Cool at the controls, Eli Shivhon raised a 550-pound steel beam to the top of the two-story skeleton and deftly lowered the 20-foot piece into place.
“Only a professional crane operator can do that,” Shivhon said a little after noon Tuesday. “Right on the money. That’s what I’ve been doing for 30 years.”
So went a 20-minute topping out ceremony at Grossmont High School for the $16.7 million humanities classroom building.
Ken Riha, president of Riha Construction and general contractor of the project, called Shivhon “an artist behind the controls” as the 1985 Israeli immigrant put the wide-flange beam with an attached American flag into just the right spot for bolting.
Riha was one of 60 school, district and city officials braving the noontime sun—but only in the high 80s after more than a week of temps in the 90s.
Earlier, they signed the beam with big pens and heard schools Superintendent Ralf Swenson again praise and thank East County voters for approving Proposition U funds that paying for the work, which includes new tennis courts.
Riha said the project is on schedule for completion by the end of March 2013.
In his remarks, Riha noted that local workers and contractors make up the vast majority of employees. He later said 45 are on site now—among several hundred over the life of the project.
But Shivhon, whose 24,000-pound capacity boom truck he calls Terex, was brought down from the San Fernando Valley town of West Hills.
The topping off was the last steel unit to move in the Grossmont project—after five months and perhaps a thousand beams, he said.
Then dozens of dignitaries and workers, including school board members Gary Woods and Dick Hoy, were invited to a shaded area of the building for a barbecue lunch provided by Riha Construction.
The district says the 31-classroom project at Grossmont High School is the largest such project in the program, part of the November 2008 voter-approved $417 million bond measure.
A district fact sheet (attached) noted the bond is budgeted at $601 million, “which includes expected state funding and interest earnings.”
That was in contrast to the $105 million Poway Unified School District capital appreciation bond expected to over the coming decades.