Highlands Community Building gets much needed TLC and attention

A community building in which to hold social activities and charity events was envisioned for Highlands as early as 1931 with the proposed site on the Dillard Road. But it wasn’t until 1969 when the Rotary and the Jaycees got involved that the plan came to fruition.

While still in the talking stages, the Jaycees took it upon themselves to build a new community building at the north end of the ball park on Poplar Street.

Designed by Jim Fox to hold 120 people, construction began by the Jaycees after they raised enough money to get started.

After many fundraising events like the first Monte Carlo charity event, an annual Jaycees golf tournament, and even an ox-roast festival, the Highlands Community Building was completed in 1979.

For their efforts, the Jaycees won the state’s “best project” award.

Jaycees is a leadership training and civic organization for people between the ages of 18 and 40 and is a branch of Junior Chamber International.

Crews are working on repairing the sides and roof of the Community Building next to the ball field in Highlands.

Over the years, many a party has been held in the building, as well as rotary meetings, school functions and dances, and over the last decade town meetings have been held there.

In 2018, the town decided to invest in the building and make some much needed improvements.

The town’s FY 2018-‘19 budget included $50,000 for the Community Building – $19,000 was allotted for interior painting, $19,000 for flooring, and $12,000 for new sign.

Gone is the parquet dance floor and the stained carpet that covered the floor. Now new engineered flooring covers the expanse making for a clean and streamlined look.

The inside has been painted an off-white all the way up and through the rafters.

But like with any older building, one project often leads to another.

The night after the contractors took up the old flooring revealing the concrete slab it rained … hard. When the installers came in the next day there was water pooled from the fireplace on the front wall all the way back to the center of the room.

“They dried it all up and were able to put the flooring down, but they said we needed to look at the structure because something wasn’t right and they didn’t want it to happen again,” said Town Manager Josh Ward.

As it turned out, the whole front of the right side of the building (the side closest to the ball park) behind a huge rhododendron was rotten

“I hated to lose that rhododendron because it was so big, but because of its size, when it rained behind it stayed really moist. We actually found a big piece of siding behind there had just fallen off.”

Contractors determined that’s where a lot of the water was getting in as well as around the flashing at the top of the chimney.

An inspection of the entire exterior revealed more rot on the backside of the building behind the kitchen.

So, the Town Board OK’d a budget amendment of $31,000 for rot repair which included new siding.

“We re-sided and basically reconstructed the front and back and got rid of the rot and then re-sided the back and came around the side to match,” said Ward.

Not long after that, Recreation Director Lester Nix saw water stains appearing on the newly painted ceiling and every now and then when it rained, there would be a drip here, a drip there.

Consequently, the roof was inspected and there were multiple places were the shingles were completely worn out.

“They were 20-year shingles but there is no telling how long they have been there … no one seems to know … but clearly longer than 20 years,” said Ward.

The Town Board OK’d another budget amendment for $21,500 to repair the roof and re-shingle it.

This time 30-year shingles are being installed, and the clouded skylights that stopped letting light in long ago, were framed over to make sure new leaks don’t initiate there.

As part of the roof job, the peak where the plywood came together without a roof-line vent was also fixed.

Shingles also covered the vertical front north side of the building but will be replaced with siding matching the rest of the building … for now.

The shingles were removed unnecessarily and may be replaced – as originally designed – at a later date, said Ward.

The front door, which has always been fickle, has also been replaced so that it can be opened, closed and locked easily. Ward said there was money in a line item that funded that.

“The renovation of the building is complete now,” said Ward. “It really needed some improvement. It’s been forever since any work was done to it.”

Nothing is planned in the kitchen but there has been talk about upgrading the bathrooms at some point, said Ward.

In addition, the windows may be replaced — possibly a discussion point at this year’s annual Town Board Retreat.

Ward said the windows are clouding up because the seal is broken and gas between the window panes has leaked out causing a fogged effect.

– Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper

Photos by Brian O’Shea
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