Two Hermiston elementary schools will start the school year with some new security features, and work has begun to expand the parking lot at the high school.

West Park and Sunset elementary schools, the district’s two newest buildings, are under minor construction to get some safety upgrades that will limit outside access to the building.

The identical buildings will now have a window from the entrance area into the main office and a second set of entry doors that will be locked to avoid unauthorized entry.

“We’re installing a window in the vestibule area, so secretaries from the office can do any business prior to people entering,” said Brad Wayland, Hermiston School District facilities director. “The interior doors will have a buzzer. The secretaries can have visibility, and talk to people to see what they want.”

Wayland said if people just need to do quick business, there is an opening that they can pass papers through. If someone needs to come into the building, secretaries will let them in.

Two new doors will be installed in one of the interior hallways of each building, which will provide extra security. Those double doors are typically open, but a second set will be added. If an alarm goes off, those doors can be automatically shut.

“It helps to partition off the facility for a fire or a lockdown,” Wayland said.

Wayland said the total cost of the upgrades would be less than $10,000 for both facilities, and that work would be complete before school begins. Work is being done by Knerr Construction.

The district is also in the process of demolishing the old Umatilla County Fairgrounds. Work on that property, at 515 West Orchard Avenue, will include removing the fairgrounds and rodeo structures, and eventually creating a new parking lot behind Hermiston High School. Two structures will be left at the grounds: Thompson and Hoeft halls.

Completion of the parking lot is scheduled for Dec. 1. The entire project should be complete by April 2018.

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