Hawkins BOE votes to repair heat at CHMS

A low voltage air conditioner controls system at Church Hill Middle School was approved to be replaced Thursday night by the Hawkins County Board of Education.

Cost of the replacement controls is $95,435. Payment will be made from the system’s fund balance.

Maintenance Director Shannon Glass explained what happened to bring CHMS to this point.

“On Oct. 1, we were notified of a power outage,” Glass said. “The administration said that after the lights flashed, the building had no heating or air.”

Under normal circumstances, school maintenance personnel can come to the school, reset the controls and the heating and air system would be running again.

“That didn’t happen,” Glass said.

Immediately, Glass tried to contact Carrier, the original vendor who sold the controls to the system, but they would not return calls. Glass then contacted the building automation representative with TRANE for advice. HCS started an energy services contract with TRANE to begin with replacement of fluorescent lighting with new LED bulbs. Bids will be received later this year for heat pump replacement at both Volunteer and Cherokee high schools.

First inspection found that a resister had burned out. When that part was replaced with a part obtained online, that didn’t solve the problem.

Carrier finally sent a technician who went through the entire system, according to Glass.

TRM sent an independent engineer to check out the system. According to Holston Electric Cooperative, there were no power surges in the area on that day.

“Needless to say, our claim got denied,” Glass said. “I’ve been here almost 7 years and in 7 years we had never had a claim that was not approved.”

Carrier was offering to sell control boards for the 13-year-old system and programing at cost.

“Those boards are called ‘POINK’ boards and they are $960 each. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but to have them installed and programmed is $1,480 per board,” said Energy Specialist Seth Rhoton. “That comes to $102,480.”

The heat is working presently, but it is like having a heat pump on the emergency heat setting, according to Rhoton.

After discussion, the board voted 6-0 to approve the purchase.