It was a unanimous decision by the Martin Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday evening to breathe new life into the historic school building located on McComb Street.
With this first step, community members can start looking to a brighter future that includes a community hub for a variety of activities. The building was once the Martin Middle School.
While the halls held the laughter of pre-teen children, its life before that could tell many tales about the African-American community during segregation.
It was built in 1955 and utilized as the Weakley County Training School for African-American students during segregation. A decade later, the school was integrated and it became a hub for learning for children in 6th through 8th grades.
In 1999, the building was sold by the county as surplus property before it was purchased by Daystar Ministries for the purpose of hosting a Christian school.
It was sold once again after the school struggled with enrollment numbers.
Through the City of Martin’s purchase of the 38,000-square-feet building and seven acres of land for $92,500, a three-way partnership is developing between the city, the Martin Housing Authority and most importantly, the community.
Martin Mayor Randy Brundige said last week that he had a vision for the proposed community center and apparently, board members began to see his vision.
Martin Housing Authority Executive Director Brian Harris also had a vision and that vision would correspond with the future of the historic building.
“The primary purpose of the building would be to provide consolidated space for MHA’s Learning Enrichment Center (K-5th grade) and the Crossroads Teen Center (6th-12th grade) after school and summer programs. The move will allow MHA to serve substantially more low-income students than our current capacity will allow,” Harris described in a proposal.
“Space would be allocated for a centralized computer and technology center that could be made available to the general community when the after-school programs are not in operation,” he added.
Included in his “vision” are uses for the Martin Senior Adult Center, housing of a Weakley County Civil Rights Museum, a satellite location to host large-scale events such as the We Care Christmas Store and special food distributions.
With the gymnasium, significant classroom space and plenty of acres surrounding the facility, the possibilities for the rebirth of the former Martin Middle School seem endless for the community.
The remodel of the school building can be accomplished through grant funding and donations.
Members of the community on hand to hear the final vote applauded Monday during the board’s regular monthly meeting when board members agreed to purchase the building.
In employees’ reports, C.E. Weldon Public Library Director Roberta Peacock announced the public library now has e-books available for people with e-readers, I-Pads® and I-Phones®.
Martin Public Works Director Billy Wagster announced that Friday is the last day for leaf pick-up in the city.
Human Resources Director Celeste Taylor reported that public works employee Cody Barner has been named the employee of the year after receiving five nominations. There were six employees nominated, according to Taylor.
ATA CPA Tommy Legins offered June 2010 audit results and reported that the City of Martin had $24-plus million in assets.
Legins said that was a healthy fund balance and the overall audit showed very few discrepancies.
The board agreed to accept Alex Todd Circle and Huxley Road located in the Austin Hills Subdivision into the city’s street system with a two-year warranty.
In resolution news, board members reiterated support for the designation of State Route 22 from east of Martin to Union City and the Tyson Bypass in Union City as an interstate highway link to I-69.
The board also passed a resolution that would authorize the execution of a grant not to exceed $300,000 from the City of Martin to the City of Martin Industrial Development Board to benefit commercial and industrial development in the City of Martin.
The Martin Fire Department received a federal boost and the city accepted it for the purchase of a newer ladder truck for the department. To help off-set the city’s portion of match funds for the grant, the department will sell the current 1987 model ladder truck.
Board members took no action Monday on a request between two local CPA firms in the city to honor an agreement to rotate the city’s audit services every four years between ATA and Reese Financial.
Legins argued that a rotation every four years is not conducive to the audit process which, he claims, is actually a two-year process.
Reese said he expected a congenial transition between the two agencies with each rotation and hopes that the board will continue to honor the decision made eight years ago to rotate.
Brundige announced the board would discuss the issue at the next monthly meeting which is set for 5:15 p.m. on Feb. 14.