ILWACO - While Ocean Beach School Board probably can't help obsessing about budget cuts and impending implications for the school district, other business has to continue, and so it did during the regular school board meeting Monday night.

First up was a community group that pitched the idea to the board of possibly naming a portion of one of the new schools - preferably the library at either Hilltop or Long Beach School - after long-time local child advocate Martha Murfin. The group brought forth several petitions signed by local citizens hoping to sway favor with the board due to her years of service in helping young children learn to read.

"I just can't think of anyone else more appropriate," said former district employee Norma Daniels, who has worked with Murfin over the years. "She is a real role model. And I think the library would be perfect."

The group took turns telling convincing tales of Murfin's years of volunteer work and going the extra mile to help people. One woman told of how Murfin had helped her children learn English and to read, and that she had given her money in the past when she was in need and bought medicine for her mother. The group wanted to make the point that they would like to see recognition given soon, rather than posthumously.

Superintendent Rainer Houser acknowledged the possibility of such an act taking place, but noted that there needed to be a policy and procedure set in place for such things first. It was decided that Vice-chair Marilyn Sheldon would look into roughing out a policy/procedure, to be looked at by the board at the August meeting.

"Your request is most appropriate," said Houser. "She is an immensely valuable asset to the kids."

Union reps raise questionsThe board was also visited Monday night by two representatives from the Washington/N. Idaho District Council of Laborers. The two, Sherry Barry and Ben Torerra, said their purpose that evening was to bring information to the board gathered by legal council regarding contractor RB&G - which was hired to construct the three new district schools.

"That contractor up on the hill is not a good choice," said Barry, after handing the board a bound document nearly two inches thick.

The issue at hand apparently stems from a laborer, and member of the Laborers Local 791, being dismissed from his job. The worker then contacted the union who then in turn compiled information on RB&G, casting them in an unfavorable light.

The group also distributed fliers around Ilwaco Monday questioning the quality of work by the contractor. One such flier reads, "Trouble follows RB&G Construction wherever the company goes. The company and its principal officers, Gregory and Lyle Rexford, have had: trouble staying out of court, trouble finishing contracts on budget and without change orders, trouble paying taxes on time.

"RB&G's troubles have frequently had an impact on its public works clients - dragging them into court, or raising their costs."

And ended with: "public agencies from California to Oregon are choosing to stay away from RB&G's trouble. Should your school district make the same choice?"

With RB&G now at least three-quarters of the way done on a two-plus year project, the union's timing is off.

Superintendent Houser questioned the two about their motives, to which they replied that they were only trying to bring information to the district and the public. When asked "Are things going well?" in regards to the job being done by RB&G, Houser replied that some things were good, others not so, but did not want to get into specifics with the two.

Facilities updateWith construction manager Russ McElroy not in attendance Monday, Houser gave an update on progress in the various district facilities, starting with Hilltop.

Houser said that if things continue on the track they are at this minute, the classroom portion of the school will be completed by mid-August and the district can get a temporary occupancy certificate - passing all inspections, including fire/life/safety. This would allow the sixth grade students to start the school year there.

However, the commons building, which will house the kitchen and lunchroom, is still behind schedule and will not be complete by that time. This means the seventh and eighth grade students will begin the year at the high school, as in years past, then moving in once the work is completed. This also means that the sixth-graders will be eating lunches, shipped up from the high school, in a vacant classroom at Hilltop until completion occurs. Houser said this is all contingent on "everything staying on target. There are still lots of things that could go awry."

He noted the interior of the classrooms are progressing nicely, and exterior cosmetics will begin shortly. For the most part, the cracks in the exterior surface have been filled and once the outside is pressure washed, and painting can take place.

Meanwhile, Long Beach School is essentially ready to be deemed complete. Ocean Park School (OPS), however, is another story.

The biggest remaining issue at OPS was the replacement of flooring, especially in the upstairs halls and classrooms. The district gave a due date of Aug. 1 for completion and the subcontractor removed the faulty surface, but then said they would not be able to work on the project again until July 27, giving them only three work days to complete.

Houser also said that the transfer of the Chinook School property to the Port of Chinook should be back on track after agreeing to have the underground heating fuel tank drained and removed - with some volunteer assistance - and should be ready to be finalized by the August meeting.

He also added that the future of the Ilwaco High School stadium at Pederson Field would be coming back to the forefront soon, as its much needed renovations will be examined closely.

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