The Inside Story: 2 Richmond Co. school projects come to screeching halt over health, security concerns

By: Chris Thomas Email
By: Chris Thomas Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Demolition has come to a screeching halt on two Richmond County schools because the sites are not secure. The other problem? Asbestos. But that's not all. The PTA says they had no idea.

The old A.C. Griggs Alternative school is wrapped in red tape that warns of an asbestos hazard. The Richmond County Board of Education is now trying damage control.

"No one has been exposed to any elevated levels of asbestos at any time on any of these projects," said Director of Facilities Benton Starks on our weekly radio segment on 96.3 KISS FM with Fattz and Cher.

"We'll note you said elevated levels," News 12's Chris Thomas replied.

We got our hands on a memo that says the contractor removed some of the windows containing asbestos at A.C. Griggs. The move brought work to a screeching halt because the site is not "secure."

"I think it's horrible," said community activist Woody Merry, who says there are similar concerns at Forrest Hills that sits just steps away from Langford Middle School.

"There are no asbestos warning sings. There is no red tape," Merry said. "The fence is literally a piece of junk."

Merry notes the schools specified standards of 8 feet for the fence were also not met.

"We want the site secure. We don't want any problems," Starks said. "That's why we stopped the project."

What is most alarming is that we were able to walk right through the gates that were left wide open when we stopped by on Wednesday.

"It takes The Inside Story to uncover a whole lot of things on a regular basis," said PTA President Monique Braswell, who says parents were left in the dark. "I think that the parents now should begin to ask more questions and find out what's going on."

Merry worries the damage has been done.

"Here is a very populated neighborhood with no security and the children are going to play there. You can take it to the bank," Merry said. "Vagrants are going to look for stuff they can sell."

Starks insists the projects will be brought up to the proper standards.

"There will be a fence in place as specified," Starks said.

The board says the company had trouble finding the 8-foot fence. Starks says this is a more than $200,000, and each day it sits vacant, money goes down the drain.

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