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Armstrong School District will lease gas rights at 2 schools

| Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, 12:41 a.m.

The Armstrong School District plans to lease its oil and gas rights at Lenape Elementary School in Manor Township to two drilling companies.

The school board approved a two-year lease with Kittanning-based Snyder Brothers, Inc., and Kittanning-based MDS Energy to drill for Marcellus shale gas on a 49.36-acre parcel at Lenape Elementary School, and a 43.51-acre parcel at Lenape Technical School.

The board approved the lease in an 8-0 vote. Board member D. Royce Smeltzer was absent.

The two companies plan to join forces, in hopes of maximizing production on the district's land, according to board President Joseph Close.

“These are small leases that are identical, and everything will be shared equally,” Close said. “This could be a good source of revenue for our district.”

Close said he was unsure of how much gas the two companies would obtain from the site, but all profits will be split between the companies and district.

The companies will begin applying for permits through the state Department of Environmental Protection within the next couple of weeks, but construction and drilling may not begin untilnext summer, Close said.

“The agreement says these wells are to be drilled outside of school time,” he said.

In addition to the Lenape Elementary and Lenape Technical schools, Close said the district holds a lease with Snyder Brothers at the West Hills Primary and Intermediate schools campus, Close said.

Riverhawks they'll be

The board named the district's new junior-senior high school building Armstrong Junior-Senior High School, and named the Riverhawks as its mascot on an 8-0 vote.

Officials hope to open the new building, located off Buffington Drive in Manor Township, prior to the 2015-16 school year.

It comes with a $55 million price tag, and will house approximately 1,775 students in grades seven through 12 from the Kittanning and Ford City areas.

Superintendent Stan Chapp said officials plan to meet with graphic designers and district art teachers, in hopes of having a design for the Riverhawks in September or October.

“We're going to try to push this along pretty fast – it's the last piece remaining, at this point,” Chapp said.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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