News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Calhoun's downtown fine arts project remains a plus

When the state Board of Education fired Chancellor Roy Johnson this week, a lot of local people held their collective breath.

Will the downtown Calhoun Community College project survive the transition?

It should. If building a Calhoun fine arts center near the Morgan County Courthouse made sense last week, it still does. And it makes a ton of sense.

School board member Mary Jane Caylor, in whose district the college is located, says she expects the project to move forward.

Mr. Johnson, along with Calhoun President Marilyn Beck, was a strong proponent of giving the college a downtown presence that will also help revitalize an area between First and Second avenues. Board member David Byers, whose district includes Decatur, also strongly supports building the fine arts center.

Mr. Johnson's tenure as chancellor became shaky with disclosure of family members on the payroll and some having contracts with the two-year system.

There is also a federal investigation concerning The Alabama Fire College Foundation at Tuscaloosa, and a scandal at Shelton State Community College there involving a state legislator.

Still, those accusations don't diminish the value of the $30 million to $40 million project proposed for downtown. Hopefully, the entire board and interim Chancellor Renee Culverhouse, who is president of Gadsden State Community College, will move ahead with the project.

Certainly, the project has support here. Mayor Don Kyle wants a meeting as soon as one is practical to re-affirm local support. Making it clear that the project has strong local support will be important in the coming days.

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