The Richmond County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously not to accept the Leak Street School surplus property, located on Leak Street and Hood Street in Rockingham, at its monthly meeting Monday, and the property will be put up for public auction as a result of the decision.
Leak Street High School’s students have been moved to the Transitional School, with which they now share the campus. The Board of Education held a meeting to collect public input on the closing of the property on Leak Street last month where J.C. Watkins, former Leak Street School principal, represented the Leak Street Alumni and said that although the decision to sell the old school saddens him, he does not object.
“What do you recommend, Rick?” asked Chairman of the County Board Kenneth Robinette on Monday.
“I don’t think we need it,” said County Manager Rick Sago.
The county board then voted to turn down the offer, which had been extended by the Board of Education.
At the public hearing at the end of last year, Associate Superintendent Robert Beck said, “In 2007 we began a realignment of the schools and this will be our fifth building we’ve gotten rid of. The plan is that once the Board of Education deems it surplus, we’ll offer it to the county, who will either refuse it or accept it. Then the board will offer it to the Leak Street Cultural Center who is interested in it. The board would offer it to them at a nominal price.”
Beck said the Richmond County school system can’t afford to heat and cool the building for academic use, “plus, we had another building (the Transitional School on Ashley Chapel Road) renovated for $4 million, 10 years ago,” said Beck. “Our thing was, we had this other facility that was more efficient to use.”
Representatives of the Leak Street Cultural Center have expressed an interest in the building, saying they would like to see it used for community actives such as fundraisers, cooking classes, computer classes and recreation.
At Monday’s meeting, the board also:
• Held a public hearing to confirm the preliminary assessment role for the total cost of demolition and removal or abatement of six nuisance properties; two on Loch Haven Road, one on Mizpah Road, one on Frutchey Road, one on Dawkins Street in Rockingham and one on Fifth Street, Safie in Rockingham.
• Reviewed a report by FirstHealth Emergency Services Director Grant Hunsucker, who said 2012 was a busy year. According to Hunsucker, FirstHealth EMS-Richmond had a total of 7,781 responses, and responded to 5,563 emergency 9-1-1 calls with an average response time of 10 minutes. The service experienced a 13.2 percent refusal rate, he said.
• Heard an annual report by Sandhills Regional Library Director Jesse Gibson and Technical Services Director Bonita Collins, who said the regional library system received a $55,000 grant from the state for new computers. They also have Nooks to check out, and have online books that anyone can download and read on e-readers such as a Nook or Kindle using their library card number at www.SRLS.info.
• Approved a request by Tax Administrator Vagas Jackson to authorize Jackson to grant individual written extensions until April 15, 2013.
• Donated a 1994 Chevrolet truck to Rockingham Rescue Squad and approved the necessary budget amendment.
• Designated Jan. 21 as a holiday in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.