hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

School News

February 13, 2014

12 years old, but just like new

Nettle's secret: Jumping on repairs quickly


“If something is of an urgent nature that impacts the operation of the school, we have a 24-hour-a-day answering service,” Geary said. “Say there’s an electrical problem. The custodian would call the answering service and they would dispatch an electrician immediately.”

He said the city has licensed trades people on staff. They are electrician and maintenance coordinator Bill Evans, plumber Steve Gigliotti, HVAC specialist Joe Gauron, and general carpenter Mike Hoffman. They are on call at all times, he said.

“This allows us to quickly respond to any repairs that are necessary, as opposed to contracting out the majority of repairs,” Geary said.

Regular maintenance includes cleaning and lubricating HVAC systems and replacing air filters twice a year.

Geary said a custodian at Nettle was recently inspecting the building’s boiler system when he noticed that a hot water circulating pump was leaking. Geary said the maintenance department was notified and the pump was quickly replaced by Gauron and Gigliotti.

“If it wasn’t addressed immediately, we would not have been able to heat the building,” Geary said.

When an air circulation unit in Nettle’s gymnasium began making noise, the daytime custodian called it in. Geary said Gauron and Evans replaced the unit’s fan belts and lubricated bearings and other moving parts.

“If these systems aren’t regularly lubricated and serviced, it can turn into a more expensive problem if we have to replace these units,” Geary said.

Keeping buildings clean and uncluttered also helps, Geary said.

“If areas are clean, you can more easily spot problems and address them,” he said.

The School Department also has an on-call private roofing contractor who can respond to problems such as a leaky roof within 48 hours of it being reported.

“We recently had to call them for the Consentino School, which had various roof leaks,” Geary said.

The Nettle renovation project began in 1998 to make it computer friendly and handicapped-accessible, with double the number of classrooms as the original building. Students entered the rebuilt school in January 2001, after spending two years at St. James School on Primrose Street while the Nettle work was done.

The Nettle’s condition is in stark contrast to that of Hunking School, which is so badly deteriorated that it must be replaced, school officials said.

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