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J. Thomas McNamara

     Principal Sean German said today (Wednesday, Oct. 7) that officials closed Kimler Gym Tuesday, Oct. 6, while they await proposed solutions from the structural engineering company, architects, and construction company.

     German explained, “On Sept. 18, we met with representatives from the structural engineering company and from Christy Foltz Construction. The walls were scanned on Sept. 28 and we received an updated report from the structural engineer based on those scans this morning.
     “The news is not good and not what any of us wanted to hear. The scans confirmed the initial findings that the north and south walls are leaning outward at the top. The scans also revealed that the makeup (size of brick and block) of the walls are not as sturdy as they had hoped and do not include structural reinforcements such as rebar.
     “Additionally, the scans confirmed that the north – south tension bars were never properly anchored into the block or brick and therefore not effective. Kimler Gym was constructed nearly 70 years ago and building codes over the years have changed significantly.
     “The report stated, ‘…we do not feel that it is safe to occupy the gym and recommend that occupancy be restricted until a fix can be constructed.’
     “This past summer we had roof work completed at the middle school and high school. While reviewing the progress of the roof work, we noticed that there was a gap along some of the upper windows on the south side of Kimler Gym where the brick appeared to be separated and bowing outward. As we looked further into the situation, we had concerns with the appearance of the wall on the outside and inside.
     “We contacted a structural engineer to investigate and provide us with a report of their findings. After multiple site visits and analysis, the engineering firm provided their initial report to us on Sept. 10. The report identified concerns that specifically cited north and south walls of Kimler Gym being out of plumb, tension rods connecting the north and south walls not functioning properly, and other minor issues.
     “They also recommended additional steps to further understand the overall impact and extent of their noted concerns. Their recommendations included a 3D scan of the walls to fully understand the composition of the walls and any reinforcements provided during initial construction in 1952,” concluded the statement.
     I’ll have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

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