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(Article taken from Holdenville Daily News, August 7, 2002)

Despite objections, Moss WPA Gym demolished

     In spite of objections from a local group protesting the demolition of an old building on the school campus, Moss School Officials have continued with their plan to tear down the old rock Gym. School officials proceeded on Tuesday to demolish the structure. The gymnasium was built during the Great Depression through the WPA program.
     While members of the Moss Public School System Board of Education have reported that the building is condemned and needs to be torn down, many members of the community had rallied to restore the structure and preserve the history it represents.
     "I don't believe tearing the building down will serve any real purpose." said Danny Simon, a Moss area resident who wants to see the School Board restore the old gym to its original condition rather than tear it down. "There are several people in the community who agree with me and we have done our best to find out why the board will not consider the idea of restoring the building."
     Those area residents have formed a group known as "S.O.S.", which they say is an acronym for "Save Our Schools."  Members of the group have said they wanted to find a way to save the building, rather than see it leveled and the area turned into a parking facility for the school.
     Moss Superintendent of Schools Louis Maggia said he felt the decision by the School Board was the right one because the old building was no longer safe for student occupation.
     "I believe this decision was best for the students and was best for the school," said Maggia. "That is our first priority. After discussing our options, the school board members voted to tear the building down."
     The board of Hughes County Commissioners had been approached by the Moss School Superintendent, asking them use county equipment to demolish the structure. The group protesting the destruction of the building attended the meeting to stress their point of view, as well.
     After hearing the arguments from both sides of the issue, the County Commissioners were reported to have nixed the idea, of using county equipment to tear down the building, saying that they were, "not taking any sides in the school district controversy." Reports from the meeting said the commissioners had too many other projects and could not release the use of county equipment for the demolition of the gym at this time.
     District Three Commissioner Jerry Martin and District Two Commissioner Bobby Ray reportedly voted to reject the proposal from the school district, while District One Commissioner "Butch" Skipworth abstained.
     "I did not feel like this was a matter that the board of County commissioners should have to decide," said Skipworth. "I feel like this issue has not been resolved within the community and we should not be placed in the middle of this controversy."
     Skipworth noted that the superintendent had approached him about the demolition of the building before it became a debate. The commissioner said he told Maggia that he was willing to do that he could to help the district with the improvements to the school. Skipworth said he was not aware of the controversy surrounding the demolition of the building at that time.
     "I told Mr. Maggia that my office was always willing to help the school district if we can," said Skipworth. "But, I do not believe the community had resolved this issue at the time. Both sides of this controversy should have resolved the issue before it was ever brought to the County Commissioners."
     According to the members of the Save Our Schools organization, there have been bond proposals in the community which have addressed the project, but those bonds were rejected by the voters of the school district. Bond proposals require at least 60 percent of the votes to pass, according to State Statues. The proposals have thus-far failed to garner that percentage of the popular vote.
     Maggia said the voting reflected a majority of the voters in the district, in spite of the fact that the bond did not receive the necessary 60 percent of the votes.    

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