JOSEPH — Nearly nine months after a fire devastated the main Joseph Charter School gym on Jan. 16, repairs and renovations of the facility are nearing completion.
The final touches include finishing the gymnasium’s new hardwood maple floor and completing the new graphics that will showcase the Wallowa Mountains as well as the Eagle’s emblem.
“The gym renovation is going well,” Joseph Charter School Superintendent Lance Homan said. “We are extremely pleased with how it is turning out. One Call, our insurance company, and the school have been on the same page the entire time and we can now see the finish line.“
The damaged locker room is being repaired and updated, including new lights, plumbing fixtures, tiling and, of course, new lockers. The weight room upstairs is bright with new paint and a new floor, with new mats for the floor and wall and weight equipment waiting in the wings. The gym’s new LED lights are brighter than before. And they will illuminate a gym floor that is a work of art.
Boise, Idaho, graphic artist Rondell Puckett is creating an image of the Wallowa Mountains on the “home” side of the gym floor. The design, envisioned by basketball coach Olan Fulfer, includes a sweeping vista of Chief Joseph Mountain, Bonneville, Sawtooth and much of the rest of the range. The JCS Eagle will occupy center court.
“The floor design looks great and we are excited to get it done,” Homan said.
“It’s art,” Puckett said. “ I looked at the mountains and thought “wow” and then went into art mode. So it won’t look exactly like a detailed photograph of the mountains. But people will recognize them. It’s going to be amazing.”
Puckett has outlined the snow-capped peaks in blue painter’s masking tape. This week, Matt Jerman, who works for his son’s flooring company that is installing the new gym floor, will apply a darker brown wood stain to the lower parts of the mountains. The snow-capped white will be applied as paint after the first two coats of sealant have been applied to what is now sanded, high-quality maple.
“If we just applied the paint to the unfinished floor,” Jerman said, “it wouldn’t come off very well if we ever had to refinish the floor. So we usually put paint down after we’ve done the first coats of varnish. Then we’ll come back and apply the last coats of shellac and polish the floor after everything else is done. It will look like a mirror,” he said.
Puckett has done one other gym floor at Meridian, Idaho. It, too, had a mountain scene. Company owner Alan Jerman asked him to do the gym floor when he learned that the Wallowas were an integral part of the JCS landscape.
“A lot of my work has been paintings on trucks and motorcycles, and doing regular paintings,” Puckett said. “I love art. I get lost in a project. I just want to do it all the time.”
The work remaining in the gym includes installing the bleachers, equipping the weight room and finishing painting the stairwells and stairs that lead to the weight room, as well as painting the downstairs storage areas and installing interior doors. Portions of the original floor were salvaged and will be used for JCS woodshop projects.
“You know with everything this year, we are not going to put any expectations on final completion. We can see the end and we are getting more excited with each passing day,” Homan said.
Matt Jerman said that people have been dropping by to check on the projects’ progress.
“Every day maybe five or ten people sort of walk in to see how things are going,” he said. “The community is really interested in this. I think they are going to be pleased.”