By Kara Herlihy

The Harwood Board of School Directors will award the bid on the wood chip heating project at a special meeting scheduled for October 29 at 4:30 p.m. Bids will be opened at the Washington West Supervisory Union at 2 p.m.

Allen Brown of Dore and Whittier was present at the October 3 meeting to discuss the progress of the wood chip heating facility and request that the project go to bid.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the $1.68 million project for the South Duxbury school last November.

Board clerk Mike LaRock said, "Things are moving along really well. The bid documents are out as of Monday and we hope to have the bid opening October 29."

LaRock said that a half dozen firms have qualified to bid.

Plans call for a 1,200-square-foot building to be constructed outside the maintenance receiving area on the east side of the school to house the wood chip heating system and chip storage.

The project has been touted as a way for the school to save on heating costs as well as reduce dependence on foreign oil and boost the local economy.

The school opted to put the initiative on last November's ballot in order to take advantage of a state program that pays for what LaRock said would cover about 95 percent of construction costs.

The remaining 10 percent of the cost, about $168,000, is the school's responsibility.

This debt could be paid off in a few years without "any net impact on the tax rate," by using the money saved in heating expenses -- expected to be about $50,000 annually -- to cover the local share of the capital cost, school board chair Scott Mackey said in the weeks leading up to the November vote.