by Sherry Goodyear
– SPRINGER — When Robert Arrellin was hired to be the new Maintenance II Specialist at the Springer satellite branch of Luna Community College, he didn’t realize he was about to undertake the largest renovation project of his life.
A few weeks into his new position, Arrellin and Interim Coordinator Keith Gutierrez were discussing how dreary the auditorium was in comparison to the newly stripped and varnished floors of the main halls done by previous maintenance worker Joseph Smith whom Arrellin replaced. “We got to thinking how dull it looked and played with the idea that we could do some things to make it look better,” Gutierrez said.
At that point, they begin looking into costs for varnish, paint, and rental fees for sanding equipment. Then they presented these projected costs to Luna’s Main Branch in Las Vegas for approval. Once approval was received, the hard work began.
The location of the Springer Satellite is in what once was known as Forrester Elementary, a building built in the early 1940s as one of many WPA projects of the time.
Arrellin says with a smile, “We started like dummies. We had no idea what we were getting into.” Arrellin began by removing the roughly 200 chairs in the auditorium – a project which took two weeks to complete. Once the chairs were safely tucked away in a back room, he embarked on the difficult task of removing seventy plus years of varnish and wax buildup – a feat accomplished with the help of a belt sander, a heavy duty drum sander, a heat gun, and an edge sander for the corners.
All the while he plugged away on refinishing the auditorium, Arrellin was still responsible for cleaning and maintaining the three buildings that make-up the Springer Satellite campus. Once all was said and done, during the six plus months he worked on renovating the auditorium, Arrellin put in 53 additional overtime hours to get the auditorium completed.
It took several weeks to strip the floor down to unvarnished wood and at that point, Arrellin turned his attention from the floors to the walls and ceilings. In addition to the main auditorium, Arrellin refinished the stage and the two side rooms where performers traditionally wait in the wings for their turn to perform. Arrellin spent the next several weeks on a ladder repainting the walls and ceilings of the auditorium.
When at last all of the painting was done, Arrellin was ready to varnish the floors. Using a brush sponge, Arrellin applied a total of three coats of varnish to the floors, waiting a minimum of three days drying time in between coats. For the detail work on the front of the stage, Arrellin used a brush. By the end of June, Arrellin had put the chairs back into place officially completing his auditorium renovation just in time for the July Luna Board Meeting to be held at the Springer Satellite.
The evening of July 14 was hot and stuffy, but that did not stifle the praise Luna Board members had for Arrellin’s impressive renovation project. Arrellin beamed with pride when board member David Gutierrez thanked him for all of his hard work and presented him with a plaque which read: In Honor of Robert Arrellin for His Hard Work and Dedication in Renovating and Refinishing the Luna Auditorium. “I wasn’t expecting this,” Arrellin said afterward, with a smile.
Springer Auditorium Remodeled in Old WPA Forrester Building
by Sherry Goodyear