Valley Head school purchased by local friends at BOE auction

The Inter-Mountain photo by Brooke Binns Bobby Stewart, of Joe R. Pyle Auctions, explains to auction attendees which portion of land will be sold as part of the Valley Head Elementary School real estate auction.

ELKINS — Two Valley Head residents came together to purchase the Valley Head Elementary School property Thursday.

Longtime friends George Coussoule and Gerald Channell purchased VHES from the Randolph County Board of Education for the amount of $30,000 during a real estate auction Thursday.

The pair said, at this time, they do not have any definite plans for the future of the school building; however, they added they are open to ideas.

“We don’t know what we’re going to do with it yet,” Coussoule said. “We are just both from the community, we both went to school there, and we like the building and know it’s a very solid structure, so we thought it would be a good idea to buy it. We haven’t any plans as of yet, but we will have some.”

According to information provided by auction company proprietor Joe R. Pyle, the school property includes approximately 1.58 acres. The school building includes a gymnasium, a cafeteria and kitchen, seven classrooms, a basement with offices, storage and a boiler room and a full stand-up attic. The kitchen includes an eight-burner range, a double refrigerator, a buffet table and prep tables.

BOE president Donna Auvil said she is pleased with the purchase and looks forward to how students in the county can benefit from the sale.

“Any money that comes from that will go into the budget to help kids with whatever we need — whether it be sports, technology or other academics,” Auvil noted.

Board member Janie Newlon added students at George Ward Elementary School and Beverly Elementary School will benefit.

“This might help us with George Ward Elementary as we build onto it to make more room for the children and Beverly School because they’re getting a new facelift and cafeteria,” Newlon said.

Auvil noted additional properties will be auctioned off by the Randolph County BOE in the future.

“There have been people who have come forward who understood from their ancestors that (properties) reverted back to the family — we have found that one of the properties we have listed actually was; although, we hadn’t found that when Mr. Pyle, or I believe our attorney, did research at the court house,” she said. “So, we just have to be absolutely certain that the properties that we offer for auction are actually owned by Randolph County Schools, but they are properties we don’t use, so we need to dispose of those.”

Randolph County Board of Education leaders voted unanimously in January 2017 to close the school and transfer its 27 students to George Ward Elementary in Mill Creek, a move made after emotional public hearings and meetings where parents and community members pleaded with county leaders to keep the school open.

Coussoule, a former teacher and coach, spoke publicly against the closure at local meetings last year, and he also attended state BOE meetings in Charleston.