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      Woodchips help heat school

      The brand new heating system at the Republic-Michigamme School is finally in place.

      "We actually fired it up this year; I think December 6 was the day we actually fired it up. The work was started as soon as school got out this last school year," said Paul Currin, school administrator.

      The old heating system was outdated and too hard to maintain. The biomass system was funded by a $4.2 million bond proposal which passed in 2011.

      The machine's augers and belts move the woodchips into the back of the wood burning unit. Water is then moved through the upper unit. As the water heats up, water travels from the boiler and it is pumped into the radiator which heats each classroom.

      The energy efficient machine is controlled by a computer. There is also a computer program which holds the entire layout of the school. The temperature in each room can be controlled with the click of a mouse or thermostat within the classroom.

      "We give each teacher a little bit of a grace and you can adjust five or six degrees," Currin said.

      The new system is also saving the school money.

      "We're projecting at this point close to $110,000 or $107,000 a year in savings as our projection," Currin said.

      Currie said the school is also receiving additional upgrades which include:

      -A brand new security system-New ceiling tiles and light fixtures-And fire alarms in every classroom

      This summer, the school plans on replacing the roof, doors, and windows to make it even more energy efficient.