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Bear River arts center moves ahead

Construction on the long-delayed performing arts center at Bear River High School could begin as soon as next month, now that the Nevada Joint Union High School District has received clearance that the land it will be built on is safe.

The state Department of Toxic Substances Control late last month gave the district approval to begin construction on the former trap-shooting range, which district officials learned nearly two years ago contained significant amounts of lead.

The contaminated soil has been excavated and trucked to a hazardous-waste facility in Kettleman City (Kings County).



Once construction begins, it is expected to take contractor Aberdeen Burris of Lincoln 14 months to finish the 400-seat theater, “green room,” lobby and restrooms.

“I feel good about being able to award the contract after months of uncertainty,” said Julie Hopkins, the district’s assistant superintendent for business services.




As the district worked to identify and remove the soil, the cost of the project has soared. The performing arts building and a proposed aquatics center, bid as one project by the contractor, was originally budgeted to cost $5.5 million. Aberdeen Burris was the low bidder of the project this past summer, submitting a bid of $6.8 million for the performing arts center and a 25-yard pool on the campus.

Both facilities will be shared by Bear River High and the south Nevada County community.

The contractor has extended the aquatics/performing arts bid offer twice while waiting for the district’s response to the toxic-soil cleanup.

Money for the project is coming from Measure A, a $15 million construction bond passed by high school district voters in 2002.

Tom Burris, project director for Aberdeen Burris, said that while prices for some materials rose, the labor market is softer now, which could keep those costs lower.

Still left undecided is the fate of the nearby aquatics center, where arsenic was discovered this past summer. Hopkins said the district is still awaiting a response from the state agency. Once it receives clearance, the district hopes to begin construction on the pool, which has a nine-month construction schedule.

The contaminated soil near the pool site is expected to be excavated during one weekend next month, said Hopkins, who is departing the high school district in two weeks for a similar job with the Roseville City School District.

“I’ve told them I want an invitation to the grand opening,” she joked.


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