Fruitport breaks ground on $48M project

Krystle Wagner • May 22, 2018 at 12:00 PM

FRUITPORT — With construction going on in the background, students, administrators, residents and local government officials celebrated the official groundbreaking for the $48 million refurbishing at Fruitport High School on Monday night.

Although the construction is already underway, Fruitport Community Schools Superintendent Bob Szymoniak said they wanted to hold Monday’s ceremony as a way to celebrate with the community.

“It’s an important opportunity for the community to celebrate this tremendous milestone,” he said.

While voters in the Fruitport school district have supported and passed bond proposals over the years, Szymoniak said it was the first time in 50 years that they approved what he calls a “significant bond” for new construction. The last one was for the district’s middle school.

Construction started early given the favorable weather in March. Szymoniak said crews have exceeded expectations so far, and the current progress wasn’t expected until the end of June.

Crews are now building four walls for the two-story classrooms structure, and they’re beginning the renovations to the weight room. They’ve also started the addition for a new locker room. The foundation for the new art room and drafting/engineering room have also been started.

“The opportunities the new facility will bring to our community are endless,” said Fruitport High School Principal Lauren Chesney.

In 2016, Fruitport school district voters approved a bond proposal for 3.9 mills to build a two-story structure that would replace the 1950s portion of the existing high school. The bond will generate more than $51 million.

“That vote changed the path of Fruitport Community Schools,” said Betty Kinney, a past president of the district’s Board of Education.

The structure will connect with the 18-year-old additions.

As the phases are completed, the spaces will be occupied. The entire project is expected to be completed in 2021.

State Rep. Holly Hughes, R-Montague; state Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart; and Greg VanWoerkom, the district director for U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, were present at Monday’s ceremony. 

J.B. Meeuwenberg and Shaun Raleigh, co-chairpersons for the Yes! for Fruitport’s Future committee, reflected on the path that led to the approved bond proposal. Meeuwenberg explained that they wanted the campaign’s name to encompass the entire community and its future because the project isn't just about a building.

With construction happening while school is in session, Szymoniak commended the high school’s students and staff. He said it has been a positive experience so far.

Fruitport Middle School students Rhiannon Raleigh, Reese Jacobs and Mallory Smith thanked the community for supporting their future.

“This is really a home-grown project,” Szymoniak noted.

Matt Slagle, a chief architect for TowerPinkster; Gary Peasley, the site supervisor for Owen-Ames Kimball; Fruitport High School Assistant Principal Rob Rogers; the district’s director of operations, John Winskas; and Chesney are all Fruitport graduates.

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