Aug. 14, 2013 — At last.
What appears to be the last major piece of the puzzle for funding renovation of the former Olive Hill High School fell into place last week with the approval of a $325,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
State Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, made the announcement Friday during the Community Partners’ Summit sponsored by the Grayson Area Chamber of Commerce.
The money will be used to realize a dream envisioned more than 15 years ago by the Olive Hill Historical Society, Inc.
It is estimated to be enough money to cover the higher-than-expected renovation costs that have delayed the project for nearly two years.
“The architect simply underestimated the cost of adapting a 90-year-old building to the building and safety codes of this time,” said Linda Lowe, president of the historical society. “We tried to bid it three times with $530,000 from two earlier grants but it simply wasn’t enough money to do the job right.”
When finished, the old school building will serve the community under its new name, the Olive Hill Arts and Education Center.
It has survived several challenges, the latest being public suggestions that the $500,000 grant approved for the project in 2011 be used instead for repairs to the city’s water system or to relocate the fire station out of the flood plain of Tygart’s Creek.
That distraction ended quickly when state officials pointed out that the money could not be shifted to another project and that the city would have to repay about $40,000 already used for engineering and architectural costs.
In addition, none of the original CDBG funds could be released for renovation until the historical society had all of the required funding.
In other words, a downsized project less than originally proposed would not have been acceptable to those holding the grant funds.