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Old Logan Grade School undergoes major renovation

  • Holly Kee photoEquipment stands ready to tear down the east side of the Logan Community Center last week to make way for a new addition to the nearly 100-year-old former school.

    Holly Kee photoEquipment stands ready to tear down the east side of the Logan Community Center last week to make way for a new addition to the nearly 100-year-old former school.

  • Work proceeded over the weekend in Logan, tearing down the east portion of the former grade school to make way for a new addition that will house a kitchen and restrooms for what is now the community center.

    Work proceeded over the weekend in Logan, tearing down the east portion of the former grade school to make way for a new addition that will house a kitchen and restrooms for what is now the community center.
    Courtesy of Kaitie Done

 
BY HOLLY KEE
hkee@localsouthernnews.com
Posted on 8/8/2018, 12:12 PM

For nearly 100 years, the building on a hill in the center of town has been at the heart of the small town of Logan, population 327.

When Logan Grade School closed in 2005, Teresa Beasley stepped up to keep the building useful as a community center. She has been responsible for paying for everything, including the many repairs the nearly century-old building required.

"This is all we have," she said, "a post office and this. It's all that's left."

The building is undergoing change, though. Over the weekend, demolition began on the east side of the building that once housed classrooms and the cafeteria.

Beasley attended Logan Grade School through the eighth grade and began coaching cheerleading the following year, while she was just a freshman at Benton High School in 1977.

Through the years, she continued working at the school, heading up the parent-teacher organization, and also coaching track and volleyball.

Beasley said when the district was forced to consolidate with Benton in 2005, Benton did not want the building.

"They (Benton) took the kids, the funds from the bank, and four tenured teachers," she said. "We put everything that Benton didn't take in the gym and sold it."

That, said Beasley, was the beginning of the community center.

The building was already in need of repairs, though.

"We got a $25,000 grant from the state in 2007," she said. That money, paid in increments over two years, was used to patch the roof and install a handicapped ramp at the entrance.

"Every two years, the roof kept leaking," said Beasley. "I would go in and mop and would have five-gallon buckets of water to haul out."

Beasley said the only parts of the east side of the building being used were the kitchen and bathrooms. The boiler's location on the opposite side of the building from the gym area made heating the gym hard.

"Last year they quit making parts for the boiler," said Beasley, adding that she spent $2,000 in repairs for the antiquated system.

"Something had to be done," she said, if the building was going to remain open.

Beasley's idea was to demolish the east side of the building and erect a 30x30 pole barn that would attach to the gym area. She took it to the town council.

"It was a 3-3 vote and the mayor broke the tie," she said, noting that the mayor, Missy Melvin, is her sister-in-law.

Beasley said the new construction will not raise taxes. "We're paying for everything with fundraisers," she said.

Just like when the building housed students in grades kindergarten through eighth, Beasley has continued many of the traditions such as alumni basketball and volleyball games, a chicken and dumpling dinner, and a spring carnival, using the funds to keep the center going.

Roberta Lenard, who taught at Logan from 1974 until 2005, remembers those activities well.

"Some of my favorite memories were the Christmas programs, Easter egg decorating contests, the extra activities we did as a school, like kite flying and track and field days," she said.

Lenard, who retired after a 36-year career in education, said the small school allowed teachers to work closely with one another on projects.

"We really got to know the kids and their families," she said.

Cathy DeForest echoed Lenard's sentiment. "I loved the Christmas programs," she said. "Every kid had a part."

DeForest said graduations were special "because you saw the kids start kindergarten and go all through the eighth grade."

While there were some negatives, including low salaries and standardized testing -- with small classes one low score had a huge impact on the overall average -- the support of the town made Logan a special place.

John Metzger served as principal and superintendent from 1981 to 1987. "It was too small to have much on the curriculum side," he said, noting the teachers taught multiple grades in the same room. However, Metzger said the positive was "a small family school where the community took care of the kids."

It's that feeling of community that keeps Beasley busy raising funds and managing a community center.

"I do anything I can think of to raise funds," she said.

Although Beasley admits that tearing down the old building brings out the nostalgia, she is excited about the new addition that will house a kitchen and restrooms on one level for easy access.

"We won a grant from the Elks for $3,500," she said. That money will be used to purchase a new stove and refrigerator.

She said she expects the already busy rental schedule to increase with the upgraded facilities and is already planning to start raising funds for new playground equipment.

"It's bittersweet," she said, "but it's going to be better in the long run."