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Newborn Schoolhouse: Repairs to take months

NEWBORN - It looks like the Newborn Schoolhouse, home of the Newborn Opry, could remain closed until Christmastime.

The Newborn Town Council voted at a recent called meeting to hire an engineer to assess the building for structural damage and come up with a plan to repair it, according to Holly Firth, chairwoman of the Newborn Area Heritage Trust. It will take between six weeks and two months to finish that task, and repairs could take until December to complete, Firth said.

The circa 1923 building, which sits along Ga. Highway 142, has been closed for more than two months due to a damaged roof. The roof has broken beams and rafters, sagging spots and leaks, Firth said.

The council hired an engineer at a cost of $10,000; it is estimated that repairs could cost $100,000 or more.

"That means right now, we've got to hustle to get the remaining part of our money together," Firth said.

The Town of Newborn owns the building and is expected to contribute, but Firth said she does not know how much the town will fund. So far, she and other members of the Newborn Area Heritage Trust, which leases and maintains the building, have raised $70,000 through fundraisers and donations.

"We're trying to do something to get the town to come out and try to get some donations," she said.

The trust holds a bingo tournament every second Saturday of the month at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall Annex. The cost to play ranges from $5 to $10, depending on the number of cards purchased. Donated prizes include gift certificates from local merchants.

The trust also hosts a free concert at 7 p.m. on the fourth Saturday of the month outside the schoolhouse. Donations are requested.

"I know times are tough, but this is something that they can come out to with their families," Firth said.

To make a donation to the roof repair fund, or for more information on upcoming fundraisers, call Firth at 770-361-2064.

Additional information about the Newborn Opry can be found at www.newbornopry.com. Organizers have also created a Facebook page for updates and support from friends.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.