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Sims Academy construction hits some weather snags

POSTED: February 26, 2014 1:00 p.m.
Zac Taylor/Barrow County News

Lead contractor Bowen & Watson and various sub-contractors continued to work Friday morning on the Sims Academy of Innovation and Technology construction despite more rain overnight. The workers have already had to deal with high rain totals, snow, ice and even the destruction of their original construction trailer after a fire.

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Joe Perno, Barrow County Schools Facilities Coordinator, has seen a lot of challenging weather for construction projects in his 11 years with the district.

But he said the challenges in building the Sims Academy of Innovation and Technology have been the most trying yet.

The biggest reason for the challenges: Rain.

Not counting February, Perno said he’s measured 35 inches of rainfall during the construction period. He noted that a heavy rain can even make it tough the next day, so it’s no surprise that he’s already getting a little anxious.

"This is a 12 month project which is tight to begin with, so we are fighting it a bit," he said. "But we have a very good contractor, and this is what they do, they build schools in North Georgia, there’s not a lot they haven’t seen."

Perno said he still expects the work to be done in time for students to enter the new career academy in the fall, but he did admit that this might be the most challenging construction project he’s worked with in regards to the extreme weather.

"I don’t think I’ve seen it to this extent though, no," he said.

In addition to the excessive rain, snow, ice and cold have also hampered some of the progress, but Perno noted that there is built in "fluff" time to account for issues that arise. So, if one subcontractor or one area of the site is hampered by the weather, another might get started early to compensate for that.

The contractor has already had to cut into some of that built-in extra time, Perno noted, but the construction was never expected to be done well in advance due to the quick time frame.

The contractor, Bowen & Watson, has even recovered from having its main trailer on site burn down. Perno said he hasn’t yet heard back from the fire marshal on the cause, but that the contractor is moving along.

"If we can get a good stretch of weather there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to finish on time," he said, "but it’ll be right down to the wire, there’s no doubt about that."

In his time with the district, Perno said every new building – and there have been plenty – was completed in time for the students.

Even with all of the issues that have already occurred in building the career academy, he’s confident that streak won’t be broken now.

"I’m optimistic we’ll be fine," he said.



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