ISC Board votes to give up building
By Lynn J. Richardson
While the ISC Board of Governors and its chairman Jim Reel issued a formal statement July 2 announcing they will not retain ownership of the organization’s headquarters, speculation continues to grow that the Town of Jonesborough may have its eye on the iconic building located in the heart of the historic district.
The ISC statement reports the organization has decided it “is not in a financial position to be able to settle our debt with Rural Development-USDA and retain ownership of the Center building.”
Calling the decision, “disappointing,” Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe said the ISC board’s action “changes everything.”
“If you look at how that building is used, you can easily see that it has become a very important focal point for activities in the town of Jonesborough,” Wolfe told the Herald & Tribune. “I am very concerned about its future and I’m very concerned about how this will impact our town.”
Wolfe said he will be working with town staff “over the next couple of weeks to figure out how to best address the situation.”
When asked if the Town of Jonesborough would be on the courthouse steps if the building ended up in a foreclosure auction, Wolfe replied, “Absolutely not. We won’t be on the courthouse steps. I don’t want us to have to do anything like that.”
But there was significant hesitation before Wolfe responded to the next question — one about whether the Town of Jonesborough would somehow purchase and become the new owner of the building.
“I believe it is safe to say that we are extremely interested in seeing this building remain a productive and useful part of our tourism infrastructure in Jonesborough,” he said.
In announcing its abandonment of efforts to retain ownership of its physical headquarters, the ISC Board of Governors expressed its appreciation for “the community support shown during our recent financial difficulties.”
“We have emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a solid business model that allows us to move forward with a strong financial position and a positive cash flow,” the statement says.
It continues, pledging the organization will continue to produce the National Storytelling Festival each year “as well as other tourism-generating activities important to our organization, Jonesborough, and the surrounding region.”
“Above all else,” the statement reads, “we believe the perpetuation of storytelling should be the central mission of our organization, reflecting our desire that storytelling continue to positively influence our culture and society for many generations to come.”
The statement also refers to the fact that ISC reorganization plans didn’t include a provision for the ISC to retain the building.
“Although we have tried for many months to develop a way by which we could afford to retain the building, we have not been successful.”