School board agrees to sale of ISC building

A downtown building that once served as Huntington's public library will likely become the new home of a business specializing in games.

The Huntington County Community School Corporation's board of trustees agreed on Monday, Oct. 28, to sell the former Instructional Services Center building to Huntington businessman Todd Nightenhelser for $5,000.

The board placed one condition on the sale - that, within 30 days, Nightenhelser submit documentation that he has access to the $22,900 that will be needed to make repairs to the building.

Nightenhelser, owner of TCB Games in Huntington, says he can easily fulfill that condition.

"We did about $500,000 in sales last year," Nightenhelser told board members. "Getting a loan to cover these expenses is not a problem whatsoever."

The ISC building, located on East Park Drive at Warren Street, has been empty since spring of 2011, when the ISC employees moved to the former Horace Mann Elementary School building.

The building Nightenhelser plans to purchase opened its doors in 1903 as the city's first freestanding library. It was built with a $25,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie, a philanthropist who funded libraries around the world.

Nightenhelser was one of five bidders interested in the property. Other bidders proposed using the building as a juvenile center, a seasonal haunted house and a marketplace and cafe. The Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana sought to acquire and then market the property.

Nightenhelser says he plans to locate a full service retail unit and learning center in the building and that changes to the building's character will be minimal.

Ramps will be installed to provide handicap access to both the main floor and the basement, he says, and masonry repairs will be done. The basement interior will be gutted and remodeled as an open space, he added. The bookshelves on the main floor will remain in place, he says.

Nightenhelser says the basement room will serve as a "near 24-hour gaming center."
During the day, he says, the space will be opened to school groups to play board games and card games.

Nightenhelser says he's sent information about the plan to area schools, and has so far received a commitment from one Huntington school. The board games, Nightenhelser says, provide an alternative means of learning for students who have attention deficit disorders.

"What we're trying to do is give teachers that tool to complement other learning in the classroom," Nightenhelser says.

When the room isn't being used by students, he says, it will be open to TCB's regular customers for game playing.

The first floor, Nightenhelser says, will become the store's retail center.

Video game repairs and online sales will be located on the second floor, Nightenhelser says.

Bryn Keplinger, assistant director of the Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development, told school board members the building is currently zoned for residential use and that any use for commercial purposes would require rezoning approval. However, he added, any use compatible with other downtown businesses is likely to receive that approval.

The board approved the sale on a 6-0 vote, with member Sarah Kyle absent.

In other business:

• The board approved expanding a reroofing project at Roanoke Elementary School to include replacing the roof over the entire building.

• A pay raise was approved for classified (non-teaching) staff.

Those employees will receive a 50-cent-an-hour pay raise; a one-time stipend based on number of hours worked, with a minimum of $200; and a ticket admitting the employee and a guest to all school sporting events.

Bus drivers will receive a 3.3 percent raise.

• The board accepted the resignation of Sean McConnell, a social studies teacher at Riverview Middle School, and agreed to hire Brittney Brumbaugh as a secretary at Huntington North High School and Toni Zahm as a special education paraprofessional at HNHS.

Two long-term substitutes were hired, including Lynn Groff, social studies at Riverview and Stanley Sands II, physical education at Lancaster and Salamonie.

Several new coaches were hired, including Cory Blocker, sixth grade boys' basketball at Riverview; Shanna Callahan, fifth grade boys' basketball at Lincoln; Colin Featherston and Justin Hayes, sixth grade boys' basketball at Riverview; Tim Schultz, seventh grade boys' basketball at Crestview; and Tom Wood, assistant boys' basketball coach at HNHS.