Newton meets with design-build firms

By Cody Willoughby -

PLEASANT HILL — The Newton Local School board of education met in special session on Wednesday to discuss qualifications of construction firms interested in taking on the district’s new multi-purpose athletic/community center project.

The board met separately in one-hour sessions with Mike Twiss and Matt Grey, of MT Studios and Level MB in Troy, and Brian Ault, Jeff Baker, and Bill Kenney, of Bruns General Contractors in St. Henry and Tipp City.

The 12,000-square-foot standalone facility will tentatively be located in the rear (north) of the district’s main campus, and will consist of a full gymnasium with an all-purpose floor and walk-around track, a batting cage and pitching area, a fully equipped fitness center, and boys’ and girls’ locker rooms accessible from both indoors and outdoors. The building will also include a conference room, a large gathering room, and a kitchen.

The budget for the project is $1.5-1.8 million, with a down payment of $200,000-300,000. No additional tax revenue will be requested from the public to fund the project.

Acting as criteria engineer on the project is Fanning Howey, of Celina, who has provided a preliminary architectural floor plan that would meet the needs of the district.

Throughout the sessions, members of the board noted characteristics that would be essential to the district’s needs, including community access to portions of the center during daytime hours and weekends.

Regarding building design, board members cited the need for the facility’s boys and girls’ locker rooms to have outdoor access easily reachable from the baseball/softball fields to the east, high ceilings in the fitness room for extensive training, internal bay windows in the gathering room to allow visibility of the gymnasium, and allowance for enough storage space to house portable bleachers, tables and chairs, and other equipment.

“Something that would be really open-ended is the soft cost,” said Superintendent Pat McBride, stating that the district’s initial priority is a quality building with ample space, rather than having complete equipment and furnishings ready to go immediately. “We want to get as much building as we can for the budget that we have, and the equipment that we put inside can be spread out over several years.”

McBride cited the school’s soccer field as a successful example of the “pay-as-you-go” method, saying, “When visitors come in, they say, ‘This is the best soccer field with a natural turf we’ve ever seen.’ Part of the reason is because we added things later. We didn’t start with a fence around it; we added that later. We added the press box later. We added the bleacher section later. It’s all really tied in very nicely, and that’s how we want to progress here.”

The district hopes to negotiate contracts in time to break ground in early spring. The project would take approximately 12-18 months to complete.

Representatives from both firms will be present again at the board’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Copies of the complete Requests for Qualifications maybe viewed at

By Cody Willoughby