A group of concerned residents attended the Washington City School Board meeting Monday evening with an emergency request – turn on the auditorium air conditioning.
Pam Feick, a former Washington Middle School counselor and head of the effort to renovate the pipe organ and auditorium at the historic Washington Middle School, addressed the board first thing Monday evening. Her concern was a lack of climate control within the old auditorium, which is causing stress and issues with the organ. The main cause of the issue – the humidity.
“The reason I asked to come this evening was we need to have some climate control in the auditorium for the organ,” Feick said to the board. “The first thing I want to do before I get started is introduce Craig Jaynes. Craig is the one who has done all of the specs for us to get the grant finished and has since then done all of the work in the auditorium in our part. We have the two big organ chambers in the top of the auditorium, and he has done all of the work on the pipes, the organ, the wiring and everything like that. He and Mr. Charles Potter, from Columbus, are two people I really want to recognize because they have done this work and probably spent hours and hours, and days and days, without any labor charge. Jaynes and I estimated that between the work he and Mr. Potter completed the labor would have cost around $20,000. I appreciate it so much because we could not have done it without Craig.”
Feick said that the reason they need to have the air conditioning on is because they have $82,000-plus invested in this renovation. She continued by saying that number does not include the $20,000 of free labor or $12,000 that had been put into the auditorium before she started seeking additional help.
“We got a grant from a line item in the capital budget which Representative Gary Scherer and Senator Bob Peterson had to personally put that money into the budget,” Feick said. “We were notified in June of 2014 that we received the funding and had until June of this year to complete the project. It was assigned to the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission and we had even received a $5,000 grant from Travel & Tourism. When we were seeking that first big grant, I had invited Scherer down, and we had a meeting with the city manager, city council, commissioners, school board and other groups in the town to see if fixing the auditorium would be a possibility. We even asked residents to write letters and when we received the grant, Scherer told me it was because of the community support that we had for the project. We are just trying to protect an asset that benefits more than just the school district, but the entire community and county as a whole.”
The initial concern cropped up when Jaynes, tonal director of Jamestown Organ Works, visited the auditorium to do some work in preparation for a few events scheduled to take place in September. When he arrived though, he was very concerned with the high temperature, but what was more concerning was the high levels of humidity in the building. That humidity, according to Jaynes, causes stress and issues to the instrument and if not corrected in time could leave the organ damaged.
“Let me tell you how lucky you are, there are two high schools in the state of Ohio that have a pipe organ, and the other is in Greenfield,” Jaynes said after a question from the board about what temperature the room should be at. “Because of the Kay family, someone had the foresight to put this instrument here. Here we are 77 years later and we still have an asset. So I am suggesting, let’s protect the asset and the building. It doesn’t have to be coddled, that is not the issue, it needs to be protected from extremes. About a month ago I went in there to do some odds and ends and to practice for the program in September. It was 80 degrees, but the humidity had to have been 90 percent. It was like a jungle, and I think it was the wettest room I have ever been in. I tried to practice and within 20 minutes I was drenched.”
Jaynes said that he called Potter and waited a few days before returning to the auditorium. It was then that he noticed the shutters, which resemble large wooden blinds and are a key part of the instrument, had swollen due to the excessive humidity and were stuck in place. This was caused by the humidity in the air, according to Jaynes, and he continued by saying that it doesn’t need to be 72 degrees with 50 percent humidity, but it cannot be 83 degrees and 90 percent humidity.
His suggestion was to turn on the air conditioning for the room so that it remains a consistent temperature and to keep the humidity out of the room. After a bit more discussion between the board, Feick and Jaynes, it was discovered that an additional $100,000 grant had been approved and that the money is to be used on projects concerning the auditorium. The board finished by thanking the concerned residents and saying they will come back to them within a few days with a solution to the problem.
The board continued with its meeting and approved a resolution regarding the collective bargaining agreement between the city school district and the Washington Education Association. They accepted $1,530 in donations from various groups, including Sabina Farmers Exchange Inc. for the Football Camp Fund, the Fayette County Health Department for the 2016 Health Fair, First State Bank for the high school choir department and a miscellaneous donation for Blue Lion Mascot (Cheer). Four resignations were approved, including Amy Sever, a substitute cook, Reagen Baker, an educational aide, Brandi Grate, a substitute teacher and Camey Vernier, a substitute secretary.
The school board also approved or accepted several positions, including one certified teacher, 16 substitutes, 10 classified positions, 62 supplemental positions and 15 athletic positions. Four employees were also approved for a change of status, including George Frederick from “MA+15” to “MA+30,” Nick Geruntino from “MA” to “MA+15,” Lenetta Jackson, who became a full-time bus driver after serving as a substitute, and Collin Ford, who changed from casual/custodian to full-time custodian.
Finally, among the new business was a policy to adopt concerning the new preschool program, including placing superintendent Matthew McCorkle in charge of laying guidelines for staff, records, program and curriculum, health and safety requirements and much more. Another policy helps to keep a safe environment for both fans and student-athletes, as the Washington Athletic Department will maintain the Athletic Event Sideline Policy. During contests on the field of play, the “sidelines” will be open only to certified coaches, student-athletes, credentialed and approved medical staff, school administrators, credentialed media members and guests approved by school administration. Parents and fans will not be granted access to the sidelines during athletic contests.
For more information contact the district office at (740) 335-6620. A complete agenda can be found on the district’s website at wchcs.org .
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy