State approves feasibility study for healthcare school

Published 4:21 pm Thursday, September 21, 2023

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The former New Era building, located directly behind Whitfield Regional Hospital at 918 South Cedar Street, is the proposed site for the healthcare school.

On Sept. 7, the Legislative Contract Review Committee approved $500,000 for a feasibility study to be conducted in Demopolis for the placement of the statewide health-science high school. The Committee has contracted with Tripp Umbach to perform the study.

The approved feasibility study is supposed to look at multiple cities across the state and determine which one might be the best location for the school.

Demopolis Mayor Woody Collins said he believes that Demopolis will come out on top after the study is complete.

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“We’ve spent a lot of time and effort on this project and we have a wonderful layout as far as our location and it being adjacent to the hospital,” Collins Said. “We’ve got a great group of people that are working on this and I think Demopolis has a lot to offer.”

Governor Kay Ivey proposed the site of the school in her State of the State address in March. The school will enroll students in grades nine through 12 and offer courses in science, engineering, mathematics, healthcare, and technology.

According to Ivey’s address, the project was created to address the healthcare worker shortage in Alabama. It is estimated that the start-up costs would be $62 million and the school would have been placed directly behind Whitfield Regional Hospital in Demopolis.

Collins said it means a lot to him that Demopolis was approved for the study.

“The fact that the governor was trying to help West Central Alabama during her State of the State address and specifically named Demopolis as the location she’d like to put it. I think that speaks volumes,” Collins said. “The fact that we were one of the cities the legislature said they were going to come interview, that also tells me a lot. I feel like after all these years, Demopolis has finally gotten a little recognition and we’re all people’s maps.”

When asked what the Demopolis community can do to make the best impression during the study, Collins said they just need to be themselves. No one needs to be something they aren’t, they just need to be authentic.

“Demopolis is a friendly, caring and unselfish community. As some of these folks that are doing this feasibility study tour our community, just being yourself,” Collins said. “In my opinion, Demopolis has nothing to hide. We are hardworking and committed to volunteerism. Just be nice to these folks as they come through and ask questions and tell the truth. We have a quality of life that I think is going to impress these folks.”

The study is expected to begin around the first of October and end in early December so the legislature can review the findings before they go into session in February.