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State official commends East's mold-fighting efforts
Saturday, November 02, 2002

By J.H. Osborne
Times-News

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Tennessee's top education official said Friday she hopes school systems across the state take notice of Sullivan County.
"This is a prime example of a community that cares about education,'' Education Commissioner Faye Taylor said while visiting Sullivan East High School - which these days is at Bristol Motor Speedway.


Taylor said she was "delighted" by her visit to East at BMS.
From what she saw, she said, the education of East's 1,000-plus students has been "enhanced,'' "not impeded" by their temporary relocation to the speedway.


Classes have been under way in skyboxes at BMS since last month, when East High School was closed for work to remove mold.
Superintendent of Schools John O'Dell said that work has been completed, but results of follow-up tests for mold won't be back until at least midweek.


That means the "Racing Patriots" could return to their home turf as early as Nov. 11, but O'Dell called that "very optimistic.''
"We're anxious to get home,'' East principal Mary Rouse said. "But it's worked better than any of us could have hoped.''


Sullivan County Executive Richard Venable described Rouse as a "day-to-day hero" when she was introduced to Taylor.
"This is a national model for how a community can step up and find the answer,'' Taylor said.


Sullivan County's is not the only school system to deal with mold problems in the state, or nation, Taylor said, and the county should be commended for its handling of the situation.
"It's happening all across Tennessee,'' she said.


Her office is researching mold and other environmental issues, Taylor said, and she hopes her visit to BMS will alert other school systems to look for problems in their own schools.


"By all means, don't ignore them,'' Taylor said. "We want to make folks aware this is an important issue, and we want them to be responsive.''


BMS General Manager Jeff Byrd said East students have been "perfect'' guests while using BMS facilities and will be honored during a spring race.


"We've got a special section set aside for them,'' Byrd said.
The school's choral group will also perform at that race, he said.

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