SUGAR CITY – The Glenn and Dorothy Dalling family has donated 43 acres of land to the Sugar-Salem School District. The district plans to build a new junior high school on the property.
Located at East Third North and North Park, the hope is that the school district can build a junior high and eventually bond again to add an elementary school and preforming arts center. An architect has already created a design for the proposed new junior high school.
Thanks to the Dalling’s land donation, the school district can now focus on money to build a school rather than to both build a school and buy land. It plans to ask Sugar-Salem patrons to approve a $17 million bond on August 27. Should voters agree, the school district will accept bids in January or February of next year with the hope of starting construction in the spring of that year. In the meantime, the Dalling family plans to continue farming the property.
Bradshaw reported the current junior high school has seen better days.
“It’s just old, and it’s too small. There is no way to expand. It’s expensive to maintain. It’s just an old building. We need to do a bunch of upgrades to the heating system. There’s no cooling system, not to mention the fact that it’s too small. It can’t house all the kids. I’m going to be putting up a portable in the next few weeks,” he said.
Glenn Dalling says donating the land to the school district is a way to pay it forward for the help it gave him. He credits the district for jumpstarting his teaching career shortly after graduating from Sugar-Salem High School.
“A year and a half after my high school graduation, the school gave me a job as a part-time teacher while playing basketball and earning my college degree at Ricks College,” Dalling said.
Built in the 1950s, the junior high school is blocked-in with little room left to build onto the school. Bradshaw said that upgrades have proven to be temporary fixes.
Two years ago, the district created a bond committee to discuss its overcrowding problem, and how to come up with the funds to build a new junior high.
“The last plan that we had was to build onto the junior high and building another story which was super expensive. We would have to re-engineer everything,” Bradshaw said. “This land option has changed all of that. We can get a lot more mileage out of our money and build something that’s long term.”
The bond committee found itself continually stymied at the costly prospect of buying land and building a junior high.
That was until the Glenn and Dorothy Dalling family stepped in.
Last fall, the family donated the acreage. The property has been in the Dalling family for three generations and has been farmed by five generations of Dallings.
The family, at the behest of its patriarch Glenn Dalling, has specifically asked that the school district build a new school building. It also asked in the title agreement that no portables be allowed on the property. They didn’t designate what kind of school to be built, and the school district plans to use it to build a junior high school.
“Glenn sees that we’re landlocked at all of our schools. He has a number of great-grandkids in our schools. Having been the mayor twice, he understands the plight we have here in our Sugar schools,” Bradshaw said.
While working in the Sugar-Salem School District, Dalling also served as a coach, teacher and principal at Sugar Salem High School for 13 years. There he coached the school’s basketball team that went on to win a state championship. Dalling also coached the football team that was undefeated that season. From there, he served as the head basketball coach and athletic director at the former Ricks College now Brigham Young University-Idaho.
The 43 acres the Dalling family donated is valued at $500,000.
“It’s worth substantially more than that as a development because of where it is,” Bradshaw said. “They gave it to us for free.”
With as many as 30 new families moving into the community every year, the Sugar-Salem School District has seen its junior high becoming increasing crowded. Plans call to build a junior high to provide for 400 children. It would contain grades six through eighth whereas the current junior high is home to just two grades, seven and eight.
Thanks to the Dallings’ donation, it takes an enormous amount of financial pressure off the school district that now only needs to deal with the cost of a new junior high school.
“If we had to buy the property, we would have been thankful to get it for the half a million it’s valued at,” Bradshaw said. “We hadn’t talked about building anything new because we didn’t have any place or any money to build it. To have the bond to buy land and to build a building, was one bridge too far.”
Bradshaw is very aware that the city passed a water bond recently that raised residents’ water rates. Despite that, he believes that school patrons will support a school bond.
“We think we can sell it. We hope to set a uniform rate which will actually be lower than what we’ve been paying. There will be a moderate increase from this past year, but beyond that, less than what we’ve been paying,” he said.
The current junior high has 17 classrooms, Bradshaw said.
“So, honestly, 20 rooms isn’t anything too many. The new junior high is designed to be added onto easily,” Bradshaw said. “That’s the biggest difference. What we have now, there isn’t any place to expand. It takes so much money to update the existing building to the specs it needs to be. It’s really kind of wasteful.”
The 43 acres could provide enough room not only for the junior high but for ball fields as well.
“We’ll put some fields in,” he said. “We’ll put a better soccer field in there.”
Bradshaw said a fine arts center could also be built via another bond in the future. Madison School District officials did something similar when they built Madison High School in 2008 and then bonded again in 2017 for a stadium and a third gym that’s currently being built.
Bradshaw believes that a fine arts center could prove a draw to entertainers thanks to BYU-Idaho being nearby.
“It’s something we really value tremendously here — the preforming arts. We would like to provide that opportunity for our patrons,” he said.
The Dallings donation is greatly appreciated, Bradshaw said.
“It’s really unbelievable in this day and age to be that unselfish. They’re trying to do a good thing,” Bradshaw said.
Glenn Dalling explained it was a way to be grateful.
“I appreciate the opportunities I had, and I do,” he said.
Dalling grew up in Sugar City on his family’s farm. He attended school here and has lived in Sugar City his entire life except for a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bismarck, North Dakota, he and his late wife Dorothy served. The couple has nine children, 57 grandchildren and more than 100 great-grandchildren.
Glenn Dalling served as the city’s mayor for 15 years. He was also assisting as a Church bishop during the famous Teton Dam Flood in 1976. His home was spared thanks to a very large pine tree that prevented water from uprooting the house and sending it down stream.
“The flood, it was difficult, very difficult. We worked together, and everything came out good,” he said.
The Dallings were married for 69 years prior to Dorothy Dalling’s passing in December.
What was the secret to such a long happy union?
“I don’t know. I guess we liked each other. I just did what she told me, but she was always right. I know that,” he said.
As for the future of the current junior high school, the building, while old, is still structurally sound. It also survived the Teton Dam Flood. Three years ago, the YMCA expressed interest in the facility and recently toured the school. The organization would like to add a swimming pool and utilize the school’s classrooms, Bradshaw said.
Glenn Dalling says he’s more than glad to donate his farm land – part of which was part of his grandparents’ homestead – to the school district.
“I’m happy to give the property to the school,” Dalling said. “My nine children are also. They’re all appreciative of the school. They all went to school here.”
In the meantime, the school district has created a monument thanking the Dallings that it recently displayed on the 43 acres.
“My vision is to be really thankful and appreciative toward the Dallings, and that the focus is to let people know they’ve given this land specifically to build a school on,” he said.
For more information on the junior high school project call the school district at (208) 356-8802.