Update process on Hill apartments steadily climbing

Benjamin Wilks, Staff Reporter

During summer break, on Sunday, June 21, a fire started in the east building of the Richard Hill dorms. The fire began as result of a Lakeland student cooking. At the time, the college did not know the plans for how to approach rebuilding and the main focus was on finding 22 people new places to live on campus. No students sustained life-threatening injuries.
The rebuilding process began at the start of the 2015-16 school year. According to Richard Haen, Senior Director of Facilities Management and Security, the rebuilding process will take time, as well as introduce new aspects to the buildings.
“We are currently undergoing plan design with a team of architects and engineers,” states Haen. “Even though we are replacing what was lost due to the fire, the 1994 design will need to be improved upon to meet current building code.”
According to Haen, if it feels like there is a halt in the rebuilding of Hill, it isn’t of physical process, but of the approval.
“There is no halt in rebuilding Hill. It just takes time to go through the entire process from planning, to approval by the college, the insurance company and the State of WI before we can even send it out to bid to contractors for construction.”
For those wondering how much this will cost Lakeland, Haen said, “The exact costs are yet to be determined. Our insurance will cover the majority of the demolition, construction and professional services [architectural and engineering] costs.”
When asked how the fire changed the process in how cautious Lakeland is with other dormitories, Haen responded by saying, “I don’t think much has changed as we were always cautious and diligent with security responding to fire alarms (even though the majority of them end up being false). I believe we are strictly enforcing rules such as no candles or hot plates in the dorm rooms. We have also denied several requests for outdoor bonfires. We continue to perform annual testing and certification of our fire alarm systems, fire extinguishers and annul hood systems. Also, performing annual fire alarm drills and fire extinguisher training.”
Haen expects the apartments will be finished in fall of 2016. Hill five through eight will be completely rebuilt. Hill one through four will only receive a minor renovation to repair what was damaged along with a refresh of the four apartments.

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