By Wally Kennedy
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Jane Cage, a longtime Joplin businesswoman who led the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team in its creation of a tornado-recovery plan for the city, was recognized as the Outstanding Citizen of the Year on Thursday night during the annual banquet of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.
The executive with Heartland Technology Solutions in downtown Joplin received a standing ovation from those attending the chamber’s 95th annual banquet at the Holiday Inn Convention Center.
Cage was recognized for her leadership with the recovery team and for her compassion for the community.
Noting that there is a lot of work ahead for the community, Cage said: “It is a privilege to help. I cannot think of anything I would rather do.”
Cage has been chairwoman of the Rotary Club of Joplin, the Joplin Humane Society and the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. She also is a former chairwoman of the board at St. John’s Regional Medical Center.
Cage came to Joplin in 1978 to work at St. John’s. She and her late husband, Bill, started a computer systems company in downtown Joplin in 1985.
Dan Stanley, a Joplin businessman who served as master of ceremonies, said, “It was a blessed day when Bill and Jane Cage came to Joplin.”
Also recognized were four individuals who provided leadership to the community through the year: C.J. Huff, superintendent of Joplin schools; Mark Rohr, city manager; Mike Woolston, former mayor; and Rob O’Brian, president of the chamber. They, too, received standing ovations.
In recognizing the individuals, state Sen. Ron Richard said it was an “act of providence” that these men “were at the right place at the right time.”
Four teachers received Golden Apple awards. The program, now in its 27th year, is designed to recognize excellence in the teaching profession.
The recipients were Karen Evans, Kelsey Norman Elementary School; Brandi Landis, Kelsey Norman Elementary School; Ivan Obert, South Middle School; and Jeff Brown, Joplin High School.
Seventy-four teachers from Joplin’s public and private schools were nominated by students, parents and co-workers.
Two businesses and a not-for-profit group were recognized as winners of the Small Business of the Year awards. In the category for one to 10 employees, the Kyle Hickam State Farm Insurance Agency was the winner. In the category of 11 to 50 employees, Anderson Engineering Inc. was the winner. Access Family Care won in the not-for-profit category.
Hampshire Pet Products was recognized as the Large Industry of the Year. Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Mid-America was recognized as the Small Industry of the Year.
About 750 people attended the banquet. They viewed a promotional video, “Go Town USA,” that was created in the 1970s to illustrate how Joplin had recovered from the closure of mining operations in the Tri-State District.
The film depicted some places that were destroyed by the May 22 tornado, including images of Joplin High School.
In introducing the film, Brad Belk, director of the Joplin Museum Complex, said it shows how Joplin has picked up the pieces before and moved forward.
MIKE WIGGINS, the outgoing chairman of the chamber board, commended the organization’s staff for providing outstanding service to Joplin’s business community in the days and weeks after the tornado. The chamber, he said, “is the thread that holds the community together.”