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Progress continues on Lakeland Elementary School project

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Construction crews continue work Thursday at the Lakeland Elementary School in southeast Willmar. Jake Schultz / Tribune2 / 8
Project Manager Stephen Plantenberg discusses progress during a tour of Thursday of the Lakeland Elementary School in southeast Willmar. Jake Schultz / Tribune3 / 8
Project Manager Stephen Plantenberg talks to Justin Bos about a classroom Thursday at the Lakeland Elementary School in southeast Willmar. Jake Schultz / Tribune4 / 8
Construction crews continue to work Thursday at Lakeland Elementary School in southeast Willmar. Jake Schultz / Tribune5 / 8
Construction crew members pour cement Thursday at the Lakeland Elementary School in southeast Willmar. Jake Schultz / Tribune6 / 8
Stephen Plantenberg, back, guides a tour amid construction work Thursday at the Lakeland Elementary School in southeast Willmar. Jake Schultz / Tribune7 / 8
A construction worker maneuvers a block on a wall Thursday at Lakeland Elementary School in southeast Willmar. Jake Schultz / Tribune8 / 8

WILLMAR — The interior of Lakeland Elementary School is taking shape, as major construction on the building nears completion.

Brickwork on the exterior is finished. Metal panels and composite panels will be installed soon, as will many of the large exterior windows on the main entrance, commons area and stairwells.

From a distance, large gaps in the exterior might make people question the progress, but the interior's a busy place. Crews are working their way through classrooms finishing and painting walls and mounting white boards.

On a tour of the new PK-5 school this week, senior project manager Stephen Plantenberg explained the timeline for the school, which is scheduled to open in January. Lakeland is in southeastern Willmar along Lakeland Drive, east of the Kandiyohi County YMCA.

Superintendent Jeff Holm and School Board member Justin Bos joined the tour. Plantenberg works for RA Morton Construction Managers of St. Cloud, hired by the school district to oversee the largest of the referendum projects.

The building was to have opened this month, but bad weather and other issues caused delays. It's now scheduled to open in January. "I don't see any reason why that won't happen," Plantenberg said.

The school is the largest part of a $52.35 million building program approved by voters in a 2015 bond referendum. Bids on Lakeland construction so far have totaled about $20 million, and it is within budget. The budget includes building furniture and equipment for two playgrounds.

Plantenberg said casework and terrazzo flooring will arrive soon, and contractors plan to have major construction finished by Oct. 15. Final finishing, cleaning and mechanical system testing will take place after that. Some time-consuming projects, like the curing of the wooden gym floor, could take a bit longer.

Plantenberg led the tour through the education wing, where each grade will have a pod of classrooms surrounding a commons area for group activities. Crews are working their way through the rooms, finishing and painting walls and installing rest room tiles.

"It definitely feels good to see the progress," Holm said. "It's easier to visualize the final product."

Bos said he thinks most people are excited to see the school open, "just like we are." Residents are excited to have a school opening again in that part of town.

The building will be built to last. For example, "all the piping is soldered, not crimped," something that takes more time but should last longer, Plantenberg said.

Workers poured the last of the concrete for the floor in the school's commons/cafeteria area this week. In the gym, workers were on scissor lifts, installing duct work in the ceiling.

Throughout the building, ceilings are open, revealing what appears to be miles of pipes and wiring.

Installation of kitchen equipment hasn't started, but the plumbing and wiring is ready for it.

Outside the construction zone, grasses and weeds nearly waist high cover the school site.

Plantenberg said landscaping and playground preparation is scheduled for fall. The entire site will be fenced, too.

The fence will keep children away from a drainage ditch at the eastern boundary of the school site. "That ditch rarely has water in it, but it is quite steep," Holm said, and fencing will keep adventurous students in sight.

Plantenberg said many local contractors have worked on the building, and he's been pleased with their dedication to the project and the quality of their work.

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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