GLASGOW – Representatives of at least three civic groups that regularly use the Lera B. Mitchell Clubhouse on South Green Street were invited to Monday’s Glasgow City Council meeting to discuss the clubhouse’s future.
The city of Glasgow serves as trustee of the clubhouse. As trustee, it pays $80,000 a year for its upkeep, but the city wants to relinquish that duty.
“The city attorney has gone through and done a lot of research and found that if we can find a nonprofit group that’s willing to continue the use of that with all the civic groups that use it now, and then add some other very good programs … the city would be willing to go to court and be removed as the trustee,” Mayor Harold Armstrong said.
City Attorney Danny Basil provided some background on the building, which was once owned by J.H. Mitchell.
In his will, Mitchell asked that $65,000 from his estate be used to purchase the building as a meeting space for the Daughters of the American Revolution, Glasgow Garden Club and the organization now known as the Glasgow Musicale, plus a few other organizations.
“This was done with the Farmers’ Bank as trustee, and Farmers’ Bank served as trustee from about 1962 up until 1978,” Basil said. “In 1978, the trusteeship was transferred from New Farmers’ National Bank to the city of Glasgow.”
The city has continued as trustee, allowing the same civic groups and organizations to use the building. The city would like that to continue, Basil said.
Bridge Kentucky, a nonprofit organization, is interested in becoming the clubhouse trustee and to keep it functioning as in the past.
A handout distributed during the meeting said Bridge Kentucky strives to reduce poverty and financial instability by assisting at-risk families. Its services range from financial assistance to mentoring.
Some city council members had questions about Bridge Kentucky.
Councilwoman Marna Kirkpatrick wanted to know whether, if Bridge Kentucky became the clubhouse’s new trustee but then dissolved, the ownership would revert to the city.
If that happened, the mayor said, another trustee would be appointed.
Councilman Patrick Gaunce, a Bridge Kentucky board member, said that if the organization dissolved, he would vote for the trusteeship to revert to the city.
In addition to Gaunce, others on Bridge Kentucky’s board are Matthew Boston, administrative director of the organization; Mallie Boston, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County; and Shelly Thomas, director of the youth service center at Barren County High School.
Councilman Terry Bunnell asked if Bridge Kentucky leases any property, and Gaunce replied it leases two warehouses and uses those spaces for the storage of “clothing and goods – sofas and chairs.”
Councilman Freddie Norris said Bridge Kentucky helps the homeless.
Gaunce said there won’t be an emergency homeless shelter at the clubhouse should Bridge Kentucky become trustee.
He said Boston ran the Room in the Inn, a homeless shelter, for Bridge Kentucky in 2019. The shelter closed after it failed to get the support it needed.
“Our mission now is to mentor. We’ve got about 80 to 100 volunteers and we want to take each person and mentor a family because the resources are here in our community. It’s just people don’t understand how to fill the forms out. They don’t know where to go. They don’t have child care,” Gaunce said.
If Bridge Kentucky became trustee, it would strive to work with other civic groups using the space, he said.
In addition to the various civic groups, there are bridge clubs and a group of senior citizens that use the clubhouse. The mayor stressed that regardless of what happens, the senior citizens will have a place to continue their activities, such as playing pool. It is likely the senior citizens will likely be relocated to the city’s parks and recreation department on Liberty Street, he said.
Frances Bastien, a DAR member, noted that “Mr. Mitchell left it to the DAR and three other organizations.”
One of the DAR’s members took care of the clubhouse until the task became too much, and the organizations made an agreement with the bank to become clubhouse trustee, she said.
“When the bank decided that they no longer want to do this, they made an agreement with the city, who at that time was looking for a building for the senior citizens,” Bastien said.
She said the DAR should have some say in what happens to the building.
The mayor said everyone has a voice on the issue and that’s why representatives of the civic clubs were invited to the meeting.
The initial agreement said all organizations using the building would contribute to the upkeep and expenses of the building, he said.
“But nobody ever has but the city,” the mayor said.
Bastien said the bank contributed to the upkeep, as well as the DAR, until it was unable to do so.
A copy of the deed showing the city as trustee was the only one Basil could find. He asked those with the DAR if they had a copy showing the DAR as one of the owners.
June Jackson, regent of the DAR, explained ownership of the clubhouse is through the trust.
She asked for time to consult with someone to advise the DAR on its decision.
“We want to be sure that when this is done that everyone knows what is going to be done there and what our rights are and that we will be protected,” Jackson said.
Armstrong reiterated the issue was placed on the meeting agenda only for discussion and that Monday night was the first time the city council had heard a plan regarding the clubhouse.
“We don’t want to lose the Lera B. Mitchell Clubhouse, but we don’t want to overlook any possibility that might work just as well for you all and as well for another party involved, and help the city. If not, we will look at another avenue. We just need to talk. We need to start the discussion,” Armstrong said.