The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

March 14, 2013

Rebuilding after tornado damage, Joplin parks get ready for spring

JOPLIN, Mo. — Today’s temperatures in the 70s invariably will attract some area residents to local parks for some summer-like recreation.

Winter can be a downtime for park systems. Crews generally catch up on maintenance and prepare to shift into high gear in the spring.

That’s hardly the case for the Joplin Parks and Recreation Department, which is overseeing the construction of a new swimming pool complex, directing the rehabilitation and upgrading of parks damaged by the May 2011 tornado, and helping with the planting of thousands of trees to replace those destroyed in the storm.

Chris Cotten, Joplin parks director, is quick to point out that park improvements have been boosted by generosity from volunteers and organizations throughout Missouri and nationwide.

In fact, one new city park in southwest Joplin was developed entirely by volunteers. Ceremonies set for 11 a.m. today will celebrate volunteer efforts in the park located in the Cedar Ridge subdivision near 28th Street off South Country Club Drive.

“The city was given the property, but with all that we were doing after the tornado, we didn’t have the money or manpower to take it on,” Cotten said. “Then all these other groups just stepped forward.”

Officials and volunteers from the Missouri Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church will be on hand today to dedicate a park shelter that church volunteers constructed, with funding by the church group’s Office of Creative Ministries.

“We’ve done a lot of work on homes and with families, but we wanted to do a community project as well,” said Dan Steska, disaster response coordinator for the statewide church group.

A new playground was constructed by CrossWay Bible Church of Blue Springs.

Another park that has received boundless help in donations and volunteer labor was seeing a lot of activity on Thursday.

At Cunningham Park, some adults were having lunch or walking on trails. The action was at the Boomtown play area, which was being swarmed by children enjoying ramps, slides and the climbing wall.

Amy Obermiller, of Joplin, watched as 5-year-old son Grady took advantage of a pole to slide down from the structure.

“He wants to be a fireman,” she said.

Obermiller said there’s much in the park for children to enjoy. She said she remembers sitting with Grady under big shade trees in the park before the tornado.

“I miss the trees, but the kids don’t seem to mind,” she said.

The city has planted 161 new trees in the park, to memorialize the 161 lives lost in the tornado.

Andrew Clemmons, of Joplin, was at the park with Cassie, his 19-month-old daughter. He said she likes the slides.

More improvements are planned at Cunningham, Cotten said, including a rose garden, additional parking and another leg of the walking trail.

“We’re just finishing the last picnic shelter there,” he said.

Construction is under way on a $5.8 million pool at Schifferdecker Park. The complex will include two diving boards, four water flumes, a climbing wall, a log roll and a lazy river, and will accommodate competition swimming as the home of the Joplin Swim Team.

Renovations also are under way at Parr Hill and Garvin parks.

Efforts were slowed, Cotten said, because lead in the soil unearthed by the tornado had to be addressed before other construction could begin.

At Garvin Park, playground equipment has been repaired and the shelter has been reroofed, but the park won’t be opened for use until grass can be established.

Among improvements at the renovated Parr Hill Park will be playgrounds, three shelters, a children’s splash pad, off-street parking and a dog park. Previously, the park had a single playground and shelter, and no off-street parking.

More help

AMONG THOSE EATING LUNCH at Cunningham Park on Thursday were members of Sojourn Collegiate Ministry, a 22-member group of students and staff members from colleges in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They are volunteering in Joplin over their spring break.

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May 2011 Joplin tornado
  • Local new-home construction catches up to previous pace

    After a slow start early in this fiscal year for Joplin, the construction of new houses has resumed at the pace that existed in fiscal year 2013, when permits for new houses averaged more than 16 per month. Since November, the beginning of Joplin’s fiscal year, permits for 118 houses have been issued for a total cost of $12.8 million. The average value has been about $108,000.

    June 11, 2014

  • 052212 unity walk1_72.jpg SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary

    May 22, 2012 1 Photo

  • 060314 Farmers rebuild 1_72.jpg Farmers Insurance writes manual based on experience from Joplin disaster recovery

    Joplin’s housing recovery from the 2011 tornado is one for the books. Jeff Dailey, CEO of Farmers Insurance, announced Tuesday that not only will Farmers Insurance stick with Rebuild Joplin to repair and replace the homes left on the local group’s waiting list, but the company also will kick off a similar recovery effort today for the city of Sea Bright, New Jersey, based on a book it has written to expedite disaster recovery that is based on its experience in Joplin.

    June 3, 2014 2 Photos

  • r052214butterflygarden.jpg New park feature opens on tornado anniversary to encourage healing

    Cunningham Park has become an emotional place for Pamela Praytor. The name of her son, Christopher Lucas, is engraved on a monument that stands in the park in memory of the 161 people who were killed in the May 2011 tornado. “Even though I cry when I come, it’s OK,” she said. “It’s part of the healing.”

    May 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • r051214greenbldgs3.jpg Home, business cited as examples of energy efficiency, strength

    Ramona and Charles “Hugh’’ Shields were not the least bit reluctant on Monday to open their new house in the tornado zone to a bunch of strangers who had a lot of questions. “I used to live in a house where I had to wear two pairs of socks in the winter to keep my feet warm — not anymore,’’ said Ramona Shields. “This house is nice and warm in the winter, and nice and cool in the summer.’’

    May 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mercy Health System to receive $23 million FEMA grant

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide Mercy Health System of Joplin with $23 million in public assistance funding by the end of the year. The disaster relief was announced Friday by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

    April 25, 2014

  • Respond With Love flower.jpg Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns

    Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Creator of Joplin-based ‘Dear World’ exhibit features Boston bombing victims in new work

    The messages written on the skin of some Boston Marathon victims may be different, but Joplin residents will recognize the handwriting. Robert X. Fogarty, the creator of the “Dear World: From Joplin with Love” exhibit, took his signature style of photography and inspiration to Boston. Fogarty traveled to Joplin in 2011 and took pictures of community members with inspirational messages written on their bodies in black ink.

    April 21, 2014

  • r041414wildwood.jpg Opening of nursing home another recovery milestone

    Gladys Dutton has done a lot of things in her life, but Monday’s dedication of the Communities at Wildwood Ranch nursing home marked a first. “I’ve never cut a ribbon before,” she said. “I hope I do a good job.” Dutton was one of four residents to participate in the opening of the $8.5 million nursing center that eventually will be home to 120 people.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joplin Redevelopment Corp. preparing for first property sale

    The first sale of property from the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. to Wallace Bajjali Development Partners is scheduled for May 16. The city staff will be working to prepare for that sale, it was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting of the JRC.

    April 9, 2014

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