Addressing Mr. Roberts’ letter to the editor, yes, we do have a civic center, but not a community center like the Northside Center, which the greater El Campo community uses. Yes, WCJC has provided limited space for seniors all because no other group would, but the program there cannot expand, and we do not have educational senior programming like El Campo’s Heritage Center. Yes, Just Do It Now does provide educational programming, but only for children. Just imagine educational programming in literacy classes for anyone needing extra help with basic reading and writing and mentorship opportunities for seniors, and the building already exists!
Yes, federal laws are more stringent than they used to be, but Texas Education Code Section 11.1541 allows school districts to donate abandoned property to a nonprofit. Through partnerships with like-minded individuals, Wharton County Heritage Partnership has been formed and can accomplish amazing things, capitalizing on innovative ideas and grant opportunities to generate new programs that will benefit the broader community. As our population changes, the need for services that complement the ISD’s mission will increase.
Finally, setting aside everything that has been said about the Minnie Mae Hopper property, the HUD/GLO grant and proposed housing, etc., the question “What’s best for WISD vs. What’s best for WISD’s community – a community that needs healing?” arises. If the school board and WISD administration could set aside thoughts of “free money,” if they could visit the Northside Center in El Campo where a small nonprofit formed and made a real difference, perhaps a happy solution could be visualized. I hereby offer to arrange a tour of the Northside Center and Heritage Center for our entire school board and anyone who cares to go. Northside Elementary School was once an old abandoned school too, and just look what that community accomplished!