Dorm Deal at Lawson State Questioned

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - A dormitory built and financed by an Anniston architect with ties to the former head of Alabama's two-year colleges would cost the state more than a typical dorm.

Under the deal approved in 2005 when Roy Johnson was still chancellor of the system, Lawson State Community would pay at least $8 million over 15 years for a dormitory owned by Weldon-LSDP, the development company of Julian Jenkins, The Birmingham News reported Monday.

Lawson State would have paid about $6.6 million had it managed the construction like a typical state building project.

Jenkins, of the Jenkins Munroe Jenkins architectural firm, has said he helped Johnson build his $1.3 million home in Opelika the same year the deal was completed. He said he waived payment by Johnson of the $35,000 fee until the house was sold.

Johnson was fired last year amid questions over system finances and the employment of his relatives at two-year schools.  The president of Lawson State, Perry Ward, said he followed Johnson's advice when he made the deal with Jenkins' company for the dormitory.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)