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July 19, 2016: West ISD moves out of the portables 3 years after deadly explosion

WEST, Texas (KWTX) West’s new middle and high school campus is nearly finished, and the portable buildings that served as temporary classrooms for hundreds of students after the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in April 2013 are being moved out. (Full story from KWTX here)

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April 7, 2015: West ISD receives $10.3 million from unexpected source

West ISD, which is locked in a dispute with its insurance company almost two years after the deadly April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion, has received $10.3 million in Foundation School Program funds to help with construction of a facility to replace its middle and high schools.

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December 22, 2014: West ISD names new superintendent

The West Independent School District board of trustees announced David Truitt as the lone finalist for superintendent Monday evening.

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April 15, 2014: Student leaders collect 6,500 books to help rebuild West ISD libraries

Twenty-seven members of Education in Action’s 2013-2014 Lone Star Youth Leadership Council pooled their efforts and collected 6,500 books to help rebuild the West ISD libraries which were heavily damaged in the West fertilizer plant explosion on April 17, 2013.

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April 7, 2014: West ISD superintendent nominated for national award

West ISD Superintendent Marty Crawford was named one of three finalists for the 2014 National LifeChanger of the Year, an award given annually to K-12 educators.

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February 10, 2014: FEMA to give West ISD $20 million to rebuild schools

FEMA has granted the West Independent School District a $20 million grant to rebuild the high school and middle school that were completely destroyed in the fatal April 17 explosion.

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January 22, 2014: FFA students raise funds for West ISD

Across the state of Texas agriculture students raised more than $130,000 to help the West Independent School District restore what was lost after the April 17, 2013, fertilizer plant blast that destroyed much of the school district’s facilities.

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December 12, 2013: Demolition Of Blast-Damaged High School Begins

There was no fanfare Wednesday as whirring drills and smashing hammers began the task of demolishing the West High School building that was severely damaged in the deadly April 17 fertilizer plant explosion. But there was a high expectation of greater things to come as the district began its official road to recovery after being devastated by the massive blast that took more than a dozen lives, left scores hurt and damages dozens of homes and buildings.

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December 4, 2013: West ISD to demolish high school, rebuild to start next year

Parts of West High School looked like they'd been picked up and moved three or four feet by the fertilizer plant explosion seven months ago. On December 10, West ISD will start demolishing that campus and begin the rebuilding process for two new schools.

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October 18, 2013: Up From the Ashes

April 17 started for the small town of West like it does for most schools in the spring. Plans were being made for end-of year field days, class pictures, and graduation; students were scattered across the area playing baseball and running track.

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October 17, 2013: FEMA and School District Make Plans To Rebuild

West ISD board members and administrators met with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Administration and their architects Wednesday night to begin to iron out just how to proceed with projects to build a new high school and a new combined intermediate and junior high school after the old buildings were destroyed in the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion.

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September 12, 2013: West ISD officials discuss next steps for rebuilding schools

West Independent School District board of trustees discussed the next steps for rebuilding its damaged schools at its Wednesday meeting.

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August 29, 2013: Football Returns To Texas Town After Fertilizer Plant Blast

It was more than a high school game football to the people of West, Texas Thursday night. “This is like a new beginning for us,” said West ISD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jan Hungate.

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August 27, 2013: West ISD Faculty & Students Lean On Each Other In New School Year

Teachers and administrators at West ISD are nervously optimistic about this week’s start of a new school year four months after a massive fertilizer plant explosion leveled much of the town and left West ISD a hollow shell.

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August 19, 2013: West ISD Teachers Prepare to Head Back to School

Teachers are taking the week to get ready to head back for the school year, but in portable classrooms. The temporary buildings aren't ready to move in just yet. Until then, teachers are doing their planning at West Elementary School. It’s been nothing but dedication for West ISD teachers and district leaders doing all they can do to start school on-time. Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford says it will happen.

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August 18, 2013: West, Texas, prepares to go back to school after massive plant explosion

The children of West, Texas, who had their homes and schools torn apart by a massive fertilizer plant explosion in April, will start classes in two weeks in a cluster of temporary classrooms assembled in this small town ready to get back to the stuff of everyday life.

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August 18, 2013: West Explosion: Through the Fire

When the volunteer firefighters of West got the call, they knew what they had to do. What they didn't know was that the next 30 minutes would change their brotherhood forever.

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August 14, 2013: Schools reopen after fertilizer plant blast

School officials believe they'll be ready when students come back to class in just under two weeks. In less than four months, the debris has been cleared to make way for new classrooms, and there are signs of a fresh start at the football stadium, too, including new grass for the first home game.

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August 14, 2013: HHS cheer adopts West ISD cheerleaders

Cheerleaders are known for their big smiles and exciting personalities, but in Hutto, they are even more known for their huge hearts. This year, Hutto High School cheerleaders adopted a squad in need: the West ISD cheerleaders.

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August 13, 2013: West pushes toward first day of school

The first day of school will mark a new beginning for the West Independent School District. Aerial images of the damaged middle school and high school were some of the most memorable after the fertilizer plant explosion on April 17, 2013. Now, less than four months later the debris has been cleared to make way for new portable classrooms.

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August 9, 2013: West High School football field returning to action

David Woodard once played on football field at West High School. "I still remember every game I played on here. I still remember the scores," said Woodard, who this year, became the head coach of the team and the District's Athletic Director.

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August 2, 2013: Obama signs disaster declaration months after explosion devastates West, Texas

In an about-face, the Obama administration declared West, Texas, a major disaster area in the aftermath of a deadly fertilizer plant explosion that devastated a 37-square-block swath of the town in April. The declaration, announced Friday, means local government will be eligible to receive federal funding for a town that has vowed to do "whatever they have to do to rebuild."

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August 2, 2013: FEMA approves aid for Texas fertilizer plant blast

Gov. Rick Perry announced Friday the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved additional funding to help rebuild West. In a statement Friday, Perry said "the approval of the state's appeal for a major disaster declaration is great and welcome news for the people of West."

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July 16, 2013: West ISD has plan to keep students in town this fall

Photographs are as close as Madison Cammack will ever get to returning to West High School. She’s part of the first class of seniors forbidden to return to the campus that was rendered unsafe by the fertilizer plant blast on April 17.

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July 10, 2013: Governor files appeal for more FEMA aid for West

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday formally appealed the denial of a federal disaster declaration for West, arguing that much of the community’s tax base was blown away in the April 17 fertilizer explosion along with more than $35 million in public-sector damage.

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July 9, 2013: Perry Appeals FEMA’s Refusal To Provide Funds To Rebuild West

Gov. Rick Perry Tuesday appealed the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s denial of a major disaster declaration, which would have cleared the way for additional federal funds to help rebuild West where a deadly fertilizer plant explosion on April 17 killed 15, injured about 200 and damaged or destroyed dozens of homes and buildings including three of the town’s four schools.

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July 8, 2013: Love and Loss In a Small Texas Town

If you were asked to draw a picture of a cowboy, you'd end up drawing Buck Uptmor. Short and bandy-legged, with the permanently ruddy complexion of a man who spent much of his 45 years in a saddle, he looked exactly like a guy named Buck should look. It runs in the family. His younger brother, Brian, is short, too, but built like a fire hydrant. People call Brian “Peanut.” The Uptmors grew up in and around the tiny town of West, Texas, about an hour south of Dallas. Buck stayed in West and ran his own fencing and welding company. Brian left shortly after high school to fight fires.

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July 5, 2013: West ISD Demolishing Schools Damaged by Plant Explosion

April’s fertilizer plant explosion left three of the four schools in the town of West, Texas destroyed or irreparably damaged, with the intermediate school completely flattened by the blast. But, when school starts in August, the district says students won't have to be bused to other districts. Pre-K through fifth grade students will go to the elementary school campus. Most of the high school campus was also destroyed, so sixth through 12th grades will go to the middle school campus that, while damaged, can continue operating.

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July 2, 2013: Demolition begins on West ISD structures

Destruction of condemned buildings in the West Independent School District began Monday with the demolition of the transportation facility on the West Middle School campus.

A large yellow excavator scraped together the remnants of the building Monday morning. Before the fertilizer plant explosion April 17, the facility was used to house and service West ISD school buses.

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June 30, 2013: Ramtech to Provide Modular Buildings for West (TX) ISD School Rebuilding Effort

Commercial construction firm Ramtech Building Systems of Mansfield, TX has announced that the company has secured a contract for the design, manufacture, and installation of 17 modular buildings totaling 69,776 square feet for the West Independent School District in West, TX. Ramtech will provide three 10-classroom buildings, four computer and science labs, two locker room buildings, an administrative office, cafeteria, library, and a life schools building…

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June 27, 2013: FEMA tours West Middle School damage

FEMA took a tour of West Middle School Thursday amidst an appeal in the works for more money for West. The state of Texas is working on an appeal to have FEMA declare a major disaster after the West Fertilizer Plant explosion on April 17. FEMA denied the original application this month saying the state did not give enough evidence it cannot cover the cost of recovery.

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June 27, 2013: West ISD votes to demolish intermediate, some middle school structures

The West Independent School District board of trustees voted Wednesday to allow the demolition of the intermediate school and parts of the middle school damaged by the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion. The demolition, set to begin as early as July 1, will be handled by Bartlett Cocke, a San Antonio-based company.

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June 26, 2013: West ISD approves tax re-appraisals

In a school board meeting, the West ISD approves tax reappraisals but also prepares for the coming school year. The West Board of Trustees met Wednesday night "charging ahead with plans for bringing all students back to West," Superintendent Marty Crawford said. That came in a text message before the meeting but it was a good preview. The school board touched on a number of things, but mainly it focused on getting students into West for the coming school year.

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June 26, 2013: West: School Board Votes to Move Forward with Demolitions

The West ISD school board voted Wednesday to begin efforts to move the district forward.

According to West Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford, the school board approved the demolition of the intermediate school and certain buildings at the middle school that were agreed upon between West ISD and its insurance company.

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June 14, 2013: West I.S.D. looks to move forward after FEMA's decision

FEMA's recent decision to deny the city of West aid for the April 17th fertilizer plant explosion has not prevented West I.S.D. from moving forward in the school district's plan to reconstruct. The city had hoped to use some of the FEMA aid money to help the local schools affected by the explosion. West I.S.D.'s Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford says that despite the recent decision by FEMA, he still wants to be fair to the students and return them to a sense of normalcy next school year.

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June 13, 2013: West Residents, Officials Upset Over FEMA Decision

Dan Pokluda has come out of retirement to rebuild homes destroyed in April’s fertilizer plant explosion in West. Several of the homes he’s rebuilding, he built nearly 40 years ago. “The people here need help,” he said. Pokluda, who served two years in the Army, is rebuilding the homes of five fellow veterans in West at no charge.

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June 7, 2013: West Seniors Graduate Tonight

It has been a tough end to the school year for West ISD students. But for the seniors, today they graduate. They're finally getting to celebrate all their hard work, not only in the past six weeks but in their entire high school career at West. Shelia Ferguson's nephew is graduating. She says, "A way to start fresh, a way to move on, a way to remember the people who have suffered and who they have lost in the explosion."

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May 31, 2013: West ISD is working to get students back to school in West by fall

West schools are working to make sure students are back in school in West by next fall semester.

Superintendent Marty Crawford says West ISD is working with the insurance company to try and get temporary buildings put in West. Drawings are being made for permanent schools with a possible ground breaking in January 2014 and a planned completion date for fall 2015. Plans for the entire project could cost $93 million.

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May 19, 2013: West ISD insurance policy would cover half of its explosion damage

The West school district’s maximum insurance benefit would only cover about half of the estimated $117.4 million long-term fix proposed to renovate or replace campuses and furnishings damaged in the April 17 West Fertilizer Co. explosion. West has a $60 million policy through insurance provider Trident and its parent company, Argo Group…

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May 15, 2013: West ISD School Board Members Tour Damaged Campuses

It’s been a month since the West explosion rocked three of West ISD’s four campuses.

Since the blast, the school district is making steady progress towards reconstruction. At the end of April, they hired Huckabee Associates Inc. as their architecture firm…

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May 15, 2013: West: High School Seniors Treated To Six Flags Trip

West High School seniors were treated to a day at Six Flags Over Texas Wednesday. The students have been attending classes in a building provided by the Connally ISD since the deadly April 17 fertilizer plant explosion that heavily damaged West High School…

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May 8, 2013: West ISD awaiting insurance settlement to rebuild schools

The West school district is still waiting to learn how much insurance money it might get to help rebuild schools that were damaged in the April 17 explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant.

Superintendent Marty Crawford told the school board Wednesday that the administration met with representatives from the district’s insurance provider, Argo Group, and its subsidiary, Trident…

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May 2, 2013: As West ISD Plans Recovery Effort, Teachers Brace For The Long Haul

Imagine losing your home, being displaced at work, and at the same time you have to find the strength to constantly care for dozens of kids on a daily basis. For some, it sounds like a nightmare, but for many West ISD teachers it's become a reality. Since the West explosion, West ISD has lost three of its four campuses, students are displaced, and classrooms are bare…

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April 30, 2013: Three of Four West ISD School Buildings Must be Partly to Fully Demolished After Explosion

Two school buildings in the city of West will have to be demolished because of damage from the deadly fertilizer plant explosion there nearly two weeks ago. That’s what the Huckabee Architecture Engineering and Management Firm told West School District officials last night…

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April 30, 2013: West ISD Looks To Insurance, State Funds To Rebuild Damaged Schools

The school district is the largest employer in West, but in the blink of an eye it lost three of their four academic campuses. Yet, two weeks after the West explosion, West ISD is taking its first steps towards reconstruction. Monday night, the school district hired Huckabee Associates Inc. as its architecture firm…

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April 30, 2013: West Schools To Be Torn Down Due To Explosion

Tear them down, that's the word on West's damaged schools. After days of investigation, a Fort Worth architecture firm investigating the schools structures has made that recommendation.

Cindy Grones has had a lot to deal with in the past couple of weeks. Now not only is she worried about her home, but also her daughter Anna…

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April 30, 2013: West schools will have to be demolished

The West Independent School District board of trustees learned Monday April 29 that three of its four schools will have to be demolished in the wake of the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion.

Roads just opening up around West reveal just how severe damage is around the fertilizer plant following the explosion…

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April 30, 2013: 2 of 3 West ISD campuses deemed unsalvageable

West school board members were advised by Huckabee Construction about damages at three of their campuses during a board meeting on Monday. The fertilizer plant explosion on April 17 left the intermediate school and high school in shambles. The gym at the middle school appears to be repairable. The construction company recommended both the intermediate and high schools be torn down…

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April 29, 2013: Consultant: Three schools in West cannot be repaired

WEST, Texas — The West Independent School District board of trustees learned Monday that three of its four schools will have to be demolished in the wake of the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion…

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April 29, 2013: Costly demolition, rebuild likely for West intermediate, high schools

West Independent School District’s intermediate and high school campuses will have to be demolished, according to a Fort Worth architecture firm the school district hired to oversee the rebuilding of schools damaged by the April 17 explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant.

West ISD school board members heard the report, prepared by Huckabee Associates Inc., at a board meeting Monday night…

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April 19, 2013: Students, Staff, Teachers Scramble To Prepare For Displaced West Students

Connally ISD teachers, staff and students were scrambling Friday to prepare for the hundreds of West middle and high school students who will begin attending classes Monday in Connally’s old intermediate school building. The deadly fertilizer explosion Wednesday night damaged West’s intermediate, middle and high schools, all of which were in the blast zone...

Press releases

February 13, 2014: New Campus

Design Unveiled

Just 302 days after the explosion, the West ISD Board of Trustees met in their boardroom to review the design of the new West High School/West Middle School campus.

July 4, 2013: 2013-2014 Operations Plan

West ISD has planned for all of its approximately 1,500 students and 200 plus staff members to restart their educational experience within District boundaries beginning this August 2013.

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