Monday, February 16, 2009

Roof and windows in 2008

During 2008, Bath High School Preservation made significant progress on the stabilization and maintenance on the Bath High School Building. It was always in the plan to continue the work that David Hoggard and his Double Hung Windows crew, Harold Cutler and his Creekside crew and the army of local volunteers began in 2007.

Double Hung Windows, along with local volunteers and contractors, completed the first wall of windows just prior to Pirate Alumni Day in 2007. At that time, the wall of windows facing the visitor's center in the west wing of the school was completed. On December 4, 2008, Double Hung and local helpers completed the wall of windows facing the inner courtyard in the west wing. In 2007, we only paid for the materials involved in the window repairs. All of the work was donated. In 2008, we opened up our special Restore-A-Window fund and used the donations that had accumulated since 2005 to pay for the project. At this time, all windows in the main part of the west wing of the school are back in service.

We had a much less clear vision of how to handle problems with the roof. We had not yet raised enough money to completely replace the entire roof. The hurricane damaged sections of roof had received 'emergency' repairs that had stopped most of the leaks, but some leaks persisted despite continued patching. Jim Cox, Susan Modlin, Marti Buchanan, Harold Cutler and other volunteers with their fingers firmly on the pulse of the building, in consultation with David Ross Roofing, devised a plan to replace sections of the roof that included the hurricane damaged portions and to paint and seal the balance of the roof. It was an inspired compromise that leveraged the funds we had available to address the more intense problem areas as well as coax the remaining life from the undamaged sections of the roof.

In 2009, the construction and restoration activities will focus on cooperation with the Town of Bath as they move forward with their plan to remove the lunchroom addition. BHSP will be ready to secure the raw window and door openings and to ultimately restore those windows and doors to serviceable condition.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Board of Directors

Many civic groups and membership corporations have a system of leadership in which a Board of Directors is choosen from the ranks of the members. An executive committee or officers are then selected from those that serve as directors. This is probably the model with which most folks in our community are familiar.

At the time the Bath High School Preservation was chartered, it had no members. One objective of setting up the corporation and quickly obtaining non-profit status was to ensure that any donations were tax deductable to the donor. Credibility with agencies offering grants and issuing permits was another consideration. It was also important to remain nimble and flexible in reacting to the then overshadowing issue of demolition. With all things considered, the attorney and founders chose a system of leadership that borrowed from the business corporate model rather than the civic group model.

There would be a group of officers that lived and worked in the community or nearby. They would take care of the day to day business of the corporation. These officers would be selected by a board of directors and would carry out the general directions of the board. Directors would not necessarily be people that had the time or inclination to be involved with the details of permits, checks and postage. They would be selected based on their experience and influence. They would be knowledgable and capable of advising the officers and assistants on strategies and actions to take to advance the cause of preserving the building. They would also have contacts and influence with elected officials, granting agencies, and other community groups. Because they would not necessarily be involved in day to day operations, they could also be people that lived outside the community or sought to enjoy retirement.

In essence the Board of Directors was to be a group that could relax and focus on the big picture rather than squint at the details and demands of particular tasks.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Mission Statement

“When you are up to your elbows in alligators, it’s tough to remember that the original goal was to drain the swamp.” This is a fun, friendly and time-honored illustration of the importance of a mission statement. A mission statement consists of just a few words to refer to from time to time to remind you of what you set out to do in the first place.

Bath High School Preservation hasn’t ever officially adopted a mission statement, but speeches, letters, and brochures have repeatedly stated their objective as “To promote alternative uses for the former Bath High School building that ensure that the structure is preserved and restored to a place of dignity in the community.”

So how are we doing with that?

The first accomplishment was convincing the Beaufort County School Board to reconsider its plan to demolish the building. The founding members of BHSP met with county officials many times to discuss the options. They also retained attorneys to assist in that communication, to assist in developing strategy and to quickly obtain non-profit corporation status and the credibility that goes with that. The school board did indeed reconsider and reversed their intent to demolish the building as well as granting clear title back to the town of Bath.

BHSP has contracted for or facilitated engineering and architectural studies to determine that the structure is sound, to specify the nature of uses of which it is capable and to analyze the feasibility of some preferred uses.

Contractors and volunteers from BHSP have made a number of critical repairs to the structure. The most critical of those repairs were to the leaky roof. A number of doors and windows have also been replaced. Not only do these repairs keep out the elements of wind and rain, but also the human elements of vandals, and ensure that the building is stable and will remain in as good of a condition as the engineers found it to be.

The repairs to windows and doors also serve an aesthetic purpose. The building is becoming a more attractive element of the community. It is maintained and landscaped.

At this time, there is no plan that BHSP can or will raise all of the funds or supply volunteer labor to completely refurbish the structure into a usable facility. The ongoing face lift is a part of a broader effort to promote the building to agencies, investors and other community service groups that will ultimately complete the task.

Even fundraisers such as golf tournaments, raffles, and banquets are as much about the opportunity to promote and inform as to collect money. While some of the collected funds are earmarked specifically for construction and repairs, a portion of the funds are dedicated to education and awareness in which the potential of the building is advertised to the obvious local agencies as well as all potential users.