A standing-room-only crowd packed into Columbia City Hall Tuesday evening for a public hearing on the proposed new community learning center to be built on the Adair School District campus. The hearing is a requirement for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and allowed for anyone in attendance to speak for or against the project.
Every speaker Tuesday—including Supt. Alan Reed, health sciences instructor Jennifer Carter, ACHS Vice Principal Travis Gay, Director of Pupil Personnel Robbie Harmon, school board chairman Floyd Burton, Mayor Curtis Hardwick, city councilor Linda Waggener, and students Taylor Lawhorn, Kaitlyn Bryant, and Makayla Smith—spoke favorably about the proposed project.
Reed talked about the need to offer industrial maintenance classes and how the new learning center will benefit both students and the community. He compared it the introduction of welding certification at the high school three years ago. “Go back five years and we had maybe five or six students getting on a bus going to vocational school,” Reed explained. “Then with our own facility, we had over 100 students the very first year. … This would be a golden opportunity. It does wonderful things for our students during the day then opens up for community members in the evening.”
Hardwick heaped praise on board, superintendent, and other district leaders for their work to make the project a reality. “I’m just tickled to be a part of this; it’s really good for the students,” Hardwick said. “I wish they had it when I went. I think also that it’s going to be a plus for us recruiting industry—in my opinion it’s a major step.”
Judy Keltner, associate director of community and economic development for the Lake Cumberland Area Development District, led the hearing and recorded comments. Keltner explained the grant as a nontraditional economic development effort. “This means we’re getting people ready for the workforce,” Keltner said.
Following the hearing, the Columbia City Council convened for a special called session to approve a resolution for Hardwick to file the grant application. All six councilors voted favorably.
By Wes Feese
Media Relations, Adair County Schools