St. Paris Village Council continues discussion over old Graham school property


ST. PARIS – The village council fielded ideas about how to proceed with the former Graham junior/senior high school, 370 E. Main St., during a work session Monday.

The property has been a topic of discussion since the Graham Local Schools board approved a resolution in August offering to sell the property to the village for $15,000. No action toward purchasing the property has been made by the village since then and no action was taken on Monday.

The proposed sale would include all buildings on the four-acre site.

Following up on the Nov. 2 meeting, Village Administrator Joe Sampson said he had only received one bid from Steve R. Rauch Inc. about how much it would cost to demolish the property. Sampson said the company’s total cost of the work would be $324,962.

Mayor Joe Reneer and multiple council members held a special work session meeting on Oct. 29 to tour the building and grounds. Council members shared their opinions about the condition of the building during Monday’s work session.

Ideas suggested for the property’s use by council and residents included a community center, storage center, renting out rooms and using a commercial kitchen within the building.

The property used to house the A.B. Graham Academy before it closed in June 2014.

Former A.B. Graham Academy board member Sean O’Connor said during the work session that before the academy closed the board was looking into how to expand the building. He offered to provide council with copies of proposals that might give them an idea of what interior work needs to be conducted in the building.

Council member Lynn Miller said the building could be boarded up like properties in other cities until the village finds a proper use for it.

“Rather than make a decision right away – and make it the wrong decision – I would say that’s probably the best thing to look at,” Miller said.

When asked about what the district would do with the building if the village does not purchase it, Reneer said the village has the first right of refusal and it would be the district’s decision on the next course of action if the village declines to purchase the property.

Reneer asked Sampson to ask the school district if they would wait until March 1 at the latest for the village to provide an answer on if they want to purchase the property. Council approved holding another work session to discuss the building at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 21.

Christmas in the Village events detailed

Village residents were provided more information about this year’s Christmas in the Village festivity during the meeting. The event will be held on Dec. 5 at the municipal building, 135 W. Main St., and in downtown St. Paris.

Between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., local vendors will be set up in the garage and council room of the municipal building to sell crafts as part of a craft show. Residents will be able to have their picture taken with Santa for free at the municipal building between 1 and 4 p.m.

Also between 1 and 4 p.m., residents can ride the barrel train from Santa’s Workshop to the library and back. The library will host ornament making between 1 and 4 p.m.

A live nativity scene will be held between 3 and 5 p.m. in the lot next to Wooten’s Garage at the corner of Church and West Main Street.

Sleigh rides will take place between 4 and 6 p.m. at the municipal building front lot on a first come first served basis.

The festival is sponsored by the Our Town St. Paris Committee and all events are free to attend.

In other business:

•Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed amendment to zoning ordinance number 420 at 7 p.m. Dec. 7. The hearing will be held in the council room in the municipal building. The proposed amendment, applied for by James Mahan, proposes to rezone 11509 W. U.S. Route 36 from non-conforming to an R1 property.

•Sampson reminded council that a public hearing on annexing land east of the village into the village will be held at 10 a.m. on Dec. 8 at the Champaign County Commissioners’ office, 1512 S. U.S. Highway 68.

•Council passed an ordinance to amend income tax ordinances for the village regarding municipal income tax.

•Sampson informed council of the resignation of water/wastewater department employee Tim Borton effective Friday. Council accepted his resignation.

•Following up on concerns about stray cats in the village, council heard a presentation from His Hands Extended Sanctuary, 1560 Dialton Road. During the presentation council was informed about the services the clinic provides and the trap neuter return process.

•Our Town St. Paris is sponsoring a Christmas Home decorating contest. Residents who decorate their house by Dec. 11 will be automatically entered into the contest.

By Nick Walton

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Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.

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