Spencer Jaycees clubhouse fire claimed more than a building

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Steve Huffman
SPENCER ó Investigators said Thursday they’ll likely never know what caused the fire that destroyed the Spencer Jaycees clubhouse.
But they said they don’t think the fire was a result of arson.
“They couldn’t pinpoint an exact cause, but no foul play (is suspected),” said Terry Smith, Spencer’s assistant fire chief, referring to a pair of investigators who examined the site Thursday.
The building, located at the end of Baldwin Avenue near the Eighth Street Ballpark, burned Wednesday night.
Several current and former Jaycees visited the clubhouse Thursday to reminisce about what the structure had meant to so many people over the years.
Spencer Mayor Jody Everhart was an active club member from 1980 until 1999, serving as president three years. He’s now a lifetime member of the club.
Everhart said the clubhouse was at one time a frame boarding house. It was covered years ago in brick, with most of its windows covered to prevent vandalism.
Everhart said he and others associated with the Jaycees hated to see the building burn, but said what they hated far worse was losing all that was housed therein.
The Spencer Jaycees are among the state’s most active chapters and have over the years earned numerous accolades.
“We had plenty of state and national awards that were in there,” Everhart said. “That kind of stuff can’t be replaced.”
He said there are about 25 active and 30 lifetime members of the club. Group members have supported the Spencer Little League since the organization’s founding decades ago.
Club members annually play major roles in the Holiday Caravan Parade and the Rowan County Agricultural Fair.
Everhart noted that Wednesday’s fire touched many of the town’s residents. Even Bill Baker, the father of Fire Chief Jay Baker, was a former Jaycee.
Everhart said that when firefighters arrived at the fire, Jay Baker tried to go inside to save some of the plaques and more, but was pushed back by the flames and heat.
If there’s any good news to the situation, Everhart said, it’s that the building was insured. Jaycees are to meet with an insurance adjustor today.
“It’s not the building,” Everhart said of what will be most missed, “but the memories hanging on the walls.”
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For the time being, Spencer Jaycees will hold their weekly meetings in a double-wide trailer located near the entrance to the Rowan County Fairgrounds. Club members meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.