However, the proposal to make such a move by the BOE is only in the study phase. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Travis Reeves at a previous meeting of the town board said the idea is being looked at and the rezoning and conditional use permit were necessary to seriously consider the project. If the BOE decided to make this move, it would not happen for at least a year or two, he said.
The BOE by request of the town board provided preliminary designs of a school maintenance building proposed to be built below the old school on the site of abandoned tennis courts.
Alderman Brett Summey, who seconded Alderman Calvin Green’s motion to approve the zoning changes, said neither the town nor the school board want an ugly building there, and that the school board has assured the town a nice building would be constructed if the move is made.
“I understand why some would be opposed to it, but I think it will be nice,” Summey said. “I don’t think there will be any problem with it.”
Shoemaker disagreed, saying the way the current maintenance building looks in Jefferson is not attractive and he said he thinks it would detract from the neighborhood that includes Ashe Arts Center and Badger Funeral Home.
Alderman Green said he believes the town will benefit by providing water and sewer service to the central school board office and maintenance building, and that employees there would come downtown to shop and eat. “I have a deep feeling if we don’t use this, then in several years we might have an empty building over there,” Green said. “I know Charlie King (chairman of the school board) and he’s not gonna let a bunch of junk be out in front of that building.”
During a public hearing on the issue prior to the vote, Carol Dodson, a business owner in the town, read a statement opposing the proposal by the school board. She asked that the town board take their time deciding on the issue, to consider regulation of growth in order to enhance and protect the character of the town in the best interest of residents and businesses.
In other business, the board recognized Grant Price as he announced his retirement as chief of the West Jefferson Fire Department, and presented him with a plaque of appreciation. He said he planned to continue serving with the fire department.
In their comments to him, each aldermen thanked Price for his service and commended him for a job well done. Alderman Green said Price had been his assistant for 10 of his 18 years as the department’s chief.
The board then elected Donnie Miller as the new chief and Eric Miller as assistant chief.
It was announced that West Jefferson’s “Hometown Christmas” will take place on Friday, Nov. 25 beginning at 5 p.m. with the lighting of the tree in Backstreet Park and a visit from Santa Claus.
West Jefferson Board of Aldermen meetings will be held at 6 p.m. the first Monday of each month now that Daylight Savings Time has ended. Meetings generally go back to 7 p.m. when DST returns each spring.