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Merriwether Firefighters, Volunteers Breathe New Life into Community
web posted September 17, 2012
MERRIWETHER – With the
week of the Cooper Family donating four acres of land surrounding the
old "Cooper's School", later used as the Sweetwater Community Center,
the Merriwether Fire Department and community volunteers sprang into
action cleaning up around the building as well as the interior. Some
members from the Westside Fire Department came to pitch in as well.
Before they started, the building could barely be seen by the trees
that grew up around the building. (Below)
This was the second weekend the
volunteers worked on the property
finishing the cleaning out of the building and finishing up on the
clearing of underbrush and trees around the building. A big objective
this weekend was clearing the bar-b-que pit area and boarding up all
the windows and doors to prevent rain from causing any more damage to
the building and to keep out vandals.
Edgefield County Council Vice-chair Genia Blackwell (R-Merriwether)
donated the funds to purchase the lumber and plywood to secure the
building. The Merriwether Fire Department has donated the majority of
the manpower and fuel thus far and Westside donated the use of heavy
equipment used to clear the trees. Other volunteers from the community
also showed up to help.
Fire Chief Joey Smith said he believes
the building can be restored and
is committed to that goal. "The progress from this point forward won't
be as dramatic as cleaning up and securing the building." From here the
progress will be replacing sagging main joists on the foundation in two
places on the building.
Councilwoman Blackwell said that it is going to take public support to
raise the funds necessary to make the restoration possible. "This is a
community that takes pride in our history and I believe they will help
make this a reality. There have been many who have already shown great
interest, support and excitement about this project," she said.
Chief Smith said the Fire Department may hold boot drives to collect
donations and will be soliciting funds from area businesses. The newly
chartered Merriwether Community Coalition (MCC) is also involved and
will work towards raising money for the project.
Mrs. Blackwell said none of this would
have been possible without the
generous donation by Ambassador Hank Cooper and his wife Bobbye Cooper
of the land and the building to the county. With the county owning the
property it makes it eligible for grants to assist in the funding. The
County Council expects to vote on accepting the property in October.
The history of the building remains somewhat shrouded at the current
time. Starting around early 1900's the building was used as the Cooper
for students of the Merriwether and Sweetwater area. In the 1960's it
was turned into a community center for public functions and events.
Sometime in the past 20 to 30 years it was just a fond memory and was
never used again and fell into disrepair.
When the building was originally built remains uncertain. Some have
claimed it was built in the late 1890's and others say it was the early
1900's. According to some of the locals, it was built to replace a one
room school that burned down in the 1890's that was located on the land
that is now Old McDonald Fish Camp on nearby Currytown Road.
Anyone wishing to contribute towards the project right now can call the
Merriwether Fire Department at 803-279-8011 or drop checks off (or
mail) at the MVFD Station 1 located at 1879 West Martintown Road, North
Augusta, SC, 29860, during business hours.
Please note on the check for: community center.
© Copyright 2012 All material is property of
Edgefield Daily and/or parent company ECL and
cannot be reproduced,
redistributed without expressed written permission.
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