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Commissioner Stender Addresses Concerns on 4-H Camp Safety

July 10, 2019
By Maddisen Eidel - Staff Writer , Tyler Star News

Residents of Tyler County are likely aware of the extensive renovations and repairs that have been done at the Tyler County 4-H Camp. This work has been conducted by a group of hardworking contractors, and was spearheaded by Tyler County Commissioner John Stender. Work completed for this campgrounds includes various renovations to the Assembly Hall and the Girls Dorm, the construction of a brand new Boys Dorm, as well as the addition of several amenities. However, despite this work, it was reported that residents are being told the camp is unsafe.

In response to these allegations, Stender reached out to assure citizens that the camp is safe and useable for anyone wishing to use it. He explained that the camp has been inspected by two fire marshals - reportedly for four and a half hours - in addition to a representative from the Department of Environmental Protection, and by a health department inspector, who took water samples. This inspector declared that the water in the camp Assembly Hall is safe to drink.

Despite his efforts to get the water in the Girls Dorm tested, Stender reported that this has yet to be possible. However, it was said that the water in this building is safe for non-drinkable purposes such as showering and hand washing. Stender said that the water in the Girls Dorm would be tested within a week.

In addition to his assurance of the camp's safety, Stender addressed various rumors circling the county in regards to the camp. It was reported that those working on the camp had ruptured a septic tank, which the commissioner explained was untrue. This statement was also refuted by the representative from the Department of Environmental Protection who conducted an inspection in response to this complaint, only to find it untrue.

Stender also mentioned that photos were taken of the camp that displayed buildings in disarray. However, he explained that these photos were taken while workers were taking action on the Fire Marshal's recommendations.

Stender reported that when the fire marshals were conducting their inspection, they were informed of new laws passed under the Fire Marshal codes.

These codes were said to have gone into effect in May of 2019, and therefore Stender and all those working on the 4-H grounds were unaware of them. There were reportedly no violations to these codes; however, the Fire Marshal offered various recommendations, and gave the camp a year to complete them. Stender said they intend to complete each recommendation within the time frame given.

The aforementioned pictures showed workers following the Fire Marshal's recommendations as they had pulled ceiling tiles out in order to replace some wires with MC wires.

Stender also reported that the only building that is currently not serviceable is the newly-built Boys Dorm. He explained that this is only as a result of the water and the new Fire Marshal codes. While the water is reportedly usable, it was said that the PSD asked them not to turn the water on as they believe they have a leak somewhere. The other reason the building is not serviceable is because the codes require pull alarms to be installed in all buildings, including the Boys Dorm.

Stender contacted a company in Marietta called Electronic Solutions, which is reportedly owned by Tyler County High School graduate Tom Hamilton. Hamilton's company has agreed to install the pull alarms, however the earliest they can start work is September. Stender said that Electronic Solutions will install pull alarms in one building each month until all the building's are equipped with the alarms.

All of the work on the 4-H camp grounds was said by Stender to be a need as renovations hadn't been done in quite a while. The commissioner also conveyed that the camp was in "disrepair." Stender reported that the contractor on this job and his employees were doing great work.

The 4-H Camp will be hosting the Tyler County Youth Days Camp on July 16-18. This camp is open to all groups, and is free to participants as all expenses have been paid for by the county. In regards to this camp, Stender asked that individuals remember that the 4-H grounds still remains a camp, and as such the buildings and amenities remain much the same as other campgrounds. "This is a camp, not the Holiday Inn Express." Stender reminded.

In regards to the 4-H Camp, Stender also said, "We're willing to try and work with anybody to do the best we can to make it a serviceable camp for all groups." He went on to say that they anticipate that the grounds be used for purposes such as church camps, class reunions, and band camps.

Anyone wishing to take a tour of the facility can contact Harley Stewart at 758-4691.



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