Vandalism at old Kings Mountain school prompts demo discussion

Published 3:36 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Abigail Roberts

Correspondent

KINGS MOUNTAIN – After reviewing pictures of recent vandalism at the old Kings Mountain Elementary school building, Lincoln County Board of Education members agreed to get estimated costs of demolishing the property.

Lincoln County Superintendent Michael Rowe shared photos with board members of the damaged building which includes broken windows, knocked over paint that stained several floors and trash.

Vandalism at Kings Mountain school. Photo submitted

“It’s kind of devastating what’s going on there,” Rowe said.

New locks were placed on the doors Wednesday and by Thursday, Rowe said vandals had already cut the locks and gotten back into the building.

Rowe asked board members what they would like to do with the building moving forward.

“That’s the question I have for you; it’s been over 15 years since that building closed as a school. What is the next step the board wants to do?” Rowe said. “Can we hire a security guard to go down there and keep an eye on it all the time? Yeah, we can do that. It’ll cost money. Can we install cameras there? That’ll cost money. My thoughts, I can’t see us using the building there for anything in the future because it’s definitely outdated and will cost more money to do anything with.”

Chief Operations Officer Darren Yaden said windows have been broken out over the last few years and they have attempted to deter vandals but it has recently gotten worse.

Rowe asked Board Attorney Jonathan Baker about the district’s liability if someone were to get hurt on the property.

“When you own a property there’s always some kind of fear of liability but obviously they are trespassing, they are not invitees and they are not there for a specific purpose, so they’re obviously trespassing and liability should be minimal,” Baker said. “But there’s always a concern when you own the property, especially when you know people are in there and you don’t take additional steps and try to prevent people from accessing it.”

Board member Ricky Lane asked if it would be possible to tear down the school but preserve the gym.

“Just from my personal experience that would be very expensive,” Yaden said.

Rowe said there are also two businesses running Internet off of the top of the building.

“We weren’t aware of that. I think the county government gave them permission to do that so they have been in and out of our buildings to work on their equipment that we did not know of,” he said.

Board member Gloria Sneed said the pictures only show part of the damage done to the building.

“The pictures don’t do it justice, I went and looked at it today “ she said.

Lane said if the building has asbestos then he thinks it needs to go.

“The vandalism part already had me there but my opinion is if it does have asbestos in it…I would be in favor of getting a vote to demo the property, get it cleaned up,” he said.

Sneed said she thinks it should be torn down.

“We’re not looking to make a solid decision tonight, just getting some general thoughts,” Board Chairman Win Smith said.

A Lincoln County rescue squad is interested in part of the land, Sneed said.

Rowe offered to touch base with the rescue squad and see if they are still interested.

“We got it surveyed but we don’t have an estimate of the value yet,” Rowe said.

The group agreed to look into the cost of tearing down the building.