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No fine arts center in Decatur's near future
Chancellor would consider
project if state funded it

By Bayne Hughes 340-2432

Chancellor Bradley Byrne understands the importance a fine arts center could have on downtown Decatur and Calhoun Community College.

But the center is not high on his priority list.

The leader of the Alabama College System said Tuesday at a press conference that he would consider such a project if state legislators funded it.

Tuesday's visit is Byrne's first since getting Gov. Bob Riley and the state school board's vote for the job.

After the conference, Rep. Bill Dukes, D-Decatur, Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and Rep. Jeremy Oden, R-Eva, said funding for the center is a priority for the Morgan County legislative delegation in the 2008 session.

They said they realize how much the center would boost downtown Decatur, while increasing the college's presence in the city.

"I think our delegation is poised and ready to work toward getting funding for this center," Dukes said. "It's a natural fit with the Princess (Theatre Center for the Performing Arts), the (Carnegie) Visual Arts Center and the historical Old (State) Bank building."

Byrne said he is aware of the talk but has not seen the actual proposal.

Orr said he is working to correct that problem. He is trying to arrange a possible presentation for Byrne when he returns Aug. 13 to speak at Calhoun's staff institute.

Orr, the Calhoun Foundation chairman, said he hopes the college will benefit from a relationship he developed with Byrne while Byrne was still in the Senate.

Byrne resigned from the Senate after becoming chancellor May 24.

Previous efforts

In April 2006, former Chancellor Roy Johnson committed to building a $30 million to $40 million fine arts campus in downtown Decatur.

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