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January 20, 2013

Flora to get $484k to demolish old schoolhouse

Dilapidated building hasn’t been used since 1984.

FLORA — The dilapidated old schoolhouse won’t be here much longer.

Flora town officials were notified informally early this month that the town had been awarded grant funding to demolish the old Flora schoolhouse at 300 E. Main St. The funding includes $446,400 in disaster recovery grant funds from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and $37,600 from the Indiana Brownfields program, according to Edwin Buswell, executive director of the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission, which wrote the grant application.

The awards are contingent upon the town getting the property from Carroll County, which is expected to happen in May, said Flora Clerk-Treasurer Joretta Tinsman.

“We got the grant if nobody objects to the county giving [the building] to us, which I cannot imagine anybody objecting,” said Tinsman.

The town will put up $12,000 for its share of the estimated $496,000 demolition.

The three-story building has stood empty since 1984, when the elementary and junior-high classes were moved from there, Buswell said. It was completed in 1932 and has seen better days, Tinsman said. The east roof has fallen nearly to the first floor, and the building is “beyond fixing up.”

“I went to grade school and junior high there,” she added. “It’s kind of sad. It’s a gorgeous building.”

The town sought and received permission from the state and federal historic landmark agencies to tear down the building. Before it’s demolished, the town will finish a $5,330 historical study of the edifice as a separate project.

The county acquired the property after a September tax sale, then resolved in December to give the property to Flora. The town council also passed a resolution saying it would accept the property.

The public has until April 16 to register any objections. If none come forth, an attorney hired by the city will file to get the land deeded to the town, a process which is expected to be finished by May 17.

“So if we get all of that done — which I think we will — then we’ll get the grant,” said Tinsman.

A set of four condominiums in an addition to the old building will remain standing, she said.

The Carroll County town became eligible for the OCRA’s Disaster Recovery program in the wake of a 2008 flood.

“The money was used to help counties that were influenced by the flood help their economies recover from the flood,” explained Buswell. “They didn’t have to be directly related to the flood.”

Tinsman expressed the town’s gratitude for the grant funds.

The old schoolhouse has “just deteriorated beyond doing anything with, and we’re just so glad to have this,” she said.

Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at sarah.einselen@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5151.

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