August 10, 2005 at 11:02 AM CDT - Updated July 26 at 5:55 PM
Hazardous School Worries Neighbors By: Arnold Wyrick
Gorham, IL - What do you do with an old school? That's a question plaguing many Heartland communities. Folks in Gorham have been trying to answer that question with their old high school, since the doors closed for good in 1991.
The former mayor tried to tear it down. But his efforts were halted after asbestos was found throughout the building.
"It contaminates the air. When it gets dried out, then gets wet and dries out it would be airborne. The schools got No Trespassing signs up. It's got tape around it," says Gorham Mayor Terry Homan.
But that hasn't stopped people from getting inside the abandoned old school. Most of the windows have been broken out by vandals. And exterior doors have been knocked down.
"Mostly kids, they're smoking in there. They're smoking pot in there. They take their bicycles in there and get up on the gymnasium roof. Then they ride down it onto the other parts of the roof. It's a wonder nobodies been hurt," says Ken Verseman of Gorham.
That's why the current mayor is trying to get the school torn down before someone is hurt.
"I've talked to the U.S.D.A., and the E.P.A. they don't know anything about a grant. The former mayor says there's a grant, but I don't know where it's at," Mayor Homan said.
But Verseman says he worked with the former mayor on a grant. And he's been told there's money available to tear down the school.
"According to Kevin Turner the monies are there. You can drive around and see all the weeds that are grown up, people don't care. And that's what we're trying to do is really get the town cleaned up," Verseman said.
Heartland News spoke with Kevin Turner, he tells us the Federal Government will be paying for the demolition of the old school. And work is scheduled to get underway later this month.
A group of citizens in Gorham have already began fixing up the school grounds with new playground equipment. The Gorham Fire Department will remain on site, as well as a community center will be built out of part of the old building.