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Former Clinton Junior High School gets one last honor

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CLINTON - Clinton businessman Dave Jackson took a moment from work to watch crews finish demolishing the former Clinton Junior High School on North Center Street.

Later, leaving a Clinton grocery store, Clinton Finance Commissioner Tom Edmunds paused on the way to his car to view the new landscape dominated by the pile of rubble.

"Isn't that something?" Edmunds asked. "There's a lot of history in that pile of rubble."

Moments later, the two compared notes and discussed the history of the building, which dated back a full century.

"I understand it was time for it to come down," Edmunds said, "but it still is kind of sad at the same time."

Edmunds, a lifelong Clinton resident and former mayor, will be among those on hand during a special ceremony Jan. 18 at the new junior high honoring the old school. A time capsule found during the demolition will be opened.

"My grandfather was superintendent at the time the capsule was completed, so I'm very anxious to see if there is some kind of connection to him in it," he said, referring to Harry Edmunds, who arrived in Clinton in 1905.

Like Tom Edmunds, Jackson was a student in the school and felt the loss of history as well.

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"So many people in this town have either gone to school there, had parents go to school there or had children go to school there," Jackson said. "I just hate to see buildings with that much history go."

The old junior high closed in 2004 when a new $12 million, 102,000-square-foot junior high opened just south of the high school on Illini Drive.

"It would be neat to think what my grandfather would think of the changes," Edmunds said.

Harry Edmunds retired around 1932 and died in 1952 when Tom Edmunds was 2 weeks old.

The cleanup from the demolition is expected to continue into the spring. The district still has not decided what to do with the land.

"We have some options," said Superintendent Jeff Holmes, adding the land eventually could be the future site of a new elementary school.

"It was a good building and had a lot of good years, but the time had come where we had to do something different," Holmes said.

Last year, the Clinton City Council discussed a variety of options for reusing the building, including turning the building into a new fire department or municipal building. The problem was the building's age, Holmes said.

The council opted to pass until the building was demolished.

"It's a great area and that is a piece of property that will be put to good use some day," Holmes said. "At this point, none of us are sure just what for, though."

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