Owners of the Old Lansing School presented their plans to continue the revitalization of the historic structure to the Lansing Board of Alderman meeting on Monday night.
“Fort Awesome,” as the school is nicknamed by owners Dorne Pentes and Jim McGuire, has undergone updates to allow the school to be used in a variety of ways, Pentes told the board during the monthly meeting held in Lansing Town Hall.
According to McGuire an annex of the school building housed the New River Winery until it closed last year, leaving the building with one set of tenants. After facing some obstacles in bringing the annex up to county code for change-of-use from a school to a residence, Pentes said that they intend to keep the main building a school and event center.
Pentes discussed plans for a Five Elements Festival, a yoga and “flow arts” festival, to be held at the school in August. According to the festival’s website, flow art combines movement and dance with props such as hula hoops and ribbons.
“It will be a continuation of festivals we’ve had in years past,” Pentes said. “(The festival is) going to be larger and more expansive.”
The Five Elements Festival was held in Lenoir last year, but Pentes said they wanted to bring it back to Lansing.
Pentes asked for input from the alderman on if the Five Elements Festival should be scheduled to coincide with Lansing’s annual Ola Belle Reed Festival, which is traditionally held on the second weekend in August.
“I think they may benefit and support one another,” Alderman Dylan Lightfoot said of the two festivals. “The more people that are in town at one time is beneficial for both events.”
Pentes discussed other plans for the school, including flow art classes for students in Ashe County’s three elementary schools and holding day camps in the summer.
Additionally, Pentes and McGuire are focusing on the physical restoration of the building by replacing the rear windows to allow more light into the building and applying fresh paint to the exterior.
Board member Mauvine Shepherd said she appreciated the effort on the part of the owners to renovate the facility and include the town in the process. Alderman Brenda Reeves said Lansing residents have given her very positive feedback on the restoration.
“We want the space to be used and taken advantage of,” Pentes said. “Technically we own it, but it’s not our building. The building belongs to the town in a bigger sense.”
In other action taken by the board:
• Mayor George Rembert said David Powers was awarded the snow contract for the year.
• It was announced board member Brenda Reeves has been appointed to the High Country Council of Governments’ Administrative Advisory Committee.
• Wendy Painter from Greater Lansing Area Development (GLAD) updated the board on new contacts it has made with Lansing residents who are interested in helping the town.
• Discussions of the town audit and banking bids were tabled until the next meeting when the bookkeeper will be present to answer questions.
• Marvin Taylor was hired to complete grading and drainage work on E Street, which is still in the process of being completed.
• A general discussion on town personnel was held.
• In attendance were: Lansing Mayor George Rembert, Bernice Prestwood, Board members Jack Brown, Brenda Reeves, Michelle Slaton, Dylan Lightfoot and Mauvine Shepard.