Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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June 28, 2013

A college for veterans? May-be!

City supports idea to convert empty Lon Morris property

JACKSONVILLE — An idea to create a local college that could replace defunct Lon Morris while also catering to the educational needs of military veterans is gaining momentum.

Jack Webb, owner of Jacksonville company 11x17, has put out a call requesting public input to help make this idea into a reality. It would require plans, timing and money. Webb said he is in the process of meeting with two parties who have indicated similar interest in creating such an institution.

By Webb's own admission, this is not uniquely his idea or even a new idea — simply one that has been pondered at length and refined by many veteran advocates.

Gretchen Martins, founder and CEO of Homeward Deployed, is credited as having put a large amount of thought into the concept. Her non-profit company provides free family coaching and support services to military families before, during, and after the deployment of a parent.

Martins' colleague is Julianne Sanford, coordinator of Cherokee County's Lone Star Military Resource Group. Sanford said she loves the idea of a military college.

“It is fabulous and very viable,” she said.

Webb purchased much of the Lon Morris property during the recent liquidation auction. Shortly after acquiring these properties, he stated his desire to find an institution to fill the vacancy left by LMC's departure.

On Wednesday, Webb said he was in the process of speaking to two parties that were possibly interested in helping him help veterans in this regard.

The idea is still very much in the planning stages but the possibilities it represents — national attention for Jacksonville as well as a new way to help hard-working veterans — drew rave reviews from local residents Thursday.

In many regards, it was one of the best ideas they had never heard of — as Webb has been careful and deliberate in releasing information about his plans.

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