News Column

Pottsville Area plans planetarium upgrade

July 10, 2014

By Stephen J. Pytak, Republican & Herald, Pottsville, Pa.

July 10--The Pottsville Area school board Wednesday announced its plans to upgrade part of the lighting system that illuminates its planetarium.

"These are the lights which simulate dusk, dawn and night," Kerry Ansbach, director of facilities and transportation, said at the board's July workshop held at the Howard S. Fernsler Academic Center.

"They're located on the perimeter of the planetarium," Superintendent Jeffrey S. Zwiebel said.

"It was a system which used 400-watt bulbs. We can't get the bulbs anymore and 75 percent of them are out. The bulbs are no longer manufactured. The last time we had some that were burned out we actually bought used ones. We bought those on Ebay," Ansbach said.

The board will vote to hire Graybar, Teterboro, New Jersey, to do the lighting upgrade at a cost of $16,678 at its next regular meeting, slated for 7:30 p.m.July 16, according to board member Cindy Petchulis, who chairs the board's buildings, real estate and transportation committee.

"We're going to replace those 400-watt lights with an LED system. That means the controller also has to be replaced," Ansbach said.

This will be the first time that particular lighting system has been replaced since the planetarium -- a dome-shaped classroom in the high school designed for astronomy classes -- was installed, according to Ansbach said.

In November 1965, the "Pottsville Area School System" made a proposal to add a "planetarium observatory" to Pottsville Area High School using "Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act funds," according the archives of The Republican-Herald.

The planetarium is one part of the high school's Motivational Science Center, which includes the observatory, a building atop the high school that includes a telescope. Both were established in 1966, according to the newspaper's archives.

They are accessible on the third floor of the high school building at North 16th Street and Elk Avenue, just through a doorway marked "Room No. 319 Planetarium" and down a hallway.

Next week, the school board will also vote to hire R and P Industrial Chimney Co., Nicholasville, Kentucky, to do exterior repairs and inspect to the 110-foot chimney at Pottsville Area High School at a cost of $35,100.

Ansbach said the chimney was built when the high school was built in 1932. The high school opened Jan. 3, 1933. It's inspected "every five years," Ansbach said.


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Source: Republican & Herald (Pottsville, PA)

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