By Wally Kennedy
Precariously perched at the top of a ladder, Jack Quinn maneuvers himself into a position where he can hammer a nail with one hand and stabilize his balance with the other.
Catching his breath, he said, “I’m pretty sure I know the reason I’m not a carpenter.”
But Quinn, a quality-control manager at Boyd Metals in Joplin, did not let the sweat in his eyes deter him from working Monday with two other Boyd Metals employees, Matt Cole and Stephen Crane, on a Rebuild Joplin house at 106 Sergeant Ave.
He and his co-workers are participating in Rebuild Joplin’s first “Business Week.” Workers from Boyd Metals, Macadoodles, Empire District Electric Co., Mercy Health System, Frank Fletcher Toyota, Southwest Missouri Bank, Farmer’s Insurance and Con-way Truckload are teaming up to work on four Rebuild Joplin houses this week.
That’s because there are no volunteers coming to Joplin this week.
“This is an unusual week,” said Doreen Finnie, development director with Rebuild Joplin. “We had a hundred volunteers last week, and we have a hundred volunteers coming next week, but none this week. We think it’s because of graduations.”
To fill in the gap and ensure that work continues on the houses, Rebuild Joplin asked some local businesses if they could help.
“We thought, how about Boyd Metals?” she said. “They came on board, and so did the others. You know, Joplin’s business community has been so willing to step up and help in every part of the recovery.”
Some local businesses, such as Southwest Missouri Bank, have contributed up to 2,500 hours to Rebuild Joplin.
The workers get their marching orders and instructions from Halley Hunt, an AmeriCorps site supervisor, who has been trained in the art of house construction.
“Our training is that we build a house together,” she said. “Whatever we ask a volunteer to do, we have done ourselves.”
For Stephen Crane, assistant general manager at Boyd Metals, the value of working on the house with his co-workers cannot be overstated.
“Talk about team building,” he said. “You can do so much better at that when you are away from work. You’re working hand-in-hand and side-by-side with someone to help someone else who really needs the help. You’re blessed when you do that.”
The home in Joplin’s historic Murphysburg district is being renovated for a single mother of two children who lost her uninsured home in the 2011 tornado.
The house was in such poor condition that passersby told workers at the site to burn it rather than repair it.
“It was in really bad shape when we started,” said Hunt. “The house was sagging 1 1/2 feet to 2 feet on one side because the foundation was bad. But it’s going to be really beautiful when it’s done.”
So far, Rebuild Joplin has reconstructed about 74 houses in the nearly two years since the tornado. Another 15 houses are in the works, said Finnie.
The city of Joplin issued construction permits in April with a total value of $12,736,116. About 71 permits were issued for residential repairs, totaling $456,780. Sixteen permits for new houses were issued with a total value of $2,005,300.
Commercial construction totaled $10,274,036, including a $5.2 million permit for the new swimming pool in Schifferdecker Park. Also in the commercial area were permits for a new fire station at 34th Street and Hearnes Boulevard at $1.7 million and for another fire station at 2825 Junge Boulevard at $1.4 million.
Total construction since the tornado on May 22, 2011, has now surpassed $778 million, according to city records.