With a large fundraising thermometer, members of the Plain View community are looking forward to showing contributions made to keep the heritage of a school alive.
On Thursday, members of the Plain View Community Coalition (PVCC) will reveal how much money has been raised for a once abandoned elementary school, which will be used for recreation purposes. The event is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28, at the Plain View Community Center, 5561 Plain View Hwy. Kim Schmidlin, grant and fundraising coordinator, is one of several participants looking forward to the project.
“We don’t want to say how much we raised,” Schmidlin said. “We want that to be a surprise.”
The purpose of the event is to update the community about the status of the project, with an ultimate goal of $150,000. But it’s going to take $105,000 to move forward with the construction process.
Many in the Plain View area have ties to the school. Schmidlin expressed how four generations of her family attended school there.
“It’s definitely a community landmark and there’s a lot of heritage there,” Schmidlin said.
The original Plain View Elementary School educated children for more than 75 years. But since the early 2000s, the abandoned school has been a blemish for the Plain View community. Problems include slumps in the floor, a collapsing roof, shattered windows, mold and animal waste.
“We didn’t have the capacity to manage that kind of property,” Schmidlin said in regards to Sampson County officials giving the property back to the community.
For a while, Sampson County Parks and Recreation operated a regional office and maintained the gym.
“During those years, the property was still being used in a very positive way, even though the school was going downhill,” Schmidlin said.
But when the department closed regional offices and consolidated in Clinton, the property was deserted and conditions became worse.
“The school was already in bad shape, but we had the fields and the gym that were in good shape,” Schmidlin said. “Once they left, then they started declining too.”
To address the matter, PVCC was formed and several meetings were held over the years. A decision was made to keep the gym and to develop the property as a community park. Several fundraisers were held to reopen the gym and to restore power. It’s now being used and the group recently received a $5,000 grant for a soccer camp.
Now for wellness and recreational purposes, the goal is to build a walking trail, farmers market, playground, memorial wall and sports fields. The project includes three phases. Phase one is to abate and raze the old school and the second is for construction, which includes bricks from the original building and a place to show appreciation to donors. The third is to purse grant funding for the park in northern Sampson County.
“That will bring that property back into a very functional use for our community,” she said.
Once finished, Schmidlin said the project is sad and exciting at the same time.
“It’s sad because we’re saying goodbye to a building that has been responsible for educating (generations of children),” Schmidlin said. “To also see it at least have a future life, where it’s still a centerpiece — that’s something the community can be proud of.”
For more information about PVCC or the park, visit www.plainviewcc.org
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.