Now that Dugspur Elementary School has been demolished, the property will soon be advertised for sale by the Carroll County Board of Supervisors.
The school, built in the 1950s and closed in 1993, was demolished on Monday, Oct. 12. Now the county will turn its attention on marketing and selling the 7.36-acre property at 1267 Double Cabin Road, Pine Creek District Supervisor Bob Martin said.
“When I went to the Dugspur Community and Rescue Squad meeting, several citizens said to me, ‘Can’t we do something about that eyesore? When the school board pulled out of it, the building just remained there and was transferred over to the board of supervisors,” Martin said. “It really had become an eyesore. A problem was it had asbestos.”
Martin said his felt the building needed to be demolished, but the asbestos had to be removed before the property could be sold.
“My feelings was, and the board agreed, we will do all this and then sell the property, and then if we can break even, at least it won’t be an eyesore and it will become a taxable property,” Martin said. “We haven’t gotten to the point where we are going to say what will happen, but what I expect to happen is once that site is cleared up then we will set a date and the property will be sold at public auction. That date and circumstance will be advertised in the paper.”
The Carroll supervisor said it would have cost a fortune for somebody to take the building over for several reasons. First, it wasn’t handicapped-accessible, he said, and second, the asbestos in the building would hurt the value of it tremendously. Additionally, the building was heated by a coal-fired heating boiler.
“Even though coal is the cheapest way of going for heat, that would have been a great, big building with uninsulated windows,” Martin said.
Martin said the building was built in the 1950s as part of funding from the state of Virginia when the Commonwealth did not want to desegregate schools. Several Carroll County schools were built during that time as part of the plan, he said, including Dugspur Elementary, the old Hillsville Elementary, Fancy Gap Elementary, Oakland Elementary, Lambsburg and Mt. Bethel schools.
Dugspur Elementary housed students in grades K-6, Martin said, with a total of about 45 students per year. When it was closed, there were just not enough students to justify keeping it up, he added, and the students there were reassigned to Hillsville Elementary. The Dugspur School building was used to keep textbooks, old school records, extra desks and other storage items in recent years, Martin said.
“The problem was that the building just kept deteriorating. It’s a shame because it’s on a beautiful site there,” Martin said.
The supervisor said the county approved the demolition at a recent board meeting. He predicts it will eventually be a “breakeven” situation for the county. But ultimately he said it was something that had to be done.
“I would say when we get the final numbers on the thing, if and when we do sell the land there, I would say it would be a breakeven situation because after getting the asbestos removed and the building demolished, then you have to take it to a special landfill, so we will be lucky to break even,” Martin said. “However, a potential lawsuit is avoided. If somebody goes in there and then you get into a possibility of asbestos or somebody goes in and gets hurt and so forth, it was a liability situation. And frankly, it had reached a point it was an eyesore. Nobody could have afforded to have bought that building and brought it up to code because it was built in middle 1950s and all the codes had changed. You would have had to completely gut that building, and then you get into taking asbestos out of it and the coal furnace didn’t work, so you are looking at an expensive heating source. Frankly, you could have built a new building cheaper than you could have remodeled one.”
The property has a lot of potential, however, and Martin believes that it will eventually be sold.
Dugspur Rescue Squad
Now that the Dugspur Elementary School has been demolished, it joins the Dugspur Rescue Squad, which was decommissioned early this year at the county’s H.E.R.O. Day back in May. And while the Dugspur Rescue Squad is no longer in service, Martin said the building has and will remain open for community use. Since that time, Carroll EMS and other paid squads have been answering calls Dugspur Rescue used to field.
“They got down to where they had just three members and most of them have gotten some age on them. They were just not able to answer calls and hadn’t for some time,” Martin said. “I went down and met with them for a community and rescue squad combination meeting. Basically they asked that they be able to keep and use their building and just discontinue the rescue squad responsibilities.”
Unfortunately, it is a situation many of the county’s rescue squads, and rescue squads in many rural areas face – not having enough members to run calls. When someone is a volunteer for a rescue squad, they are in for long hours and continuous training. Coupled with maintaining so many certifications puts many volunteers between a rock and a hard place, Martin said.
“And that is what Dugspur got into. Dugspur in the past has been one of the most active squads, but like many of the other squads in the county has just been a gradual step down in what they were able to do,” Martin said. “From what I have seen, they are not alone. Dugspur came to the realization that they hadn’t answered calls for some time, but the community used the building and had meetings and those kinds of things. The community building is already owned by the citizens and it will remain in use for the community. Even if it hadn’t been in the community’s name, frankly my strong feelings, and the rest of the board’s, was that the building should go to them. The community paid for that building through citizens’ donations and hours and hours and hours of finance drives.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN