Great Falls architect picked for Somers school upgrade

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L’Heureux Page Werner will serve as the architect for the Somers Middle School’s $15.8 million renovation and expansion project.

At a Nov. 20 meeting, the Somers-Lakeside School District board of trustees decided to continue using the Great Falls-based architectural firm, which had provided planning services for the middle-school project. Morrison-Maierle and DCI+BCE Engineers will provide engineering services. Morrison-Maierle and DCI+BCE Engineers are based in Helena and Missoula, respectively, with offices in Kalispell and around the state. The firms will be paid approximately $1.1 million.

L’Heureux Page Werner and Morrison-Maierle are also in the midst of providing architectural and engineering services for Kalispell School District’s new Rankin Elementary and the renovation and expansion of Flathead High School and the H.E. Robinson Vocational Agricultural Center.

L’Heureux Page Werner began working for Somers-Lakeside School District in January 2017 when the firm was selected from a pool of four firms that responded to the district’s request for qualifications regarding planning services. Within its submission, L’Heureux Page Werner outlined what services it could provide through the design development phase.

A community member attending the school board meeting was concerned the district did not repeat the request for qualifications process and give other architects the opportunity to respond while ensuring it selected the most qualified candidate.

“LPW has done a very fine job for us,” said Somers-Lakeside School Board Chairman John Hollensteiner, who later added, “I think we did our due diligence when we did the [initial] RFQ.”

Hollensteiner said the primary reason for not going out for another round of requests for qualifications was because it would delay construction.

Trustee Meredith Coopman said she saw both perspectives of not wanting to delay construction, but also seeing what else is out there.

“It seems a pretty big deal not to get as much information as you can, even if it did push it back a little while,” Coopman said.

Trustee Courtney Shaeffer said another reason for moving forward was the working relationship the district has established with L’Heureux Page Werner.

“They’ve worked through the whole [planning] process with us. We have a comfortable relationship,” Shaeffer said. “I feel like we did that step, and if we do it again we’re just repeating the step yet again and putting time in when it’s already done.”

After more discussion, the board unanimously voted to continue employing L’Heureux Page Werner.

The next step is to get a committee together as the schematic design phase begins, according to Steve L’Heureux, principal architect with L’Heureux Page Werner.

“We’ll drill down into more detail in the design,” he said.

The bond issue will fund construction of a new addition while remodeling a wing of the school built in the 1990s. Two older wings of the building will be demolished. Construction will include a new gymnasium, fitness area, science lab, shop, art room, music room, band room, kitchen, commons area, classrooms and the flexible, multipurpose spaces.

The goal is to break ground before the end of the school year, according to Somers-Lakeside Superintendent Joe Price. Price said the project is anticipated to be completed by 2020.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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