Emergency Repair Approved 6 Months Ago, No One Has Bid on High School Job


By Stefanie Jackson – Northampton supervisors have learned of another building repair issue at Northampton High School, but it has nothing to do with the size of the project or its cost.

No contractor has bid on the job.

“That has turned into a disappointing endeavor for us,” Superintendent Eddie Lawrence said Jan. 14.

An addition to Northampton High School was built in 1978, which became the front of the school, and the problem area is an exterior wall on its north side.

The brick wall is bulging because it has come loose from the concrete wall behind it.

The perimeter of the trouble area was marked by yellow caution tape several months ago.

On July 23, supervisors approved a request to spend $10,000 from the school capital improvement fund for what was deemed an “emergency repair.”

Since then, “the plans have been drawn, we put the request out for bids, and as of (the week of  Jan. 6) no one had bid to do the repair work,” Lawrence said.

The school division has repeated its request for bids and contacted additional contractors. The project is ready to move forward as soon as a bid is received.

“We don’t have any local folks that would possibly have the ability to do that?” asked Chairman Oliver Bennett.

“The local folks (are) who we went to first,” Lawrence said.

But there was good news for the school division: Northampton Middle School received a $10,000 Loads of Love grant from the Washington Redskins to purchase washers and dryers for the students’ personal use.

The grant will help students who do not have regular access to laundry equipment at home.

There is only one operating laundromat in Northampton County.

In another matter, EMS Director Hollye Carpenter presented supervisors with changes to the county’s emergency operations plan, which is due for an update.

The plan was written by a professional consultant according to state guidelines eight years ago, and it must be updated every four years.

Carpenter’s changes were minimal, but supervisors had some concerns.

The emergency plan stated that cargo can be moved by barge between Cape Charles and the Little Creek landing ramp in Norfolk, Va.

Supervisor Betsy Mapp pointed out that the ramp, owned by the Eastern Shore Railroad, is up for sale and will soon be unavailable for use by the county.

Supervisor John Coker added that the ramp is not currently in working condition.

Carpenter noted that was a correction that was missed.

The emergency plan also stated that an air shuttle service would be provided, either by helicopter from Cape Charles to Little Creek, or by air transportation from the Accomack County Airport to the Norfolk International Airport.

“Who gets to ride, and who pays for this?” Mapp asked.

Carpenter was unsure but agreed to find the answers.

“Good question. I want to be on that first plane with Betsy,” Coker later quipped.

Bennett questioned the emergency plan’s inclusion of Northampton schools as shelters. He was not aware that Northampton High School could be used as an emergency shelter.

Carpenter clarified that the high school can be used as a shelter during any emergency except a high-wind event like a hurricane. The building may also be used for shelter after a weather event.

Vice Chairman Dixon Leatherbury asked if withholding approval of the emergency plan would put any state funding at risk; Carpenter said there are grants associated with the plan.

Supervisors agreed they could vote on the emergency plan, and Carpenter could make a few minor changes, which supervisors would approve at a later date.

Leatherbury made a motion to accept the plan on the condition that additional changes would be brought to the board for approval within three months; the motion was seconded and passed unanimously.

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