Crews working on the new Erik Ramstad Middle School under construction in northwest Minot were given a bit of a shock and a little extra work to do Thursday after a security guard found that graffiti and general vandalism had been done to what will be the music room for the school when he reported for work at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
Someone had taken buckets of paint and written vulgar things on the walls and dumped red and gray paint all over the floors. Of deeper concern for those crew members tasked with cleaning up the mess, though, is several cans of epoxy floor sealant that had been cut into and allowed to leak onto the floor and stick building materials to the ground.
One painter who was ready to begin cleaning the scene after photos had been taken also reported that one of his masks had been stolen and that several paintbrushes and rollers, as well as a few other building materials, had either been damaged or stolen.
Red and gray paint were used to write obscene language and draw vulgar images on a wall of this future music room in the new Erik Ramstad Middle School in northwest Minot, as seen in this photo digitally altered to remove offensive material.
The school, which has been under construction for a year and is set to open to students in November, has not yet been enclosed at the work site, with no permanent road but only muddy work trails leading up to it. Despite the open nature of the project, though, this is the first act of vandalism encountered at the site.
"The openings will be sealed," said Kerry Kern, a Kraus-Anderson Construction Co. employee who serves as the general foreman for the project.
"We're very close to adding the full glass doors and metal doors and everything else in," said Mark Vollmer, superintendent of Minot Public Schools. "We're very, very close now, as a matter of fact. So it's kind of odd that this happens now.
"Hopefully we will find out who did this and we will work with the Ward County state's attorney in prosecution and restitution," Vollmer added.
In the meantime, the project will see an increase in security.
Extra security will be put in from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day at least until all the doors are installed.
"During the day we have workers here. And, actually, there are crews working here in the weekends, too," Vollmer said of not needing around-the-clock security guards.
Kern gave a full tour of the bottom floor of the building to show how the project is coming along. From the kitchen to the cafeteria and from the special education department to the home economics and woodworking classrooms, the site was like a miniature city bustling with electricians, painters, plumbers and other contract workers who Kraus-Anderson oversees as the contracting management company.
"It's an attractive thing in the community," Vollmer said of the project. "People are watching the construction and they are following it. We understand that. But, again, a reminder for the public, this is a construction area here. We're at the stage right now where people just need to respect the workers and for the safety of everybody they need to respect the area until it's ready to be occupied in November."