Prospective Hoffman school buyer questions restrictions


Kevin Spradlin | Kevin Porter, of Reaching Our Community and Kids Inc., inquires with the Hoffman Town Council Monday night about restrictions on educational activities at the former Hoffman Elementary School.

Kevin Spradlin |
Kelvin Parter, of Reaching Our Community and Kids Inc., inquires with the Hoffman Town Council Monday night about restrictions on educational activities at the former Hoffman Elementary School.

By Kevin Spradlin

HOFFMAN — When Richmond County Schools transferred ownership of the former Hoffman Elementary School to the town, the school system did so with one key restriction for future use of the building — any program offered there could not conflict with anything offered through Richmond County Schools or Richmond Community College.

Kelvin Parter wants to know exactly what that means.

Parter, of a nonprofit organization called Reaching Our Community and Kids Inc. (EIN 45-2645988) — ROCK, for short — addressed Hoffman Mayor Tommy Hart and Town Council members Monday night during the council’s regular monthly public meeting. Parter said his group is interested in buying the property but is concerned about the restrictions against “any educational institution” written into the deed to the property.

“We know there are some restrictions on the facility” and its future use, Parter said. “We saw where it said it can’t have a private school, a charter school … any educational institution. I want to get a little bit more clarification … so that you can enlighten me. If we do purchase the facility, we want to be able to work in the guidelines. We did look at the facility. We like it. We want to make sure we are doing what we are supposed to do. ‘Any education,’ that’s a broad statement. We have to narrow that down in order for my team to make a decision.”

Image courtesy The former  Hoffman Elementary School is "move-in ready," according to its listing by Clift Commercial Properties.

Image courtesy
The former Hoffman Elementary School is “move-in ready,” according to its listing by Clift Commercial Properties.

Parter said his group offers, or could offer, a variety of programs, including a workforce development initiative that seeks to train individuals in new skill areas in order for them to be prepared to re-enter the workforce.

“If you’ve been looking at (President Barack) Obama — he has been promoting workforce,” Parter said, “wanting to get programs started in order to get people back into the workforce. That’s just one of our programs.”

Another initiative is an after-school program “to work hand in hand with you guys,” Porter said. “It’s not just about us coming in … we have to work with people in authority … for the community.”

Parter also suggested a midnight youth basketball program to help get teens off the streets and stay out of trouble.

“An idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” he said.

Parter said his nonprofit organization is, or could be, partially funded by federal grants. He did not request any money Monday night from the Hoffman Town Council.

Councilman Daniel Kelly said Richmond County Schools has made clear that programs offered at the former school site can’t lead to any degree or certificates being awarded. Parter indicated he felt that would eliminate his nonprofit organization from being able to use that site, but didn’t elaborate on what, if any, degrees or certificate programs could be offered through his proposal.

Parter asked about GED programs, but those programs are offered through RCS and RCC.

Kelly said he tried to get the issue placed on the Richmond County Board of Education agenda for a public discussion but so far has been unsuccessful. However, the board’s attorney has discussed the issue with the town’s attorney, Robert Hornik.

Councilman Ricky Anderson asked Parter more about what types of programs Parter’s organization might offer. Porter said it could be “various things,” including “computers” and “janitorial cleaning … something simple, something to help them to learn a skill to get back into the workforce.”

Porter noted his group’s programs could be targeted to those who have “made bad choices.”

“We can just monitor them (and) once they get a job, we wouldn’t leave them,” Parter said.

Parter did not clarify whether or not he intended the facility to be used for adjudicated youth or adults. A call to Parter by The Pee Dee Post early Tuesday morning wasn’t immediately returned.

Despite the lack of details, Parter seemed to have garnered the support of at least two council members. Councilwoman Cynthia Northcutt said the programs intended to be offered could be “very beneficial to this community.”

“I worked for Richmond County Schools,” Northcutt said. “I can see sort of what they were trying to do but I don’t think it was a good idea.”

Councilman Ricky Anderson said Parter’s program “sounds good.”

“I wish I could say yes,” Anderson said.

The former Hoffman Elementary School, located at 106 Thompson St. off U.S. Route 1, is listed by Clift Commercial Properties in Southern Pines for $339,000. The 5.22-acre parcel includes the school, which encompasses 22,624 square feet. In that space — nine classrooms, two offices, multiple restrooms, a gymnasium with a stage and dressing room, a large kitchen with an eat-in lunchroom, two mechanical rooms and a boiler room.

* * *

Representatives of K-2 Solutions, recently featured in National Geographic on “Teaching Dogs to Save Lives,” inquired about resuming training at the former Hoffman Elementary School.

Jacob Van Dyke, training supervisor, and Dana Kjellsen, maintenance manager, said the Southern Pines-based organization is in need of buildings in which to train dogs in urban settings. The company had a prior agreement with the town to rent the building for training but over a period of time, Van Dyke said, that agreement went by the wayside.

Town Council members appeared interested in the idea and asked when K-2 Solutions would want to begin training.

“If we could go tomorrow, it’d be great,” Van Dyke said Monday night. “Whatever works out for you guys.”

Van Dyke said each week the teams from K-2 get together to select training sites and missions. Though he couldn’t confirm an exact number of times per week the building would be used, “I would say with it being a building, and not too far from us, it would be used a decent amount.”

Kelly suggested simply renewing the previous contract, but no one present could immediately recall the terms of the contract so the issue was tabled until a copy could be found and the terms be reviewed.

Kelly noted the building is for sale. Kjellsen said that’s not an issue for the company, which has a similar arrangement at the former Rockingham rest home. In exchange for the use of the building for training, Kjellsen said, the company agrees to maintain the grounds by mowing the lawn, trimming trees, etc.

The potential sale “is not a hindrance to us,” Kjellsen said. “We can work with you on that.”

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  • Daffy

    I may be very confused, however I was not aware that when the school system gave/sold the property to the city of Hoffman that it was for them (the city of Hoffman) to resale. It was my understanding that the tax payers that paid for that school as well as others was donating the property to Hoffman for them to use it for themselves. Things such as a town hall, afterschool programs and such. Humm, perhaps I misunderstood or was tax payers including myself hoodwink about the deal that was made between the city of Hoffman and the Richmond County school system. I do hope that it (the former school) is put to good use. The programs that Mr. Porter spoke of sound very useful. I wish Mr. Porter and his organization all the best.

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