A state lawmaker from Decatur recently said the city is the largest in the state without its own college.
That may soon change.
Calhoun Community College President Marilyn Beck is expected to make a case Thursday to the state Board of Education as to why the school’s main campus in Limestone County should be annexed into Decatur.
Board member Dr. Charles Elliott, R-Decatur, said Tuesday he asked Beck to consider the idea as a matter of student safety.
“We can improve safety by having a full-service fire department, (hazardous material) team and medical responders available,” he said. “And we can have the full response of the Decatur Police Department.”
Elliott said Limestone County deputies currently respond to calls at the campus, as do volunteer firefighters.
“This is in no way disparaging them,” he said. “I just think we can provide better service with the city of Decatur.”
Elliott referenced the 1998 Columbine High School and 2007 Virginia Tech University shootings as reasons for wanting access to a larger police presence.
“I was talking to Dr. Beck and realized we could decrease our response time with Decatur fire and police.”
Calhoun has its own public safety office. Elliott said the change could save Calhoun money on its fire insurance.
While the Board of Education has to green-light the request, the annexation decision ultimately will be up to the Decatur City Council, Elliott said.
Council President Gary Hammon declined Tuesday to comment about the proposed annexation.
“None of the council is going to comment,” Hammon said. He referred questions to City Attorney Herman Marks and Community and Economic Development Director Wally Terry.
Marks said the annexation process is in its earliest stages.
“We’ve not been formally presented with a request (from Calhoun),” he said.
He didn’t know when that might happen.
“We don’t know their timetable,” he said. “We just want to assist them where we can.”
Calls to Beck and Calhoun’s spokeswoman were not returned Tuesday.
Limestone County Commission Chairman Stanley Menefee said Terry called him Tuesday to tell him Calhoun would likely be annexed into Decatur. He said Terry mentioned fire department jurisdictions as a reason for Calhoun’s desire to be annexed.
“I don’t think there are any ill feelings,” Menefee said.
Menefee said the call was a courtesy, and the commission wouldn’t have direct involvement in the decision. He said Terry’s call was the first time he had heard about the annexation plan.
Menefee said Limestone County does not receive any money from Calhoun.
Calhoun, along with Athens State University, this summer opened the Alabama Center for the Arts in downtown Decatur. Phase 2 of the center was recently approved.
“We’re biased, but we think being part of our city is a great thing,” Marks said.
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