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Bids received for Weirton, Follansbee school buildings

BID SUBMITTED — Local developer Scott Ewusiak, second from left, shared information with Brooke County school officials after bidding $400,000 for the Follansbee Middle School property at a public auction Monday afternoon in the school’s field house. With him are, from left, his son, Tyler; Brooke County Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Crook; and Steve Mitchell, the school district’s director of buildings, grounds and maintenance. -- Warren Scott

Brooke County school officials received one bid each for the former Lauretta B. Millsop Primary School and Follansbee Middle properties at public auctions held Monday at each of the buildings.

A bid of $137,000 was submitted for Millsop by Chris and Misty Wood, owners of Little Bear Daycare, and a bid of $400,000 was submitted by local developer Scott Ewusiak for Follansbee Middle.

Brooke County Superintendent Jeffrey Crook noted the bid submitted by the Woods was the minimum set for the Millsop property by the school board, while the Ewusiak bid was $100,000 below the asking price for the Follansbee Middle property.

“It was advertised at $500,000, but at this point in the game, we will take into consideration any bid,” Crook told those attending the auction held in the middle school’s Carlin Dodrill Field House.

Crook said the bid will be discussed with the county school board and its legal counsel.

He said the board is expected in April to consider bids for the two sites and any bids received for the Beech Bottom Primary School site at an auction to be held at 9 a.m. today.

The three buildings are among five closed in 2018 by the school board, which cited declining enrollment and rising costs to maintain them.

Ewusiak said of the Follansbee Middle site, “We think it’s a nice piece of property and would like to see it used. We do want to build it out for retail and other things we’re looking at.”

Ewusiak said as a co-owner of Trimodal Terminal, a riverfront industrial park in the city, he’s aware of businesses that might welcome office space that could be created in the two-story school building.

Mayor David Velegol Jr. was among city officials who attended the auction.

“We very much look forward to working with Ewusiak in developing this property,” he said.

He noted the proximity of the building to state Route 2 makes it a key site for development.

Built in 1928, the school once served as a high school, with students in grades 7-12, until it was consolidated with high schools in Wellsburg and Bethany to form Brooke High School in 1969.

Built at the intersection of Legion and Swearingen roads in Marland Heights in 1953, Millsop Primary served children in grades K-4 before it was closed.

Since then it has been repurposed as the Brooke County Alternative Learning Center.

Aimed at educating students with difficulty adjusting to a traditional classroom setting, the center currently serves 37 students from throughout the county.

Plans call for the center to be moved next year into the former Wellsburg Middle School, which also had been closed.

Wood asked if the bid included the building’s fire and phone systems and security cameras.

Crook told him it included the fire and phone systems but not the cameras, but added school officials might consider negotiating with him for the cameras.

Misty said of the building, “I just love this school. Every classroom has a door to the playground, which is fenced. Plus, this gym is awesome.”

She said she hopes to use it for school-age youth served by her daycare service, particularly their summer program.

She said last year the summer program included about 15 school-age youth at their Follansbee location, which opened 13 years ago, and Main Street, Weirton location, which opened nine years ago.

She said there are no plans to close either of those locations.

The Woods said they also are considering renting the gym, which has doubled as a cafeteria with an adjacent kitchen, for birthday parties.

Crook said the bidders will be required to pay 10 percent of their bids up front and present a letter documenting they have the full price at their disposal.

School officials said Beech Bottom Primary has received interest from village officials, who would like to convert it into a community center; and a private entity.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com)

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