13 February 2020

A Letter to the Editor by Stan Edwards, 1st District Commissioner of Newton Co.

You may have seen in the paper where the BOC voted to purchase the “Old Cousins School” for $1.19M. I voted in favor of that and here’s why:

1. The rec department has had a recent investment of approximately $1.34M in the football field and the gymnasium. If you haven’t seen them, you should. They are very nice and the need is great and growing for both. I can tell you I experienced this need first hand as a kid that grew up here and a parent of kids that grew up here. We struggled for places to practice and play games. They still do. This alone was enough for me to vote for the purchase. Remember - $1.34M in renovations to gym and football field and purchase price of the entire school for $1.19M. 

2. The property appraised approximately 40% over what we paid. 

3. Current lease payment are $11,400/month for 3 to 4 more years. That math totals about $500,000. We are obligated to pay this amount if we do not purchase. 

4. To a lesser degree I considered space needed by county services, despite available space on the 3rd floor of the admin building. The board of elections, court services, HR, and the county extension office are only a few in need of additional space. I am not totally sold on this aspect and will be reluctant to vote in favor of additional money for this effort unless it significantly eases the burden on taxpayers in terms of services. The county’s EMA is housed there now. 

I voted for $1.19M only to purchase the property based almost solely on the fact that included the baseball field, football field, and the gymnasium. Our rec program (current challenges considered) could not sustain current programming if it were to lose these facilities. I did not vote for any additional money for this property. I realize that the rear wing of the school itself is junk but the front two wings house various tenants now, so there is potential. 

What happens if we don’t purchase the property? We lose the fields and gym all together or we continue to lease them from the purchaser of the property - indefinitely. We would have to find another home for EMA and probably lease other properties for space needs as they arise. 

Factor in that we eliminate the $500,000 in remaining lease payments with a purchase and the logic, for me, increases. 

- Stan Edwards