Future looks good for the Leachville gymnasium
The future looks good for the Leachville gymnasium as committee members are working together to preserve the landmark and utilize it for the benefit of citizens.
Committee Chair Lisa Turner expressed her appreciation to Mayor Rodney Robertson and the city council members for accepting the gymnasium and to the Buffalo Island Central Superintendent and school board members for making the generous offer.
“There is so much history in the gymnasium,” Turner, former Leachville Lion, said. “I've been overwhelmed by the support of the project but not surprised. Like the Melody Theater, the gymnasium is part of our community's heritage. We want to hang on to our heritage.”
The gymnasium was erected in 1953. The board of directors included Norman Bailey, president; Louis Weinberg, secretary; Leroy Carter, G.B. Ray, J.W. McHaney, Jeff Rauls, and R.F. Shipley. Superintendent of schools was Roy E. Dawson.
The architect was Wendell M. Phillips and the contractors were McCulley-McKinnon.
Turner said she is proud to see BIC students get new facilities on the Leachville and Monette campuses.
The committee is made up of about 20 people and Turner said she has heard many wonderful stories about the Leachville gymnasium.
“I've been told Arkansas Governor Francis Cherry was here for the dedication,” she said. “Elvis Presley performed here for a school dance in 1955. Leachville Lions basketball team was state champion in 1960. Someone remembered the cafeteria was actually behind the bleachers at one time. This is about all we have left of the Leachville School.”
Some of the ideas for the gymnasium include a walking track, exercise rooms, museum, recreation area, class reunions, classrooms, sports complex, Christmas bazaars and the list is still growing.
Future plans include making it Leachville Gym/Community Center.
The priorities include heating and air. The committee wants to keep the authenticity of the look of the building.
“Once all of the paperwork is completed, we will reach out to alumni members who would like to help in the work needed,” Turner said. “We will also apply for any grants available.”
The first fund raising event is set for July 4. A patriotic parade through downtown Leachville will be held at 10 a.m. July 4. There will be a silent auction from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Malt Shop. Proceeds from the silent auction will go to the Leachville Gym/Community Center fund. Leachville Lion tee shirts will be part of the silent auction and will be sold at this year's Harvest Festival.
For more information on the parade contact Turner at (870) 219-1886, Barbara Lloyd 539-6506 or Greg Hueter 240-5051. For more information on the silent auction contact Candy Denny at (870) 243-0758 or Karen Wallace at 539-2202.
The building has so much potential to serve the community and for school activities.
Mayor Robertson said it is a work in progress.
“We hope to have something for all ages,” Robertson said. “There are a lot of memories in the building and we want to bring it back to life.”
The motto chosen by committee members is “Keep Leachville alive, save the gym.”