Wednesday July 31, 2013

GUILFORD -- Guilford Central School now has a clean bill of health.

Officials say an asbestos-removal project was finished ahead of schedule and on budget, in spite of the fact that crews found more of the hazardous construction material than originally expected.

"Everything just worked out very smoothly in terms of getting it out," Principal John Gagnon said. "The air-quality tests were done in a very timely manner and came back clean."

Officials had known for some time that there was asbestos in pipe wrapping and ceiling tiles in some areas of the school. Gagnon previously had told parents that school administrators were following an "EPA-approved and monitored regimen to make sure the asbestos does not pose a threat to students and staff."

But school board members decided, after looking at projected costs, that it made sense to remove the material.

In March, Town Meeting voters approved capital expenses not to exceed $50,000 for asbestos abatement. The meeting article said the project cost would be financed, with first-year expenses budgeted at $18,167 in the fiscal 2014 spending plan.

Catamount Environmental Inc. of Wilmington was the project's low bidder.

Officials credited Catamount as well as school staff led by Head Custodian Troy Revis with getting the project done correctly and quickly. Work began July 1 and had been expected to take up to a month, but crews were finished by July 17.

"Troy has worked very hard, and the people who have worked with him have worked very hard," Gagnon said.

Revis said he also had volunteer help, including time donated by school board member Steve Redmond.

"It's a team process, and one hand washed the other," Revis said of his work with Catamount.

He added that most restoration work has been completed, including replacement of ceiling tiles, electrical infrastructure and insulation.

There was one hitch: Catamount found an additional 140 feet of asbestos on piping above ceiling tiles in a hallway, Revis said. But that did not end up costing the school.

"We received their bill, and it did not go up in price," Revis said. "They did not charge us for it."

At a Monday meeting, Gagnon estimated the project's final cost to be approximately $45,000.

In addition to asbestos abatement, regular summer maintenance work has been progressing at the school. Revis said that includes remodeling, plumbing, painting and testing the school's sprinkler system and fire-alarm panel.

"There's been quite a bit of work done," he said.

The first day of Guilford Central's 2013-14 school year is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 29.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.