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Moundsville’s Central Elementary School Looks to Replace Boilers

Photo by Alan Olson The boiler system at Central Elementary School is on its last legs, and the school district has just begun the process of upgrading their equipment.

MOUNDSVILLE — Central Elementary School’s inner workings have done their jobs for more than 40 years, but the time has come for a replacement below decks.

Last school year, one of the pipes servicing the two steam-powered boilers sprung a leak, making the replacement of the boiler system a priority. Facilities Director Mike Price said that, prior to the breakage, replacement of the boilers was going to be tackled in the next round of upgrades funded through the levy.

Money for this project was provided to the county through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, as part of the CARES Act. Superintendent Shelby Haines said the county received $10 million in funding.

While the overall replacement project is currently in the beginning of the planning stage and not much is set in stone, Price said the idea is to replace the steam boilers with a more efficient, air-powered unit.

“There’s a lot of infrastructure that goes with it,” Price said. “We’re removing all the old system — a lot of piping, old radiators, two really large boilers down in our basement. We’re going to replace it with an air-driven, air-cooled, more efficient system.

“… We got several million dollars to spend on these kind of projects, which we would normally not look at, but this turned into a problem all of a sudden, so that’s great now,” he added. “We have the opportunity to utilize those funds toward something that wasn’t on our radar.”

As the project is only just beginning and with the lag times that come with purchasing things with federal funding, Price said he estimates the work replacing the boiler system will start in the spring. In the meantime, however, students and staff won’t be working in the cold, as one boiler will take over what was previously a task which alternated between both, bearing the burden of its last season. Price estimated that the system was installed in 1978.

“We have a plan in place, we’ve corrected some of the issues already as far as the deterioration of old steam piping,” Price said. “We’ve lost a boiler; we have two boilers, so basically … the system was designed to alternate. Now, we’re just going to be able to run off one boiler, which is doable.”

Elsewhere in the county, Price hopes to use the ESSERF money to install natural gas-powered generators at Cameron Elementary, Cameron High School, and John Marshall High School, which currently suffer from periodic blackouts from a variety of reasons — most recently, he said, squirrels chewing through equipment, causing thousands in damages.

Price said the Cameron schools saw 15 power outages over the last year alone, which while countywide, storms and snowstorms cause widespread problems on their own. Price said that an optimistic estimate for the generators would see them installed by the end of this school year.

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