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“During the past year, business and industry in Joplin and the Four-State area have made some significant changes and advancements … Manufacturers, whether a part of a huge conglomerate or a small, family-owned operation in the Joplin area experienced lively business during the past year. … Expansion and renovation are being emphasized at Joplin and area airports … In the proximity of St. John’s Medical Center and Freeman Hospital, “medical row”

terms of “progress,” it couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.

The above quotes were excerpted from various “progress” editions that The Joplin Globe has published over the years.

Two years after the May 22, 2011, tornado, Joplin is – in many ways – in full bloom.

“There was a sense of boosterism to it,” he told me. “People here wanted to be as up to date and modern as in other parts of the state, and the annual review editions gave the community a sense of progress and growth. “Once the mining industry declined, the focus turned to how other areas of local life had changed from year to year.” The progress editions took something of a hiatus in the 1950s and ‘60s before launching again as an annual publication in the 1970s. I enjoy digging through the archives, and the progress editions in particular give you a snapshot of where Joplin was at that moment in time – from business and housing growth, to the local job market, retail development and entertainment options. This year, the special edition was folded into the current issue of Joplin Metro Magazine. And in

Houses are under construction. Schools, businesses and even a major hospital are being built from the ground up. The city has employed a master developer to help create a blueprint that doesn’t just consider the here and now, but focuses on our city’s future. In this issue we look at where we’re at and where we’re going in 10 different areas, including housing, industry, infrastructure projects, schools, the faith community and sports. Like you, we’re proud of how far we’ve come in the last two years and are excited for what the future holds for Joplin. Additionally, this edition marks the start of the fourth year for Joplin Metro Magazine, and we thank you for your support and feedback over the last 36 issues and look forward to bringing you many more.

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The practice of publishing the annual section began during Joplin’s boomtown days, and it served as a mining and industrial review. But it was more than that, longtime Globe librarian Bill Caldwell told me recently when I borrowed a stack of old editions to look through.

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“Revolutionary changes in the economic and industrial life of the Tri-State district have been brought about in recent months by conversion of the region into a ‘defense area’ under the spur of swift preparations for national defense and, finally, war … Every town has had and is having increased population. Hundreds of new houses are going up, new roads and streets built, new businesses established, and virtually ever business has been stimulated.” – January 1942

continues to grow with the construction of several medical and dental office buildings.” – March 1979

Scott Meeker Editor Joplin Metro Magazine

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“It is not so much in number but rather in the quality of improvements which furnish a feeling of gratification for those who have the welfare of Joplin at heart, although the number of business houses and residences constructed will compare favorably with other cities of the country of approximately the size of Joplin.” – January 1904

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“Joplin is now, and must continue to be, the commercial center and distributing point of Southwest Missouri. Her railways reach out in every direction, giving competing rates of freight with Kansas City, which has enabled our wholesale merchants to build up and maintain an increasing profitable business, and this will grow and expand as time and energy add to the productive wealth of the territory tributary to this city.” – September 1896

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Chapter

A place to call home Joplin preparing for a new surge of housing, redevelopment projects By Debby Woodin

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Sharon Brumley and her children – Zoey, 7, Brice, 3, and Hailo, 9 – pose for a photo in front of their recently completed home, which was built by Habitat for Humanity. (B.W. Shepherd)

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here has been an Estes on Connecticut Avenue since at least 1902. Wilma Gould is one of the few remaining Estes family members still there. “I have lived in this neighborhood all my life. I was born in this neighborhood,” she said. Her father, who owned Estes Construction Co., held a large tract of land around 18th Street and Connecticut Avenue. Her parents lived at 1730 Connecticut Ave. when she was born. Then her family built a new house and moved to 1830 Connecticut. “They had 10 children and most built on the land that my dad owned,” around 18th Street and Connecticut Avenue, she said. Most of them are gone now, but she still has two sisters-in-law nearby.

1,231 sold from May 23, 2012, through April 10, 2013.

Newton County

508 sold May 22,2010 to May 22, 2011. 713 sold May 23,2011 through May 22,2012. 461 sold from May 23, 2012 through April 10, 2012.

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1,303 sold from May 22, 2010 to May 22, 2011. 1,794 sold from May 23, 2011 to May  22,2012.

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Home sales Jasper County

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She has lived at 1806 Connecticut Ave. for 45 years. And that’s where she was on May 22, 2011, when an EF-5 tornado ground away nearly a third of Joplin. “I had been working outside so I hadn’t paid too much

Source: Ozark Gateway Association of REALTORS 9

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attention to the warnings, but I knew when the lights went out and the windows blew in that I had better take cover. I didn’t have any place to go but I survived it anyway.� She is one of a number of people who have chosen to rebuild as city leaders encouraged residents to do.

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In the aftermath of the Joplin tornado, the city counted 7,500 houses destroyed or damaged.

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1/2 Vertical Strip 2.25 in x 3.56 in

City Manager Mark Rohr knew he would have many tasks to do to keep the battered city as whole as possible. He and officials with the Joplin School District and the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other state and federal agencies, made it their mission to keep Joplin people in Joplin. They knew from the experiences of places like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina that a disaster can drain away the residents of a city if they have no homes or jobs.

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Since the tornado, there were no exact indicators of how many people left Joplin. About 1,500 went to mobile homes supplied by FEMA and many others camped on their property or stayed with family and friends.

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progress Uriah Nevins, 12, flies a kite with other children in his Connor Avenue neighborhood. Every home on that block had been destroyed in the May 22, 2011, tornado. (B.W. Shepherd)

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Josh Othick, a siding installer for Priced Right Siding of Neosho, works on a cut for a new home on Jefferson Avenue as team partner Jason Cotton waits on the scaffolding above. (B.W. Shepherd)

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After the debris was cleared, public officials took various steps to get construction rolling. For a while last year, Rohr held weekly press conferences to announce city figures on rebuilding.

He’s now forecasting that with $806 million of tornado redevelopment projects proposed by the city’s contracted master developer, “we will have a population gain within a five-year period.”

As of April 15 of this year, Rohr said city records show that 83 percent of those 7,500 homes had been repaired, rebuilt or owners had obtained permits to rebuild. Of the 500 businesses destroyed, 90 percent were operating in temporary sites or had rebuilt or moved to new permanent locations, he said.

He’s banking on projects like the construction of a new $20 million Joplin Public Library, retail development along the city’s main tornado-damaged corridors on South Main Street and 20th Street, and new housing projects in the works to feed that population growth.

He announced that based on extrapolations of city numbers, he believes Joplin’s population loss has been 5.8 percent of its pre-tornado population. That would place the city’s population at about 47,526, down from the U.S. Census Bureau estimate months before the tornado of 50,559. “We have changed our message,” Rohr said.

In addition to individual homeowners repairing or rebuilding, several developers and nonprofit organizations have been busily restoring the city’s housing and apartment inventory. The Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity is building 71 houses. Catholic Charities repaired or built 150 homes. Rebuild Joplin, also a volunteer organization, has repaired 59 houses in 22 months.

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David Wallace, Joplin’s master developer, talks about the economic prospects for Joplin’s economic future during a March redevelopment forum held at the Joplin Holiday Inn. (B.W. Shepherd)

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Red-Wood Development Co. lost 90 percent of its properties in the tornado, owner Rick Schroeder said as the company celebrated the completion of the seventh of 38 houses  it is building with tax credits awarded by the Missouri Housing Development Commission.

• Eagle Ridge, a 40-unit, low-income apartment complex at 611 W. 25th St.

Schroeder said that in 19 months, the company was able to rebuild three apartment complexes with 288 apartments, 120 houses and six duplexes.

• Forest Park Apartments, one- and two-story row houses near 29th Street and McClelland Boulevard.

Other projects that have been constructed or are in the process of being built with MHDC tax-credit help are:

• Parkwood Senior Housing, apartments for seniors at 1300 N. Range Line Road.

• Hampshire Terrace II apartment complex at 2021 Hampshire Terrace. And the pace continues.

• Canyon Trails Townhomes, 52 units near 1300 W. 17th St. in Webb City. • Hope Cottages, low-income houses being built on scattered lots between Jackson and Grand avenues from 20th Street to 26th Street.

The city’s contracted master development firm, hired to spur economic redevelopment, has a number of housing projects. Some may start later this year. David Wallace, CEO of the firm, the Wallace-Bajjali

housing

A number of lofts are to be built over retail and office complexes the developer has announced for land acquisitions made on 20th Street near Connecticut Avenue and on 26th and Main streets. By April, only a handful of people — less than 35 — remained in FEMA temporary housing.

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The firm also has land secured to build a gated, senior housing project at 26th Street and McClelland Boulevard. That will involve building patio homes,

assisted living and memory care quarters in a $35 million development.

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Development Partners, said 200 residential lots are to be purchased this summer as an inventory for one of the programs, the Principal Reduction Program. It is a home purchase program that allows low- to middleincome buyers to earn $40,000 in equity in five years to keep payments low on $140,000 houses.

Home builder Bob Landis looks over a Joplin home that he redesigned. Landis decided to rebuild atop the foundation of a home destroyed in the tornado. (B.W. Shepherd)

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A healthy prognosis Joplin, area hospitals experience year of growth, changes By Wally Kennedy

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David Hagedorn works on a computer inside the Mercy Hospital Joplin’s ER. (Roger Nomer)

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ever in the history of Joplin has its medical industry changed as fast as it did last year. Change was not only happening in Joplin but in Carthage, where McCune-Brooks Regional Hospital became part of the Mercy System, and at Pittsburg, Kan., where Via Christi Hospital launched a major building project for a new surgery center and completed a new Women’s Center. But the greatest change happened in Joplin. “The advancements we made in a matter of 12 short months are unsurpassed by any other year in Freeman’s history,” said Paula Baker, Freeman president and chief executive officer.

—Paula Baker

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“The advancements we made in a matter of 12 short months are unsurpassed by any other year in Freeman’s history.”

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The year of change was even more striking with Mercy Health System of Joplin. It tore down a tornado-damaged hospital, the former St. John’s Regional Medical Center. It opened Mercy Hospital Joplin, a new component hospital, while launching one of the largest building projects in the history of Joplin — the construction of a 260-room hospital at 50th Street and Hearnes Boulevard. “Mercy has been through incredible changes and growth in the past year,’’ said Shelly Hunter, chief financial officer of Mercy Joplin Kansas Communities.

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An early morning thunderstorm rolls over the site of the new Mercy Hospital Joplin construction site. (B.W. Shepherd)

“We also expanded our services to offer pain medicine and orthopedics. We have made astounding progress on our new state-of-the-art campus. We remain committed and focused to expanding the healthcare delivery to our region.

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“We entered into our third facility since the storm and it is a beautiful facility providing excellent care for our region.

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“Evidence of our progress and growth can be found across each of our three campuses,” said Baker. “From the groundbreaking technology readily available at Freeman Rehabilitation and Sports Center to the tranquil patient rooms found on our newly completed fifth and sixth floors, Freeman’s focus continues to be providing contemporary, innovative, quality healthcare to the people of our community.”

Here’s what happened in 2012: • Joplin has a new hospital. Mercy Hospital Joplin, the factory built, trucked-in replacement for St. John’s Regional Medical Center, opens not far from the site of the original medical center. The tents and trailers of two previous field hospitals are history. The new facility includes a full-scale emergency department. Surgeons can again conduct complex, open-heart procedures. Mercy doctors can deliver babies again. Patients can rest in rooms with monitoring features, communication capabilities and private bathrooms they’d expect in any hospital. The two-story inpatient wings can accommodate more than 100 patients. • Joplin has an even bigger new hospital on the way. McCarthy Building Company, of St. Louis, broke ground in January 2012 on the 875,000-square-

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(4 blocks East of Main St. Between Newton County Sheriffs’s Office and Community Bank & Trust)

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Julie Blankenship, an RN, adjusts a monitor inside the emergency room of Mercy Hospital Joplin. (Roger Nomer)

foot, 260-plus private room Mercy Hospital Joplin at 50th Street and Hearnes Boulevard. The bottom three floors include hospital space, with a sevenstory patient tower and a four-story clinic tower rising above the hospital space. The building’s exterior is to be completed in November. The main structure is expected to open in March 2015. • The fifth and sixth floors of the Gary & Donna Hall Tower at Freeman West were opened last year after record-breaking in-patient volumes after the May 22, 2011, tornado. Planning to complete the unfinished floors was set into motion three days after the tornado. The $8-million completion of the fifth floor provided 29 additional private cardiology, medical and surgical beds. Completion of the sixth floor also was an $8-million project that provided 29 private rooms for intensive care and transitional care. • After a comprehensive evaluation of patient and community needs, McCune-Brooks Regional

Hospital in Carthage was chosen to become a Mercy facility, thanks to a 50-year lease agreement between the hospitals. “McCune-Brooks was the first hospital to reach out to us after the tornado,” said Gary Pulsipher, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin, at the time the agreement was announced. “We’re excited to enter into this agreement with them, because it means we can join together to provide greater access to care to those in our service area.” • Via Christi Hospital Pittsburg began construction of a 40,000-square-foot, $18 million surgery center. It is the largest expansion project the hospital has undergone since its initial construction in 1971. When completed, the center will feature five operating rooms, two endoscopy rooms and one minor procedure room. The hospital plans to attract up to 20 additional surgeons, physicians and other specialists to the hospital over the next three years.

• The Freeman Center for Geriatric Medicine completed an expansion that included the addition of four new patient rooms and an infusion area.

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• After operating in a cramped wing of Via Christi Hospital for decades, the medical

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• Freeman opened the Freeman Rehabilitation and Sports Center. This $2 million, 21,000-squarefoot center combines seven areas of care, including sports medicine, and physical, occupational, speech, hand, lymphedema and aquatic therapy, in one location.

center converted its third floor into a new Women’s Center. The $8.2-million project tripled the amount of space for patients, families and visitors. The labor/delivery rooms and 13 postpartum are all large, private rooms, designed with hotel-like amenities. The center also made significant technological upgrades, including an infant security system, central fetal monitoring system and new baby warmers. Since 2004, Via Christi has seen a 49 percent increase in births.

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 “A project like the surgery center shows how Via Christi Hospital is invested in the health of our patients who rely on us now, and also for generations to come,” said Randy Cason, president of Via Christi.

An airplane snapshot of Freeman Health System’s Freeman West complex, taken in March 2013. (T. Rob Brown)

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Fran Cloyd, community educator coordinator for the Freeman Screen Team, Shelby Allen, Screen Team supervisor and Kris Drake, wellness coordinator with the Screen Team, meet inside the remodeled Freeman Hospital cafeteria. (Roger Nomer)

• The battered St. John’s Regional Medical Center stood for months after the tornado as a daily reminder of what swept through the town. It was brought down last year. “It’s hard to say goodbye to the building that has been St. John’s since 1968,” said Pulsipher. “ B u t like the rest of the city, we are glad to be moving ahead and looking to the future.”

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In all, five buildings across 47 acres, totaling more than 1.2 million square feet, were demolished and cleared.

Visit our NEW Joplin Store 2102 Range Line Rd. Hours: Mon — Sat 9—6:30 pm Sun—Noon til 6 pm www.goodwilltulsa.org

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• Mercy donated three portions of the former St. John’s campus at 2727 McClelland Boulevard to the Joplin School District, Stained Glass Theatre and the Joplin Museum Complex. • Will’s Place, a healing center for children made possible by a $2-million allocation from the state in the weeks following the tornado, opened at Ozark Center. The center, located at 1800 W. 30th St., was named in memory of Will Norton, a Joplin youth killed during the storm.

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 e seed for the idea of transplanting the trees came Th from Marcia Long, a neighbor to the new Mercy Hospital Joplin under construction at 50th Street and Hearnes Boulevard. At a community meeting, Long asked Mercy if some of the saplings from the new site could be transplanted elsewhere before construction began so that they could eventually return to their original site when Mercy Hospital Joplin opens in 2015. More than 470 saplings, including oak, hickory, sycamore, sassafras, dogwood and redbud, are growing on the Kin-Kam Tree Farm in Aurora.

• Ozark Center, the behavioral health division of Freeman, was fully restored last year when it reopened New Directions, a residential substance abuse treatment and medical detoxification facility. The completion of that project marked the end of Ozark Center’s long road to recovery. In its new home at 3010 McClelland Boulevard, New Directions now offers 14 residential substance abuse treatment beds and four private detoxification rooms. • Mercy received a $5 million donation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to construct a new neonatal unit at the new Mercy Hospital Joplin.

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Interstate 49, interchange work will have far-reaching benefits for city

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An aerial shot of the intersection of I-44 and Range Line Road now under construction. (T. Rob Brown)

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oplin became the crossroads of two interstate highways for the first time last year.

Two of its major interchanges at Interstate 44 at Range Line Road, and at North Main Street Road and Zora Street were overhauled in multi-million projects. At the same time, Joplin made gains in restoring the city to the way it was before the tornado, with new street signs and traffic signals. Steps also were taken to improve storm-water systems in tornado-damaged areas and make improvements to the city’s Shoal Creek Treatment Plant at a cost of $30 million.

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Interstate 49 from Pineville to Kansas City became a reality on Dec. 12, 2012. Participants in the unveiling of the nation’s newest addition to the interstate highway system said they felt like they were “making history.’’

Joplin made gains in restoring the city to the way it was before the tornado, with new street signs and traffic signals.

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Joplin East Middle School band members Chloe Poulson (left) and Cierra Kosilla hold up I-49 banners during a December ceremony to celebrate the upgrade of U.S. Highway 71 to Interstate 49. (T. Rob Brown)

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That history was 50 years in the making, according to U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R.-Mo., who spoke at the unveiling ceremony in the gymnasium of Joplin’s East Middle School. “This is now a great moment for our state — and for the western part of the state,’’ he said. Also speaking was Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez who toured Joplin’s tornado zone before the unveiling ceremony. “I am honored to be here today. It’s really amazing what you have done in a year and a half,’’ he said, noting that Joplin’s recovery, like the transition of U.S. Highway 71 into Interstate 49, is an example of what can happen when people work together in partnerships. The upgrade of U.S. Highway 71 to Interstate 49 in Missouri cost $313 million. The federal contribution was $250 million. Economic-development advocates up and down the new interstate corridor who attended the unveiling cer-

emony said the long-range impact of being so close to an interstate could have far-reaching benefits for their communities. While Interstate 49 was taking the spotlight, work to upgrade the Range Line Road interchange on Interstate 44 — one of the busiest interchanges in Southwest Missouri — was launched in 2012 to correct safety issues. The $8-million project replaces the interstate bridges over Range Line and converts the roadways underneath the interstate into a diverging-diamond interchange. The project, which replaces a four-leaf clover design built in the early 1960s when the interstate first opened, is to be completed by the end of 2013. “It is a very big project,’’ said Marvin Morris, project manager for the Missouri Department of Transportation. “The challenge will be to build it while maintaining traffic.’’ Average daily traffic count for Interstate 44 at the

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A Missouri Highway of Transportation worker removes a cover from a new sign in Joplin. (Roger Nomer)

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A southern portion of Range Line Road, as seen in March. It also shows a section of the tornado zone. (T. Rob Brown)

Another project to improve public safety involved the long-planned interchange at North Main Street Road and Zora Street, where one of the most dangerous train crossings in the state is being eliminated.

Construction of the interchange will replace two traffic signals, the existing one at Zora and one at Veterans Way. Closure of Veterans Way also will eliminate a train crossing there that is classified as one of the 10 most dangerous crossings in Missouri.

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The project has been on the boards since before 2004, when Joplin voters approved the three-eighths-cent capital projects sales tax for street projects. The project will build a bridge on Zora Street to cross Main Street and the Kansas City Southern railroad tracks west of Main Street. The bridge will connect the west side of Zora to the east side. A three-lane road will be built west of Main Street to connect Zora to Lone Elm Road.

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Range Line below those bridges will be converted into a diverging-diamond interchange, which will create special lanes so motorists can make so-called “free left and right turns” onto and from the interstate. The design changes are intended to decrease the likelihood that accidents will happen and will increase traffic flow.

The project also is designed to streamline traffic flow on both roads as well as bridge Zora Street to the city’s west side, an initial step in the eventual construction of a West Bypass that would connect with Highway 249 on the east.

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interchange is 28,030 vehicles. Highway officials say the project is needed because the volume of traffic at the interchange has increased threefold since the early 1960s and safety has become an issue. Three fatality accidents and five other serious crashes have occurred at the interchange since 2006. All but one of those accidents was associated with merging traffic on the fourleaf clover.

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Work continues at I-44 and Range Line to create a diverging-diamond interchange. Work is expected to be completed by the end of the year. (T. Rob Brown)

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The entire project, which will be completed in May, will range from $10 million to $12 million, according to David Hertzburg, the city’s director of public works. More than half, $5.8 million, is federal funding. The city will pay $3.2 million from sales tax proceeds. The state’s share is $1 million. “(The) Main and Zora project has been a big project for us this year,’’ said Hertzburg. “But we’ve have had some big projects, too. We’ve had several of the tornado projects, including traffic signals and sign repair. We did the storm-water work and traffic signal work at 26th and Main, and the sewer lines in Landreth Park. “Our improvements to the Turkey Creek Treatment Plant have cost $30 million. It’s been a busy year.’’ As busy as 2012 was, this year will be even bigger for the city. Infrastructure improvements will increase from $31.2 million last year (2012) to $70 million this year. In Kansas, the public learned the Kansas Department of Transportation is planning to construct a four-lane freeway in Cherokee County.

Construction on the $38 million project is scheduled to start in the fall of 2017 or the spring of 2018. It would expand U.S. Highway 166 to freeway status from the U.S. 400-U.S. 166 junction on the west to the Missouri-Kansas state line on the east. It would be the last leg of a plan to make U.S. Highway 69 a four-lane highway between Kansas City and the Missouri line. Further north in Crawford County, Pittsburg residents pushed to create a new corridor for U.S. Highway 69 in the county. “(The corridor) will be one of the last great pieces that needs to fall into place,” said Brad Hodson, vice president of university advancement at Pittsburg State University. Officials with the Kansas Department of Transportation said the Crawford County Corridor, an 18-mile stretch of expressway from north of Arma south to the Cherokee County line, likely won’t be built for 30 years. But construction of an 11-mile section from Fort Scott to Arma will begin in 2017. Construction should take two years and would be finished in 2019.

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Lesson plans m a y

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By Emily Younker

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Construction under way at Joplin schools; others also looking toward the future

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A detailed look at the new Irving Elementary School, which will also house Emerson student at its location on South Maiden Lane. (T. Rob Brown)

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he educational landscape in Joplin is evolving. In some places, that landscape is visibly changing by the day.

That is certainly the case for Joplin Schools, where the construction of several new schools is finally in full swing after the May 2011 tornado either damaged or destroyed nearly a dozen schools or district buildings. A two-story, 85,000-square-foot elementary school combining students from Irving and Emerson is being built on McClelland Boulevard on the former site of St. John’s Regional Medical Center. The school, which carries a 600-student capacity, is projected to open in December.

Thomas Jefferson students rehearse a scene from their recent production of “Beauty and the Beast.” (Roger Nomer)

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East Middle School and an adjacent unnamed elementary school are being built on East 20th

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The early morning sun begins to rise over the new JHS campus. (B.W. Shepherd)

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Steel beams continue to go up for the new Joplin High School. (T. Rob Brown)

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The footprint of the new Joplin High School, which is now under construction in the heart of the city. (T. Rob Brown)

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A artistic rendition of the new Joplin High School gymnasium. (Courtesy Joplin Schools)

Larry Bowman, field manager for Universal Construction, looks over the blueprints for the new JHS campus. Bowman said that because of the complexity of the project, a large team is needed to put it all together. (B.W. Shepherd)

Johnny Ritchie, with Weaver Steel of Tulsa, Okla., works to secure a beam in place at the new Joplin High School building. (B.W. Shepherd)

human services. The district has set a projected completion date of August 2014.

The 501,000-square-foot Joplin High School and Franklin Technology Center — which will be integrated into the high school — is under construction at 20th Street and Indiana Avenue. The building will have a 3,000-student capacity and will be built as a series of five interconnected “houses,” which each “house” containing classes geared toward a different career path — health sciences, arts and communication, technical sciences, business and information technology, or

The school’s first phase of construction, scheduled to begin soon along with the church and a family life center, includes classrooms, a media center and computer lab, art and science classrooms, a kitchen and cafeteria, a playground and built-in storm shelters, Monaghan said. A later phase, which would be completed only if enough funds could be raised, would include ball fields, a gymnasium and additional classroom space potentially for middle-school students, he said.

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Street. They will boast a combined 215,073 square feet and will hold up to 450 elementary students from Duenweg and Duquesne schools and up to 700 middle-school students. Both schools are projected to open in December.

A new St. Mary’s Elementary School, which was destroyed in the tornado, is on the horizon for Joplin Area Catholic Schools. It will be built alongside the new St. Mary’s Catholic Church at West 32nd Street and Central City Road and is projected to be ready for students in preschool through the fifth grade within two years, according to the Rev. Justin Monaghan.

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Plans show the vision for the new Joplin High School campus. (courtesy Joplin Schools)

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The installation of safe rooms at Joplin schools, many of which will double as gymnasiums, has also become a district priority. Construction of the first five safe rooms — at Cecil Floyd, Eastmorland, Stapleton and McKinley schools and at Junge Stadium — could begin as early as this month.

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“Our regional business partners, they should be able to very confidently hire students from Joplin High School that have those skills, or at least know that they have been taught those skills,” he said. “I think employers want to know, ‘Am I getting a good hire?’ And I think kids need to know that’s the expectation out there.”

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Superintendent C.J. Huff said the focus on career pathways will give students the chance to explore career options during high school through internships and other “real-world” experiences with a number of local business partners. Students should also learn skills critical to their employability, such as being on time and working with others.

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The school system has not yet decided what it will do with the current elementary school, which is a converted warehouse next to McAuley High School, development director Renee Motazedi said. “We do intend to utilize that for our educational system,” she said. “What exactly that looks like remains to be seen.” David Smith, with the BESCO construction company, looks over plans at the new East Middle School site. (B.W. Shepherd)

Construction continues on the new Joplin East Middle School. (T. Rob Brown)

Schools that were physically unharmed by the tornado are considering the chance to spruce up their campuses. Administrators and board members of College Heights Christian School are “on the threshold” of updating their long-term strategic plan to determine how they want the school to look in the future, said Superintendent Nelson Horton. Horton said he anticipates the board to address physical needs such as a new cafeteria and gymnasium and more kindergarten and elementary classrooms. The school is “just about maxed out in our current facility” with an enrollment of 580 students, he said. The last major addition to College Heights was in 2010, when the school built and opened a new hallway of classrooms to replace its modular trailers.

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The school is also updating its curriculum, offering new forensics and multimedia classes to high-schoolers next year, Horton said. There are plans to add more enrichment activities and camps during the summer, and staff will focus year-round on their students’ college and career readiness, he said. “We want to let (the community) know you don’t have to take a back seat academically when you go to a Christian school,” he said.

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Adam Govero and Josh McPuire, with Gold Mechanical of Springfield, cut a pipe for the cooling system at East Middle School. (B.W. Shepherd)

Since its 425-seat concert hall opened in September 2011, administrators at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School have noticed a shift toward the arts in their students and in the general population. More music-minded students have enrolled at the school, which along with the concert hall added

Objectives include renovating Reynolds Hall or constructing a new science building, renovating and upgrading residence halls, building a sidewalk

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New directional and informational signage on campus is also scheduled to be put up within six months to a year, according to Rob Yust, vice president for business affairs. “My hope for the university would mean that our enrollment, for the most part, would double (and) we would become a very prestigious university,” he said. “Anything that we can do to make the university more appealing to prospective students — that’s what we would want to try to do.”

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Officials at Missouri Southern State University are looking to upgrade the campus with the adoption last summer of their 25-year master plan, which contains $194 million in projects. They have cautioned that the projects depend on the availability of funds and will likely require financial assistance from the state or individual donors.

At least one project identified in the plan is already under way: The construction of a walking/biking trail from the campus across Turkey Creek to Northpark Mall. The city of Joplin, which received a $300,000 grant for the project, will oversee the trail’s construction later this year.

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The venue has also attracted nationally acclaimed theater groups, singers and dancers to Joplin in the school’s first yearlong concert series, which wrapped up this month. McDonald said the continuation or growth of the series will depend on ticket sales. “The degree to which our facility becomes a performing arts and cultural center will depend on the overall interest in the Joplin community. We are very pleased with the response so far,” she said. “It seems that the performing arts have been largely absent from this area, and the performances featuring professional musicians — similar to what we have been offering — have been very popular.”

along Duquesne Road to Seventh Street, creating a pedestrian-friendly campus, enlarging and renovating the football stadium and athletic complex, and redesigning the campus oval.

Mortuary

Those changes could have a ripple effect into the rest of Joplin, Yust said. “We would hope that as the university grows, so does the community,” he said. “Missouri Southern is part of Joplin, and we’d like to feel that it’s reciprocal, that we’re in the hearts of the Joplin citizens, and as the university grows and students graduate, they may take up roots here and stay in Joplin.”

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music rehearsal classrooms and gallery space in the $15-million project, said Laura McDonald, head of the school. As a result of the demand, administrators have upped their music offerings by adding a choir program for lower school students and a strings program for students as young as third grade, she said.

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There are plans to add more enrichment activities and camps during the summer, and staff will focus year-round on their students’ college and career readiness. “We want to let them (the community) know you don’t have to take a back seat academically when you go to a Christian school.” —Superintendent Nelson Horton

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21st century opportunities m a y

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Deep-rooted area employers outline strategies for future

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A group of installers and riggers lower one of two 126,000-pound transformers onto its concrete pad last June at the Empire District Electric Company substation off 26th Street near the former Irving Elementary School location. (T. Rob Brown)

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hree of the area’s largest and oldest employers say it is not their storied pasts that have their attention today, but rather 21st century opportunities. EaglePicher Technologies, Leggett & Platt and the Empire District Electric Co. can trace their roots back more than a century, but whether they are providing power for unmanned missions to Mars or power to Joplin homes, the focus now is forward.

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E agle P icher The oldest of the three companies, EaglePicher Technologies, dates to the area’s lead and zinc mining in the late 19th century. EaglePicher spent its early days focused on what was below, rather than above, the Earth.

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But since the birth of the Space Race, it has had a new mission: powering manned and unmanned missions into space. Its batteries and solar power systems have been used on everything from the first satellite launches to the Apollo moon missions, the Hubble Space Telescope and most recently the exploration of the Martian surface. Randy Moore, president of the company, said one of the changes taking place in the 21st century is the increasing commercialization of space. “What you are really talking about is the launch aspect,” he said, noting that private companies have sent satellites into space on NASA rockets for decades, but in the future launch vehicles will come from commercial ventures rather than government initiatives.

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“From our perspective, the fact that the government has gotten out of the launch business isn’t that big of a change for us. We kind of see it as business as usual, but with different players.”

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The company also is keeping one eye on the electric car market – “We are watching that but we haven’t made a bet, we haven’t made an investment,” Moore said – and meanwhile remains focused on niche markets that require its specialized rugged batteries.

Medical batteries remain one of the key areas of growth for the company, and Moore said they see future opportunity in the developing therapies that require small, long-lived implantable batteries. They also are working on batteries for oil and gas wellheads on the ocean floor and for “down-hole” batteries. “They follow the drill down,” he said. Like the batteries they send into space, these batteries have to hold up under extreme conditions. “Everything we touch is high reliability, just-can’t-fail applications,” said Moore. EaglePicher engineers also have come up with a proprietary packaging system for lithium-based batteries that can be used on aircraft. The company’s battery, which Moore called “robust,” recently passed a federal fire containment test. “We were the first company that we know of that has done so,” he said. EaglePicher has more than two decades of experience working with lithium battery chemistries and recently passed the Federal Aviation Administration’s DO-311 test, which opens the door to aircraft and helicopter manufacturers. While other chemistries are being explored by the industry, lithium-based batteries have

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EaglePicher has met the challenge of alternative energy storage solutions with the PowerPyramid. The patent pending approach applies the company’s rich heritage and technology leadership to support alternative energy commercialization with hybrid storage solutions for wind farms. This allows wind energy to be stored when energy production is high but demand is low and utilized when demand is at its peak. (Courtesy EaglePicher)

The company’s PowerPyramid – a hybrid battery that combines old and new technologies to form a cell that fits inside a portable cargo container – can be used to lower the cost of electrical power by capturing power generated from wind farms during the day, for example, and releasing that energy during periods of peak demand. The large batteries provided a steady flow of energy to the grid or the end user, overcoming the variable flow that has been one of the limitations on renewable energy.

Today, Empire provides electricity to about 168,000 customers in four states, and to 119 cities and towns in its service territory. It also provides natural gas to about 44,000 customers in parts of western and central Missouri. In recent years, the utility has battled some of the area’s worst storms, including two of the worst ice storms on record, and a string of tornadoes and other storms continued on page 52

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Another growth area for the company remains its large energy storage systems that can tap the market for renewable energy.

E mpire D istrict Empire District, with more than 750 employees, traces its roots to the beginning of the 20th century, and the effort to bring electricity to the bustling Tri-State Mining District, where electric power was a major improvement over the mules and muscles employed by the first hard rock miners.

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Today, Empire provides electricity to about 168,000 customers in four states, and to 119 cities and towns in its service territory. It also provides natural gas to about 44,000 customers in parts of western and central Missouri.

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from 2003 to 2011 that caused widespread damage. Much of 2011 and 2012 also were spent rebuilding a system that sustained a direct hit from one of the worst tornadoes in U.S. history.

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Brad Beecher, president and chief executive officer, said future challenges include meeting environmental and customer demands.

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particulate matter from a coal-fired power plant, and much of the mercury. “Environmental compliance has been a very big focus for us,” Beecher said.

In order to meet regulations announced by the Environmental Protection Agency for coal-fired power plants, Empire recently spent $30 million to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from its Asbury coal-fired plant and $55 million for its share of the Iatan I coalfired plant near Kansas City.

And although the company chose not to continue burning coal at its Riverton, Kan., plant, they will extend its life indefinitely by converting it into a combined-cycle plant burning natural gas. They have no plans to shut down the plant, Beecher said. The utility hopes to have the conversion done by 2016.

Additional pressure is mounting to cut sulfur dioxide, particulate and mercury emissions in the near future, which will mean another $112 to $150 million investment at Asbury for an additional scrubber and “baghouse.” That should take place by 2015, Beecher said.

“We are taking that plant into its next phase,” he said.

He likened the “baghouse” to the role of a vacuum cleaner bag, and said it can remove 99 percent of the

Anticipating future demand for power also is a task with a new wrinkle. For decades, growth was steady for Empire as people moved into the area, but since 2008, with the beginning of the recession and more recently with the 2011 tornado, customer growth been “murkier,” said Beecher. Also affecting demand is the increased emphasis from business and homeowners on efficiency, he said, noting that even he is using high-efficiency light bulbs in his office.

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Chester Baker measures a spring at the Leggett & Platt facility. (Roger Nomer)

He also noted that the utility recently came off a fiveyear building cycle and has the capacity to generate about 1,400 megawatts of electricity. The utility also is spending an additional $10 million annually to upgrade key components of the system from the poles to the lines as part of “Operation Toughen Up,” He said they already see improvements in part of their service territory since the work began. “Our customers have a valid expectation for reliable service,” Beecher said.

L eggett & P latt Carthage-based Leggett & Platt also has been around for more than a century, but don’t look for its name among all those products lining Wal-Mart or Target shelves. The company does, however, make some of those shelves, along with countless other products that intersect with the lives of most Americans daily. The company got its start in the 19th century making steel coil bed springs, and while bedding remains a

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Leggett & Platt employee Mike Menefee inspects bed springs. (Roger Nomer)

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key segment – “It is about one-sixth of the company” – today Leggett & Platt is a diversified international company, said Dave DeSonier, senior vice president of corporate strategy and investor relations. It has more than 18,000 employees, and operates in 17 countries at more than 130 sites, including more than 80 plants in the United States. Its presence is ubiquitous, even if its name is not. Think Toyota, for example. And Ashley Furniture. And Boeing.

Today, Leggett & Platt also is a vertically integrated company when it comes to its chief raw material – steel. The company bought a bankrupt steel mill in

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The list goes on. Despite that, the company remains low-key. “You have to be looking hard to find our names on a product,” he said.

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Everything from office chairs to La-Z-Boy recliners also contains Leggett & Platt components. Have you bought carpet pad from Lowe’s recently? Once again, probably Leggett & Platt. They also make shelving not just for Wal-Mart, but also for Target, JC Penney and others.

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DeSonier said just about every car contains Leggett & Platt components. They make everything from suspension for car seats to lumbar support and massage units in higher-end vehicles. “Any major car manufacturer, we produce product for them ... 70 to 80 percent of cars have components from us,” he said.

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Illinois years ago and today it produces up to 500,000 tons of steel annually from scrap steel. It turns the scrap into 30-foot long rectangular billets, which are then converted at a rod mill into steel rods for their various plants, including those in Carthage and elsewhere. But steel is not all. Last year, Leggett & Platt acquired Western Pneumatic Tube Holding, LLC. Western was a key provider to the aerospace industry of components for critical aircraft systems, including thin-wall, large-diameter titanium tubing for ductwork and ventilation around aircraft engines. It also produced other high-strength metals for leading aerospace suppliers. “Boeing and Airbus are two of the very large markets,” DeSonier said. “It is all about very high quality that never fails.”

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That acquisition was one of the few in recent years for Leggett & Platt, which has seen its strategy shift for shareholders, too.

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For decades, they told their businesses units to “grow,” and acquisitions were a key part of that effort. That strategy worked from the 1960s through the 1990s but, with the terrorist attacks in 2001, increasing competition from China, as well as the global economic slowdows, there has been less emphasis on revenue growth and more on earnings growth.

Between 2007 and 2010, the company sold seven of its business units for $443 million, and revenue has dropped from a peak of $5.5 billion several years ago, to $3.7 billion for 2012. The emphasis today is on what is known as “TSR,” or Total Shareholder Return, DeSonier said, which looks at the value of Leggett & Platt’s stock appreciation and dividends and compares it to the Standard & Poor’s 500 companies over a rolling three-year period. Since 2007, the company’s primary long-term financial goal has been to consistently rank in the top third of the S&P 500 companies over rolling three-year periods. For the three years ending Dec. 31, 2012, the company generated annual average TSR of 16 percent, compared to 11 percent for the S&P 500 index. That performance ranked in the top 37 percent over three years, “just shy of our goal to be in the top third,” according to David Haffner, president and chief executive officer. The previous year they were in the top 38 percent. Although they’ve fallen just short of the goal, DeSonier said they are proud of their overall performance. “We have beaten the S&P 500 Index each of the last five years,” he said. “That in and of itself is pretty significant.”

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A strong, urban core m a y

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By Scott Meeker

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Marketing, housing and the arts play factors in downtown renaissance

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Joplin businessman Mark Williams has been active in downtown redevelopment projects, from creating loft spaces to launching The Hive, a business incubator. (Roger Nomer)

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eadlines from The Joplin Globe a century ago highlighted the changes that were occurring in the booming city’s downtown.

In May of 1913, First National Bank moved into a new home on the 500 block of Main Street. Later that year, the Frisco Railroad moved to a new station at 11th and Main streets, while the Empire District Electric Company began constructing a new building at Sixth and Main.

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In October of that same year, the New Joplin Theatre at Seventh Street and Joplin Avenue began screening films with some new-fangled technology created by Thomas Edison that made the moving pictures “talk.” And two months later, hundreds of residents turned up to tour the new Frisco Building – many of them purchasing train tickets but not using them, instead keeping them as souvenirs.

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Over the next 100 years, there would be a lot of ebb and flow to the downtown area – from times of prosperity and lots of foot traffic, to leaner times when a large number of buildings were vacant. Pearl Brothers True Value Hardware – located at 617 Main St. – has long been a fixture of downtown Joplin, having opened in 1905. “My grandfather bought the store in the 1940s,” said Harold Berger. “I’ve worked here most of my life. “There was a time after Northpark Mall opened and the department stores moved out where there were lots of vacant buildings. There are still some, but nowhere near what it used to be.

A gathering of Joplin officials partake in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Main Street. (Roger Nomer)

“But a lot of that traffic is coming back with the improvements made in the last few years, and with all of the apartments people are living in now. City Hall also brings a lot of traffic downtown.” That’s exactly the direction that the Downtown Joplin Alliance hopes to see continue.

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The not-for-profit organization is devoted to revitalizing downtown Joplin through a variety of means, from working to promote new and existing businesses to supporting the arts movement. “The question is how can we make downtown Joplin a more attractive place for residents, for tourists, for students, for potential employees?” said Trisha Patton, executive director of the alliance. “I think we’ve seen tremendous success in the last year and a half to two years in terms of interest level from the public.”

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Traffic flows through the southern end of Main Street. The Downtown Joplin Alliance hopes to have three parts of Main Street branded – downtown, midtown and southtown – and flow together. (T. Rob Brown)

Streetscaping projects over the years may mean that people think of “downtown” as a relatively small area; an idea that Patton wants to dispel.“There’s antiquated publishing that says the downtown district was A through 10th streets, and Wall to Kentucky,” she said.“As soon as I came in, I knew that would be shooting ourselves in the foot. (That definition) doesn’t include the Kitchen Pass, the Gryphon Building and several others.

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from Empire are

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Trisha Patton, executive director of the Downtown Joplin Alliance, envisions a thriving urban core that stretches from Union Depot to I-44. (Roger Nomer)

Patton thinks the downtown area was a natural place for the master developer to enhance when brought in post-tornado. “If we have a thriving downtown, we’ll have a thriving city as a whole,” she said.

“If I had another 100 lofts, I could rent them out in 100 days,” he said. “That’s how many people we have to turn away. It’s kind of an anti-culture to what I call the ‘cocooning’ of America. We drive into the garage, shut it, watch TV and don’t open it again until we’re ready to come out,” he said.

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Part of that effort has been centered on creating downtown living spaces through his work with Joplin Lofts. “People come from other places and are instantly attracted to the downtown culture because they’ve seen it and liked it in other places,” said Williams. “A lot of people from the Midwest can’t imagine not having a yard, but that’s normal life other places.”

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Businesses that have opened in downtown Joplin certainly span that core. New businesses in 2012 included the Joplin Avenue Coffee Co., Table Mesa, Sawmill BBQ, Carlisle Furniture, Vagabond Furniture, Cooper’s and Flatline Ink. Several businesses – including The Run Around, Hurley’s Heroes and All Things Grand – moved to a different location, but stayed downtown.

Businessman Mark Williams has been an active proponent in expanding the possibilities of downtown Joplin. “My whole mission is to make our town better, one block at a time,” he said. “I’m focused on turning old buildings into thriving centers of life.”

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“I think that what our organization, as well as the city, the master developer and the Convention and Visitors Bureau are looking at is developing a strong urban core that goes from the Union Depot to I-44. It will have the feel of a downtown, and melded with different branding – downtown, midtown and south town. When it comes to our members, they span that urban core.”

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“It starts to become a network of people who live and work downtown. We allow pets in our lofts, so you see people out walking their dogs and saying ‘Hi’ to each other.” —Mark Williams

Living downtown offers more opportunities to get out and interact with others. “You can walk to your bank, to a restaurant or to the pub, and you see other people on the street,” he said. “It starts to become a network of people who live and work downtown. We allow pets in our lofts, so you see people out walking their dogs and saying ‘Hi’ to each other.”

Williams has also launched The Hive, a business accelerator at 506 S. Main St. that serves as an incubator for new businesses and also offers meeting space. “It’s the only co-working space that I know of in the region,” he said. “For this concept, the time has come.”

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Neosho artist Danielle Griffith (right) talks about her handmade jewelry with a couple attending Third Thursday in downtown Joplin. (T. Rob Brown)

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Dan Higdon, co-owner of the new restaurant Stacked at 3022 S. Main St., serves up some chicken salad sandwiches during the recent Taste of Home cooking show. (B.W. Shepherd)

Another factor in the current renaissance of downtown Joplin is the booming arts community. After the tornado, the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce worked with artist Dave Loewenstein to create “Butterfly Effect: Dreams Take Flight,” a mural on a building wall at 15th and Main streets. Images in Tile is planning to create two Route 66-themed murals on the south wall of Pearl

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Linda Teeter, a local artist with the Discover Downtown Alliance, discusses her work displayed at the Joplin Avenue Coffee Company during a recent Third Thursday Art Walk event held in downtown Joplin back in late March.

In the years since its launch, Art Walk has blossomed into an event that is more than just a showcase for works displayed in a gallery setting. “It has given the artists a voice, and it’s grown from a whisper to a roar,” Teeter said. “You have more musicians than ever wanting to be part of this celebration, amateur poets have a chance

Patton agrees with that assessment. “Third Thursday has been a tremendous resource for downtown development,” she said.“We have surveys that show that people who come downtown for Third Thursday will see something that interests them and they will come back and shop at that store or go to that restaurant. It’s a great tool for retaining and recruiting businesses.”

But beyond projects that are on the horizon, Patton says she’s looking at the long-term possibilities for downtown Joplin. “I expect that within the next five to 10 years we’ll see downtown businesses that cater to every demographic, and increased activity in the mornings as well as mid-day or evenings,” she said. “I want to see a lot more people just hanging out downtown because it’s a beautiful, cool place.”

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Teeter said that the momentum behind Third Thursday and Art Walk have helped to add more of an artistic dimension to downtown Joplin. “You have full-time art studios and retail stores now, and there’s more murals planned,” she said. “I think this is because of the energy we have created downtown.”

She points to plans such as a performing arts complex and making the area more pedestrian friendly by connecting it to the parks system as ways to connect residents to downtown’s offerings. The library moving from its current location on the 300 block of Main Street to a new location near 20th Street and Connecticut Avenue also holds a lot of potential. “It’s a great opportunity to build something that will bring a huge economic impact to the entire downtown area,” said Patton.

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The first event was held in what was dubbed the Bistro Art Gallery, a vacant space next to what was then Arde’s Bistro. It drew about 50 people in to look at the artwork on display. Within several months, it had expanded to several other pop-up galleries through the downtown area.

for an audience, young students of dance can show their routines … it just goes on and on. It engages a lot more of the artisans in our area and creates a bigger event for the community to enjoy.”

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One of the biggest factors in bringing some artistic flavor to the downtown area has been Art Walk. The monthly event was organized six years ago by Linda Teeter, who approached a group planning a monthly event that would draw people downtown. “I said, ‘What’s a Third Thursday without an art walk?’” Teeter said. “They said feel free. So I asked a few artists I knew at that time to be in it.”

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Brothers, and art students from Missouri Southern State University recently began work on a new mural on an out-of-code billboard at Covert Electric Supply on North Main Street.

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Going green m a y

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By Susan Redden

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Projects continue restoration efforts at Joplin parks

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A look at tranquil Garvin Park’s playground at 28th Street and Virginia Avenue. (Roger Nomer)

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he Joplin Parks Department had plenty on its work schedule in 2012, just with continuing work to restore parks facilities damaged in the May 2011 tornado.

That program expanded when officials found two parks would need additional work to address increased lead levels in the soil stirred to the surface by the EF-5 twister. In addition, crews are overseeing the construction of a new water park complex at Schifferdecker Park, supporting work by Joplin’s Rotary Clubs to build a baseball field for disabled youth, and serving as a conduit for efforts to plant thousands of trees in city parks and neighborhoods.

… two parks would need additional work to address increased lead levels in the soil stirred to the surface by the EF-5 twister.

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Chris Cotten, Joplin parks director, acknowledged the park’s systems recovery from the tornado was slowed when officials learned that lead remediation efforts would be required before other efforts to address the damage at Parr Hill and Garvin Parks.

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Construction continues on the new Schifferdecker Park pool. (Roger Nomer)

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That part of the clean-up was finished in 2012 and now other improvements are going in at Parr Hill, which, along with Cunningham Park, suffered most tornado damage. “It slowed our progress, but now Parr Hill will have three playgrounds rather than one, three shelters rather than one, and three parking lots, where before, it was all on-street parking,” he said. The renovated park also will be the site of two new dog parks — a first for Joplin — and the park will have a splash pad for kids to cool off in during the summer, to be located close to the park’s original shelter. “And Parr Hill had 89 trees — there’ll be over 200 when we’re done,” Cotten said.

Garvin Park, a pocket park west of Virginia Avenue at about 28th Street, received moderate tornado damage, Cotten said. Playground equipment was damaged and the shelter roof blown off. “Miracle (Recreation, a Monett-based playground equipment manufacturer) gave us the parts to repair the equipment and we re-roofed the shelter. We’ve also finished the lead remediation but we’re not planning on opening the park until we can get the grass going there,” he said. Cunningham Park, which was at the center of the tornado devastation, received more attention just after the tornado. The park is the site of memorials to

Joplin lost thousands of trees in areas of the wake of the tornado and the city and volunteers planted thousands back in 2012. “The city has planted 4,193 trees, and when you count all the trees that have been planted back in the tornado zone, it’s more than 8,200,” he said. Cotten said more trees are planned for Parr Hill and

Joplin also has received help in replanting from a tree specialist with the Missouri Conservation Department assigned to work with the city for the last year. Cotten said help from federal and state agencies, businesses and individuals and volunteers who poured into Joplin after the tornado is speeding the recovery for Joplin and helping to restore — and even expand — its parks system.

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Cotten had started work as Joplin parks director 83 days before the tornado. He said improvements intentionally were limited in the months after the tornado. “We cleared them and cleaned them, but for the most part, we didn’t start rebuilding, because it was more important that efforts go into rebuilding homes and neighborhoods first,” he said. “And we can put the parks back, but we can never replace what was lost.”

Volunteers who came to Joplin as part of a state tree conference in March planted 120 trees in areas behind Cunningham Park and along parts of Empire, Annie Baxter and Porter avenues. Cotten credited the survival of many of the trees planted in by the city to crews hired by the Workforce Investment Board to help the city in tornado recovery. “They watered trees all summer and kept a lot alive during the drought,” he said. “That let us focus on other things.”

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The park also includes new solid concrete restrooms where visitors could seek shelter in a storm.

planting will start soon in street rights of way in the tornado zone. He said the city will seek the cooperation of homeowners because the young trees will have to be watered to make sure they survive. “And people can still get two free trees for their yards; all they have to do is contact us,” he said.

Dr. E.L. Jordan Opthamology 417-781-0044

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tornado victims and volunteers who came to help, along with a new basketball court and playground donated to the city. The last new picnic shelter at the park was just completed and other improvements, including a rose garden, are planned for later.

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“The city has planted 4,193 trees, and when you count all the trees that have been planted back in the tornado zone, it’s more than 8,200.” —Chris Cotten

We are the future of Joplin! We have rebuilt and moved back to our new office, 2630 Cunningham, Joplin, Mo.

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An aerial view of the proposed walking trail between the Missouri Southern State University campus and the Northstar Theater parking lot.

The Will Norton Miracle Field was built by Joplin’s Rotary clubs with donations received as a result of the 2011 tornado. Members agreed to use a portion of those donations to build a ball field for disabled children. Construction started in September and is nearly complete. It is located at the Joplin Athletic Complex. The city also received a new neighborhood park — Cedar Ridge — in west Joplin in 2012 when land was donated and playground equipment and a shelter were installed there by volunteers.

The amenities at the new Schifferdecker pool include two diving boards, four water flumes, a climbing wall, a log roll, water jets and a lazy river. The new pool is suitable for competition swimming and will remain the home of the Joplin Swim Team. The complex includes a bubble area for children and will be the city’s largest water park. “Cunningham and Ewert both hold just over 306,000 gallons of water. The old Schifferdecker held nearly 548,000 gallons, the new one will be just over 650,000.” he said.

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The Memorial Day weekend was the scheduled opening date for a new water park and pool complex under construction at Schifferdecker Park. Cotten said there was a tight timeline for the $5.8-million project.

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Brittany Lampe, a student senator and Missouri Southern State University senior, holds a map of a proposed trail between the university’s campus and the Northstar Theater parking lot, a popular student destination, particularly on weekends. Darren Fullerton, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment, discusses the project to the media. (Roger Nomer)

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By Kevin McClintock

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Two years after the tornado, churches continue to rebuild, help community heal

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The exterior of the new Peace Lutheran Church, which was built at 3100 N. St. Louis Ave. The previous sanctuary at 20th Street and Wisconsin Avenue was destroyed by the 2011 tornado. (Roger Nomer)

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uring the massive relief effort following the 2011 tornado, there were specific groups of volunteers who were the first to arrive in Joplin and, many months later, the very last to leave. Actually, some of those groups have never left the area, two years after the fact. Those groups were made up of church volunteers. Some mobilized from local churches in the Four State Area; others from dozens of cities in dozens of states. All of these men, women, teens and children were volunteers, ready to help strangers in need. And they did their work quietly, without much fanfare. “As much as I appreciate what ‘Extreme Home Makeover’ did and other (entities) like that accomplished — the simple truth is, without churches, we wouldn’t have been able to do what we’ve done” since the tornado, said Randy Gariss, the senior minister of College Heights Christian Church.

Members and visitors attend the Open House Service for Faith Baptist Church on a Saturday afternoon in March. The church, which was destroyed by the 2011 tornado, is now reopened. (T. Rob Brown)

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connect with the churches allowed them, from around the country, to step onto this moving thing. churches

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“I’ve done a lot of speaking, most of it tornado-related, since (May 22), and someone will always walk up to me and say, ‘I was in Joplin,’ and ‘My church came’ ... ‘My church came’ … ‘My church came’ ... from Baltimore to Sacramento to Tampa Bay. It didn’t matter where I went, somebody would always say, ‘I was in Joplin and my church came and did this.’” It’s the kindness of those nameless people, from those faceless churches, that helped Joplin rebuild, Garris said. “Those from the outside were surprised just how deeply unified the churches are here in Joplin,” he said.

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Brian Wagahoff of Faith Baptist Church gives a sermon during the church’s open house service held back in March. After months of destruction, the church reopened for worship less than two years after the May 22 tornado. (T. Rob Brown)

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Pastor John Myers, of Joplin Full Gospel, 2601 Indiana Ave., agreed. “I think a big (key) is that all of us pastors have a good rapport with one another here in town. We’re all brothers and sisters in Christ. We reached out to each other and tried to bring about healing. I think that’s why churches” made such a positive and immediate impact in the months after the tornado. “If it wasn’t for the churches organizing and putting the people up in their buildings, feeding them and helping them out,” things might have been either a lot worse or response times much slower, he said.

It was this church, located at 4311 Newman Road, that became one of the key distribution points as supplies poured in from all points of the compass. “And I don’t mean just our local churches. I mean all the churches. Churches already have people who are networked, who already have buses and vans, who already have relationships. Literally, it was like an extended family that came at a moment’s notice from every place.

“There were far more Christian-based groups working in Joplin than other (organizations). I think that’s a big part (of the recovery) that’s been overlooked.”

“If there were not strong churches already established here, then what happens is people come and there is chaos. It’s like watching a carousel go around; you want to get on to ride it but you don’t know how to do it. And so, somehow, the ability for (volunteers) to

Joplin Family Worship Center became a donation center geared toward helping tornado victims. Royal Heights United Methodist Church in Joplin was the distribution point for the generosity of more than 75 churches, ranging from Pennsylvania to Texas.

Within hours of the storm’s impact, a church congregation based in St. Joseph was already gathering supplies inside a 50-foot trailer that would be, a few days later, hauled south to Joplin.

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Dylan Moore, a volunteer with First United Methodist Church of Ankeny, Iowa, staples sheeting to the top of a new home Rebuild Joplin has under construction on Connor Avenue. Nineteen members of Moore’s church recently came to Joplin to volunteer their time. (B.W. Shepherd)

Following in the footsteps of the Joplin Full Gospel congregation, many other churches have already rebuilt or are in the process of building a new home. Work is now under way to build St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the elementary school — both destroyed on May 22. The church announced the acquisition of

The black cross, left standing above the rubble on 26th Street, became an iconic image from the tornado. Monaghan said he still visits the cross many mornings to pray and meditate at dawn. Harmony Heights Baptist Church, located at 2025 Indiana Ave., opened the doors to their new church for

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The new church will have a reflecting pool/retention pond and a large cross, similar to the iron cross that survived the storm and has become a symbol and prayer site for many since the tornado.

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St. Mary’s, the rectory, elementary school, parish center and St. Vincent de Paul building, all near 25th Street and Moffet Avenue, were destroyed on May 22, 2011. The parish sold much of the land it owned at that location to Empire District Electric Co. to allow the utility to expand its nearby substation.

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Myers and the congregation of Joplin Full Gospel should know all about the selfless aid lent by Christian groups. The church was one of 27 damaged or completely destroyed by the tornado. But thanks to those Christian groups, and aid from both the state and the federal government, they were the first church to rebuild. Rebuilding took less than a year, and they held their first service last May. The church was originally located at 20th Street and Michigan Avenue. “I’m still surprised at the distance some of the (groups) came from — from California to New York, people came from great distances. And some are still coming in. It’s still going on right now. There’s so many people who are still helping us out today,” he said.

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Pastor Charlie Burnett stands outside the rebuilt Harmony Heights Baptist Church back in late December. (T. Rob Brown)

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their first service back in late December. Some of the other churches that have reopened include The First Community Church, Generations Free Will Baptist Church and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. “There is some emotional stress tied to the fact that this was the only home that some of our people have ever known,” said Jerald Bass, Generations Free Will’s head pastor, Jerald Bass. “This is the same lot where we were before, and it’s familiar to a lot of people, but it is a brand-new building for us to worship in.”

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Mission Joplin is Forest Park Church’s primary response to the May 22 tornado. Within months of the storm, the multi-site church was serving more than 100 families a day after kicking off the project. A bus was converted into a driving warehouse, and today, the church is ministering to tornado victims, as well as helping others with basic necessities. Since the tornado, churches have become much more involved in the city’s continued recovery. This recovery has little to do with supplying roof shingles, however. The recovery is the spiritual kind. Jay St. Clair, an outreach minister, was in a special position in the days and months following the tornado, serving as a liaison to a number of groups. Churches were dealing with serious issues in the city before the

Generations Free Will parishioners are happy to be back inside their second home. (Ryan Richardson)

tornado, he said. “I think it was what was happening several years before the storm that prepared us for the storm,” St. Clair said. In doing that, a relationship was formed between the churches and Joplin residents based on trust. So when the tornado struck, the churches were able to quickly mobilize and hit the streets. “I remember FEMA (officials) sitting here in this office and the first thing out of the head of FEMA’s mouth was, “We’re going to have to catch up with you guys.’ And that was something to hear. “That is not the normal paradigm in a disaster of this magnitude. When FEMA and SEMA officials have to catch up with you, you know it’s different.” St. Clair and other community religious leaders would often meet atop a grassy hill near the rubble of the Home Depot store in the weeks after the storm. There, they would clasp hands and pray for the community. “At one of those prayers I stayed afterwards — I just stood there, looking out across the devastation. And the Lord clearly spoke to my heart. He said, ‘It’s always been there. The devastation has always been there. The human devastation. You just couldn’t see it.’ And God wanted us, as a community, to see the community as He sees it. The hurt. The pain. The people. The need.

“I believe we’re on the precipice as a community of dealing with some serious issues” — poverty, crime, drugs, homelessness — “that we haven’t been able to do before. I truly think we now have an opportunity to do something in Joplin that probably hasn’t been done in very many other (communities).” St. Clair calls it a generation of brokenness. “While we’ve been recovering from this F-5 tornado for the last two years, in reality, we’ve been recovering from a sociological and spiritual F-5 that’s been grinding its way through this town for more than a decade. And so I feel like, thanks to this relationship and trust, as a spiritual community, we can come together, and I mean really come together, with God leading us, to heal.” “If the church is not involved,” added Gariss, “they can’t solve the educational, poverty and any (other) social issues. And that’s the church’s fault. At one time, the church was really nothing more than the opening and closing prayers” of some public function. “There was no particular role for it. But now, churches don’t have just one seat at the table, but they are at multiple seats at the table of every arena: education, poverty and so-forth. “The church has to be a part of the answer... or there will be no answer.”

St. Mary’s Church Opening December 2014!!!!!!

St. Mary’s School Opening August 2014!!!!!!

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Good sports m a y

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By Mark Schremmer

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New projects, improvements and more events on deck

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Joplin’s Adam St. Peter brings down a running pass as Kickapoo defender Layton Harris starts his pursuit during a game at Junge Stadium. (T. Rob Brown)

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he sports scene in Joplin is alive and well. Proof of that statement is clear from the variety of projects at Joplin High School and Missouri Southern State University, as well as enhancements to facilities and programs by the Parks and Recreation department and increased events through the Joplin Sports Authority. Meanwhile, minor league baseball making a return to Joplin for the first time since 1954 remains a possibility.

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‌ the possibility of minor league baseball making a return to Joplin for the first time since 1954 remains a possibility.

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Bailey Taylor, a member of the JHS girls basketball team, takes a shot past Hillcrest’s Kristin Todd in a game held in the Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium at Missouri Southern State University. The new high school will offer state of the art athletic facilities. (T. Rob Brown)

Joplin High School Still recovering from the 2011 tornado, the school district is working toward numerous improvements. New buildings for Irving Elementary, East Middle School and an elementary school at East are all tentatively scheduled to open in December 2013. The new Joplin High School and Franklin Technology Center are tentatively set to open in August 2014.

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In addition to the new schools, there will be several new athletic facilities on campus. There will be gymnasiums at East and Irving. At the high school, there will be three gymnasiums. The old softball, baseball and soccer fields, as well as the football practice field, will be replaced with new facilities on campus. New tennis courts also are in the works. If funding is available, plans are for a track to be placed around the football practice field. Since the tornado, students have had to leave campus to go to practices at various locations. “It’s very exciting

that they will all be state-of-the-art facilities,” Joplin High School Athletics Director Jeff Starkweather said. “Everything will be brand new. It will be great to be back home. It will be great to have us all under one roof. That’s going to be a huge factor for us.” Starkweather said the students are anxious for the new high school and new athletic facilities. “I think they’re ready,” he said. “They’re excited about having something new and having a new normal. ” The main gymnasium at the high school will have seating on all four sides. And while everything will be

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Plans for an end zone facility at Missouri Southern State University include an indoor practice area for football players, a hall of fame, tailgate space and more. (T. Rob Brown)

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new, the programs are determined to maintain a link to their past. Joplin High School’s main gymnasium will be named Kaminsky Gymnasium after legendary coach Russ Kaminsky. The gym also is expected to feature old yearbook photographs of past athletes along the walls. Another way Joplin High is connecting with its past is through the Wendell Redden Most Valuable All Sports Award. The 4-by-8 foot and 120-pound display – which was donated by coach Ken Cochran and members of the Joplin High School 1959 state championship baseball team – will honor MVPs from all 19 of Joplin High’s sports for the next 15 years. Redden, who died in 2011, was a 1951 graduate of Joplin High and was sports editor of the Joplin Globe from 1952 until he retired in 1995. “Obviously, we’re very pleased to be able to display this,” Starkweather said. “It’s a tribute to Wendell Redden, who has been a friend of the Joplin sports programs. He’s a Joplin High graduate. That’s the neat thing about all of this. Coach Cochran is a Joplin High graduate. Wendell Redden is a Joplin High graduate. So we’re going back on our Joplin High history and tying it together with the athletes who will be honored for years to come.”

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progress Bruggeman said talks for the facility also includes an academic success center. “Student-athletes, certainly at the Division II level, are students first,” he said. “As more and more time is involved with sports, we need to make sure students athletes are on course to graduate.” Renovations to the stadium would be focused on

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While Joe Becker Stadium is a historic venue for baseball, Missouri Southern Athletics Director Jared Bruggeman said having a stadium on campus would be a benefit to students. “It will be beneficial for student athletes and for students who want to attend games,” Bruggeman said. “There just aren’t as many students at the games with it off campus. There are students who would love to swing by and watch an hour of a game and then go back to class.”

Hopes for an end zone facility north of Fred G. Hughes Stadium would include locker rooms for baseball and softball, batting cages, offices, a training room and an indoor practice facility for football. The facility also would include a hall of fame and space for alumni events and tailgate activities before games.

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M i ss o u r i S o u t h e r n S tat e U n i v e r s i t y The Missouri Southern State University athletics department is in the process of trying to secure funding for a baseball stadium on campus, an end zone facility on campus and renovations to the football stadium and track.

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An artist’s rendering of the entrance to the future epicenter of Missouri Southern State University athletics. Back in February 2011, the Robert W. Plaster Foundation announced two seven-figure gifts to the school to build a baseball field and a multipurpose athletic facility adjacent to the football field and to renovate Fred G. Hughes Stadium.

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modernizing concession areas, restrooms and seating. Bruggeman said more will be released on the projects as funding is secured.

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Missouri Southern State University Lion hurler Brett Abell hoses down the playing field at Joe Becker Stadium; the newly constructed press box can be see in the background. (B.W. Shepherd)

Joplin Sports Authority Director Craig Hull said the Joplin Athletic Complex helps sell events to the city. “Once a facility is here, we’re trying to sell it to new events to come to town,” Hull said. “Right now, the way I see it as when it comes to facilities, we have a wonderful sports complex out here. The Joplin Athletic Complex – 10 tennis courts, four soccer fields, Wendell Redden and four softball/baseball fields. Across the street, we have an 18-hole public golf course and coming soon will be the aquatic center. Our ability to sell this out here is very positive.”

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The ability to gain more events is linked to having the proper facilities in the community. “We work in a facility-driven business,” Hull said. “If we don’t have the facilities to host the event, the event is not going to come to Joplin.”

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J o p l i n S p o r t s Au t h o r i t y Using sports to drive people to Joplin, the Joplin Sports Authority has added 27 events in the past two years. In 2012, the JSA added 12 youth baseball events, six adult softball competitions, a volleyball tournament, three cheer and dance competitions, two soccer events, a beeper ball tournament and lacrosse. A tennis event was added this year.

Joplin maintenance mechanic Jeff Tennis installs a new HVAC system to the new media box overlooking the playing diamond at historic Joe Becker Stadium. (B.W. Shepherd)

Events planned for 2013 that expect to bring 500 or more athletes include AAU track in June, the Premier Baseball Junior Championship in July, the Licking Volleyball Showcase in July, the 4 Corner Classic Soccer Showcase in July, the MSSU Cross Country Stampede in September, a regional highschool cheerleading competition in September, a state

This month provided a good chance to determine the interest in independent minor league baseball in Joplin. The Wichita Wingnuts played the Kansas City T-Bones in an exhibition game on May 12 at Joe Becker Stadium. The exhibition game was also an opportunity to celebrate 100 years of baseball at Joe Becker, which was a home to the Joplin Miners and other minor league teams from the early 1900s and into the 1950s. If a team came to Joplin, either a new stadium would

need to be built or renovations would need to be made to Joe Becker in order to meet the league’s specifications. Meyer said there are still several hoops to jump through before Joplin could become part of the league. “It all depends on having a stadium and an ownership group,” Meyer said. “And we can’t just add one team. We have to add two teams to the league. “We’ll have the exhibition and go from there.” While the future of a minor league baseball team in Joplin is unclear, the Joplin Outlaws summer collegiate baseball team will play its 2013 season at Joe Becker. The season will begin June 1 with a home game against Ozark.

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A little more than a year later, that possibility remains. “We’ve had continued dialogue with Chris Cotten (director of the Joplin Parks and Recreation Department),” said Charlie Meyer, president of the Lincoln Saltdogs and director of league expansion. “We will continue dialogue and see if there’s a possibility of having a team for the 2014 season.”

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M i n o r l e ag u e b a s e b a l l i n J o p l i n ? In January 2012, a representative of the American Association – a league of independent minor league baseball teams – visited Joplin to explore the possibility of bringing a team to the community.

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high-school cheerleading competition in October an All-Star Cheerleading in November.

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We are very excited to be a part of the future of Joplin!

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Janel Harding helps her son, Hayden, 7, with his swing at the Will Norton Miracle Field. The Miracle League of Joplin – which is for children with disabilities – launched its inaugural season this year on the new field at the Joplin Athletic Complex. (Roger Nomer)

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Chapter

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Here we are now, entertain us m a y

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By Joe Hadsall

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Proposed arts center, festivals play major role in Joplin’s entertainment scene

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Folk rock singer Gino Gebelin performs in downtown Joplin during the St. Patrick’s Day festival sponsored by Way Beyond Events. (T. Rob Brown)

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oplin offers plenty to do, from the wide-open natural spaces on trails to the comfortably crowded clubs downtown.

But eyes are on a bigger prize further down the road. Before the May 22 tornado, plans were revealed for a new performing arts center that could house an auditorium, a theater, a gallery and space for conventions, meetings, receptions and exhibits. It could have a 1,200-seat auditorium and a 500-seat theater. It could provide a space for top-line touring shows and acts. It could host conventions and meetings.

This big, bright London phone booth is the “hidden” entrance to a 1920s-style speakeasy, which flourished in Joplin and across the nation during the prohibition era. The speakeasy overlooks Main Street at 218 S. Main.

Building this facility is still years away, however. “There are a multitude of dominoes that need to continue to fall in place,” said Clifford Wert, treasurer for Connect2Culture, the non-profit group behind the performing arts center. “As we work through the feasibility and planning stages, we are still very focused on this arts and entertainment center.”

This architectural rendering by Corner Greer and Associates shows how a possible performing arts center located near Union Depot could look. (Courtesy/Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce) 95

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Wert said the group has completed the first of three phases in bringing the center to reality, which could cost as much as $70 million, he said. The second phase involves making the case for the center. That means developing more artistic renderings and lining up some funding resources. Such a center would be viewed as a big score for Joplin, said Tricia Patton, director of the Downtown Joplin Alliance. “That piece of entertainment would be really impactful on a local level and on a tourist level,” Patton said. “We don’t really have anyplace where our tremendous vocal theater groups can perform.”

While there are facilities that can handle performances, such as MSSU’s Taylor Performing Arts Center, those are used primarily by the university for the school and its students and staff. Wert said a facility managed by a Joplin agency would be a benefit to everyone. “It’s going to bring greater flexibility, and a lifestyle benefit for those who want to enjoy the arts,” he said. “Our community realizes that to continue to attract and retain people in our community, arts and culture are important elements of the lifestyle people are seeking. We’ve really gained some traction over the last two or three years.”

Construction is planned for a site near First and Main streets. But some of the dominoes that Wert referred to include attempting to obtain grants and searching out tax credit programs. Phase three involves finding the millions in cash to build the center. Finding that money could happen in a variety of ways, from private donors to a public tax approved by voters. Wert said a public vote would be up to the Joplin City Council. D o w n to w n The performing arts center isn’t the only thing proposed for downtown. The area remains a focus of city leaders and entrepreneurs

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The center is part of the city’s SPARK plan – Stimulating Progress through Arts, Recreation and Knowledge of the past – enacted just before the

tornado struck. The plan also includes constructing an amphitheater, a town green and possible restoration of Union Depot.

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A peek inside the 1920s-era speakeasy, complete with a Persian rug, 1920s furniture and “all the character of long ago.”

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The amount of people suggests a course of action: More festivals.

“Our community realizes that to continue to attract and retain people in our community, arts and culture are important elements of the lifestyle people are seeking.”—Clifford Wert

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But festivals aren’t a rising tide that lifts all boats. Patton said that while restaurants and entertainment venues do well during festivals, the retail and service businesses don’t see the same level of success. “Retail stores have to overstaff because there are a number of

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Downtown certainly looks strong during every third Thursday of the month — the group’s Third Thursday attracts thousands to the downtown blocks of Main Street for art, food, music and more.

Other groups have seen such a need. Way Beyond Events has started seasonal celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day and Oktoberfest, and experimented with other festival ideas. Landreth Park, while not technically in Joplin’s downtown area, is close enough to host bigger festivals that require more open space.

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But right now, downtown is a little bit more active at night – new bars and dinner restaurants seem to be outpacing new retail shops. “Since I’ve been director, the night side has been more thriving than the dayside,” Patton said. “Having said that, downtown has strong serviceoriented factors, such as embroidery, cellphone repair and financial services. Those are strong components.”

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Members of Rebuild Joplin wave to the crowd as they travel down Main Street during the St. Patrick’s Day parade. (T. Rob Brown)

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Danielle Goswick, a server at the Longhorn Steak House, poses for a photo at the restaurant at 20th Street and Range Line Road, a location that was the path of the 2011 tornado. (B.W. Shepherd)

people, yet generally their sales don’t increase,” Patton said. “But we do know that there are a percentage of those customers who found out about those stores through those events.” Though future festivals will be planned carefully, Patton said a full events calender, with street-closing festivals and simple organic events, gives the alliance a lot to get excited about.

Walkability remains one of the big work areas for the alliance, Patton said. The sector has seen sidewalk revitalization over the last few years, and more storefront space over the last year. “We get phone calls on a regular basis from people looking for new boutiques and gift shops,” Patton said. “That has to do with walkability, and how people in Joplin continue to change their perceptions about how far they are willing to walk to get to a cool store.”

• Freddy’s will return with a new restaurant a few blocks from where its old building was destroyed in the tornado. • Palace Pizza will open at the 100 block of South Main. Movies Soon, movie fans could have a second option for watching their favorite comedies or thrillers.

Th e at e r The Joplin area is particularly rich in community theater organizations – such as Joplin Little Theatre, Stone’s Throw Dinner Theatre and Heartland Opera Theatre – and schools with strong theater departments One group is working to build a new theater, however. Stained Glass Theatre’s building on 26th Street was destroyed in the May 22 tornado. The group is working

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• HuHot, a Mongolian grill also open in Springfield, will be opening across the street from Five Guys.

Joplin’s existing theater complex, Northstar 14, is also changing. It has been sold to Regal Entertainment Group, based out of Knoxville, Tenn.

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• Chipotle will also open up at Seventh and Range Line, in a new strip mall built on the site of the old Grand Fortuna.

No theater company has been proposed for that project, however. That means questions remain about the number of screens and the types of moves it will show.

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• Five Guys Hamburgers, which usually builds in shopping malls, will open a unique restaurant at 1801 S. Range Line, where a Sonic used to be.

Joplin’s master developer firm has proposed building a theater along with a proposed new library. The $38 million building could provide enough space for multiple screens — as many as 15 have been proposed.

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Dining Joplin continues to be a draw for restaurants rebuilding or new ones opening for business. Over the last few months, plans have been announced for several restaurants to offer meals of all sorts:

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“We get phone calls on a regular basis from people looking for new boutiques and gift shops.” — Tricia Patton

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The Travel Guide, a band from Wichita, Kan., rock out during a recent headlining gig at Blackthorn Pizza and Pub. The band has made several trips to Joplin in the past year as they perform across the Midwest. (Ryan Richardson)

to rebuild on nearby land donated by Mercy Hospital. The capital campaign is under way; officials hope to build a 200-to 250-seat theater with enough storage for sets and costumes. Estimates of the building’s cost are between $1.5 to $2 million. Casinos Though there aren’t any active building plans for new casinos in the region, the area’s current players are improving what they already have.

• Indigo Sky is the new home of the former Bordertown Casino in Seneca. The new casino added restaurants, a hotel and a trailer park to its expanded gaming floor. • Downstream Casino recently completed a second hotel at its casino in Quapaw. The $50 million Kappa Hotel complex added 152 rooms to the hotel’s capacity.


Joplin Metro Magazine, The Blueprint, May 2013