Minutes from Friday, March 11, 2016

Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee Meeting

The Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee met on Friday, March 11, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. in the basement fellowship hall of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

Attending were: David & Willa Wyatt, Richard Dillingham, Dan Slagle, Omar McClain, Fatimah Shabazz, Scott Donald, Ryan Phillips, Lauren Rayburn, Dorothy & Ray Rapp, Polly & Edwin Cheek, Charity Ray, Les Reker, Nora Tomberlin, and Simone Bouyer.

Willa welcomed everyone to the meeting. She submitted an update of the committee’s efforts to the county commissioners. Nora Tomberlin joined the meeting. Her husband is Gerald, son of Drake, descendant of the Holcombe family. She is representing the Mormon church who are seeking service projects. The rehabilitation of the school is on their list of potential projects. She asks how they can help with our project. They are also searching for projects for the Boy Scout Eagles. Nora was the first white teacher to teach in a black school in Virginia. She was moved to tears by memories of that experience. The Mormons, who get things done, are searching for projects for the National Day of Service. Projects need to be completed by the end of April. The Boy Scouts are interested in clearing the big patch of kudzu in Long Ridge. The Mormons have lots of talented members – carpenters, builders, etc. They are looking for 200-250 man hours to fulfill the Day of Service goal. All contractors working on the school project need to submit copies of their licenses.

Willa says we can provide more than 200 hours of work. Work is needed on the restoration of the interior of the school. Dan needs volunteers to continue work removing the beadboard on the ceilings. The beadboard needs to be cleaned for use on the walls. New beadboard will be put on the ceiling. Volunteers are needed to pull nails, clean the beadboard of loose paint, pull nails, and fill holes with wood putty. Contractors still have work to do before volunteers can begin their work. An electrical plan will be roughed in by the end of next week. Nora’s group includes contractors working for the MB Haynes company.

Minutes: Richard Dillingham submitted the following corrections to the minutes from February 2016:

History: Dan reminds us to preserve the history of the structure. Be cautious with painting and repairs

Richard reports that Kevin Watkins, an African American from Yancey County, has agreed to place his collection in the archives at Mars Hill University. While a student at Mars Hill in the 1990s, he did his Appalachian research paper on the integration of public schools in Yancey, the first in North Carolina. His families, Watkins/Griffins, etc, were involved. His collection includes video tapes, photo albums, etc.

The rock education buildings in Madison County were built using the Rosenwald #6 Plan. Doug Robinson, Chairman of the Madison County Board of Education, told me that the County Commissioners did not want to accept WPA federal funds for the rock buildings in the 1930s. The Board of Education took the commissioners to court, and the court ruled that WPA federal funds would be accepted.

For history information, Hazel Moore has published her history on Hot Springs. Willa commented that Hazel worked in the library, and the interview committee is is scheduled to meet with her. Also, Willa and David met with Barbara Briggs Willard for four hours. Barbara knows the Long Ridge families. Her grandfather, Scudder Willis, supplied the first acre of land on Long Ridge for the first school building in 1905. We need to share our story with OLI for future support of our project


With a motion by Omar and a second from Fatimah, everyone present approved the updated minutes.

Construction: David reported that the windows have been installed. He is watching the budget. The exterior siding will be replaced and the windows boxed in. The roof on the addition is on. Volunteers could be used for plumbing, electrical, and insulation. He will get a list of materials needed. The Willis’s will work with the volunteers. Nora knows Michael Griffin at MB Haynes. He can help with the plumbing. Special primer is needed immediately on the new windows. Carpenters can work on the ceilings. EMC will set-up the electrical box. The stucco on the outside needs to come off. Charity and Dorothy identified the path to the spring, and Richard can identify the path. The path crosses three properties; Briscoe, Tomkins, and West. We currently have verbal agreements with the families. Written permission is needed. The school attorney can write-up the required papers for permission.

Les asks if we are close to defining the use of the buiding. How will the space be used. How will displays be integrated. What about lighting? If you enter the bulidng through the front steps to the high front door, that first room will be stark, replicating the original school. It will include the chalk board and desks and a single lightbulb. There was no lighting originally, just a single bulb with a pull chain. A divider will separate that space from the remainder of the space. 21st century teaching tech will be used in the new space. It should include a smart board and headsets. A plan is needed for the museum panels/display. Recessed lighting could be used. Les should be consulted about the lighting for the display. Sunlight will destroy the display boards. The panels from the exhibit can be rotated to create the exhibit, not just placed around the walls. The addition is a large space. It would be ideal for a meeting room. The stage will go in the back of the school. The wood under the stage can be used to replace damaged floor boards. The linoleum has been removed. The floors are hardwood. The exact same wood is still available for purchase. Rough sawn lumber was used to brace the new windows. The work on the building has not been easy. Charity likes the work being done; she takes apples to the workers. Scott is doing great work. The historical preservation society trusts Scott. Original nails are not being salvaged.

The foundation has been repaired and secured. The siding is being replaced on the original building. The siding is on the addition. Next steps are to build the ramp and install the doors. No work will be done that we can’t pay for.

Nora says her group can work with Dan to take down the beadboard, prime windows, and clean and sand the beadboard. She will gather crews for electrical, plumbing and beadboard work.

Richard asks about the old piano. Fatimah says she will donate her upright piano. It is made of walnut and is similar to the one in the school. The deteriorated piano in the school can be converted into a sign-in desk. The original piano was purchased for $10 down, with the families making monthly payments. A plaque can be included, indicating that the sign-in desk was made from the original piano. A-B Tech offers classes on restoration. Eugene Jones knows about restoration and he is an alumni of the school. The cracks in the foundation will be repaired. The concrete will be removed and the area behind the piers will be enclosed. The original pillars are bricks. New pillars are cinderblock. The original steps were wooden. Termites ate the original foundation. Madison County schools can have the building sprayed for termites.

The walls have beadboard on the upper half. How to insulate the walls without removing the beadboard? It would be a good idea to remove all beadboard, insulate the walls, and reinstall the beadboard so that it will all match evenly. This could be a project for the Mormon Church group. It will also help with installation of the electrical system if the beadboard is removed. Rolls of insulation will be used. Scott and Dan will study the video on restoration. Beadboard is available from Bryson City, measuring 3/8 inch x 3 3/8 inches tall. Cost is $2 square foot, a good price. The beadboard was reclaimed from an old building. Estimated that 1,100 square feet are needed for the ceiling. Cost for HVAC is estimated at $4,800. Would be three split units placed outside and attached to the walls.

Scott reports that the floors are tongue and groove. New window facings have been installed. The old window frames can be used to frame the blackboard. The addition has a bath and closet with a window on the right side. The left side has a bath with no window plus a tiny office space. The rest is open. A sink could be installed in the corner. There are lots of outlets under the windows. There are no plans for a kitchen. The rim joints are all in and the siding will be replaced next. A concrete ramp will be installed at the far entrance, facing away from the school. Doors are estimated at $500 each. Doors have 5 flat panels. The doors from MHU theatre might not work. Mark Mekon at MHU may know of other doors.

Fundraising: David will contact MB Haynes for electrial and plumbing donations. Willa made a presentation to the county commisioners to update them on the progress being made. Nora heard about our project because of the presentation. It’s important to talk about the project with everyone. Fatimah contacted the Wells Fargo Asheville office. Brandon Wallace is the new contact. David will contact Mr. Wallace. Community involvement funds are available from the Mars Hill Wells Fargo branch. Charity will contact Judd Ammons. David will contact Pepsi Cola. He sent an information packet and is waiting to hear back. Their support would be a big plus. A $100 donation has been received. Willa also received a donation afer the presentation in Marshall.

Karen Kiehna is working with Willa on the State Credit Union grant. Sarah, a grant writer working for the Department of Soil and Conservation in Madison County, wants to be involved. She is interested in acquiring more land around the school. The TDA is interested in adding the school to the list of historic buildings in Madison County. The deadline for the Blue Ridge Heritage Grant has passed. The grant is useful for programing and will come around again.

Alumni: Fatimah has mailed copies of the window fund form, the list of potential uses, and the family legacy history to 23 alumni. She has written to them regarding the opportunity to acknowledge their families’ legacy. Mdison County schools are paying for postage. She has not had any response. A payment plan is needed for funding windows. How much money is needed to hold a window? How much is needed each month? Payment plans need to be achieveable for the families. The Education Foundation keeps good records of all donations. Willa says Michael can keep track of each group’s donations. Alumni can select which window they want to sponsor. The cost of each large window is $1,750. Les suggests a $500 down deposit. An end date is needed for payment plans. How about one year? Payments could be made monthly. Groups must commit to the pledge in writing. One person will be the contact for each group. Money is needed soon. Simone can post payment plan details if the committee will decide. Other naming opportunites are also available for the ramp, trees, piano, and floor. The first naming opportunities go to alumni of the school. Madison County schools may have a plan we can copy for donors. Some donations for the windows have already been given, and are shown on the financial statement.

Fatimah is meeting with a security system business to request donation of a security system for the school. There is a possibility of hosting a grand opening near homecoming. The goal for completion of the project is the end of July. By August the displays could be installed.

History: Dan asks how the divider between the spaces was constructed. He found a picture of a school in Alabama. Siz panel wooden doors were hinged together. He sent an email message to Montgomery County to fin dthe owenr of the school to arrange a visit. Alumni present remember that the doors met in the middle, and could be folded back to the walls.

Website: Simone has added photos of the construction work to the site. The window fund sheet and an updated request for funds are also on the site.

Interviews: Willa spoke with Sidney Harris. He is writing down what folks in Hot Springs remember. Helen Hazel Moore interview is needed. Garnet Sprinkle has copies of obituaries for Long Ridge residents. He will make a copy for our group. He has lots of stories about local connections including all families, black and white. He has ocpies of the census. The trail to the spring is also the trail to the Hutchins. She may attend a meeting.

Les broadcasts interviews on WART radio. He has interviewed Fatimah and Omar, and David and Willa. The program airs on Friday at 2pm, and again on Sunday. It focuses on the importance of family and school – how attending the school propelled students beyond the area. He is seeking others to interview. All interveiws are archived. Copies can be sent to Ryan.

Work Days: Dan will organize a work day fairly soon. Meeting with contractors on Monday. A special workday could be held every week. The Mormons will need support/contact person.

Looking Ahead: Communication is needed with the local churches; Willa can help. Protocols are needed for visits to the school until a security system is in place. Expo Madison takes place on Saturday, March 12. It will showcase Madison County businesses and organizations. We will have a booth at the expo, displaying three panels from the exhibit. David and Willa have created stands for the panels and will stain them. The desk, books, and other materials will be on display. Visitors will be invited to get to know us. David and Willa will be at the booth. Fans, donation cards and brochures will be available. Charity donated calendars for the raffle. Electricity is available so that a video can be shown. The table will be set-up in the morning. Hours for the expo are 11 am to 4 pm at MHU in the gym. Alumni and committee members are invited to participate. Les will be attending for the Barn Alliance. There will be food for sale.

School visits will be scheduled for mid- to late April. Nothing happened for Black History month due to the weather. The Blue Ridge Community College’s OLI program has requested a presentation. Willa will offer them the opportunity to visit the school. We won’t go to Blue Ridge College. No one signed up for the presentation that was scheduled to take place last winter. There could be more interest in they come here to visit for a half hour tour.

Other News: Justin Metcalf has offered to build an additional privy for display outside of the school. Plans are needed for the structure. Scott can provide. Siding scraps can be used on the outside. French Broad EMC is working on discounted E-rate for IT hookup. There will be no cost for us as it is provided by the school system. Willa will check on insurance for the school since it has been improved.

The meeting adjourned at 12:12 p.m.

The Friends of the Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School will meet again Friday, April 8 at 10 a.m. in the basement fellowship hall of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

Respectfully submitted,
Simone Bouyer