C.G. White offer may fall through

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 21, 2007

WINDSOR – It looks like the highly debated Bertie County acquisition of the former C.G. White facility will not occur.

Since May, the Bertie County Commissioners have talked about buying the now-unused property from the Bertie Board of Education (BOE) and possibly sharing its facilities with other interested parties.

The commissioners even went so far as to make an offer of $30,000 for the property, which was subsequently accepted by the school board.

However, the county recently received word that the BOE discovered the $30,000 appraisal done of the school did not include the whole property and as such they wanted more money.

The matter was briefly mentioned at a recent commissioner’s meeting, so the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald checked with County Manager Zee Lamb to get to the bottom of the issue.

&uot;We are not moving forward with any purchase (of C.G. White) at this time,&uot; Lamb stated.

He continued, &uot;It looks like they (BOE) are moving forward with being able to use that building for educational purposes.&uot;

The school board declared earlier this year that they had no further use for C.G. White – as it closed its doors as a middle school at the end of the 2006-2007 school year – and offered the county first right of refusal.

Prior to that, interested parties began expressing desire for the property, asking to purchase it from the county outright or at least be allowed to use its facilities.

The C.G. White Alumnae Association was the first group to express a desire to own the property.

Made up of former students of C.G. White, the county’s first historically African-American high school, that group told the county commissioners in May it wanted to purchase the facility and turn it into a resource center and recreational outlet for the community.

In June, Town of Powellsville officials came before the commissioners and were interested in buying the property.

A few colleges, including Shaw University and Elizabeth City State University, also later stepped into the mix.

The YMCA and Powellsville First Baptist Church also wanted rights to use part of the former school.

The county itself even had potential uses for the property for recreational purposes.

However, it now seems like none of those dreams will come to fruition as the school board has taken no official action to move forward with the sale.

Neither, though, have they taken official action to withdraw their August 13 acceptance of the county’s $30,000 offer.

During a particularly tense meeting held in the commissioners’ room in September, it was discovered that the county could not, as it was first thought, have legally accepted an offer from any interested party once they acquired the property.

Instead, like the BOE, there must be a 10-day upset bid period after each offer to give others a fair chance.

Upon that discovery, Commissioner Wallace Perry remarked, &uot;We might as well have let the Board of Education deal with this; I didn’t realize it was like that.&uot;

During the last BOE meeting on Dec. 4, a board member comment was made that the board would be looking into possible uses for all three vacant schools.

The three vacant county schools are the former C.G. White Middle School, J.P. Law Elementary and Askewville Elementary School.