LaGRANGE, Ga. (WRBL) – The City of LaGrange had their weekly work session meeting on Aug. 24, 2021. Zsa Zsa Heard, the Chief Executive Officer for the City of LaGrange Housing Authority, proposed the idea of repurposing Unity Elementary School and asked for the city’s blessing in applying for the American Rescue Plan Act funds.
If approved by Governor Kemp, the school will be renamed as the Unity Success Center and used to provide services to the community. Those services would include 24/7 childcare, a health clinic, mental health services and much more.
“I want to put the best services, I don’t want mediocre services and I don’t think that we have those anyway. We put those in there so right now, we’re not duplicating services so we’re meeting the needs of the people. Then I hope everybody uses the center, it just won’t be for people in poverty but it may be for a single mom or single dad, or somebody who just moved to the community, they need to come over,” said Heard.
The school has been closed for several years and is currently being used as the temporary home for the LaGrange Memorial Library. The idea came to Heard during the ongoing pandemic when she realized many people were facing issues that were exasperated during the pandemic.
If approved, Unity Elementary School would be given to the Housing Authority from the Troup County School System and then they would be responsible for all remodels and maintenance. The remodels and maintenance should cost approximately $4 million. Heard asked for $500,000 from the City of LaGrange and the rest of the money would be provided from the ARPA funds. Governor Kemp has released applications allowing different entities to apply for funds for different projects.
Heard would like to have representatives from the school system offering tutoring, classes from West Georgia Tech, and training classes where people can learn skills that will allow them to make better wages. The services would first be offered free of charge and then be adjusted to a sliding scale fee based on the persons income.
“We wrap around these services so when they leave they become whole and the services continue and we add more and as more is added, we continue to build our community back up like it should be,” said Heard.
If approved by the state, the project would need to be completed by 2026.