Curtain Raised on Madison Renovation Project Results

An extensive, three-year renovation project of historic Madison Elementary School on Wheeling Island is complete and was unveiled at the Ohio County Board of Education meeting Monday at the school.

Through a $4 million grant from the School Building Authority of West Virginia, the steam heating system of the almost century-old building was removed and replaced with central heating and air conditioning, and new high-efficiency boilers were added.

“The biggest change was the addition of heating ventilation and air conditioning,” Madison Elementary Principal Nikki Kacmarik said. “Prior to that project we had no air, plus we had an ancient boiler system that really needed replaced. The heating was very uneven during the winter months.”

Visitors at the school’s open house before the board meeting also enjoyed the new, indirect lighting in the hallways and classrooms of the building, new carpeting in all classrooms and office areas and new ceramic tile floors in the bathrooms.

“When they put the duct work in and they lowered the ceilings to hide the duct work, that brought new lighting in, which made a significant difference that you didn’t realize before. The lighting is much brighter, much softer, much more soothing in the building,” Kacmarik said.

The original girls and boys restrooms on the first floor were also updated with the addition of new sinks, toilets and hand dryers and new tile flooring. Local company Walter’s Construction Inc. handled the bathroom renovations, according to Kacmarik.

“We’re very proud to show off our building tonight. This building is such a monument on this island, it really is the heart of the Island,” Kacmarik said. “It’s a haven for our kids, and this Island community needs this school not to just be in existence today, but flourish in the future as well. I think the board of education ensured that when they put resources back into the school to keep it modernized and operating as it should.”

Kacmarik said the project experienced some setbacks during the first phase of installing central air, when workers struggled with the thickness of the walls.

“The first surprise they had was to find that the school is built like a fortress. They may have set the timeline back a bit, but they kept moving forward and made do and worked around the existing structure as it was built 100 years ago and were able to modernize this very old facility and make it usable for many years in the future.”

According to board President James Jorden, the cost of the entire project came to about $3.5 million. Ohio County Schools received $4 million from the SBA for the renovation.