Honokaa anxiously awaits gym's re-opening -- a year from now

Honokaa anxiously awaits gym's re-opening -- a year from now
Published: Dec. 26, 2016 at 6:39 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 26, 2016 at 6:51 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOKAA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The armory at Honokaa High and Intermediate, where the school's gym is located, has been a gathering place for the community since the 1950s.

But it's been out of commission since July 4, when an old water heater broke and flooded the floor.

The flooding caused the armory's wooden floors to warp and lift. The mess has left the gym virtually unusable, and it could be at least another year before the issues are repaired.

"We can't use it because it's pretty much, pretty much buss," said physical education teacher Keisha Kanekoa.

The lengthy repair is spurring concern and frustration for residents.

"We used to have dances, school dances, assemblies, spirit rallies and now we can't do that this year," said Apreal Ansagay, a senior on the girls basketball team.

Initially, the floor repair project was going to be part of a larger maintenance project. But that plan was shelved by the state Education Department, and now repairs are being done under a separate contract. State lawmakers have also helped to prioritize the project.

"What's important is that they finally got it together and we're super happy about that," said Honokaa High and Intermediate School Principal Rachelle Matsumura.

And it's no small project either. The armory's foundation beneath the floor paneling needed to be assessed and design plans drawn up. Now that that's been completed, the bidding process opened last Friday and runs until February of next year.

Repair estimates have been put at several million dollars

"We're looking forward to one year. We know that's not conducive to everyone, but we want to make sure it's done right." Matsumura said.

In the meantime, students and faculty at the school will have to make do with the situation.

"Physical fitness helps out our regular teacher. When they're active, they're able to focus more in class and were not getting that from them. We're not being able to be active." Kanekoa said.

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