CCTS alumni group obtains ownership of school property

Published 1:03 pm Thursday, July 10, 2014

7-11 CCTS_web

Chilton County Probate Judge Bobby Martin (front row, third from right) presents the warranty deed for the Chilton County Training School property to former students of CCTS at Morning Star Baptist Church in Clanton on June 29.

Chilton County Training School alumni are one step closer to fulfilling their vision of turning the school’s property into a meeting ground for former students and their families.

In June, the CCTS Alumni Preservation Association Inc. was granted ownership of the property, which previously had been in the custody of the state board of education, and most recently, the Chilton County Firefighter’s Association and Fraternal Order of Police Chilton Lodge No. 31 Inc.

“Both groups that owned it agreed just to deed it over to us, so we didn’t have to go through the state,” Chilton County Commissioner Bobby Agee said. “The Firefighter’s Association and Fraternal Order of Police volunteered to sign the deed over to the alumni group. This was the easiest and shortest way to do it, so I’m glad they were generous enough to give the property back.”

Agee is a member of the CCTS alumni group comprising more than a dozen former students and graduates of the school who hope to turn the dilapidated structure and overgrown grounds of the CCTS campus into a suitable site for gatherings.

Situated on about 10 acres of land on County Road 425 in Clanton, CCTS opened in 1924 and served as the only facility in the county that provided a secondary education for black students until the mid-1960s.

CCTS closed in 1969 as new integration laws mandated that formerly all-white schools admit black students.

In 1994, the state board of education sold CCTS and surrounding property to the Chilton County Firefighters Association for $1, with the intent that the group would use the building as a training facility.

The Chilton County Board of Education passed a resolution for the state board to sell it, and the state board agreed to do so and to include a reversionary clause in the contract.

Agee said the reversionary clause stated once the property was not used for the purpose with which it was deeded, it would revert back to the BOE.

In 2005, a CCTS alumni group approached the Chilton County BOE asking to execute the reversionary clause on the property and sign the property over to the alumni group since it didn’t appear to have been used for training.

The board eventually made a resolution asking the state to execute its reversionary clause and reclaim the property, but years passed as the alumni group awaited an answer about where the property’s ownership stood.

Agee said the alumni group’s initial plan was to restore the property to its original state with grant funding, but around 2006, the school caught fire and suffered extensive damage.

Even so, alumni hope to salvage the remains of their old school and clean up the property so it can serve as a historic site and meeting place for those who attended or earned their high school diplomas there.

The alumni group was able to have the CCTS site listed in the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in 2007.

In March, Agee asked the Chilton County BOE to contact the state to find out whether the board could reclaim ownership of the property and allow the alumni group to work on it.

Last month, a deed presentation was held at Morning Star Baptist Church in Clanton.

Chilton County Probate Judge Bobby Martin presented Agee and other CCTS alumni with the signed warranty deed for the property.

The deed was signed by Chilton County Volunteer Firefighter’s Association President Jason Scott; Fraternal Order of Police Chilton Lodge No. 31 Inc. President Warren Garris; and Tammy H. Short, Notary Public, Alabama State At Large.

“The Firefighter’s Association was more than happy to help,” Scott said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Agee expressed gratitude to the Chilton County Firefighter’s Association, Fraternal Order of Police Chilton Lodge No. 31 and the Chilton County Board of Education for their efforts in helping the CCTS alumni group obtain ownership of the property.

Agee said the group would hold meetings to discuss potential grants to fund the restoration project, which would be completed in phases.

Any former students and/or graduates of CCTS interested in joining the alumni group may call Agee at (205) 755-5075.

“It’s just volunteer,” Agee said. “We need as many of the former members as possible to come and participate with us.”