Community leaders create historic moment
February 02, 2012

An historic event took place on January 19, 2012, when leaders from several community groups gathered and voted unanimously in favor of the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team’s (CART) recovery framework that lays the groundwork for the future of the area in the aftermath of the May 22, 2011 tornado.

The Joplin City Council, the Joplin Schools Board of Education, the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Duquesne City Aldermen including Mayor Dane White convened at Missouri Southern State University for a joint meeting to hear the Next Steps plan as outlined by CART.

Jane Cage, COO of Heartland Technology Solutions and director of CART, takes her role seriously but she is smart enough to know that the process requires unity and working across many sectors.

In asking for approval of what Cage described as a "set of actionable plans," she explained that what was being presented was "not cast in granite" but also was something necessary to "pick up the pace of recovery."

CART director Jane Cage, seated, gets a standing ovation from those who convened at Missouri Southern State University on January 19, 2012. Around her are her volunteer CART sector leaders.

Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston's comments that the city was "fortunate to have the right person in the right place at the right time," brought a standing ovation for Cage and her efforts. However, privately she, in essence, commented that realistically there was a long row to hoe in bringing theory to practice. But, she was up for it.

Sen. Ron Richard, given the honor of presiding over the meeting, praised the CART plan for being "made with public input" and implied that consequently it had a better chance of fulfillment. Richard told assembled leaders, "You all got off and helped yourself."

When Richard asked for public comment, nobody spoke. "This is scary" was Richard's reaction. After a painful silence, one resident shouted, “We’re happy!”

Joplin resident, John Hale speaks about recovery.

Finally, retired Leggett and Platt executive John Hale of 2420 Illinois, where he said he "used to live," remarked that he was "absolutely astonished" over what has been done by leadership, that not allowing people to have permits right away was a "good move" until clean-up procedures could be accomplished and that he was humbled by the numbers of people who were put to work. He recalled how at one time there were 14 people in his yard he didn't know removing debris. The crowd of approximately 150 agreed with strong applause.

The CART plan, focusing on four key areas: Housing and Neighborhoods, Schools and Community Facilities, Infrastructure and Environment, and Economic Development, was developed over the last six months with the input of hundreds of residents who participated in public meetings. CART collected citizen input at a variety of places, including public meetings, Boomtown Days, Third Thursday events and other open forums. The comments and priorities were detailed in two booklets that were available at several locations for public review and further comment.

A cartoon by Rick McKee that originally appeared in The Augusta Chronicle has become the centerpiece for a document containing the signatures of those who attended the historic CART plan ratification. It will be archived at the Joplin Museum Complex.

Discussing the signature document are (L-R) Tonya Sprenkle, vice president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce; Jane Cage, director of CART; and Melodee Colbert-Kean, city of Joplin mayor pro-tem. The cartoon in the center of the document demonstrates the resilience of Joplin residents in the presence of adversity.

Keep abreast with CART's future. Go here.

(Photos by Vince Rosati)

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