Greenwood UM Church to take ownership of former school

by Kate Evans

The Morgan County School Board unanimously approved selling the former Greenwood Elementary and 5.74 acres of land to the Greenwood United Methodist Church for a dollar. The action took place at the July 17 school board meeting. The church plans to use the building as a community center.

Greenwood Elementary.

The board voted to convey the school and its property to the church or a 501c3 organization representing the church. It authorized school board president Aaron Close to proceed with completing the deal and executing the deed, said School Superintendant Dr. Erich May. The deed signing will take place later.

May said it’s the best case scenario — keeping the building and property in the hands of the community and functioning in a way to benefit the whole community.

Brad Michael said that Greenwood United Methodist Church is excited and enthusiastic about the deal. Their congregation had voted to take ownership of the former school building for community outreach and to expand their programs.   The church wants to expand their love and fellowship to the community through the community center.

Ideas for community programs and uses for the building included game nights, community movies, exercise classes, wellness activities, senior center events, use of the building by organizations like 4-H, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, reunions, birthday parties and a location for their monthly rummage sale.

“The possibilities are endless,” Michael said.

The church had 50 pre-school to middle school age kids at their Bible Camp this summer not counting teen volunteers, he said. They’re also considering after-school and West Virginia Read Aloud programs, Michael said. Volunteers are key to the program expansion.

Michael said they would  work with the Morgan County Observatory Foundation on their needs and concerns. The observatory is located on school property and has no restroom or running water. They also had

concerns about parking lot lights affecting use of the telescope.

Superintendent May said having a five-year reverter clause for the property was advised by legal counsel. Board member Laura Smith said they’d always done the five-year reverter clause with properties in the past. If the church decided two or three years down the road that they couldn’t handle the electricity or insurance costs, the property would revert back to the school board, she noted.

May said the school is currently being used to store some contents from the Berkeley Springs High School Building C during renovations. Those contents will not be included in the property transfer. The building’s contents were already offered to county school principals and there are only some textbooks left to move. The remaining contents of the school will go to the church, who will get the building “as is” after the deed is signed.

School board vice-president Pete Gordon said it’s heartening to hear that Greenwood Elementary would be used for such a community effort and wished church members the best.

School board member John Rowland, former Greenwood Elementary Principal and Greenwood resident, said they’re going back to their roots with the church’s use of the school for the community.

Michael said the school would be open for more than just church activities.

“It’s not just a church mission-it’s a community mission,” he noted.

Michael and Superintendent May commended Maintenance Director Jamie Harris for conducting a number of building walkthroughs for church members and acting as a liaison. School Treasurer Ann Bell was also most helpful during the process, Smith said.

Board president Aaron Close was grateful to the church for taking the school and “doing this for the community.”