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Classes Begin at New Marsh Fork Elementary School

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

On Monday, just a few miles from the old school, students began classes at a new, safer Marsh Fork Elementary. Last week, families were invited to tour the school, where classrooms are equipped with smart board presentation stations, computer labs with the fastest internet connection in the area and a freshly painted gym with the school’s colors and mascot, a bulldog.

For years the old school building, which was adjacent to a coal silo and sat just 400 feet downslope from an impoundment that held back billions of gallons of coal slurry, was at the center of a controversy that led to protests, arrests and nationwide publicity. Local residents, especially parents of Marsh Fork students, were concerned about the health impacts of exposure to coal dust and the threat of a disaster at the impoundment owned by Massey Energy.

At the open house, Marsh Fork’s interim principal Tracie Wood told the Beckley Register-Herald, “I have never seen a community so excited about a school opening.”

Although it took years longer than many would have liked or expected from local officials and Massey, parents no longer have to worry about their children playing in the shadow of a coal preparation plant. Massey Energy gave the Raleigh County Board of Education $1.5 million to help pay for the new Marsh Fork Elementary.

Watch a flyover of the mine and impoundment above the old Marsh Fork Elementary building:

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