Going up: Union High School elevator now operating

·2 min read

Jun. 1—UNION — Union School District Superintendent Carter Wells is a high-energy, passionate person.

Wells cares deeply about helping young people succeed, and about giving students, staff and community members with mobility issues the opportunity to easily enter and leave the Union School District's buildings.

"We want everyone to be able to move around the school district with dignity," Wells said.

This is why he is elated with Union High School's latest addition — a south-side elevator that stops at each of the school's three floors.

"This is a very exciting time for us," Wells said. "It really almost feels surreal. I'm a little awestruck."

Some staff members feel the same way. Wells noted that one person who has been on the Union School District's staff for 25 years said he never thought he would see the day when Union High School had its own elevator.

Wells had hoped the elevator would be installed and operating by late 2021. Unfortunately, supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in shipping and installation delays.

The elevator is contained in a concrete masonry block with steel supports and has a one-layer brick veneer.

The brick veneer matches the bricks outside Union High School. The intent of this was to help the building, built in 1912, maintain its original appearance. The Wenaha Group, the construction manager for the Union School District's bond projects, did this at the recommendation of Union's history commission.

"The community really respects and cares about the high school building," said Cassie Hibbert, project manager for the Wenaha Group.

Those who have used the elevator over the past month include staff members with mobility issues, a student recovering from an injury and the school district's custodial staff, which is using it to transport supplies from floor to floor. All Union School District staff members have code keys that allow them to use the elevator. Students can also use the elevator if they have a condition that limits their mobility.

The elevator, which has been operating for about a month, was purchased and installed with money from a $4 million bond Union School District voters approved in 2019. The bond, for which the school district received a $4 million matching grant from the state, has paid for many major renovations and additions in the Union School District, including ones making the high school gym handicapped accessible.