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Toms Brook school work near complete

By Alex Bridges

TOMS BROOK -- Hurricane Sandy delayed a project to turn the old Toms Brook School into low-income housing but People Inc. expects to see the work completed later this month.

Construction crews made progress ahead of a Jan. 13 open house. Workers on Thursday prepared and installed doors for the 14 apartments under construction. Other workers continued work to renovate the gymnasium of the former school building.

Interest in the apartments continues to grow as People Inc., the organization heading up the effort, receives more applications from people looking to move into the apartment building.

Robert Goldsmith, president and chief executive officer for People Inc., said Thursday that four possible tenants went through the qualification process and entered the "pre-lease" stage. Another four or five people have applied and are hoping to qualify for the housing, Goldsmith said.

"I anticipate it leasing up quickly and my hope is that people will move in and want to stay there," Goldsmith said.

The housing is for households with incomes that are 50-60 percent of the median income for Shenandoah County.

People Inc. representatives had hoped to hold the open house sooner. The delay came as a result of Superstorm Sandy, according to Goldsmith. The company supplying the new interior doors for the apartment building operates in New Jersey, a state hit hard by the storm.

The other problem arose when the construction workers needed the power turned on for the building. Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative could not switch on the electricity as quickly as People Inc. and the crews had hoped because SVEC had sent many of its workers to the Northeast to help restore power to areas struck by Sandy, Goldsmith said Thursday.

Crews preferred to heat areas of the building for a couple of weeks when they installed the flooring, Goldsmith explained.

"Since we didn't have the power on we didn't have heat, so that delayed getting the flooring down in the auditorium area," Goldsmith said. "So we didn't want to have the open house and not have the floor down in the auditorium."

"We still anticipate it being complete by the end of this month," Goldsmith added.

Workers with Anderson Construction LLC, based in Hedgesville, W.Va., recalled the dilapidated state of the building when they first began the project. The partially collapsed roof had allowed rain and other elements into the building and caused much of the wood to rot. The brick parts of the structure remained intact but required cleaning, workers said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com


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