School district takes steps to meet Gustav

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2008

As Hurricane Gustav approaches, the Vicksburg Warren School District is taking steps it didn’t take three years ago today.

“When Katrina hit we weren’t prepared like we should’ve been and that caused some problems, especially with diesel for the buses,” said Superintendent Dr. James Price. “This time around we’ve done everything I know how to do to ensure the safety of our people.”

Preparations went into full swing Wednesday and will continue until they are deemed no longer necessary. Tanks have been topped off and the contingency plan that was developed after Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005, is already in effect. Generators and chain saws have been serviced, plans have been made in the case that cell phone service goes down and items in cold storage that will need to be displaced if power is lost have been identified.

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“We’ve never, at this stage of the game, been so ready,” said Price.

At the end of class today, schools shut down for the three-day Labor Day holiday. Gustav is not expected before Monday and whether classes will be held Tuesday can’t be determined until much closer to that time. Closure information will be available at, on local radio and television stations.

In addition to the Vicksburg-centered preparations the district also will send school buses to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to help with evacuations if ordered. Six school buses and 10 district drivers will leave Saturday and drive to Columbia, where they will be refueled and filled with supplies and food. The buses will then continue on to the coastal staging areas.

“We’re praying it’s not as severe as it’s looking like it will be,” said Price, “but we’re preparing for the worst.”

Also discussed at the school board meeting Thursday were:

All donations to the school board, both cash and gifts, were approved. The donations included school supplies donated by Bass and Van Heusen outlets and a $25,000 new playground for Redwood Elementary donated by the school’s PTO.

Bids for a gym floor in Vicksburg High School’s newly acquired armory building were rejected in favor of starting over with a more specific set of guidelines.

The leasing of oil, mineral and gas rights to lieu lands in Hancock and Pearl River counties has been put on hold pending the establishment of the number of acres that are usable.