Aug. 14, 2013 —
Sadly, trying to preserve and enhance old OHHS has produced local critics, some anonymous on social media, who questioned the project’s value and even the intentions of the volunteers who make up the historical society’s leadership.
With ARC’s approval of this new grant, the renovation project has been embraced by no less than 10 funding sources, often in competition with projects from other communities.
“We felt in our hearts that this was the right thing to do and that it would create a wonderful community asset at much less expense than a new building,” said Debbie Baker Harman, the historical society’s vice president. “We are preserving a historic structure which holds so many memories for our community."
Counting the ARC grant, the project has received about $1.3 million in local, state and federal grant support and private gifts.
Based on a conservative estimate of $190 per square foot for new construction, the cost of replicating the 24,000 square feet of floor space in the old high school today would be at least $4.5 million.
Once the project is completed, Ashland Community and Technical College (ACTC) has agreed to offer classes “on the hill” in refurbished classrooms.
Also, the Olive Hill branch of the Carter County Public Library will be relocating to the building’s third floor to space previously used by the high school library.
An elevator will be installed to provide full access to the building for physically-challenged visitors.
The top two floors of the building will be renovated but the bottom floor will be left for storage. Replacement of original windows with energy-efficient windows also will remain to be done.
A fact rarely mentioned is that the historical society gave up $75,000 from one of its grants to allow the city to use that money for matching funds for the construction of the senior citizens/community center.
“We’re confident that the people of Olive Hill eventually will realize that preserving and adapting the old school building was worth the wait and enduring the problems we’ve faced and overcome,” said Lowe.
(Next week: What lies ahead?)