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$1 million donation to expand Central High School auditorium
The $7.1 million auditorium at Cape Girardeau Central High School will be expanded and enhanced thanks to the generosity of a Houston businessman and Central graduate.
Richard D. Kinder, chairman and CEO of Kinder Morgan, one of the largest pipeline transportation and energy storage companies in North America, and his wife, Nancy, will donate $1 million to the Cape Girardeau Public Schools Foundation. The gift will add a balcony and an additional 250 seats to the planned 750-seat auditorium, to be named the Richard D. Kinder Performance Hall.
"Thanks to the Kinders' generous gift, our auditorium will be much nicer than originally planned," said Jim Welker, superintendent of the Cape Girardeau School District.
The 22,000-square-foot auditorium, part of the $40 million facilities bond issue that district voters approved in April, is designed to include state-of-the art lighting and an acoustical system. The auditorium is expected to be finished in 2012.
"We feel real comfortable with what we're going to be able to deliver to voters," said Neil Glass, the district's director of administrative services.
School officials sounded a lot more comfortable with the scope of the project following a closed-session meeting, in which the Cape Girardeau School Board wrapped up the details on the legal agreement between the Kinders and the foundation.
"This is just outstanding that people like he and his wife and family come forward and donate in this type of situation," board president Paul Nenninger said following Wednesday evening's unanimous vote in open session.
Kinder, a 1962 graduate of Central High School, was born in Cape Girardeau and has deep ties to the community, including family and friends. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri and once was a member of the Limbaugh Law firm in Cape Girardeau.
"Nancy and I are pleased to support the development of an outstanding facility for theatrical performances at Central High School," Kinder said in a news release. "I have fond memories of growing up in Cape Girardeau and I am pleased to be able to help in his way."
Kinder's business interests have a global footprint. Kinder Morgan has grown from a 150-employee company worth $325 million in February 1997 to an organization with about 8,000 employees and a value of more than $30 billion today, according to the corporation's website.
The Kinders are longtime supporters of education initiatives in Cape Girardeau, Houston and elsewhere, according to the news release. They co-founded the Kinder Foundation to support education, urban green space and quality-of-life issues.
1000 S. Silver Springs Road, Cape Girardeau, MO