BANDON — The final of four seismic retrofits in the Bandon School District is underway. This summer, the Bandon High School gym and cafeteria, also known as Otis K. Murray Court, will receive major structural upgrades that will help it withstand damage in case of an earthquake. 

According to Bandon Schools Superintendent Doug Ardiana, the gym will receive a new roof, including a new membrane and diaphragms, new interior shear walls will be installed and all the walls will be anchored to the structure's foundation, and deteriorating structural beams will be repaired. 

The majority of the work being done by contractor Scott Partney Construction will be to the outer structure of the gym. 

In addition, the district will have a wall installed in the upper area on the east side of the building to divide the area into two rooms. One will be used for exercise equipment and the other will remain open for various uses, such as cheer, dance and band practices. 

The weight room on the south side of the building is not part of the seismic retrofit, Ardiana said. He is looking at cost estimates to put a new roof on that building as well. 

A generator will also be installed in the gym.

"We're getting a cost estimate for retrofitting the electric panels (to accommodate a generator) so we can feed and house people in an emergency," Ardiana said at a recent school board meeting. "We will seek a grant to get that." 

All of the seismic work, except the for the initial engineering of the project, will be paid from from an Oregon Seismic Rehabilitation Grant through the Infrastructure Finance Authority, a division of Business Oregon, the state's economic development agency.

The grant for the gym, in the amount of $1.15 million, is part of the state's competitive grant program that provides funding for the seismic rehabilitation of critical public buildings, particularly public schools and emergency services facilities.

The purpose is to reduce losses in the case of a major seismic event, which has been predicted to have a 40-percent chance of occurring along Oregon’s Pacific coastline within the next 50 years. This program focuses on the safety of K-12 children and their educators, first responders and hospitals that are expected to be operational following an earthquake.

The realization that Oregon is at risk of a major Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake drove the bipartisan effort to pass legislation to protect critical community structures from catastrophic damage. Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Legislature, led by support from Sens. Peter Courtney and Ted Ferrioli, helped address the issue by prioritizing funding to increase statewide resilience and promote community preparedness.

The Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program requires that school facilities be retrofitted to “Life Safety” and emergency services to “Immediate Occupancy” standards as defined by the American Society for Civil Engineers.

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“Life Safety” means that a building may be damaged beyond repair during an earthquake but people will be able to safely exit the building. “Immediate Occupancy” means that not only will the building remain standing after an earthquake but emergency services will be able to continue to operate and provide services.

Bandon's Ocean Crest Elementary School, Harbor Lights Middle School and Bandon High School buildings have already been retrofitted through grants over the past several years and Scott Partney Constuction has been the contractor for all of the work. 

The first seismic grant was received in December 2014 for Bandon High to correct structural deficiencies in the classroom building. That grant was for $824,496. Bandon High was built in 1975 after the original high school burned to the ground by an arsonist in 1974.

Ocean Crest Elementary School was built in 1939. The main part of Harbor Lights, including its gym, was built in 1957. 

The Bandon School District applied for seismic retrofitting grants for all three school buildings and the high school gym in the spring of 2014, after Sy Allen, from ZCS Engineering Inc., performed a structural analysis for all three schools in the district.

Senate Bill 3 in the 2005 Legislature established Oregon's Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program to make seismic improvements to essential public buildings. The bill created a grant program for schools — from elementary schools to universities — and for emergency service buildings, including hospitals, fire stations and police stations. The program was transferred to Business Oregon in 2014. 

Since the program's first awards in 2009, 224 schools and 101 emergency services buildings have been awarded $382,253,593 in funding for improvements, including dozens along the South Coast. 

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Bandon Western World Editor Amy Moss Strong can be reached at 541-347-2423, ext. 305, or by email at amy.moss-strong@theworldlink.com. Follow Bandon Western World on Facebook.