Headed into fall, Nunn Construction is celebrating the groundbreakings for two Colorado BEST Grant-funded schools.
Walsenburg Junior Senior High
The August 12 groundbreaking ceremony for the new Walsenburg Junior Senior High began with a rousing student drum choir performance. Huerfano School District RE-1 thought it was a fitting—and rather inspiring—welcome to celebrate the incoming 56,000-square-foot facility, which will replace the aging John Mall High School structure. With the new school situated east of the existing school, John Mall High School will be demolished and provide space for recreational and outdoor instructional areas.
After the community passed a 2020 bond election, the project received Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Grant funds from the Colorado Department of Education.
“The economy and current market present challenges from all sides for construction projects. However, the team dynamic Nunn Construction has working with Artaic Group, Wold Architects, and the Huerfano School District has helped us overcome many challenges and see this project get off the ground to begin construction,” said Vinnie Mattivi, Pueblo Division Manager for Nunn Construction.
“We know how hard the community and district fought to secure very competitive BEST Grant Funds and as a team, it is important to everyone that we
managed the budget and design phase well so we can make sure that this new school makes the most of every dollar.”
Construction is on track to finish in time for the spring 2024 semester.
New Fowler Junior/Senior High School
The morning of September 8, Fowler School District R4J began the groundbreaking ceremony for their 66,000-square-foot replacement Junior/Senior High School to a crowd of onlookers in school colors: purple and gold. Even the dozen in attendance first to fling the dirt wore purple hard hats tagged with the school’s grizzly paw.
“Today’s ceremony is the latest step in our journey along this unique opportunity to upgrade our facilities and increase the safety and security of our buildings for our students for generations to come,” said Alfie Lotrich, Fowler School District R4J superintendent, “the way that many of our preceding generations did for us.”
First grade students flagged down Joey Gonzalez, the project superintendent, during the ceremony. They informed him that they are watching his progress; it had taken three and a half minutes for one of Nunn Construction’s backhoe loaders to trek across the job site with a load of dirt, unload it, then return for more.
The construction phase had barely started, and they were already using the process to practice their math. Five shovels worth of dirt to fill one bucket, they added.
They had been watching since the crew and equipment arrived. Counting.
Plenty more people in Fowler had been counting, too—the years in the making. The need for a new school dates back to the fall of 2017, when Fowler School District started discussing the futures of their buildings. A 2018 facilities masterplan by RTA Architects identified various deficiencies in the aging high school facilities. Fowler School District voters approved a $4.9 million bond for a new facility in November 2019, and while the BEST Grant Program needed to help secure the rest of the project’s funding did not pass in 2020, it was approved in May 2021.
Justin Osborne, vice president of the Fowler School District R4J Board of Directors, also spoke on behalf of his role as the south-central district manager of the Colorado State Land Board, which provides funding to the BEST Grant Program.
According to Osborne, the State of Colorado owns approximately 3 million acres of land throughout the state that is partially managed for the benefit of public education. “I am very happy and very proud to have an active role in the background, so to speak, on the back works as far as raising money for Fowler and for other school districts, mainly in rural Colorado, to have the opportunity to build schools such as what is happening here.”
The new Home of the Grizzlies is underway with construction aiming to reach completion in late 2023.