A small piece of local history will be cast in aluminum and placed in front of Edge Elementary in about a year, if the Niceville City Council and Okaloosa County School Board have anything to say about it.
Niceville City Councilwoman and historical marker project champion Cathy Alley and Niceville Historian Elisa Mitchiner (who’ve just successfully completed three of these projects) pitched the idea successfully to put the plaque, about $2500, which will be paid for by the city and maintained by the school district on the Edge campus.
You see, the land Edge Elementary currently sits on is the home of the first Niceville High School. High school students from all around the county’s south end went to Niceville’s High School there – as there was no Choctaw High or Fort Walton Beach High School.
Alley read the contents of the marker aloud to the board:
“In May 1924, George Nathey conveyed seven acres to the Okaloosa County Board of Public Instruction for a site location. It was built in 1925, facing Niceville Avenue. Fire destroyed the school in 1926. It was rebuilt and ready for classes in 1928. In 1933, civilian conservation corps (CCC) company 1402 set up a temporary camp on the school grounds while a permanent camp was built across the highway. It was again destroyed in July 1936 by a hurricane. The great depression made it even harder to raise funds to rebuild. It became one of the county’s priorities. After receiving a grant as part of the Emergency Division of Works Progress Administration (WPA), the school was built by the WPA and described as ‘A splendid modern building that would provide for the needs of the community for a long while.’ The class of 1938 was the first to graduate in the new school building. The only high school in the southern section of the county. In 1943, it was the first county school to have a nine-month school term for Eglin Field military families. In 1952, the name changed to Niceville Elementary. In 1962, to honor her commitment to preserving the school, it became Lula J. Edge Elementary – Niceville’s oldest School.”
The marker will denote the school as a Florida Heritage Site.
School Board members unanimously approved their support of the marker in their passage of the consent agenda. The members and superintendent also thanked Mitchiner and Alley for the work they had done in researching the history of the school. Board Member Marti Gardner told the pair, “I appreciate your dedication and determination to see this thing through. And with working with the state, there’s sometimes a lot of back and forth. I’ve only seen pictures on Facebook of the [three memorials already placed in Niceville] and I can’t wait to see what we have in front of Edge Elementary.”
Alley and Mitchiner let the board know that the actual placement of the marker and a ribbon-cutting would be about a year away – six months to get approval from the state and another half-year to have the marker cast.