Asbestos concerns cause drama at Kilgore College

Dec 10, 2014

For a community college with just under 6,000 students, Kilgore College is certainly making more news than the average school of its size. In fact, more-so than ‘news’ the events occurring right now sound like something out of a movie. From behind-the-back gossip, to accusations amongst board members, to student health and safety concerns, there’s a lot to keep up with. The latest event, a bullet through the door of one of the college’s president’s critics, escalated things to a whole new level.

For some months now the board of trustees has been engaged in a game of whispered concerns and accusations, mostly surrounding various policies at the schools. One of the issues has to do with asbestos in the old buildings around the college campus. Supposedly, it’s been kept quiet that some of the old buildings still contain the toxic substance, and that college officials tried to remove it from one building by themselves, without professional input, just a couple of days before a performance in the same auditorium in which it would be packed with students. The performance, by the way, came from the Kilgore Rangerettes, a world-renowned drill team whose claim-to-fame status is just another oddity of the small school.

The college’s facilities director, Dalton Smith, secretly recorded another official from president Bill Holda’s administration saying that Smith should “print a list of every student that’s been here for the last 30 years” if he wanted to find out who had been exposed to asbestos. Yikes.

Supporters say that these and other issues have been blown out of proportion, and that the board is by and large happy with the job that Holda and his administration are doing with the school. Even so, the argument seems to have escalated recently. Just after the asbestos revelation, one critic, Brian Nutt, got a bullet through his door; luckily no one was hurt in the incident. While there’s no evidence to suggest a culprit yet, Nutt said he finds it hard to believe that it was a coincidence, given the drama over the past few months and the asbestos story just before.

Since all of this began, the college as a whole has been fairly closed off to outside media. Representatives have suggested that many lines of questioning are misguided, and are being prompted by biased accusations meant to stir up drama.

The whole situation is just plain weird for most people that hear about it. The fact that all of these things are happening in the middle of a small college area makes the drama surrounding everything take on the hint of ridiculousness. On the other hand, gunfire and threats entering the picture escalate the incident from bureaucratic squabble to the potential for real trouble and harm. On a related note, Smith declined to give an interview to the press following the shooting incident, citing it in his reasons for not being so forthcoming anymore.

While the rest of the state might not bat much of an eyelash, there’s a small drama unfolding in Kilgore, and one can only hope it comes to an uneventful conclusion before too long.