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Scaffolding fills the pool area

Scaffolding fills the pool area in the Fortin Education Center at Rocky Mountain College Wednesday. The pool is undergoing renovation, which will be completed in June.

What began as a smaller-scale project at Fortin pool on the Rocky Mountain College campus has turned into a full-blown $420,000 makeover that will be completed in June.

“We were making some cosmetic improvements to the pool area when we discovered we had a serious roof problem and that we needed to replace the roof,” Dean of Students Brad Nason said Wednesday.

Upon closer examination, workers discovered the steel deck that supports the pool roof had deteriorated to the point that it, too, had to be replaced, Nason said.

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Rocky Pool

The roof over the pool area in the Fortin Education Center at Rocky Mountain College is in the process of being replaced.

The pool was built in 1968, along with the rest of Fortin Education Center, Nason said. It’s a busy place, used by Rocky students, local high schools and the general public.

The building, which he called a “nexus of the community,” also houses the basketball gym, an auditorium and academic departments. It sees 10,000 unique visitors a year, probably 35 to 40 percent who come to use the pool.

A peek inside the pool area Wednesday morning revealed an empty pool and a hollow shell filled with scaffolding. Weather permitting, the roof will be completed by June 1, he said, with the rest of the work done probably mid- to late-June.

Dick Anderson Construction of Billings is the general contractor for the project. Commercial Roofing Inc. is installing the new roof.

The cost of the project is $130,000 for the roof and $120,000 for the steel deck. The $170,000 for the other improvements is being paid for with a grant from the Fortin Foundation.

Those upgrades include new paint and flooring, a new pool liner, new lifeguard chairs and more lighting. The hot tub will be replaced and a cold tub will be added.

“We’ll have hot and cold tubs for people who are rehabbing from an injury or involved in some therapeutic programs we have,” Nason said.

Keith North, director of campus facilities, said a new computer monitoring system also is being installed. It will keep an eye on, among other things, the room’s humidity and air pressure, and will sound an alarm if equipment stops working.

Problems with the roof developed both because its design was not good for handling humidity and because a motor went out during a power surge last summer. That prevented the air from circulating properly, which accelerated the damage to the roof.

With the monitoring system, North said, “we’ll know if we have a problem a lot sooner than before.”

Work on the project began in earnest on May 8, two days after commencement. The hope is to get the summer swim lesson program up and running as soon as possible after area schools get out June 2.

“For us it’s a very exciting project,” Nason said. “It will feel like a completely new facility.”

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General Assignment and Health Care Reporter

General assignment and healthcare reporter at The Billings Gazette.