 15 years thanks to the federal stimulus bill, which has supplied an interest-free $2.33 million bond that will supply front money for the work. The towns’ residents approved the project by a large majority in a special October referendum.
The project’s lowest bidder, Nichols Construction bid $1.5 million, about $400,000 less than expected, Hawkes said.
Because federal and state education laws require that the money be spent on the school, a building committee established by Region III Director Al Dickey is looking to find the best way to expend any leftover funds, he said. No decisions have been made.
“It’s not uncommon for a bidder to come in under expectations in an economy like this,” Dickey said. “Contractors are competing more now for work.”
The interior renovations are due to be completed by Aug. 20. The addition won’t be finished until November, Dickey said.