The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 9, 2012

Coordinating multiple homes no easy task for Habitat manager

JOPLIN, Mo. — EDITOR’S NOTE: The Joplin Globe, in an ongoing series, is telling the story of the many hands that play a role in recovery from the May 22, 2011, tornado, by following the construction of a Habitat for Humanity home at 2630 S. Wall Ave. Every piece of the home and every volunteer has a story.

One day last week, Matt McGee received 46 calls before 8 a.m. That’s not unusual, he said, for someone managing the simultaneous construction of 41 homes.

“I don’t have the perfect answer for how you do it. You just get in and you do it. We have a great team, great volunteers, great professionals. Every day is nonstop,” said McGee, construction manager for Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity.

In his first few months on the job, he tried color-coded tools to stay organized.

“I started with a board with all the addresses of all the homes, and every morning I would go in the office early and update what was going on at each house — things volunteers could do in one color, professionals in another color,” McGee said.

That worked until he ran out of boards.

Habitat has finished 40 homes in the area since the tornado on May 22, 2011, and in the next two weeks will hand over the keys to many more homes.

One of those homes is at 2630 S. Wall Ave., which when finished will belong to Ed and Angela Kunce.

“They’re getting ready to begin paying rent for the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) trailer they’re living in, so that adds a sense of urgency,” McGee said.

As a result, he is putting in six-day weeks, averaging 100 calls a day, and has been at it since 6 a.m. May 23, 2011 — the day after the tornado.

A native of Festus, south of St. Louis, McGee attended Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar to pursue a degree in business. There are five generations of Baptist preachers in his family, and he was drawn to the Christian ministry through music.

“My senior year there, I signed a record deal — I didn’t go looking for it, but my best buddy and I recorded a CD to hand out and one thing led to another,” he said.

It landed him on the Top 10 list of independent artists, had great radio play, and he toured nationally and internationally. But when it came time to record a second album, McGee needed to clear his head and took a job working with a builder in Springfield. He learned a lot about the construction industry.

At age 23, he and a friend bought a downtown building in Springfield, renovated it into six lofts and restaurants, and started their own construction company. That led him to a job with Habitat for Humanity in Springfield, which led him to Joplin when the storm hit.

“I knew the (Habitat) affiliate here would be growing, but I didn’t know to what capacity, how big or how fast,” said McGee, now 31. He accepted an offer from Executive Director Scott Clayton to serve as construction manager, and for the first five months commuted from Springfield because he couldn’t find a place to live locally.

“The third day on the job they announced we would build 10 homes in 16 days and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, what have I done?’” McGee said.

“But you just jump in, you figure it out, you work together, and sometimes you pray about it — pray for wisdom, for perseverance, sometimes for patience. Habitat has always made a difference. Now we’re just making a difference on a bigger scale.”

Text Only
Local News
  • ArtFest.jpg Giant footballs arrive in Pittsburg; organizers seeking more underwriters, artists for event

    Twenty-four giant fiberglass footballs arrived in Pittsburg on Wednesday to officially kick off SEK Art Fest’s second annual public art event.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cancer patient’s drug, probation cases postponed ‘until further notice’

    A Joplin woman who is battling a rare type of cancer has gotten a temporary reprieve in her drug and probation cases so she can focus on her health issues, according to her attorney. Velma Crain, who appeared Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court, was facing the possible revocation of her probation after having been arrested last year on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance.

    April 15, 2014

  • Suspect in assault on officer apprehended in Texas

    The U.S. Marshals Service caught up with a suspect in Texas who was wanted in an assault on a Seneca police officer and alleged probation violations in Arkansas. Cory A. Rantz, 25, is being held in Collin County north of Dallas on warrants issued in Missouri and Arkansas. Federal marshals reportedly located the fugitive at a strip mall in Texas on Monday afternoon and took him into custody.

    April 15, 2014

  • Ex-Jasper teacher’s aide accused of sexual contact with student

    A former teacher’s aide at Jasper High School has been charged with having sexual relations with a 16-year-old student and is being investigated for possible sexual contact with other boys at the school. Janice L. Rusk, 43, was arrested Tuesday and charged with second-degree statutory rape and second-degree statutory sodomy following investigations by school officials and law enforcement.

    April 15, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Open a beer, chat with Tom, see his exhibit

    I like to think that I would have gotten along with Thomas Hart Benton. Sure, I’ve read that sometimes Tom (I think I can call him Tom) could be grouchy, and if someone said something stupid or acted like a jerk, he didn’t mind telling that person exactly what he thought of him. But hey, I grew up with people like that.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • r041514recycledfashion.jpg Joplin High School students to model ‘recycled’ dresses at fashion show

    Audrey Kaman will walk the runway later this week wearing a dress she designed herself — made out of 250 doilies. “I’d say it’s a fun dress,” the Joplin High School sophomore said. “It’s not really elegant because it’s short, but it’s cute.”

    April 15, 2014 4 Photos

  • Shooter in Joplin murder sentenced to life in prison

    The teen convicted of being the triggerman in the murder of Jacob Wages was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole. At a hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin, Circuit Judge Gayle Crane followed a jury’s recommendations in assessing Daniel D. Hartman, 18, two life sentences on convictions for second-degree murder and armed criminal action, and 15 years on a conviction for burglary.

    April 15, 2014

  • Interchange construction work near Carterville to create safer off-ramp

    As the Missouri Department of Transportation begins rebuilding eastbound ramps at the Missouri Highway 171 and Route HH interchange near Carterville this week, drivers can expect ramp and occasional lane closures. The $1.5 million project, funded by the state, will increase the distance between ramps for drivers traveling northbound on Highway 249 and exiting eastbound to Highway 171.

    April 15, 2014

  • Commission awards contract for bridge replacement project

    The Jasper County Commission on Tuesday approved a contract for construction of a new bridge on County Road 48.

    April 15, 2014

  • Neosho Ethics Board calls witnesses in complaint against council members

    City Manager Troy Royer on Monday night described what he said was an assault by City Councilman Steve Hart, and other incidents involving Hart and Councilman David Ruth. His statements were made to the Neosho Ethics Board, which is investigating a complaint filed against Hart and Ruth. Board members had described Royer as their key witness.

    April 15, 2014

Must Read


In an effort to curb prostitution, St. Louis police are targeting, and perhaps humiliating, the "johns" who use the services. Postcards mailed to the homes of those charged with trying to pick up prostitutes will offer a reminder about spreading sexually transmitted diseases, along with listing the court date. Do you think this is a good approach?

A. Yes.
N. No.
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter