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Grant funds needed to preserve Goffstown SAU cupola

GOFFSTOWN — Town and school officials are working together to see what grant funding is available to preserve the cupola atop the SAU’s white building.

“We want to do it relatively quickly because of the state of the cupola,” said Derek Horne, assistant town administrator.

The deadlines to apply for some of the primary grants that the town traditionally has turned to may have passed, Horne said, but they are looking for other grant sources that may not have been used in the past.

The “white building” was constructed in 1872 and served as the town’s first comprehensive school. Around 2002, the weathervane was restored and returned to its spot on the top of the building. Authorities now want to address some problems with leaking in the cupola, before any structural damage occurs.

The building is leased to the school district by the town. Superintendent Brian Balke had structural engineer evaluate the cupola and received an estimate of about $70,000 to repair the structure, or around $35,000 to have it removed. While both town and school officials have expressed an interest in having it restored, Balke said during a recent meeting with the Board of Selectmen that the SAU 19 School Board is leaning toward removal, if grant funding ends up not being available.

The district has to consider where it’s limited money and resources will be put to the best use, said SAU 19 Business Administrator Ray Labore. Recent projects in the building include electrical and heating upgrades.

He believes the town and school district have time to explore various grant funding options before any action is required. Both sides are interested in preserving one of Goffstown’s first school buildings, he said.

“I think because of that, a lot of folks are looking to maintain it,” Labore said.

One possible compromise discussed by selectmen could be taking pictures and exacting measurements of the cupola, before removing it and storing it. The roof would be capped and the cupola could be restored at a later date. The bell that used to hang in the cupola is also believed to be in storage.

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