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Miller Construction Prepares Site for Anderson Elementary School

Fri May 11, 2007 - Southeast Edition
Jodi Helmer

After close to six decades in the construction business, Miller’s Construction has become a household name in South Carolina. Its equipment can be seen working on demolition, site preparation, road construction and hauling dirt and gravel from Anderson, S.C., to Pendleton, S.C.

Since opening for business in 1950, Miller’s Construction has worked on projects with Hughes Well Drilling, Langston Construction, T&T Properties and Dorr Resources.

The project that Michael Miller, vice president of operations and project manager, is most excited about is site preparation for a new school in Flat Rock, located 10 mi. outside of the Anderson city limits.

“The population here is growing and a lot of new schools are being built; we’re working on three schools right now,” Miller said. “One of the things I am most proud of is the school we’re building that is just 500 feet from our shop.”

A $10 million bond referendum was passed to finance the construction of the new Flat Rock Elementary School. An additional $3 million in construction costs will be paid from the district’s general fund.

The school will be the third elementary school in the Anderson County school district and will help relieve overcrowding in Starr and Iva elementary schools.

Miller’s Construction bid on the job in late 2006 and was awarded the contract with a starting date of February 2007.

Miller, who is the third generation to run Miller’s Construction, was hired for site preparation including leveling and grading the site and a portion of the existing road.

Miller has a total of 12 crew members working from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Miller anticipates it will take 300 days to complete his portion of the project.

The 32-acre (13 ha) site will be the new home of Flat Rock Elementary School, an 88,000-sq.-ft. (8,175 sq m) building, set to open in September.

In order to prepare the site, Miller’s Construction is relocating 1,600 sq. ft. (148 sq m) of existing road, widening it by an additional 2,000 sq. ft. (186 sq m) and completing the grading on both sides of the completed road.

Miller is using two John Deere 9520s with two 1810 ejector bowls, purchased from Van Lott Inc., that can pull up to 36 cu. yds. (27 cu m) of material at a time as well as a Komatsu 300 Power Plus excavator.

According to Miller, using John Deere 9520s with ejector bowls instead of a push- or self-loader saves time and money.

“It cuts down on having an extra operator and extra equipment,” he explained. “With fuel at $2.65 per gallon and burning 100 to 150 gallons a day, it gets expensive to use extra equipment.”

One of the biggest challenges on the job site is the setting. The open pasture spans 32 acres and most of the lot is not level.

Creating a level lot to accommodate the building foundation has required the use of two Case 325 off-road trucks to pick up dirt and limestone from hard-to-reach areas.

The material is loaded onto trucks by a Caterpillar 953 track loader and hauled offsite. Miller estimates that more than 100,000 cu. yds. (76,500 cu m) of material will be excavated from the site.

Once the material is moved, site preparation begins.

A Komatsu 655 earth mover and a John Deere 6420 land leveler with four-wheel drive are being used to prepare the site and three vibrator rollers — a Dynapac 161CA, an Ingersoll Rand SD 110 and a Caterpillar 563CP — are doing the final leveling.

There also are a number of fuel trucks and water trucks on the job site.

Miller estimates that 80 percent of the equipment owned by Miller’s Construction is manufactured by John Deere. Miller’s Construction has been purchasing equipment through Van Lott, a John Deere dealership, since the 1960s.

“I value having Van Lott as our distributor,” Miller said. “The owner is one of the nicest and most honest men I know and we have always gotten great service from them.”

Miller has had his equipment on site for just over two months and said the project is running on time and on budget. He hopes that once his portion of the project is complete, the other contractors hired to build the school will also be on schedule.

The school is slated to open in August 2008 — just in time for Miller’s daughter to be in its first kindergarten class. CEG

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