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Gas Leak Prompts Concern At Gemini School

Fire department declared school safe; however, kids had to cross street to Tony's Finer Foods to be picked up after school.

Though no one suffered ill effects, a gas leak just south of in Niles caused disruption Tuesday, according to an email sent by its principal, Scott Herrmann.

Some students and teachers reported smelling the odor of natural gas, and the school called the Niles Fire Department and NICOR Gas. Herrmann said he learned that a construction crew had ruptured a gas line just south of the school on the Greenwood Avenue side.The fire department measured the level of gas in the building and found it to be zero. However, the school relocated classes closest to the leak, where the smell was most intense, to other parts of the building, Herrmann's email indicated.

"It wasn't actually gas coming into the school--just the odor of gas," said John Jekot, board member in East Maine Elementary School District 63, of which Gemini is a part.

Earlier:

Herrmann spoke with staff at the Niles Park District's , which is east of the school, to alert them in case the students had to be evacuated there, but that proved not to be necessary, he wrote.

"What the district did was more of a precaution," said Jekot. "We were being on the cautious side, so in case something happened, we'd be ready for it."

Though the gas line break was not on school district property--it was a few feet south of Gemini's south driveway--it closed off the school parking lot so that NICOR could get heavy machinery into the area.

Consequently, Herrmann's email said that at dismissal time, staff members would walk students across Greenwood Avenue to the parking lot, where parents were to pick them up.

NICOR's machinery remained on Greenwood into the evening, and crews were working in two large pits they had dug to make repairs.

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