Emotional meeting discusses Avola’s log schoolhouse

Avola residents and Thompson Headwaters services committee discuss renovations to the 70-year-old structure

(L-r) Avola residents Eleanor Deckert and Colleen Jensen talk about plans to renovate Avola's log schoolhouse with Thompson Headwaters director Willow MacDonald and Thompson Headwaters services committee member Dustin Deuling. They were taking part in an open house and services committee meeting held Tuesday afternoon

(L-r) Avola residents Eleanor Deckert and Colleen Jensen talk about plans to renovate Avola's log schoolhouse with Thompson Headwaters director Willow MacDonald and Thompson Headwaters services committee member Dustin Deuling. They were taking part in an open house and services committee meeting held Tuesday afternoon

Avola’s log schoolhouse was both the site and the subject of a sometimes stormy public meeting on Tuesday afternoon, June 18. Area residents and members of the Thompson Headwaters services committee met to discuss proposed renovations to the 70-year-old structure.

In the end, the services committee voted to postpone replacing the playground near the school until next year.

The color of the stain to be used on the schoolhouse’s exterior, as well as the color of the addition near the front steps, will be left to the discretion of the contractor (the building’s exterior is presently unstained while the addition is gray).

New chinking between the logs will be a light tan color.

No decisions were made regarding renovating the building’s interior.

Longtime Avola resident Eleanor Deckert complained about an apparent lack of communication between the committee and the community regarding plans for the schoolhouse.

“You’re not listening to the people,” she told the services committee.

She asked the committee to recognize the creativity in the community.

“We do solve problems,” she said. “We might surprise you with how well we do things in Avola.”

She only learned by chance of the proposed renovations during a coffee house put on the previous month by Willow MacDonald, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District director for Thompson Headwaters (Area B), she said.

Following that coffee house she coordinated a letter writing campaign by more than a dozen present and former residents of the area who were concerned that the building’s heritage value might be lost.

Director MacDonald said she felt she had made every effort to involve the public.

“Your input matters,” the TNRD director said. “I understand that this is a difficult process for everyone. It isn’t about unanimous agreement. It’s finding the best approach.”

Contrary to what was being said, she sent out notices about the open house coming up several months ago, she said.

One purpose of the coffee houses she puts on in Avola is to enable communication. In this instance, it seems to have worked, because it got people involved.

MacDonald said she regularly posts the minutes of the services committee meetings on the bulletin board by the schoolhouse but they do not always remain there.

“I can’t micro-manage the Avola bulletin board,” she said.

The Area B director suggested that those interested in receiving the minutes should give their email addresses to her or to Sherri Madden, the services coordinator for Areas B and A.

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