THE HUNTER REPORT
Greenback School Gas Leaks
Leaks possible "Tampering"
By: Pat Hunter
In recent years, Greenback School has had numerous gas leaks. But at Thursday’s school board workshop meeting, Loudon County Purchasing- Maintenance Director Leo Bradshaw informed the board of a very serious issue about the gas leaks. One school board member questioned whether it could be workmanship issues but Bradshaw answered no and why. Was this a case of tampering with gas lines?
School board members (BOE) were provided with a copy of a maintenance report of schools by Leo Bradshaw. He also spoke about a recent conversion from propane to natural gas, which was completed prior to fall break at Greenback School.
Bradshaw spoke about a sequence of events, which led to the Nov. 2nd police report. On Saturday before starting on Monday, the gas system was checked out and everything worked fine and the only thing that remained to be completed was the gymnasium.
Everything worked fine until Wed. and then gas leaks were reported in the gym and water heater near the cafeteria, Bradshaw said. Was it an old faulty heater that was moved to Greenback School asked a school board member? No, the heater was about 1-year old, which was moved from Eaton’s School, replied Bradshaw.
The gas was turned off to the entire school and on Saturday, Interstate Mechanical gas contractors and Loudon Utilities, Fire Chief Ronnie Lett made corrections and repairs and tested the systems once more and everything checked out. The system worked fine for one week but then Monday of this week the smell of gas was detected. The gas was cut off to the four (4) heaters in the gym.
The gas contractors did a check along with the fire chief and found that pipe fittings had been “backed off.” The fire chief requested an investigation and a sheriff’s detective wrote up the report.
So there is a possibility that they had been tampered with and he wanted the board to be aware.
Two weeks earlier, Fire Chief Lett and Fire Marshall Ron Jones inspected the entire school. Fire Chief Lett watched Interstate Mechanical tighten the fittings and now the fittings were loose.
A large number of people have keys to the locker room and gym and there are no security cameras at the school. According to Bradshaw all four gas lines can be reached without a ladder
Placing cameras at the school was discussed with Dr. Smallen, IT Director and Wayne Honeycutt, director of schools. Bradshaw is awaiting word from Smallen about the cost. There are funds that remain from $3 Million school improvement funds, which may be used. Another school board member discussed re-keying locks and monitoring who gets keys.
Three weeks ago on Oct. 9, someone entered the school and sprayed a chemical into a fire alarm sensor, which triggered the alarm and Fire Chief Lett reported that incident to authorities.
Bradshaw felt that these actions could put people and students in danger. “That’s nothing something that you can play around with, something that is very serious.” The county mayor is offering a $1,000 reward for anyone that has information that leads to the arrest and conviction of any person guilty of tampering with the gas lines that will affect the safety at the school, Bradshaw commented.
Purchasing Maintenance Director Leo Bradshaw reads police reports at BOE Nov. 5 meeting