by CHARLES L. WARNER
The Jonesville Middle School Complex could gain a new lease on life as a community/senior citizens center and the new Jonesville Town Hall.
Mayor Ernest Moore asked the Union County Board of School Trustees to donate the complex and its ball field to the town. Moore said the complex, which until two years ago was Jonesville High School, has served the Jonesville community for over 80 years. He said donating it to the town and allowing it to continue to serve the community would be the best use of the property.
“From before the Great Depression, this real estate was purchased by the taxes and work of the families that still live in the area,” Moore said. “This was before there ever was a single school district. We believe it is only fitting it all goes back to those who love it so and to those who are committed to doing good in this community.”
Under the vision outlined by Moore:
• The cafeteria and gym could be used by senior citizens for meals and exercise as well as community needs. Moore said this would be patterned on a similar program in the Pacolet community.
• The library could serve as a community library. Moore said Jonesville needs a library and the town hopes to partner with the Union County Carnegie Library to bring those services to the area.
• The administrative offices would house the Jonesville Town Hall. Moore said the town government needs more space.
• The Jonesville Police Department could be housed across the hall from the town government. Moore said this would give the town’s police department much-needed space.
• The band room could serve as the municipal courtroom. Now, the municipal courtroom operates out of the mayor’s office.
• The Men of Action mentoring group would use one or more of the classrooms in the same wing to tutor students in computers and other subjects. Moore said the town would invite other civic organizations and churches to join in helping students and the general public in continuing educational efforts.
• The old building and the auditorium could house the Jonesville Historical Society. While admitting the buildings need work, Moore said he believes the people of Jonesville could rise to the challenge of meeting those needs. He said the section could house museum exhibits, local history and attract tourists. The auditorium could be repaired and used for public events.
• As for the ball fields, Moore said the town wants to partner with the county to make them available for athletic activities.
“What is soon to become nothing more than a piece of property for the district and a liability can still be a place that accomplishes a lot of good for the people who love it so,” he said. “We will work with other agencies in this county and reach out beyond to maintain and build upon this vision for the greater good.”
Board chairman Wanda All thanked Moore for the proposal, saying the board would take it as information. However, she said there would be no decision on the disposition of the school until it is closed.
Jonesville Middle, Jonesville Elementary, Excelsior Middle and Sims Junior High schools as well as the ball field behind Jonesville Middle are scheduled to close July 1. The students, faculty and staff of the schools will be transferred to the new Sims Middle and Jonesville Elementary/Middle K-8 schools, scheduled to open this fall.
In February, finance director Lynn Lawson presented the board with a list of properties that the district is no longer using or will soon close. Lawson recommended a comprehensive review of the properties be conducted to determine whether or not they should be retained by the district or disposed of. He said that while it might be better to allow the current arrangements governing some of the properties to stand, the district might realize cost savings through reduced maintenance costs by disposing of others.
The district will conduct an inventory of the furniture, equipment and machinery at the four schools which will determine what items can be used at other schools. Lawson said Monday that while portions of the inventory are already underway, the bulk of it will not begin until after the schools are closed.
Of its other properties, the district no longer uses the Adamsburg School which is leased to Duraco; the Carlsan School, which is leased by Union County Head Sstart; Sims High School, which is vacant but also under a lease agreement; the Kelly-Pinckney site, which is vacant; and the Cross Keys Ballfield, which is leased by the Union County Recreation Department.