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Boys State opts to move from Co-Lin

For years, the American Legion Boys State has been held on theCopiah-Lincoln Community College campus in Wesson, but it lookslike the summer of 2010 will see the program relocated toHattiesburg.

American Legion officials cited the fact that the University ofSouthern Mississippi, which also hosts Girls State, offered collegecredits and scholarships as a part of their proposal as a decidingfactor in the move.

“It was nothing against Co-Lin, but (USM is) going to give creditand some scholarships, and that was part of the decision,” saidAmerican Legion Public Relations Director Steve Guyton.

The contract for the weeklong leadership camp goes in three-yearcycles, said Co-Lin College President Ronnie Nettles.

“Our contract ended last year and we resubmitted a proposal, andapparently USM did too, and theirs was better than ours,” he said.”We were very disappointed because we had Boys State here for manyyears.”

Nettles said the costs since the early years of Boys State hadescalated, and that there had been some tweaks to the proposal totry to control costs. But he explained that the main economicimpact will be the money that was put into housing and thecafeteria each year.

“It’s not a significant loss in terms of budget, but financiallythe greatest loss is that we won’t have that program going to keepthose workers for that week,” he said, adding that other summercamps and activities will still continue.

But more importantly, Nettles said, the program focused attentionfrom all over the state on Co-Lin for one week a summer.

“It was great exposure because we had the public’s attention, aswell as that of state officials,” he said. “For a week we had a lotof media attention on the college.”

This isn’t the first time Boys State has left Co-Lin, so Nettlessaid school officials hope to see it return in the future.

“We had it for several years, then it went to Delta State for threeyears, then it came back to Co-Lin,” he said. “That’s been quite afew years ago, but we’ll submit another proposal. We have had agreat relationship with the American Legion and Boys State.”

Guyton said the positive relationship between Co-Lin and Boys Statewill certainly continue.

“We’ve enjoyed our years at Co-Lin, they’re great and we love theirwork, but they submitted a contract and bids, and the AmericanLegion committee made the decision to move it to USM,” he said.”Dr. Nettles does a great job there. Co-Lin is a great place but itwas mainly the credits that made the decision for us.”