Bark River-Harris renovation begins

Clarissa Kell | Daily Press The Bark River-Harris School District held a groundbreaking ceremony for its $4 million renovation project Thursday night. Pictured, from left, are Tonto Wandahsega, Hannahville Indian Community representative; Mark Erickson, school board member; Jesse Huff, school board member; Mia Smith, school board member; Shellie Massie, school board member; Jason Lockwood, superintendent; Barry Frisk, school board member; Laura DeMars, district business manager; Tom Lanaville, school board member; Karin Cooper, of U.P. Engineers & Architects, Inc. (UPEA); Al Walker, UPEA architect; Erik Johnson, UPEA architect; Levi Pomeroy of Cross General Contracting Inc.; Randy Anklam of Cross General Contracting Inc.; and Travis Cross of Cross General Contracting Inc.

HARRIS — The Bark River-Harris School District held a groundbreaking ceremony for its $4 million renovation project to update and expand the school property this summer. The ceremony took place at the school Thursday night.

Included in the project are the addition of four classrooms, a new cafeteria, kitchen area, bus garage, parking lot, and internal updates. Some of the internal updates are school security upgrades.

“It’s been a long time coming, a lot of hard work, a lot of hours, a lot of meetings, a lot of planning — and now it’s finally here,” said Mia Smith, a school board member.

Bark River-Harris Superintendent Jason Lockwood said the project started years ago with a comprehensive needs assessment.

“Like Mia said, this has been a lot of work and a lot of years in the making to get to this point,” he said.

The bus garage project bid was awarded to J. H. Zawada Construction of Niagara, Wis. Lockwood said they will begin June 21.

The contract for the rest of the project was awarded to Cross General Contracting Inc., of Munising.

Lockwood said construction for most of this portion of the project is slated to begin June 17. He added the cafeteria portion of the project will begin July 12.

The internal renovations will include work on student bathrooms and security updates.

Lockwood said the boys and girls elementary bathrooms and the junior high and high school boys and girls bathrooms will be renovated.

Security updates will include replacing old exterior doors with new security doors, installing cameras, and keyless entries for exterior doors.

The security updates are funded specifically through the Michigan State Police safety grant the school district received. Bark River School District was one of seven local school districts in Delta, Menominee and Schoolcraft counties that received money from the MSP 2019 Competitive School Safety Grant Program.

The grant money awarded to Bark River-Harris School District is different than funds awarded to the other local school districts. Bark River-Harris was awarded $62,265 from program area two where there was a match requirement. This means the district would have to match the grant money by 25 percent.

With the 25 percent match requirement, the school district is investing $20,755 of its own funds, making the project an $82,000 security upgrade.

Lockwood explained a big portion of the $4 million project is funded through the Hannahville Indian Community.

“As the representative of the Hannahville Community, I think it’s an awesome opportunity to help provide a better learning facility for our neighboring community,” said Tonto Wandahsega.

The recent millage that passed in the school district will help with paying for the interest on the bond for the project.

Tom Lanaville, a school board member, explained when the interest goes down, so does the millage.

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