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HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (1/24/12) – The new Career and Technical Center was to be a shining light of opportunity.  It has, however, become a topic of anguish among the citizens of Hopkins County.  The $9 million dollar facility is situated overlooking the Pennyrile Parkway at the Earlington Bypass entrance.  The school is sited on a parcel of ground that was strip mined many years ago.  

(Correction - this was our original report: “The site was considered for Central High School but the engineering company assessing the site said the location was unsuitable because the ground had not been compacted to anticipate building a building on the property.”)  Steve Gilliam, Director of Facilities and Safety for the Hopkins Count Schools, called and offered that the Central site was not considered for that location.  The Central site considered was across the connector road toward Earlington slightly west of where Jennmar is currently located.  This was confirmed by Associated Engineers.   If this caused confusion to you as a reader, we apologize.  

When plans emerged for the Career & Technical Center, the site was again proposed and this time another engineering company said that the site was “ok” and the state concurred.  Now, it seems that the site is not ok because the new school is suffering from the ground settling.  In fact the damage from the settlement is so severe that construction was halted.  A company called Terracon was hired to assess the situation and help discover the problem as the “unconsolidated fill material” continues to settle.  Terracon has to determine the depth to solid rock and what is the makeup and distribution of fill material that lies beneath the school.  If topsoil or certain clays are included in the fill, there could be layers of mud.  Large rocks may also pose a problem as dirt and rock slowly sift into the large voids between the rocks.  Layers or sections of materials may have been compacted by mining equipment and adjacent areas not compacted; thus creating an uneven settling of the ground.  

Regardless of the cause, the building continues to suffer from significant settling.  The following report was given regarding the process of analysis and remediation:
“Terracon has finished drilling three holes in which they found rock between 65 and 80 feet.  They have place monitors at several levels which they are going to read every 10 days or so.  These monitors will tell them at what level the ground is moving.

Our insurance company contracted Larry Schwering, an architect from Lexington who has extensive experience building on fill land in Eastern Kentucky, and we are proposing to enter into a consulting agreement with him to review the Career & Tech Center project and offer remediation ideas.

All parties (JKS, Peyronnin, Associated Engineers, Terracon, J.E. Schwering, and Travelers Insurance) have been kept informed of what is going on and are looking for ways to remediate.  We have asked for everyone to be prepared to meet with us in mid-February to look at the data and discuss remediation.  Our goal is to have a plan the first week of March."

SurfKY News has reached out to engineers and soils experts who decline to speak “on the record”; however, they are universal in the assessment that remediation options will be few and expensive.  The good news is that there may be enough insurance coverage to cover the cost of stabilizing the ground beneath the new school.  The $2 million dollar question at this point is: “Will the parties be able to find a company that can stabilize the ground/structure within insurance coverage limits; and, will the company guarantee the work?"  If any of these answers are “no”, the school may have to be located at another site.

Ron Sanders
SurfKY News

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