The Crawford Elementary School gym is used for press conferences when the president is in Crawford. In the past, it has often been so hot in the building that press conferences were held outside.
The new Tempstar air conditioning system was a joint venture between the White House and the news media that make up the press corps.
Crawford, Texas is a small town of approximately 700 residents. The elementary school featured the first covered gymnasium in McLennan County. The superstructure of the facility was originally built around 1910 and remodeled in 1959.
'Nothing is impossible'
Local Crawford contractor Abel Service Co. won the bid to install air conditioning in the school's gym. Franklin (Bud) Abel, owner of Abel Service, finished installing the two 20-ton units on August 1.
When Abel turned on the system at 3 p.m., the temperature in the building was 92¿F. He said that, 40 minutes later, the gym was 20¿ cooler. "The airflow is great," he said. "You can feel the cool air across the gym."
Like every job, this one had its challenges. Abel received word that he had won the job in mid-July, with the president and his entourage scheduled to arrive in early August.
Abel said he installed the units at ground level since the roof of the facility would not support them. He placed them at either end of the gymnasium.
"We went up the outside wall with the duct and dumped air straight into the gym," he said. "It was quite an ordeal, but my philosophy is that nothing is impossible." Abel installed square duct with good acoustic lining. He said he cut through the walls and went through a window. He needed to remove two windows to get the duct in.
"We went straight through the wall with the return, and we had to build a return air grille because this is a gymnasium that is still used during the school year for elementary school children. We built a grille out of expanded metal, so if basketballs hit it, it won't tear up anything. Even if the kids run into it, a normal grille would buckle. So we had to build something that kids can't tear up."
Born and raised in Crawford, Abel has been a Tempstar dealer for seven years. "I've had real good luck with it," he said.
Abel has been in the heating and cooling business for more than 41 years. A family-owned and operated business, the company specializes in new construction, residential, commercial, service, and remodeling. Abel Service Co. Purchases supplies and equipment from ACR Supply, Inc., in Waco, Texas, one of 15 branches serving south Texas.
Tempstar products are manufactured by International Comfort Products, Lewisburg, Tenn.