JOPLIN, Mo. —
They often live alone in a rental home and survive on a Social Security check that averages $800 a month. With limited income, some of these seniors must choose between food and prescription drugs each month. Few have children to help them.
It’s a bleak picture that’s only going to get worse as the baby boomer generation and its 80 million members age. By 2015, it is predicted, there will be more seniors in the United States than children.
But a group of area residents, inspired by examples of successful senior housing in Scandinavia, have come up with a new approach for Joplin, creating a community of seniors who live, work and enjoy life together. It’s being called Oasis Village.
“We are passionate about this project,’’ said Dick Weber, a Joplin resident who is spearheading the financial campaign to make the village happen on 10 acres of property that has been acquired south of McClelland Park.
He’s working with David Heltzel, another Joplin resident, to convince community leaders that this model is a better way to care for part of the area’s aging population.
“This has never been done before. It would be another first for Joplin,’’ said Weber. “It’s a business model that we think will be easy to replicate. People would come to Joplin to see how it is done and how it works.’’
Unlike a retirement community, Heltzel said, Oasis Village will be funded by the work of the 40 to 60 seniors residents who live there. They must commit to 20 hours of work per week. That will allow each resident to retain individual financial resources, including Social Security, while allowing the village to operate with no government support.
Stephanie Brady, an administrative consultant and former board member for the project, said some of the jobs would be in the village, such as landscaping, maintenance, cooking and office work. Other jobs could be created off-site.
The housing would consist of living units of 700 to 900 square feet each with a common house that would allow members of the village to have privacy in their cottage and as much community involvement as they desire outside their front door. A common house would provide for communal dining to lower food costs, and would emphasize the sharing of laundry facilities, a village van, a workshop, a greenhouse, vegetable gardens, an orchard and tools. The small living units would be designed to minimize utility costs. Residents would be responsible for their own auto expenses.
“Once the village is up and running with residents in their homes and working, no further outside funding would be needed,’’ Heltzel said.
Heltzel also said the concept, developed by Joplin businessman Jon Lowry, would provide purpose and dignity to low-income healthy seniors through a self-sustaining and socially active community.
“One of the things we are stressing is that no government money is involved in this,’’ said Weber.
“The people get to keep their Social Security. They earn their cottage and a couple of meals a day by working 20 hours a week,’’ he added. “The village gets that income. Once it is complete, it will sustain itself.’’
The concept includes two paid employees — an on-site resident manager and executive director who reports to the Oasis board of directors.
Fundraising to build the cottages, designed by the Joplin-based architect firm of Hunter and Millard, has started. The needed capital is projected at $2.13 million, the men said.
Private, corporate and nonprofit donations that are tax-deductible are being sought to fund the starting and building phases. In-kind assistance will include furniture, power tools, appliances, kitchen utensils and construction materials.
“We will be contacting companies and individuals who would like to build a cottage in memory of a family member or have their company’s name on it,’’ said Weber.
Construction is targeted to begin before the end of the year.
“This is a locals-helping-locals project,” Heltzel said. “The residents who live there will have pride of ownership, and work to sustain the village, themselves and their neighbors.’’
JOPLIN, Mo. —
- Local News
Former Webb City teacher charged with sexual contact with student
A former Webb City High School choir teacher was charged Tuesday in Jasper County Circuit Court with having sexual contact with a student. According to a probable-cause statement, Carrie Njoroge, 30, of Oronogo, had consensual sexual intercourse with an 18-year-old male student in her office at Webb City High School during the evening hours of April 15.
Carthage Council reorganizes
The Carthage City Council has one new member after Paul McCoy was sworn in Tuesday as 2nd Ward councilman. Oaths of office also were repeated by Mayor Mike Harris, and Councilmen Lee Carlson, Jason Shelfer, Kirby Newport and Brady Beckham, all re-elected in city balloting on April 8. Councilman Dan Rife was re-elected as mayor pro tem.
New Powell bridge to open today
Great River Associates engineer Spencer Jones, of Springfield, is planning a final inspection of the new Powell bridge on Cowan Road off Route E, to be followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. today. The initial cost for the bridge was put at $800,000.
Mike Pound: Spring a great time to visit Carver monument
It occurred to me when the woman passed me — for the second time — as I ambled along the walking trail at George Washington Carver National Monument that perhaps I should step up the pace of my amble. The only problem is, the walking trail at the monument isn’t a place that necessarily inspires a stepped-up amble. To me, the Carver monument is a place to linger.
Season opens Friday for Carthage Art Walk
Art, music and other activities are scheduled Friday when a new season of the Carthage Art Walk opens on the courthouse square. Displays and programs set for 6 to 9 p.m. will showcase galleries, artists, restaurants and shops. Special events will feature a timed painting and a demonstration of an 1896 printing press.
Missouri lawmakers file three resolutions calling for impeaching governor
While Gov. Jay Nixon was in Nevada, Mo., on Wednesday, a Missouri House panel led by Republicans began hearing arguments on three measures calling for impeaching him. Nixon has downplayed the proceedings as a legislative “publicity stunt.” One resolution, sponsored by Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, is critical of Nixon for waiting several months to call special elections to fill three vacated House seats.
SLIDE SHOW: Moving day for biology and chemistry building at Pittsburg State
They didn’t all go two-by-two, and the person in charge wasn’t named Noah, but nonetheless, critters of all shapes and sizes were on the move Wednesday. Students, volunteers and staff members helped Delia Lister, director of Nature Reach, relocate everything from a pair of prairie dogs to a vocal macaw named Charlie so that Heckert-Wells Hall — the biology and chemistry building where they are housed on the campus of Pittsburg State University — can undergo a $4.4 million transformation in the coming months.
Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns
Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.
3M plant expansion to create 22 jobs
An $18.7 million expansion at the 3M Co. manufacturing plant in Nevada will create 22 new jobs, a company official said Wednesday. “We started 43 years ago as a small manufacturer,” said Todd Cantrell, plant manager, in a meeting with employees. “We are now the largest 3M plant in the state of Missouri and one of the largest of all 3M plants.”
Nixon: Tax-cut bill holds fatal flaw; area lawmakers say stance totally false
Another year has brought yet another tax-cut fight between Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and the Republican-led Missouri General Assembly, and on Tuesday, Nixon announced that he had found what he sees as a fatal flaw.
- More Local News Headlines
- Former Webb City teacher charged with sexual contact with student