The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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September 6, 2012

VIDEO: St. John’s main tower reluctantly yields to demolition effort

JOPLIN, Mo. — The last remnant of St. John’s Regional Medical Center came crashing down at 4:35 p.m. Thursday, but getting it to fall was not an easy task.

The north bay of the medical center’s main tower was prepared Wednesday by workers who used torches to make cuts in the nine steel legs that supported the nine-story structure.

Cables attached to the legs were pulled by heavy machinery on the ground. Several attempts were made Wednesday to pull the legs out from under the structure, which took an irreparable hit in the 2011 tornado. Those attempts, which proved to be unsuccessful, concluded at 8 p.m.

On Thursday morning, workers were dispatched to Tulsa, Okla., to acquire additional cable. The cable was attached to the last legs at 2:30 p.m. After two or three more attempts, the last legs gave way.

Jeff Teagarden, vice president for special projects with Dore & Associates Contracting, said: “There is a sequence we must follow when we do this because safety is first — always. We used more cables than necessary as a safety factor.”

The bay was challenging because each floor was cross-braced. That prevented the bay from sagging and falling in on itself, Teagarden said.

The majority of the cleanup project is to be finished this month, he said.

Representatives of Sisters of Mercy Health System conducted a prayer service Wednesday at the site in preparation for what was expected to be the final demolition work that day.

The prayer was read by Terry Wachter, vice president of mission and ministry for Mercy Hospital Joplin, who said: “The Sisters of Mercy saw the need to serve the area’s mining community in its day, and this building outlined the path to state-of-the-art treatment for a full range of health concerns.”

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