The City of Camdenton is making use of empty space by bringing higher education and law enforcement training to town.
The partnership with Missouri State University will give lake area residents access to college classes and public safety training, in a location that used to be a fire station.
"I always saw a need for higher education in this area," Camdenton Mayor John McNabb said.
McNabb says fulfilling that need began when the city contracted its fire services to another department and left the building vacant.
"As mayor, it was like, 'Okay, I've got this empty building, what am I going to do with it?'" McNabb said.
That's when MSU was invited to come in.
"We want to be out in the rural communities to bring education to people that might not have the chance to get it," MSU Regional Outreach Administrator Gib Adkins said.
Currently, that education includes MSU's law enforcement training.
"There are 24 hours that each officer has to obtain, per year," Training Program Coordinator Cody Brewington said.
Brewington says that's up from the previous requirement of only 16 hours per year.
"Officers, you know, they tend to drive for a day to get their training. Then, they have to stay overnight," Brewington said.
Those officers now have access to a closer facility, meaning less time and money for training.
"Right now, we have about 100 officers under contract," Brewington said.
However, it is not only officers who will come to the Public Safety Training Center. The building is set up with the latest technology for dual credit courses and Bachelor's Degree classes, which will be given both in person and virtually.
"Missouri State came on-board and the school district is a big part of this," McNabb said.
The mayor says it was a collaboration of different groups, all striving for the same goal, that made this possible.
"This area was just looking for, hungry for, that type of education," Adkins said.
While law enforcement training is underway now, dual credit classes will also soon begin through MSU Camdenton. Adkins says about 50 students are already signed up to begin this month.
McNabb says the first Bachelor's Degree program for MSU Camdenton to offer will likely be Elementary Education. They are also exploring options of Nursing and Criminal Justice.