David Adkins Published

Delays In School Construction Could Leave Nicholas County Owing Millions To FEMA

David L. Roach, Executive Director of the West Virginia School Building Authority, Speaking to Del. Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh.png

Nicholas County Schools has just two years to complete federally backed construction projects or risk owing millions to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

During the flooding disaster of 2016, Richwood Middle School, Richwood High School, and Summersville Middle School in Nicholas County were severely damaged.

Four years later, in 2020, FEMA awarded the West Virginia School Building Authority with a grant of $131 million to replace the schools in Nicholas County.

More than $17 million of that has been spent as of June 13, 2022. The county is negotiating a construction contract that fits within the current budget.

Construction was delayed because of increased costs due to COVID-19.

“We, by our estimations, are around 25 to 35 percent over our budgeted amount,” David L. Roach, Executive Director of the West Virginia School Building Authority, said.

Nicholas County Board of Education has authority over how to spend the FEMA funding.

Richwood Middle School and Richwood High School will be consolidated into a single complex that will include Cherry River Elementary School.

Summersville Middle is being built next to the new Nicholas County High School and Nicholas County Career and Technical Center at the Glade Creek Business Park.

“We’re talking about kids that have been displaced from their educational environment,” Del. Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh, said. “The kids that were in school, have graduated college, and got a career in the time that we can’t figure out how to break ground.”

The deadline is Dec. 2024. If the scope of work isn’t completed by the deadline, all funds will need to be paid back to FEMA by Nicholas County.