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GENOA — Joy and Gary Moritz took the plunge last year and paid $50,000 for the Brunner Elementary School building.
The couple has been sprucing up the east half of the structure in a residential Genoa neighborhood and on Saturday will host an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The 35,000-square-foot building at 1224 W. State St. dates to 1957. Along with its grounds, it is now called the Brunner Campus and serves as a community center.
Festivities start at 10 a.m. with Sue Bilbrey demonstrating machine embroidery. At 10:30 a.m., Melissa Smith is to present how to prepare for the holidays. At 11 a.m. is Sit Means Sit dog training. There will also be a session on children’s eye care, and cooking, tae kwon do, and exercise demonstrations.
Brunner Elementary was decommissioned after the 2010-11 school year. Brunner and Allen Central School were replaced by a $24.4-million elementary school at Genoa Area Local Schools’ campus on N. Genoa-Clay Center and Martin-Moline roads.
The new elementary came about with state funds and a portion of the proceeds from a 1.9-mill bond issue and 1.5-mill continuing levy that voters adopted in 2008.
Allen Central, built in 1942, was demolished. The school district gave the baseball field to the village, but had no takers when it tried to auction the Brunner building for a $100,000 minimum bid.
Then the Moritzes came forward with their offer, and a deal was struck.
“It worked out well for both of us,” district Superintendent Dennis Mock said, noting the district used funds on the new elementary that would have gone to demolition.
Mr. Moritz, president/CEO of Sun Federal Credit Union, is a Genoa High School graduate and was a school board member from 1992-2001. Mrs. Moritz grew up in Lake Township. They live in Curtice.
Mr. Moritz said they had wanted a community facility for sports and church functions and thought in terms of a pole barn with a gym. That changed when the Brunner building came within reach.
“I hated to see a building like this get torn down,” he said. “This is right in Genoa, in our community.”
He said the Brunner building had some big advantages.
“The fact that it was one-story and handicapped-accessible was a big help. You didn’t have to worry about an elevator,” he explained.
Also, the building was in good condition. So far, the Moritzes have renovated only the east wing, which includes the cafeteria, kitchen, and gym.
“It has been a lot of work, and we want people to see it,” Mrs. Moritz said.