Crowder College has planted its flag in rapidly growing southern McDonald County by inking a deal last week for the purchase of 40 acres of land to build an off-campus center.

Crowder College has planted its flag in rapidly growing southern McDonald County by inking a deal last week for the purchase of 40 acres of land to build an off-campus center.

The property is located in Jane, about a mile and a half south of the intersection of U.S. 71 and Missouri Highway 90. Five acres front the west side of Highway 71.

Although a contract has been signed between Crowder and the seller, an easement agreement still needs to be approved by four land-locked property owners allowing them through-access to the highway.

Jim Tatum, chairman of the college’s board of trustees, said there is an entrance to the land off Highway 71, but not a stoplight. He said Crowder has requested the Missouri Department of Transportation consider installing a light there and said it was one of several requirements before the center could be built.

“Of course, those things take time, and we don’t need it right now anyway,” Tatum said.

While there are water lines running to the property from the Jane Water District, there is no sewer, which is another prerequisite to construction. But Tatum said efforts are already being made by the McDonald County Community Development Council to build a pumping station just north of the Crowder property.

A survey must also be conducted before construction can begin on Crowder’s McDonald County center.

Citing those preconditions — stoplight, sewer, property survey — Tatum hesitated to give a specific timeframe as to when the future facility would begin taking in students.

“We want to open as soon as we can because we know there are people in the area that need it,” he said. “We’ve learned that geographic proximity makes access for people to come to college that normally wouldn’t come…So we want to do this thing right, but we also want to do it as soon as we can because we know there’s already a need.”

He said the building might be erected in phases in order to start holding classes as soon as possible. As to the 40-acre tract, Tatum said Crowder would likely only require 15-20 acres to build a center on and might sell off the excess land at some point in the future.

Crowder President Dr. Alan Marble said the academic program at the McDonald County center would entail general studies and technical courses like those now offered at the college’s main Neosho campus and at the other Crowder centers in Webb City, Cassville and Nevada.

Enrollment figures at the latter two locations would probably be similar, Tatum speculated, to the number of students eventually attending the McDonald County center. There were 319 and 360 students, respectively, enrolled at those two sites last fall.

According to Marble, the college might also acquire four acres of land farther south, near the Jane Wal-Mart Supercenter, that is owned by Freeman Health System and site of an urgent care center. Crowder is still considering opening a small facility there for its nursing and allied health programs, Marble said.

It’s yet to be seen how many students that commute north to Crowder’s main campus will attend the McDonald County location. Tatum guessed that many students living in the northern half of the county would still drive to Neosho, while those in the Noel and Pineville areas could decide to enroll at the southern Crowder site.

The college is already offering a handful of classes in Noel. Community response to that pilot program further seems to justify, according to both Tatum and Marble, opening a Crowder learning center in McDonald County.

“I think we have a lot of people sitting on the sidelines to see if we’re for real,” Marble said. “This has been talked about for 20 years. When you finally get around to doing something, people want to see for sure…but yeah, the response (to the Noel classes) has been very good. I think the response will be much better when we have a facility.
And I think the purchase of land will let people know that we’re very serious about being here.”

Neosho Daily News