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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2007
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Belle Mina School deed causing confusion in Limestone County

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com 340-2445

ELKMONT — The Limestone County Board of Education is trying to find out who has authority over the future of a defunct school because there is confusion over the deed.

The board went into executive session Tuesday night to discuss the legal ramifications of getting a title on Mooresville-Belle Mina School on Mooresville Road.

In 2006, a group approached the board about using the school for an after-school program. At that time, board attorney Byrd Latham said he found a deed from the 1900s that says a family deeded the board the property for educational purposes. If the board no longer uses the site for educational purposes, the property, about 10 acres, is supposed to revert to the family.

The school closed when Henry White was superintendent and served as a book warehouse for a time. The board no longer uses it.

On Tuesday, about 15 people from the community attended the board meeting in Elkmont and asked to be first for consideration for getting the building.

Clayton Garth said the community would like to use the site as a senior center and a place for students to get tutoring and prepare for college. The community also would like to use it for shelter during severe weather.

The confusion over the deed also helped prompt the board to approve hiring Latham and a surveyor to find clear deeds on all school property. Latham and Superintendent Barry Carroll said they have no estimate on the cost but surveys "aren't cheap."

Board member Charles Shoulders said the staff should do as much work as possible on finding old deeds to save taxpayer money. Carroll said the staff would search school records, and the deeds the staff cannot find, Latham can search for at the probate judge's office.

Carroll said there has been one instance where the board owned 1 acre and didn't know it. That acre was the site of a former school in the Blackburn community.

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