Now that Maumelle has its own new high school, the question for a few years has been what would become of the vacant Oak Grove High School? Who would buy it?
ThatChurch.com, located in Sherwood on Kiehl Avenue, recently decided to purchase the building, refurbish it, and turn it into the Oak Grove Life Center, according to Scott Harness, senior pastor of ThatChurch.com.
Harness started the church in the city of Sherwood in 2000 and has gotten quite a bit larger since its beginnings.
“We started with six people in my photography studio and now we host nearly 2,000 people in three campuses every weekend,” Harness said. “ThatChurch.com has campuses in Sherwood, Cabot, and Medina, Tennessee.”
Harness is a 1987 graduate of Oak Grove High School.
“When the school was vacated it was of interest to me,” Harness said. “I had a deep desire to do something positive in the community of Oak Grove and North Little Rock.”
The Pulaski County School District and Harness were able to come to an agreement to purchase the school three to four months ago.
“Ever since then we have been working on details and covering all the necessaries for such a purchase,” he said.
The School was purchased at a lesser price with the following stipulations:
1. The PCSSD could use the grounds to park buses that run in the Oak Grove Community for the next four years or until they find a suitable alternative.
2. That the sewage plant that is on the Oak Grove High School grounds continue to service the Oak Grove Elementary School as it currently does.
3. Although not written but understood was that The Oak Grove Life Center would bring services, help, and community value to the Oak Grove Community, said Harness.
“The School District was adamant about the positive impact this work had to have,” said Harness. “With respect to this criteria ThatChurch.com purchased the Oak Grove High School for $100,000. The School was purchased in cash with no debt.”
Harness said he got word last week that the State had approved the purchase and contracts were signed later a few days later.
“By the way ThatChurch.com purchased the facilities and ground and has leased it to the Oak Grove LIFE Center which is its own separate 501c3 organization to run and operate the facility as its board sees fit,” he said.
The Oak Grove Life Center board will be made up of a very diverse group of business men and women, pastors from various churches, leaders of select non-profit organizations, and people from the Oak Grove community.
“This goal is that the Oak Grove Life Center be a model for cooperation of people in community for the greater good of the community,” Harness said.
Harness said several community services are planned for the Oak Grove Life Center, including:
1. Kids Camps. Harness said Oak Grove High school for more than 50 years changed the lives of kids. “At the Oak Grove Life Center, we want to continue that tradition by hosting some of the most amazing kids camps imaginable. All of our kids camps will be filled with character building activities and life application lessons.”
2. Summer Camps. A week of fun and character development to boot.
3. Day Camps. Daylong experiences for kids throughout the summer.
4. Super Saturdays. Camp experiences condensed to a single Saturday.
5. After School Program
6. Special Needs Camps. Camps designed especially for special needs children.
7. A Leadership School. The backbone of The Oak Grove Life Center is strong leaders. “The leadership necessary for a top notch Life Center will come from specially selected 18-25year old interns enrolled in the Oak Grove leadership school.
8. A Community Center. The Oak Grove Life Center will be a hub for community activities. Basketball gyms, workout facility, walking track, and football fields are all a part of adding value to the community – community meetings, church events, family reunions, class reunions, band and much more.
9. A host for Sports Activities. Peewee football, Upward Basket ball, AAU tournaments, and any other sporting events can be hosted at the Life Center.
10. A Center for Education. Career classes, job fairs, adult education classes, literacy, and many other classes. Seminars and conferences are easily hosted on the Oak Grove LIFE Center campus. Adding value to our community by addressing the hard questions that need answers.
11. A hub for Community Projects- The Oak Grove Life Center wants to be the hub of positive community change.
“We plan on doing this by meeting head-on the difficult problems our community faces. We also want to simply make life better by sponsoring many random acts of kindness. Service is not an event the Oak Grove Life Center hosts but it is what we are all about. Helping others.
12. A Police Sub-Station. The Oak Grove Life Center will be a safe place for everyone. The Police substation will provide security at the Life Center and security in the community.