The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 18, 2014

Joplin faces tight deadline for tornado repair projects

JOPLIN, Mo. — Joplin has a tight time frame to spend the $14 million allocated by the state for infrastructure repairs after the May 2011 tornado, members of the Joplin City Council were told Monday night.

The council during the session approved an agreement with the state on projects to be completed with the state money, which must be spent by June 30, 2015, said Nick Heatherly, public works director.

He said the city staff had identified most of the proposed work, including the reconstruction, replacement and renovation of streets, curbs, gutters, and wastewater and storm sewers in the tornado zone. The funds were authorized by the Legislature at the urging of Sen. Ron Richard, who is Senate majority leader and a former Joplin mayor. The money is being allocated through the Missouri Department of Economic Development and is to be used for infrastructure repairs not covered by federal funds.

The council also approved site development agreements involving the city, the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. and two companies developing senior housing in the tornado zone. The council last September approved an agreement for development of senior housing near 26th Street and McClelland Boulevard and near 26th Street and McCoy Avenue. Brian Head, city attorney, said the measure was approved as a single item, but developers have determined that the two projects need to be separated since they involve different types of funding.

The action also is expected to allow the developer to move more quickly to buy the property from the JRC and to start construction on the project planned for the 26th Street and McCoy Avenue site.

Councilman Mike Seibert said he is glad the city staff is “staying diligent” on the projects, noting it “speaks to the frustration we heard about” from residents concerning some rebuilding projects.

In other action, the council authorized a $294,959 contract with Olsson and Associates for management of a project to widen Maiden Lane between Ninth and 32nd streets, and a $24,000 contract with the firm to provide reporting services on a federal grant to fund street repairs.

The council also made several appointments to city advisory boards, including Gregg Wilkerson, to the Tree Board; Don Helms, to the Americans With Disabilities Act Board; and Josh DeTar and William Kean, to the Park Board. Kean is the husband of Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean, and she abstained from the vote.

The council in informal session authorized expenditures of money previously earmarked for the Mother Road Marathon to go to a “Cinema in the Park” project, and for additional costs on the Route 66 mural on Main Street and to renew the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau’s community event grant program.

The council earlier had directed Patrick Tuttle, director of the tourism bureau, to work with the CVB advisory board and develop recommendations for the $80,000 that would have gone to the marathon, which has been canceled.

Tuttle said the panel recommended buying equipment for a summer movie program that could be conducted by the Parks and Recreation Department, along with the events grant program, at $20,000 annually, plus about $25,000 for cost overruns at the mural.

The council authorized the three items and agreed that the remaining funds will go unspent for the time being.

Also in the informal session, the council heard a report on plans to link the computer aided dispatch systems of the Joplin Emergency Dispatch Center and the Jasper County Emergency Services Board as the first step in consolidating the two operations. Police Chief Lane Roberts and April Tarrant, executive director of the county operation, said the link will improve communications with emergency callers and between the two centers. The council directed Head, the city attorney, to work with the county board’s attorney to draft an operating agreement.

Recognitions

THE CITY COUNCIL recognized representatives of VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) in advance of the second annual Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service, set for April 1. The council also approved a resolution affirming Joplin’s acceptance to be designated a Purple Heart City, and recognized members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and accepted a plaque and flag from the group.

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