City OKs purchase of gym at former Ball Ground school
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
October 13, 2012 01:48 AM | 1767 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Ball Ground City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to move forward with the purchase of the gymnasium building in the former Ball Ground Elementary School facility while recognizing the achievements of students and staff at the new elementary school.

City Manager Eric Wilmarth said the agreement between the city and the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners allows the city to put $35,000 toward the purchase of the gym out of the county’s park bond.

“They will provide out of those funds $35,000 to make the acquisition of the old Ball Ground Elementary School,” Wilmarth said. “The condition is, if we were to ever sell that or take it out of parks service, we will (have to) pay back the $35,000.”

The parks bond, approved by Cherokee voters in 2008, will only cover purchases that stay within the scope of recreational services, Wilmarth said.

“What the voters voted on was very specific — it was the park improvements and recreational improvements,” he said.

Wilmarth said the city has a tentative agreement in place for Cherokee Youth Basketball to begin practicing at the gym beginning in November.

At the council’s September meeting, members unanimously approved the purchase of the entire facility of the former school from the Cherokee County Board of Education.

The $35,000 is the only cash going toward the purchase, because the remaining $609,495 was paid in in-kind services, which include waiving of storm water fees, sewer connection fees and other costs when the district built the new Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy.

As for the new school located at 321 Valley St., Mayor Rick Roberts said he was honored to attend the school’s ribbon cutting and Fall Expo on Tuesday.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people in one place in Ball Ground,” Roberts said. “I couldn’t stop thinking about what a draw that school was that night and what it’s going to be. This council worked hard to get that school located within the city. I felt like we just needed to have a facility that was on par with the rest of the county, but this STEM Academy is going to be huge catalyst.”

Roberts said he was very impressed with the school’s video conferencing room where students can communicate with students across the county and on the other side of the world.

“And the computer labs and the robotics (labs) … I felt like I was in the 21st century,” Roberts joked. “Which we are, but in our old facility sometimes we didn’t quite feel like we were.”

Lucille Rich, president of the Ball Ground Historical Society, spoke at Tuesday’s event and was also at the council meeting.

“It’s a labor of love,” Rich said of the school. “I love Ball Ground School.”

In other business, the council:

* Approved unanimously a to recognize the week of Oct. 23-31 as Red Ribbon Week in the City of Ball Ground;

* Heard from Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens regarding the upcoming Nov. 6 vote on the Homestead Option Sales Tax;

* Approved unanimously the second reading of an alcohol license for Blue Saphier Enterprises, LLC for the Chevron gas station located at 3005 Canton Highway; and

* Council member Lee Prettyman gave a report on the Public Works Department. Within the last month, the department has fixed the portion of the Valley Street Railroad Crossing to allow for two-way traffic, Prettyman said. The road re-opened this week.
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