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Seminary to buy former Scotland School for Veterans Children

Winebrenner Theological Seminary is negotiating a price for the 185-acre campus

May 23, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • The chapel at the former Scotland (Pa.) School for Veterans Children is shown in this file photo. he board of trustees of a theological seminary based in Findlay, Ohio, voted last week to move forward with the purchase of the former school.
Herald-Mail file photo

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The board of trustees of a theological seminary based in Findlay, Ohio, voted last week to move forward with the purchase of the former Scotland School for Veterans Children.

Winebrenner Theological Seminary is negotiating a price for the 185-acre campus with the state of Pennsylvania’s Department of General Services, which manages the property, said David Newell, director of the Pennsylvania campus for the seminary.

State Sen. Rich Alloway II, R-Franklin/Adams/York, and Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, were among those who spearheaded efforts to find a buyer for the former school, which closed in 2009.

“Placing the former SSVC campus back into operation is critical to the community. It is even more important that the facility reuse is in keeping with the needs and desires of the community,” Kauffman said.

“SSVC has been the core of the Scotland community for over 100 years, and it is important that the reuse is a winning proposition for the entire community. The most beneficial reuse of the facility is for a residential educational facility,” he said.

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While more discussion must take place between the seminary and the general services, Alloway remains optimistic that the purchase will go through.

“I believe the Winebrenner Seminary would be a great fit for our community. I think this particular use is a good fit, because it mirrors the educational aspect that the school has had,” Alloway said.

The sale is not final yet.

“They have to agree on a final sale number, and then sign the contract,” Alloway said. “But, they are very close.”

The state has paid approximately $1.6 million a year since the school closed to maintain the property and 70 buildings, he said.

Winebrenner plans to operate the campus as an expansion to the seminary’s existing Ohio site.

“We are interested, primarily, as a means by which we can fulfill our mission. Overall, the campus is ideally situated to give us a strong position in the mid-Atlantic (region),” Newell said.

The seminary is affiliated with the Church of God, but Newell said it recruits students from 35 denominations.

“We believe this is a major launch in the mid-Atlantic region,” Newell said.

There is no word on how many jobs the seminary’s move to Franklin County could mean for the area.

Newell said Winebrenner Theological Seminary would use a major portion of the campus as part of the seminary and possibly lease some of the space for educational endeavors.

The board of the evangelical seminary has already contacted Lowe and the SSVC association to assure them that the school’s museum would remain a part of the campus.

James Lowe, president of the Scotland School alumni association, couldn’t be happier that the campus will remain an educational institution.

“We really felt it’s always been an educational campus, and we felt it would be hard to take something that has been in existence since 1895 and make it something else. So, we feel good about what they have in store,” Lowe said.

He said the seminary’s staff has made every effort to make the alumni feel welcome from inviting them to visit the campus to maintaining the SSVC museum.

“We feel it’s a wonderful opportunity for them, and we feel it’s going to provide us an opportunity to visit our school and allow the alumni to come back home again,” Lowe said.

Troy Thompson, press secretary for the Department of General Services, said once the sales agreement is reached, the General Assembly must pass legislation for the sale to occur.

Typically, this process can take anywhere from six months to a year. It is not a fast process, but the general services is working with Winebrenner to facilitate the process, Thompson said.

Before the sale is final, both parties must arrive at a price and then move through the state legislation before the governor signs the agreement to finalize the sale.

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