For many years, a school building in the Plain View community was a historic site of pride.
“This is the gateway to Plain View and it’s just an eyesore,” Jim Schmidlin said while looking at the tattered building, where students were educated for many generations.
But thanks to generous donors, community members are keeping the spirit of the old elementary building alive by building a park. The Plain View Community Coalition (PVCC) announced Thursday that it raised $70,700 for the abandoned structure. A thermometer on a sign showing the progress is now available for the public to see.
“The ultimate goal of the Plain View Community Coalition is to tear down the old Plain View Elementary School,” said Schmidlin, who serves as treasurer.
PVCC would like to raise a total $150,000. But with more than $70,000 the group is close to the $80,000 mark to engage contractors. The vision for the organization is to build a walking trail, farmers market, sports fields and a memorial wall.
“The community is very excited about it and the community has been extremely supportive of it,” Schmidlin said.
PVCC members have three phases for the project. The first is to abate and raze the old school and the second is construction, which will include bricks from the original building and a place to show appreciation to donors. The third phase is to pursue grant funding for the park in northern Sampson County.
Since the early 2000s, the school has been a blemish in the community, with some of the problems including slumps in the floors, a collapsing roof, shattered windows, mold and animal waste. It became vacated when the new Plain View Elementary was built. After PVCC was formed, several meetings were held and a decision was made to keep the gym and develop a community park.
“We’ve been out trying to do something with this park and no one will do anything with us on grants as long as we have a health hazard on the property,” Schmidlin said. “We’ve got to get that taken down.”
The gym was built in 1985 and Duke Energy gave a grant to PVCC for lights.
“We’ve stripped and redone the floors and done plenty of upgrades,” he said.
The gym is used five nights on a weekly basis for activities such as basketball and zumba. During the announcement of the money already raised, members of PVCC were joined by children from its soccer camp. South River Electric Membership Corporation gave PVCC a $5,000 matching grant for soccer. With the money, they purchased soccer equipment for the program.
Schmidlin said another goal is to bring back recreational activities in the Plain View area. Sampson County Parks and Recreation operated a regional office, but everything was consolidated in Clinton.
“We haven’t had an organized soccer program up here for probably five or six years,” Schmidlin said. “A lot of us have been going to Dunn. We’ve been paying out-of-county fees in order to play soccer. Clinton is just too far for us.”
Coaches from Midway High School’s soccer team assisted PVCC with building a program for youths ages 4 to 12. More than 50 signed up. High school players helped the coaches too. Schmidlin said a lot of parents are happy about the program, which beats taking a drive to Clinton.
“Everyone had a good time,” Schmidlin said about the four-day camp. “For a lot of kids, it was the first time they’ve ever played soccer.”
For more information about PVCC or the park, visit www.plainviewcc.org
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.