ERWIN — Although the Unicoi County School System is still awaiting the results of tests conducted on the sinkhole that opened on the grounds of Love Chapel Elementary School a little more than three weeks ago, it already has an idea of the costs brought on by the sinkhole’s appearance.
Director of Schools Denise Brown said Tuesday the sinkhole has thus far cost around $38,000. Brown said this cost include the costs of the materials and labor used to fill the sinkhole, which was approximately $25,000.
The school system’s insurance provider, Risk Management Trust, previously required that professional movers be hired to move materials needed for the relocation of Love Chapel’s students. Brown said this cost around $8,000.
Other costs included setup of the rooms and signage placed at Unicoi County Intermediate School and Unicoi County Middle School, the schools Love Chapel students were relocated to after the discovery of the sinkhole, to help with traffic flow.
Brown said the Risk Management Trust, which has its own sinkhole division, will fully reimburse the school system for the expenses associated with the sinkhole.
The sinkhole at Love Chapel was discovered on the morning on Aug. 18 by someone walking in the area. Crews dumped around 100 tons of rock into the sinkhole in order to stabilize it before measurements were taken. Measurements indicated that the sinkhole was around 120 feet deep, with the last 25 feet being water.
Classes at Love Chapel were canceled for the week of Aug. 20 after Risk Management Trust requested that no one be allowed in the school building. Later that week, the school system released details of a relocation plan in which Love Chapel students in kindergarten through second grade would be sent to Unicoi County Intermediate School and Love Chapel’s third-grade students would be sent to Unicoi County Middle School until further notice. This plan went into effect Aug. 27.
On Aug. 25 and 26, crews sent by the Risk Management Trust were on site at Love Chapel to drill around the sinkhole to collect soil and other samples to be used for testing. This testing is part of a preliminary report the school system is to receive. Brown said school officials expect to receive that report this week.