DANVILLE – When Danville High School students return to school Monday, they will notice many changes throughout the building.
The biggest surprise will be when they set foot in any of the six boys’ or girls’ restrooms in the original part of the high school.
The restrooms were gutted during the summer and completely renovated, according to District 118 Buildings and Grounds Director Skip Truex.
“The only thing original is the floor,” he said.
Each restroom features new LED lighting, new ceiling tile, new cream-colored porcelain wall tiles, new bathroom fixtures and new stainless steel partitions.
The DHS restroom project was one of several on a two-page list of summer projects – some of which were major renovations, such as the DHS elevator – that were tackled at all 11 school buildings and two other buildings in the district.
Rebuilding the elevator and remodeling six restrooms on all three floors of the high school kept the building closed to the public this summer.
Taking on that many projects districtwide during the summer would normally be an ambitious undertaking, but Truex and his crew of five full-time maintenance workers and assorted contractors accomplished everything they set out to do — even with an abbreviated 48-day work schedule due to school ending a week later in the spring because of the use of four emergency cold days and starting a week earlier this month so traditional calendar school staff and students may enjoy a fall break in October.
“I figured it up, and it was going to be eight days (of work) per restroom from start to finish,” Truex said.
But what helped with each restroom being completed in only eight days was the preliminary staging that was done during the last week or two of school in May.
Knowing that the elevator would be shut down all summer, the new bathroom fixtures and plumbing materials needed for the restroom project were moved to storage areas on each floor before school ended.
Although Truex said he had been preparing for the overhaul of the 1950s or 1960s DHS elevator for last year and a half, a major setback occurred early on in the project.
“The step-up transformer came in and it was damaged,” he said. “It set us back; otherwise the elevator would be running right now.”
Truex, however, said he expects the modernized elevator to be “up and running by the middle of the week.”
A major transformation took place in the DHS welding and automotive shops.
“We completely redid them,” Truex said.
Every piece of equipment from those two areas was removed and stored in storage containers so the entire areas – floor to ceiling -- could be power washed.
The concrete floor in the welding shop was ground down so a new epoxy floor could be poured, Truex said.
All of the welding booths were painted, and a new sink and eye wash device were installed.
New LED lighting was installed in both the welding and automotive shops, and both areas received a fresh coat of paint on the walls.
“I think that was the original paint on the walls from when they built on (the shops) in the 1990s,” maintenance worker Karl Thornsbrough said.
Visitors to the high school are going to notice the gleaming new floor tile in what Truex calls the “hall of fame” in the Clock Tower that leads to the updated gym, brighter fieldhouse and remodeled restrooms.
“It makes a nice entry to the gym,” Truex said of the new floor tile.
The DHS gym floor was resurfaced and rebranded with the new Viking logo, which is the same modernized Viking image that greets visitors at the Clock Tower entrance.
The nearby fieldhouse and restrooms also received a makeover.
“When people come to a game or use the restroom in the fieldhouse, it will look nice,” Truex said. “We’re proud of our workers. We remodeled the restrooms in the fieldhouse with our own people.”
New LED lighting was installed in the fieldhouse that not only better illuminates the area but also will save the district money in energy cost savings.
“The district will save enough money in the fieldhouse to pay for itself in one-and-a-half years,” he said.
Thornsbrough said people who used the fieldhouse tended not to turn off the old lighting because it took the lights a long time to come on to full strength. That will no longer be an issue with the LED lighting.
“When I turn them on, they’re instantly on,” Thornsbrough said.
For the most part, the lengthy list of summer projects throughout the district will be completed by Monday.
“There are a couple straggling projects, but nothing that can’t get done by next week,” Truex said.