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Riverside students, teachers greeted with chilly halls

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It was 11 degrees just before 8 a.m. Tuesday morning at Yeager Airport in Charleston, according to the National Weather Service.

At the same time, 12 Riverside High School classrooms were without heat, said Principal Valery Harper.

The classrooms, all in one wing of the school, lacked heat from about 7:15 to 8:15 that morning, Harper said. Some teachers moved to other areas of the school, but others remained in the frigid rooms.  

"Some (students) were wearing coats, coats and scarves. Teachers as well," Harper said Wednesday. "They're troopers."

The heating and cooling system appeared to be overloaded Tuesday, Harper said. The school is looking at staggering the times heating and cooling units are started every day in order to prevent such problems in the future.

Wednesday also brought issues with heat in the school's auxiliary gymnasium and the auditorium. There weren't any classes in those areas Wednesday morning, Harper said.

Riverside is notorious for its heating and cooling issues, a big reason why it was included in a project to address such systems countywide. Through funding provided by an upcoming excess levy, the school system is working with Johnson Controls to improve heating and cooling.

At Riverside, that initially meant updating the way the system is controlled, said Chuck Wilson, director of the Kanawha County's facilities department. After looking at the school's four heating and cooling rooftop units -- each about the size of a railroad car -- more problems presented themselves.

"The more they dug, the more they found," Wilson said.

The Johnson Controls project, which was started in August, is supposed to take about 18 months to complete. Wilson said the county likes to do work in the summer when no one is in the buildings, but sometimes winter work can't be avoided.

The cooling issues in the gym and auditorium are not connected to the project, Wilson said. Heat was returned to the auditorium later Wednesday morning, and crews were working on fixing the gym's heat around lunchtime, said county Maintenance Director Terry Hollandsworth. 

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or Follow him at ;


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