Connellsville Area High School's $41M renovation project nearly finished

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 6:03 p.m.

The $41 million renovation project will be complete at Connellsville Area High School in another three weeks. The new gymnasium is finished, except for some trim painting, and workers have begun to fill the 200,000-gallon swimming pool.

John Pappas, Eckles vice president and the construction manager who is supervising the renovation, said all that will be needed following the completion of the areas is to go over the “punch lists.”

The project, which started in 2011, will offer students an enhanced learning environment while providing the district with a facility that is more environmentally friendly.

Teachers can now control the environments in their instructional areas. The lighting systems turn themselves off when the classrooms are not in use and many areas have been remodeled to allow natural light into the building.

Carbon dioxide sensors monitor the air quality and pull in fresh outside air as needed.

Low-flow automatic flush systems have replaced the older plumbing fixtures.

The new gymnasium is already in use. There is a secondary gymnasium that will handle much of the class load, preserving the condition of the main gym floor.

According to Pappas, the gymnasium floors, lighting and the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems are complete.

“The new lighting system is florescent,” Pappas said. “It's way more (energy) efficient than the old lighting.”

There are actually three HVAC systems: one that operates during the day and two other units that augment it when the gymnasium is used for a sporting event.

The new swimming pool, built by Main Line Commercial Pools Inc. of King of Prussia, is actually made of stainless steel with a PVC coating shipped in from a company from northern Italy.

Michael Grimes, vice president of Main Line Commercial Pools, and Steve McCaughey, also of Main Line, were making final adjustments before Pappas brought in a hose to begin filling the pool from a nearby fire hydrant. Grimes said the water would be filled to just below the shallow end. He estimated that might take until Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

The pool was not being filled to its normal level because Grimes said they are waiting for the arrival of the last few sections of tile for the bottom of the shallow end. He said the pool will probably be filled by Monday. Then it would be a matter of running the filtration system and waiting for the state inspectors to come in to check the water.

Students and those watching events from the stands will not notice a chlorine odor. Chlorine will still be used as a disinfectant, along with a sand filtration system. The system includes ultraviolet lights which neutralize the chlorine after it has done its job of disinfecting the water.

Grimes said that has an additional advantage of keeping the chlorine from reacting with the metal and plastics on the steps, rails and bleachers. That means those items will last much longer.

Main Line Commercial Pools installs swimming pools from Connecticut and New York to Virginia. The family-run business handles 20 to 30 pool installations per year. The Connellsville pool is a normal installation. He said the company just finished one in Ithaca, N.Y., that holds one million gallons.

Yet to be finished is the display in the lobby of the building. A section of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, recovered from the wreckage after Sept. 11, 2001, has been mounted, but the display is not complete. It should be finished by Nov. 16, when it is expected to be dedicated.

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-626-3538.

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