The Pilot Community Center has been undergoing a facelift and it is thanks to caring individuals from the community who have donated their time, energy, and money to the beautification of the historic schoolhouse.
An especially large donation of time, money, and lots of paint was graciously donated from Parmer and Sons Painting business in Christiansburg.
While maintaining the historical integrity of the 1921 building, the organization and community have pulled together to provide a full kitchen renovation, flooring, interior paint, two new bathrooms, and a new roof. However, the building was in bad need of new exterior paint.
First, using a photo of the schoolhouse from the 1920s, board members attempted to match the original paint color.
“I think for a long time we all thought it was white, with the metal roof that was on there previously,” Ted Veggeberg, Vice President of the Pilot Community Center Board said. “But then we found a photo that shows that the trim around the windows was white, but the siding was not white. It was some off-white color, so we went with light grey.”
In addition to Veggeberg, the board is made up of Vice President John “Bert” Gill and Alice Jones as Treasurer. Additional dedicated members routinely tend to the grounds such as Cody Rush and Thomas (Tom) Teates. Teates also serves as the custodian of the center. Gill’s wife, Gloria Kirkner McNeil attended the school when it was still serving the community. The school closed in 1963 when a larger school was built in Riner, according to information on the center’s website at www.pilotcommunitycenter.weebly.com.
Teates said when the organization thought about painting the building, they didn’t think they had enough money in their account to do it, but wanted to get an estimate on how much money it would take. So, they called Parmer and Sons Painting.
“Grey Sayers was the guy that came out to look and give us an estimate,” Teates said.
The members knew it would be expensive, but Teates enjoyed meeting with Sayers and was looking forward to working with their company. Within a day or two, Teates received a call back on the estimate. It was going to be in the ballpark of $20,000. However, Sayers had more to say about the project.
“’But you know’ he said, ‘I was talking to the owner of the company, Royce Parmer, and I suggested to him that maybe this is what our charitable donation to the community for the summer should be. Each year, we do something as a donation to support the community,’” Teates said.
Shocked by the incredible gift to the center, Teates was unable to respond at first.
“I had to get up off the floor and then I said ‘Wow’,” Teates said.
That was the fall of 2022. The project is now underway, thanks to the Parmer and Sons team. Paul Theus is the crew leader, and joined by Jody Puckett, Brian Kipps, Chad King, and Eric Neufield.
“I know we’re just super happy to be able to contribute,” Theus said. “For me personally, this area means a lot because I went through the Eagles Nest and you know, this Pilot/Floyd area has people who have reached out to help me so it’s cool to give back to give back to this area. Personally, I kind of have a bit of a connection with it, so it’s serendipitous that I happened to be put on this job. I am grateful for it.”
Teates said that passersby may have noticed Theus as the acrobat that can be seen high on the ladder painting the tall building, along with the crew who has worked to bring the historic building back to life.
“We are very grateful for Parmer and Sons,” Veggeberg said. “I know it started with Tom bringing them out here and talking to various representatives with them to give us an estimate and kind of see where we’re at.”
The center’s restoration has been met with other challenges as well. The roofing could not be replaced with the original style of tin shingles because no one can do this type of work anymore, according to Teates.
“Plus, we had a leak…in the upstairs and we had to repair a rafter and put new roof up,” Teates said. “You can’t repair a tin shingle roof and not have it leak.”
Lead paint on the exterior of the building also caused further complications for the members, as well as staying on schedule for the paint job that was to happen in the summer of 2023. Transformation Painting was able to do the necessary lead paint removal in a safe manner so that the Pilot Community Center could stay on time for its needed fresh coat of paint. An original cost of $5000 for lead paint removal was lessened when community members jumped in to do some of the work themselves, such as removing bead board that would have needed cleaning of the lead paint.
Funds are raised through membership dues, occasionally renting out the building for events, and some other activities that the center has organized for the community. Donations are always accepted as well and can be made on the center’s website.
A recent yard sale was very successful for the Pilot Community Center, yielding approximately $500, which the members of the organization had not really planned for. The event was one of many outreach opportunities the members have planned to invite the community in to enjoy the house and surrounding property. Many people living in rural areas of the county also find it difficult to have a yard sale at their home.
“I mean if you live down this road like I do, no one’s coming to your house,” Ted Veggeberg, President of the Pilot Community Center Board said. “So, we wanted to provide that function for the community.”
People can use the building for reunions, meetings, and even weddings. Interested parties may find contact information through the Pilot Community Center Facebook page, at their website or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, the Little Library is located upstairs in the building where community visitors can take books to read or donate them. Puzzles line the shelves of a bookcase downstairs inviting people to sit a spell and enjoy the ambience of the over 100-year-old schoolhouse.
“There are lots of different ways for people to come in and get involved,” Veggeberg said. “We are grateful for any and all presence. We want to hear feedback from the community on how we can do things better to serve the community.”
The Pilot Community Center meets the third Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the center in Pilot on Brush Creek Road. Anyone is welcome to attend and give in any way they wish to contribute.