Schools finalize $475K East Surry land deal

By Jeff Linville -

PILOT MOUNTAIN — The Surry County Board of Education has officially completed the purchase of a tract of land close to East Surry High School.

Earlier this year, Dr. Travis Reeves, school superintendent, appeared before the Surry County Board of Commissioners to discuss a land deal in the works with Cleve and Deborah Harris for 6.44 acres. As the deal was still in the works, much of the discussion by school board had been done in closed session.

According to the Register of Deeds office, that land transfer now has been finalized.

When speaking to the commissioners, Reeves said that East Surry has several needs for extra space.

The 17-acre campus houses all the classrooms, agriculture/ROTC building, gymnasium, football stadium and fieldhouse. However, the football team doesn’t have a regulation-sized practice field, and the varsity and JV football teams are sharing the stadium with the boy’s soccer team, creating a log jam. Teams often use the outfield of the baseball field for practice.

The cafeteria isn’t big enough, and there’s practically no parking around the gym, Reeves explained.

According to the 2015-16 Facility Needs Survey, East Surry’s classrooms have a capacity of 807 students, but its kitchen space is small, its cafeteria isn’t suited for more than 687 students and its media center rated at no more than 652 students.

There are multiple properties to the south and east that makes it impossible to expand in those directions. The school already went north, adding 10 acres across Old U.S. 52 for the tennis courts and baseball field.

“So that leaves west,” said Reeves.

The Harris property isn’t directly adjacent to East Surry — it is directly across Old U.S. 52 from the Armfield Civic Center — but is separated by a couple of other tracts. This was a point of concern by the commissioners, who had to give their okay for the purchase to take place.

Commissioner Buck Golding, who would later announce his retirement, pointed out that the land isn’t flat on the Harris tract and would need grading work to be viable, which made him hesitant. Also, he didn’t like that the deal doesn’t include the whole end of the road.

On the other side of the Cleve Harris land is a 4.54-acre property listed on tax maps as being owned by C.G. Harris Family LLC. That land has an assessed value of $51,410. It goes all the way down to where Main Street ends at Old U.S. 52.

The school system lacks other needed properties in the area to create a unified school campus, said Golding, so he would vote no.

Commissioner Van Tucker said that if the school district got right of first refusal on two other lots on paper, then he would be completely be in favor of it. Without those first rights, there is some uncertainty about whether the school might ever attain the separating properties, so he would agree with Golding.

After the discussion, Golding and Tucker voted no, while Commissioners Eddie Harris, Larry Phillips and Larry Johnson voted yes.

Since the deal was still under discussion then, no purchase price was announced last month.

According to the county tax office, the tax value of the land is $116,480. With building and other values added on, the total assessed value is $475,430.

The Register of Deeds office doesn’t list the price tag, but it does list the tax affixed to a transfer, which is $2 for every $1,000 in value. The tax on the property at 896 W. Main St. was $951, which would align with the county paying the tax value for the property and nothing more.

By Jeff Linville

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.