Work progresses steadily on Willmar school projects

WILLMAR -- The brick exteriors are going up on two science classroom additions at Willmar Middle School, and site preparation is moving along at the site of a new elementary school.

Work has begun on the exterior of the science classroom additions at Willmar Middle School. The additions will provide the school with eight modern science classrooms. They are scheduled to open at the end of the year. (Linda Vanderwerf / Tribune)

WILLMAR -- The brick exteriors are going up on two science classroom additions at Willmar Middle School, and site preparation is moving along at the site of a new elementary school.

With a floor plan approved this week for the third major piece of Willmar Public Schools’ building program, things are reported to be moving along smoothly on the projects funded by a $52.35 bond approved in a May 2015 referendum.

The Willmar School Board heard a construction update Monday from Stephen Plantenberg, senior project manager for R.A. Morton, the construction manager hired by the district.

Plantenberg said roofing replacement work and installation of a sprinkler/fire suppression system in the Willmar Middle School should be finished by the time school starts Sept. 6. An expansion of the school’s cafeteria into an unused courtyard should be finished by the first day of school as well.

The science classroom additions are expected to be finished in December.


Bids on the next phase of the elementary school, for the superstructure of the building, will be opened July 28. Bids for a third phase of the building, for finishes and equipment, will be opened Aug. 21. A fourth bid phase will be opened Sept. 29.

The building is scheduled to open for students in August 2017. Final finishes on non-classroom parts of the building are to be finished by the end of September 2017.

Bids on a gymnasium, gymnastics and fitness center addition at Willmar Senior High are to be opened Sept. 8. That addition is also scheduled to be finished by the end of September 2017.

After design and planning work is finished on the three major projects, attention will turn to smaller remodeling projects planned for several buildings in the district, including the Senior High and Kennedy and Roosevelt elementary schools. About $9 million in deferred maintenance projects will be done over the next two summers, too.

Here’s a list of some of the other details from the R.A. Morton report:

Middle School

  • Masonry work in courtyard is complete.
  • Interior concrete floors in the additions is being done this week.
  • Work on the courtyard roof is ongoing.
  • Working with district staff to be sure classroom renovation and cleaning is finished before school starts.
  • Architects have met with district staff to choose finishes for science classrooms.
  • New boiler and mechanical units to be delivered this week.
  • If weather allows, excess dirt to be removed from site in the coming week, and stormwater retention system will be installed after masonry work.

Elementary School

  • Site preparation work has been “moderately” affected by recent rainfall.
  • Site preparation could be finished before contractors on the second phase are ready to go, there will be limited activity at the site in late August and early September.
  • Architects are meeting with different departments that will be working in the school. Upcoming meetings are with food service, orchestra and technology.

Willmar Senior High


  • Bid documents to be issued Aug. 15, bids opened Sept. 8.
  • Soil borings to be done next week, and architects working with city on requirements for fire lane, parking lot and storm water retention needs. The results of the meeting could delay the bid documents for one week.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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