Pocahontas Schools Plan Funding for School Facility Upgrades, Including Air-Conditioning All Schools

Terrence Beam, Pocahontas County Superintendent of Schools, asked for the opportunity to Inform the public about how the schools are seeking to finance improvements to the school buildings, which will hopefully include installing new air-conditioning systems in each of the five school buildings.

“I would like to talk about some of our facility projects we have going on,” said Beam. “As you may or may not know, we received some funding from the Federal Government in what is called the American Rescue Plan, we were allocated 2.5 million dollars to do some HVAC work at Marlinton Middle School and at Green Bank Elementary/Middle School. So those projects are actually moving forward. We have some meetings this month, in November, as far as getting some bids and things ready for offering.”

And that leads us into the fact that since I have been here -well, I have been here since 2009, but in this office, I have been here about ten years now, and I have always felt that air-conditioning in our schools is one of the extremely important things we try to accomplish. So, getting the American Rescue Plan money and being able to take care of those two schools is the first step of the process.”

“The second step is seeking funding from the School Building Authority (SBA) to get air-conditioning in the other three schools. Now, we are aware that Pocahontas County High School has some air-conditioning, It is antiquated and it works when it wants to, sometimes it does a good job, sometimes it doesn’t. And Hillsboro has a little bit of air-conditioning that they actually purchased themselves. But they need a much more sophisticated air-conditioning system.”

“So, a couple of weeks ago I went to Charleston and I met with the School Building Authority and I told them what I was trying to coordinate as far as making a request to the SBA for some money. They encouraged me to do so. We applied for this money last year and we were turned down. We think that this year it’s a little bit different. So yesterday I had to go with twenty-five other Superintendents the last two days, and make presentations to the SBA, stumping for what we wanted in our schools. And so what I did was I told them we wanted to get funding to air-condition Marlinton elementary School, Hillsboro and the high school. We also asked for some other things. We asked for some windows and doors for Marlinton Middle School. We asked for new boilers and a new roof at Marlinton Elementary School. We asked for some more windows at Pocahontas County High School, We didn’t ask for anything at Green Bank, and the reason being that for the last two years, the SBA has given us in excess of a million dollars to upgrade some facilities at Green Bank, plus, with our American Rescue Plan money we’re taking care of their air-conditioning.”

“So, I met with them and made the presentation, and I shared with them everything we’ve already done for ourselves and what the SBA has done for us. And, it was pretty apparent that we have put as much money to repairing our buildings ourselves -without having to pass a levy; without having to cost our taxpayers anything – more then the SBA has given us in the last eight years. So, I think they came to realize that, and I hope that will encourage them to support our project.”

“Now, our project is a total of 7.6 million dollars, which would take care of those four schools that I mentioned, but at the end of the project, we would have air-conditioning at all five of our schools, which is extremely important.”

“Also, the SBA will be making the award announcements on December 13th, so we won’t know until then. Now, there are twenty-six counties competing for this money -somewhere around 70 to 80 million dollars. Some of that money has already been promised. For instance, it was in the paper yesterday that Lincoln County, which is under State control, is in an emergence situation and they have to have a school built is going to be in excess of 20 million dollars, so there is a big chunk of it to start with.”

“It’s a lot of money to ask for us. A lot of counties are asking for 25 to 30 million dollars, and not everybody is going to get that money.  What we are hoping for is that after they fund some of these new schools, which is what they really want to do anyway, there will be some of the money left over for us to get a piece of the pie too. And it is possible they may say ‘well we’ll give you part of it this year, part of it next year.’ They’ve done that in the past, which would be fine with us. That was we would have the funds we needed to start making our plans to get our buildings finished.  But I feel confident about it -not over confident, but I do feel like we have a good chance. We’ve met with them a couple of times. Mr. Burns went with me one meeting. Ancy Cocina from Wendell went with me one meeting. And so, they have gotten to know us pretty well and what we are trying to accomplish, and they were very encouraging.”

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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