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Growing pains

Carrollton officials hope money
is restored for expanding JCC campus

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. (February 2007) – When Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher vetoed funding for an educational project in Carrollton last year, many citizens were deeply upset. But the project is about to get a second chance.
Officials at Jefferson Community and Technical College have wanted to expand its Carrollton Campus for quite some time. Last year’s state budget proposal included $11.5 million for this project. State Rep. Rick Rand said this total was based on an estimate from the college.

Rick Rand

Rick Rand

The 2006 budget included too many projects, more than the budget could accommodate, said Rand.
Fletcher “was concerned with the bond rating for Kentucky, so he cut several projects,” said Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson, a staunch proponent of the campus expansion.
Tomlinson is hopeful that the money will be included in the new state budget. He feels the chances are pretty good because “the General Assembly members supported it before.”
The House plans to file a bill on the first or second day it is in session in February, to restore all of the vetoed projects, Rand said. He is confident about funding for the project, which has been bumped up to $12 million. He added that if too much time is allowed to elapse, the price of lumber may drastically increase, thereby increasing the cost of the project.
The educational impact is high for this project since a larger college campus could be used by many surrounding counties who “all show support for this project,” said Tomlinson. Carroll County Fiscal Court presented a check for $10,000 to the campus in January 2005 as seed money to expand its outreach program.
Before the General Assembly session in which the initial project was presented, Tomlinson took 700 letters of support to the governor’s office in Frankfort. All neighboring counties, businesses, industries and various individuals supported the project, Tomlinson said.
“Everybody in Carroll County is involved with it,” said Tomlinson. The county will probably put up some money for the project, and Tomlinson said he hopes contributions can be sought as well.
For additional funding resources to become available would be “wonderful,” said Susan Carlisle, Campus Director for the Carrollton JCC Campus.
“I’m a positive thinker,” said Carlisle. “But until the ink is dry on the paper,” Carlisle will hold her breath in anticipation of the General Assembly allotting the funding.
She said the college desperately needs to build a new building at a new location to expand its services. She would like to see expansion in the area of work force skills training, especially in the technical fields, and build on the practical nursing curriculum.
The Carrollton campus is responsible for providing adult education services in Gallatin, Trimble and Carroll counties. It also targets the Hispanic population, many of which need to take English as a Second Language classes to help them find better jobs.
Were a new campus equipped with a large meeting room become available, this would also aid the community, said Carlisle. More space would mean room for additional testing and student activities.
She said she would love to see the college’s health care offerings expanded. A larger, better-equipped anatomy and physiology lab is long past overdue for more thorough training.
Parking has always been an issue at the current location at 324 Main St. Parking is lost when the river rises, said Carlisle.
With close to 700 students registered for the fall 2006 semester, the three-story building was full to capacity. The college offers dual credit to students, giving them the chance to obtain high school and college credit for selected courses. Online courses are available as an extension of an accelerated program offered through a partnership with Midway College.
Due to lack of space, the Carrollton Campus has been forced to offer curriculum in different community facilities, such as the high school or public library, to provide services to students. “Equipment comes from other campuses, then has to go back,” said Carlisle.
Tomlinson said four different sites to build a new campus are being considered, but he preferred not to disclose the locations because of land acquisition efforts. The state-owned Easter Seals of Kentucky turned down the campus’ earlier request to purchase land and build on Hwy. 227 just across from the entrance to Gen. Butler State Resort Park.
If allotted the $12 million, the money would be spent on the planning and design phase of the project, Tomlinson said. Additional money would be needed to acquire land. Depending upon the availability of the money, Tomlinson wants to have things in place so there is not a long waiting period to complete this project.
“I’m very excited with the anticipation that this will become a reality,” said Carlisle.
Rand said: “It’s not just a Carroll County project, it’s a regional project.”

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