KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – After Kingsport City Schools (KCS) officials announced the closure of the Buck Van Huss Dome on Monday, News Channel 11 sat down with system administrators to find out what led to the decision.
Andy True, assistant superintendent for KCS, said concerns about the building’s structure began during an inspection for a campus-wide roofing project.
“Knowing that it’s a wooden structure, and just the understanding that you’re obviously in a dome, you’re going to have heat rise,” True said. “We wanted to take a proactive step and have some analysis done on that structure itself before we went in and reroofed the dome itself.”
When early results came back, True said system officials discovered that the moisture content and density of the structure’s wooden supports were lower than they expected — especially as they approached the top of the building. True said that no inciting incident caused the inspections and that the initial samples were taken over the summer.
The main components that KCS officials are monitoring are the five compression rings that circle the dome — each one higher in the air than the last. While Wise, Virginia-based engineering firm Thompson & Litton continues to analyze the structure, True said all programs in the dome have been moved elsewhere.
“It was a move out of caution,” True said. “Just because we felt like we needed to have some more information.”
Until that information is prepared, however, True said it’s a waiting game for KCS officials.
“There’s a couple things we’re looking at, you know,” True said. “What is the short term? What are the things we’ve done this week, and then also working on what is kind of the contingency planning, not knowing what the long term is looking like until we get that information back.”
True added that the system sees maintenance like this as an active approach to safety, opting to catch conditions before they become a problem rather than after.
“We knew the structure was older. Let’s take a proactive step to have some assessment done so that we knew what we were dealing with,” True said. “That we were making decisions based on a proactive strategy rather than having to react to something that happened.”