SMITHVILLE — For more than a year, Warrior Activity Center has been under construction north of Smithville School District’s athletic field off Commercial Avenue. 

JE Dunn Senior Project Manager Brad Hokanson said the project is nearing the finish line. The center is expected to open at the end of the month.

On a recent construction tour, workers were buzzing around, protecting the training floor for the football team on the first floor. The turf-covered space will allow for biometric drills, said Support Services Executive Director Robert Hedgecorth.

“There are five overhead doors that can be opened here onto this practice space to allow for fresh air,” Hedgecorth said. “We also have some sound-proofing in the ceiling between the two floors.”

Painting and plumbing were moving at a feverish pace.

“We had the plumbers’ team out for two weeks due to COVID-19, staffing and other illnesses,” he explained. “There were even some labor shortages, but we have been able to keep on task and on budget.”

The upper level includes wrestling mats that will be used by middle and high school teams. There are also coaches’ offices, restrooms and access to a concession area.

“The upper part of the gym is where the current wrestling area is and it’s not conducive for the team,” Hedgecorth said. “That space though, will find a new use.”

One aspect that has been detrimental in the old gym is the lack of Americans With Disabilities Act accessibility. The new facility however, will have a limited-use elevator for those who need it. Hedgecorth said use will be limited so students who don’t need it don't abuse it.

Unfortunately, the old Warrior Plaza S was unable to be saved, but prior to demolition, the team got measurements using a drone. A new plaza will be part of the building grounds. 

The new building will help make the weight room more accessible since classes draw more than half the high school population. There will also be locker rooms for visiting teams with the new project. Visiting teams currently use a track storage shed.

Hokanson said JE Dunn has worked with the district on other buildings including Eagle Heights and Maple elementary schools as well as the commons area in the high school and takes pride in knowing buildings are designed for “everyday work.”

“We are creating spaces for students and faculty,” he said. “The idea is to see spaces being used with kids being pushed in their respective activities.”

Hokanson said he appreciates the connective nature of the high school and middle school complex.

“The chance to see students move from this space to the field will be impressive,” he explained. “It has been a challenging project as far as location goes, but now it fits here on this campus.”

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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