Cold weather creates trouble for schools

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BENNINGTON — The recent cold weather has impacted local schools as students return from their winter break.

Arlington Memorial Middle and High School facilities staff worked through the holiday weekend in order to ensure that students could return on time after a pipe burst in the school's gym on Sunday. Superintendent William Bazyk announced on Sunday morning via Twitter that a sprinkler pipe had burst in the gymnasium and that students' first day back could be hindered. However, on Monday he said Facilities Manager Jaime Paustian and his crew had cleaned up the gym and that school would resume as scheduled.

"A large thank you to Jamie Paustian and his crew for acting swiftly on a holiday weekend to ensure school will open as scheduled," said Bazyk.

On Tuesday, Bazyk said that the gym, which had been already been scheduled for major renovations this spring as part of the school district's $1.6 million facilities project, will now remain closed until those renovations are complete. The gym project was originally intended to be completed over last summer, along with smaller renovations that were being done throughout AMMHS and Fisher Elementary School, but bids for contractors came back higher than anticipated, and the board decided in June to delay the gym work until 2018. Among the scheduled work on the gymnasium includes repairing and reinforcing the walls, installing additional bracing on the roof structure, replacing the roof deck, putting on a new gym roof, installing new insulation, and installing new lighting and fans. Bazyk said that insurance would cover the cost of gym floor repair.

"Despite an arduous effort to save the gym floor, including the procurement of this heater, it is beyond repair and will need to be replaced," posted Bazyk on Tuesday afternoon. "This will entail a change of venue for sports and PE."

Arlington Athletics Director Ashley Hoyt did not immediately return a request for comment on what sports teams would use for games and practices while the gym is under construction, but the Arlington Athletics official Twitter page posted on Tuesday, "So thankful for all the neighboring Athletic Directors and Schools who have generously accommodated our need for gym time over the next few weeks!!" and tagged seven local schools: Mount Anthony Union High School, Burr and Burton Academy, The Maple Street School, Mount Anthony Union Middle School, Cambridge Junior-Senior High School, Southern Vermont College, and Manchester Elementary-Middle School.

Meanwhile in Bennington, Mount Anthony Union Middle School was unable to re-open as scheduled Monday due to frozen pipes. All of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union had a two-hour delay on Tuesday, but the middle school was closed for the whole day. Principal Tim Payne did not respond to a request for comment on if the school had suffered any damage and if it was expected to re-open on Wednesday.

More cold weather is expected to be on the way.

Accuweather warned on Tuesday that after a few days of relatively moderate temperatures midweek, temperatures in the Northeast are expected to plummet back into the negative digits, with high temperatures in the low single digits and wind chill as low as -30 degrees.

"After a brief moderation from the cold at midweek, more bitter cold and downright harsh air will return," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Kyle Elliott, who added that this air mass will be 5-10 degrees colder than the mass that covered the region last weekend.

"Be sure to check on young children and the elderly as they are more prone to having serious health issues in these conditions," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. "When traveling, be sure to bring along blankets, knitted hats, and gloves in case your vehicle becomes disabled."

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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