Plans for new energy college in NW Mo. behind schedule

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

TARKIO, Mo. (AP) -- Chad Meek hoped that he could make a difference by helping to find a solution to escalating fuel prices and global warming.

His plan -- opening a college focused on curriculum with emphasis on renewable energy -- is taking a bit longer than expected.

Over a year ago, Meek announced his plan to turn the former Tarkio College into the Midwestern Institute of Energy. Classes were expected to begin this fall, but due to a lack of funding, it now looks like it will be open in 2008.

Meek has spent about $180,000 on renovations made by he, his wife and an employee. It will take over $6 million to complete the remaining projects.

Meek recently went door to door seeking financial support for the four-year private college.

"This is a bitter pill," he said of the lack of investor interest. "It's inexcusable with global warming and with the price of fuels, which is hurting all Missourians. This fuel crisis -- the solutions need to be made now. We feel we can make some impact."

The curriculum for the renewable energy certificate programs have been developed, with areas of study including biomass energy development, energy efficient vehicle technologies and industrial technologies.

On the institute's Web site, http://www.mienergy.net, Meek states the curriculum is designed to "discover elegant but yet practical solutions to the international energy and environmental crisis."

He said that enrollment will likely surpass his original projection of 300 students, and he has believes the college will have to turn some students away. Meek said he has received inquiries from as far as Uganda.

"We're kind of orphaned and we realized this early on," Meek said. "But the concept is so dynamic and inclusive. We feel that we're close to a tipping point where some bright light out there is going to realize what we're doing and what the potential is."


Information from: St. Joseph News-Press, http://www.stjoenews-press.com

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