School board members and Hildale city officials tour new facilities at Water Canyon High School

ST. GEORGE — Before their monthly board meeting on Tuesday, members of the Washington County School District Board of Education paid a visit to the city of Hildale, meeting with city council members and the mayor.

Visitors to the construction site pose for a group photo at the back of the building, Hildale, Utah, June 8, 2021 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

The trip culminated in a tour of the construction underway at Water Canyon High School, where a new vocational education building and athletic complex are nearing completion.

Bryan Dyer, facilities director for Washington County schools, oversees construction projects around the district. He said he looks forward to the school taking over the finished building once it’s completed in August.

“I think this vocational building is going to serve the community very well,” Dyer said. “These kids are more inclined to these types of vocational trades. They’ll have that opportunity like other students district-wide to utilize these vocational spaces, and I think these sports fields are going to be an awesome addition to the community.”

Dyer led a group of board members, city officials and interested community residents through the unfinished building. With the ambient sounds of drills, scissor lifts and sanding as a backdrop, Dyer explained the purposes of individual rooms and pointed out key details to the entourage.

A greenhouse sits just outside the future agricultural science classroom in the new vocational education building, Hildale, Utah, June 8, 2021 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

Once completed, the vocational building will house classrooms and shop space for computer science, graphic design, cabinetry, welding, ceramics and agricultural science courses. A greenhouse and garden for the agricultural science students are situated just outside the building in addition to a kiln for ceramics students.

The construction site is located down the street from Water Canyon High School, on the northeast corner of Utah Avenue and Calling Street.

Just south of the vocational building sits the new football stadium and track, with baseball and softball diamonds to the southwest. The new classrooms and sports fields will be available for use by all the 300-plus students enrolled at Water Canyon High School.

The projected cost for the new building and sports fields is $10 million, according to the school district. The district contracted with Watts Construction for the project, and construction has been overseen by General Superintendent Juan Lopez, a Cedar City resident of 15 years. 

“We try to hire local contractors to build within their city or town,” Lopez said. “We do have to outsource due to sometimes not having certain trades in that city. We average around 35 people working at a time, but we’ve had as many as 45 people at one time.”

Lopez said the project has continued on pace, but challenges have popped up as construction progressed.

“The weather out here is relentless,” Lopez said. “Whether it’s snow or rain or wind on a daily basis, we’ve tried to keep on pace. We’ve just endured and worked our way through it.”

The project’s timetable has been shaky at times due to material and labor shortages that have plagued construction throughout Southern Utah.

Despite setbacks and shortages, Watts Construction still plans to turn over the finished building to the district on August 12, Lopez said.

Lopez said the crews were waiting for power to be installed so they can start on the flooring on the east side, and waiting for roll-up doors while painting on the west side.

Watts Construction workers pilot complete interior work within the new vocational building, Hildale, Utah, June 8, 2021 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

Structural work on the sports fields and stands is complete, with sand and sod scheduled to arrive in the next few weeks. 

Hildale Mayor Donia Jessop said she was thrilled to see the progress of the new facilities, and she thanked the Washington County School District for their willingness to invest in her community.

“Isn’t this incredible?” she said. “Having the county reach out to the extent that they have, and creating the kind of community that we want to live in and grow and raise our families in – I just love it.”

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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