School bond levy battle proving contentious

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Pitches for a local school bond levy have turned into what an organizer calls “a civil war.”

A group organized to fight against a proposed $80-million school bond levy in the St. Clairsville – Richland City school district rallied followers on the Belmont County Courthouse steps. They say an excessive tax burden would come if the measure passes.

William Brooks, the “No” bond levy rally organizer, said, “The majority of the community don’t want it. They know that ‘buildings don’t teach kids.’ Now, we do know that we need a school building, but we don’t need football field turf that was just put down four years ago.” Brooks continued, “We don’t need a swimming pool, we don’t need a new gymnasium. It’s just too extravagant.”

Supporters of the bond levy say those opposed do not have correct information — and architect estimates compare well with other similar projects.

When reached for comment, Sara Myser, the “Build St. C.” levy co-chair said, “It’s very reasonable. People have to consider that we are building four buildings on a different plot of land. And so, we really believe in this project. We believe in the value of it. Every piece of it is a necessity. Every part of it is important.”

But Brooks says the “Build St. C” organizers have throttled his efforts to learn specific details about building plans. He emailed 7News certified mail receipts from letters inviting the pro-levy group to explain these plans to opponents. Individuals in the pro-levy group declined to pick up the letters. Brooks takes a negative view of this.

Lot of people are for it, a lot of people are against it. It’s a civil war. And we don’t appreciate that. We want to put people in there that have the community – the ‘real’ community in their heart – not what ‘their’ community is,” Brooks said.

When asked to respond to Brooks’s comments, Myser replied, “We respect the democratic process of this whole thing. Obviously, we’re really excited about ‘Build St. C” and all the positive and accurate information that’s out there about our project.”

Myser believes much of the opposition comes from people not having accurate information on the proposed projects. “There’s just a lot of misinformation out there,” she said. “I really want to encourage people to be informed when they go to the polls on November 6th. So, we hope that they visit our website, email us, or call us if they have any questions,” Myser said.

Myser also explained a new swimming pool complex would receive a construction go-ahead if and only if both the school bond levy and the swimming pool levy passed.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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