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Fine arts center is taking shape

Through the snow, ice and dirt, a new fine arts facility is beginning to take shape. Puetz Corporation's site superintendent Jed Liedtke led a tour of the construction site Monday afternoon as part of the Mitchell Board of Education's regular mee...

At right Jed Liedtke, Puetz Corporation's job sight superintendent for the fine arts center, explains the layout of the new fine arts center to (from left) Deb Olson, Kevin Kenkel, Chris Miller and Cory Aadland during a tour of the new fine arts center on Monday afternoon in Mitchell. (Matt Gade/Republic)
At right Jed Liedtke, Puetz Corporation's job sight superintendent for the fine arts center, explains the layout of the new fine arts center to (from left) Deb Olson, Kevin Kenkel, Chris Miller and Cory Aadland during a tour of the new fine arts center on Monday afternoon in Mitchell. (Matt Gade/Republic)

Through the snow, ice and dirt, a new fine arts facility is beginning to take shape.

Puetz Corporation's site superintendent Jed Liedtke led a tour of the construction site Monday afternoon as part of the Mitchell Board of Education's regular meeting.

Excavation began in June on the $15.3 million project, which will feature a 1,200-seat theater, rooms for the school's music and drama programs and a smaller black box theater.

Across the street from the high school, the new performing arts center will be connected to part of the Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy. With a target completion date of around Thanksgiving, much of the work still remains on the sprawling facility, though the structure is taking shape.

On Monday, Liedtke led the small cohort through the construction site, which rang with the sounds of machinery and familiar "beep-beep-beep" warning of large equipment. Separating the tour into segments, Liedtke first showed off "Area B." Motioning to a pile of steel, Liedtke said each piece of steel has a tag with a number on it designating where it will go.

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Liedtke pointed out the elevator shaft, which is about 60 feet tall. From the third story of the performing arts center, people will be able to access the lower balcony; the fourth story will provide access to the upper balcony, Liedtke said.

Inside those walls, though the floor is still a cold mixture of dirt, snow and ice, Liedtke painted a visual of where the stage area, orchestra pit and seating will be. He also pointed to where the catwalk system will soon rise high above the stage, but those walls have not yet reached their final height.

From there, the tourists slipped single file under a tarp, down a hall and into a sheltered area that will one day be the bathrooms. Liedtke explained the tarps and makeshift shelters as typical for "winter construction."

"In winter construction, if you've never seen it before, you've got real weird temporary shelters," he said.

The tour then moved to Area A, which includes the band room, choir room and practice rooms. But before entering that area, Liedtke pointed out a shovel sticking out of a snow pile on the roof-a common occurrence lately, he said.

"Every time it snows, we have to hand-shovel off those roofs so the roofers can keep going," he said. "Obviously the snow events really cause grief on a construction site. But it's a part of construction."

In the large, open room that will soon house the band, choir and practice rooms, Liedtke pointed out that it will also include ample space for band storage.

"You can never have too much storage in a band room," Liedtke said. Mitchell High School Director of Bands Ryan Stahle emphatically agreed.

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In that space, Liedtke said workers were getting gravel and preparing to pour concrete later this week. As roofers complete an area, Liedtke said workers will be able to put finishing touches on the inside of the area while other workers continue working on the outdoor areas, which helps keep the project "chugging right along."

He said there are about 20-30 workers on site per day, but that number could exceed 100 once the project gets closer to completion.

Stahle and MHS Vocal Director Chris Miller both attended the tour, and said it's exciting to see the new facility take shape.

Both praised the space and set up, but said it is some of the little things they most look forward to. For Stahle, one of those things is having a flat floor in the band room rather than the concrete terraced setup of his current band room.

"The band room floor being flat gives us so much more flexibility in set up. That's one of the things I'm probably the most excited for," Stahle said.

Miller echoed that sentiment, noting that the current band and choir rooms don't have air conditioning, nor does the auditorium. He also praised the additional space, calling it enough to put on an "amazing production" in the auditorium.

"There's just a ton of 'wow' factor," Miller said, joking that the only "wow" factor the current auditorium boasts is, "wow, this is bad."

"It's not a good 'wow,' " he said.

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Liedtke echoed their excitement, saying the only complaint he has heard about the project is from Mitchell alumni who wish the facility had been completed sooner.

"Everybody I talk to is excited about it," Liedtke said. "It's going to be a great theater."

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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