Wood County BOE tables vote on new Williamstown Elementary site

PARKERSBURG – Wood County Board of Education members tabled selection of a site for a new Williamstown Elementary School on Tuesday, saying more due diligence was needed before a decision could be made.

The board tabled the vote after an hour-long executive session to discuss property issues.

Board President Tim Yeater asked for the vote to be tabled.

“With regards to due diligence, I think we should pull this from action,” he said. “We want to make sure this is a thorough process.”

No site has yet been selected, though two candidates – the Fenton Art Glass factory and the Williamstown High School football field – have been named as possibilities by a school committee and the recommendations sent to the state School Building Authority.

The board also tabled a vote to begin eminent domain proceedings on a property adjacent to Parkersburg High School’s Stadium Field. Officials have sought an easement on the property in order to repair or remove the south wall of the stadium which has been collapsing and was recently condemned by Wood County Schools’ insurance carrier, the Board of Risk Insurance Management.

Mike Fling, assistant superintendent of facilities, said officials have been working with representatives of the property owner to receive a four foot easement along 30 feet of wall, but have been unable to reach an agreement. Pat Lefebure, an assistant prosecutor with the Wood County Prosecutor’s office, said his office became involved in the process Oct. 8 at the request of the school system, but have likewise been unable to reach an agreement.

Lefebure said conditions specified by attorney Robert Fluharty of Fluharty and Townsend, who is representing property owner Helen Marcinko, are too restrictive and would not allow for repair or replacement of the wall. For example, initial requests allowed only 72 continuous hours to complete the work, which was restricted to between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. That number was later increased to 168 hours, but construction officials have indicated the entire project will take about 45 days to complete.

Rod Marcinko, son of Helen Marcinko, spoke at Tuesday’s meeting. He said his mother is 90 years old and suffers from dementia as well as other medical needs. He said officials originally requested a 30-foot easement which would have encompassed most of the property.

“The entire property is only 39 feet wide,” Rod Marcinko said.

He also said there were safety concerns with construction vehicles possibly blocking emergency access to the home, the work causing stress to his mother and heavy equipment damaging the foundation of the home.

Rod Marcinko said the family has also asked for the school system to reimburse $4,000 in attorney and engineering fees incurred during the process.

Both Fling and Lefebure said they were willing to sit down and negotiate again, and board members said they would table the vote on moving forward with eminent domain until Dec. 17, provided progress is made during that time.

“We’ve been frustrated as a board because we have people who need to get to work and delays cost us money,” said board member Tad Wilson. “If we can move forward with this and do it quickly, we would much rather come to an agreement.”

“It sounds like you guys are wanting to work it out. Work it out,” Yeater said. “We don’t want to incur any more expense to your family. This is an expense for both of us.”