By Meg Dickens
Crowds showed up in droves to the Johnson County School Board meeting on Thursday, January 9, as once again, Shady Valley took center stage. The board took bids for the Shady Elementary School building earlier this month. Representatives from both groups showed up to present proposals and discuss the building’s future.
Cranberry Festival Committee Vice President Chance McQueen took the floor. The Cranberry Festival Committee proposes a new nonprofit organization made up of other Shady Valley representatives with the primary responsibility to maintain the Shady Valley Elementary building and keep it running. All of the paperwork is ready and waiting for the Johnson County School Board’s decision. The next bid came from the Ruritan Club. A representative stepped up to withdraw its proposal. The Ruritan Club and Cranberry Festival Committee worked out a deal where the Ruritan Club will still have access to the veterans’ memorial and picnic area as they always have.
With only one bid left, it sounds like Johnson County Schools will sell the building back to the Shady Valley community. The Cranberry Festival Committee helped form a new 501C non-profit with the express purpose of preserving the structure. The Shady Valley Elementary Preservation Committee was formed directly after the Johnson County School Board’s decision to close Shady after the 2019-2020 school year.
The Johnson County School Board, school officials, and Cranberry Festival Committee representative discussed legalities. Certain items in the building are federally funded and must return to the school system. School Finance Director Tina Lipford and Elementary and Federal Programs Supervisor Angie Wills went over the reasons and a few of these items. According to Johnson County Schools’ technology representatives, a considerable portion of these items is tech. Ipads, Smart Boards, computers, and laptops are a few examples. Some kitchen appliances are under consideration, as well.
“One thing I wanted to do for you all is to ask Dr. Simcox to touch base with an attorney,” said Chairman Howard Carlton. “We have to do this legally. Some local attorneys dealt with this in the past with the other schools. We want to make sure it is properly done for you all.”
The decision is not official, but all signs point to the Shady Valley Cranberry Festival Committee’s offshoot gaining control of the school building once all federal property is removed. For legality, the nonprofit will buy the building for one dollar.