By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Projects completed last year at the Jasper County Courthouse will be celebrated in ceremonies Thursday in the courthouse lobby.
County officials will join representatives of local chambers of commerce and others for a ribbon-cutting and open house to mark the opening of a Route 66 display in the lobby and a new “peace star” atop the building.
Both projects were completed last year, with federal funds paying for the Route 66 display and the new star financed by a grant from the Ruth I. Kolpin Foundation, said Jim Honey, Eastern District associate commissioner.
The program, which is open to the public, will begin at 10 a.m. with Chuck Surface, Webb City economic development director, serving as master of ceremonies. Surface is former presiding county commissioner, and plans for the Route 66 display were started during his tenure.
John Bartosh, presiding commissioner, and Darieus Adams and Honey, associate commissioners, will participate along with the Rev. Gary Shaw, a city councilman and former mayor in Joplin.
The keynote speaker will be Brad Belk, director of the Joplin Museum Complex, who will present a brief history of Route 66. The author of several books on Joplin history, Belk also researched and co-wrote a number of historical documentaries for Ozarks Public Television, including one on Route 66. He helped develop the Route 66 exhibit in the courthouse, along with Chris Wiseman, curator of collections at the museum.
The display, which repeats the curved-front design of Carthage’s Boots Drive-In, is attracting an increasing number of visitors, said Honey.
“It’s unbelievable how many people travel Route 66, especially people from other countries,” he said. “We also have a new brochure highlighting Route 66 through here, and it will be available Thursday.”
The event also will celebrate a new “peace star” on top of the courthouse. The purchase and installation were made possible by a $10,000 grant from the Ruth I. Kolpin Foundation, Honey said. The donation came after problems with the original star became more difficult to fix.
“That was older technology, and this is new LED lighting, and it’s worked very well,” said Honey. “People got to see it during the last Christmas season, and we got a lot of good comments.”
Original ‘peace star’
Ruth Kolpin was responsible for the original star, which was added to the courthouse in the early 1970s. It was dedicated in ceremonies that attracted governors from four states.