UPDATE (5/15): Due to the threat of inclement weather on May 17, Lee County Schools has rescheduled the groundbreaking to 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 24.
ORIGINAL STORY: Groundbreaking for renovations to the W.B. Wicker School – the historic campus which is set to become Lee County’s newest elementary school in the fall of 2019 – will take place on May 17, the district announced in a Facebook post Thursday.
The public is invited to the ceremony at 10:30 a.m., with a reception to follow.
The campus, which was first known as the Lee County Training School and was renamed for educator W.B. Wicker in the 1950s, first opened on South Vance Street in 1929 and was one of the historic Julius Rosenwald schools which were built across the south for black Americans in the early 20th century. According to Wikipedia, it served in that function until 1969 and continued hosting now-integrated classes until the 1980s. The school was renovated in the mid 2000s for use by Central Carolina Community College as a business campus.
Wicker’s selection by the Lee County Board of Education as the site for the district’s next school has been controversial to some local Republicans. Jim Womack, chairman of the local GOP, called the neighborhood a “known threat” in a CBS 17 piece from March. The Sanford Herald reported (subscription requred) around the same time, however, that there was only a small amount of criminal activity in the area and quoted several residents as saying the school would be a positive for the neighborhood.
Despite Womack’s objections, Republican members of the Lee County Board of Commissioners and Lee County Board of Education have largely voted in favor of the project as it’s progressed through the political process since 2016.