01/13/08 — Rest of dilapidated school buildings will be coming down, town decides

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Rest of dilapidated school buildings will be coming down, town decides

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on January 13, 2008 2:22 AM

PIKEVILLE -- Two asbestos-containing school buildings won by the town through a close look at deeds a few years ago will be demolished.

Just one vote -- from new and former Commissioner Vance Greeson -- stood in the way of a low bid from A K Grading and Demolition of LaGrange to knock down the structures.

The LaGrange demolition firm submitted a bid more than $60,000 below its nearest competitor, a difference in price Mayor Herbert Sieger attributed to the work of new Commissioner Dennis Lewis.

Greeson, recently elected but also a former commissioner in office when the properties were transferred to the town, seemed to want the buildings refurbished.

"I sure hate to see the way things went down the way they did (the other) night," Greeson said of the 4-1 vote in favor of demolishing the school complex.

But he admitted that there were many people who thought the building should be demolished.

"There's a group of people that thought it was an eyesore and thought it should never be donated to the town," Greeson said.

Sieger unabashedly said he was one of them before the commissioners' vote to demolish the buildings near the community center not far from the railroad tracks.

"The gym and the cafeteria building -- those two have been eyesores and I've heard this ever since I came to Pikeville," Sieger said before the vote.

The mayor said if the buildings were to be removed, now was the time to act.

Aaron Kornegay of A K Grading said he could do the demolition and hauling work for $28,000 plus other nominal costs.

"I don't think we'll ever get a lower bid if we live to be 100," Sieger said.

Former Commissioner Char-les Ellis was on the town board when the buildings were donated. He was also the one who found the clause that enabled the donation, he said.

The reversal clause Ellis spied while perusing deeds enabled the town to petition the Parker family of the Goldsboro area to donate the structures, Ellis said.

The clause held that if the property ever fell out of use as a school, the property would be returned to the family, the former commissioner said.

The Parkers are the heirs of Colonel Wiley Ford, a member of the Confederate Navy, the former commissioner said.

But Ellis, who also is affiliated with a cotton history museum near the school, no longer believes in the viability of the buildings.

"The gym should have been demolished when they tore the building down," Ellis said. "It's got a huge crack in the back side of it. It's been that way as long as I've been around here."

Termites have gnawed at the wood floors inside as well, said Ellis, who now lives in the Goldsboro area.

"It's a nice building. It's a shame it was ever allowed to get in that condition. But it's one of those things that happened," Ellis said. "The school system -- they didn't maintain it. Then, when it was given to the town, the damage had already been done."

The town met with similar problems when trying to refurbish an old bank building that Sieger once hoped could serve as a town hall.

Mold and other problems have prevented the town thus far in its efforts to refurbish that Main Street building, once occupied by BB&T Bank.

The crack in the gymnasium is not the only problem at the school complex -- the cafeteria building has suffered damage as well, Ellis said.

Ellis once wanted to put the N.C. Cotton Museum, of the incorporated Northern Wayne Heritage Museum, in the cafeteria, he said.

"The roof had some problems at one time, and it's been allowed to be exposed to the elements," Ellis said. "Vandals have done damage to it here and there. It's just a shell with part of a roof."