School board celebrates deed presentation

School board celebrates deed presentation
Posted on 10/28/2019

Morganton, NC – Friday, Oct. 25, 2019

The Burke County Board of Education celebrated a gift of land from the state on Friday during a

special called meeting at Liberty Middle School. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture

signed over to Burke County Public Schools the nearly 50 acres of land that Liberty Middle and

North Liberty School sit on, as well as an additional 28 acres of land near the Liberty property

and behind Patton High School.

Burke County Board of Education Chair Randy Burns said when he realized Burke County

Public Schools had been leasing the land from the state for Liberty Middle and North Liberty,

which opened in 1989, he sought the Board of Education’s permission to pursue acquiring the

land. Burns contacted Burke County Board of Commissioners Chairman Johnnie Carswell, who

in turn reached out to Burke County’s state legislators Rep. Hugh Blackwell and Sen. Warren

Daniel. Carswell, Blackwell and Daniel were all at Liberty for Friday’s meeting, as were North

Carolina Department of Administration Deputy Secretary Mark Edwards, Assistant District

Forester Nathan Gatlin, Burke County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Scott Mulwee,

Commissioner Jeffrey Brittain, County Manager Bryan Steen and County Clerk Kay Draughn. In

addition to Burns, Board of Education Vice Chair Buddy Armour and members Edna Weller, Dr.

Don Hemstreet, Seth P. Hunt Jr. and Rev. Dr. RL Icard were present.

Burns said, “Today is a celebration. We have worked for a year and a half to two years on

getting this land and today, we got it.” Burns thanked all of those involved in transferring the

land over to the schools and invited Blackwell and Carswell to speak.

Blackwell said, “This is a fun occasion.” He thanked Sen. Daniel for his collaboration on the

project, the Department of Agriculture for their willingness to donate the land and the North

Carolina Department of Administration for processing the deed. The land was formerly part of a

forestry education center in Morganton, and Blackwell read a letter from North Carolina

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler stating excitement for the opportunity for the land to

continue to be used for education purposes.

Carswell said he is excited for the future. “This is what collaboration can do,” Carswell said.

“Mr. Burns and I talk daily about education and the needs of our students. Burke County Public

Schools has one of the hardest working boards and collaboration between the boards of

education and commissioners has never been better. We are looking to the future and are all

about advancing. We don’t know what Burke County will be like in 10 years, but this county is

growing, the population is coming back, business is moving here, and I am excited to be a small

part of the future. We are moving forward and this is a great day for our county.”

Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam recommended the Board of

Education accept the donation of 77 acres of land from the Department of Agriculture in

accordance with the board’s policy on gifts, Following a motion from Armour on

recommendation with “appreciation to all involved,” and a second on the motion from Hunt, all

school board members approved accepting the land as a gift from the state.

Weller recognized Burns for his efforts in acquiring the land and said, “We are such a great team working together and working with the county and the state to get this done.”

Burns shared his appreciation to all involved, including fellow school board members. He said,

“I am blessed to work with an awesome board. It is a pleasure to serve the students of Burke

County with them and all of this would not be possible without our teamwork and collaboration.”

Upon formally handing over the land deed to Burns, Administration Deputy Secretary Edwards

said, “I can think of no better use of these resources than for the land to be put to use for

educating the next generation.”

Liberty Middle School student government representatives participated Friday by leading the

group in the Pledge of Allegiance and leading those in attendance on a tour of the school

following the meeting.


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