With a little over two weeks before the Magnolia High School football field will be used for a game, resident Ron Brill is concerned that no visible progress has occurred to replace the field's press box that was destroyed by the June 29 derecho storm.
Brill explained to the board Monday evening that companies in charge of repairs are still waiting on deposits. Further, he sat down with a representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday and was told that Monday was the day to fill out estimates on damages.
Superintendent Diane Watt spoke up, saying that the school system had sat in on a FEMA Webinar and was told they would be contacted.
The was the condition of the press box at Magnolia High School’s football field after the June 29 derecho storm that blew through the area. Citizen Ron?Brill now wonders what provisions will be made for the upcoming football season. (Photo by Amy Witschey)
Treasurer Jeff Lancaster said he was confident the board had done everything they could do and, in fact, he could almost guarantee that Wetzel was the first county board that responded after the derecho. Lancaster also stated he had talked to AAA owner Jim Rice on Friday and it was the first time he was aware that a deposit was required. Lancaster explained that due to state code, the board is not allowed to pay money until services are rendered, that projects are paid as pieces are done. He said he is prepared to write a check tomorrow, meaning Tuesday, but he cannot violate state code.
Brill asked about a second plan of action if a press box could not be in place in time for football season, asking "How do we pull this off? If we can't do this, you have to start telling River and (MHS Athletic Director Brian) Castilow."
Board member Carolyn Gatian then asked Brill if the press box is needed to play a football game. Brill responded that other ideas would be too much of a liability. He said that for instance, scaffolding would not work, as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would not allow it.
He further stated that bleachers would not work with all of the electrical equipment that is used.
Superintendent Watt responded that she believes there is a misrepresentation that the handling of the press box issue is being poorly fashioned or untimely. She emphasized their concern for the situation, stating she knows some administrators have even dealt with the situation during their personal time.
Vice President Bob Patterson explained that he attended a FEMA meeting in Tyler County on Monday and was told that they had 20-some days to give damage amounts. Brill responded that the Office of Emergency Management Director Ed Sapp attended the FEMA meeting in Wetzel County on Monday and would have the correct information.
President Mike Blair had the last word, stating the situation would have to be dealt with until Rice contacted Lancaster with updates and that Superintendent Watt would keep everyone involved updated on the matter.
Later in the board's meeting, Director of Ancillary Services Brian Jones gave the storm damage report and explained that every facility suffered damage from the derecho. He said two bids had been received for lights at Paden City's football fields, but Saturday games will be played if the lights are not installed on time. He added that in regards to the press box, they were still waiting on several estimates so far, stressing, "We're trying."
Sherry Bachman returned to the board, stating that on July 16 she and her husband had attended the board meeting. She said that a lawyer had asked for proof and evidence regarding the matter, which was discussed in an executive session on July 16 and was described on the agenda as a meeting "to discuss any material that the disclosure of would constitute an unwarranted invasion of an individual's privacy." Bachman said that Shannon Smith, high school counselor, had information that was requested.
Superintendent Watt responded that additional evidence was not permitted, to which Bachman responded, "The lawyer instructed you, but not us." Blair stated that the presentation of additional evidence would be a violation to the board and that he was saying this as protection to both Bachman and the board. The board then retired to another office for an executive session where they supposedly contacted the lawyer. After returning, a vote was then made to uphold the decision made at the Level Two Citizen's Complaint, with Board Member Linda Kirk describing the situation as being "Unfortunate that it happened." Patterson requested that the minutes reflect that he abstained from voting on the matter. Also, Gatian was not involved in the executive session or vote.
Another executive session took place regarding the discussion of personnel matters and requests submitted by Tom West. No information was given publicly on this matter.
At the end of the meeting, Robb Bauer, the new assistant principal at Magnolia, was introduced to the board. Bauer stated he was looking forward to working with the students, staff, and community.