June 20, 2018
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Millinocket leaders OK hiring school boiler engineering firm

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

MILLINOCKET, Maine ― Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Smith hopes to get an engineer working on the designs for a new heating system for Stearns High School within a week, he said Friday.

The Town Council voted 7-0 on Thursday to accept a recommendation from the school committee and hire Russ Martin Engineering to design a boiler system at the high school. At $34,000, Martin was the lowest bidder, committee Chairman Arnold Hopkins has said.

“Now we’ve got to order it and get it done,” Smith said Friday. “We will go back and sit down with them [the firm] and bang this thing out real quick and order it.

“They are an excellent firm, and we got a good price,” Smith added.

Councilors rejected an earlier committee attempt to hire an engineer because school officials hadn’t sought bids. They directed the board to try to get bids from several contractors. Sutton Engineering Systems also submitted a bid on the project, which was about twice Martin’s. School officials also sought bids from two firms that examined the school but didn’t bid, Hopkins has said.

Under the town charter, the committee is responsible for the oversight of the town’s public schools but the school system is a department within town government, and the council has the final say on town spending and the committee’s proposed budget.

If councilors accept the firm, Martin Engineering will be tasked with determining whether to replace two school steam boilers with two water boilers or whether to install one new water boiler and retrofit an old boiler as backup, Hopkins has said.

It will involve tearing out of one school exterior wall and replacing water pipes with steam pipes, but if all goes well, the work will be finished by mid-October, before winter.

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