Almost immediately after receiving the go-ahead during a special-called meeting earlier this month, attorneys representing the Marshall County Board of Education filed a lawsuit against the Marshall County Sanitation District and the Marshall County Fiscal Court. The lawsuit acknowledges a controversy between the board of education and county entities which was unable to be solved in mediation, and requests the court enforce the original contract and design plans which were agreed upon by all parties involved.
Martin Johnson and Kip Mathis of Johnson & Mathis, PLLC in Benton, who represent the board of education, contend a material breach of agreement on the part of the sanitation district. They state the plans and specifications for the district's expansion of its wastewater collection system, which were approved and accepted by the board and the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), do not include a requirement for the board of education to install or maintain bar screens on its service lines.
"…The district's ordinances, rules and regulations in effect at the time the Board entered into the Agreement required no such devices on the service lines of the Board or any of the District's other customers; and the installation of these devices on the Board's service lines will require the Board to continue to be involved in waste water treatment at the high school and its other facilities in the Draffenville community. This defeats the purpose of the Board's participation in the project," the lawsuit reads in part.
Also according to the lawsuit, the board of education has a financial commitment of $730,573 to the project which is supposed to eliminate the need for maintaining its own, aging wastewater treatment facility at the high school campus.
The lawsuit further asserts that although the board of education has been told bar screens "are required under District and County's ordinances," no such ordinance has been provided to the board. The board has also, according to the lawsuit, been told by Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal the district is requiring installation of bar screens on service lines on a case-by-case basis.
"The Board contends that the District's requirement that Board install bar screens or any other mechanical device on its service lines is unsupported by any ordinance or regulation and is, therefore, arbitrary and should be of no legal force or effect."
The lawsuit also notes the board offered to pay for the installation of a grinder pump in the district's mains which would dispose of any foreign objects entering the system that might damage or interfere with the district's collection process; the board has offered to install bar screens in its lines provided district personnel would service and maintain the bar screens. According to the document, the district initially accepted such proposals provided the board pay an additional fee to the district for the service. But the proposal was withdrawn when the board learned Christian Fellowship School will not be required to install and maintain bar screens on its service lines as a condition of connecting to the district's wastewater collection systems.
The lawsuit states Neal and the district's chairman, Randy Green, have told the board their permit for operation of the wastewater treatment plant at the high school will not be renewed and the board will be forced to connect its adjoining properties to the system; the board contends the district's "arbitrary requirement" for the bar screen is a material breach of contract which makes the wastewater system inaccessible to the board. The lawsuit further states discontinuing the board's permit for the wastewater treatment plant on the high school campus will leave MCHS without an operable sewer service for its students and staff, which will result in "irreparable injury, loss or damage to the board."
Because the board has been unable to reach an agreement with the fiscal court and sanitation district through mediation and because it must be able to continue serving the students and staff at the high school campus, the board requested: a temporary restraining order or injection, or both, be granted to maintain the status quo pending final determination of rights of parties under the agreement; declare the district is prohibited from requiring the board to install bar screens or any other mechanical screening devices as a condition of connecting to the sewer system; declare the board is entitled to connection in accordance with the engineering plans created by BFW Engineering and approved by KDE without bar screens or any other screening devices; declare the board is permitted to maintain operation of its independent wastewater treatment in the meantime; grant the board its costs including reasonable attorney's fees and any other relief to which it may be entitled.
Marshall County Attorney Jason Darnall submitted a response the following day which states the defendants deny they are in breach of agreement but agree the parties have been unsuccessful in mediation as they have not been able to reach agreement regarding a mediator. He requests, on behalf of the district and fiscal court: a judgment declaring the defendants are entitled to require the installation of one or more bar screens prior to being allowed to hook onto the sewer service lines and a judgement awarding defendants' costs including reasonable attorney's fees and any other relief to which they may be entitled.
During last week's board of education meeting:
• The board approved Oct. 5-9 for Fall Break 2020.
• The board accepted a settlement from the insurance company representing CMS Architects regarding a design flaw in the flooring at the new South Marshall Middle School. MC Schools Director of Facilities Jeff Stokes said the color of the tiles was inverted; blue tiles were placed where it was supposed to be white, and vice versa. The settlement reached between the board and the insurance company is a $94,700 payment made to the board and
• MC Schools Food Services Director McKenzie Suiter reported the district-wide Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which allows all Marshall County students to eat breakfast and lunch each day at no cost to the student, has been extremely successful. She said the schools are serving an average of 551 more breakfasts and 330 more lunches each day. "We are serving more meals, helping to fill the hunger gap and easing the financial burden on families," she added. She noted the 2018-2019 school year saw an increase in school meal participation by students: the schools serve 13,634 more breakfasts and 20,317 more lunches than the 2017-2018 school year with a total of 308,229 breakfasts and 575,850 lunches.
• MC Schools Instructional Supervisor Abby Griffy announced Future Marshal Night on Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. for the incoming kindergarten class which starts in Aug. 2020. She said they'll provide information to parents regarding what to expect and how to get their children ready for kindergarten, the children will receive t-shirts and enjoy a number of planned activities. She said representatives from each of the elementary schools and all kindergarten teachers will be present to meet the children. The event is scheduled for the auxiliary gym at MCHS.
• Griffy announced the school district has also partnered with Kentucky Lake Economic Development to host a community dinner on Jan. 30 in the Kenneth Shadowen Performing Arts Center. She said approximately 60 people are signed up to attend and it will be an opportunity for the school to showcase its many programs and talented students for the business/industry community. The students have been involved in a number of ways with the event including presentations scheduled for that evening; the culinary class will prepare and serve the meal; the jazz band will provide entertainment; art students have created placemats.