By Teri Cayton and Mikie Dumire
According to a report issued by Senior Trooper J.J. Schmidle of the West Virginia State Police, on Friday, Nov. 15 at approximately noon, police responded to a bomb threat at the Tucker County High School. Once on the scene Tucker County High School Principal, Jay Helmick, advised Schmidle, that two calculators in the math class had been discovered with a bomb threat typed on the screen. The school was evacuated, without incident, and a search of the entire premises was conducted by Cpl. C.D. Whetzel and Cpl. D.G. Lanham of the West Virginia State Police K-9 Unit. It was determined after the search that no explosives were discovered.
The West Virginia State Police were assisted by The Tucker County Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Officers. The incident is still under investigation.
Tucker County Superintendent Dr. Eddie Campbell said students were immediately moved to a staging area where the busses are kept and loaded onto the busses. Campbell said, “After consulting with the state police it was determined that they would not be able to sweep the building with bomb dogs, which were in Charleston, until approximately 4:30 p.m.” Campebell added “Most of the students had not had lunch yet, so we made the decision to send them home.” Normally students would have been sent to Davis Thomas or Tucker Valley, but, combined with the fact that most students hadn’t had lunch and approximately half of the enrollment was out for the football game it was determined to send them home.
“I hope this doesn’t become a copycat issue. I want the kids to understand not only the inconvenience but the significance of the cost. I hope this doesn’t happen on a routine basis and that it is a one time thing.” Campbell said.
Campbell’s wish was short lived as another bomb threat occurred on Monday, Nov. 18. This time the threat was in the form of a hand written note on a piece of paper. Again students and staff were moved to the safety of the busses. At one point the West Virginia State Police gave clearance for staff to enter the cafeteria and get food for the students.
After the regular Board of Education meeting on Monday, Penny Ellison, reporter for The Parsons Advocate, had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Campbell about the bomb threats. “Unfortunately, we have had two of these. We haven’t had a situation like this in many years. We don’t want this to become the norm, we want this to be the exception. County wide we have an emergency policy that deals with any emergency. We train the secretaries on how to handle phoned in threats (these were not phoned in threats). Our students and teachers did wonderful. They heard the code, knew where to go and were cooperative. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the level of cooperation and are confident our people are prepared.
The amount of time we moved 300 students/staff was incredible. EMS and fire departments had to stage and stay that way for hours during these threats. These threats have cost taxpayers thousands of dollars each time. We will continue to work in connection with the West Virginia State Police. We will prosecute to the fullest extent of the Law.”