LaGRANGE, Mo. -- Plans remain on track to hire a contractor to remove all materials containing asbestos from the old LaGrange Elementary School.
Once the asbestos is gone, the building will be demolished and hauled away, creating a vacant city-owned site for potential economic development.
Kim Schneider, LaGrange's city clerk/finance officer, said the effort to hire a licensed asbestos-removal contractor is being coordinated by the Environmental Improvement and Energy Resources Authority (EIERA), a quasi-governmental agency with administrative ties to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
EIERA last year awarded LaGrange a $200,000 grant to help finance the environmental cleanup -- a necessary step before the dilapidated building can be taken down.
Schneider said the city is working with EIERA to hire a contractor.
"It just takes time," she said. "We have submitted all the paperwork, so the next step is they will put together a bid package for the asbestos remediation. But they have to have everything approved before that. So the EIERA is in the process, and we're just kind of waiting to hear back."
A report released by EIERA last fall recommended all materials containing asbestos be removed by a licensed contractor and hauled to a special landfill at an estimated cost of $196,250.
In addition, the report said the building contains quite a bit of lead-based paint, which is also a potential environmental hazard. However, the report said all of the lead-based paint can be disposed of in a standard landfill as part of the demolition waste if the entire building is torn down and hauled away -- and as long as the demolition doesn't chip, shred, mulch or mill the paint into tiny airborne particles.
Schneider said she's not sure when the asbestos removal work will be carried out. But once that phase is done, LaGrange officials will lead the effort to hire a contractor to demolish the building and remove its remains.
"It will get done eventually," she said.
LaGrange Elementary School was closed at the end of the 1996-97 academic year as part of a cost-saving plan by the Lewis County C-1 School District.
The school sat idle for a couple of years until it was sold for $72,000 in February 1999 to Rich Demien, owner of Bayview Building Supply in Quincy, Ill., who used it for storage.
The city last year bought the building from Demien for $70,000. By taking ownership, the city qualified to receive the EIERA cleanup grant, which can only be issued to a political subdivision or not-for-profit agency.
EIERA gets its grant funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and from the sale of bonds for various environmental cleanup projects across the state.