United board hears building presentation

HANOVERTON – The United Local school board listened for over an hour to a presentation by Plug Smart, an Ohio-based company, regarding facility upgrades.

The chairman and CEO of the company, Richard D. Housh, and the president, David Zehala, along with two others spoke about the full-service features the company offers from infrastructure evaluation, project development and energy improvements along with a self-financing component.

Deferred facility maintenance is at the epicenter, along with energy efficient operations.

Zehala said the company doesn’t do the on-site work but brings design, mechanical, engineering and plumbing engineering services to the customer,

The company (www.plugsmart.com) has been looking at the United Local school district for about two years and presented a detailed analysis and plan for its three schools.

Zehala explained that “clients can only kick the can down the road (for so long) …” and Plug Smart provides entities with additional areas available in two Ohio house bills, HB 153 and HB 264, from which to deal with aging facilities.

Zehala said HB 264 deals primarily with energy projects and with HB 153 “the sky’s the limit” and covers improvements and provisions in HB 264.

Discussion repeatedly turned to building heating and included two old boilers in the elementary school building, one installed in 1971 and one in 1998.

Several options, one a dedicated outbuilding for heating water and another installing new units inside the building, and a number of plan combinations were discussed.

The company assembles vendors and has companies that do all the purchasing and bid it out. Plug Smart is vendor neutral, he said adding that if the customer wants to use local businesses it would look at that, noting there is no requirement other than to go with the low bid.

“There a tendency to kick out the high and low (bids),” he said, adding in response to a question that the company advertises the bids and compiles a list of subcontractors.

Board President Mike Ellyson asked if the company is accountable for workmanship issues and Zehala said they are while Housh added, “At the end of the day you have one throat to choke and that’s us.”

If plans near finalization, Zehala said a lease-purchase contract under a 15-year agreement could be signed.

He said, “You don’t have to go to the voters for a levy” if the district is looking to renovate infrastructure up to code or a large project, it could fall under operational expenses.

Plug Smart has worked with nearby school districts including Marlington and Carrollton and has over 100 projects in a total of 25 school districts.

The presentation was informational and no action was taken.

In other business, the board approved the purchase a 2017 Thomas bus, C2 Safety Liner, from Myers Equipment of Canfield for a total price of $84,750.

Ellyson said, “I thought that was going to be $90,000.”

The board also approved $2,500 to be paid to Hylant Insurance Company regarding settlement claim. The amount is the deductible.

The board approved the constitution of the Ohio High School Athletic Association which requires that it pass a resolution authorizing United Local Junior/Senior High School’s membership in the OHSAA.

The Academic Challenge Team qualified for the 2016 SSNCT (Small School National Championship Tournament) but because of having to pay for the bus driver, the team did not have enough money raised but the team did make the trip to Chicago and the board recognized contributions by Ellyson, school board members RuthAnn Rinto, Wendy Doyle, Viscounte and high school Principal William Young.

An agreement with Scenario Learning LLC Software to provide SafeSchools Online Staff Training was approved for $904.50.

Also, approved was an agreement with The Nutrition Group to continue as the food service provider for the 2016-2017 school year; a one-year supplemental contract for Dennis T. Kellison for the 2016-2017 school year. Stipends are according to the board approved salary schedule.

lshields@salemnews.net