The Times West Virginian

June 10, 2014

East Fairmont schools will live on in alumni

By Chelsi Baker
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Soon, the East Fairmont Junior High School building, which was also the original East Fairmont High School, will stand only in the hearts and minds of its alumni and the community it served.

The building is empty now that students will attend the new East Fairmont Middle School in the fall, and the Marion County Board of Education plans to demolish the facility and replace it with a football practice field.

“The new school is being constructed on the site of the former practice football field, so basically what’s going to happen is once the old school is demolished, then the current site where the school sits, plus the parking lot, will be reconverted back into a green space that will be used for physical education and football practice,” said Superintendent of Marion County Schools Gary Price.

Not only does the community need the green space for students in physical education classes, but the board also made a commitment to the community to replace the field. This will allow children to practice sports close to home and not need transportation.

The board has already removed furniture from the building, as well as any equipment, to repurpose it at other facilities.

“Demolition should start here in the next few days, I would think,” said Gary Santy, Clerk of the Works for Marion County Schools.

Safeco, the company handling the job, has worked to remove asbestos from the building to prepare for demolition. They found the material under floor tile in the lower part of the school, Santy said.

“So they set up their containment areas in there and used negative air machines, and they took that asbestos out,” he said. “Then this past weekend, they did the asbestos on the roof that was contained on the original roof.”

The company will start setting up fencing and other safety barriers around the perimeter to prevent people from getting into the construction zone and debris from getting out or rolling down the hill.

Then, they plan to make an opening in the front of the building to remove the smaller debris from inside before knocking down more walls, Santy explained.

After the building is demolished, Safeco will reclaim and fill in the grounds surrounding the site and turn it back over to the board.

Santy estimated the budget at a little more than $160,000 for the demolition.

Safeco representatives believe the demolition project should be complete by July 1, he said, but they have 60 days to finish the job.

Across the street, the original gymnasium will remain and will be renovated for future use.

“It’s going to get new windows. The outside will get all cleaned up, and any of the brickwork that needs repaired, that will get done,” Santy said. “Also some minor electrical work.”

That building also contains a few classroom spaces and a smaller gym upstairs, which could be useful in the future, Price said.

While the school will soon be gone, its legacy will be kept alive through several relics taken from the building.

The lintel over the main entrance will be removed in one piece, along with a similar piece over the auditorium door. They will be part of a memorial display at the new East Fairmont High School.

The bell outside has already been removed and will also be on display at the high school.

Several hundred bricks will also be saved and used in similar projects at East Fairmont Middle and the high school.

The board will also release a DVD focused on the East Fairmont Junior High building so its appearance and history will be available to people in the future.

“The building had outlived its usefulness as far as the ability to repair and upgrade and modernize it. It has served the community well in the past both as a high school and a junior high, but it was time to move into a new facility … However, it’s important to memorialize the memory of facilities such as old schools because they made a significant impact on the community,” Price said.

“We have doctors, lawyers, legislators — a lot of people who went through that facility and got their high school education there… High schools make a major social and academic impact on a community, and it’s important to acknowledge that and not to throw it away.”

Email Chelsi Baker at cbaker@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @cbakerTWV.