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FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 2007

Fire training budget item to stand, chancellor says

MONTGOMERY (AP) — A last-minute change to the state education budget that drastically cuts the amount of money going to the Alabama Fire College and instead sends funds to a nonexistent academy will stand, newly hired two-year chancellor Bradley Byrne said Thursday.

The budget, which is awaiting approval from Gov. Bob Riley, sends $6.3 million to the fire college and its commission, but $5.9 million of that is set aside for the Alabama Fire and Emergency Services Academy. State education and school officials have said the academy does not exist.

Riley, who said he has “no idea” what the new academy does, had planned to issue a line-item veto on the budget change, but Byrne said the governor changed his mind after the two met Thursday afternoon.

“He was just asking me, No. 1, how we would make that work, and I expressed to him the extent we have been able to think this through,” Byrne said. “The ultimate decision on that was we decided we could handle it the way it was.”

The fire college trains firefighters and other emergency responders and is housed on the campus of Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, which handles its funding.

Former Fire College Director W.L. Langston, resigned in March 2006 after it was discovered that the college’s private foundation spent nearly $350,000 on a new home for him. Langston decided not to move into it after the FBI began examining the foundation.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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