Madness in Mendenhall

Clint and Kevin
Sheer, utter madness. You are probably going to think this is a typo, but, sadly, I assure you it is not.  At the September 12 meeting of the Simpson County School Board, board members voted unanimously to accept a $350,000 bid to demolish the 1938 Art Deco Mendenhall High School Auditorium.

I attended the board meeting with several other “Save Our School” advocates to urge the board to consider all its options. The school board could apply for restoration funding from the Community Heritage Preservation Fund, with the State of Mississippi picking up 80% of the cost of the project. Many members of the community have come forward with willing hearts to offer to raise the 20% match the grant requires. Once again, we were told that the historic auditorium stands in the way of the construction of a much needed cafeteria, or “cafetorium.” What nonsense! It seems so completely obvious to me that there is a great alternative, with a new cafeteria being located behind the restored auditorium, it is hard to know how to respond to this very close-minded approach.

Yet, despite the fact that the recent bond issue to fund projects like the new cafetorium was soundly defeated, putting into question whether there will be funding for new construction projects, the board was willing to allocate such a substantial sum to the demolition of this community treasure. As someone who sees the value of the Mendenhall High School Auditorium and what the restoration of this building could mean for future generations, I am dumbfounded by this decision. If I were a parent with children in Simpson County School District, I would be hopping mad at this flagrant waste of limited resources.



Categories: Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation, Mendenhall, Mississippi Landmarks, Schools

9 replies

  1. THIS IS THE REASON FOR THE DEFEAT OF THE BOND ISSUE. IT WOULD BE JUST LIKE PUTTING OBAMA IN CHARGE OF THE SPENDING AND GIVING MORE AND MORE FOR THEM TO MISHANDLE….. DON’T YOU KNOW OUR LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD IS LIKE THE U S GOVT.,COMPLETELY UNAWARE OF WHAT A LITTLE COMMON AND BUSINESS SENSE WOULD DO. IN SIMPSON COUNTY MORE IS LESS……. JUST SAYING………REMEMBER THEY ARE THE ELECTED OFFICIALS. WAKE UP PEOPLE

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  2. More evidence of the New South’s loss of that “sense of place.” And I don’t see how that “place” can ever be instilled into today’s new south youth as they drive and walk around like zombies with their eyes glued to a 2″x 2″ LCD screen. Now we can see how the Palestinians must feel as the Israel Catepillar bulldozers clear away their homes, historic towns, schools and cemeteries to make way for the new high rise Kibbutzim.

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  3. There seems to be an element of vindictiveness in this decision that I don’t understand, as if because they didn’t get their way right away, they will now move forward as quickly as possible even though, as far as I’ve heard, they don’t actually have the money for a new building on the site. So, they have over a quarter of a million dollars to demolish a building. Do they have another couple million to build a new one also? And if so, why can’t they even consider putting the new cafeteria in the back of the auditorium building? Surely doing so couldn’t cost them much more than what they’re already planning to spend, and then they would have a beautiful old building with a real auditorium (cafetoriums are horrible places for plays or assemblies) and a cafeteria like they want.

    Whenever public officials seem to be moving too fast on a course of action that seems illogical, I wonder about kick-backs or back-room deals. This goes for the sudden MDAH turnaround in July which overturned the January demolition denial. Who’s benefiting from all this?

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  4. Whenever I read about a really stupid decision, I immediately ask three questions:
    1. Who is benefiting personally from the outcome (kickbacks, increased property value, access to something, etc.)?
    2. Who is empire-building as a stepping stone to a bigger and better status or position in the future.?
    3. Is anyone’s relative involved?

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  5. All I can say is “Ditto” to all the questions raised above. Construction and/or demolition (and especially highway construction) are some of those high-dollar endeavors that often seem to create a bad smell around these issues and make you think there is more going on behind the scenes.

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  6. Those of you who are irritated about this should contact the philistines whom you elected and complain (namely Perry Lee and Andy Gipson). And while you’re at it, could you please find some way to eject Gipson? A representative who gets national media attention by spouting that gay people should be stoned to death makes Simpson County look pretty absurd to the rest of the country.)

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    • As I understand it, Perry Lee was more heavily involved in putting pressure on MDAH’s Board (although I can’t figure out what that pressure was). He showed up and huffed and puffed at the first MDAH board meeting.

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  7. something crooked is at the heart of this frantic idiocy. it’s time for a recall petition.

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  8. Pitful and disgusting! Good ol’ Boy Nitwit Numbskulls at work!!! Isn’t there anyone out there who can stop this?

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