Michael Smith: Yampa building a historic treasure
I have followed with interest the discussion concerning the potential transfer of the Yampa Elementary School to Memorial Regional Health. Although there are many significant unanswered questions about what Memorial Regional Health plans to do with the Yampa Elementary School, the focus of my letter is on the Yampa Elementary School as a community asset.
The Yampa Elementary School is one of the few buildings of its age in Craig, nearing 100 years old. The Yampa is certainly one of the oldest government buildings in Craig. And the Yampa is in excellent condition.
Many people have very fond memories of the Yampa building. In my family, my mother, myself, my brother, and my sister all attended the Yampa for at least 6 years. There are many names associated with the Yampa that resonate for hundreds of former students. Minnie Sheard, the school nurse; Miss Gibbons, the music teacher who gave many of us such a good start for the years of excellent bands that Vern Davis directed at the High School; and so many other teachers (names like Livingston, Updike, Trantham, and Blamey come rushing back) made the Yampa a pretty special places for children. We were trusted to walk to school, passing houses owned by the Ballecks, the Lyons, the Herods, Duprees, the Klines, the Shrimptons, and the Pleasants, and even crossed Yampa Avenue unassisted. School carnivals put on by the PTA featured games and activities in the gymnasium/auditorium on the north end of the building.
The Yampa Elementary School is truly a building that should be an asset to the entire community. Perhaps that purpose is served by turning the Yampa over to Memorial Regional Health, but the lack of details about Memorial Regional Health’s plans give me concern. I would suggest that the school board, as the current organization with the fiduciary responsibility for the Yampa Elementary School, needs to take three steps to protect the Yampa as a community asset.
First, the school board needs to make sure that Memorial Regional Health understands that it too has a fiduciary responsibility to operate and protect the Yampa as a community asset. At such time as Memorial Regional Health no longer needs the Yampa, then it would be the responsibility of Memorial Regional Health to pass the Yampa on to one or more community groups who would also use the Yampa for the benefit of the people of Craig. Second, that would mean that the contract with Memorial Regional Health and the real property upon which the Yampa sits carry appropriate contractual and covenant obligations to ensure that the Yampa remain in good condition. Finally it would be prudent to have a group of active and involved citizens who are tasked with making sure the Yampa building is kept in good condition and that no changes are make which would permanently detract from the use of the Yampa as a community asset, hopefully for the next 100 years.
I hope that the Yampa building does not suffer the same fate as the Breeze building.
Michael A. Smith
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