Dirt work is scheduled to begin this week on the construction of the new Activity Center at Miami High School.

“We're starting about three weeks later than I expected to,” said Bill Stephens, superintendent of Miami Public Schools. “We were held up waiting for the approval of the stormwater pollution plan by the Department of Environmental Quality.”

The school's new activity center will house a new gymnasium as well as fine arts classrooms.

It was designed by architects Hunter and Millard of Joplin, Mo.

“They designed the last three projects the district has done,” Stephens said. “We're comfortable working with them.”

It is being built by the low bidder, Crossland Construction Company, which is currently finishing construction of the Ottawa County Courthouse.

“The contract was locked in at $3,242,800,” Stephens said.

“Crossland has 300 days to complete building the activity center from the day they break ground.”

Outside contracts will provide for the sound system, the seating in the gym and furnishing of the other rooms.

“I don't expect there to be any problems with the classes in session during construction,” Stephens said. “Crossland is going to have to fence off 60 parking spaces, so the students will have less places to park. They'll have to walk a little further.”

Following the completion of the Activities Center, renovation will be done in the old building.

The funding comes from a bond election the people of Miami approved in November.

Stephens, while he supervised the building of a gym in a previous position, has never had as much building to supervise at one time as he has now.

In addition to the start of the Activity Center, he is supervising the construction of two science rooms at the high school and a new bus barn.

Stephens plans on doing a walk through of the science classrooms which include chemistry labs this week.

“I'll be accompanied by someone from the architech's office and the construction company,” he said. “We'll go through and make sure that everything is done right before giving final approval.”

If everything goes as he expects, the classrooms will be able to be used at the beginning of the school year.

The science classrooms, which will also be able to be used as biology labs, were financed by the Miami School District's building fund as part of a six year capital improvement plan.

The district recently received building permits from the city to begin work on the bus barn which is being moved to the northwest part of town, near the airport.

“We've had to make some adjustments to make it fit in the lot,” Stephens said. “I expect them to lay it out this week.”

Because the buildings will be of metal, Stephens expects them to go up quickly.

They are scheduled to be completed within 90 days of groundbreaking.

“I didn't expect to be doing this much construction, but not much had been done in the district for a while so there were a lot of needs,” Stephens said. “I'm just grateful to the community for its support in financing these improvements.”