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Out with the old, in with the new at Phoenix school

(Bob McClay/KTAR)

PHOENIX -- Students in North Phoenix are saying goodbye to their old school.

It'll have the same name next year, but the school is going "green" with its new buildings that are being built right next door.

The 1,000 students at Lookout Mountain Elementary School will be in new eco-friendly classrooms next year. It's the largest geothermal project currently going on in Arizona.

"Our two story educational building, plus our gym, is all geothermal," said Lookout Mountain Principal Trish Johnson. "We have heavy insulation in our walls and ceilings and our glasswork is solar band heat reflected insulated glass."

She said there are several other features that will save the district money.

"We've got motion censors on all of our classroom lights, as well as our air conditioning units and other parts of the building," Johnson said. "So when it is unoccupied, they go off automatically."

Johnson said the renovation is being funded by a $15 million bond override that voters in the Washington Elementary School District approved last year. She said the new school will save the district a lot of money.

"There's about a 10-year turnaround on the geothermal, from what I understand," said Johnson. "Ten years is nothing to a school. Once that incures all of that savings, which is about a 40 percent savings, it'll all go back into the kitty."

Lookout Mountain Elementary School first opened in 1974. The school's current buildings will be demolished to make for more playground and parking space. The new buildings are set to open at the start of the next school year.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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