A gathering of elected officials, business leaders and a few members of the general public started the process of reviewing the Comprehensive Plan put together for Neosho in 2006.

A gathering of elected officials, business leaders and a few members of the general public started the process of reviewing the Comprehensive Plan put together for Neosho in 2006.

That year a group of Neosho citizens sat down and hammered out a number of items they would like the city to perform in the next 15 years.

On Monday, residents had a chance to hear what has been done so far with items included in the plan.

The meeting, held at the Neosho High School cafeteria and chaired by Chris Byers and Chris Marion, was sponsored by the Neosho Area Business and Industry Foundation Inc. (NABIFI). NABIFI served refreshments, but Ray Stipp, chairman of the organization, said NABIFI?has no agenda, other than having people listen to the updates and make suggestions, thus giving them ownership in the decision making process.

During Monday’s meeting, those in attendance heard updates on the progress made by three important pieces of Neosho — Crowder College, the Neosho R-5 School District and the city of Neosho.

While Crowder College was not included in the original Comprehensive Plan, organizers this year decided it would be good to have college officials be part of the process of the review, and when putting together amendments to the plan for the future .

Ron Granger, dean of business and support services at Crowder College, gave a presentation at the meeting, and focused on new programs offered at the college, enrollment growth, improvements to facilities on campus, and personnel.

Granger shared with the group that in the last two years Crowder College has added 10 new degree programs, and 15 new certificate programs. Included in this growth is the addition of the vet tech program, the expansion of the nursing program, and offerings in early childhood development, addiction counseling and wind energy, solar energy and biofuels as part of the MARET Center expansion, which Granger said should break ground in the 2009-2010 school year.

He said students at Crowder College can continue their education in four-year degree programs and never have to leave campus through the college’s partnership with Missouri State University. MSU?offers three four-year degrees in agriculture, business and education at Crowder College. Granger said 14 students took part in this partnership in 2007-08, and there has been growth in just one year with approximately 60 students in the three MSU?degree programs this past school year.

Crowder College is also experiencing an enrollment boom, Granger said. Student population has grown by 92 percent since 2000 to 2008, and enrollment this summer has increased by 25 percent over 2008 — topping more than 1,000 students for the first time in the college’s history. Crowder College’s enrollment is the second-fastest growing in the state of Missouri, and the biggest growth this summer was on the Neosho campus, which had not been the trend in recent years with more growth on its satellite campuses in Nevada, Webb City and Cassville.

Granger touched on the facility improvements on campus, which he believes has contributed to the spike in enrollment in Neosho. He reminded citizens in attendance that the Farber Building is complete, and was dedicated in August 2008, along with the Tatum Bell Tower. He said the health and science building, which will also serve as a Federal Emergency Management Agency shelter and be funded partially through federal stimulus money, will break ground in September of this year. H said the $13 million MARET?Center will be 50,000 square-feet with the first phase being about 40 percent of the structure when complete, and phase two could be funded through federal stimulus money.

Granger said there is a need for more student housing on campus, as there is an average waiting list of approximately 150 students. He said it would take about $2 million in construction to complete the dorm complex in Neosho. The new soccer field is complete and will feature solar-powered irrigation and scoreboard. The only negative Granger touched on was the fact that many long-time professors have retired, or are nearing retirement, in the Crowder system. He said the number of full-time personnel has increased by more than 10 percent in the past five years.

Granger said because of the success of Crowder College with increased enrollment and improved facilities, the college is able to draw more qualified applicants to fill vacant positions.