Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 19, 2013

McDowell hopes to put school project on track

By CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

IAGER — School officials in McDowell County are hoping to get a delayed elementary school construction project back on track.

Site work began last December on the new Iaeger Elementary School, but the construction was stalled after there was a question about a permit.

New drawings and permits have been submitted to FEMA for approval, School Superintendent Nelson Spencer said.

“There was a question with those drawings, and those drawings have been sent back to FEMA to see if we can obtain a permit,” Spencer said. “The permit deals with having fill in the flood way.”

The new elementary school is the last project to be funded as part of a decade-old flood proofing agreement in McDowell County launched in conjunction with the state Board of Education, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state School Building Authority.

“We are very frustrated as a school system,” Spencer said. “We need a new school very quickly. Absolutely, I pray for that every day that we can finish the site work prep and get the building built. Our kids need it.”

Iaeger Mayor Joe Ford said residents in the town are frustrated by the delays.

“All of the town and county is wondering what’s going on,” Ford said.

Ford said he originally fought to keep the old Iaeger High School building standing with the hope that it could be turned into a community center or museum. However, town officials later conceded, and allowed the old high school to be demolished with the understanding that the new Iaeger Elementary School would be constructed at the same site.

Spencer said he recently spoke with state SBA Executive Director Dr. Mark Manchin, who assured him that funding for the new Iaeger Elementary School project is still in place.

The existing Iaeger Elementary is one of the oldest school buildings in McDowell County, and needs to be replaced, according to Spencer.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com