Author Topic: Kemper back in the spotlight  (Read 369 times)

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Offline Anonymous

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Kemper back in the spotlight
« on: October 31, 2005, 12:58:00 AM »
Here's an article that should warm your hearts (about 1/2 way down or so):

Boonville wants UM at Kemper
Fire institute is one of potential tenants.

Published Friday, October 28, 2005
BOONVILLE (AP) - With a controversial private school?s bid to move into the dormant Kemper Military School rejected, city leaders are now wooing the University of Missouri as a potential tenant.

University President Elson Floyd toured the historic property Wednesday at the request of Boonville economic development officials, said John Gardner, vice president for research and economic development.

Gardner said the possible tenants include the university?s Fire and Rescue Training Institute, which now has limited space in downtown Columbia; the Cooper County Extension Service; and a satellite office of a new technology business incubator planned for the Columbia campus.

"It?s all very preliminary," said Gardner, who noted that the 161-year-old complex requires extensive renovations. "It?s a challenging facility."

Kemper was the oldest military academy west of the Mississippi River before its 2002 closing. The city of Boonville bought the 50-acre site one year later for about $500,000.

Earlier this year, Utah businessman Robert Lichfield and partner Randall Hinton offered to lease the land from the city to run a private academy for troubled teens.

The proposal met with widespread community opposition and was unanimously rejected by the Boonville City Council after residents learned that Lichfield?s World Wide Association of Specialty Schools and Programs had faced many complaints of abuse by former students and parents. At least seven of the organization?s schools were closed amid abuse allegations.

City officials declined to discuss their efforts to woo the university and other potential suitors, whom they would not name.

"We have some serious lookers," Boonville Mayor Danielle Blanck said. "We don?t want to jeopardize their interest."

Gary Wilson, director of the fire training institute, said his organization is "somewhat interested" in the property. But significant hurdles remain, he said, including uncertainty over the cost and source of needed repairs. He also said the location is not well-suited for training exercises that might involve hazardous materials.

"I don?t think any of the neighbors would appreciate flammable liquid and burning black smoke," he said.
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