Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Following his grandfather’s lead, Hale heads OSAF
Over 120 years ago, Solomon Hale encouraged his neighbors, friends and residents of what is now parts of Oneida, Franklin, Caribou, Bear Lake, and part of Bannock County in Idaho, and Star Valley, Wyoming, to give all they could and more to the construction of a grand new building that would house the education of their children: the Oneida Stake Academy (OSA).
Today, his grandson, Nathan Hale, is doing the same thing as the new chairman of the board of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation.
In order to accommodate the progress it is making towards a complete restoration of the OSA building as a community cultural center, the board of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation (OSAF) recently reorganized itself, electing Nathan as its new chairman. He assumes the position held by Necia Seamons, who chaired the board for the last eight years, and who continues to work as a member of the board. Seamons will focus her efforts on public relations and writing grants for the foundation.
Nathan and his wife, Sydney, have been serving as members of the board for three years. He has focused on the physical needs of the building and Sydney has served as the board’s secretary. They were instrumental in coordinating the Antique Fashion Show co-sponsored by the OSAF and local chapters of the Daughter of the Utah Pioneers in 2009.
Nathan is also featured in a promotional video produced by the OSAF last year that focuses on the value of restoring the building and its future role in the community. The video is available to the public through Adventure Video in Preston, and can be checked out for free.
Nathan and Sydney are natives of Franklin and Caribou Counties. They are long-time residents of Preston, where they serve in various capacities in their church and in the Boy Scouts of America. After he retired in 1983 from Utah Power and Light, Nathan and Sydney served missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England and in Africa. They are presently serving as missionaries at the LDS Employment Center in Logan, Utah.
“It is a privilege to serve the community in the restoration of the 0SA building to its past grander and its future beauty and splendor. We are going to see this transformation occur before our very eyes and it is the hope of OSA Board of Directors that the community will see the Historic value of this preservation and become enthused with the value it will bring to our community.
“You are very important to us and we are committed to continue working very hard to make this come to fruition, please help us to make it so,” said Hale.
Also elected as an officer of the board was Preston attorney Lyle Fuller as vice-president. Fuller joined the board of the OSAF last summer. A resident of Franklin, Fuller is an attorney in Preston and advises the board on legal matters. Fuller and his wife, Valicia, are the parents of two boys and two girls.
Elliott Larsen remains the foundation’s treasurer, and Sydney Hale the secretary. Other current board members are Larry Bradford, Paul Judd, Joseph Linton and Kim Wilson.
To date, the foundation has raised over $2 million towards the restoration of the academy as a cultural center for the area. Upon completion the academy building will offer the public an elegant ballroom for events such as weddings, reunions and conferences. It will also feature a museum of local history, an turn of the century classroom, and courtyard for entertainment.
As Hale steps into his new position as chairman of the OSAF, he seeks to reclaim what Solomon and his contemporaries accomplished in founding the Oneida Stake Academy in Preston 121 years ago.
Solomon was the first counselor in the stake presidency of the Oneida Stake in 1887 - a time when federal agents were chasing polygamous fathers from their homes and Mormons were not allowed to hold public offices due to the Edmunds-Tucker Act.
To counter the devastating effect the act had on local communities in ing the affairs of their schools, the Mormon Church authorized its stakes to organize their own schools. Oneida Stake started its school in 1888 in a room over a store in Franklin.
As enrollment increased and pressure to hold classes in Preston intensified, local authorities deferred to then LDS apostle Lorenzo Snow, whose report on the situation resulted in the decision to build the three-story, handsome rock academy in Preston.
“Through the kindness of Pres. Wilford Woodruff and councilors the church architect D.C. Young was instructed to draft a plan. This he did and the plan was highly recommended by Dr. Carl G. Mayer and others,” states an essay on the building of the academy written by Peter Simon Jensen between 1872
Solomon encouraged everyone in his stake to contribute in order to provide a first rate education to the children of this pioneer community.
They did. Some gave cash. Some gave time. Some raised livestock and upon selling it, gave the profits to the fund. The construction of the Oneida Stake Academy garnered headlines in every newspaper in a 150-mile radius from Preston.
For just over a century, the building remained as an institution of some form of education until it was abandoned by the Preston School District in 2002 in order to make way for its bulging enrollment. At that time, several residents of Franklin County organized the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation to facilitate raising funds to restore the OSA building for public use.