The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 16, 2013

Habitat home nears completion; 18 more on track to be finished by May 22

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — EDITOR’S NOTE: The Joplin Globe, in a series, is telling the story of the many hands that play a role in recovery from the 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 story.

The story of the house at 2630 S. Wall Ave. that dozens of volunteers built is nearing the end. Within three weeks Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity will conduct a dedication ceremony, and homeowners Ed and Angela Kunce will move in.

Between now and then, a flurry of activity by professionals and volunteers will mean the completion of the flooring, appliances put in place and landscaping done.

“We’re definitely getting there,” said Executive Director Scott Clayton. “Our goal to have it dedicated the week of March 4.”

While the home’s story has been under the microscope of Globe coverage since last October, it is but one of 71 that will be completed by Joplin Area Habitat by the time the two-year anniversary of the tornado rolls around May 22.

Work on them never stops, Clayton said: 52 down, 19 to go.

“The amazing thing is that we have, as of right now, counting the one on Wall, 19 houses under construction. At the end of March, we’ll have those houses complete. We’ll be having a lot of dedications, which will be really good,” Clayton said.

Then, Joplin Habitat volunteer coordinator Laura Edwards and construction manager Matt McGee will take a breath and focus on the next task at hand: plans for 2013 that include the construction of an additional 18 houses, starting in April.

Fifteen building lots have been donated or sold and are ready to go, Clayton said, but Habitat needs to secure three more — preferably donated, in order to keep costs to a minimum.

“We’re almost there on lots, we just need three more. If someone has one that could support a house, they can contact us; we’ll do a title search, then we’ll take it from there,” he said.

To qualify, the lots must be at least 50 feet by 100 feet, and don’t necessarily have to be in the tornado zone. If a lot is donated rather than sold, homeowners may claim it as charitable giving on taxes.

That’s what Tomie Avant, a Carl Junction attorney, did. The owner of the historic home that once sat at 2630 S. Wall Ave. but was leveled by the tornado, Avant decided to donate the lot rather than go through rebuilding there.

“Now we just hope there are some other lot owners out there who will do the same thing,” Clayton said.