County offers land to BOE

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BAKERSVILLE – The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners at a special-called meeting Monday, Nov. 25, unanimously approved a decision to donate a portion of the newly acquired Greene property in Ledger to the Mitchell County Board of Education with the idea of the site becoming the location for the new school project. 

The commissioners initiated the decision to begin the process of purchasing the Greene property for $450,000 this past September, claiming the property could be used for the future needs of the county with a collaboration with the school board possible in the future. 

That collaboration came to fruition after the special joint meeting between the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education, during which Board of Commissioners Chair Danny Burleson announced the county would donate whatever portion of the Greene property is necessary for the new school, should the Board of Education decide to move forward with the project on that site. 

The Board of Education voted unanimously at its regular meeting Thursday, Nov. 21, to begin site studies to determine the feasibility of a new school on the Greene property.

If the Board of Education does change the site to the Greene property, it will mark the third location change in the new school project’s history – it was initially slated to go on the Mitchell High property where students currently park, but was then changed to a site beside Mitchell High on Ledger School Road. 

Burleson said he hopes to see the site changed to the Greene property for three reasons – traffic issues near the end of Ledger School Road, parking availability and the need for a centralized county recreation facility in the future. 

“It is there,” Burleson said. “It’s a good piece of property and it’s there if you want it.”

Board of Commissioners Vice Chair Matthew “Vern” Grindstaff echoed Burleson’s sentiments, adding moving the project to the Greene site should help alleviate traffic issues. 

Commissioner Jeff Harding agreed, adding the site offers city water, city sewer, natural gas and a close proximity to the main road. 

“As far as education goes, I’m a strong supporter,” Harding said. “With this location, it would be a better site for your school for several reasons.”

Harding and Grindstaff both expressed a desire to see the county retain ownership of whatever portion of the land is not used for the new school project. 

Commissioner Steve Pitman said the larger site could allow the new school project to be altered from the initial three-story design presented by architects who were drawing plans for the previous two sites. 

“A three-story building brings a lot of cost,” Pitman said. “I really think you may be able to save a bit of money there by looking at it not being a three-story building. I’m glad we were able to secure this for you guys.”

Harding suggested the idea of the county trading the portion of the Greene property necessary for the new school to the Board of Education in exchange for the Garland property, the property on Ledger School Road that was the second and current site for the new school project. 

“We could work out something where that land could be used for a community event center for athletics,” Harding said about the Garland property. “The high school and middle school could use that gym as well as citizens.”

Commissioner Jacob Willis agreed with Harding, adding the county and school system have “a shot to do it the right way” and encouraged the Board of Education to continue to communicate its needs. 

“We have one shot here,” Willis said. “This could be a win-win for everybody. We need somewhere for our kids to practice and play and for our older folks to have a place to go to. Don’t hesitate to come to us and communicate what you need help with.”

Board of Education Chair Brandon Pitman said the board will immediately begin considering the site and thanked the Commissioners for its efforts. 

“We thank you for the gift that is potentially there,” he said. “We will have discussion and look into the feasibility of building on that site.”