Bonifay K-8 Elementary School – Culpepper Construction
Bonifay is a small town located in Holmes County, Florida, about an hour north of the coast. The close-knit community will soon be able to celebrate the opening of the Bonifay K-8 Elementary-Middle School, a brand-new, two-story, 220,000-square-foot school located on a 63-acre site in Bonifay.
The new school offers greater energy savings and efficiency, as well as better learning environments for students, teachers and faculty and it will also be home to one of the area’s major disaster shelters. Built to withstand the hurricane-force winds that often sweep across the Florida Panhandle, Bonifay K-8 will be a safe haven for the community.
The Holmes County School Board contracted Culpepper Construction Company, a widely known and respected Florida construction management, design-build and general contracting firm to construct the school. The school’s location, which was once home to an old fairground, is now a busy construction site led by Brooks Hayes, project manager for Culpepper.
“We’re well-known across the Panhandle,” says Hayes. “We specialize in schools, including K-12 and higher education, doing a lot of work for Florida State University and we do a great deal of commercial construction “
With offices in Tallahassee, Florida, and Thomasville, Georgia, Culpepper has completed a range of projects including offices, restaurants, churches and retail centers. “We also do a lot of county and state work and a fair amount of private. Most of our work is construction management at risk,” notes Hayes. “We have a lot of schools on the books since the construction market has started to pick up.”
Rallying around Bonifay K-8
After more than a year with Culpepper and nearly 15 years of field experience, this is Hayes’ first project with Holmes County School Board. “There’s been a lot of local participation and excitement in the planning and approval of this school,” says Hayes. “The community is really excited about this project and it’s a huge upgrade from the older schools.”
The existing elementary school campus has been in use since 1970 and the current middle school dates back to 1954. “Both were in need of a significant upgrade and by combining them into one, the Holmes County School Board is saving money while delivering a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient facility,” says Hayes.
Working with surveying engineers, Culpepper leveled the site in preparation for the $38 million, 220,000-square-foot facility, moving enough dirt to drop the surface 8 feet lower for the school, playground and new softball field.
The project officially broke ground in October 2015 and Culpepper’s crews had concrete footers in the ground for the multipurpose cafeteria-auditorium and storm shelter before Christmas. “We are excited to have a local company subcontracting the concrete scope of work, which is employing many locals,” says Hayes.
One major factor going into the Bonifay K-8 project is a concrete superstructure at the school’s core, which will double as the cafeteria and an emergency disaster relief shelter. “During storms the school can serve as a shelter,” says Hayes. “Once completed, it will double the size of the available shelters in Holmes County.” Equipped with extra-strength, double-pane windows and added structural components such as cast-in-place concrete columns and beams to handle hurricane-force wind loads, Bonifay K-8 is storm ready. “We wanted the shelter to be in the cafeteria so there’s access to food services and equipment,” explains Hayes.
“There’s been a lot of local participation and excitement in the planning and approval of this school. The community is really excited about this project and it’s a huge upgrade from the older schools.” – Brooks Hayes, project manager for Culpepper Construction
Ensuring the school-shelter hybrid has sufficient water supply has been a hurdle for Culpepper. “The city doesn’t have enough water supply capacity so we are still working with the engineers to come up with the best solution possible to provide the correct water flow to a school of this size,” says Hayes.
The project is expected to meet Green Globe requirements for energy efficiency. Green Globe is an environmental design and management rating system and guidance program, which recognizes a building’s environmental attributes through third-party verification. “Green Globes is a great option for Bonifay K-8 because the school board wants sustainability goals incorporated into the project,” says Hayes.
With the project approximately 50 percent complete, Hayes says Culpepper is working to stay on time and on budget. “The budget is always on my mind,” he says. “We had the subcontractors bid many alternates on bid day to provide us as many options as possible. This enabled the school board to have a prioritized list with values of the different components so that we could pick and choose what they wanted to incorporate into the project scope.”
Work continues to move forward as the community anticipates the mixed-use school-shelter project, estimated to save the district $150,000 per year in energy costs by consolidating the elementary and middle schools. The project is also stimulating the local economy by bringing in many new jobs, both construction related and long-term. With Culpepper Construction behind the wheel, Bonifay K-8 Elementary-Middle School looks to welcome students by fall 2017.
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