It didn't take long to get on the topic of our water crisis during the regularly scheduled Kanawha County School Board meeting Wednesday night.
It was a packed house. Educators, parents, film crews, national media outlets, 13 News, and faces we've seen many times the last six weeks. Many spoke to members of the school board directly.
Officials weren't the only ones to speak from the podium. One parent had a speech prepared, and he had one request. Joe Merchant said, "I'd like to actually hear you directly apologize right now."
An apology, for comments that Pete Thaw, the president of the board, made February 7th. In part, he said, "We're not going to be able to close these schools when somebody smells something. They smell it every morning. It's people who want the day off, let's be brutally frank." This father called the remarks... Intimidation...
Here's the exchange:
Thaw: "I am known to make ill advised comments."
Merchant: "Again, I'm waiting to hear an apology."
Thaw: "You've already heard it."
Merchant: "I haven't heard an apology."
Thaw: "What kind of apology do you want?"
Merchant: "I'd like you to say that you apologize to the teachers and staff of this community."
Thaw: "Please understand that my remarks were not intended in any way to comment on your dishonesty."
Merchent: "Mr. Thaw, can you please apologize?"
Thaw never said the words, "I'm sorry", and the meeting was adjourned not long afterwards. Merchant said, at this point, he had to voice his opinion. "Unfortunately, we've earned the right to be angry," he said.
Other topics discussed included the events that occurred on the days that school was dismissed as a result of the water situation. Some in attendance called for bottled water for the rest of the year, and the school calendar was also talked about.