POINT PLEASANT — Despite a storm on social media, there wasn’t much of a crowd at Tuesday’s meeting of the Mason County Board of Education, where heating, and the lack of it in some schools, was discussed.
The meeting began with a conference call to Jason Denue with the Wendel organization which coordinated updating the heating and cooling units throughout the county.
Denue, which took questions from members of the board of education, said part of the issues schools were experiencing, in terms of insufficient heat, were due to retrofitting old equipment and air flow. Denue, and later Mason County Schools Maintenance Director Cameron Moffett explained, the main heating units are working, but some of the smaller units which those main units feed into that control air flow into individual classrooms, are believed to have dampers which are not completely open. This causes two issues, namely the air (and heat) cannot flow as needed, and the heat becomes trapped inside these smaller units, causing them to heat up and shut down when they get too hot – this obviously means no heat is exiting into the classroom.
The recent extreme temperatures have brought these issues to the forefront. This investigation of proper air flow was referred to as “balancing” and board members had questions about why this wasn’t done earlier or was in the original contract. Board Member Rhonda Tennant asked Denue about the cost of fixing these issues and he told her “all the cost is covered under Wendel’s contract.”
Superintendent Jack Cullen went over a checklist with Denue which is being addressed, and includes things like the balancing of air flow, determining if dampers are open; looking at the start up sequence (this refers to what temperatures the rooms are set at prior to classes and when they start to heat up); a defrosting issue at Hannan Junior/Senior High School which may require electrical work; placing a temperature sensor on the new boiler at Roosevelt Elementary; platform and duct work at Wahama Junior/Senior High School; looking into a heating issue in the welding room at the Mason County Career Center.
Also on the checklist, verifying room temperatures to be sure the computer readouts Cullen and Moffett see match what is actually happening inside the classrooms. Mason County Schools now has a heating and cooling system which is monitored at the central office and by the maintenance department. Both Moffett and Steven Durbin of the maintenance department will now have access to this system from their homes on the weekends to alert them of any possible problems. Tennant asked what would happen if the internet goes down, with Cullen saying staff on site at the buildings would report conditions in to the central office.
Cullen said until the air flow is checked and verified, the units will run continuously as opposed to shutting down after hours and then warming back up prior to classes starting. Air flow testing began on Tuesday, Denue said.
Though Denue couldn’t give Board Members a timeline on when the issues would be fixed, he assured them and Cullen that the company was “fully committed to this project and the results of the project.”
Denue said “you expect tweaks (in projects) but this is more than tweaks.”
Board members expressed frustration over the continual issues with the new temperature control system and why it was taking so long to adjust, citing issues back to last summer.
Board Member Greg Fowler told Denue that the Board gave the company the contract because it had “faith” in Wendel to the deliver the project and “the community wasn’t going to take much more of it.”
Board Members attending the meeting were Fowler, Tennant, Jared Billings, Megan Bonecutter, Dale Shobe.
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.