It is sometimes hard to see beyond the coronavirus pandemic and this gruesome election season, but seasons change, shifting the world into a new frame as October arrives bearing clear signs of autumn.
The arrival of fall temperatures feels like a reprieve with cool nights and warm, sunny days where breezes send scudding banks of fluffy clouds across a brilliant blue sky. Get outdoors. Fall colors are blushing leaves on vines, bushes and trees. There is even a chance of frost, early given that it is still the first week of October. Now we just need some rain.
Jasper County broke ground Friday morning on the new courts building in Joplin.
The county bought and removed the former First Baptist Church building at Seventh Street and Pearl Avenue, and the city of Joplin vacated Pearl Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets to make room for the new structure.
Western District Commissioner Darieus Adams said the existing courts building is too small, outdated and worn beyond renovation. The site of the old building will become a parking lot.
The build is the most expensive project approved by voters in 2019 as part of an extension of a quarter-cent, countywide sales tax that also funded renovations to the courthouse in Carthage and an addition to the county jail in Carthage. This editorial board commends Jasper County voters for their foresight in funding the maintenance and expansion of our needed public buildings.
Adams has said he expects construction of the new courts building to take between 18 months and two years.
Good news came this week on the higher education front. Though fundraising is a challenge in the era of COVID-19, those involved in raising enough money to support the construction of a College of Dental Medicine in Joplin say they are closing in on their goal, as about $30 million of the $40 million goal has been raised or pledged through the Joplin Regional Medical School Alliance. They say they are committed to meeting their target, which is half of the projected $80 million cost of the project to establish a College of Dental Medicine on the Joplin campus of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, which opened an osteopathic medical school here in 2017. The school is planned to open in fall 2022.
We see the facility as a big step toward closing a care gap in dentistry here, as all counties within a 125-mile radius of Joplin are designated as Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas by the Health Resources & Services Administration.