Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Kentucky's Last Military School to Reopen

Millersburg Military Institute closed in August 2006 due to lack of support from alumni, growing debt and declining enrollment. It went out with a bang however.

MMI had a first-rate basketball team, with national ranking. The Varsity players were for the most part outstanding scholars, many of whom went on to Division One schools.

MMI also offered an excellent college preparatory curriculum with electives that included Philosophy, Advanced Journalism, and Advanced Creative Writing. Cadets in the writing program received encouragement from Wendell Berry, one of MMI's most famous former students. Many of the writing students had multiple publications and one student has had his poem "Ode to Marian Anderson" re-published at least 5 times.

Now it appears that the school will reopen as a military training center. Here is the story:

Greg Wills, the bank's executive vice president, said the bank started advertising MMI as a "former boarding school" on eBay about six months ago.

"During the first three or four months, not a day went by that I didn't get at least one e-mail or phone call about it," Wills said. "I can't tell you how many times we showed it."

But Wills said representatives from the United States Army Cadet Corps were enthusiastic from the first moment they saw the property.

"I think they came and looked at it about six times with different groups of people," he said. "They said it was pretty much perfect for them. The community seems really pleased, so I think it's working out well for everybody."

The United States Army Cadet Corps traces its origins back to 1909. It is the oldest and longest-serving cadet organization in the United States, according to its Web site. Though a private organization, it maintains close ties with the U.S. Army.

According to Land, the corps has about 1,200 cadets enrolled in various parts of the country. It doesn't have a unit in Kentucky but plans to launch one soon, he said.

Cadets live and go to regular schools in their hometowns, but train as military cadets one weekend a month, usually at National Guard armories or at a military base, if one is nearby. Each summer, they receive two weeks of military-style training. This is the part of the program that will be moving to the Millersburg school.

According to Land, the corps bought a former high school in Dayton, Pa., more than a year ago, planning to make it the national headquarters. But officials dropped that plan once they saw the Millersburg institute, he said.

"After looking at MMI, we found that it was a much more suitable location," he said. "We fell in love with the history of the facility and just decided that we needed to move in this direction.
"It certainly wasn't in our original plan, but this was an opportunity to make MMI our headquarters, and maintain its long history and heritage."

The fact that Fort Knox is near also made Millersburg attractive as a center for the corps' national training program, he said.

Land said some of the buildings on the Millersburg campus have been damaged by vandals and will need repair and renovation. The goal is have things ready for the cadet corps to celebrate its 100th anniversary at Millersburg in April 2009.

"There's quite a bit to be done," Land said. "But we're going to get after it."

Read it all here.

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