Harlan Fiscal Court donated the old Bath House building in Lynch to the Southeast Education Foundation Inc., with a provision that they will in turn donate the building to Meridzo Ministries, a non-profit organization also of Lynch. The action was taken during a meeting on Thursday.
“In 1998, Dr. Kenneth Weir, who worked at the clinic in Lynch, actually gave to the court, on behalf of our foundation, the old Bath House in Lynch,” said Dr. w. Bruce Ayers, president of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. “You were the grantor and we were the grantee. Now the Bath House is in a sad state of repair. We have not been able to keep it up. We propose this building be given to Meridzo Ministries. They have promised rehabilitation of the building and to put it back into use for the community. And for those of you who know their ministry, if they say they will do that — they will.”
Ayers said he has “confidence in Meridzo Ministries’ plans for the building.” He said the building is “structurally sound.”
“One of the things we have been able to do in the Tri-Cities area is to hold onto our heritage,” said Ayers. “We have held onto the heritage by holding onto the buildings. We certainly don’t want to have anything torn down unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
Magistrate David Kennedy said the county “doesn’t have the funds to renovate the Bath House building.” He recommended the court donate the building to the foundation and then the foundation in turn donate the building to Meridzo Ministries after consulting with County Attorney Fred Busroe.
The court approved the action with no opposition.
Ayers continued, saying the Benham School House Inn and Portal 31 are now being operated by the Southeast Education Foundation. He said they are pleased by the number of visitors to the portal. He said the Benham School House Inn will be featured on HGTV on May 5 in a program highlighting buildings built for one purpose and now being used for a different purpose.
Ayers went on to say the Benham School House Inn was re-roofed several years ago, but there was one small area which covers the kitchen area not repaired during the project. He said there are now “numerous leaks” in this area and he received an estimate of approximately $24,000 to make these repairs.
“Unless the repairs are made, we’re afraid we’ll sustain more damage,” said Ayers. “I can tell you the college makes a significant investment in all the properties up there. We’re spending $190,000 for a new roof on the old commissary building where the museum is being operated. We’re making a huge investment. However, we’re not financially able to do all of the projects. I want to thank you for being a good partner to us for all these years and that’s why I’m asking for help in roofing that one small area of the Inn.”
Ayers said work needs to begin as soon as possible since water is leaking into fixtures and onto electrical appliances in the kitchen area, making it a fire hazard and a danger to staff.
After a lengthy discussion about where the funds could be obtained and consulting with the county attorney, Kennedy recommended to the court funds be made available to repair a small section of roof on the Inn.
Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop declared the situation a “dire emergency” so funds could be made available for the repairs.
“We’re in a situation if we don’t do something now it’s just going to get a lot worse,” said Grieshop.
A motion was made and approved to make the necessary repairs.
Before leaving the meeting, Ayers said he will retire as president of SKCTC at the end of June. He invited everyone to attend his last commencement graduation on May 10. He said a reception will begin at 4:30 p.m. Graduation will be at 5:30 p.m.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, email@example.com