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St. Lawrence Central School prepares for capital project

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BRASHER FALLS - Now that work is underway for the St. Lawrence Gas expansion into Franklin County, St. Lawrence Central School officials are getting set to submit their capital project plans to the state Education Department for approval.

“We expect to submit our plans to state ed in October,” Superintendent Stephen M. Putman said.

District taxpayers in December had approved an $8.2 million capital project that would allow the district to convert from heating oil to natural gas after St. Lawrence Gas passes by the district during their expansion into Franklin County.

The 48-mile natural gas pipeline will stretch from Norfolk to the village of Chateaugay in Franklin County, passing by the school district along the way.

That will allow the district to make the conversion to natural gas and save money in the process, according to Mr. Putman.

“We put in a summer boiler in the last project. That’s convertible to natural gas right away. When the gas gets here and they get it to us and connect it to us, we’ll connect it right away. If we get that connected by say, early November, I estimate we can save at least $50,000 this winter,” he said.

The district’s heating budget is currently “in excess of $300,000 a year,” Mr. Putman said.

If plans are submitted as proposed in October, he said they hope to have SED approval by February, followed by a bidding process that could run from February until early April. They could then start construction next spring under the scenario.

They also plan to convert from steam to hot water, which he said would also save money. The steam line and heating units date back to the 1950s.

“It’s not just converting the boilers. We’ll replace the oil boilers with natural gas boilers and we’re also replacing all of the steam heat lines in the original 1950s part of the middle/high school. Some of them are leaking,” he said.

“Hot water is more efficient than steam,” Mr. Putman said. “We’re still trying to determine whether or not we can get all of the steam system replaced with hot water in time for the 2013-14 heat season. If we can do that, we’ll probably save three times that much the following year. If we can’t, it’ll be two years out before we have big, big savings.”

District officials also hope to see energy conservation through improvements made to the pool area at the elementary school.

New dehumidification equipment will be installed that will be use much less energy, and heat from the air in the pool room will be captured and used to heat the pool. The project will also address maintenance issues, such as pipes, pumps and filters that are at end of their useful life.

All kitchen appliances will also be converted to natural gas, saving the district more money.

Some of the construction can be done while school is in session, he said.

“Obviously a lot of it needs to happen from the end of June to the beginning of September. Replacing boilers in the boiler room can be done. But the heating systems in the classrooms, a vast majority of that needs to get done when school is not in session,” according to the superintendent.

“Having said that, we’ve had capital projects before when contracts worked on the second shift when school was in session.”

Board members will receive an update on the project from Stephen J. Klempa, senior principal for SEI Design Group, the district’s architectural firm, during their September meeting.

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