Pocahontas County School Buildings Require Massive, Expensive Repairs

We recently we spoke to Ron Hall, the Maintenance Director of the Pocahontas County Schools, to find out just how much their school buildings need renovation and repair. It was worse than I expected.

There has been a proposal to close down Marlinton Elementary is this necessary? Ron answers that question.

“If we elect to keep that school open, we will receive no funding from the SBA (WV School Building Authority) because it is in a flood plain” said Hall. “The needed repairs; all the electrical is outdated and all of the classrooms need more outlets in them. The (electrical) services are all old and need replaced. We need HVAC in the school and our sprinkler systems are done, they’ve served their life, the pipes are starting to burst. The fire alarm system is itself outdated for 30 years and we can’t get parts for it, so when it finally goes down we’ll have to replace the whole unit.”

How much will it cost to do the critical repairs to Marlinton Elementary? Ron.

“Giving you an exact cost is hard to do” Hall answers.”But I would guess, looking at the costs for the other schools, you’re probably looking in the vicinity of 6 to 7 million dollars to put the school back in good shape.”

Of course if Marlinton Elementary School is closed these costs would not need to be incurred. Ron goes on to talk about the problems at, and the costs to repair the Green Bank School.

“Green Bank needs new roofs” Hall says. “(It) needs new fire alarm, new sprinkler system, new windows (and) doors. The Gymnasium needs a new roof. You’re looking at about 7 million dollars to put that school back into satisfactory condition.”

It is proposed to move the Marlinton Elementary students, when that school closes or is forced to close, to Marlinton Middle School. Is the Middle School in need of repairs too? Ron.

“To move Marlinton Elementary up to the Middle School, we would have to add 4 classrooms up there” Hall said. “And do some renovations to again sprinkler systems and electrical upgrades and so forth. We’re looking at probably in the vicinity of 8 million dollars to do all that.”

If that move happens, the proposal is to move the 7th and 8th graders from both Middle Schools –Marlinton and Green Bank- to the High School. What shape is the high school in, Ron?

“The High School is in detrimental shape” Hall said. “It is quite old – about 47 years old. The sewer system is shot. About everything at the High school needs updated (and) renovated. We’re looking at probably in the vicinity of 16 million dollars to take care of all of that.”

How about Hillsboro Elementary?

“Hillsboro is probably the best school” Hall answered. “It’s received modernizations, you know, and a new cafeteria and stuff, so it is definitely our best school (facility) at this point.”

I asked Ron if there was any chance on receiving State funds for these renovations without passing a school levy.

“Short of the Levy, we’re not going to get any funding from the State” Hall replied. “With the levy, the SBA has allotted money for us to fix our schools, but we have to pass the levy to receive that funding.”

So what will the School system do if the levy fails to pass?

“We would somehow have to come up with the money in the County, and there is no way of doing that” Hall says. “Not a plug for or against the levy, I just know that our schools are falling down, they are wearing out and we need to repair. The levy is our number one option because the SBA will foot the money for the biggest part of these projects. Without the levy, I don’t know what we’ll do.”

So things are very bad indeed with the school buildings. Ron pointed out that several roofs at Green Bank School, and the roof at the High School need replacing and he just learned there is a leaky roof at Marlinton Middle school. To repair just one of the roofs at Green Bank will cost $450,000, money the Schools don’t have. Despite the fire alarm and sprinkler problems, the Fire Marshall has been holding off closing several of the buildings, waiting to see if the SBA funds become available.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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