Flooding committee set to examine school reconstruction

CHARLESTON — The legislative committee examining flood recovery is set to examine the reconstruction of schools destroyed in the 2016 flood.
“The schools are still a major concern for both counties,” said Sen. Greg Boso, R-Nicholas. “Getting people back in those classrooms is of vital importance so the kids have what they need and that they have a school they can be proud of.”
School reconstruction will be one of the topics Monday for the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding.
Three officials from the state School Building Authority will testify before the legislative flood committee.
The 2016 flood destroyed Herbert Hoover High School and Clendenin Elementary in Kanawha County. In Nicholas County, Richwood High School, Richwood Middle School and Summersville Middle School were considered destroyed.
None have been rebuilt.
“Obviously we want to make sure we’re getting a clear understanding on what is happening with the schools in Nicholas County,” Boso said. “We recognize that environmental studies are underway for all of the schools, whether it is in Nicholas or in Kanawha County.
“We need to do what we have to do so in a timely fashion to get students back in the classroom, in a permanent facility rather than in a portable facility.”
Nicholas County and state officials also have been working on plans to rebuild Richwood High and Middle at the current location of Cherry River Elementary, while rebuilding Summersville Middle and Nicholas County High, which continues to serve students, at Glade Creek Business Park.
A land acquisition was approved last month for Herbert Hoover High.
“Clendenin Elementary is just slightly ahead of schedule. Clendenin has wrapped up their environmental studies and will be moving into the community comment period,” said Delegate Dean Jeffries, R-Kanawha.
“Hoover is finishing up a fish and wildlife study. The study is clear. There shouldn’t be any problems. It will be the last part of the environmental study for Hoover. It will move forward for the community comment phase as well.”
Another topic for the committee will be the importance and condition of stream gauges. The discussion will be led by Jeremy White of the Virginia-West Virginia Water Science Center.
“Our stream gauges tell us what’s going on on various streams around the state,” Boso said. “The stream gauges provide real-time data to us to tell how we need to inform the public of the event that we’re getting rapid rises on these streams in the event of a flash flood.
“As far as information reporting is concerned, it’s a first line of defense.”
One of the members of the legislative flood committee, Sen. Craig Blair, recently suggested calling multiple witnesses on flood relief at once and having them testify as a group. Blair expressed frustration over the pace of housing relief.
“Line everybody up, have all the information in here, let’s get to the bottom of it and make sure whoever is in charge is going to be getting the job done in an expedited fashion,” said Blair, R-Berkeley.
That scenario isn’t on the schedule to happen Monday, but legislative staff said it might happen this summer.

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