EAST HELENA -- Some days Shaun Murgel can't believe more than a year has passed since East Helena broke ground on its new high school. Other days, it seems like just yesterday.
"When we first started walking through it, it’s just concrete, it’s amazing how you progress. Every week we come in here and see more and more," said Murgel, the activities director and vice principal at East Helena High School. "It’s starting to really look like a school, so we’re really impressed with it."
It's easy to see why. As public works construction remained an essential business, not even the coronavirus pandemic could slow crews from working inside and out, as preps continue for the grand opening this fall.
Murgel says the work indoors is progressing nicely, with classrooms "80 percent done." But the East Helena native remains most impressed with the work outdoors, specifically the athletic facilities he will oversee next school year.
"The (football) field, they’ll be starting (in May) with the turf, the track itself this summer, June I believe. It just comes together," he said. "The irrigation is coming along, we’re going to have a practice field set up (to the west of the football stadium) so we’re not always on turf.
"The thing about our softball field, it’s going to be a totally turf field, there’s no grass on it, so it’s going to be a really nice setup. You won’t have to worry about the weather conditions."
The centerpiece of the outdoor facilities is the impressive scoreboard in the north end zone of the stadium, complete with the new Vigilantes logo and massive speaker, complete with cowboy boot and hat, sandwiched between the words East Helena and High School.
"Our scoreboard is up, they put our video board up (Tuesday), they’re working on our softball dugouts ... the field is coming along really nice, and they’re going to start putting in the turf sometime (in May)," Murgel said, smiling as he referenced each element. "On the inside of the buildings, the painting is going really good and our gym is looking really good. They painted the word 'Vigilantes,' the ‘Welcome to our house’ is put in there. Everything is coming along really nice."
Thirteen months have passed since that initial groundbreaking, and around four months remain before students and faculty will look to break in the new facilities. Murgel admits it's hard not to grow anxious as new structures are completed, but he remains patient and impressed as the work continues.
"Every day there’s something that comes up you have to think about that you didn’t realize was an issue, but you work through it as a group and it keeps coming along nicely," he said.