Horse Branch Elementary Septic Situation

Septic issues at an elementary school are causing concern in the Horse Branch Community.

Residents say the elementary school is the center of all the activity in the town.

Now with these septic issues, those in the close-knit community are concerned the school may have to close its doors for good.

"We would like to have answers of why it's been neglected. Why hasn't something been done and why now when we've known it's been a problem for a couple of years," Kelly Crowder said.

Crowder has a sixth grader at Horse Branch Elementary. When she learned that the school was having issues with an old septic system she attended a board of education meeting where made her concern public.

"One of the hot topics was the sewer system in Horse Branch and according to Soretta Ralph that we were looking at either spending $250,000 for a new sewer system that was only going to be approved by the state or closure in the middle of the school year," Crowder said.

Adam Clark, an environmentalist at the Ohio County Health Center, said the Ohio County Board of Education was notified last December that the septic system was not up to code.

"They have submitted a plan, and we gave them 60 days to remedy the problem and we're still working with them and giving them time," Clark said.

Clark said the septic system is around 50-years-old and the age combined with the amount of waste is creating an environmental situation.

"At this point the system is just flowing into the creek and that's what we're really trying to clean up," Clark said.

Clark said his department is working with the school board to come up with a answer. He said a few quick fixes have been discussed but there needs to be a lasting solution.

"I want to make it clear we don't want to close the school, that's not what we're trying to do. We'd like for the school to stay open," Clark said.

Members of the community say their worst fear is that the school could be closed, so they're hoping everyone can come to an agreement that's in the best interest of the children.

"We're going to do all that we can, all that we have to do to keep the school open and hopefully it's going to be with the support and I think it will be with Superintendent Ralph and the Ohio County Board of Education and I feel they want to keep it open," said Kenny Autry, a former Horse Branch principal.

The superintendent did not return our calls for a comment.

A committee that has been formed by the community will be holding a public meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. at the Horse Branch Church of God to discuss the situation.