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Parapet wall collapses on Linderman gym

POLSON — A 3-foot parapet wall that collapsed on the roof of the Linderman Elementary School gym on Saturday afternoon resulted in bricks and snow falling into the gym’s locker room area. 

The collapse happened shortly after 2 p.m. and was related to snow that had drifted onto the south end of the building earlier in the week, Polson Schools Superintendent Rex Weltz said. 

No one was in the area at the time, he said, noting that reports that the gym’s roof had collapsed were not correct. 

The school’s gymnasium and locker rooms will be closed for at least the rest of the school year until school officials and others, including an architect, a structural engineer and a city codes official, decide what to do, he said. 

In addition to the gym and locker rooms, the school’s music room and library will also be closed indefinitely. The music room and library were affected due to electrical and plumbing damage that resulted from the wall collapse, he said, noting that the school’s administrative team will put together a plan for activities that were held in these areas soon. 

Nina Trawick, who lives across the street from the school, said she heard a loud boom and knew exactly what it was. Trawick said she called 911 and reported that “Linderman gym had a big piece of wall just fall off.” 

Weltz said that a school custodian cut the power to the building between 2:30 and 3 p.m. He noted that the school’s main building was not compromised. 

A structural engineer from DCI-BCE Engineering in Missoula was set to come to the school on Monday, Jan. 8, while an architect had visited the school on Friday and a drone was used to survey the situation from the air, he said. 

A rubber membrane on what he called the “slippery, sloped roof” made it advisable not to have people walking around doing inspections, he said, although the district’s maintenance man, Dan Giles, checked it out. 

New location for buses 

The school will be using Fourth Street in front of the school as a bus pick up and drop off area until further notice. An area behind the school near the south wall that was previously used as a bus staging area was cordoned off. The majority of the school’s parking lot was also closed. 

“A north wind blew off the lake on Thursday or Friday and deposited big drifts on the south side of the gym,” Weltz said. The snow drifts on the roof were around one foot deep, more in some places and less in others, he said. 

The 3-foot non-weight-bearing parapet wall collapsed onto the domed roof, and some of the bricks from the wall and snow cascaded down into the locker room area, which the district had not used since school reopened following the winter break on Tuesday, Jan. 2. 

Bowing in the south parapet wall was initially noticed by school personnel on Jan. 1 while plowing, he said in a press release. 

An engineer from Paradigm Architects was contacted and a stabilization plan for the south parapet wall had been in place for Tuesday, Jan. 9, Weltz said.

He said the gymnasium itself is not compromised because its rafters are held up by concrete columns. 

The gym — which Weltz said he played basketball in while at Noxon High School — was built in the early 1950s. 

It’s too early to tell if the building will be fixed or torn down, he said, noting an insurance claim was filed last week. 

The district’s governing board will likely talk about the situation during its regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 15, he said. 

Games at SKC 

Polson High School’s boys’ and girls’ basketball games were relocated from the Linderman gym to the Joe McDonald Health and Fitness Center at Salish Kootenai College on Jan. 5. 

PHS Activities Director Jay Krantz said the PHS girls’ freshmen, junior varsity and varsity games scheduled for Friday, Jan. 12, will also be moved to SKC.

The PHS girls’ and boys’ basketball teams will practice at Polson High and Middle schools, he said. 

Scheduling of the teams’ remaining home games is being finalized. 


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