Stanly fire marshal issues stop order for Ridgecrest school; board receives update

Published 9:13 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Two wrestling programs in Stanly recently lost their practice facility because of concerns raised by the county’s fire marshal.

A Facebook post attributed to Matt Shutt stated Ridgecrest Elementary, which has been closed since 2012, had been used as a practice facility for the West Stanly High School wrestling team.

According to the post, the facility has had its doors locked because the marshal had previously brought up issues to Stanly County Schools (SCS) regarding West’s use of Ridgecrest.

According to Stanly Fire Marshal Danny Barham, his department issued a stop work order at Ridgecrest because of three reasons.

The school’s fire alarm system on a recent inspection was found to be not working. Some exits of the building were blocked and there were some problems with the emergency exit signs not being lit, he said.

Barham said he emailed SCS Maintenance Director Keith Benton and SCS Director of School Safety and Security Jennifer Flowe regarding the stop order. Barham said both agreed with him after the three met on Friday.

In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Stanly County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jarrod Dennis said the only existing problem of those listed after work this week was the fire alarm. He said the company fixing the problem was supposed to be on site Tuesday but were not.

Benton gave an update to the Stanly County Board of Education at Tuesday’s meeting.

He said the inspection was performed last Friday, and the analog panel was found to be “in trouble mode.” Benton said the board was scheduled to be replaced Wednesday, and further said the school will be reinspected this week after permits went through Tuesday.

Benton said the inspection found there was not “ample room” in the classrooms or hallways for safety personnel to gain access in case of an emergency.

He said staff has cleared the hallways to have three-foot wide walking paths from windows to the hallways. Dumpsters on site were used to collect broken desks and cabinets, and the metal was taken to a scrap yard for recycling. SCS will receive payment for the metal recycled.

Benton said the last inspection was in March of this year and the alarm was in operation at the time.

During public comments, the parents of wrestlers for both the West middle and high school teams which use Ridgecrest spoke.

Patty Blaney said SCS “never should have let it get to that point,” adding it was the “failure of the school system who let it deteriorate.”

Blaney said along with the wrestling teams, basketball teams with the West Stanly Youth Basketball Association use the Ridgecrest gym. She said the Ridgecrest Volunteer Fire Department does the mowing there.

Shutt said his son was a freshman at the high school. He asked the board, “how did you know what was going on at the other end of the county?” He added SCS should figure out who was responsible for the condition of the school “and make them accountable.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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