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Sewer broken under CBMS kitchen

School cooks up plan to feed students

CAPON BRIDGE — Feeding nearly 300 students at Capon Bridge Middle School will take 2 kitchens, a truck and lots of cooperation among employees starting Monday.

But, Nutrition Director Amy Haines, promises, “We’re going to give them good quality meals and limit the disruption to their daily schedule.”

The middle school lost full use of its kitchen with the July 16 discovery that a sewer line is severed — a condition that may date back to the school’s construction in 2006.

“The kitchen is not completely shut down,” Superintendent Jeff Pancione explained Monday morning.  

The serving line, refrigerator, freezer, icemaker, ovens and warmers are all usable.

But anything that drains into the sewer line — sinks, dishwasher, tilt skillet, steamers and some connected pots — are off limits until repairs are made.

In the meantime, the CBMS kitchen will be used to store food and serve it with some cooking there.

But the bulk of food preparation and cleanup will shift to neighboring Capon Bridge Elementary School where cooks from CBMS and CBES will work side by side.

“Everybody has been most cooperative,” Haines said.

 Pancione said the major issue may well be cleanup.

“We’re going to have to transport our utensils and our pots and pans down over the hill to run them through the dishwasher,” he noted.

To make the system work, an extra part-time cook and a part-time truck driver have been hired.

Deliveries will still come to CBMS because the refrigerator and freezer at CBES can’t hold all the foodstuffs needed. Milk delivers will still come to CBMS, Haines noted.

The situation will continue until repairs begin.

“She has use of several areas of the kitchen until we start working on a fix,” said maintenance supervisor Alfred Foster. “When we break concrete, she’s done.”

Architects with the Charleston firm of Williamson Shriver, which designed the school, are coming to Capon Bridge late next week to assess the issue first-hand. Officials from the School Building Authority have looked at the school and promised to work with Hampshire County to find a solution.

Pancione said no estimate on costs or timeline can be made until after the architects inspect the scene.

Capon Bridge contacted Foster on July 16 to note that “abnormal” items were showing up in the wastewater treatment plant — green beans and lettuce among them.

“We thought it was coming from somewhere else because we have a grease trap, the grease trap’s hooked up, and we were pumping it like we’re supposed to,” Foster said.

He said grease pumped from CBMS every 2 months was comparable to the amounts at other county schools.

Foster had a dye test run from several drains, but no dye was showing up in the grease trap. When a camera was run down the 4-inch PVC line, it quickly hit 3 or 4 feet of gravel.

“We couldn’t figure out where the gravel was coming from,” Foster said. “Basically, the line was stopped up.”

Enough gravel was taken out to allow the 2-inch camera through. About 25 feet from the freezer it showed a severed line beneath 18 inches of concrete and 2 to 3 feet of gravel. 

Pancione declined to speculate about the break’s cause or timing, saying that might be the subject of litigation. o

Md. cuts Trooper 5’s hours

Western Hampshire County’s closest medical helicopter will no longer be available nights.

But, 2 rescue squad leaders lament, the helicopter was already out of reach for them anyway.

The Maryland State Police said Friday that Trooper 5, the chopper that operates out of Cumberland’s regional airport, will no longer fly between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. because of a pilot shortage.

“Trooper 5 gets to us in 5 to 8 minutes at most, depending on where the particular accident or medical problem is,” said Donna Steward of the Springfield Rescue Squad.

The trouble is, Medcom, the services that dispatches helicopters, almost always calls in Healthnet 8 from Martinsburg, Healthnet 4 from Morgantown or Aircare 4 from Front Royal, Va.

“Trooper 5 can be here in half the time it takes Aircare 4 or Healthnet 4 or 8 longer to get here,” Steward said.

“Medcom is run by WVU,” noted Romney Rescue Squad Chief Donnie Smith, “and the 2 Healthnet helicopters operate out of WVU Medical facilities.”

“They contact whoever they want,” Smith said. “Most of the time they send their own Healthnet, which works, but is rarely the closest.”

Trooper 5’s pilot woes came when 1 of the 6 pilots took an airline job. The service requires 2 pilots on each of its 12-hour shifts––which can’t be covered by just 5 people.

Maryland officials don’t have a timeline for restoring 24-hour service. The shortage is systemwide in the state. The medevac service is authorized for 70 pilots, but currently only has around 50. o


Students face longer days

Look out, kids. Hampshire County schools are going to be teaching you more this year.

Ten minutes a day more, to be exact when the 1st school bell rings Monday.

It’s all part of a plan to help the county bank minutes of instructional time each day that can be used when classes are canceled, whether by weather or issues like electrical or water outages.

The state requires elementary students to be instructed for 315 minutes each day, middle-schoolers for 330 and high-schoolers for 345.

Any time beyond that can be accumulated and then used for missed days, behavioral rewards or early dismissals for faculty senate meetings.

But, Superintendent Jeff Pancione said, the county can only accrue the time accumulated by the school with the least available.

Last year, HHS’s school day was cut when it extended student lunch breaks from 30 to 40 minutes so the lunch period matched the length of a class period. This year, it’s accounting for the shift with a longer day that forced the other 8 county schools to follow along.

“We need to bank the time,” Pancione said.

Other changes will be apparent when schools open Monday.

• Hampshire High School has beefed up security with new “mantraps” at the front and gymnasium entrances. Audio and video feeds will allow secretaries on both levels of the school to open or close either door.

• Security cameras have been added at HHS, Romney Middle and Romney Elementary, giving all 9 schools cameras.

• The driveway at Capon Bridge Middle has been paved after a drainage culvert that had sunk was repaired.

• The new kitchen at John J. Cornwell is on schedule to be functional by Monday, Maintenance Supervisor Alfred Foster said.

“All the schools look great,” he said. “The custodians did a great job this summer.”

• The locker room in the Arnold Building has a new ceiling and a fresh coat of paint.

Teachers reported to their schools on Monday. Pancione will lead a welcome-back gathering for all staff at Hampshire High School’s auditorium at 1 p.m. Thursday. o


Romney to get tougher on nuisances

ROMNEY — A sweeping new nuisance law is halfway to passage here.

The Romney Town Council approved the 2nd reading of the ordinance at Monday night’s meeting. A public hearing and 3rd-and-final reading will be held at next month’s council meeting, 7 p.m., Sept. 9.

The new rule replaces pieces of older ordinances, defining public nuisances in general and setting out specific prohibitions like:

• Garbage “which is not secured from all animals including flies and vermin;”

• Upholstered furniture or carpet left outdoors;

• Properties used for prostitution, drugs or illegal drinking;

• Structures “so dilapidated or out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human use;”

• Loud noise

• Junked or dismantled cars in sight for more than 10 days.

“It’s a little more comprehensive, I’d say, because of the way it addresses how it affects public health and safety,” Mayor Beverly Keadle said. 

The ordinance, generally, prohibits acts, property use, jobs or conditions that damage or endanger “the comfort, health, repose or safety of the public” or “greatly offends” public morals.

The plan gives the chief of police authority to cite people for creating a specific nuisance and requires the citation to be remedied in no more than 10 days.

“This gives officers something to hang their hats on,” Keadle said.

Nuisances that aren’t remedied by owners in time could then be fixed by the town.

Property owners in violation can be fined $500 foe a day in municipal court. The old ordinances capped penalties at $250.

We’ve gotta bale — a bale of hay

Hampshire County hay crops are seeing a boom this year.

After record rainfalls in 2018 that kept pastures dredged and unable to be worked with through spring, this season’s output is estimated to be “perhaps at least 20 percent higher,” said farmer John Arnold.

Arnold said, “Most farmers around here only grow enough to keep their cattle fed through the cold months.”

Jeremy Oates, who grows feed-quality hay predominantly for mushroom farms, echoed Arnold’s sentiment. “I may do a second cut,” said Oates.

County Commissioner and local farmer Dave Parker said, “the [crop] has been a good volume, it’s been making good quality, but I had to wrap some and put it in silage.” Other local farmers agree that the county has had enough rain that there’s a second harvest coming.

“We had that extra rain in the spring and people got their fertilizer down. The tonnage has been good,” said Oates, who noted “the old square bales are diminishing in number because we just can’t find workers to do it.”

The 2018 state agriculture study from the USDA put last year’s statewide hay output (including alfalfa) yield at 1.72 tons per acre. Total production was 922,000 tons sold at $127 per ton with a total production value of $116,445,600.

Tristen Tanner, of Tanner Farms in Green Spring, who specialize in equine hay said this year’s hay season was off to a slow start with the early rains, but was far less challenging than last year. 

“The past few weeks of dry weather have really helped with getting dry hay made and we are now almost done with our second cut on most fields,” he said.

 “Yield wise,” he said, “things are back to where they have been in years past. However, the adverse effects of last year’s extremely wet conditions were evident.”

 They ranged from ruts in the fields to large areas of dead patches that were under water for sustained periods. 

 “Overall, we are happy to say it has been a much better hay season so far this year,” he said. o