Day 4 - Extreme Makeover: Home Edition-Joplin
October 23, 2011
The Richardsons' home at Annie Baxter and 25th Street boasts a sign, "If you have it we can use it." Their grateful need is in stark contrast to that of each of seven families chosen to get a new home nearby on Connor Avenue. Eventually to be completely furnished and landscaped, the homes will be featured on the 200th edition of the TV show, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" airing some time in January 2012.

Day 4 on the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" site finds the seven homes with individual personalities. It's probably no coincidence that the styles of the houses seem to fit those chosen to receive them. Ply Gem is providing the exterior products including windows, patio doors, manufactured stone and brick siding, fence and rail and accents and accessories. The products work together to create these home styles: Cabin (Howard family house), Beach (Walters family house), Eco (Nevins family house) , Chic (Whitely family house), Modern (Cogdill family house), Craftsman (Nguyen family house) and Bohemian (Gonzalez-Ely family house). The Whitelys and the Cogdills will be surprised when they find out that they once again will be next door neighbors.

When the designers discovered that one of the rooms would have a pig theme, they put out the word that a live pig was needed for a promo. The animal wallowed in attention for the greater part of the afternoon while volunteers worked diligently to move dirt while others in part were siding houses, doing cement work or making furniture.

Also in the afternoon the EMHE film crew along with Ty Pennington holding his signature movie camera could be seen recording a presentation by David Donaldson, co-founder of Convoy of Hope. Donaldson was announcing that the City of Joplin Recovery Fund was being awarded $1,000,000 to be used to assist homeowners in the disaster area who have suffered an insurance shortfall. The damaged Ozark Center for Autism provided the backdrop. Volunteers who were part of 10,000 chosen to help complete the project in seven days had been bussed to the area from the volunteer tent set up on 26th Street near McClelland. Their primary role at this scene was to raise their hands and shout, "hooray" for as many takes as it took to satisfy the production crew.

At approximately 5:41 p.m. the new Joplin Fire Department ladder truck hoisted a flag for a 32-second ceremony to correspond to the 32 minutes that the tornado ravaged the Joplin neighborhoods. Hard hats were removed as workers and other onlookers stood in silence.

Cunningham Park to be expanded

The Joplin City Council on October 17, 2011, approved the purchase of six vacant lots adjacent to the northeast corner of the park on both sides of Porter Avenue. Homes on the lots had been destroyed by the tornado. According to Chris Cotten, the city's parks and recreation director, the space will be used for re-building and expanding an existing parking lot as well as green space and a playground.

Workers were tight-lipped regarding the details behind the very unique design of the new basketball court. The court complete with bleachers is almost, if not already, completed.

Initially, officials told The Coca-Cola Company that the $25,000 recreational grant awarded to Cunningham Park for receiving third place based upon the total number of votes submitted in the "Vote for Your Favorite Park" competition was to be used to rebuild the playground and picnic shelters, plant trees and build a memorial dedicated to the tornado victims and the many volunteers that aided in rescue and recovery. However, other groups seem to be contributing to the re-construction effort.

Already under construction in the park are a shelter, wooden playground structure and a futuristic basketball court. Part of the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" building project presumably includes the memorial. Cotton also had revealed that a fountain built in 1909 was discovered during clean-up and is being replaced.

A small tiny of history

Cunningham Park was originally called "Cunningham Grove." It was established on land donated by Thomas Cunningham, owner of the residential area incorporated in the town of Blendville, named for the large amounts of zinc "blende" in the ground. Cunningham had divided the land he owned into affordable residential lots for the construction of homes for miners. The tornado destroyed much of the original Blendville area, including Cunningham Park, the historic water plant and its original equipment, and the 1911 Porter House fronting the park with its distinctive multi-windowed dormer.

These photos help to illustrate the preceding article. Click on any photo to start a slideshow. (Photos by Mari Winn)

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