Storm repairs complete in Sylvan-Lucas school district

The Sylvan-Lucas High School gym returned to use in November with a newly installed floor after an April storm left the district with nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in damages, including severe damage to the high school gymnasium.

The Sylvan-Lucas High School gym returned to use in November with a newly installed floor after an April storm left the district with nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in damages, including severe damage to the high school gymnasium.

The Sylvan-Lucas High School gym returned to use in November with a newly installed floor after an April storm left the district with nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in damages, including severe damage to the high school gymnasium.

The district was able to use a combination of insurance funds and donations to help pay for the roof repairs and installation of the new floor, but the volleyball team was forced to host tournaments at neighboring school gyms while repairs were being completed.

This Sentinel article from August 26 explains the work that was needed to repair the gym floor, and other damage throughout the district.

On April 24, a supercell thunderstorm hit Lucas first as it made its way through Russell County. After pummeling Lucas with tennis ball-sized hail, it continued on its path, spawning a brief, EF1 tornado near Sylvan Grove. In only minutes, the storm nearly destroyed the high school gym roof and floor in Sylvan Grove as well as the roof, skylights and windows at the elementary school in Lucas. Damage estimates totaled $700,000.

One of the larger pieces of the overall project was restoring the gym floor at the high school. When the storm ripped through Sylvan Grove, 90 mph winds tore away the high school roof, dumping rain onto a vulnerable wooden floor. Despite the efforts of volunteers who tried seeping up the pooling water, it was just too much. The delicate wood grain absorbed the moisture, causing the planks to expand, which would eventually lead to buckling. At that point, officials had no other choice but to replace the floor.

Earlier this month, Stecklein told USD 299 Sylvan-Lucas School Board members the subfloor in the high school gym was nearly complete and could be finished by mid-September. In an interview last week, Stecklein said crews were nearing the halfway point.

“The floor is progressing rather well – I would say about 50 percent done,” he said. “The floor is just about in. The next part is sanding, and then painting the lines and staining.”

Earlier this summer, the project hit a snag. Heavy rains and muggy conditions, Stecklein said, caused delays, pushing a possible start date back to early-July.

And as school started this week, Stecklein said he did not see the ongoing repair work to cause any disruptions during the normal school day. However, because the floor is not expected to be finished by the start of volleyball season, the district was forced to move the location of the high school’s first three home games. A Sept. 1 quad will be in Wilson, while theSept. 8 home quad and Sept. 12 home varsity tournaments will be played in Lincoln.

Since school ended in May, crews made significant repairs to both school buildings. In late-June, Stecklein said the district had already spent $258,539 of the $451,459 insurance payment. Plumbing, flooring, reseeding grounds and painting were among those expenses. At that time, Stecklein said it appeared there was still another $127,200 in remaining repairs, and was unsure if the district would have enough to cover the unfinished work. However, Stecklein said last week the district did not have to use capital outlay funds to cover the final repairs.

“So far, the insurance company has paid everything, and they should pay for the rest, but time will tell,” he said.

While repair work on the elementary school roof was set for earlier this month, other parts of the project, such as the press box at the high school football field, are complete. Stecklein told board members earlier this month the high school had new LED lights in the hallways and gymnasium. Officials also learned the City of Lucas was assisting the district by installing the lights and scoreboard at the football field in Lucas.