LOGAN, W.Va. — After word spread on social media the Logan County Board of Education (LCBOE) was considering nixing a project which would construct an auxiliary gym at Chapmanville Regional High School (CRHS), residents and community leaders from the Chapmanville area flooded the meeting demanding answers Feb. 11.
The auxiliary gym would reportedly accommodate basketball, volleyball and community events currently hosted by the old Chapmanville High School.
The old Chapmanville High School will be demolished and replaced with a new grade school.
To show support for the auxiliary gym project, more than twenty people crammed into the LCBOE’s relatively small meeting room in their central office in West Logan.
The board’s first official meeting that day was held at 5 p.m. during which, The Thrasher Group, a construction firm picked by the LCBOE to build the auxiliary gym, presented the board with an update on the pre-construction and planning phase of the project.
Representatives from Thrasher explained the project faces two hurdles — both of which stem from pre-existing issues with the location of the proposed gym.
A drainage culvert currently runs under the proposed gym’s footprint. The current culvert could not support the weight of the building, and, if it is not replaced or retrofitted, the drain would reportedly collapse causing structural issues for the gym above.
Also, part of the gym’s footprint is currently planned to cover ground which was formerly a pond.
Representatives from Thrasher explained both issues can be fixed.
Digging up and replacing the drainage culvert with one constructed of materials strong enough to support gym above will cost an estimated $70,000.
The relatively unstable ground that remains from the pond will reportedly require what Thrasher reps called, “over excavation with engineered fill.”
To address possible settling and subsidence issues, engineers will have to build up the ground with stronger fill costing an estimated $165,000.
The total price tag for the auxiliary gym eventually landed at an estimated $2,143,800.
The regularly scheduled meeting of the LCBOE took place at 6 p.m. Feb. 11.
A copy of the agenda for the meeting showing an action item associated with the new auxiliary gym being struck had circulated heavily on social media.
During the regular meeting, two public presentations where made to the board.
Jeremy Farley, with the PIECES Coalition, asked the board for reassurance they were moving forward on the project and stated, “I know we have some people that involved in coaching and..look at that timeline and see how it that might affect the sports schedules, the buddy leagues and the different leagues that do count on…the Old Chapmanville High School Gym. So you all…could fill us on a little bit more on the timeline and what you are looking for related to the project, that would ease a lot of people’s minds.”
LCBOE board member Dr. Pat Joe White explained the board’s attorney had recommended the action item be taken off the agenda because the board had not yet completed steps necessary to take action on the auxiliary gym.
Rob Kuenzel, a resident and business owner in Chapmanville, noted the people of Chapmanville, “…want to make sure this is board is continued to committed to this project. That’s the reason they are out here tonight.”
Kuenzel explained the board had rolled construction of the auxiliary gym into their pitch for the grant to fund construction of the new grade school, and he added there were fears that backing out of the auxiliary gym could endanger grant funds for the school.
After the meeting, The Logan Banner was able to obtain a document from the LCBOE stating that while the School Building Authority (SBA) recommends construction of the auxiliary gym go forward, the grant for the new school does not require the auxiliary gym to be constructed.
In a letter addressed to superintendent of Logan County Schools Phyllis Doty, David Sneed, executive director of the SBA, says, “After a meeting with you and your staff, we agreed that the auxiliary gym would be a part of the project but since it was going to be funded using local funding we would not require you to include this construction in your grant request. As a result, the construction of the auxiliary gym will not affect your current grant contract for the new elementary school addition.”
However, the letter states the auxiliary gym would be, “necessary to accommodate the nine – 12 student population at the high school.”
The letter ends saying, “We would encourage you to move forward with the construction of the auxiliary gym as originally contemplated if at all possible.”
The next meeting of the LCBOE is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 25.
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1729 or by email at [email protected]