When The Bigs Must Fall


WVU and Penn State high administration officials share a scandalous inability to do the right thing when it comes to young children. Why is that? Why did WVU build a nursery school within scant feet of a polluted traffic intersection? Why did WVU sell land to Monongalia County Schools for forthcoming Eastwood Elementary at another polluted and traffic crash dangerous intersection? WVU Vice President of Administration and Finance Narvel Weese and WVU President Jim Clements should be called to account, along with the WVU Board of Governors, all of whom approved the sale, without public discussion.

Why did the director of the West Virginia School Building Authority (SBA) approve the Eastwood site in clear-cut violation of state Rule? Why did the Superintendent of Monongalia County Schools recommend the site? SBA Director Mark Manchin and Mon Schools Superintendent Frank Devono should be called to account, along with the county school board that unanimously voted for the site upon the Superintendent’s recommendation.

These individuals should be held up alongside the disgraced Penn State officials involved in the child sex abuse scandal currently being prosecuted by the Pennsylvania Attorney General.

They should be held to account like these Penn State officials who have been forced out of office – Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President of Administration and Finance Gary Schultz – and those who should be forced out of office, such as Penn State President Graham Spanier. Legendary Penn State Coach Joe Paterno should also step down.

Overstatement in comparison? Hardly. Maybe an understatement, because the West Virginia officials are the direct perpetrators in the reckless and irresponsible siting, whereas the top Penn State officials involved in the scandal acted indirectly in failing to report the child abusing actions of former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky.

What happens here in Morgantown if a student is killed or severely injured in a crash in the high traffic, congested, arterial highways should Eastwood Elementary be built and open in a year or so at that spot that is banned by state Rule? It could be any child riding to or from school with his or her mother through that accident-prone intersection and arterials. High traffic highways, congested highways, arterial highways are each banned from being located at any new school site in West Virginia. The Eastwood site violates all those specific, explicit safety provisions, and more. And all the officials involved know it, or have no excuse not to know.

A good personal injury lawyer could properly extract tens of millions of dollars in compensation from the negligent agencies, and hit the negligent administrators with criminal charges, upon a catastrophe with such predictable potential, very much like what we are currently seeing at Penn State.

What has been done thus far by any official to prevent and correct this situation “simply isn’t enough.” In fact, nothing of serious prohibitive consequence has been done thus far by any official.

In West Virginia “Involuntary Manslaughter involves the accidental causing of death of another person, although unintended, which death is the proximate result of negligence so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life.”

The difference between Pennsylvania and West Virginia? In the Penn State scandal, the Pennsylvania Attorney General is suing the Penn State officials. In the WVU/SBA/Mon Schools scandal, the West Virginia Attorney General is defending the SBA and Mon Schools against an ongoing lawsuit. The West Virginia Supreme Court is expected to rule on the lawsuit in the next couple of months. It should act like the Pennsylvania Attorney General. It should do the right thing. It should ban the negligent and potentially lethal Eastwood Elementary intersection site from ever being used as a public schoolgrounds.

The first-rate sports journalist Dan Wetzel says of the Penn State scandal that “The time for hiding behind statements and closed doors and parsed explanations from so-called leaders are over. This demands real investigation conducted by real adults…”

Just so for West Virginia school officials regarding the potentially lethal Eastwood Elementary school siting: It’s time for the real adults – hopefully those on the WV Supreme Court – to step forward and do the right thing, bar the Eastwood siting.

If not, one “accident” – traffic crash – in those school-site arterials puts this scandal directly “into the realm of criminal negligence.”

“433 wrecks, 30 weeks, 8 sites” – first 30 weeks of 2010:

cartoon-1127.jpg (1207×960)

cartoon-3130.jpg (2000×1485)

cartoon-2rev-1129.jpg (1005×2000)


See the early Sheetz gas station planning below. Sheetz has been eager to buy land by the school on the Mileground. Sheetz would like a new traffic signal on the Mileground by its gas station as indicated below. And Sheetz would like a school drive to go immediately beside a station as also indicated below. Sheetz could start with the six pumps as indicated below, then expand to fill the entire armory site.

Mon Schools does not own or control access/egress directly off the roundabout, so Sheetz could buy whatever is left of the R.E. Michaels property to put in a drive to its gas station off the “school” roundabout spoke, thus mixing ever more gas station traffic directly with school bus and car traffic, and allowing Sheetz to build a monster gas station off that major commuter and commercial intersection.

That’s what happens when you build in unstable, high traffic, commuter and commercial sites: uncontrollable major development. This not unlikely possibility is yet another damning way in which the school site is grossly negligent: the future development of the site surrounds are likely to be intense in ways that are neither healthy nor safe for school children.  Even the multiple highway and intersection expansions, long since prioritized, may not be the least of it. Sites with surrounds that cannot be known are grossly negligent. Sites with surrounds that are unsafe and unhealthy in ways that are both projected and expected to dramatically worsen are even more unconscionable. So it is with Mon Schools and its rash and wild, wrongful actions.

See the FOIA release emails below.

FOIA release (below) from WVU showing Sheetz’ early interest in a dual school/gas station drive, at the corner WVU parcel (above). After WV DOH planned to put the 705/119 intersection on that corner WVU parcel, Sheetz shifted its interest and plans to the armory site. However, this still leaves a dual access possible from the intersection: school/gas station access,  ”a combined entrance” (see below). Why would Sheetz not want that direct access from the intersection to an armory gas station? In fact Sheetz would need such access to allow traffic from both sides of the impending divided highway to reach a gas station at the armory site.

See, below, part of our Freedom of Information Act request of the WV Division of Highways.

This FOIA release shows Sheetz’ most recent interest in the armory site bordering the school grounds very close to the would-be school building:

From: ”Cramer, David E” <David.E.Cramer@wv.gov>
To: ”Davis, Michael R” <Michael.R.Davis@wv.gov>
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2010 08:41:22 -0400
Subject: RE: Another Sheetz Request

I can coordinate this project for DOH.  Sheetz’ rep can contact me.  Thanks.


From: Davis, Michael R
Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2010 3:17 PM
To: Cramer, David E
Subject: Another Sheetz Request

This one is proposed for the Mileground adjacent to the existing Armory away from the intersection with 705.  (Sorry, I have a plan view, but apparently our scanner isn’t working because I’m not getting anything from it).  As you’ll recall from the mtg. last week, once the Armory gets their new property over at the Airport this property will likely be put up for sale by the City and Sheetz wants it.  The fellow we met with from Sheetz inquired about a signal at the proposed intersection, but I don’t see how that can be possible with all the emphasis being placed on improving traffic flow through this area.

Do you want me to do the same thing with this one and just let them know to contact you on this project?  I imagine DD and DT will have a lot to say about this one.

Just let me know.  Thanks.


FOIA release from Monongalia County Schools showing Sheetz’ original interest in a land parcel by the school drive :

From: Frank Devono <fdevono@access.k12.wv.us>
Sent: Monday, March 29, 2010 9:30 AM
To: Sarah Bauer; Boe Betty Lou; Terry Hawkins; Donna Talerico; Becky Mattern; Daniel McGinnis
Subject: Fwd: Mileground Road
Categories: Blue Category
Sent from my iPhone
Begin forwarded message:

From: “Terry M. Astleford” <mra@atlanticbb.net>
Date: March 27, 2010 7:27:06 PM EDT
To: shannon.mundell@mail.wvu.edu
Cc: Frank Devono <fdevono@access.k12.wv.us>, “hazelet, david p” <dhazelet@sheetz.com>, Terry McMillen <tmcmillen@mcmilleng.com>, mmarko@atlanticbb.net, ehensley <ehensley@sheetz.com>,mickeypetitto@aol.com
Subject: Mileground Road


Mickey and I met with Dr. Devono last week to discuss my interest in the 2.17 acre parcel at the intersection of Mileground Road and Rte 705. Dr. Devono was a gracious host as he took time to explain the school district’s plan to acquire the rear portion of the Mileground parcel for the development of a campus for the pre-K to K-5 student body. As I remained interested in the 2.17 acre parcel, I suggest that a meeting be arranged for all interested parties. From my side, I would like to have represented my tenant; Sheetz, my engineer and my legal counsel. I suggest these participants so that I clearly understand the procedure for acquisition of  the corner parcel. Also, my tenant has an expectation of their presentation at the site. Bringing everyone together will eliminate confusion and misunderstandings in the future. Please let me know when you are available in the next few weeks. Possibly we can meet at your office or possibly I can impose on Dr. Devono to let us meet at his office. Give me several dates and times that you are available and I will coordinate a date and time agreeable to all.

Thanks, Shannon.

If Sheetz puts in the gas station by the school that it has wanted to put in for months, the children of Eastwood Elementary would be exposed to additional toxic vehicle exhaust pollution and likely other fumes from the station. Children and gasshould not mix.

Discovery News:

Gas Stations Are Toxic Neighbors

by Tim Wall

Anyone who has ever pumped their own gas downwind of the tank knows the tell-tale smell of fuel. But even from a distance those fumes linger. Researchers in Spain found that gas fumes contaminate the air up to 100 meters, or 328 feet, away with potential health hazards.

The airborne chemicals came mostly from unburned fuel evaporating during refilling of the stations’ storage tanks, during automobile refueling, and from spillage. The researchers from the University of Murcia measured the levels of two common gasoline related pollutants, benzene and hexane, in the area around the stations. They then compared these levels to the contamination caused by normal automobile traffic, and found higher levels in areas around gas stations.


Four Dead in West Virginia Gas Station Blast
January 30, 2007

At least four people were killed and at least two critically injured Tuesday when an explosion leveled a gas station in this southern West Virginia city, officials said. Among the dead are a firefighter and a paramedic, state fire marshal spokeswoman Celeste Hinzman said. The volunteer fire department was at the Flat Top Little General Store to evacuate people after a report of a leak in a 750- to 1,000-gallon propane tank, Raleigh County Sheriff Danny Moore said. One ambulance that was on the scene to help with the evacuation “disintegrated,” he said.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services:

Health Consultation: Kiddie Kampus Daycare Center – Gasoline Vapor Intrusion
September 22, 2008

During the week of July 21, 2008, staff noticed the appearance of strong gasoline odors in the daycare center. In response, they contacted the Wisconsin Department of Children and Family Services, which subsequently contacted WCHD and DPH. On August 13, 2008, staff from WCHD and DPH visited and evaluated the daycare center for gasoline vapors (WCHD 8/13/2008).  The director of the daycare center reported that gasolinelike odors first appeared in the building during the week of July 21, 2008, with odors noticed inside of the daycare center art storage room, which is in the rear of the daycare center.  The owner of the convenience/gasoline station store said the appearance of this odor in the daycare center resulted in the discovery of a gasoline leak and there was a subsequent removal of a reported 20 gallons of gasoline from a containment crock located beneath the pump island, which is approximately 50 feet south of the convenience/gasoline station store.  At this time it is unclear how vapors migrated into indoor air of the building from a gasoline product release beneath the pump island.


Stop cancer before it starts

Fuel Stations May Pose Child Cancer Risk
UK: August 20, 2004

LONDON – Living near a fuel station may quadruple the risk of acute
leukemia in children, research published yesterday showed.

French scientists who carried out a study of more than 500 infants found
that a child whose home was near a fuel station or vehicle-repair garage
was four times as likely to develop leukemia as a child whose home was
further away.

And the longer a child had lived nearby, the higher the risk of leukemia
seemed to be, showed the research, published in the Occupational and
Environmental Medicine journal.


Fire Breaks Out at Morgantown Gas Station [On Mileground]
Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Crews say it could have been a lot worse.
By Courtney Dunn

MORGANTOWN – A fire at a gas station started just before 11 a.m on the Mileground. An electrical fire started in canopy right above the gas pumps. Workers shut the pumps down immediately. A truck driver who works for a local natural gas company was going by, saw the flames and jumped in to help. Four fire departments closed the Mileground as a precaution.


South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD)  Air Quality Issues in School Site Selection Guidance Document June 2005 (revised May 2007):

South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD)  Air Quality Issues in School Site Selection Guidance Document June 2005 (revised May 2007) Prepared for:  South Coast Air Quality Management District 21865 Copley Drive Diamond Bar, CA 91765 (909) 396-2000    Prepared by:  ICF Consulting 60 Broadway San Francisco, CA 94111 (415) 677-7100    Reviewed by:Jean Ospital Health Effects Officer South Coast Air Quality Management District (909) 396-2582

The original MPO document (above and below) depicts only the proposed “Falling Run Corridor” connecting downtown Morgantown to WV 705 near the Mileground. Everything else in color is not included in the original MPO document and was subsequently added, based on information gathered from various other documents from a variety of organizations.

Below, “Eastwood” and the red arrows and red dot were added to the MPO document:

File:School sign US.svg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: