The current Delta Community College Winnsboro Campus. (Nick Lawton, KTVE/KARD)
WINNSBORO (KTVE/KARD) -- It was years ago that the old Vineyard Furniture store closed its doors in Winnsboro, costing dozens their jobs.
Now, that empty building could be the foundation of an educational future if the city can raise enough funds.
The Louisiana Delta Community College Chancellor said the campus in Winnsboro was originally built in the 1950s and local education leaders have said in the past that it's time for a change of venue.
"This would renovate the old Ashley furniture company and make it into Delta Community College," said Franklin Parish Superintendent Dr. Lanny Johnson. "I just think it would be a great thing for Franklin Parish."
The good news: More college state appropriations can make that happen.
The bad news: There's a catch.
"We've been appropriated about $4.6 million from the state. That money is what is targeted for this project in Winnsboro, but it's required that there's a 12% match from the community and that's true of all of the projects in the state," said Delta Chancellor Dr. Barbara Hanson.
That 12% leaves the community footing a $626,000 bill.
However, Hanson said Franklin Parish is stepping up to the plate.
"To date, we have received $576,500 from business industry and personal donations from Franklin Parish and the Winnsboro community," she said.
Hanson said a newly renovated campus will make their programs go farther.
"Create a much better learning environment for our students to expand some of our programming and we're also going to be working in partnership via the Jump Start Program with the high schools to offer career and technical training," she said.
That extra benefit to high schoolers prompted the Franklin Parish School Board to approve their own $300,000 contribution at their meeting last week.
"We're dealing with taxpayers' money and we're going to contribute to the community college so that they will take many of our students in for vocational trades that we so direly need," said Johnson.
Education leaders said this new campus could be one more way Winnsboro is put on the map.
"I think a more attractive campus out on the highway would certainly add to the recruitment of students from all around," Johnson said.
The City of Winnsboro hasn't quite raised enough money yet for the renovation, but they're close.
In the meantime, the Franklin Parish School Board and the college will watch the numbers and hope it leads to that new campus.
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