PARKERSBURG - Emergency response crews converged on two Wood County schools Tuesday following a bomb threat.
Randy Lowe, Wood/Wirt County 911 director said Wood County officials received a call at approximately 11:53 a.m. from the Belpre Police Department of bomb threats reported to Parkersburg High School and Neale School in Vienna.
Parkersburg Fire Chief Eric Chichester said the city's bomb dog responded along with city police and an ambulance service. Chichester said ambulance services were on-scene for safety purposes.
A table was set up in front of the Parkersburg High School Fieldhouse to allow parents to sign out their children for the rest of the day Tuesday following a bomb threat made against the school. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)
"The school was evacuated. We searched the buildings, such as the fieldhouse and the school," he said. Crews also combed the stadium. However, Chichester said everything was back to normal by 2:30 p.m.
"They are back in school. We found nothing."
A mother, who did not wish to be identified, standing outside of PHS around 1:30 p.m. said she was there to get her child because she figured with only a couple of hours left in the day there was little chance of much being accomplished during the remainder of the day.
''I figure they aren't going to get a lot done now,'' she said.
Under the circumstances, the mother said everyone at the school was nice in dealing with parents' concerns.
''They were as well organized as they could be,'' she said.
Even before students were relocated out of the main building, parents were showing up to pick up their children.
''It is aggravating in the sense that someone did this just for kicks,'' the mother said. ''I feel bad for the students, teachers and the parents. I know it has got to be a headache for everyone.''
At Neale School, the administration was informed and immediately followed the procedures and evacuated the building.
''We moved the students as far away from the building as we could,'' Principal Michael Fling said.
Fling commended his staff for getting the students out quickly and keeping track of everyone as each teacher carried an attendance sheet and made sure everyone there was present.
The Vienna Police Department, the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department and school officials checked the building for 45-60 minutes.
Parents heard about the threat quickly and many came to get their children with the staff working to make sure they knew what child was supposed to go with which adult.
The students were not immediately told what was going on, Fling said. Once emergency personnel showed up and students started asking questions, Fling said the teachers told the students the emergency personnel "were making sure the school was safe.''
Afterward, Fling said they tried to return to a normal day. Parents continually came and got their children and the school presented a scheduled program on conduct and honesty, which they did again Tuesday evening to a well attended audience.
Lowe said the original call came through the Belpre public safety answering points.
"In Washington County there are three public safety answering points; one in Belpre, one in Marietta and one at the Washington County Sheriff's Department. This went through Belpre," Lowe said.
Lowe said the caller would have to dial 911 through a hardline within Belpre city limits to go to the Belpre answering point.
"The way it works in Washington County if it is a cell phone call it would go to the Washington County Sheriff's Department."
Officials with the Belpre Police Department said the call came from the Shell station pay phone on Main Street.
Belpre Police officer Michael Stump said the Belpre dispatcher attempted to get more information from the caller, but the person hung up. Stump said the dispatcher advised Wood County officials of the call, while Belpre law enforcement was dispatched to the scene of the call.
The clerk at the store said she didn't notice anyone on the phone. The clerk's counter faces the pay phone, but the view could be obstructed by vehicles in the parking lot.
"I was busy with customers," she said. "I didn't notice anyone on the phone."
Stump said officials believe the caller was a male. He said the investigation is on-going.
"If we can identify the suspect, there will be charges pending on our side of the river as well as in Wood County," Stump said.
The matter remains under investigation, said Sgt. Rick Berdine of the Vienna Police Department.