WVNET to Mylan Pharmaceuticals? A Special State Deal?

WHITHER NORTH ELEMENTARY? AND MON SCHOOLS?

The Daily Mail reports today that the state is considering selling the WVNET property in Morgantown, possibly to next-door Mylan Pharmaceuticals, possibly for $10.5 million.

Which causes one to wonder: if the state can get $10.5 million from Mylan for WVNET’s small site and small building, what might Mon Schools get for North Elementary’s large campus and large building, which also sits immediately next-door to Mylan, directly behind WVNET, uphill from route 705?

The North Elementary building is big and relatively modern, and the North Elementary campus consists of about 13 acres, much larger than WVNET. In other words, if WVNET would get $10.5 million for its modest facility and grounds, why wouldn’t Mon Schools get tens of millions from the pharmaceutical giant for its much larger facility and grounds?

And why wouldn’t Mon Schools want to sell and move the school and campus? After all, what is a pharmaceutical plant? It’s a chemical factory.

Proximity to industrial facilities is not exactly child friendly. And axing WVNET is not job and people friendly.

What on Earth are young children doing going to school directly beside the many vents of a massive chemical factory? Has anyone ever tested the air between the drug factory and the elementary school? Have the school campus air and grounds been tested, and if not, why not?

North Elementary is dangerously close to the heavily-traveled and congested route 705. It’s not nearly as close to the highway as Eastwood Elementary on the Mileground is planned to be, but it’s too close nevertheless for the sake of health and safety. Plus the school and campus are immediately adjacent, practically on top of the the chemical factory that is Mylan Pharmaceuticals. In fact the school has a lovely, close-up view of many of the behemoth factory’s vents and a parking lot, which should make every parent’s stomach queasy.

The school should never have been built there in the first place (1978) and should have been long since relocated, away from the chemical plant and the dangerous road. Also, there is only one way in and one way out of North, risking entrapment, in addition to the lousy bottleneck and congestion.

What might Mylan develop on the WVNET site in front of and partly surrounding North Elementary? Mylan Pharmaceuticals is a transnational, transcontinental industry that answers to no local board of directors.

Now is the time, long since, for Mon Schools to move toward its own deal with Mylan, to negotiate a sale of North Elementary School and campus. Such a sale should more than pay for not only the relocation of the school but for a major improvement of a new school or, much better, two new schools. Mylan needs to be made to feel its responsibility to the local schoolchildren. It’s not as if Mylan would get little in such a deal – very far from it. The smart heads as Mylan could think how to make out well off such a deal with Mon Schools, even as they see that Mon Schools gets all the funds it needs and everything the schoolchildren deserve for the property. Now is the time, now more than ever.

Mon Schools, what are you waiting for?

A lawsuit? North Elementary is not as closely situated to 705 or a major intersection as Eastwood Elementary is planned to be, but the North location remains a potential disaster in the making, akin to the intended Eastwood Mileground site:

If an Eastwood student traveling in a bus or in a parent’s car gets injured, seriously injured, or worse, in a wreck there by the Mileground school site, then the officials involved, both county and state, should stand trial on both criminal and civil liability grounds for siting a new school in direct violation of the mandatory state student safety Policy 6200 202.06, which explicitly prohibits such siting.

The criminal and civil liability costs could be enormous and properly so. The grounds for negligence are such, in light of the explicit mandatory state policy, that homicide charges could and should be brought against county and state school officials if there would be an Eastwood student fatality in that traffic vortex.

So it is that a favorable Supreme Court ruling on the appeal to block the Mileground site would not only properly protect the schoolchildren, it would ironically protect the school officials from future prosecution for their own failure to do so, from their failure to abide by the mandatory student safety statutes of state Policy and state Code.

Meanwhile, the seeming Mylan grab for the WVNET property is a scandal ongoing:

Joe Manchin…responded to public speculation that this [WVNET] potential property sale is associated with an interest in the property by Mylan Laboratories. WVNET sits on land just off W.Va. 705, near the Mylan Pharmaceuticals facility. Manchin’s daughter, Heather Bresch, is president of Mylan.

The Charleston Gazette reported in 2010 that “Mylan Had Eye On WVNET Property For Years“:

Several years before the Manchin administration proposed relocating an Internet services agency in Morgantown to save money, Mylan Pharmaceuticals was eyeing the state-owned property.

Mylan’s interest in WVNET’s property sparked internal discord among top state education officials, according to e-mails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Mylan Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Mylan Inc., is located near WVNET on W.Va. 705, also known as Chestnut Ridge Road. Heather Bresch — who became president of Mylan Inc. last year and previously served as its chief operating officer — is Gov. Joe Manchin’s daughter.

State Higher Education Policy Commission officials spoke with Mylan representatives in 2007 and 2008 about the company’s proposal to lease part of WVNET’s property from the commission for employee parking, the e-mails show.

A top education official questioned how the commission was responding to Mylan’s interest in the property, according to the e-mails. As the Bresch MBA scandal unfolded, the commission backed off the discussions.

The Manchin administration’s Office of Technology now wants to consolidate WVNET and relocate its hardware to Charleston or Flatwoods. WVNET employs about 45 people. It provides computer and Internet services to state colleges, universities, public schools and the Legislature.

Surprise, surprise, WVU is involved in the mess as well:

Whether some or all of WVNET stays in Morgantown, officials and legislators said, it’s possible operations could be moved to WVU property. The report says WVU is planning to expand its Data Center Operations — some said possibly to the new technology park — and WVNET could co-locate with that center.

If Mylan wants some land adjacent to its factory, then Mon Schools should be getting rid of its horribly sited North Elementary for a premium price, to build a grand new school or schools much better located. Meanwhile, Mon Schools should at long last test the air and grounds of the North Elementary campus. Not only should such testing be done for the students’ sake, it could help facilitate matters otherwise.

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