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Fundraiser draws crowd to old Dorchester School

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POSTED: August 19, 2009 9:18 a.m.
Photo by Marie Goodrich/

A boy looks at a tricked-out truck at the car show.

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The smell of fried fish and fresh cole slaw drew hundreds of Liberty County residents to the aged steps of Midway’s newly renovated Dorchester Civic Center on Saturday for the center’s fish fry and car show.
An estimated 200 tickets to the event were sold, each one costing visitors at least $10.
Attendees and participants said they came to support the community and the cause.
“This is our neighborhood, we live here,” James Randolph said. “It’s a good chance to get to know your neighbors …”
“And the history here, with this school, is just fantastic,” Dianna Randolph continued. “It shows a real interest and a love here in the community.”
Don Crawford brought his fully-loaded 2007 Jaguar XKR to display at the event, which was nearly rained out. 
The Jaguar was one of 12 cars adorning the center’s front lawn for patrons to admire.
“We’ve done a lot of work on the building since they began the renovations a year ago,” Crawford said, “So we just decided to bring it out. This [school] is for the community and it needs to be used for the community.”
Barbara Martin, chairwoman of the Dorchester Civic Center, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to restore the former Dorchester Consolidated School originally built in 1927, organized the fundraiser to help offset an estimated $80,000 worth of repair work she said the center still needs.
 “At the present time, we don’t have heat or air conditioning in the building,” she said. “A year ago, nothing was done on this building. Considering that this much has been done within the last year, we just hope that a year from now you’ll see a completely renovated building complete with heat and air conditioning.”
Martin said approximately $60,000 in private donations already have been spent on new windows and a new roof for the facility.
Ellen Dasher Rackley, 73, attended the school from 1949-51, when it was the only elementary school in Midway for white students.
She said that for personal reasons, she hopes to see the center completely restored to its original state. 
 “There’s just a lot of history here in Liberty County and this just needs to be preserved,” Rackley said.
 

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