This past week, a news item from a local TV channel was posted to the Lorane page on Facebook. The headlines: “Former Lorane Elementary School for Sale.” The Eugene newspaper also used the story on its front page. It stirred up a lot of memories for each of us who lived through some very emotional times over the past decade.
The Crow-Applegate-Lorane School District made the decision to close down the beloved Lorane Elementary School at the end of the 2012-13 school year.
Among many of the community members, there were visions of submitting grants to make it into a community center, encompassing a place for a library and local events; in addition, an active local group worked on ways to establish a charter school of some sort and grants were submitted.
In May, 2014, when bids for the purchase of the school were opened, one was selected for a local resident who had hoped to help the community retain it. It generated a great deal of excitement that a way could be found for the community to purchase it from him as planned.
We soon found that funding was going to be a problem; grants were hard to come by, and the local resident who purchased it needed a definite plan in place to pay for upkeep, taxes, and insurance.
Eventually, he received an offer from another person in the community who purchased it from him.
The new owner provided the needed maintenance, including a new roof for the gymnasium, and put it on the market once again at a price well beyond what the community could afford, keying in on the interest shown by the passage of the Oregon legalization of marijuana ballot measure in 2014, which would take effect on July 1, 2015.
The school was purchased from the second owner with the intent of using the gymnasium and grounds for the cultivation of cannabis. The news was a black cloud, and one that still elicits tears and sorrow in addition to the sweet memories of the beautiful red-and-white school that members of the Lorane community built in 1926 and to which the old-timers, many of their parents, children and grandchildren had attended through the decades.
During those 88 years, it served as the community’s base, hosting school functions of all kinds – classes, school board and PTC meetings, carnivals, plays, concerts, holiday programs, fundraisers, sports – as well as other community events, 4-H and Scout meetings, a three-day Lorane Centennial Celebration, picnics, potlucks, and even large funerals. It served as the heart of Lorane for so long.
Now, the knowledge that the property and buildings are once again being put on the market for $1.25 million, the pot has once again been stirred among those of us who are still around and remember what it meant for so many years to our community.
The listing mentions that the planned cultivation of marijuana never took place on the site despite the fact it has been licensed for that use. Potential buyers who are interested in buying it for that use would have to come up with an additional $250,000 for the license.
The realtor has also been contacted by other potential buyers who are involved in “therapy” and “hospitality,” causing some to hope the future of the Lorane Elementary School might eventually be one that honors its history, heritage and respect within the community, for all that is left to us as a community is that fervent hope.
The Lorane Grange has announced that Lane County Sheriff Cliff Harold will be visiting Lorane to provide information and answer questions in order to garner support for the renewal of the upcoming public safety levy that will appear on the May 16 ballot. The public safety levy helps fund the jail, mental health services, and youth services for juvenile criminal offenders. This will be taking place at Lorane Grange on Thursday, April 27, at 6 p.m. Let’s provide a large audience for this talk so that we can all be well-informed voters at the May election.