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Richwood residents worry about relocation of flooded schools

Posted November 27

— Some Nicholas County residents are concerned that two Richwood schools which closed after devastating floods won't be rebuilt in the area.

According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail (http://bit.ly/2gvxerb ), Nicholas County Schools Superintendent Donna Burge-Tetrick said last week that a decision on where the schools will be located won't be made until she collects the appropriate information.

Richwood Middle School and Richwood High School closed after late June floods ravaged the town.

Richwood Middle students are attending classes at Cherry River Elementary School and Richwood High students are at the former Beaver Elementary building. Students at another public school that closed in the county, Summersville Middle School, are attending classes in the Summersville Convention Center.

Some residents are concerned the Richwood schools may be consolidated with Summersville Middle, which is more than 40 minutes away.

Richwood Chamber of Commerce President Mary Jane Williams, who was a Richwood teacher for 36 years, said supporters of keeping the schools in the city want the board to hear their input before a decision is made.

"We'd like to be able to give, and not just to be given 'This is what we're doing,' and everybody votes on it," she said. "So we've met and met and met, and we'd like to see some of our elected officials come to our meetings if possible."

Resident Tammy Coleman and Richwood Mayor Bob Henry Baber both say the community has suggested three possible locations out of the floodplain to build new Richwood schools. School board President Gus Penix said at least two of those sites haven't been ruled out.

Asked about the possibility of consolidating the schools, Penix said "nothing is out the window." He said the board has avoided discussing the issue on purpose as it waits for Burge-Tetrick to present data.

Coleman, who with her husband owns a Richwood funeral home, said that if the town loses its schools, then residents are going to start moving away.

"People are going to lose jobs," she said. "We could lose businesses. This could affect my business. This could affect lives for years to come.

"We want promises. We want answers. We just want our town back. We were flooded and we have been living in devastation ever since June ... but everything is coming back. We are on the mend. Now we just want our schools back."

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