- Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 15:39
- Published on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 00:32
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After the smoke had cleared the Colonial Beach School Board was left with several hazards at the elementary school campus, making the decision, of where to house primary and elementary students for the remainder of the year, even tougher.
After a fire raged through the 100-year old condemned two story building, which was formerly the town’s middle school, in the early morning hours of Jan. 5, the wooden elements that support the brick exterior walls were destroyed. This left the building unstable. According to officials the building could collapse at any time.
The usable buildings on the campus sit just feet from the two story structure and could be in the path of any falling debris. This makes the site too dangerous to allow children to attend school on the campus.
During a special meeting of the School Board after the fire, on Sunday Jan. 5, school officials were met with opposition when they mentioned that the campus needed to be closed and the children should be relocated.
Local resident and building contractor Steve Cirbee argued that the old building could be braced or torn down and school could resume on the campus within a week.
“Stop saying that the campus can’t be used because that is not the truth!” Cirbee argued that the existing buildings previously used are still intact.
School Board member Michelle Payne was very upset with Cirbee’s comments and stated “As a parent of a child in that school, if you can tell me that you can take that building down in a week so that there is nothing on that campus that is a hazard to any of those kids, your talking pre-K, special ed.”
Cirbee responded, “It’s done all the time.”
Payne then challenged Cirbee to step up to the plate. Payne argued that Cirbee did not have a child in the school.
Emotions ran high for several minutes between the two, until School Board Chairman Trivett stopped the exchange. Newly-appointed council member and former Mayor Pete Bone urged the group to put emotions aside and stick to the facts.
Westmoreland Building Inspector Dexter Monroe warned the group that regardless of what the school board decided about where the children are housed, he will scrutinize the area for the safety of the children. Monroe stated that if the children are housed in churches or conference rooms he will have to inspect each area before the kids will be cleared to attend school.