LIBERTY — Individuals, business owners, and county and community leaders are banding together in hope of building the Casey County Community and Education Center in downtown Liberty.
Economic Development Director Blaine Staat and Liberty Mayor Steve Sweeney explained Monday following a ribbon-cutting for the Ky. 1649 improvement project how the two groups and the Fiscal Court hope to begin work soon on the center.
There already are some college classes offered at Somerset Community College’s Casey Center; however, Sweeney explained that there simply isn’t enough room at the current location, which houses three classrooms and about 400 students.
“We have a dramatic need for it here in the community,” he said.
By opening the new facility, he anticipates that more courses will be available, including higher level classes, which is something rarely offered in the county.
The facility also would double as a community center, offering space for local organizations and events.
“It’s a win for everybody,” Staat said, explaining how it could have a positive impact on downtown businesses, as well as being a great opportunity for students in the county.
“We’re hoping to partner with a variety of different schools," he said.
The center would sit on a 2.2-acre lot already owned by the Economic Development Authority in Liberty and could cost about $3.6 million.
The site is near the footbridge going into Liberty, by the train caboose on the square. Some of the property was donated for the project. There also has been a building donated, which sits on the edge of the proposed construction site. Sweeney said it would house technical classrooms.
Funding is the main thing holding up the project’s beginning, Staat said.
“The engineering drawings are essentially done. We are ready to go to bid when we get the grant money,” Staat said.
Leaders have applied for two grants; a half-million dollar Community Development Block Grant and another half-million dollar grant from the Appalachain Regional Commission, Sweeney explained.
“We are waiting on pins and needles to hear back from them,” he said.
Leaders know the remaining monies must come from somewhere and have gained the backing of local businesses and individuals who have promised financial support.
“There’s a willingness among just about everyone in this community to see this happen,” Sweeney said.
He believes the project could be a monumental one for the community.
“I don’t want to overdramatize things, but this is the most significant project that we’ve ever had here, other than Lake Liberty,” Sweeney said. “I think it’s the biggest project our community could do to impact people in Liberty and Casey County.”