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County, school system work together

By Kim Walter

FRONT ROYAL -- The Warren County School Board on Thursday approved two separate maintenance requests that support the cohesive relationship between the division and county.

One request came directly from the county, and was an offer to help the division.

The continuing growth of youth and travel sports teams continues to put a demand on Warren County's ability to provide sufficient practice and playing fields, Superintendent Pamela McInnis explained.

For many years the youth soccer association has used the lower fields at Ressie Jeffries Elementary School for practice, and the increased use has taken its toll on the fields.

County Administrator Doug Stanley wrote McInnis in July about the possibility of the county taking over maintenance of the fields.

"As we all realize, WCPS simply does not have the extra resources to put into rehabilitating and maintaining the fields in a manner to meet the demand," he wrote. "Unfortunately, the fields at Ressie are showing signs of significant wear and tear and simply need to be reworked, including implementation of the fertilization program, overseeding and removal of safety hazard, including an old baseball backstop and rehabilitation of the remaining one."

Stanley drafted a memorandum of understanding between the School Board and the county's Parks and Recreation Department to allow the county to make improvements and assume maintenance.

"It's my understanding that this is a continuation of the discussion we had during the budget work session regarding facility maintenance," Stanley added. "Hopefully, this will be a good test project."

The division would still schedule use for the fields, and any school-related activities would take first priority.

School Board members recognized the positive side of the issue -- more kids are involved in recreation and sports. However, they also realized that the division is already maintaining a number of facilities.

"This seems like a win-win," said board member Joanne Cherfko.

McInnis agreed, noting that now children from all over the county will have access to well-kept fields.

"It's a wonderful offer from the county," she said. "And it just shows that if we work together like this we will continue to succeed and get things done."

On the other hand, the School Board approved another request from Stanley, who is also the chairman of the RSW Regional Jail Authority.

Stanley requested that the Warren County Public Schools Transportation Department provide vehicle maintenance for the jail. It was estimated that eight vehicles would be involved.

McInnis explained that the division currently has space to handle additional vehicles. However, another mechanic might have to be added to take on the extra work, she said.

"They don't have the vehicles yet, so we probably wouldn't have to worry about finding another employee until January," she said.

She added that the RSW Regional Jail Authority would reimburse the School Board for all expenses incurred in maintaining the vehicles, including the cost of an additional employee.

"We already do this type of work for the county and Sheriff's Office, and they feel that not only are they getting more bang for their buck, but our employees are also doing a very good job," McInnis said.

An agreeable memorandum of understanding still needs to be drafted and signed by both parties.

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com

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