HAZARD—Nearly a month after former board Chairman Grady Varney left his position, the Hazard Independent School Board met for their regular monthly meeting Thursday evening to elect a new chairman.
In February, the City of Hazard announced its hiring of Varney as city manager, meaning he would have to vacate his position on the school board by March 1. The board had been working with only Vice Chairman Aster “Cat” Sizemore at the helm as interim chairman until a permanent replacement could be elected.
After an amendment was made to the agenda, Sizemore was nominated and unanimously elected as chairman of the board. Ralph “Butch” Asher was then nominated and unanimously elected as vice chairman.
Sizemore and Asher each thanked the board for the appointments after the votes were cast.
“I thought Gradey did a tremendous job as the board chairman and we’re going to miss him at the meetings,” Asher said. “But we’ll go on and continue to do the things that we do. “
In other business, Joey Clark, an architect with the firm Clotfelter-Samokar, presented the board with renovation updates for the projects at Hazard High School.
Clark said last month the board hired a consulting firm to come to the high school to investigate what the cause could be for some cracking that had been observed in the rear exterior wall of the building.
“Essentially, what is going on is settlement is occurring there on site which is causing the brick veneer to separate from the CMU backup wall,” Clark explained. “What’s basically happening is the brick veneer is sliding off the CMU wall, and that’s what’s causing the horizontal cracks.”
Clark said this was an issue because the veneer has slid around the frames of the exterior doors in that wall, causing them to shift and rack, effectively rendering some of the doors useless. This could cause a major safety issue if it is not remedied in the near future.
Clark advised that the board should hire an engineer to figure out exactly how to fix the settlement issue so that crews can begin to fix the wall as soon as possible.
Board attorney Sam Collins raised concerns that the veneer might be a safety risk on if it falls off the side of the wall; however, Clark said that was highly unlikely to happen as the cracks were along the base of the wall, the shifting was happening slowly over time, and the upper part of the veneer was still intact.
“Barring some freak accident, that should not happen,” Clark said.
The board also voted to amend the school calendar.
After a harsh winter has caused many schools in the region to miss more days this year than they have in a number of years, breaks are being cut short and calendars are being adjusted nearly every month.
“Hopefully we will only have to amend this one time, and we will not have to miss any more days,” Superintendent Sandra Johnson said.
The district has missed a total of 10 days due to weather, Johnson said, adding that by using the additional hours the board has built into the district’s schedule the last day should be May 22, with spring break falling from March 31 to April 4. The schools would also be closed May 20 for Election Day.
Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.