Oregon Stimulus Funds at Work: School Dist:........... Fossil 21J
Project Type: ......... Lighting Retrofit
Stimulus Funds: ... $74,088
Savings/yr: ............ $2,952
New school lighting has small Oregon town talking
“It’s the talk of the town,” Fossil School Dis- The Wheeler High School gym lights were
trict 21J Superintendent Brad Sperry said of the paid for with stimulus funds in the first round of
new lights in the town’s elementary and high awards announced by the Oregon Department of
school. “Before, kids could hide in the hallways Energy in the fall of 2009. The project consisted
because it was so dark that you literally couldn’t of replacing 32 400-Watt metal halide lamps with
see them. It was really a safety issue.” six-lamp T-8 high efficiency fixtures. The
Because the high $15,710 project was paid for with $15,360 in
school gym serves as stimulus funds and $350 from Columbia Basin
an unofficial Cooperative electric utility.
“community center” for The classroom and other lights at Wheeler
sport events, art festi- High and all the elementary lights were replaced
vals and recitals, the with new energy efficient lights in another round
new gym lights re- of lighting awards made in March 2010. This pro-
ceived the most atten- ject came in approximately $2,600 under budget
tion. at $58,728 with all costs paid for with stimulus
“We got comments funds.
like ‘I need sunglasses!’ Contractors installed the Wheeler High gym
and ‘I don’t need a flash anymore lights in December and the class-
for my camera,’” said Sperry. “It room lights in May. The work was
created quite a buzz.” done with little disruption. Contrac-
And it should. Fossil, located in “This job had a tors arranged to work during
a peaceful valley in North Central
Oregon, is 72 miles from the near-
definite impact on school hours in vacated class-
rooms when possible or after
est urban area. The town of 450 is our business,” regular school hours.
a picture of the Old West. Cattle - Dan McHale The Wheeler High gym lights
President Hire Electric
drives go right down the middle of are expected to reduce lighting
Highway 19. No one blinks an eye electrical use by 50 percent saving
at horseback riders on Main Street. Visitors can approximately $1,398 per year. The classroom
actually dig for their very own fossil in the middle lighting project is expected to save 61 percent of
of town. So, when the elementary and high lighting electrical use or $1,554 per year.
school get new energy efficient lights to replace “We are pleased to make this award to the
lights (many that were original fixtures), it is in- Fossil School District,” said Shell’ Honeywell,
deed, big news for the tiny town. manager of the Oregon Department of Energy
Wheeler High School, built in 1949, sits on a grants team. “Not only will
hillside above Fossil Elementary and Main students and staff enjoy a
Street. It serves 48 students in grades 7-12. Fos- learning environment with
sil Elementary, built in 1925, serves 43 students. better lighting, but the funds
The lighting projects were paid for primarily with will put local contractors to
American Recovery and Reinvestment (stimulus) work.”
funds awarded by the Oregon Department of
Energy through its State Energy Plan.
The “local” contractor for the Fossil lighting
projects was Hire Electric with headquarters in
“This job had a definite impact on our busi-
ness,” said Dan McHale, president of the 22-
employee family-owned business which has
been in The Dalles since 1935. “Things have
been really slow. Some of my electricians aren’t
working full 40-hour weeks and some are on un-
employment. But I was able to keep two electri-
cians busy for two weeks on the Fossil job.”
In addition, McHale said the Fossil job had a
“trickle-down effect.” “It kept our material handler
and supplier busy. All the way around, it helped,” Fossil School District Superintendent Brad Sperry (left), and
McHale said. Deputy Clerk Cistie Shaffer confer with Paul Egbert, Oregon
Department of Energy Project Manager, concerning some of
The two electricians stayed in Fossil for the
the documentation required.
job and ate at local restaurants which also
helped the Fossil economy.
“It’s gratifying to see energy projects have ting federal funds. Recipient funds must ensure
such an impact on these rural schools and busi- that all federal regulations are followed. These
nesses,” said Paul Egbert, Lead SEP Project include paying Davis-Bacon wages, getting ap-
Manager. “They are very appreciative of the proval from the State Historical Preservation Of-
funds and the positive impact it fice, ensuring that all equipment is in compliance
has had for the kids.” with the Buy American Act, interviewing all work-
Cistie Shaffer, deputy clerk ers on the job, ensuring all official notices identi-
with the Fossil School District fying the federally funded project are visible, and
for 25 years and a Wheeler making sure that all reporting is done in a timely
High School graduate, is well and accurate manner.
aware of the difference. “The “Cistie did a wonderful job,” said Egbert.
old lights gave out a yellow light. “She had to keep on top of a lot of details, in ad-
Now they’re white,” she said. dition to her regular work. I was impressed how a
“Best of all, the annoying hum- small school district with limited resources ac-
ming sound of the old lights is gone. Sometimes complished what it did.”
we wouldn’t even turn on the old lights because Now that the lighting project is complete, Su-
the noise was so distracting.” perintendent Sperry is considering his next pro-
Even the cafeteria cook commented that she ject—painting the inside of Wheeler High this
can read her recipe from her prep area. She summer.
doesn’t have to walk to an area beneath a light “It’s also a no-cost project,” said Sperry.
to read it. “Donated paint and labor.”
Although the lighting projects were paid for, Just like the towns of the Old West, Fossil
there is considerable work that comes with get- residents pull together and show pride in their
The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) awarded this energy project with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) funds through the State
Energy Program. These funds are designated for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The U.S. Department of Energy administers the funds,
approves the projects and reviews the state’s progress. The Oregon Department of Energy received $42.1 million in SEP funding. All projects must be
completed by February 15, 2012.
This material is based upon work supported by the Department of Energy under Award Number #DE-FOA-0000052. This report was prepared as an ac-
count of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their
employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any
information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific
commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement,
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sarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.