Camdenton Mayor John McNabb, a graduate of MSU, said one of his goals as mayor was to fill an educational void in the community.

Skeptical at first, Dr. Joye Norris described the last six months of discussions and planning sessions between Missouri State University and the city of Camdenton as seeing “the stars aligned.”

The Missouri State University Associate Provost for Access and Outreach said that after initially hearing the plan to convert Camdenton’s old fire station into the MSU-Camdenton Public Safety Training Center, she thought it was a long shot — a minimum of two years of project planning before breaking any ground.

However, in the last six months Camdenton approved a lease agreement with MSU and also paid for remodeling work to transition the fire house into an educational training campus for law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical personnel with several local and regional agencies already signed on.

Plans began back in 2016 when City Administrator Jeff Hancock reached out to a long-time friend who happened to be MSU Central Region Administrator Gib Atkins, and explained that an agreement for Mid-County Fire Protection District to cover emergency services in Camdenton had been approved leaving a vacant, but usable, building available.

Camdenton Mayor John McNabb, a graduate of MSU, said one of his goals as mayor was to fill an educational void in the community. Hancock began reaching out to the Camdenton School District, State Fair Community College and several agencies to gauge their interest at the same time the State of Missouri increased Peace Officer Training (POST) standards for law enforcement statewide.

“This project is near and dear to my heart,” McNabb said. “I’m excited to see where this partnership takes us and excited be reunited with MSU after all these years.”

Although the regional campus is only currently offering training for emergency medical services, future plans include dual credit hours through Camdenton High School and an opportunity to complete a four-year degree while residing at the Lake through MSU and State Fair Community College.

“Our success depends on your support and I want to tell you we are open for business, so tell people we are here to serve the community if they want to stay in Camdenton and the Lake region, but we’re also here to answer questions and support people who want to go to our Springfield campus,” Dr. Norris said. “We had the vision of Mayor McNabb and the can-do attitude of Jeff Hancock, who brought the right people to the table.”

The building, located at 35 College Avenue, will be administered by Public Safety Training Center Coordinator Cody Brewington, who said they also want to work with Citizens Against Domestic Violence and C.O.P.S. on community classes regarding public safety and law enforcement.

Brewington said several agencies have already signed up for training including Camdenton Police Department, Lake Ozark Police Department, Laurie Police Department, Lebanon Police Department, and the Laclede County Sheriff’s Office.

“Some of the things we want to do here is increase the stress levels of officers to make sure they’re getting the training requirements provided by the state,” Brewington said. “Also practical exercises to make them think and get them out of their comfort zones. We really want to make this a statewide effort, not just southwest Missouri.”