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Westmoreland

New Latrobe Elementary School work continues, now behind schedule

Jeff Himler
| Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, 12:30 p.m.
The bus drop-off entrance of the new Latrobe Elementary School is visible through a chain-link fence on Sept. 11, 2018,, to the right of a sign identifying the construction project along Cedar Street.
The bus drop-off entrance of the new Latrobe Elementary School is visible through a chain-link fence on Sept. 11, 2018,, to the right of a sign identifying the construction project along Cedar Street.
Construction vehicles stand by near the bus drop-off entrance of the new Latrobe Elementary School on Sept. 11, 2018. The school is being erected along Ligonier Street, between Cherry and Cedar streets.
Construction vehicles stand by near the bus drop-off entrance of the new Latrobe Elementary School on Sept. 11, 2018. The school is being erected along Ligonier Street, between Cherry and Cedar streets.
Roofing is mostly complete but lot paving is yet to come on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, at the parent drop-off entrance of the new Latrobe Elementary School along Cedar Street.
Roofing is mostly complete but lot paving is yet to come on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, at the parent drop-off entrance of the new Latrobe Elementary School along Cedar Street.

Greater Latrobe administrators want the new Latrobe Elementary School to be ready for students this fall, but at least one school official has expressed concern about the pace of construction.

Work crews missed an original target date in August for completing the two-story building at Ligonier and Cedar streets. The school was intended to be ready for students in grades K-6 when they returned from summer break. Instead, students and staff reported to the century-old elementary school several blocks away on Ligonier Street.

School director Michael O’Barto this week asked why contractors aren’t putting in overtime to complete remaining work on the project.

“They don’t feel like they need to,” project site manager George Dickerson said.

Kurt Thomas, director of operations and planning, indicated the district wants to work with the contractors to finish the project and said late fall is still the target for completion. But he said school officials can’t direct the contractors how to make use of their workers.

“Contractually, there isn’t anything we can do to push them or direct them,” he said. The contracts don’t provide for penalties if a company doesn’t meet an expected construction deadline, he explained.

There are ramifications for a missed deadline, he said, but couldn’t go into detail on the issue.

The district last month hired Pittsburgh legal firm Dickie, McCamey and Chilcote, including attorney W. Alan Torrance Jr., who has experience in construction law, to provide advice concerning the $24.8 million elementary project, at an hourly rate of up to $375.

In August, Dickerson told the board frequent rain had interfered with concrete work at the new school. District officials also said they were switching to a flooring adhesive that would allow for a higher moisture content in concrete surfaces.

In his updated report last week, Dickerson said roofing work on the building is complete, save for downspouts. A sewage lift station, which added about $75,000 to the project, is installed but awaits electric power.

Curbs and sidewalks surrounding the school were in place last week, but asphalt work remained to finish parking areas and driveways for buses and cars.

Dickerson expected to have building name lettering installed last week over the parent drop-off entrance facing Cedar Street.

The heating and air conditioning system was turned on in the wing containing the Center for Student Creativity and “will remain on for the rest of the life of the building,” Dickerson said.

Installation of terrazzo flooring is a continuing process and must be completed next to the school’s elevator before it can be inspected. The process involves a series of grinding and polishing steps, Dickson explained.

“It takes a lot,” he said.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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