Minutes – September 2012

Rosenwald Project Planning Committee Meeting
September 14, 2012
Mt. Olive Baptist Church

The Rosenwald Project Planning Committee held its meeting of September 14, 2012 in the basement fellowship hall of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

Attending were:  Richard Dillingham, Dan Slagle, Charity Ray, Dorothy Coone, David and Willa Wyatt, Ray and Dorothy Rapp, Fatima Shabazz, Omar McClain, Ben Morrell, Bob Zink, Scott Donald and Teresa Buckner.

Willa Wyatt, committee chair, opened the meeting at approximately 10 am.

Ben Morrell gave a brief update on the progress of the grant application process.  He said that he has started going door-to-door in the Long Ridge community, but he has been able to find very few residents at home.  Next, he will consult GIS maps in the county to find out exactly who owns all the land in the community.  Karen Keihna has started work on the grant application, he said.

Willa showed everyone the fans that have information about the Anderson Rosenwald project.  The fans were completed in time for the Mt. Olive homecoming and, according to Dorothy Coone, they were well-received by alumni and other members of the community.

Also before the homecoming, Dan Slagle, Scott Donald and David Wyatt erected a sign in front of the school building, which displays a laminated floor plan of the completed building.  The purpose of the sign is to informs passersby and visitors of the project and explain any changes they may see.

Willa said that the previous Monday night, Karen Kiehna had presented the proposal for the community block grant at the Madison County commissioner’s meeting.  That counts as the first of two public meetings required by the grant.  The second will be before the commissioners on Monday, October 8.  At the October meeting, the floor plan will be presented.

There were lengthy discussions about questions of historical accuracy, regarding whether the school was originally a one-room or a two-room school and whether Yancey County students ever actually attended the school.  (School board minutes record that Yancey County students were approved to come.)

Fatima Shabazz, who has agreed to be chair of the Alumni Committee, said she has made four new contacts with alumni who have agreed to be interviewed about their memories of attending the school. Willa said that LifeWorks Field Coordinator Caroline Twiggs has a freshman class that is willing to do some interviews.

There was a discussion about the fact that the group needs a standard set of questions to ask the interviewees.  Also, there was a discussion about whether the group needs some sort of simple release form that will give the committee or the Madison County Schools Foundation the right to use the interviews for displays at the completed cultural center. David and Willa will discuss this with the school board attorney.

Fatima said she plans to find alumni of the Anderson Rosenwald school through the contacts she already has, and through social networking sites.  She hopes to create a list of their contact information, so that students or committee members can find and interview them later.  She has asked Omar McClain to help her gather this information.

David Wyatt said he has approached some local business people about funding specific projects at the school.  He said that French Broad Electric Membership Corporation might be interested in doing a project at the school in honor of long-time employee Edith Hampton.

He has also spoken with some members of the local banking community, and believes this is a viable funding source for some aspects of the project that will not be covered by the grant.  It might be helpful to create a packet of small projects that are needed, so that potential funders could choose what they would like to sponsor.

There was a lengthy discussion about the need to elect a board of directors and get a strategic plan in place.  This will create a better decision-making process than the group employs now, Willa said.

David said he would like to ask for input from Judy Futch, who is a consultant who specializes in strategic planning for nonprofits.  The group agreed for David to approach Ms. Futch about this.

The next meeting of the Anderson Rosenwald Planning Committee was planned for October 12 (and was later postponed to be October 19) at 10 am at Mt. Olive Church.

Teresa Buckner