Council members concerned with progress of Eaton School project

Council members concerned with progress of Eaton School project

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Eaton School project, located on McInnis Avenue off East Hardy Street, continues to remain under renovation.

Hattiesburg engineering director Lamar Rutland said the building is currently being stabilized temporarily, which is funded by $69,000 approved by the city council.

"As much money as we've spent, it should be something that looks pretty good, but it doesn't," Hattiesburg City Council President Kim Bradley said.

Bradley said the council has financially supported the project for at least four years, but he does not plan on approving more funding requests until he knows future plans for the old school.

"Honestly, I just don't see us able to spend any more money," he said. "What are we going to get out of it?"

Ward 4 Councilwoman Mary Dryden said she and Ward 5 Councilman Henry Naylor would like to see a performing arts center housed in the school, which would provide space for community organizations such as smART space, Hub City Lights Opera, Over the Rainbow Theatre and others.

"I think if we all got together on something for the common good that we all thought would help our community, then we would all feel better about the money we're spending on the building," she said.

Dryden also suggested a medical high school, modeled after the Mississippi School for Math and Science, which she said was an idea offered by William Carey's president.

Rutland said the next phase of the school's renovations are to fully stabilize the building's exterior and install a roof. However, he said the school's future is dependent on funding.

The city council unanimously authorized a grant submission Tuesday to the Department of Archives and History in the amount of $1 million. Rutland said the purpose of the grant is to fully stabilize the building, and the city would be responsible for providing $200,000 of that total, should the project be selected and approved.