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Longtime residents make plea for saving Lakeview

The School Board is still accepting bids on the school property, which are due by 2 p.m. Thursday.

The faces may have been different, but the plea was very much the same _ save the Lakeview School as a part of the diminishing history of the community of Hernando.

Kandice Bellamy McPherson made that pitch to the School Board on Tuesday, asking that the board help her group and the county to secure grant money to make the old school into a community center.

Board members had no immediate reaction to the idea, but have said previously that the time had come to do something with the deteriorating school and, in the absence of a specific plan to save and use it, the board was ready to sell it.

McPherson had requested the chance to speak on behalf of a number of longtime Citrus families including the Rooks, Bellamy, VanNess, Croft, Spooner and Ogle families.

Noting that the community has grown, McPherson explained to the board that the school was the last historic building left in Hernando and that the town needed a community center.

She has spoken to County Commissioner Brad Thorpe as well as several state historical organizations which provide grant money to restoration projects and has gotten some support.

While McPherson noted that the board has said previously that it is not in the restoration business, she disagreed. She named several children's programs that do not have room in the Hernando area.

"We're talking about children and education, and that is your business," she said.

McPherson urged the board to delay acceptance of sale bids so that the group, calling itself Save Our Schools, could put together grant applications.

"Children need programs. . . . Don't turn your backs on us by selling this old Hernando Elementary School," she said.

The district abandoned the 1930s-era school in 1994 when CREST opened in the Lecanto school complex. Since that time, several groups have tried to find a plan to preserve the old structure.

At various times, the building was talked about as an alternative school, and state grant dollars were secured to renovate it or make it a magnet school or a community center.

Late last year, the School Board declared the structure to be surplus and no longer needed for educational purposes.

That prompted another effort to preserve the school, mounted by Citrus 20/20. But when longtime Lakeview advocate Ansel Briggs, a member of the 20/20 board, stepped back from the project to care for an ailing aunt, the effort ground to a halt.

Then last month, a local real estate agent representing the company which had brought chain drug stores to several corner lots around Citrus County made an offer for the school which was in line with the latest appraisal of $454,000.

The offer prompted the board to offer the school for sale under the provisions of state law and district regulations.

Advertisements have run for several weeks, and bids are due to district offices by 2 p.m. Thursday.

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