Catastrophes are difficult to manage. The school had a catastrophe in 1985. Many feet of water filled Marlinton Elementary School. There were a couple of days notice which strongly suggested a flood but the county was still surprised by the extent of the damage.
The people of Pocahontas banded together, cleaned up the mess, and fixed the damage. But what was announced on WVMR in re: to a pending catastrophe is different.
Unlike the flood this is a planned catastrophe. It evens has a date (although only the board has any idea of the date). Someone in the school system will be making a phone call to Charleston telling the fire marshal that they are "ready" for the catastrophe.
The fire marshal will then condemn MES and order it evacuated. The entire school will be moved out of the floodplain where it should never have been built in the first place.
Is this a destined event? Yes, indeed, it is! Unlike 1985 and 1996 this catastrophe will be on a certain date! It won't be at the end of a tropical storm or a hurricane. It will be "man made" and planned. The School Board has laid out how this forced catastrophe will take place in the WVMR report.
And it will be a "forced" catastrophe? The fire marshal will set the time and date and it will happen! The members of the school board will know when this evacuation will occur.
We, the community, won't!
We believe that Board President Emery Grimes knows about this, perhaps even the exact date. He publicly stated that he had an idea how to do it with the county's $$$ problems but wanted to talk "privately" with the board members first. Besides the fact that such a meeting would be contrary to the Open Meetings Law, It would appear that that the meeting has occurred for now the board has a planned emergency evacuation plan. It was announced at the last board meeting.
WVMR called it a "stunning announcement." I have my doubts that any of the board members were "stunned."
Why? Because it is a plan to accomplish a these goals:
1. Punish the folks who voted against the levy. It is payback time. The board didn't have a backup plan at the time of the levy. All their eggs were in one basket. They didn't even have a spare tire. The county said no within a period of two years or so.
2. Move the school to higher ground. The Pocahontas Commentator was the first to suggest that there was a plan to move MES to higher ground. We even suggested a mechanism by which this could be accomplished with perhaps very little or no cost at all. (The Sandy Act provides for replacement of schools in event of a catastrophe.) Nicholas County is planning for the implementation of the Sandy plan.
3. To force the community to vote for a third time on another levy. With the schools evacuated, the pressure will be irresistible. This time the levy will pass.
Why? Because of a fire alarm and sprinkler system problem. A NEW SCHOOL TO SOLVE A PROBLEM WITH THE FIRE ALARMS AND THE SPRINKLER SYSTEM.
We don't have to wait for a "forced evacuation" to be "stunned." I am stunned right now. To move the school and rebuild at another place because you have a bad fire alarm and sprinkler system.
The answer is quite simple: fix the fire alarms and install a new sprinkler system. It's not that hard and if you can afford a new school building, you can afford a fire alarm and sprinkler system. This is like junking a new car because it has bad brakes. FIX THE PROBLEM. You don't build a new home just because the commode is plugged up. The solution to a failing system is to fix the part that is failing. You would't replace a person's heart merely because of an "ingrown toenail." If nothing else, think of history. You, your kids, and perhaps your grandkids went to Marlinton Elementary School. What are you going to tell them years from now--that the building was torn down because it had a bad fire alarm and sprinkler system? I suggest that an eight year old would say fix the problem! Now MES shouldn't be in the floodplain, but it is. It was there before and after the floods of 85 and 86. Even the thought of building a cafeteria in the floodplain created a lot of hardwill. So the cafeteria was built in the floodplain. Along comes an opportunity to build a Wellness Center. It was greeted with excitement and support EVEN THOUGH IT TOO WAS BEING BUILT IN THE FLOODPLAIN. (Actually, it had to break the law to even be built there--but that's another story.) WE BUILD THINGS IN THE FLOODPLAIN. That is our claim to fame, whether it be a bank, a restaurant, a fuel dump, or a home. The town will grant a waiver if one wants to build in a floodplain. Why? No reason that is just what we do? Now I think MES should be moved! The town doesn't! But we can't afford to move! We shouldn't be made to do now what far wiser people in the past have REPEATEDLY NOT DONE.
What we need to do is fix the alarm system and put in a new sprinkler system. We don't want to throw the baby out because he/she has a dirty diaper.
We have had enough money to fix those two systems. We just chose not to do that? This is what should have been "planned". We should have planned to repair the problems but instead we chose to let the building fall into disrepair because the citizen sugar daddies of Pocahontas County would vote for a new levy!
We need to "plan" to maintain the buildings, not "plan" a catastrophe!