By Nathan Ham
The idea of a new Valle Crucis School will be put on hold until March 2020 at the earliest after the Watauga County Board of Education decided to extend the due diligence period on the property that the county has under contract.
“The board voted to extend the due diligence period on the property until March to perform some additional testing. We are still waiting for those results at the moment,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools.
Citizens have voiced their opinion on the potential property, known locally as the Hodges Property on Broadstone Road, a 14.4-acre parcel of land that is roughly a quarter-mile from the current Valle Crucis School. While everyone agrees that Valle Crucis needs a new school, opinions have differed greatly on where that school should be located.
The owners of the Mast Farm Inn were willing to take that a step further by filing a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the county from purchasing the property. The injunction was denied last month in Watauga County Superior Court. The plaintiffs in the case, listed as the Mast Farm Inn, Deschamps Holdings LLC, Deschamps Enterprises, Henri Deschamps, Marie-Henriette Deschamps and Danielle Deschamps, filed a lawsuit on October 10 against the Watauga County Board of Education, board chairman Ron Henries, vice-chair Brenda Reese, and board members Dr. Gary Childers, Steve Combs and Dr. Jay Fenwick. Judge Susan Bray denied the injunction.
On March 11 of this year, the board of education approved a contract to purchase the land for $1.1 million, contingent upon positive returns from numerous engineering, soil quality and water quality tests that have been gradually completed throughout the year.