Crews from Mount Vernon-based Phoenix Modular Elevator and Marion-based Oxford Crane lower a modular elevator into place at the Murphysboro Middle School on Friday morning in Murphysboro. The new elevator replaces the previous elevator, which was unreliable and for which replacement parts were no longer available. 

MURPHYSBORO — Ruth Attig, a special education classroom aide at Murphysboro Middle School, went to the school early on Friday to watch employees of Phoenix Modular Elevator and Fager-McGee Commercial Construction install a new elevator in the school.

“I just wanted to watch them do it in case I have to use the elevators this year,” Attig said.

Attig, who has worked in the district for 31 years and been at the middle school since 1993, had been stuck in the old elevator with a student several times.

Allison Allgaier, president of Phoenix Modular Elevator, said the elevator was constructed in Mount Vernon. The shaft and elevator parts are prefabricated.

“We make them there and ship them all over the country and Canada. This one is in our backyard,” Allgaier said.

Often, elevators made by Phoenix Modular are installed on the outside of buildings. The elevator at the school is entirely inside the building.

Lynndi Kesler, sales manager at Phoenix Modular Elevator, said the elevator was constructed of tube steel and standard drywall. It weighs about 25,000 pounds.

“It’s built no different than a stick-built elevator,” said John Holmes, quality control manager.

The shaft and elevator assembly was loaded onto a flatbed truck and brought to Murphysboro Friday morning.

Since rain storms were expected Thursday evening, workers from Fager-McGee cut the hole in the school ceiling Friday morning, according to Yeyo Granados, vice president of construction for Fager-McGee. They sent a representative to Phoenix Modular Elevator earlier in the week to take measurements of the elevator. (The rest of the openings for the shaft were cut previously.)

After the truck with the elevator arrived, two cranes picked up the assembly, turned it upright and sat it down on the ground while straps from the smaller crane were removed. The larger crane picked up the elevator and slowly lowered it through three floors. It will be bolted and welded into place.

The hydraulics and electrical wiring will be installed, then the elevator will be tested and inspected.

“We are just glad the rain stopped,” Allgaier said.

Chris Grode, superintendent of Murphysboro Community Unit School District 186, said working with Phoenix Modular Elevator saved the district considerably more than having the elevator constructed on-site. The original estimate for replacing the old elevator was $500,000. Total cost for the elevator that is being installed is just more than $300,000.

“This is a high-level project for this area,” Granados said.

The project was funded with the county facilities sales tax, a county ballot initiative that passed in November 2016.

“The wonderful thing about this is the sales tax goes to local businesses,” Grode said.

Along with Mount Vernon-based Phoenix Modular Elevator, Fager-McGee is based in Murphysboro.

The elevator also meets requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Grode said the school office also is being moved during summer renovations. The new elevator and the front door will both open directly into the office, improving security at the school.

What will happen to the old elevator? Grode said it will be welded shut after the new elevator is operational.

Murphysboro Middle School is located at 2125 Spruce St.

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Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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