By Susan Redden
One state representative from Joplin and several residents from the area have been named to a new state commission to assess Missouri’s disaster recovery efforts.
Plans for the committee — the Interim Commission on Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery — were announced by House Speaker Steve Tilley on Thursday. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder will chair the commission, which will include state Rep. Bill White, of Joplin, and area residents Bennie Crossland, Crossland Construction; Morris Glaze, a member of the Joplin City Council; Dwight Douglas, Freeman Health Systems; and Jim Honey, Jasper County associate commissioner.
House Speaker Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, was named as vice chairman of the commission. Tilley said Schoeller would be an asset to the committee because of the knowledge he gained as chairman of the Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery in 2011.
White also was on that panel, along with state Reps. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, and Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage. State Sen. Ron Richard served on a similar group named in the Senate.
The goal of the commission is to take a detailed look at how the state responded to disasters, such as those that occurred in 2011, to be better prepared for the future.
Tilley cited tornadoes that hit Joplin and other communities, and flooding that affected other parts of the state, saying the panel will “assess the role played by state and local governments, and whether they have provided the best possible service to the people of the state.”
He said some weaknesses in the state plan had been exposed by the incidents in 2011.
“I look forward to working with the commission to find areas where we can improve our level of preparedness and our response efforts in the future,” he said.
Schoeller said the commission’s work would differ from that of panels a year ago because communities including Joplin are farther along in responding.
“When we were holding hearings a year ago, they (officials in disaster areas) were still responding and gathering information about the impact,” he said. “It’s important for us to be able to find out what’s been learned, a year later.”
Though Tilley’s announcement cites disasters across the state, also mentioning flooding in agricultural areas, the only rank-and-file members of the committee are Joplin-area residents.
White said he had not heard of other appointments, adding “my interpretation is that is because the costs were so high here in terms of lives and dollars.”
The panel is to submit its findings by the end of the year.
Other committee members are Rep. Don Gosen, R- Chesterfield; Rep. Steve Hodges, D-East Prairie; Shelley Keeney, R-Marble Hill; Rep. Sylvester Taylor, D-Black Jack.