Alcoa competition gym to get six new HVAC units

Alcoa City Schools’ Herman Thompson Gymnasium has only one fully functioning HVAC unit and two working at about half capacity. The district plans to replace the other six heating, ventilation and air conditioning units at a cost of $218,529 before year’s end.

Alcoa City Schools expects to have six new heating units on the competition gym by year’s end, but the school board will have to dip deeper into its finances.

On Thursday, the Alcoa Public Building Authority voted to accept the low bid of Cherokee Millwright for $218,529.

That’s more than the $150,000 the school board expected to spend last month when it voted to take the money from its fund balance, money previously undesignated. ACS Budget Director Tom Shamblin told the PBA that the district has enough in its fund balance to cover the difference, and the school board is expected to vote on that at its meeting Tuesday, Oct. 20.

The spending will replace just six of the nine units on the Herman Thompson Gymnasium, which opened in December 2001.

“We still call it the new gym,” Shamblin told the PBA. “It’s kind of like the New Midland Plaza.”

One of the three remaining heating, ventilation and air conditioning units is fully functioning, and the other two are at about 50-60% of capacity.

Alcoa Middle School uses the gym for physical education classes, and multiple sports use it for competitions. The new Alcoa High School, which opened in 2015, has a smaller practice gym.

In explaining why the school district isn’t replacing all the units, Shamblin said, “We’re hoping that those two that are partial can limp along until this time next year.”

“We don’t want to drain the fund balance completely,” he said, in case something else comes up. If the three original units fail the district thinks it can get by with the six new units until next year.

The new units will move more cubic feet per minute of air than the existing units, explained Barry Brooke, executive vice president of property development and management for LawlerWood LLC, which is overseeing the project for the school board.

PBA member Bobby Perkinson asked why maintenance had not been done before the six units failed. Shamblin explained that ACS only hired an HVAC person on its staff a few years ago, and before that probably had not done the preventive maintenance it should have.

Shamblin said they learned about the problem this spring but not before the budget for this school year passed.

Brooke said it will take about six weeks for the units to arrive, and installation is estimated at 14 days.

Amy Beth earned her degree from West Virginia. She joined The Daily Times in 2016 on the education beat covering Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County school systems.

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