Vernon High School Construction Controversy

Plans for a new high school in Vernon are up in the air because of what's in the ground.

Washington County school officials want to build the new school on top of an old landfill, but experts now say the ground arsenic levels are too high.

The project to build the new Vernon High School on land that used to be a dumpsite has many people in this community expressing their concern, concern from residents like Kathy Hewitt.

"Everybody knew what it was before they started and where are the concerns coming from now."

But newly elected school board members are now saying they didn't know. They say they were never told about trash found on the site or anything about the high levels of arsenic.

Parents in this community like Sheryl Riveras say they want this sorted out for the sake of their children.

"Well, I really just hope that before they do go any further than where they've gone right now or spend more money, they make sure that the dirt and everything, the water and everything is going to be okay. I don't want my kids going some place where they're going to take a chance of being sick."

"I mean they're finding stuff 10 years from now that can harm people so what's to say that it. A simple bacteria now a days can lead to sudden death, so what's to say what could happen 10 years from now with that."

The Washington County School Board recently reviewed soil samples and survey information to find out if the company that performed them could be held liable. Because the company advised the school board to remove all trash from the site before starting the construction, they have no apparent grounds for legal action.

The levels of arsenic that were discovered on the site we're not lethal, but they were beyond the acceptable level for Florida standards.