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Citizens get explanation on Demopolis education center

LIVINGSTON–Mayor of Livingston Tom Tartt hosted a town meeting that attended by 60-70 residents with Dr. Richard Holland, president of the University of West Alabama yesterday at the City Hall to set the record straight on the Demopolis Higher Education Center and its effects on UWA.

“This administration is stead fast in the support of Dr. Holland and the faculty of UWA because without the university the City of Livingston would die,” Mayor Tartt said.

Mayor Tartt said that many of the citizens of Livingston have been calling city officials trying to find out what is going on and what they as citizens can do to help. He also said that they wanted to hold this meeting to clarify what they’ve been reading in the newspapers.

“We wanted to have this meeting to make sure everyone knows the truth about what is going on and has the ability to voice their concerns,” Mayor Tartt said.

Holland said that this was one of the projects that he inherited from a previous President. Holland and Dr. David Taylor, provost of UWA have made many trips to Demopolis to talk about this center.

He said that they met with representatives from the Governor’s office, ADECA, Alabama Tombigbee planning commission, and Senator Hank Sanders’ office. Holland said they were told that Demopolis is getting a higher education center for primarily work force development and UWA was asked to be a part of it along with the University of Alabama and Alabama Southern. This meeting was about two years ago.

Holland said that he was not worried about the center-stealing students from UWA.

“I personally have no fear from the center in the Demopolis, but we do have some problems with the administrator of the center,” Holland said.

He said that he was in Montgomery yesterday and talked with Roy Johnson, who is the Chancellor of that system. Holland said that he wrote him a letter assuring him that there will not be a free standing community college in Demopolis.

“In the letter, Johnson refers to it as the Demopolis Higher Education Center and not a branch campus of Alabama Southern,” Holland said.

Holland also said that during the Leadership Conference last Friday, he talked with Senator Steele about this issue and he said that as he is a Senator, there will not be a free standing community college in Demopolis.

“They are a work force development center and I do not see it competing with us,” Holland said.

Mayor Tartt said that the city needs to make sure that we start looking into some new business ideas, especially something for the UWA students.