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HCLL should have space in gov’t center

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners debated last week whether Harrison County Lifelong Learning Center should be placed in the new government center at the beginning of the year as was the plan from the start.
While no decision was made by the three-member board, the possibility exists that the adult education center will stay in its current location, which would be a big mistake financially for both the county and lifelong learning.
The Harrison County Alternative Education Center will be placed in the government center, because it is currently housed in the Little Indian Creek flood plain in the county’s annex building along Mulberry Street. The original plan was for the alternative school and Lifelong Learning to share space in the building, but both sides have said that situation may not work.
Much of the criticism against moving forward with the $13 million-to-$15 million government center project was the abundance of space that would be available and allotted to county government agencies. All county buildings currently in use will continue to be in use, with the exception of two small buildings (annex and Rothrock house), and will add more that 70,000 square feet for county use.
It’s hard to believe room for the two schools can’t be found in that amount of space.
Debbie Heazlitt, executive director of the alternative school, said she needed room for about 70 students throughout normal school-day hours. Doug Robson, Lifelong Learning executive director, said about 20 people use that facility throughout the morning and afternoon hours until 3:30 p.m., when it becomes completely full until 6:30 p.m. He also has other classes and programs lasting to 9:30 p.m.
I’m sure RQAW, the Indianapolis firm overseeing the project, would be eager to tinker with the plans to ensure both schools have the necessary space to operate and grow.
The county commissioners had a two-month-long, heated debate about Lifelong Learning’s role and future in the county. It was ultimately decided to treat it the same as the alternative school, by funding it with riverboat gaming funds but not making it a county entity.
So, by continuing to treat them as equals, the commissioners should find a place for both schools on the county’s new property and provide the same benefits, such as rent and utilities, since the county would end up being on the hook for funding anyway.
For rent this year, Lifelong Learning paid nearly $60,000 at its location at 101 S.R. 62.
It would be a shame if the county completed a $15 million project for government use and still had to pay an extra $60,000 each year because it didn’t have enough room for Lifelong Learning.