Dig this — Upgraded Roundhouse on the way

They weren’t ideal weather conditions for a groundbreaking ceremony, but considering how long this has been in the waiting, school officials couldn’t wait one day more to get going.

Marshalltown High School hosted the groundbreaking for the new Roundhouse addition and renovation project that is part of phase one of the work.

Over the next 13 months, $8 million worth of work will be done on the Roundhouse. Rick Simpson, buildings and grounds director with the school district, said this work will provide needed upgrades to a facility which hasn’t gotten much attention since 1965.

“Our project will allow the facility to advance to a modern facility as well as maintain the iconic appearance that’s always been the Roundhouse,” Simpson said.

Dean Snyder Construction of Ankeny is serving as the general contractor for the project. First up will be the demolition of the standalone weight room, which will be the site of the new exterior wings of the Roundhouse.

MHS Principal Aiddy Phomvisay and school district Superintendent Marvin Wade both said this project will not just benefit the school district, but the community as a whole.

Phomvisay said there will be disruption but they will try to work around it over the course of the next 13 months. They expect to do some creative scheduling, not only for athletic programs, but also for physical education at the school.

“The temporary inconvenience is going to be well worth the time spent for our community,” Phomvisay said.

Phase one is expected to be completed by Dec. 1, 2014. Phomvisay can’t wait for its completion and to welcome back alumni for a ribbon cutting event.

“That will be a joyous and celebratory occasion,” Phomvisay said. “It will be a huge event.”

Approximately 25 people from the school district, business community and other well-wishers attended the groundbreaking ceremony in the wintry conditions.

“It’s been a long time in the making,” said Sherm Welker, Marshalltown School Board president.

Phase two of the project is a $3.85 million addition that includes a new gym and wrestling room. Fundraising for the second phase is ongoing.