Allegheny Mountain Radio hosted a General Election Candidate Forum on October 25 for Pocahontas County Commission and Pocahontas County Sheriff candidates. The forum also included Allen Johnson, who spoke against the proposed Excess School Levy.
Pocahontas County citizen Allen Johnson, who spoke against the proposed Excess School Levy, was asked five questions about the levy. He also gave opening and closing statements.
Due to technical difficulties, the forum was not video taped. Instead, each answer is accompanied by a photo of the candidates.
Question #1: Most people agree that the schools which should be renovated – Green Bank Elementary-Middle School and Marlinton Middle School – need major renovations. With passage of the levy, the West Virginia State Building Authority has already committed itself to add approximately $11 million state dollars to any money the Excess Levy raises, but will not add anything if the Levy fails. Do you see this one time offer as a bargain or as a way to try and bribe citizens into raising taxes on themselves and do you have an alternative way to fund the needed repairs?
Question #2: State Fire Marshal Tim Mouse has said that the fire alarm and sprinkler systems in Marlinton Elementary School, Marlinton Middle School and Green Bank Elementary-Middle School are near the end of their useful life. It has been estimated that up to a million dollars would be required to fix these systems in all three schools. Mouse also said he would be forced to quickly close any or all of these schools if they suffer a complete breakdown in either fire alarm or sprinkler systems. He added this type of failure is imminent at Marlinton Elementary School and very possible in the other two schools. If the levy proposal fails to pass, what would your solution be if one or more of these schools were closed by the Fire Marshal’s office?
Question #3: Pendleton County, among many other counties in West Virginia, has been operating a 7th through 12th grade school very successfully for a number of years. If our levy passes, the SBA requires that the 7th and 8th grade be moved to the high school. How would you address parents’ concerns about such a move?
Question #4: A number of people who object the passage of the levy do so because they feel that in the past the school board failed to maintain the school facilities properly, or wasted money on other things. Whether this was true or not in the past, do you feel it is right to keep present and future children in un-air conditioned schools with no security systems, failing septic systems, fire alarms, sprinkler systems and leaky roofs or in a school located in a flood zone by rejecting the levy and the resulting SBA money?
Question #5: What reassurances could the board of education offer to residents that if they levy passes those funds will be used and managed in a fiscally responsible manner?