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Georgia budget leaves Gainesville State College pleased, Lanier Tech 'cautiously optimistic'

POSTED: April 18, 2008 5:01 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Professor Dorothy Blais goes over a book with literature students Monday at Gainesville State College. The final state budget included restoration of $2.4 million in design funds for a new academic building at the college that would include more room for the humanities.

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Pardon Michael Moye for not getting overly excited about the state legislature’s approval of funding for two needed construction projects.

Lanier Technical College improvements planned for the Forsyth County and Dawson County campuses were OK’d last year by the state legislature, only to be cut from the final state budget signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

"We believe that because the governor recommended these projects (this year) that we’ll be safe," said Moye, Lanier Tech’s president.

"However, the decrease in the amount of revenue that the state is taking in could have an effect, and so we’re still apprehensive," he said. "We’re cautiously optimistic."

The legislature approved $1.5 million for a 750-seat conference center on the Forsyth campus and $5 million for a new building on the Dawson campus.

Also in the higher education vein, lawmakers earmarked $2.4 million for the design of a new academic building at Gainesville State College in Oakwood.

The three projects had a bumpy ride to final approval. The state House cut the funding, with a House and Senate conference committee later restoring it.

Martha Nesbitt, Gainesville State’s president, was thankful for the restoration.

"Otherwise, it would put us at least another year behind in getting this much-needed academic building that the college has been seeking since 2002," she said.

Lanier Tech’s new building in Dawson County "will help us expand our credit program offerings ... and establish a strong presence in that community," said Justin Bridges, the college’s marketing director.

"A needs assessment is already under way to determine which programs will be best suited for needs of employers in and around Dawson County," he added.

If funding and construction goes as hoped, the new building could open in July 2010, Moye said.

The campus now comprises the old Dawson County High School vocational wing, which was recently renovated, and a new Adult Learning Center, which is in the final stages of construction.

The college plans to open the Adult Learning Center on May 1. The $500,000 building will house general-equivalency diploma and English as a Second Language classes.

The $1.5 million project in Forsyth will be used to supplement the $11.5 million that was approved in the 2007 state budget to build a health sciences building and economic development center.

"The $1.5 million matches ($1 million) provided by local sources and will be used to expand the economic development center to its originally planned size," Bridges said.

Moye said he believes the college could occupy the building in October 2009.

The new $35 million academic building at Gainesville State would house the humanities division, business division and continuing education, with construction funding for the project likely to come during the General Assembly next year.

If all goes as hoped this year and next, the building will be located in an area behind the Hugh Mills Physical Education Center and would be opened sometime between January and the fall of 2011, Nesbitt said.



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