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Garnet High alumni will take over their former school building from the Kanawha County school system, if their association achieves nonprofit status.

The school district stopped using the downtown Charleston building for adult education this past school year, transferring its programs to Dunbar’s Ben Franklin Career Center.

Garnet was a Black high school that closed in 1956, with integration. It later served as a junior high and, recently, it was called Garnet Career Center. On Thursday, the Kanawha County Board of Education sold it for $10 to the Garnet High School Alumni Association.

“I’m excited to see it continue, because it’s much-needed in our community,” board member Tracy White said.

Board member Ric Cavender, a Charleston community development nonprofit leader, offered to help the group attain nonprofit status.

Don Epps, president of the association and a 1955 Garnet High graduate, said “we’re planning to try to bring in organizations or businesses or whatever that will help us to be able to defray the costs” of things like utilities, and to generally benefit the city.

He noted that it has a gym/auditorium that can seat 400 people and a garage that used to host the automotive vocational education program.

“We want to try to do the best we can to keep the spirit of Garnet High School going with anything we do,” Epps said.

He mentioned that civil rights leader Leon Sullivan and other prominent African Americans graduated from there.

Also Thursday, the school board approved paying Charleston-based Dougherty Company Inc. about $3.1 million to replace the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system at Sharon Dawes Elementary. Andrew Crawford, Kanawha’s facilities planning executive director, said the funding comes from COVID-19 pandemic federal relief money.

Dougherty was the lowest of four bidders, according to a document the school system provided. The next-lowest was $3.3 million from Nitro Construction Services.

Ryan Quinn covers education. He can be reached at 304-348-1254 or Follow @RyanEQuinn on Twitter.

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