The selling of a seminary and the making of a school

Thursday, February 14, 2002

1989

The grounds for St. Vincent's Seminary are put up for sale, 10 years after the school closed its doors.

1995

A civic group called Colonial Cape Girardeau Foundation announces plans to buy the seminary property for $700,000 to house a cultural center or museum. The plans fell through the following year due to lack of funding.

May 1998

Southeast Missouri State University announces plans to renovate and expand the former St. Vincent's Seminary after receiving a gift of 11,402 shares of Exxon stock from Cape Girardeau resident B.W. Harrison. Sale of the stock allows the university to purchase the property for $800,000. The cost of the renovation and construction plan is estimated at $35 million.

August 1998

Cape Girardeau businessman Jim Drury of MidAmerica Hotels Corp. sends a letter to university officials backing the River Campus project.

November 1998

Voters approve an ordinance for funding construction of the River Campus. It increases the hotel-motel tax from 3 to 4 percent and extends the tax's life through 2030. In the same election, a bond issue to fund the River Campus gets 53 percent, not enough to meet the 57.2 percent requirement for passage.

December 1998

Southeast officials announce a change in their funding proposal for the River Campus. They say issuing bonds through the Missouri Health and Educational Facilities Authority is an option.

April 1999

Jim Drury files a lawsuit over the tax, saying the ballot language did not explain clearly that the money raised would fund the performing arts center project. The suit seeks to stop the city from collecting the tax.

May 1999

The Missouri Legislature approves $4.6 million for the River Campus project.

May 2000

The Missouri Legislature approves an additional $11.95 million for the River Campus project.

October 2000

Circuit Judge Robert Stillwell of Fredericktown, Mo., rules on Drury's lawsuit, finding for the city on six points and for Drury on one: The title is too vague and didn't explain how the money would be used.

October 2000

The city files an appeal with the state's Eastern District Court of Appeals.

November 2000

Drury files an appeal, stating that Southeast has illegally advanced a proposal to fund the project through issuing bonds without seeking voter approval first.

March 2001

Attorneys for the city and Drury argue their cases before a three-judge panel at the Eastern District Court of Appeals in Clayton, Mo.

June 2001

The appellate court blocks the city from using tax money for the River Campus. Judges say the language on the ballot before the voters violated the state's constitution and the city's charter.

October 2001

Southeast gets a gift of over $1 million from Sikeston businessman Donald Bedell for the River Campus project.

October 2001

The Missouri Supreme Court agrees to rule on lower courts' decisions in the River Campus lawsuit.

January 2002

Drury files a second lawsuit against the River Campus project, stating that the City Council violated the state's Hancock Amendment by extending a deadline given to Southeast for securing funding for the project.

--Southeast Missourian

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