Lon Morris campus could house education for veterans

Published on Thursday, 27 June 2013 18:48 - Written by BY KELLY GOOCH kgooch@tylerpaper.com

Jacksonville could one day be home to a new educational facility for veterans.

Jack Webb, CEO of local office supply company 11x17 Inc., said individuals approached him about using the Lon Morris College campus for that purpose, and he believed it was a good prospect.

He said the facility would give veterans a place to come back and regroup.

It would be “away from hustle and bustle, (and) a good retreat area for veterans to get back on their feet,” Webb said.

He said the facility would be a controlled environment and alcohol free.

If everything comes to fruition, he said, it would be a good thing for the community as well as veterans. Webb went on to call it “a win-win all the way around.”

“I think the goal’s fantastic. It’s just whether the community is supportive and also financially behind it, so that’s where we are,” he said.

Webb said they’re evaluating remodeling costs, and then if the community is behind it, money would need to be raised.

He said that means hopefully seeking out those foundations, companies and other individuals who are supportive and willing to contribute.

“His (Webb’s) main objective is for the betterment of Jacksonville. We’ve talked about that extensively. We want to do something that’s positive for the whole community,” said William Seth Wright, office manager with 11x17.

Assets of Lon Morris, which filed bankruptcy and subsequently closed, were auctioned off earlier this year. Webb bid on various structures, including academic buildings and dorms. Jacksonville ISD announced earlier this year that trustees approved the $1.53 million purchase of the gymnasium, administration building and about 50 acres of land. That includes about 10 acres around the gym as well as about 40 acres around the baseball and softball fields.

Jacksonville ISD Superintendent Dr. Joe Wardell said the district is preparing the gym and administration building for use. He said the goal is to be able to use the gym for convocation in August, and various groups, such as drill team, already have asked about using it.

"I feel it will be a well-used facility," he said.

He said he believes a potential educational facility on campus for veterans would be a good use for the buildings.

Webb may be contacted at jrw@11x17.com.