CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — The city of Carl Junction has helped remove hundreds of downed trees from residential properties in the wake of the May 22 tornado, but it’s costing a pretty penny.
Shortly after the tornado, the city entered into an agreement with Asbell Trucking Co. to pick up tree limbs and vegetation debris at the properties that were hit by the twister. That job alone has cost the city over $172,000 from its general fund, according to officials.
“It was a significant hit on our reserves for the tree removal,” Mayor Mark Powers told the City Council on Tuesday night.
Powers noted how a local use tax would’ve been valuable in emergency situations such as this one, but the proposition was struck down by voters on a 512-296 vote in April. It was the city’s second time posing the ballot question, which called for a 2.5% use tax on products purchased out of state or through online retailers.
Steve Lawver, city administrator, said that because there’s no money to put back into a use tax account, the city is having to sacrifice other funds in order to make tornado recovery efforts work. He reported that trail and park cleanup is still underway and that the city will most likely have to contract the work because of the large size of downed trees.
Public works crews have removed a few trees from the waterways near Cooley Branch, but more remain north of Center Creek.
“It might be awhile before we can get to it,” Lawver said during the meeting. “I’m not sure how much we can do by pulling on it with a chain. The other is the fact that the walking trail off of Copper Oaks has huge trees on it. We’re not going to be able to do that. These are 3-foot-across trees.”
Delmar Haase, Carl Junction's police chief, said President Donald Trump still needs to sign off on the emergency declaration in order for the city to be eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance. Lawver said approximately 317 homes were damaged by the EF3 tornado. Officials plan to reevaluate the city budget in the coming weeks because of the added expense, according to Lawver.
Tornado cleanup began two weeks ago at the Briarbrook Golf Course. The first nine holes of the course have been temporarily open since Monday. The course sustained significant tree damage, with about 180 trees down throughout the grounds.
Jim Hackney, board president of Briarbrook Community Improvement District, said it’s been an uphill battle to get the large tree trunks removed without tearing up the course, especially because of the wet weather.
“We’re biding our time to do all of the little things that we can and waiting for the course to dry out, so we can pick up those big trunks,” Hackney said.
Once completed, officials will begin work to clear up debris at the back nine holes. Hackney said he’s hoping the entire course will be finished within the next couple of weeks. Damaged areas also include the maintenance barns and the pool house. Hackney said crews are currently rebuilding the pool house, which should also be wrapped up in a few weeks. The pool is already open to the public.
“The pool is one of the major things that we wanted to get done, and I think the Ward 3 residents are happy about that,” he said. “We’re pretty confident that everything will be back to normal by the Fourth of July, as far as the golf course goes.”
Volunteers are being requested for a cleanup day at the golf course at 6 p.m. today to help pick up sticks, twigs and other debris. Participants are recommended to bring rakes, brooms, shovels, leaf blowers and pole saws.