Community agency gets $2.3M USDA loan

Published 12:11 am Sunday, September 2, 2007

NATCHEZ — The AJFC Community Action Agency received a $2.3 million loan Friday toward building a new Head start facility in Fayette.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, provided the low-interest loan.

The money will go toward a permanent facility to replace the 30-year-old mobile classrooms that serve Fayette’s Hea dstart program.

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The low-interest loan wouldn’t be easy to get in the private sector, USDA Rural Development State Director John Rounsaville said.

“If the USDA weren’t at the table, this wouldn’t happen,” AJFC CEO Lamar Braxton said.

In the 1970s, straight line winds destroyed the brick building that housed the program. For decades, mobile units have replaced the building. Now, the agency will be able to build a 10-classroom structure.

The building will be built to the highest standards possible, Braxton said.

“(Receiving the grant) means that our children are going to be in a state-of-the-art facility for the next 40 years,” Braxton said. “That’s how important this is.”

Braxton said he hoped to open the doors of the new facility in September 2008, in time for the new school year.

The USDA Rural Development has long helped with housing and similar projects, Rounsaville said.

“A lot of folks still think we do mainly housing,” he said. “We do that, too, but we also do a lot of community and economic development.”

The Head start program focuses on early childhood education and health.