Natural gas leak forces students to relocate at Goessel

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
Students and staff at Goessel Elementary School were forced to move to temporary locations this week after a gas leak was detected outside the building Dec. 1.

Last Wednesday, an employee noticed the smell of gas outside a kitchen door, and initial repairs to the gas pipeline were made at that time by personnel with a division of KG&E.

“After the repair was made, the gas company came out to do some further inspections, and they detected some additional leaks,” said John Fast, USD 411 superintendent and principal for kindergarten through eighth grades.

“There was never any gas odor detected in the building by either employees or by the gas company. Everything was outside.”

Following a series of tests Dec. 2 and Dec. 3, investigators determined a major portion of pipeline installed in 1959 needed to be replaced.

“It turns out that the entire line is very old and deteriorated,” Fast said. “There were multiple points where there were numerous small leak points and leakages.”

Classes were cancelled at GES on Dec. 3 to allow the gas company to complete necessary inspections and give the staff an opportunity to develop a temporary plan for relocation. Classes resumed Monday in the temporary locations.

While the work is being completed this week, children in grades kindergarten through three have classes at Goessel Mennonite Church. Students in grades four through six are located at the Goessel High School building.

All support services, such as speech, resource lab, music, art physical education, band Title 1 and ELP, are continuing as scheduled.

Hot lunches for students in kindergarten through grade 12 are being served at the high school this week.

During this time, messages to students may be delivered using the following phone numbers:

– Kindergarten through third grade-call GES at 620-367-8118 or Goessel Mennonite Church at 620-367-2446.

– Fourth through sixth grade-call the high school at 620-367-2242.

At press time, Fast said it was difficult to determine when children would be back in the GES building.

“The best projection we have at this point is we could be back in the building by the latter part of the week-possibly Thursday, possibly Friday,” he said. “That would be the earliest.”

Fast said he didn’t feel the children were in any immediate danger last week.

“The gas company assured us we were under no threat,” he said.

“If there had been any gas detected inside, we would have instantly evacuated the building. It was nominal enough not to create a threat. But, at the same time, you don’t want to take any chances.”

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