• Wood-eating beetles infest Marion Co. schools' cafeteria


    MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Something's eating its way through the floor of a Marion County school cafeteria, which is causing a delay on construction.

    WFTV's Melonie Holt found out the 76-year-old Anthony Elementary School has been infested with the powderpost beetle.

    The renovation of the school's cafeteria was delayed by the wood-eating insect. Students at Anthony Elementary in Marion County can still get a hot meal, they just can't eat it in their cafeteria.

    "Plan A was to have them eat in their rooms, breakfast and lunch," said Principal Ryan Bennett.

    The contractor removed layer by layer of the tile floor until the original wood floor was reached.

    "They pulled everything up until they reached the wood floor, and they realized there was some type of damage," said Bennett.

    "I was hoping it would be ready before school started," said parent Danielle Gommillion.

    Gommillion works across the street from the school her first- and third-graders attend. She knows it would be easier on teachers if students weren't eating in the classroom.

    The cafeteria was originally built as a gym back in 1936. It was undergoing a nearly $1.4 million renovation when contractors found the damage under the surface of the floor. That added $175,000 to the renovation. That's being covered with money left over from other maintenance projects.

    "I'm relieved they have the money to fix it," said Gommillion.

    But the school district told WFTV other projects will wait.

    Voters recently rejected a half-mil tax for capital expenses, leaving just $1 million to maintain 6 million square feet of building space.

    Marion County Public Schools hopes to have students back in their cafeteria by January.

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