MILLINOCKET, Maine — It was built in 1953 and has managed to operate, with many repairs, since then, but the days of the boiler at Granite Street School finally are numbered.
The Millinocket School Department will replace the boiler with two smaller Honeywell units over Thanksgiving vacation thanks to a $50,000 allocation from the town and about $53,000 of its own funds, school officials said Monday.
They know they got their money’s worth from the old boiler.
“I just hope it [the replacement work] goes well and we don’t find other problems,” Superintendent Kenneth Smith said Monday.
The Town Council voted 5-1 on Thursday to approve the allocation. Councilor Stephen Campbell was opposed, Town Clerk Roxanne Johnson said.
As part of the vote, councilors reaffirmed the Millinocket School Committee’s decision to award the bid to Honeywell, and agreed to an additional $10,000 allocation to pay for the removal of the old boiler, Johnson said.
Under the town charter, the school department is among several units of town government. The school board sets the school budget and determines how that money is spent, but the council and Town Manager Eugene Conlogue are the town’s financial controllers and must approve allocations within the town’s budget, of which the school budget is part.
Town Manager Conlogue did not return telephone calls seeking comment on Monday.
The boiler replacement was long overdue, school board Chairman Thomas Malcolm said.
“It’s bad,” Malcolm said of the boiler. “We have already closed off sections of the school [to save money and help keep the boiler running]. The problem with that is that when you shut off sections of the building, you produce less Btu and the building gets colder.”
Replacing the boiler now, Malcolm said, is far preferable to having it break down during winter. A sudden breakdown then likely would threaten the building’s integrity, inconvenience school staff and pupils, and cost a lot more money, he said.
“We knew it was going,” he said. “The boiler could go at any time.”