Young and old protest inaction on Silver City Schoolhouse
Appeal Staff Writer
The last Silver City resident who actually attended the Silver City Schoolhouse when it was a school, joined about two dozen others Thursday to protest the lack of action on rebuilding the historic building.
Lula Kendall, who will be 94 in a few weeks, is angry about the delays that have kept this close-knit community from getting a new community center, after the historic schoolhouse burned down in 2004.
“I feel there’s absolutely no excuse for it,” she said. “If there was insurance, it should be paid for. If they’re short of insurance, it’s up to the county to build it.”
Kendall and other protesters held signs that read “Rebuild it now!” and “Silver City needs our schoolhouse back now!”
Erich Obermayr, a member of Silver City’s town advisory board, said the demonstration at Silver City Park was designed to “quietly” show how important the schoolhouse was to the community.
“It has been two years, one month and three days,” he said. “Silver City has begun the fight to get our community center back.” Obermayr warned that the building season is coming to an end, and if action is not taken immediately, it could be three years before Silver City sees a community center.
The schoolhouse, which had been used as the town’s community center until it burned July 7, 2004, has been the subject of a dispute between Lyon County officials and the insurance company, ASC Business Insurance Services Inc. of Sparks. That dispute has held up financing a new community center.
County and insurance company officials will meet Monday to discuss the schoolhouse issues.
Obermayr noted that right after the fire, residents were the ones who cleared debris and salvaged materials to be used in the rebuilding.
Bids were put out in summer of 2005, and one contractor, Reyman Brothers, put in a bid for more than $800,000.
Obermayr said the company was ready to build immediately and estimated it would take 180 days to complete the building.
“It should have opened in March or April,” Obermayr said. “Instead, it has been stalled, caught between Lyon County and the insurance company.”
Obermayr said he didn’t want to point fingers or place blame, he just wanted to demonstrate how desperately the community center was needed.
“To say the schoolhouse was the heart of the community center is not entirely accurate,” he said. “The building housed the heart. The heart of Silver City is still here.”
Alex MacDonald, 12, misses the live music, plays, potlucks and parties the community would hold at the schoolhouse.
“There hasn’t been a Fireman’s Ball for two years,” Alex, said. “They need to rebuild it. I’ll help build it, if I have to.”
Kendall spent first through seventh grade at the 137-year-old schoolhouse, then called simply the Silver City School, from 1918-1925.
She then transferred to Dayton High School, another historic building now containing the Dayton Community Center on Pike Street in Dayton. She said her parents, sister and children all attended the Silver City School. The building ceased being used as a school in 1958.
“It was a typical, two-room school, with a pot-bellied stove to keep warm,” she said, adding that the floors were oiled and the building had an old-fashioned school bell rang by pulling a rope.
She was hoping to be at the opening of the new schoolhouse community center, she said, but added, “at the rate they’re going, I probably won’t be here. Maybe I can go to the groundbreaking.”
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 882-2111 ext. 351.