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2 years later, 2 Eagle River schools are still on the mend from 2018 earthquake

Eagle River Elementary and Gruening Middle School aim to have doors open in fall of 2021
Published: Nov. 30, 2020 at 5:26 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On Nov. 20, 2018, at 8:29 a.m. Anchorage and its surrounding area were jolted by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake.

Much like the Anchorage School District schools, the quake affected each person and family differently. In all, over a dozen schools needed major repairs. Two schools in Eagle River, Gruening Middle School and Eagle River Elementary, were knocked offline and deemed unsafe. Two years later, on the anniversary of the earthquake, the two schools remain offline but their path to reopening looks bright.

“Gruening is coming really good,” ASD Project Manager for Gruening Middle School Yuki Janson said. “Lots of cleaning and lots of surprises here and there but we’ve got really good contractors.”

With the help of voters passing a school bond last April, the Anchorage School District quickly got to work this summer with the ambitious goal to have the school renovated and rebuilt by the fall of 2021.

“It’s an 80s building,” Janson said. “So you can’t trust everything you see. You gotta get inside and look.”

Despite a few snags within the old building and a delay in shipping of materials from the Lower 48 due to COVID-19, both schools are on track to open on time.

“We’re pretty much on schedule,” ASD Project Manager for Eagle River Elementary Nick Bell said. “We’ve had delays in materials but the contractor is reworking their schedule in phasing in order to rework those delays and we are moving ahead. Making good progress.”

“I would call it a repair and renovation,” ASD Senior Director of Capital Planning and Construction Tom Fenoseff said. “We’re repairing the structural issues, we’re making them safer and we’re adding some improvements to the schools like secure vestibules and improved security.”

While the schools will still have some of their old features, they will also have the new school feel and look with technology, safety and structure upgrades.

Eagle River Elementary is scheduled for completion in July 2021 and Gruening Middle School in early August 2021, both ready in time for the new school year.

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