BLOUNTVILLE — The Sullivan County Commission will be asked Monday to approve the sale of the Cedar Grove School property to Freedom Fellowship Church for $59,855, according to public records.
The county advertised the Cedar Grove site, as well as the Valley Pike School property near Bristol, on July 21 for a sealed-bid sale process that closed last week.
Bids were opened in the county’s purchasing office on Thursday.
Only two bids were received, according to public record: Freedom Fellowship’s bid of $59,855; and Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church’s bid of $1 — which was accompanied by a letter asking county commissioners to give special consideration and to waive the county’s advertised minimum bid of $50,000.
A resolution sponsored by Commissioner Eddie Williams, with Commissioner Moe Brotherton listed as co-sponsor, has been drafted calling for the full commission to vote Monday to accept Freedom Fellowship’s $59,855 bid.
In the letter, Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church contact James C. Lyons said that leadership from the church first approached county officials two years ago to present the church’s vision for converting the property into a community center.
“We are asking you to waive the minimum bid due to the cost of starting such a venture along with the fact that the community center would be an investment in the community itself,” Lyons wrote.
Lyons indicated the community center would be funded through pooled resources from several churches in the community, as well as perhaps some private and/or governmental groups.
Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church is next door to the Cedar Grove School property.
Freedom Fellowship is located on West Sullivan Street in downtown Kingsport.
In June, Freedom Fellowship Pastor Roy Lane told the Commission’s Building Committee that the church aims to convert the Cedar Grove School into housing for at-risk teens and homeless children.
Lane spoke to the committee on behalf of “Save The World — One Child At A Time,” a privately funded nonprofit organization “dedicated to transforming the lives of these children by striving to offer opportunities that would enable them to become successfully empowered contributing leaders of society.”
That description is from a letter sent to County Mayor Steve Godsey earlier in June, in which the group said it is interested in either buying, leasing or receiving as a donation the Cedar Grove School property.
“We want to get kids off the street and give them hope,” said Mark Sloan, another representative of the new organization. “We’ve got the resources to help these kids. We just need a place to do it.”
Sloan indicated to the committee then that the group would be willing to pay $50,000 for the property.
Sloan said ultimately the group could serve 200 or 300 children, with a religious-based program, starting out with 30 at Cedar Grove.
Lane said the group aims to break the welfare cycle and “get them to work.”
Lane said the group had great success with the program, serving children in St. Mary’s, Jamaica.
The Sullivan County Commission is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. on the second floor of the historic Sullivan County Courthouse.