The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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August 22, 2013

Owner: Damaged building on Joplin's Main Street could be saved

JOPLIN, Mo. — The fate of a building in the 900 block of South Main Street that was accidentally damaged more than a week ago is still to be determined, according to its owner.

Steve Melton, the owner of 918-920 S. Main St., said he is working with the insurance company of B&D Yard Builders to decide how to proceed with the damage to his building. The Joplin construction company was overseeing the demolition of a nearby building last week when a collapsing wall accidentally put a hole in the side of Melton’s building.

“Their insurance company is being real positive,” he said. “They’re in contact with me, and we’re working on a solution.”

Melton said the front half of the building, the half that faces Main Street, is still intact. The back half, an add-on to the original structure, is the portion that is damaged. One option, he said, is to remove the back half of the building and replace it with a parking lot.

Another option, if it’s feasible, is to repair the damaged wall and roof and keep the entire structure in place, he said.

“I’m hopeful that we’re going to save this building,” he said.

Melton, a cabinetmaker by trade, said he used the building as a “base of operation” for his repair work. He said that while the building is out of commission, he will move his machines elsewhere so he can continue to work. He said several church groups have offered to help him move his equipment out.

Melton said it’s also possible that he could move into another of the buildings on the 900 block, a few of which he owns, to continue his work.

“I don’t want to start tearing buildings down to the south of us,” he said. “This is my retirement plan down here on Main Street. I plan on fixing these buildings up over time.”

Melton’s building was damaged in the demolition last week of the former C.R. Davis Grocery building at 914 S. Main St., just to the north. The city’s Public Works Department said a portion of the grocery store’s wall “kicked out” during the demolition, injuring an employee of the contractor and knocking a hole in the northern wall of Melton’s building.

The grocery store was demolished on orders of the city because it was determined to be structurally unsound after its northern neighbor, the former Carl Adams building, 910-912 S. Main St., collapsed last month. And a fire just over a year ago destroyed the Rains Brothers building just to the north of that building.

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    The constitutional amendment, sent to the voters by the Legislature this year, would temporarily increase Missouri’s sales tax by three-quarters of 1 percent, raising an estimated $5.4 billion for the next decade to fund transportation projects. That includes more than $114.1 million in state funds for projects in Newton and Jasper counties, on top of additional revenue for localities that would be raised.
    After the Missouri Department of Transportation downsized in recent years, these projects are now mostly designed and built by private engineers, contractors and laborers — many of whom have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to a campaign effort to sway voters to support the measure.
    Last Monday — eight days ahead of the primary election day — supporters of the measure reported having raised more than $4.1 million for a campaign committee called Missourians For Safe Transportation and New Jobs, which was established last fall to support the measure.
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    Lamping said the money pouring into the campaign supporting Amendment 7 is indicative of the financial gain the measure bodes for contractors and laborers.  
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    Lamping, who filibustered a similar measure in 2013, said Republicans have an ideological consistency problem on the issue. He pointed to the Legislature passing a sales tax increase only a few weeks after overriding Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of an income tax cut that will largely help businesses organized as limited liability corporations, like many of the companies that could benefit from the measure. Lamping said that the tax increase will mostly affect taxpayers who did not get a significant tax cut.
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    The ad campaign being funded mostly by the business interests features paramedics and construction workers claiming the measure would “fix our roads and keep Missouri families safe.”
    “We have a chance to give our highways and bridges the repairs they need,” says one ad, which is running in Joplin and statewide in the lead up to Tuesday’s vote. “We have a chance to fix what’s broken by voting yes on Amendment 7.”
    The commercial uses a lot of words to talk about the benefits of the measure, but two words in particular are noticeably absent from the commercial: “Tax increase.”  
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    “We think using the sales tax to fund road projects is poor policy for the state of Missouri,” he said. “It should be rejected.”
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