Plains High improving the campus in many ways

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SPRAYING SEALANT onto the newly paved parking lot behing Plains High School. (John Dowd/Clark Fork Valley Press)

Four years ago, Plains High School began working on paving the front parking lot.

At the time it was merely a gravel drive and after sufficient rain would transform into what local school employees affectionately dubbed “Lake Rude,” after a previous employee.

The drainage was so bad that measures had to be taken as “Lake Rude” would measure at the center nearly 24 inches. At one point there was a photo taken of some staff playing a practical joke, placing a canoe in the center laden down with hunting gear and wading through the pool on his knees to give the illusion it had a greater depth. Since then Thom Chisholm and the staff of Plains High School have been driven to constantly improving the grounds of the campus.

One of the chief improvements has been to fully pave the surrounding drive and parking lots. This has been done over the course of several years, completing sections at a time, while also sealing and preserving each section in a cycle to save money.

Chisholm estimated the cost of replacing each section could cost the school 10 to 12 times the cost of simply maintaining it every few years. Each section that is sealed is protected from water penetration which significantly improved the lifespan of the blacktop.

“This is front spending that will save tons of back spending,” Chisholm said. “This year the school will also be painting the back-parking lot, that has just been paved, to create safer and more efficient parking.” The paint that will be used and has been used by Chisholm and his team is a custom orange color matching the school colors, not used by any other school parking lot.

Chisolm says that the devil is in the details. The parking lines will run east and west and will include crosswalks and 118 parking spots. It will also allow room for busses and a fire lane around the gymnasium. This entire project was completed without adding a dime to the current budget. The funds came completely from money left over from the end of the prior years’ budget.

The second improvement is to add a new weight room upstairs above the gym and shop room. It will be a new addition near the storage room of the sports equipment, next to the already existing workout room.

The project’s inception started two years ago partnered with the booster club, who’s intention was to allocate funds to buy more equipment. Last fall the walls to the old classroom were pushed out, and the low ceiling was taken out to give it more room.

The floor, which was once carpet over concrete was smashed due to the dropping of weights directly onto the floor from previous exercise use. The floor has now been cleaned up, carpet removed, and cement leveled, and Chisholm has obtained rubberized flooring to go over a wooden subfloor that will be laid over the concrete.

The rubberized flooring is black with flashes of orange, fitting for the school. Chisholm plans to have the room trimmed, repainted, and finished by the start of this school year. He has already done the walls with assistance.

The final big improvement this summer will be an improved concession stand. The inside has been remodeled and expanded 70%. The remodeling will include new countertops and cabinets. There has also been a hired concessions director, in the end saving the school hassle, time and money on the stand, though students will still be working it.

In front of the stand there will also be added a large concrete patio that will include picnic tables for customers to use.

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