LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — A broken boiler caused one Illinois junior high school to move a basketball game, and heat the building with donated electric heaters this week, but school officials hope the end to the situation is in sight.
Officials at Parkview Junior High School in Lawrenceville recently hired a welding crew to repair an old boiler after an inspection learned that it had a number of leaks, however when the crew got on scene, the damage was worse than expected.
“This building was built in 1955, and all indications are that this is the original boiler,” Superintendent Lawrence County CUSD #20 Doug Daugherty said.
Daugherty explained that while in years past leaks could be welded shut and the boiler would work just fine, two weeks ago when crews set about making repairs, more leaks and some cracks were discovered.
“It’s been repaired so much, it’s just not safe to use,” Daugherty said. “The experts said don’t use it, so we decided to go with that.”
With the boiler unable to provide heat to the school just as more frigid temperatures arrive in the area, school officials had to act fast. Daugherty said the local Walmart donated a number of electric heaters which have been used to allow classes to go on uninterrupted.
Daugherty explained that with the electric heaters not being able to be run overnight, the mornings are often a bit chilly as the heaters catch up, “But by mid-morning, say 10 a.m., its up to 65°, so it’s bearable.”
Daugherty said most students are bundling up, but joked that visitors would still spot those kids that choose to wear shorts year-round. While instruction has continued, a girls basketball game ended up having to be moved to the high school’s gymnasium as a result earlier this week.
Wednesday night, the Lawrence County CUSD #20 School Board held a meeting during which it was decided to hire a company to install a portable boiler.
Daugherty said the boiler would sit in a shed just outside of the school and then be attached to the existing pipes and heating system. The district’s architect identified three possible companies that could supply and install the boiler, and Daugherty said as of Thursday morning two of the companies had already entered bids on the project.
The school board also contemplated the use of currently empty buildings in the town, like some vacant office buildings and churches, but ultimately the decision was made to go with the portable boiler.
Daugherty said that if everything goes to plan, the expectation is to have the new boiler installed and running by the end of next week. In the meantime the hope is to hold Saturday’s girls basketball game at the junior high, but Daugherty said if temperatures are too low they will play in the high school once more.