Engineers agree EHS gym in 'state of imminent collapse'

Mark Heuett Contractors are hoping to have a broken truss in the Enterprise High School gymnasium repaired by Nov. 4. Photo by Rocky Wilson

Three structural engineers have agreed on the severity of the broken truss which has closed the big gymnasium on the Enterprise schools' campus. According to superintendent Brad Royse, who was speaking to the school board at an emergency meeting at 7 a.m. last Friday morning, two of the three thought the structure would have collapsed had it not been built against the old, original gym.

Royse quoted the engineers as stating that the gymnasium was in "a state of imminent collapse."

"This is the one roof we felt good about," said board member Joe Stangel.

At the emergency meeting a quorum of the board passed a resolution describing the situation as an emergency and authorizing Mark Heuett Contractors of Enterprise to do the repairs. The local contracting company told Royse that it could complete the splicing work in a matter of seven days from when the building permit was approved. Royse hoped that the permit would be approved on a fast track and that the gymnasium would again be useable by Nov. 4.

Heuett's bid for the work, including the shoring up of the extra trusses, was in the vicinity of $20,000. Royse guessed that the total cost of the repair project would be between $30,000 and $40,000. The superintendent said the repairs could be paid with funds from the recently passed $2.4 million bond approved by Enterprise voters.

Mark Heuett said on Monday that he had a crew doing shoring up work in the gymnasium that day and hoped to get the building permit on Tuesday or Wednesday to begin modifications. He hoped to get the gym back in use by Nov. 4.

The broken truss was discovered Oct. 8 when electrician John Hillock of Enterprise Electric was working above the ceiling on a ballast. It was reported to administration who contacted a structural engineer who promptly closed the gymnasium to public use.

The three structural engineers agreed that the broken truss would have been broken during a major event and made a large noise. Stangel was of the opinion that the break could have occurred during the major New Years snowfall of 1997 when 3 1/2 feet of snow fell during a short period of time and triggered major flooding in the Imnaha area. The fact the school was not in session could have explained why no one heard the break.

Royse and Stangel outlined how the project would proceed with no damage to the gymnasium floor. First a rug would be laid under the impact support areas, followed by a layer of plywood. Next would come a layer of 12 ft. beams crossed by yet another layer of beams. On this second layer of beams would be placed two columns of steel pads which would reach to the top cord of the structure and keep the weight off of the broken truss while the splice is made.

After the repair is made and the gymnasium is back in use Heuett also proposed to work in the attic and run steel cables through the remaining four trusses for additional support.

The concrete pilaster below the broken truss has moved 1 1/2 inches, said Stangel, but the engineers agreed that trying to move it back to its original position could create a hazard where one now does not exist. Repairing the truss will take much stress off of the pilaster.

Royse did not know whether or not the Great American Insurance Co. would cover costs. He did know that the company was taking the Enterprise situation seriously, having flown experts to view the damage at a cost of $5,000. He has spoken with insurance officials in Connecticut and the Midwest as well as Alpine Insurance in Enterprise.

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