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Sun., Nov. 23
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Church purchasing former West Carthage school

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WEST CARTHAGE — If all goes well at the property closing this week, the Church of God Soldiers of Jesus Christ will have a home in the village.

The Rev. Pedro A. Torres, the senior pastor, said the church is purchasing the former West Carthage Elementary School on North Jefferson Street.

The pastor said the church has been in Watertown for seven years and holds worship services at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. He said that the church has been searching for a permanent home, and that the three-story, 38,344-square-foot former school seems to fit the bill.

“We want to bring the building back to life,” the Rev. Mr. Torres said. “It’s an amazing building and has the space for our plans.”

He said the church will use the former auditorium for worship services and community functions. The bilingual church does a lot of community work, he said.

“We care for people in need,” the Rev. Mr. Torres said. “We provided a food pantry, clothing pantry and dollar dinners.”

He said there are plans for after-school programs and a biblical recovery program, which is a type of counseling.

Repair work, cleaning and painting is expected to take about two months, and the Rev. Mr. Torres hopes to begin holding services at the new church at the end of August or early September.

“We want to bring the building to life and enable it to serve the community as it did when it was a school,” the Rev. Mr. Torres said. “We are excited to come to Carthage and to be able to help the community. We are here to help as a community of faith.”

He said church members had looked in the Carthage area because they serve so many soldiers and their families. He said 80 percent of the congregation is military families and 70 percent is Hispanic, so the worship services are presented in both Spanish and English.

The purchase includes property across Madison Street that was the site of the former elementary school playground. That section will be used for a parking lot and for a play area.

The Carthage Central School District closed the building in 2001, deeming it too costly to renovate and an unfit location for expansion. The former school was purchased by Tal Properties LLC of Norwich, Conn., in 2006 with the intent to utilize the building for a traumatic brain injury center, but that plan never came to fruition.

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