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St. Lawrence Central begins capital project discussions

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BRASHER FALLS - St. Lawrence Central School Board members are being asked to consider a capital project that would address, in part, water issues in the district.

Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr. said their goal would be to pay for the project with no impact on taxpayers, using up the remainder of their EXCEL funding.

“The goal is to have no impact on the tax levy,” he told board members Wednesday night.

He said some of the items on the wish list would be things they weren’t able to accomplish in their current capital project. For instance, he said, insulation was taken off hot water pipes to work on them during the current project and was never scheduled to be put back on. That could be included in a separate project, Mr. Vigliotti suggested.

“There are a number of items that were not accomplished during the project. There is probably $3 or $4 million worth of work,” he said.

The project would also address water and safety issues in the district.

Well water issues that cropped up in November at both the elementary and middle/high school are currently being taken care of in coordination with the state Department of Health, according to the superintendent.

A routine coliform bacteria sample collected Nov. 5 at the elementary school tested positive for total coliform, but negative for e. coli. Four other samples were collected on Nov. 7, and those were also positive for total coliform, but negative for e. coli.

Further samples collected on Nov. 12 showed the presence of total coliform in three samples, while a fourth sample was negative.

Department of Health officials determined that the installation of a water softening system in late October was completed without sufficiently shock disinfecting the system afterward.

Because of the numerous samples that confirmed the presence of total coliform bacteria in the water system, a boil water advisory was issued for the elementary school on Nov. 8 and remains in effect, with drinking fountains being shut off throughout the school, bottled water being provided and special precautions being implemented for the preparation and handling of food in the kitchen.

At the middle and high school, a surveillance sample was collected on Nov. 12 and tested positive for total coliform, but negative for e. coli.

As was the case at the elementary school, Department of Health officials determined that the installation of a water softening system in late October was completed without sufficiently shock disinfecting the system afterward.

District officials completed a shock disinfection on Nov. 15 and, on Nov. 18, five coliform samples were collected from various locations within the school. Of the five samples, four were positive for total coliform, but negative for e. coli.

The school was placed on a boil water advisory on Nov. 19, and that remains in effect. Water fountains have also been shut off throughout the school, the district is providing bottled water, and they have instituted special precautions for preparing and handling food in the kitchen.

The district was required to submit a plan of action that addresses the issue to the Department of Health by Dec. 6, a goal they met. Their plan called for the installation of chlorination systems at both schools to make the water potable again.

“We have received bids and selected a contractor. They will begin work over the Christmas break,” Mr. Vigliotti said, noting they hope to have the system back on line by Jan. 10.

“We hope to be on line before that,” hopefully when school resumes on Jan. 6, he said.

Once the work is complete, the Department of Health must run tests to ensure the water is safe.

“This will allow us hopefully to get the water turned back on and safe to drink,” Mr. Vigliotti said. “They (the Department of Health) understand that we’re doing everything we can possibly do as long as meet the deadlines. We’ve met every deadline.”

But, he said, the work they’re donig now doesn’t address the overall issue the district is facing - replacement of the water storage tanks and piping and filtration system. A capital project would address those issues, he said.

He provided board members Wednesday night with a list of items that were taken out of the current capital project, as well as a suggested list of things that could be included. Mr. Vigliotti said he also wanted to solicit input from others regarding what they thought should be included in another project.

“Maybe the board can review those at the next meeting,” and they can compile a list, he said.

That, Mr. Vigliotti noted, would allow them to get an idea of the scope of the project and an estimate on how much it would cost.

“We can get as many things in as we can. If people have other ideas, it would be great to solicit them,” he said.

He suggested that, if they elected to move forward, the capital project vote could be included as a separate proposition with the school budget vote in May.

“We probably need to fairly firm things up by our January meeting or February meeting at the latest,” Mr. Vigliotti said.

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