MONTGOMERY — Calhoun Community College in Limestone County has about 116,000 square feet of buildings, valued at about $114 million, sitting on about 114 acres.
That asset would be better protected in a fire or other emergency if it were annexed into Decatur, officials said Thursday.
“It will be a major benefit to the safety of our employees and students,” Calhoun President Marilyn Beck said after a state board of education meeting Thursday.
Board approval would be a first step in the annexation process, and board members seemed in favor of the measure — and the police and fire protection it can provide.
“It is just so logical,” board member Stephanie Bell, of Montgomery, said. “We are the ones that would benefit from this.”
Beck said the school anticipates that it will save money on insurance, though she didn’t know how much, because response times could be cut in half if emergency workers come from Decatur instead of Limestone County locations.
Lynne Thrower, an attorney for the department of postsecondary education, said the Decatur Fire Department has access to equipment that the volunteer department covering the campus does not.
Board member Mary Scott Hunter, who represents eastern Limestone County, said Calhoun is in “no man’s land.”
“If we passed on an opportunity to make it safer, and then something happened, that ain’t good,” she said.
Hunter and board member Gary Warren, who also represents part of Limestone, said they have heard no opposition to the proposal. But not everyone in Limestone County loves the idea of Decatur being home of the state’s largest two-year college.
“I’m not for them being included in the city of Decatur,” said state Rep. Dan Williams, R-Athens. “They’re in Limestone County, and they’re allies with Athens State University.
“But I’m not for the annexation of any city into Limestone County. I don’t think it’s good for Limestone County or Athens.”
He also said Athens has a “great” fire department about 10 minutes away.
Decatur’s city limits extend into Limestone County, but stop at the south end of the Calhoun campus.
Williams said politics might be a factor in the annexation decision.
With the recent opening of the Alabama Arts Center, a partnership between Calhoun and Athens State, in Decatur, Calhoun seems to be gravitating toward the Morgan County city, he said.
“I know they’re close, but it is still in Limestone County,” he said.
The board of education will vote on the annexation later this month. Then, the request goes to the city.
Beck said Decatur officials have been receptive.
“We floated the idea several times for the past five years, but we didn’t really get serious until recently,” Beck said.
Decatur District 2 Councilman Roger Anders said it’s a work in progress, but the city is excited.
“If we can help in any way to accommodate them, we want to be there as a city to do that,” Anders said.
“And we’re excited for them to be a part of Decatur.”
Decatur Daily reporter Lucy Berry contributed to this report.