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Polson Schools superintendent seeks second opinion on Linderman Gym

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POLSON — Although a structural engineer has said the Linderman Gym is safe for occupancy, Polson Schools Superintendent Rex Weltz decided to err on the side of caution and seek a second opinion. 

Weltz gave an update about the gym, which was built in 1950, at the Feb. 12 school board meeting. A parapet wall near the edge of the roof’s south side collapsed on Jan. 6, which resulted in snow and bricks cascading down through a lower roof into the locker rooms. Weltz closed the gym for all activities until further notice. 

Last week, Weltz told the board that Tom Beaudette, a structural engineer from Missoula, had concerns about the integrity of the gym but was OK with occupying it. 

In his Feb. 1 report, Beaudette noted that metal bracing was placed on the north and south walls of the gym. Except for the 3-foot parapet wall failure — which was due to lateral pressure from accumulated snow — the building is in generally good condition, he said. 

Weltz said that Travelers Insurance — which handles the district’s claims above $250,000 — hired a structural engineer from Denver. Last week Weltz said he was hoping to receive that report within a week. 

In the meantime, the Polson School Board decided to procure bids for a construction manager and a structural engineer. Weltz said the district will be advertising for bids for services for two weeks through what’s known as a RFQ, or a Request for Qualifications. 

He said there are some hazards to the Linderman building that the district wants to mitigate. These include: an unreinforced concrete beam with significant cracking that supports a portion of the south bleachers and 10 concrete pillars on the north and south walls that are out of plumb, especially the south wall. 

Weltz said he would like to fix these, if possible, and have a strength test completed of the mortar and bricks in the east and west walls, which Beaudette’s report calls “suspect for out of plane lateral loads.” 

Board member Cindy Lanier had questions about the project’s cost, calling it “kind of scary.” Noting that her son works for an architectural firm in Georgia that designs schools, Lanier said any work will have to be done in accordance with today’s building codes. “We could be facing a lot of expense that may not be covered by insurance,” she said. 

School officials had no information on how much any remedial work to the building will cost, but Carl Elliott, the district’s director of support services, said insurance should reimburse the district for the “first part” of the project. “A lot of it will be covered (by insurance),” he said. “Some of it won’t be.” 

The district may be required to add a sprinkler system and make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), for example. 

Ridgewater kids 

In other news, Mike Anderson, Polson Schools director of transportation, noted that the district recently started picking up a half dozen or so children from Polson Landing, a new 35-unit affordable housing development in the Ridgewater complex. 


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