Former agriculture building in Isabella will soon be torn downBy Emily Etheredge Published 4:57pm Tuesday, September 24, 2013
One of the oldest structures left standing in the Isabella community will soon be torn down.
Built in 1923, the former agriculture building at Isabella High School will be demolished to make way for added parking for a new storm shelter that will be built in between the agriculture building and the Isabella Fire Department.
The Chilton County Board of Education voted on Sept. 17 to grant maintenance supervisor Wayne Howell permission to demolish and remove the building but Superintendent Dave Hayden said on Tuesday he does not know the exact date the building will be torn down.
Originally, discussion about the building being torn down circulated when the county voted to add 11 more storm shelters so that each resident in the county would be only a 5-minute drive from a shelter.
Earlier this year, the county received word that the first three shelters were approved for Gov. Robert Bentley’s Emergency Relief Fund (GERF) that gives money to counties to pay the 25-percent match, allowing the first three shelters of the 11 to be built at no cost to the county.
One of the locations for the first three shelters to be built was near the old Ag building at 1960 County Road 29 in the Isabella community.
Although storm shelter project manager Lee Helms with Lee Helms Associates said initially there was some discussion about tearing down the agriculture building to allow for the storm shelter to be placed in that location, further discussion resulted in the shelter being built in between the agriculture building and the fire department.
“The agriculture building doesn’t interfere with the storm shelter we are planning to build at all,” Helms said. “From the beginning, we never even listed the agriculture building as a project where we were going to demolish that building. It is not in our plans for the storm shelter to do anything with that building.”
The agriculture building has not been used since the 2008-2009 school year, according to Isabella High School principal Ricky Porter.
A new agriculture building was built during the same year but Porter said at the time, the former agriculture building was the oldest operating agriculture building in the state of Alabama.
Porter said the building was opened in the fall of 1923 as an agriculture building with the original wooden frame still standing.
A block addition was added to the building in 1960 and the block addition will remain and be used by the Isabella varsity football team and the youth league.
“The building is very sentimental for a lot of people in this community,” Porter said. “It has been here almost as long as everyone in the community has been alive. It is a landmark and lots of people wished it could be saved, but it is in really bad shape and just needs to come down.”
Both Porter and Hayden said the building is currently infested with termites and is beyond salvaging.
The wooden structure is being used as a storage facility but will be cleaned out before being demolished.
“It is just time for the building to go,” Hayden said. “The decision came after we looked at the building and saw that it was pretty much at the point where you had termite damage and some water damage and it is just time for the old part to be torn down.”