State budget leaves Albany State University empty handed - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

State budget leaves Albany State University empty handed

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March 24, 2008

Albany --   ASU's request for $1.5 million for the design phase of the Ray Charles Fine Arts Center was part of the $245 million stripped from the budget.

What did get funding in Albany is a more expensive project at Albany Technical College, though local legislators say the fight for funding isn't over yet.    

Land set aside for the Ray Charles Fine Arts Center remains vacant, the project in limbo. University officials refused to comment on the project's status after learning $1.5 million for the building's design wouldn't get state funding.

It's a different story at Albany Technical College where land earmarked for their Logistics Education Center faces just one final hurdle in the Senate.  "Well, you always hold your breath until it's over, but we're confident that we've done the work required to indicate to the individuals we've got to make the decision that this is a good investment," says Albany Technical College President, Dr. Anthony Parker.

Why one and not the other? Representative Freddie Powell Sims says it's a lack of state money. It could also be the potential jobs a Logistics Education Center could create. "It also give us an opportunity to develop a program that will have civilian applications for logistics and distribution and it may give us an opportunity or it will give us an opportunity to recruit a different type of industry additional industries," says Parker.

Albany Technical College hasn't waited for state funding to get the project started. Right now 175 high skilled welders are being trained through the program. The new center could accommodate up to 500 additional students.

"The best case scenario is that we could have a bid ready a set of documents ready to actually provide the contractor so that they could bid January or February and then we hope that construction would start right after that," says Parker.

Representative Freddie Powell Sims told us it's been since 1986 that Albany State got state money for new classrooms which would also be a part of the Ray Charles Fine Arts Center. They'll lobby Senators over the next several days in a final attempt to have it put back in the budget.

Lawmakers have taken Monday through Wednesday off so Senate budget-writers can work on their spending plan.

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