New Castle News

Union

April 20, 2012

Union school board approves oil, gas lease

NEW CASTLE — An agreement has been reached for possible oil and gas drilling on Union school property.

The board voted 7-2 to OK the lease with Hilcorp for $3,300 an acre for 48 acres and an 18 percent royalty fee should the company drill there.

Casting the dissenting votes were Greg Cassella and Debi Allebach.

Richard Book of Harbor Edinburg Road presented his objections to the proposal, citing heavy truck traffic in the business district, as well as air pollution and other major environmental problems.

“Children’s health and well being comes first,” Book said. “Life and environment is more important than money. At what cost is this to the community?”

After the meeting, Allebach explained she had voted against the agreement because of health and safety concerns.

According to superintendent Alfonso “Butch” Angelucci, “This could be another source of revenue of $150,000.”

The land targeted includes 12.5 acres of school farm property off Route 224 near Burger King. The remaining acreage is behind the campus, extending toward Route 224.

Part of the five-year lease requires that well drilling must be done at least 500 feet from buildings and utility lines.

Upon completion, the land must be restored to as near the original contour as possible, Angelucci said.

Hilcorp is based in Houston, he said, and has signed other lease agreements in Lawrence County.

At its meeting Wednesday night, the board also:

•Failed to approve the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center’s 2012-13 budget of $4,032,424. Allebach and Kathi Duncan voted in favor.

•Approved a 50-cent increase in lunch prices for the 2012-13 school year because of the new U.S. Department of Agriculture and National School Lunch Program requirements. The new costs will be $1.75 for the elementary and $2 for the middle/high school.

•Accepted the retirement of Karen Haas, high school Spanish teacher, effective June 8. Haas has been with the district for 20 years.

•Approved family medical leaves of absence for Thomas Medved, effective March 21, and Tammy Degitz, effective May 19. Both leaves end June 7.

(Email: lhudson@ncnewsonline.com)

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