Leaky roof causes Reed City officials to make changes

REED CITY — Reed City school officials are keeping a watchful eye on the high school gymnasium roof with plans of being able to continue to host sports events this week.

Problems with leaks last week forced athletic officials to have Friday’s varsity boys and girls basketball games against Chippewa Hills in the middle school gym.

Starting with Tuesday night’s scheduled girls home game with White Cloud, Reed City officials were planning to use the high school facility provided the leaks are under control.

Athletic department officials were hopeful of having a rescheduled doubleheader with Hesperia on Wednesday. The game was postponed last Wednesday because Hesperia canceled school because of weather conditions. At the same time, the RCHS gym roof was leaking.

“That’s the first order of business this week to get that rescheduled,” athletic director Monty Price said. “With it being cold and snowy, I don’t think it will be leaking. Cold weather is good news for us.”

The decision to move last Friday’s basketball doubleheader against Chippewa Hills to the RC Middle School was made on Thursday, Price said, noting that at that time there were still leakage problems.

“It was still leaking into Friday,” Price said.

Superintendent Steven Westhoff said on Monday that the roof is 15 years old.

“It’s still under warranty to the first of June,” he said. “What happens when roofs get this old is you have a problem where the seams start to pull apart. We’ve had our company that installed it patching it repeatedly. Of course another problem that occurs is when you get people on the roof when they’re this old, you start having additional leaks.

“You’re talking about a 10,000 square foot area. Sometimes these leaks are about the size of a pin needle. So locating them sometimes is really, really difficult. So we’re fighting it as much as we can to get the leaks the heck out of the roof so we can avoid that.”

Westhoff said the roof will be replaced starting at the end of the current school year. “We’re in the process of bidding this,” he said. “We know we have to replace it. But we have to go through the process and hopefully get through this unfortunate period of time when we’ve had some issues with all of the snow and ice buildup.”

Westhoff said replacing the gymnasium’s flat roof will cost about $115,000 to $120,000.

“We’re going to try to slant it or put it on an angle a little bit,” he said. “We’ll try to redesign it a little bit so we can move the drainage so we don’t have to worry about this problem in the future.”

As of early this week, school officials anticipated the current gym roof would not be causing problems.

“It’s still usable,” Westhoff said. “We don’t have any leaks at this point in time. But then again, we just got a bunch more snow which means you’ll get more ice that will build up there. The pattern unfortunately in the last month and a half is about every two weeks we get one or two leaks that appear. It’s usable, we use it for classes and are trying to continue to use it. The company we’re dealing with has been good and is up here on a regular basis.

“It’s tough at times. It takes quite awhile to locate these things and once you get into cold weather, if you get water under the membrane, sometimes what happens is you actually repair the leak but you’ve got water that’s been frozen under the membrane and then when you get your gym warmed up, that frozen water still leaks. We wish there was a quicker way to be able to resolve this problem. But unfortunately because you’re in the middle of winter, that’s not the case.”

Meanwhile, Reed City athletes seemed to have made the adjustment to using the middle school gymnasium Friday night. Both RC teams defeated Chippewa Hills.

“We practice there probably every other practice,” said Reed City boys basketball senior forward Josh Justin, who didn’t think the change in location affected his team.

“Our plan is to have games there this week,” Westhoff said of the high school gymnasium. “Again, if we have issues, we’ll make the adjustments we’ll need to make.”

Price said practices were still conducted on the floor last week.

“They were making due and had to accommodate buckets being in the way,” Price said. “The coaches have been good about it and we’re moving forward.”

Under normal circumstances, the middle school gym is frequently used for practices by the varsity team.

“We have to utilize a lot of different space,” Price said. “Our elementary gym even gets utilized by our high school team. We have limited space. A lot goes into the organization of the practice schedule. We make due with what we have. Everything has been fine thus far.”

Reed City girls coach Brian Koopman noted that his team has practiced on the middle school gym floor, but admitted there needs to be adjustments when actual games are played there.

“We’re used to that gym,” Koopman said. “We practice there a lot. Obviously having just two gyms and having all the teams play during the winter, we get quite a few hours of practice in there.”