The Scholar House of Central Appalachia is one step closer to being a reality. The rural concept won an achievement award from the National Association of Counties (NACo).
Everyone involved in the project was well represented at a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, Oct. 29.
The Scholar House of Central Appalachia will provide decent, safe, sanitary and affordable housing through the new construction of 48 multifamily housing units and an onsite childcare facility. Along with the housing units will be a 15,000-plus square foot Childhood Early Education Center, which will also house the academic center’s offices, a computer/media lab, children’s library and multipurpose/classroom space.
The Scholar House will be funded through the Kentucky Housing Corporation and will be 48 units in phase I and cost $11 million.
Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford called the Scholar House a result of partnership and teamwork.
“We have everyone working together and this is what happens,” he said. “We are blessed to have this in our community.”
University of Pikeville President Paul Patton heard about the Scholar House from University of Louisville President James Ramsey, who served in Patton’s administration during his time as Kentucky’s 59th Governor. Patton, realizing the benefits of the Scholar House, urged community leaders to step up and get the planning of the project under way.
Kay Hammond, vice chair of the Scholar House board and executive director of the Appalachian Pregnancy Care Center, opened the ceremony and thanked the county government, the City of Pikeville, the University of Pikeville and Big Sandy Community and Technical College for making the Scholar House possible.
Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn said he visited a Scholar House and got to sit down with a nursing student.
“These are kids who aren’t looking for a handout, they are looking for a leg up,” Blackburn said. “This is the work of government.”
Blackburn added that the vision of the City of Pikeville Commissioners is evident in this project, as is the vision of all entities involved.
Scholar House Board Chair and University of Pikeville Vice President James Hurley said the goal of any Scholar House is to end the cycle of poverty.
“This may very well be the most important endeavor we embark on to end the grip poverty has on our young people,” he said. “Two schools in central Appalachia are among the top 10 percent in teenage pregnancy rates. This is an opportunity for those people.”
Jake Brown, of Marian Development Group, spoke about the uniqueness of the Scholar House of Central Appalachia.
“This is the fifth Scholar House (Marian Development) has built,” Brown told the crowd, “and the first of hopefully many more in this part of the state. This will be a tremendous asset to this area.”
Brown echoed what every speaker at the ceremony said, which is this is not a housing project, but an education project with a housing component.
“In 2005, we had 10 people in this program,” Brown said. “In 2012, we have 1,800 people in this program.”
Brown said there has been 81 degrees earned, many of them master’s degrees, and in the six years since its inception, all 20 kids who have grown up in a Scholar House have received either full or partial college scholarships.
Rick McQuady, CEO of the Kentucky Housing Corporation, said there is a Scholar House in Louisville, Lexington, Paducah, Bowling Green and soon to be one in Pikeville.
“This is a great use of the limited resources we have,” McQuady said. “This Scholar House is an integral part of the University of Pikeville and the region as a whole.”
The Scholar House will be on property located on the corner of Auxier and Saad avenues. A portion of this two-acre plot was obtained through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
Members of the Scholar House of Central Appalachia Board of Directors, along with officials from the Kentucky Housing Corporation and Marian Development, joined in the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Scholar House of Central Appalachia on Monday, Oct. 29. Pictured, from left, is Randy Roberts from Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Randy Johnson from Pikeville Medical Center, Sherry Riddle from the Pikeville YMCA, Minta Chaney from the City of Pikeville, Gaye Newsome, Executive Director of the Pike County Housing Authority, Jeanne Robinson of the Pike County Government, Carol Napier, Pike County Community Services Coordinator, Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford, University of Pikeville Vice President and chair of the Scholar House board James Hurley, Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn, Kentucky Housing Corporation CEO Rick McQuady, Jake Brown of Marian Development, Scholar House Board vice chair and Executive Director of the Appalachian Pregnancy Care Center Kay Hammond and Philip Elswick of Summit Engineering.