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City inquires about old ECMS

By By Michael S. Hill
Advance Staff Writer
Atmore City Councilman John Watkins appeared before the Board of Education Thursday afternoon to officially express the city's interest in the old Escambia County Middle School building.
Watkins said he would like the city to take an interest in making purposeful use out of the building rather than let it fall victim to deteriorate from nonuse.
The board then formed their own committee to investigate any possible uses it may have for the building, as well as discuss the city's proposals. Superintendent Dr. Breland-Bradley said the board's interest in the building is uncertain right now.
Watkins suggested some possible uses for the old building, including a police precint, an expansion of Reid State's nursing program, a senior citizen meal program, a place for reunions and a daycare, to name a few.
Watkins said the idea of leasing the school building was first brought to his attention by a group of citizens.
At the city council meeting last Monday, Watkins brought the proposal to the attention of Mayor Rodney Owens.
Owens has said that there may be an opportunity to make good use of the building, but he is concerned about the building becoming a burden.
Nonetheless, Owens appointed a committee of Watkins, Councilman Jerry Gehman and Councilman David McKinley to research possible uses the city might have for the building.
Gehman and McKinley were not present at the board meeting, but Gehman said there wasn't a real need to be there.
Gehman said he, like Owens, was concerned about maintenance costs for the building.
McKinley said he hopes the city and the Board of Education can come to some agreement.
Watkins said he, too, is interested in establishing a satellite police station at the school, at least temporarily.
Watkins later suggested that a committee be appointed, based on racial representation in the area, to discuss uses of the building.
Watkins said he plans for his committee and the Board of Education's committee to meet and discuss further the possible uses of the building.