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With the Emerson Family School pulling its support for the J.L. King Center after the end of the Family First grant, a grassroots fundraiser has begun to support the center for the next five years.

The Family First grant ended in early 2019 in the wake of the government shutdown, leaving the center without a grant to fund it after 25 years of being under Emerson’s control. Efforts were made to fund the center, but the money could not be secured. The center will continue to operate as a satellite of Emerson until June1, when the city of Starkville will take over the property.

The property is owned by the city of Starkville as part of its parks and recreation facilities. The Starkville Board of Aldermen will vote on the mutual termination of its contract with the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District at its meeting tonight.

Despite the outlook, Homestead Education Center Director Alison Buehler plans to raise $60,000 per year for the center for five years. The $60,000 is the minimum amount to keep the center’s programs alive, while also providing for utilities and two part-time staff. Buehler said the effort had received approximately $29,000 in pledges so far. Buehler’s plan is to get 60 annual partnerships of $1,000 or more per year for five years.

Buehler said her plan would make funding for J.L. King more sustainable.

Donations to The Lighthouse Project will be accepted into August. For more information, Buehler can be reached at (662)-694-0124.

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