The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

August 22, 2013

Our View: 50 years of service

NEOSHO, Mo. — James Tatum and Crowder College have been through a lot of firsts together. Both were around when community colleges were the popular education trend in the United States.

Both were considered victorious when taxpayers overwhelmingly voted to form the community college district of Newton and McDonald counties on April 2, 1963.

Voters also selected members of the very first board. Tatum was the top vote-getter.

And he’s been on the board ever since, serving 45 years as the board president.

Together, he and Crowder have been there for solar car races and solar house demonstrations.

And Crowder is home to the MARET Center, a $7 million, 27,000-square-foot building, that is a technology demonstration laboratory with classrooms and offices.

The building produces more energy than it uses, from 290 solar panels on its roof and a large wind turbine. It uses geothermal heating and cooling.

Today, the longtime board member will retire.

“I feel a oneness with the Crowder family and spirit and always will,” Tatum wrote in his resignation letter.

So, when he leaves, he undoubtedly will take a small piece of Crowder with him. After all, Tatum was one of Crowder’s creators.

We applaud and thank him for his tireless service during the good times and the bad. Because of him and others like him, Crowder College is an outstanding community college that has long been ahead of its time.

We’re sure that forward-thinking supporters such as Tatum are to thank for that.

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