Laisure wins bids on Bluff City Middle purchase

Rick Wagner • May 11, 2020 at 2:45 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Except for a half-acre parcel with deed restrictions, the sale of the former Bluff City Middle School campus to a Piney Flats businessman is moving forward.

The Sullivan County Board of Education and County Commission Thursday night both voted to sell their respective pieces of that property — the school system the building and bulk of the campus and the commission a smaller bit of land.

The only thing left is the half-acre with deed restrictions that is be used for education purposes only and is owned by the school system, but BOE Chairman Michael Hughes said the school system would try to get the restriction removed or do a quit claim deed to the buyer.

The winning bidder is Christopher Laisure, owner of Business Information Systems Inc. in Piney Flats. He bid $170,000 for Parcel 1 and $20,000 for Parcel 2 with the understanding the bids were good only if both were accepted. The other bidder was George Duncan of Gold Nugget Development LLC of Meadville, Missouri, who offered $20,000 for Parcel 1 and $2,000 for Parcel 2.

During a March 5 school board meeting at which the BOE declared the school surplus property, Laisure said he would house up to six not-for-profit operations in the school, located in the county’s smallest municipality.

The half-acre parcel was not included in the bidding because of the restriction. The bids were opened April 28, and neither the school board nor the commission were bound to accept the high bid or any bid.

The site is a little more than five acres, not including the half-acre.

The school system in December ceased using Bluff City Middle, Holston Valley Middle and the middle school portion of Mary Hughes School, which was a K-8 facility. Middle school students from those three schools were merged into the new Sullivan East Middle, which opened in early January.

The next property to go up for bid is the ballfields at the old Holston Institute near Tri-Cities Airport. School board attorney Pat Hull told the BOE during its work session that the advertisement seeking bids on the ballfields would be in newspapers Sunday and the deadline would be May 28. After that, Hull said the next would be the main Holston Institute property, which also served as Holston High and Holston Middle. 

Holston was last used as a school in 1980, as Holston Middle, although the ballfields had been used by a civic club.

However, some of that property has deed restrictions similar to the one on the half-acre at Bluff City Middle. Holston Valley Middle, the former Holston Valley High, also has been declared surplus by the BOE and is to be sold.

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