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High school press box work halted at Hedgesville

June 23, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. -- Construction of a three-story press box at Hedgesville High School's football field was stopped by Berkeley County Schools superintendent Manny P. Arvon II last week after questions arose about the building's footers, a school district spokeswoman said.

"We will certainly not let anything be built that has any questions to it," said Jaimee Borger, director of communications.

Berkeley County Engineering Department inspectors "raised questions" about the project and warned that work being done was not in compliance with county regulations, county legal counsel Norwood Bentley III said Monday.

While Berkeley County takes the position that the school district is exempt from paying county fees for new construction, the county still feels it has oversight of work being done, Bentley said Monday. "It's an argument that's been had over the years -- not just in this county, but in other counties," Bentley said of the oversight question.

Bentley said the Board of Education usually complies with accepted building standards without any difficulty and the school district has to comply with it's own set of "strict" regulations.

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"When (school construction manager) Don Zepp does something, "you can be assured it's going to be done properly," Bentley said.

Borger said Zepp visited the project site last week and work had not resumed since Arvon ordered the stoppage.

Bill Manor Jr., owner of Manor Concrete Enterprises, said he had nothing to hide about the footers he poured at the direction of the project manager, Scott McNemar. Manor said his work was done before he later saw a copy of the blueprints that specified adequate standards, but not what he was told to do.

"The bottom line is things are going to be done right," Manor said of his reasons for contacting state, county and school officials about his concerns. "I couldn't live with myself if something happened."

McNemar said Monday that an engineering firm would be visiting the football field press box and the school's softball field press box project to inspect what was done to assure both structures are sound.

"We're not going to be building something out here that's not going to be safe," said McNemar, who teaches at the school.

McNemar said the work was being done mostly by volunteers, including himself, and that they hoped to be done with the softball field project in time for a tournament next month.

The football field press box will be completed by August, he said.

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