The Humble City Council met Tuesday, June 3, to approve a $4,438,557 renovation contract that will go far in converting the historic 1929 Bender High School into a community performing arts center. The contract was awarded to Sterling Structures Inc. following months of planning, competitive bids and negotiations. It marks the beginning of the major construction phase of an overall renovation project that has been in the planning stages since 2011 when the city acquired the closed school from the Humble Independent School District. It will accomplish the city's long-desired goal to keep and maintain the original building in a way that benefits the community while preserving its historic stature and importance. Since the city acquired the building, the old gym has been torn down due to asbestos concerns. Damaged windows have been repaired in the main building, and some landscaping has been accomplished while the overall plan was developed and put out for bid. The major work authorized in this contract will renovate the building into a beautiful and functional performing arts facility. Mike Gordy, president of Sterling Structures, described the work to be done. "We're going to do the first floor and enhance the front with paving and paver blocks in the entry area, and bring the building up to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards which means ramps and a seating area in the back of the auditorium. There will be a lot of upgrading and a lot of wood trim that it did not have before and there will be nice columns around the stage area. We will also bring the building up to MEP standards (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) and we will properly insulate the building. It is really going to be neat for the city," said Gordy. When asked when the work will begin Gordy said, "I've got somebody showing up in the morning." He explained that the work is expected to be completed in late October or early November of this year. In other business, the council approved updates to the city's prevailing wage rate schedule for construction trades work performed on municipally owned facilities. It also approved the permanent appointment of James Nykaza as the Humble Fire Marshall, a position he has been filling since it was vacated earlier in the year. Cutline: Bender High School renovation will begin soon. Photos by Bruce Olson

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