Rippey News
March 26, 2014

Demolition of Rippey building proceeding with care
March 26, 2014
~by Mary Weaver, special to GreeneCountyNewsOnline

Rippey school, March 2014
Rippey school, March 2014
Ninety-three years ago in August of 1921, Claude Johnson, school board director of the Rippey Consolidated School, proudly stood at the west entrance of the newly constructed building welcoming 286 students. The students were picked up in six buses that first day.  Seven students graduated that year, with their class motto being “Not Luck, but Pluck”.
Ironically, it was Johnson’s great-grandson Shawn DeMoss, director of transportation and building and grounds for the East Greene Schools, who reported to the East Greene school board last Wednesday evening that 80 percent of the asbestos has been removed from the building, and demolition is expected to occur in the summer of 2014.
Demolition bids will be accepted during the April board meeting, and the building will be taken down by track hoe. According to East Greene board of education president Marc Hoffman, the 1957 gymnasium  will be spared and will be used for middle school, freshman and junior varsity  basketball and volleyball for Greene County School District students.   He further explains the wall between the original structure and the gym will be hand cut with a gas powered concrete saw, leaving the shared existing wall in place.
Additional radiant heating units have been added for heat in the gym, as the boilers originally used for heating will be a part of the demolition. Cost of the heating system was $40,287, with that coming from East Greene’s School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) sales tax funds. Energy efficient entry doors are scheduled to be added during the summer, also paid for with SILO funds.
The stone name plate over the main entrance will be saved for future use in some sort of marker.
The persons living in Washington Township and the City of Rippey have a long history of forward thinking regarding the education of their young people.  Washington Township had 11 country schools and a Township High School, along with the City of Rippey having a high school at the turn of the century.  In November of 1919, a vote was held to merge the country schools and two high schools into a consolidated district with 154 voting for and only 23 against.  The following month a new board was elected, and on January 29, 1920, an election was held to pass a bond issue of $100,000 for purpose of constructing and equipping a new school house.  
Six acres was purchased in February on the west side of Rippey.  On April 8, 1920, the contract was awarded to a Des Moines-based company, Garner-Stiles.  The specs included a 36 x 60 gymnasium that will seat 450 persons on the main floor.  The floors in all the rooms will be hard composition flooring and the corridors and toilets of terrazzo (ground marble embedded in cement). The only wood flooring will be on the stage in the gymnasium. The roof will be cement with asbestos. The building will be heated by two large steam boilers. An additional bond issue for $60,000 was put before the people in June, with the vote carrying by a 4 to 1 ratio.
The school, though, opened for students in August, and was dedicated December 7, 1921. Following the ceremony, in the evening at 8:00 P.M. the boys and girls basketball team met the Grand Junction teams on the new home floor. (Excerpts obtained from the Rippey Booster newspaper).
Tim Bardole, East Greene board member, commented that the building was extremely well built. The framing structure was made of concrete, not wood. “When we brainstormed as a board to identify uses for the building, we knew that to be formed into, for example, apartments, a new septic system would be necessary, an elevator would be needed, and the asbestos would have to be removed. It would have cost in the hundreds of thousands,” Bardole said.
Hoffman agreed. “We just could not identify a ‘sustainable repurpose’ that would be a long term success,” he said.
The budget for the demolition became of part of the overall East Greene remodeling project at the Grand Junction building, according to Hoffman.
DeMoss is overseeing the demolition, and he is doing it respectful of the dreams and memories of Rippey residents.
Environmental Management Services of Iowa had the low bid of $95,600 for asbestos removal. DeMoss explained to the East Greene board that he asked that company to keep dumpsters to the north (back) of the school. “Out of sight, out of mind for everybody,” DeMoss said. The dumpster now in the front of the building was put there recently as a move toward cost effectiveness.
He also explained that continuous air flow through the building is needed during the removal, and that he requested the vents also be on the north. “From the front of the building I wanted to keep it looking like a school as long as possible. The minute a window comes out somebody takes it as a call to break windows or get into it,” he said.
He has mowed and moved snow even after  the school was vacated for the 2012-13 school year. “My philosophy is that as long as the building is there and we’re using part of it, I’m going to treat it like it’s a school and it’s open. It’s not a lot of time and effort to maintain what we have,” DeMoss told the board.
“Over 1,000 persons graduated and attended classes in the building,” DeMoss said later during an interview. “The graduates have become leaders across the community, the state, and internationally in some instances. They have lots of good feelings toward this building.”


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