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The McDowell County Board of Education approved a $14,000 change to the sprinkler system at the new Old Fort Elementary School.

Superintendent Mark Garrett talked about the change during the project update at Monday night’s board meeting, including a water line issue with the Town of Old Fort.

“Based on the information provided by the civil engineer, a new water line needs to run to Salisbury Street to meet the fire hydrant requirements of 1,500 gallons per minute with a residual pressure of 20 psi,” Garrett said. “That is the statutory requirement for a hydrant that services a building of this size and of this use. Running it to Catawba, we found out, does not meet that requirement. You can proceed with the current water line by spending $14,611 to increase the size of the pipes to increase the capacity in the sprinkler system pipes. And that will cover everything on your property. It will still not meet the requirement for the fire hydrant, so they will still have insufficient flow without the utility water line.”

Garrett stated school officials met with Old Fort and McDowell County on June 27 to discuss the water line issue.

“At that meeting, Old Fort town officials shared with us they had discovered a leak under the bridge on Catawba Avenue that goes across Mill Creek,” said Garrett. “They wanted to address that leak and see if that patch improved the hydrant flow because they said it was a significant leak. They had the hydrants retested and sent those results to the engineer, and determined it was still insufficient to meet that 1,500 gallons a minute. It’s my understanding that after a meeting the other day, Old Fort was going to do a called meeting to have this discussion with their board. I have not seen any notice for that at this point.”

Garrett advised the board by upgrading the sprinkler system will make the school compliant; however the issue of the fire hydrant remains.

“It is the utility owner’s responsibility,” said Garrett.

“Can Old Fort delay this repair to those hydrants?” asked board member Greg Barksdale.

“Yes, because they said they don’t have the money,” said Chair Terry Frank.

“I would like to come to the next meeting to discuss these issues that are not on our property, and if they can’t do it, we need to try and get them some help with the county commissioners to get the hydrants done,” said Old Fort’s representative Patrick Ellis.

Ellis then made a motion to accept the $14,611 on the change order for the sprinkler system to make sure the school is compliant. The motion was approved unanimously.

Garrett also added that the project superintendent for the Old Fort Project was replaced after issues with job performance.

“There were some footing and masonry that had to be redone as a result of that,” said Garrett. He reminded the board there are people working on the project that are keeping a close eye on the construction. He said masonry work continues, and they plan to pour the concrete pad soon.

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