Residents say Eminence tax vote saves school, community

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In the tiny community of Eminence, there was a lot more than schools at stake in Tuesday's yes or no vote on a school tax referendum. Many residents believed their community won't survive without their schools.

Eminence, in rural Morgan County, isn't much of a town. It would be much less without its small community schools.

"The community really rallied around our school," said Superintendent Terry Terhune "It came out and showed how much they loved the school."

The Eminence elementary, middle and high schools will all stay open because nearly nine out of ten voters approved a tax increase.

Kim White lives in the surrounding farming community. Her children graduated from Eminence High School. The vote was as much about saving the school as much as it was saving the community.

"Yeah, exactly," she said. "Saving our community, that's exactly what it is about."

Without the additional tax revenue, Terhune says schools would have closed the year after next, their 400 students sent a dozen miles away to another school district.

Teacher Kris Feutz watched over her first graders enjoying recess on the playground. She grew up and raised her children in Eminence.

"I believe Eminence would have ceased to exist. I don't think it would be here anymore," she said with a voice of concern.

Some call the small schools the heart of Eminence. That's no understatement. Because outside of the classrooms, gymnasium, and athletic fields, there's not much going on in the community.

The school district is the local bank's biggest depositor, the post office's biggest customer, and for the town's only convenience store and gas station, its biggest source of business. Had schools closed, business owner Amy Macy admitted, "It would hurt our business a lot, yeah."

There's no movie theater, sports bar or any other entertainment in Eminence. High school sports and other school activities are community-wide events, sources of pride gluing the community together.

The tax increase is expected to cost a typical homeowner about $60 a year. Cliff White summed up his vote of approval, saying, "You don't want your community to fall apart."

So Eminence is paying the price to keep itself together.