HAZARD—The Coal Fields Regional Industrial Authority voted Thursday to deny the possibility of any land purchases by the Perry County School Board to build the new Chavies Elementary School in the industrial park.
Perry County School Board member Jerry Stacy and Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble attended the meeting as representatives for the board. Noble said this was the third meeting for the industrial park board he had attended to try to have some action made on the school board’s request for consideration for land purchase.
“It’s my opinion that they should have worked with the school to help get a place for this Chavies school,” Noble said.
Some of the issues brought up by the industrial board before the vote were that the school could bring up future issues caused by any restrictions on what kinds of businesses can be built around a school.
Lakis Mavinidis, a representative for Harlan County, said the board had requested information concerning the effects building a school in the park would have on future building opportunities in the area.
“We had requested some things to be presented to the board that had not been presented and, of course, without knowing if it is acceptable to put a school in such a location … I had no other choice but to vote no,” Mavinidis said.
Mavinidis said this did not mean that if the information requested was brought to the board and another vote was allowed to be taken that he would not change his vote depending on what the information revealed.
Noble said he could not see how building a school in the park could negatively impact the park itself.
“In my opinion, it would not hurt the industrial board to build in the park because just right over the hill they can throw a rock and hit the school (Chavies) anyway,” he said.
Ezalee Pigman and Edgar Riley, representatives of Knott and Breathitt County respectively, also voted “no.” Pigman declined to comment on the matter.
The only yes votes were from the Perry County representatives on the board, Freddie Combs and Charles Colwell.
Noble said another issue the board members brought up was the coal and log truck traffic that would constantly be going by the school due to the factories and other businesses in the park.
“Now, on Highway 28 there’s coal trucks, there’s logging trucks passing cars,” he said.
Noble said students at Chavies were in desperate need of new facilities, adding that the school has been rated as one of the worst facilities in the state.
“If I’d have been in another county, personally, and I seen that those kids needed a school, I would have voted for it. I’d have been for the school being there, and then we’d work around the issues of what we’re going to do about it (the factory),” he said.
Stacy agreed with Noble, and added that the students at Chavies deserve all of the same opportunities that the rest of the district is getting.
“Anybody that goes to that new East Perry school and takes a look at how nice that is and the type of technology that’s in that building, what we’re able to expose those kids to right now. We want to be able to do that for every child in the Perry County school district,” Stacy said.
Noble said the fiscal court will continue to work with the school board to find land to build the new school. He said they are now looking at privately owned property that is actually neighboring the industrial park.
“We’re not going to quit. The fiscal court’s not going to quit, the school board’s not going to quit,” Noble said. “We’re going to find a place for that school.”