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On Wednesday, workers placed support pieces in what will be the 1,000-seat auditorium at Alexandria Area High School. (Photo by Amy Chaffins)

New school one-quarter completed

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The bones of the new Alexandria Area High School are taking shape.

Load-bearing walls, steel beams, footings and more are being set in place as light poles are sprouting from the ground.

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Since last summer's groundbreaking, construction crews buzzed around the site doing what they could before winter, and during the winter months they've moved in large-scale parts for the superstructure, things like 70-foot steel beams and precast panels.

It's all in preparation for a busy 18-months before the school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.

On Monday, Jason Rentmeester, project manager with Kraus-Anderson Construction Company, updated Alexandria School Board members on the progress.

Rentmeester said, as of last week, the project is about 25 percent complete and on-schedule.

SCOPE OF PROJECT

Approximately 1,400 students in grades 9-12 will attend the new high school, located at 50th Avenue and Pioneer Road in Alexandria.

The 280,000-square-foot school will feature three academic wings with 36 classrooms, 12 learning spaces, science and technology labs, art and music space, media center, 1,000-seat auditorium and commons areas.

The 167-acre campus will also include an athletics stadium with seating for 3,500 and track and field space. There will also be space for several baseball, softball and multi-use fields and tennis courts.

The total cost is projected at $70.5 million.

SO FAR

Nearly all of the site's earthwork has been completed and almost all of the utilities installation is done. Approximately 75 percent of the site lighting is complete, things like placing light poles and power line installation.

At the athletic fields site, footing and foundation excavation is done and softball fields are graded and fence posts are installed. Plus, footings and foundations for dugouts and roads and parking lots are complete.

CURRENTLY

Most noticeable at the construction site is the line-up of precast wall panels. Setting of the panels, each weighing about 50,000 pounds, is 90 percent complete for the auditorium and gymnasium.

A few of the panels have yet to be placed. The gaps are serving as access points for machinery and supplies.

The auditorium walls were recently craned into place, the orchestra pit concrete is poured and steel beams will soon be placed to support the balcony.

Load bearing walls were constructed in the locker room space and the foundation of the learning places stairs is in place.

Currently, electrical and plumbing within the walls is ongoing and below-grade work is being coordinated for spring.

NEXT THREE MONTHS

During the doldrums of winter, installation of load-bearing masonry will be in full-swing, remaining precast walls will continue to go up, steel construction will be well under way and metal framing and sheathing of the building's exterior will begin.

There's also a whole lot of preparation going on for site work in the spring. Seeding, stadium construction and fields and tennis court installation are scheduled to begin in April, weather permitting.

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Amy Chaffins
Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper. After graduating from St. Cloud State University, Amy’s first job was at KSAX-TV working as an anchor and reporter. From 2003-2010, Amy worked as an editor and reporter for the Pope County Tribune and Starbuck Times newspapers. During her journalism career, Amy earned writing and photography awards from the Associated Press, Minnesota Newspaper Association and Society of Professional Journalists. Amy and her husband, Brandon, live in Alexandria and together write “He Sez, She Sez,” a humor column in the local women’s magazine, Chicz
(320) 763-1242
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