Rebul rounding up funds after fire|[7/12/06]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 12, 2006

LEARNED – After losing its gym in an early morning fire a month ago, Rebul Academy supporters are busying themselves raising money to rebuild.

&#8220We’re hoping to raise as much money as possible, but any amount will help,” Development Foundation member Lisa Whatley said. &#8220The first full day of school is Aug. 14, but we plan on having the gym cleaned up before then.”

The foundation is a nonprofit organization operating as an endowment for the private school serving students from the small west Hinds County towns of Raymond, Edwards, Bolton, Utica and Learned.

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The state fire marshal has not determined what caused the fire June 15 that destroyed the 33-year-old gym and its contents, including equipment for all the school’s athletic teams, Whatley said. According to fire officials, the blaze started between 4 and 6 a.m.

&#8220We don’t know the cost of damage yet,” Whatley said. &#8220We did have insurance on both the building and contents, but are just waiting on the adjusters.”

A fundraiser has been scheduled for Friday night in Utica at Main and Depot streets. Hamburger plates will be sold from 4:30 to 8:30.

Another has been set for Aug. 5 in the school’s parking lot. It is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and catfish dinners and T-shirts will be sold. A garage sale and car wash will be included.

&#8220Support has been very good,” Whatley said. &#8220People here want to do everything they can to help.”

The school’s football team lost jerseys, helmets, pads and other supplies. The weight room is also gone.

&#8220The football team is having to work out at my brother-in-law’s house,” said Stephanie Roberts, another foundation member. &#8220But we are building a field house for the team. We’re working on getting permits right now.”

Whatley said new jerseys have been ordered and other equipment is on the way.

&#8220We have to just list everything that was in the gym and the adjuster will get back to us.”

Softball, basketball, cross country, golf, power-lifting and track teams also lost equipment, Whatley said.

The only other part of the school to sustain damage during the fire was the nearby cafeteria. Windows were blown out of the building.

&#8220We’re very fortunate that nothing else was burned. (Fire officials) said the metal frame of the gym kept the fire from spreading.”

Rebul Academy, near Mississippi Highways 18 and 27, will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year. About 150 students attended the school during the 2005-2006 year.