News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 5, 2012

Asbestos removal will close South Vigo building over fall break

Auditorium ceiling sound panel to be removed

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Terre Haute South Vigo High School auditorium has been closed for about 1 1⁄2 weeks and will remain closed until after an asbestos-containing acoustical ceiling is removed over fall break, Superintendent Dan Tanoos confirmed Thursday.

Late last month, a small piece of the  acoustical ceiling in the auditorium fell in the seating area and the auditorium was closed off. The piece that fell was sent away for testing and it did contain asbestos.

The school community was notified, and parents were contacted last week by automated telephone message. Also, Principal Chris Mauk notified leaders of booster clubs and parent groups, Tanoos said.

An Indianapolis company, Micro Air Inc., did air quality testing at South, North Vigo and West Vigo high schools; testing showed no asbestos in the air. “At no time has there been any risk with anyone’s health,” Tanoos said.

Over fall break, which is Oct. 12-15, Terre Haute South will be closed and a company will remove the auditorium acoustical ceiling. The company is EMS (Environmental Management Services) located near Fort Wayne.

The South Vigo football game scheduled for Oct. 12, which is senior night, will remain at South, but no one will be allowed inside the high school building, Tanoos said. “I don’t want anyone to feel any possible exposure could take place,” he said.

Because North Vigo was built at the same time and the two high school buildings are similar, the district anticipates removing the acoustical ceiling from that auditorium, as well. That work would likely be done next summer.

Because asbestos is involved, the district must adhere to strict environmental regulations, Tanoos said. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management  Office of Air Quality regulates the removal of asbestos-containing materials from commercial, industrial and institutional structures.

While many older buildings, in general, may have been built with asbestos-containing materials, asbestos “doesn’t become an issue until it is exposed,” Tanoos said.

He estimated the cost to remove the auditorium ceiling at South will run about $80,000, to be funded out of the capital projects budget.

Both Terre Haute South Vigo and North Vigo high schools opened in 1971 and “are  starting to show their age,” Tanoos said. “In  my opinion, there will be a need for a future, significant upgrades to both high schools due to the age of the buildings.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or