Demolition of the old Merritt Elementary School in Missaukee County is nearly complete, and one former student is saying their final goodbyes.
“It just means a lot. Its changed how this community looks now and I’m just sad to see it go,” says former student Suprena Flamand.
Flamand went to Merrit Elementary from kindergarten to fourth grade. Her brothers and sisters also attended, and her dad was even the school’s custodian until the day it closed.
“I can remember going over there at night with him to help him finish cleaning and sweeping the floors and wiping the chalk boards down,” Flamand remembers
The school closed in 2007 and has sat empty for the past 16 years. A developer had plans for the property in 2009, but ran into financial troubles. In 2019, a land bank for the property was formed, and after not receiving any satisfactory bids to redevelop the property, they opted to demolish the building using rural grants from the state.
“When my parents told me, I was like, ‘no, they can’t tear that down, that’s not right,’” Flamand recalls.
Despite protests and numerous efforts to save the building, crews began demolition May 19.
Missaukee County Administrator Elizabeth Vogel says she respects those who are disappointed with their decision.
“This wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the necessary decision in order to move on and again hopefully put that property to its best use for everyone,” Vogel states.
As of now the county has no plans for the site, leaving many to hope that the property that once meant so much to the community won’t be forgotten, and left as nothing more than an empty field.