Stearns High School heating system being replaced for $1.45M

Ken Cardinell of Greenbush and Jim Green of Hermon look on as John Gantner of Millinocket (center) prepares to use a blowtorch to cut tubing out of an old boiler at Stearns High School on Tuesday, September 27, 2011. The three work at CCB, Inc. of Westbrook, a subcontractor on the job.
Ken Cardinell of Greenbush and Jim Green of Hermon look on as John Gantner of Millinocket (center) prepares to use a blowtorch to cut tubing out of an old boiler at Stearns High School on Tuesday, September 27, 2011. The three work at CCB, Inc. of Westbrook, a subcontractor on the job.
Posted Sept. 27, 2011, at 8:31 p.m.
John Gantner of Millinocket cuts tubes out of an old boiler at Stearns High School on Tuesday, September 27, 2011.
John Gantner of Millinocket cuts tubes out of an old boiler at Stearns High School on Tuesday, September 27, 2011.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — The Stearns High School heating system will be upgraded between now and March, and if Allan Lagasse has his way, the school population will never feel it.

A pipefitter with Honeywell, Lagasse said the $1.45 million conversion of steam to hot water boilers will be done from 3 to 11 p.m. on weekdays, one section or wing of the school at a time, to keep students and staff warm and comfortable during the arduous process.

“You can’t do much inside the building with school in session,” Lagasse said Tuesday. “We have to work around that. There will be portable heaters available if the need arises.”

“There is a lot of work involved. It’s not a small job,” he added.

Work began two weeks ago and seems to be going smoothly, school Superintendent Kenneth Smith said. It involves replacing two boilers, each generating 10 million Btus, and some associated piping and unit vents in individual classrooms or areas.

The new system would run on No. 2 heating oil instead of the No. 5 oil the old system uses, producing a much cleaner burn and eventually some cost savings in maintenance and improved efficiency, Smith said.

The Town Council voted 7-0 in June 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.

Three workers spent most of Tuesday disassembling a boiler. Eventually a large section of school wall will be torn away to help remove the old boilers, school leaders have said.

The workers, from CCG Inc. of Westbrook, are working weekdays because they are in the boiler room, not close enough to classrooms to disturb studies. A classroom has been set aside as a workers’ lunchroom and meeting area, Smith said.

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