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SEWAGE DISPOSAL. REPAIR BILLS
Tough Questions Tackled
By New School Board
BY SUSAN USHER
Brunswick County Board of Education members took
no action Monday on a request to reimburse two compa
nies for expenses associated with repair of a failed septic
system at Supply Elementary School, and learned award
of contracts to build a new school at the north end of the
county may be delayed because there's no guarantee yet
from the Town of Belville to provide sewer service.
Board members spent 45 minutes of the 2K-hour
meeting, its first business session, behind closed doors
with school board attorney Glen Peterson, seeking his
legal advice regarding the request for reimbursement
from architect Charles Boney of Boney & Associates.
Boney asked board members to consider compensat
ing Boney & Associates and Talbcrt and Bright engi
neering firm an estimated $47,000 in professional time
and expenses for designing and overseeing repair of the
Supply Elementary septic system that failed in March.
He estimated costs at $22,000 for the architectural
Firm and $25,000 for Talbcrt and Bright. The repair per
mit issued by the Brunswick County Health Department
requires daily monitoring of the work by the engineering
The school board is paying Pipeline Utilities of Wilm
ington, which installed the original
field. Si 79, 130 to build the new
drainage field and make other sys
tem repairs. Until the system is
fixed a contractor is pumping and
hauling away the sewage at a cost
of $1,600 to $1,800 per week.
School board members took no
action on Boney's request following
the closed session. Peterson said the
board hasn't decided whether to pay
the companies. Like the five board
members they replaced earlier this
month, the new board is trying to
find out why the two-year-old sys
tem failed and whether anyone is li
able for that failure.
"We've run into problems in get
ting the information we need," said
Peterson. "Is it a benign cause or is there liability? We've
looked at about 90 percent of it, but we need to pin down
some things. We want to make a full evaluation. No actu
al recommendation with regard to a lawsuit can be made
Peterson said he has asked experts to examine the sys
tem's design and installation and to look at other poten
tial factors, such as seasonally heavy rainfalls and fluc
tuating water table levels. Itemized records will also be
examined to certify the companies' costs for the repairs.
Boney said he doesn't think the architectural or engi
neering firms were at a fault. "I've looked through it. I
don't know anything we could have done differently,"
The septic system design and installation were ap
proved by the state Division of Environmental Manage
ment (DEM) before the school opened, but would not
meet currcnt Division of Health standards.
The repair area under construction is located where
designers had first planned to locate the original septic
drain field. The field location was moved at the direction
of DEM, which at thai time permitted such systems.
DEM was concerned about treated effluent migrating
through the water table off of the school property be
cause a drinking water well was in use at a nearby resi
"But the well was on the school's property and the
school system had arranged for them to connect to the
county water system," said Boney.
Since then permitting for large septic systems has
shifted to the state Division of Health. State health offi
cials disagree with the dosing iaie Of rate uf application
of effluent to the field DEM approved, saying it was too
high for the type of soil and size of the field.
Monday the school board granted Pipeline Utilities an
18-day extension on its contract because of rainy condi
tions. Boney said the contractor has been instructed not to
work on the field when wet to avoid damaging the field.
Bids Due Thursday
Bids for construction of the new Leland area elemen
tary school are due to the Brunswick County Board of
Education offices today (Dec. IS).
However, Peterson told school board members
Monday bids cannot be awarded and construction per
mits received until provision of sewer service is guaran
"(The Town of) Belville could give us a conditional
letter of agreement now," he said, "But you can't award
contracts on that basis."
Peterson said Belville is having problems getting its
sewer system "up and going," but that he expects those
problems to be resolved soon.
" We want to make
a full evaluation.
with regard to a
lawsuit can be
made until then. "
School Board Attorney
At a special meeting on Nov. 30
Brunswick County Commissioners
approved financing the school's
construction through placement of
an installment purchase agreement
with NationsBank, to be repaid
with state funds.
Meeting at Lincoln Elementary
School in Lei and Monday, the
school board also accepted an un
qualified audit report presented by
auditor Charles Flowers, along with
several minor recommendations for
improving internal controls.
"You are not impoverished," said
Flowers. "You are in sound finan
As of June 30, the school board
had a fund balance of S599.000.
with $189,000 of that available for use. The fund bal
ance fell from a year earlier because the school system
budgeted $237,000 of its operating reserves in setting its
At the recommendation of bond counsel, the new
board also approved a packet of documents, similar to
those approved by the previous board, governing the is
suance of certificates of participation to finance con
struction the new northern district elementary school.
The board also turned down a Job Training Partnership
Act grant of $35,861 for helping drop-outs complete
their education and get a job. Assistant Super-intendent
Oscar Blanks said the grant offer would have required at
least 10 technical revisions in the school system's pro
posal, changes that would have made compliance diffi
cult. "I think we would have been setting ourselves up
for failure," he said, suggesting he might reapply later for
a year-long grant for the 1995-96 school year.
Safe Schools Coordinator Linda Shaddix asked for
board members' suggestions regarding a proposed Jan.
26 safe schools conference as a follow-up to the 1994
Children in Crisis conference. While lauding efforts to
involve parents and the community at large in reducing
violence and improving school safety, board members
took a results-oriented approach. Noting Shaddix's al
ready heavy workload, member Pat Brown said, "We
don't want to do anything just to check off a square and
make us look good."
New School Administration Program
Approved For UNCW, Six More Sites
A new program approved at the
University of North Carolina at
Wilmington and only six other cam
puses statewide offers a new oppor
tunity for educators who would like
to become school principals, assis
tant principals and superintendents,
but need financial assistance.
The Donald R. Watson School of
Education at UNCW has been
named one of seven sites authorized
to offer a new master's degree in
school administration, with support
available through Principal Fellows
Diane Healy, the Union Elemen
tary School kindergarten teacher
named Brunswick County Teacher
of ?!- Year this pas! ipring, was in
the first group of Principal Fellows
selected statewide. She is enrolled at
A panel of out-of-state educators
reviewed program proposals from
12 schools in the UNC system be
fore making recommendations to the
UNC Board of Gover-nors. Dean
Robert E. Tyndall said the UNCW
proposal ranked as one of the top
"It will provide students with a
rigorous preparation program that is
unique in North Carolina," he said.
"It is a radical departure from exist
Associate Dean E. Conrad Sloan
said he expects the loan program to
help UNCW attract top applicants
who are "highly committed to quali
ty public schools" and to recruit can
didates from previously under-repre
sented groups such as women and
The master's program consists of
142 hours of study with rigorous
classroom work and field experi
ences in the first year and a full-year
internship with accompanying
coursework in the second year.
An interdisciplinary approach will
be taken, with faculty in education,
the humanities and business offering
a wide range of courses, according
to Andrew Hayes, chair of the
Department of Specialty Studies.
Principal Fellows receive an an
nual loan of $20, (MM), which will be
forgiven in full if the graduates are
employed as full-time administrators
at an approved site in North
Carolina for two years for each year
of funding. Graduates must com
plete the work requirement within
six years after completing the mas
ter's degree. The alternative to loan
forgiveness through employment is
payback of the loan and interest
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At UNCW, applications must be
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tration. The program expects to ad
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Those seeking a Principal Fellows
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gram, The University of North
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27515-2688, Attn.: Karen Gerringer.
Principal Fellows Program adminis
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ients statewide in April.
HEALTH BOARD clerk Kay Moore administers the oath of office to board members Benny l.udlum
(left) and Tom Pope Monday night, l.udlum hyjs first appointed in November, 1993, to fill an unexpired
term on the board <ind was re-named to the position last month by the county commissioners, who also
appointed Pope to a three-year term.
Septic Permitters Told To
Help Solve Perk Problems
BY ERIC CARLSON
A new environmental health su
pervisor was welcomed by the
Brunswick County Board of Health
Monday, with members urging him
to increase the department's empha
sis on helping applicants obtain per
mits for new septic systems.
Bob Odette, a retired U.S. Navy
environmental health officer, has
taken over leadership of the depart
ment formerly headed by Andrew
Robinson, who resigned from the
post last summer.
Also attending his first health
board meeting Monday night was
new member Tom Pope, who quick
ly declared his intent to scrutinize
the department that determines
whether property is environmentally
suitable for a septic system.
Pope, a South Brunswick area
builder, described himself as "very
conservative" and "a little to the
right of Rush Limbaugh." He said
land owners have "a vested right to
use their property"" and urged the
county's environmental health in
spectors to "go the last inch to find a
solution" when they determine a lot
does not to have the proper soil con
ditions for a septic system.
He characterized the environmen
tal health department as "a big cork
in the bottle" that places unneces
sary burdens on the Brunswick
County's resort and construction in
Pope's feelings were echoed by
board member Bruce Ouaintance.
who is also a South Brunswick area
builder. He expressed the hope that
Odette would "get our environmen
talists moving in the right direction"
to help property owners solve prob
lems that prevent them from obtain
ing a septic tank permit.
"We've done our job," Ouaintance
said. "Now its time for the employ
ees to do their jobs. Or else it's time
for the supervisor to find new em
ployees. We give, and we give, and
we give, and we're not receiving."
Board member Benny Ludlum
agreed. He said the county health
department should make use of its
recently acquired soil scientist "to
offer second opinions whenever a
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lot is turned down," thereby saving
landowners the expense of hiring a
private engineer to do the work.
Health Director Michael Rhodes
said the department docs not have
the manpower to provide follow-up
soil analysis of every lot denied a
septic permit due to a failed percola
"We would need three soil scien
tists to do that." Rhodes said. "At
some point they need to go to the
Rhodes admitted there may be
cases where an environmental health
inspector "didn't make the extra ef
fort" to help those whose property
does not pass an initial "perk" test.
"I think what were asking is that
the staff use their knowledge to help
find a solution," said board Chair
man Patrick Newton.
The discussion followed a closed
session in which the board voted to
compensate a Sunset Bcach property
owner $950 "to rectify an improper
ly administered septic permit.** The
expense came as a result of an envi
ronmental health inspector's im
proper denial of a permit. The em
ployee no longer works for the
health department. Rhodes said.
In other business the board agreed
to reclassify one of the department's
clinical nursing assistant positions to
that of a licensed practical nurse
posts and to increase another nurs
ing position from part- time to full
time. The change will be made using
existing funds this year, but will re
quire approval of a $13,000 increase
in next year's budget.
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