BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission voted to develop an agreement with Appalachian Impact so the nonprofit organization may utilize the Hampton Community Building.
Justin Bowers with Appalachian Impact called into the Nov. 18 Upshur County Commission meeting to discuss whether his organization could make improvements to the building in the future.
“We did go see it — we took a couple of trips out there with our different board members, and I think we’re very interested,” Bowers said. “I think the biggest questions we had was whether there would be a chance of making some improvements and whether that would be shared or not. Mainly, we want to we want to make sure that we would have hot water down the road.”
Appalachian Impact was founded nine years ago to help at-risk children by operating mentoring programs in the schools; offering summer community camps that focus on literacy and creative arts; and developing a leadership cohorts program.
Bowers inquired as to whether they could lease the building for longer than one year.
“The only other question we really had was, if this would just be a year-to-year agreement or we could consider locking in something for two or three years to ensure there was going to be some longevity,” Bowers said. “But we’re definitely very interested in the property.”
Commissioner Sam Nolte said the county hadn’t budgeted any improvements to the building, so those would fall to Appalachian Impact, and he preferred a year-to-year lease that could be renewed on an ongoing basis.
“I might be inclined to do a year-a-year. That way you would continually have the option to renew the lease, which really isn’t costing you anything,” he said. “As far as repairs and maintenance, I think that that would be something you have to find in your budget. We had the choice to take on this property, which was basically given to us. We were going to put it out to auction to sell it, but we put it out there for organizations like yourself — but it’s not an extra expense the county is interested in taking on right now.”
Bowers agreed those terms would work, but he wanted to make sure Appalachian Impact would have first rights to renew the lease.
“I think that makes perfect sense, if we need to keep it year-to-year, if it has language that that we get first right to renew — that’s really all we’re looking for,” Bowers told the commission. “We don’t want to end up at a place with a new commission saying they want the building back and trying to figure out where to have programs. All of that makes sense; I think we would be good with that. I’ll have to go back to our board and get final approval, but we feel really good about it.”
Upshur County Commission president Kristie Tenney said they could make the lease $1 a year after they receive an official approval letter from the Appalachian Impact board.
“We would probably put that back on the agenda for official approval after you get your approval from your board and then move forward from there,” Tenney said. “Once you speak to them, Mr. Bowers, you just need to submit the request as a letter.”
Bowes originally approached the commission to request use of the building Oct. 28, when he said they would use the property for their various programs that help at risk youth.