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Willmar students help decide name of new school: Lakeland Elementary

Crews work Wednesday on the first story and he second story of the newly named Lakeland Elementary School in southeast Willmar. After some delays, construction managers will try to phase the remaining work so that the classroom wing of the school on Lakeland Avenue can open on time in August. (Briana Sanchez / Tribune) 1 / 4
A construction worker makes his way across the scaffold Wednesday at the newly named Lakeland Elementary on Lakeland Drive Southeast in Willmar. The construction manager told the board Wednesday that the public should see progress soon on the brick veneer on the new school. (Briana Sanchez / Tribune) 2 / 4
A construction worker walks across the muddy landscape Wednesday at the Lakeland Elementary School construction site in southeast Willmar. Wet weather and very cold weather have caused a loss of 28 working days, the Willmar School Board was told Wednesday, and completion – though not necessarily the opening – of the building will be delayed. (Briana Sanchez / Tribune) 3 / 4
Construction on the newly named Lakeland Elementary School takes place Wednesday on Lakeland Drive Southeast in Willmar. There have been delays, but managers hope to open the classroom portion of the building on time. (Briana Sanchez / Tribune)4 / 4

WILLMAR — The new school in Willmar has a name — Lakeland Elementary. It also has a construction delay.

The Willmar School Board approved the new name and heard a construction update at its meeting Wednesday.

The school name was chosen after suggestions from staff were presented to third- and fourth-graders for their opinions. Lakeland was the overwhelming favorite among the students, Superintendent Jeff Holm said.

The school is the largest project in a $52.35 million building program approved by district voters in May 2015.

Other large projects were two additions for science classrooms at Willmar Middle School and an addition at Willmar Senior High School that includes a double-court gymnasium, a gymnastics gym and a fitness center.

Preston Euerle and Stephen Plantenberg of R.A. Morton Construction Managers of St. Cloud spoke with the board, along with architect Paul Youngquist. Plantenberg is the senior project manager overseeing the three large projects for R.A. Morton.

The $27.8 million elementary school project is under budget at this time, but it is about 40 working days behind schedule, they said.

Wet weather and very cold weather have caused a loss of 28 working days, and two contractors had problems.

Plantenberg said the public should see progress soon on the brick veneer on the new school.

The delays will affect the completion date of the school, said Euerle, the head of R.A. Morton.

The managers will try to phase the work so that the classroom wing of the school can open on time in August. Finishing work on parts of the activity wing, such as the gym floor, could take place after school starts for the year.

Euerle said people are working weekends, and warm weather in February could help.

He said the managers would maintain good communication with the district to provide information about the timeline and completion plan.

The contractors and construction managers will ensure that the delays do not compromise health and safety in the building.

The board also approved contracts for outdoor finishing work at Lakeland. Plantenberg said the bids were less than the estimates, keeping the school under budget with all contracts awarded.

In reports on the other major projects, they said the science classrooms were finished on time in January. The cost was $6.9 million. That was more than the original budget because of the need to upgrade the school's fire suppression system. The project also included improvements to the building's cafeteria.

The high school project is expected to be completed on time and under budget. The cost of the project is set at $7.5 million.

Many local contractors have worked on the building projects, Plantenberg said. He praised the work they have done, and the ownership they feel in the projects.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340
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