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BOE facing infrastructure issues at PCHS

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At Monday evening’s Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting, maintenance director Ron Hall and Pocahontas County High School sanitation plant operator Morgan McComb addressed major issues with the PCHS sewer system.

McComb, who is retiring June 30, said the sewer system is in dire straits and a decision must be made soon with regard to replacing or repairing the system.

“It has serious, serious problems,” McComb said. “A decision is going to have to be made about what you’re going to do with it.”

The system is 50 years old and due to regular wear and tear, it is suffering many issues that are not easy to fix.

A recent flash flood caused a large amount of water to flow into the system, which pushed mud into the plant, which in turn pushed the solids onto the sand filters.

“The plant is currently non-functional,” McComb said.

The board applied for a Major Improvement Plan grant from the West Virginia School Building Authority to replace the system. The board will find out June 26 if the grant was approved.

Superintendent Terrence Beam asked McComb what he suggested the board do to fix the issue. Beam said that even if SBA approves the grant, there is no way the new plant will be operational in time for the 2017-2018 school year.

“We’re going to have to get the plant back to operating,” McComb said. “We have to get the mud out of it. We have to get the sludge off the sand filters and we have to get our chlorine compact tank pumped out.”

McComb contacted Allegheny Disposal, LLC, and said it would cost $600 a load to pump out the tank. To completely clean out the tank, it would take approximately 25 loads.

McComb added that if the sand filters could be cleaned, it would help a lot.

“When a thousand gallons of water goes through that plant, it goes into another tank that has a valve in there and the weight triggers that thousand gallons and it rushed down and went through those sand filters,” McComb explained. “Now the sand filters are clogged, it rushed down the hill and if it happens too often, it runs over onto the ground.”

Hall added that because of the overflow and leaks in the system, the plant is not in compliance with the DEP and he has to report that.

“The grass is awfully green around the sewer plant,” Hall said. “Does that tell you all something? I cannot legally not address that. I can’t hide it. I have to pass that word on that we think there’s a leak in that sewer plant.”

The board further discussed the issue with Hall and McComb, stating that something must be done whether or not the grant is approved.
The board gave Hall permission to contract with someone to assist with cleaning off the sand filters and getting the plant as operational as possible.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Duane Gibson and Joseph Warder to transport four students by personal vehicle, chartered bus or rented van to the SkillsUSA National Competition in Louisville, Kentucky, June 19-23.

• Pocahontas County Board of Education to adopt Standards Based Report Cards for first and second grade, effective for the 2017-2018 school year.

The remaining items in the miscellaneous and personnel management will be in next week’s edition.

The next board meeting is Monday, July 10, at 6 p.m., at the board of education conference room.

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