Expo Center work underway; air conditioning delayed

Erin Browne

Apr. 5—Work is moving forward on the roof of the Southeast Expo Center — but there’s been a delay on installing enough air conditioning to cover the entire building.

Pittsburg County commissioners have received a progress report on the extensive roof work that’s underway, which is targeting the source of leaks at the Expo Center.

“The skylights have been taken out and replaced,” said Commission Chairman / District 2 Commissioner Kevin Smith.

County commissioners pursued the roof repairs after they observed several leaks. Some were attributed to water entering the Expo Center around the skylights and where seams connected roofing material. Roofers are working to resolve those problems.

“They’re working on seams where the metal fastens together,” Smith said.

Smith previously said the skylights proved troublesome holding up under weather conditions such as hail storms. Even if there wasn’t a hole directly through a skylight, water would run under the roof and insulation and leak somewhere else, he said.

Plans call for all screws and seams, as well as other parts of the roof, to be covered by a thick membrane coating, similar to epoxy, a group of chemical compounds used for coatings and adhesives in construction projects.

Workers have also removed a couple of exhaust fans, Smith said.

How is progress going on getting the entire Expo Center air conditioned? While much of the east part of the building has air conditioning, the large space on the west side used for everything from rodeos to concerts has none.

Smith said the commissioners may seek some additional quotes for the project.

“We have a couple of quotes,” Smith said, but they came in higher than expected. Smith said commissioners are in the process of reworking the project.

Commissioners originally sought to have one huge project cover both the Expo Center and the Pittsburg County Courthouse, which was to include engineering reports as well as the ordering and installation of any new equipment required. While the entire courthouse currently has HVAC, Smith said some courthouse offices can be extremely warm while others are cold.

Commissioners sought an engineering report topinpoint the reason for temperature differentials on the courthouse. The plan is for an engineering report to resolve the problem before the purchase and installation of any needed new HVAC units or other equipment.

Smith said commissioners may have to break the engineering report and the HVAC projects at the Expo Center and the courthouse into separate phases.

Does that mean full air conditioning units will not be installed in time for the upcoming McAlester Italian Festival? The Italian Festival is set for its 50th anniversary celebration at the Expo Center and Pittsburg County Fairgrounds on May 13-14, following the event’s cancellation in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns.

Smith said there’s no way the full air conditioning will be in place at the Expo Center in time for this year’s festival.

He said even if bids were open and accepted “right now,” it would probably be around the end of the year before any new HVAC system could be received and installed.

“That’s because of the availability of units,” Smith said, referring to HVAC units needed for a building the size of the Expo Center. Smith attributed delays in the delivery of large HVAC units to the supply side shortages for some materials that have been felt nationwide.

Commissioners had acted in November 2021 to accept a $740,000 bid from Martin Roofing and to award the company the roofing project, designated as the first major project at the Expo Center using American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Smith said the roof needs to be repaired ahead of other Expo Center projects, because water from a leaky roof could ruin other things inside the facility.

Commissioners passed a resolution in August 2021 to include repairs and upgrades to the air conditioning and heating system at the Expo Center to be paid for with American Rescue Plans Act money issued by the federal government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pittsburg County was to receive $8,429,278 in American Rescue Plan funds.

County commissioners said at the time they reviewed the requirements on how the money can be spent and they determined the Expo Center qualifies. It’s been used as a staging area for a number of COVID-19 outreach vaccination clinics It’s also designated as a COVID-19 testing facility and can be used as a field hospital, if needed. It’s also included in the county’s emergency management plans.

Contact James Beaty at [email protected]


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