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Literacy center plans delayed again
Project called for facility to be constructed off Thurmon Tanner
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Hopes for a new adult literacy center in South Hall have been dashed again.

Oakwood, Lanier Technical College and the Hall County government and school system had been working on a plan to build the center off Thurmon Tanner Parkway, a new section of road under construction between Plainview and Mundy Mill roads in Oakwood.

But Hall County government has pulled out of the initiative, meaning an application for a $500,000 state Community Development Block Grant won't be sought this year.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs oversees the grants, which are designed to benefit mainly low- to moderate-income residents. Applications are due Friday.

"When we first heard about the project, I was under the impression that we were going to be able to basically use in-house labor and equipment to (build a connecting road)," Hall Commissioner Billy Powell said.

"If (the work was) only limited to that, then we could go forward with the project. But it required a good a bit of money out of pocket."

Estimates varied as high as $200,000, which would have paid for paving materials and curbing, "and we just don't have the money," Powell said.

Plus, "we have roads that are in such disrepair in some areas of the county that we have just got to tend to — they're just a higher priority."

The project called for the center to be built on about 2 acres off Thurmon Tanner and a proposed 1,100-foot road that would run between Allen Street and Thurmon Tanner.

Oakwood, which was serving as the grant applicant, was poised last year to seek the money but backed off after realizing that site preparation costs alone would hit the $500,000 mark.

The Hall County school system was hoping to benefit by using the road for Oakwood Elementary School buses. Roadways are cramped around the school, particularly at Main and Academy streets.

The college's hope was to offer literacy classes, GED instruction and English for non-native speakers at the center, which would have served as satellite campus for the Hall County Adult Learning Center at 4 1/2 B Stallworth St. in Gainesville.

"We are flat out of space in the (Gainesville) location. We have got to do something," said Linda Barrow, vice president for academic affairs at Lanier Technical College, in a previous interview.

As for plans being derailed again, "I'm very disappointed," she said. "We've got another year to try to figure out how to get all of this (done)."

Another location could be considered, but the grant application requires "us to talk about the demographics of the people we're going to serve and that particular location (off Thurmon Tanner) is ideal," Barrow said.

In the meantime, the center must continue to meet rising demand.

"We're as creative as we can be," Barrow said.

One option has been online instruction, but that doesn't work well with older adults, she added.