By Nathan Ham
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper made a brief appearance in Valle Crucis last Thursday to get a first-hand look at some of the storm damage that has hit the High Country over the last month.
Cooper made stops in several other mountain and piedmont counties as part of the trip.
The main focus of Cooper’s stop in Watauga County was a tour of Valle Crucis School and to hear how the community has been impacted by severe weather.
“I was able to describe to Gov. Cooper the continued flooding issues we face at the school as well as the ways in which our roads and other infrastructure are impacted by heavy rain storms,” said Dr. Scott Elliott, Watauga County Schools Superintendent. “I also shared my appreciation for the relief and funding being provided to the many school systems down east that were devastated by Hurricane Florence, but I also reminded him that we miss 15 to 20 days of school on average every single year in northwest North Carolina due to winter storms. I asked him to help us advocate for greater control over our local school calendars and for additional flexibility with how we use the limited resources we receive from the state lottery.”
The Valle Crucis School has had flooding issues for decades, according to Dr. Elliott, so when big rainstorms hit the area, it is a scramble to get the water out of the building.
“Our staff continues to mitigate flooding through the use of sandbags and rapidly removing water from the school. The storm from May earlier this year resulted in over $37,000 in repairs to classrooms and the playground, as well as through mold remediation inside the school,” Elliott said.
Elliott hopes that in the near future, a more permanent fix for the problem will take place, including a new school building that will not have such flooding concerns.
“The ultimate solution is the construction of a new school in a less flood-prone location. This is a project both the board of education and the board of commissioners are currently working to resolve,” said Elliott. “I hope to have a plan to present to the board of education in the near future for the construction of a new school.”