The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 13, 2014

Carthage holds groundbreaking for new early childhood center

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Carthage School District officials and supporters gathered Thursday for a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new early childhood center to be constructed on Fairview Avenue.

The building will combine early childhood service education, early childhood special services and the Parents as Teachers program, which currently are scattered in different parts of the district.

Financing for the building will combine federal funds and donations from the Carthage community, and that support was highlighted during the groundbreaking ceremony.

Lee Elliff Pound, school board president, said the contributions for the building and the large turnout at the gathering “shows Carthage R-9 has quite a few friends.”

Funding will come from a $350,000 grant from the Steadley Foundation; donations of $100,000 each from Ruth I. Kolpin Rubison and Felix Wright; and, for the playground, $15,000 from Mark and Vicki Elliff, Mike and Lee Elliff Pound, and Anne Elliff. Portions of the building are being named after Rubison and Wright, and additional donations are being accepted.

Beth James, special services director, said students will benefit from all the services being in a single location.

“It’s more than a building; it represents a better future for kids,” she said.

The ceremony was held just before the monthly meeting of the school board, held at Fairview Elementary School.

Officials during the session displayed the artist’s renderings of additions to the current Carthage Middle School and construction of a new Fourth and Fifth Grade Center that will be constructed if voters approve an $18 million bond issue on the April election ballot.

At the close of the meeting, Mark Westhoff, longtime board member, made a public statement in which he apologized for his recent arrest for driving while intoxicated. Westhoff was stopped Sunday morning in Newton County by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Westhoff said he wanted to make the public apology to the board and others involved in the district.

“I made a mistake,” he said. “I hope to put it behind me and become a stronger person. If anything good can come from it, I hope other people can learn from my mistake.”

Westhoff also praised district officials, teachers and school board members for their efforts on behalf of the district and students.

“My mistake should not diminish that,” he said. “I’m truly sorry. I beg for forgiveness and hope we can get on with the work at hand.”


THE CARTHAGE SCHOOL BOARD on Thursday recognized Mark Sponaugle of the Carthage Technical Center, who has been named Regional Adviser of the Year for the Skills USA program at the tech center. The recognition makes Sponaugle one of the top five advisers in the nation and puts him in competition for the national honor.

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