By Rachel Dove
KERMIT – After the gymnasium in downtown Kermit ceased to be used as a school gym, it found new life as the hub of most community activities in the town – everything from Buddy League basketball to the Christian Help Inc. Christmas giveaway.
Wear and tear had taken a toll on the structure and a couple of years ago and Mayor Johnny Linville and the Kermit Town Council were looking at a major expense to repair the roof.
“We were given a price of $50,000 to replace the roof,” Linville said. “We don’t have that kind of money.”
Mayor Linville said he always thought the original asphalt roof installed in 1957 was still in place, but he became aware at some point that a rubber roof had been installed when attempts to repair the original roof failed and the leaks continued.
“I’ve tried everything to get money to fix that roof. I’ve written letters to legislators and anyone who might read them trying to find the funding,” the mayor said.
Also concerned about the roof situation, Council Member Tammy Hodge, who serves as chairman of the town’s Parks and Recreation Committee, wrote a letter to the Mingo County Commission. Hodge said that at one time, 16 garbage cans were being used to catch the water coming into the gym through the leaky roof.
Though the commission was not in the financial position to fund a new roof, it does have a work crew, Joe Venturino and Billy Harmon, who are knowledgeable about roofs and what it takes to fix them.
Venturino and Harmon recently spent four days repairing the gymnasium roof, which had suffered severe damage, especially around the edges and several areas in the center. The repair cost a fraction of the price the council was looking at having to pay for a new roof.
“They did a good job,” Linville said. “We really appreciate the county commission helping us.”
Council member Peggy Moore echoed the mayor’s sentiments.
“It’s a very valued part of our community,” Moore said of the gym. “We greatly appreciate the help. We don’t have a lot of resources or ways to finance things here.”
“The county commission is always happy to help our municipalities when we can,” said Commission President Greg “Hootie” Smith. “The youth of our county is a top priority for this commission. This facility is used by a lot of young people in this community almost daily. It was important to us to make sure the gym can stay open and available for the people who need it.”
“I really appreciate everything they have done,” council member Anna Mae Wellman said of the roof repair. “It was just a blessing to find out it could be fixed instead of having to pay out all that money.”
“The Kermit Parks and Recreation Committee can’t give enough thanks for the assistance in repairing the roof,” Hodge said. “It was done in such a timely fashion. Within a week, all of the leaks were repaired. We really appreciate their help in keeping this facility open to serve the youth in our community.”