MOUNDSVILLE - In January, Marshall County Schools officials said they were aggressively pursuing who - or what - caused a more than 14-month delay in the construction and opening of the new Cameron High School, setting a late February deadline to complete their investigation.
At the end of February, members of the Marshall County Board of Education said while the investigation was under way, no conclusion had been reached as crews continued to put finishing touches on the more than $32 million building.
Now, as April draws to a close, school officials claim pending litigation has slowed that investigation, along with the failure of one subcontractor to finish work at the school and make necessary changes.
A lawsuit by Gito Inc. and Nello Construction Co. is delaying the investigation on the new Cameron High School
Marshall County Schools Superintendent Fred Renzella said the lawsuit was filed by Gito Inc. and Nello Construction Co. on behalf of the Cost Co., a subcontractor, and Scalise Industries Corp., which worked to install the chilled beam HVAC system at the school. Cost Co. is listed as the plaintiff in court documents filed in Marshall County Circuit Court, with Scalise listed as the third-party defendant.
The Marshall County Board of Education is listed as a defendant and a third-party plaintiff in the suits, with the cases being handled by Marshall County Circuit Judge Mark A. Karl.
Renzella said while the lawsuits have been the biggest hindrance in conducting the investigation, Scalise's alleged failure to complete necessary HVAC work at the school has kept the building from being officially completed. He said that failure has led district officials to find temporary fixes for the HVAC system. He said those temporary fixes are necessary to ensure students are given the perfect conditions when taking the WESTEST 2 early next month.
"Right now, (Scalise is) unwilling to install the necessary equipment to use it," Renzella said. "As of the last couple days, we've had to use alternative assistance from some qualified folks to temporarily start the system until we resolve the issue of Scalise not installing the necessary modifications."
Renzella said the needed modifications include the redesign of piping to better supply water to the high capacity pumps. Additionally, the amount of water needed to effectively operate the system will require the construction of another water cooling tower behind the building.
Renzella confirmed there would be an additional cost involved in the redesign and building of that tower, but was unable to give a dollar figure.
"We can't make them do it," Renzella said of Scalise and the outstanding work. "We are at the mercy of the court system, and while there is not litigation on that yet, I'm sure there will be."
Also at the mercy of the court is the investigation, though Renzella said once the issues with Cost Co. and Scalise are resolved, the board should be able to find a clear focus as to what went wrong with the project.
"Our hope is to identify the root of the problem that caused all these delays and confusions and litigation and narrow our focus and find out who is responsible," he said.
Scalise Industries could not be reached for comment Friday.