Blount County Superintendent Rodney Green (left) gives a detailed briefing on costs of restoration of J. B. Pennington High School to District 11 Representative Randall Shedd, and House of Representatives Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter of Rainsville, during an extended walk-through of the building. While fire damage was extensive, smoke and water damage were equally so, according to Green.
A major challenge is coping not only with replacing damaged materials, but replacing them with up-sized and upgraded components to comply with building code requirements which have been substantially upgraded since the high school was built in the early 1990s. The loss, allowing for upgrades to meet current codes, has been unofficially estimated to be in the $5 million range. The school was insured to the maximum extent possible, but because of code requirements, still sustained a substantial coverage gap in costs of replacement.
Shedd said he submitted a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee on April 6, signed by all members of the Blount County delegation requesting $700,000 for J. B. Pennington to cover costs not covered by insurance.
He had released a statement shortly after the fire saying that rebuilding J. B. Pennington High School is his number one legislative priority and that he and the Blount County delegation ‘will work hard to acquire state resources’ for the effort. Yesterday was his second tour of the building, accompanied by Ledbetter, who got a crash course in fire restoration technology to supplement his knowledge of tornado recovery rebuilding from the time when a school in his home county was heavily damaged by a storm several years ago.