Sunday, May 25, 2003

Ambassador helps rescue learning center

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - A partnership prompted by the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain is apparently providing a life line for a struggling Lexington learning center.

The tentative partnership, which involves the city, the Lexington Public Library, the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning and William S. Farish, the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, was reached Friday afternoon.

"We are extremely optimistic the partnership will result in the Carnegie Center continuing its important role in service to our community at its present location," Mayor Teresa Isaac said in a statement.

Farish, the library board, Carnegie board and Urban County Council still have to approve the partnership, said Ralph Coldiron, Farish's delegate at the meeting.

"What's being envisioned is a payment of $100,000 from Ambassador Farish, $100,000 from the library, and the city's contribution, as I understand it, will be in both a budget amount for Carnegie in dollars and in-kind services," said Joseph Miller, chairman of the Carnegie Center's board. "That would seem to fit with the ambassador's proposal."

The Carnegie Center's future was in doubt after Isaac cut its city funding, a total of $246,300 and about 70 percent of the center's budget. Center officials had said the cut would force them to close June 30. The center, in Gratz Park, offers reading, writing and computer literacy programs.

The specific breakdown of the city's cash and in-kind contributions has not been finalized, said Miller, who is also a member of the library's advisory board.

The city already contributes a variety of in-kind services to the center, including $13,500 in parking costs this year as well as bookkeeping and property management.

Farish was in France and could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this month, he pledged to raise or contribute $100,000 each year for five years as long as the library matched it dollar-for-dollar and the city contributed an equal amount in cash or in-kind services.

Farish issued the $500,000 challenge after Isaac decided not to give city money to the Carnegie Center.

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