One final chance to save old Forks High School facade -- if community wants to
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Artist's rendering shows how the reinforced facade would look if the Forks community raises $271,000 to save it. -- Courtesy of the Quillayute Valley School District

By Paige Dickerson
Peninsula Daily News

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FORKS -- The 1920s-era Forks High School facade might not be in its twilight -- at least not yet.

A legal requirement imposed by City Hall forces the School Board to allow the public time to raise money -- more than a quarter-million dollars -- to reinforce the brick facade and transform it into a stand-alone monument on the redeveloped Forks High School campus.

The Quillayute Valley School District board decided Friday that the facade was too expensive to save with bond money used to finance the construction of new school buildings.

The conditional use permit granted by the city to do the construction work requires the district to give the public time to save the facade through alternate funding, Superintendent Diana Reaume said Monday.

The bid by Primo Construction Inc. of Carlsborg includes an alternate additional $271,000 to reinforce the facade to remain as a memory of the 1925 school building, the rest of which was torn down in June.

"Our efforts to save the facade are not over," Reaume said.

Under terms of the city conditional use permit, the school district must hold a public hearing and give the public 45 days to come up with alternative funding, Reaume said.

The date for the hearing has not been set, but will be shortly, Reaume said.

"Also, even though the alternate bid [to reinforce the facade] was rejected at this time, the district has 45 more days to go back and accept any of the alternatives previously rejected," she said.

The 1925 brick building -- which bore the words "Quillayute High School" over the front door -- plays an important role in the Twilight saga, which has thrust Forks and the West End into the international spotlight.

So has the facade -- the apparent rejection of which was reported in Monday's editions of the Peninsula Daily News as well as on the newspaper's website, www.peninsuladailynews.com.

The Associated Press transmitted the story of the facade's intended demise nationwide, including a photo of the boarded-up entryway taken by West End photojournalist Lonnie Archibald.

The $271,000 to save the facade is on top of the successful $12.2 million construction bid accepted Friday.

In addition to Twilight fans who often visit the school where fictional heroine Bella Swan meets her vampire love, Edward Cullen, the building holds nostalgia for generations of West End families who attended school there long before Bella and Edward hit the pop culture.

The facade and the building to which it formerly was attached never has appeared in any of the "Twilight" movies, which were filmed in British Columbia, Oregon and Southern Washington.

Because of the many people with memories of the high school and actual Twilight fans with attachment to the building, the district is in the process of having 1,500 bricks from the demolished portion salvaged, Reaume said.

The bricks must be professionally cleaned, then will be put up for bid at the 2011 Forks Scholarship Auction.

The money from the auction will not be used to save the facade, Reaume said.

"That money will go right back to the kids," she said.

Construction of the new 39,500-square-foot school complex will begin later this month.

Completion set for the end of 2011.

The new construction will house six regular classrooms, two resource classrooms, a computer lab, a special-needs classroom, a band and choir room, a multipurpose classroom, a technology lab, a library and the school's offices.

After completion, the portion of the school built in 1963 will be demolished.

Additions to the school built in 2000 will be incorporated into the new building.

School district voters approved an $11 million construction bond in February.

The state is providing $7 million.

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Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at paige.dickerson@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 04. 2010 11:17PM
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