KANAWHA COUNTY, W. Va. (WOWK) – Officials say slowly, but surely, final plans are moving forward to build several new West Virginia schools following the floods of 2016. In all, 25 schools were damaged across the state, including Herbert Hoover High School.
The School Building Authority, in conjunction with the Kanawha County Board of Education, has applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance grant program for funding through the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
As made mandatory with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, FEMA has drafted an environmental assessment for the proposed construction of the school.
Environmental assessments are used to determine if significant environmental impacts would occur as a result of a FEMA action or a FEMA funded action, like the rebuilding of the high school.
On Wednesday, the Kanawha County Board of Education held an information session at Elkview Middle School. According to FEMA officials, the meeting is required to let the public know where the progress stands.
“Public involvement is actually a mandate,” said Stephanie Everfield, the Regional Environmental Officer, FEMA 3. “We have to involve the public in everything we do. So their input matters to us.”
Those interested have until September 26th to submit their thoughts and comments on the draft environmental assessment.
“We’ve been working on this for 3 years, tonight was just another step in making sure this happens,” said Ron Duerring, the Superintendent for Kanawha County Schools.
“There is no ‘if’ about it,” he added. “The school is going to be built, but we have to follow the rules that FEMA provides us, and we need to follow that very careful and do everything that FEMA requires us to do so these kids get what they deserve.”
If no changes are required to the environmental assessment, school officials hope to have construction started on the new school before the end of the year.