Banner Schoolhouse Windows

Boarded-up windows hide whatever remains inside the dilapidated Banner Schoolhouse, which county leaders plan to demolish to make room for a larger Banner-Bounds Fire Department. Supervisors say they won’t grant public access to the building to remove souvenirs, citing safety concerns.

Citing safety concerns, supervisors say they won’t allow members of the public to take souvenirs from Banner Schoolhouse before it’s torn down.

Last week, county leaders voted to advertise for sealed bids on the purchase of Banner Schoolhouse and its contents. Whomever is awarded the bid will have 30 days to demolish and remove whatever elements of the building they want from the site.

The motion came after 1st District Supervisor Charles Horn asked his fellow supervisors how to respond to requests from area residents to enter the building and remove mementos.

“They want benches out of it, and this and that,” Horn said. The supervisor said he was against allowing people to take items from the building, but wanted feedback from his fellow supervisors.

County administrator Gary Franks advised against giving people access to the building, which supervisors say is falling in. He said it’s a liability.

“What if they get in there and get hurt?” Franks said. The rest of the board agreed.

County leaders then had to decide what to do with the building. Horn said he’d spoken with a few contacts about tearing the building down, but hadn’t had much luck.

“People I’ve asked about tearing it down don’t want to fool with it,” Horn said.

Board attorney Bo Russell said Horn just hadn’t found the right person. Although the building itself is in poor shape, he said elements of it are still valuable.

“There’s a lot of people who buy that salvaged wood,” Russell said.

He suggested the board advertise the sale and demolition of the building and see who responds.

The Itawamba County School District deeded the building that served as Banner’s schoolhouse and, after its shuttering in the 1950s, community center to the county’s board of supervisors late last month. Supervisors immediately stated their plan was to tear down the dilapidated former schoolhouse to make room for a new fire station for the Banner-Bounds Fire Department.

Supervisors say the building prevents crucial renovations to the community’s current fire station, which stands adjacent to the schoolhouse. Due to the slope of the land, rainwater flows beneath the schoolhouse and into the fire station, which also serves as the community’s voting precinct. During heavy rain, the station will fill with standing water.

County leaders say the problem can be fixed, but the schoolhouse prevents water from being rerouted.

Once the building has been removed from the property, the Banner-Bounds Fire Department will either build a new station, or expand the one they have onto a portion of the property.

Horn said he’d like to get the building removed as quickly as possible to press forward with the fire department renovations.

“We need to be getting that down, somehow or another,” he said.

adam.armour@journalinc.com Twitter: @admarmr

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