Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rolla community reaches out to Joplin, MO

By Bill Jenks, III, Mayor of Rolla
  Just when we thought some of the worst storms and destructive tornados of the year had occurred, a six-mile-long path of destruction devastated most of Joplin, Missouri last Sunday evening.
   Both the American Red Cross and National Guard were mobilized soon after the tornado touched ground on May 22, 2011 in Joplin.  News reports state that as of Wednesday, May 25 125 people have lost their lives in Joplin, and more than 7,000 buildings have been destroyed, including entire neighborhoods, St. John’s Regional Medical Center, Joplin High School, Joplin Middle School, two Joplin Elementary Schools, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Academy Sports, and numerous other businesses, large and small.
   The response and outpouring of support from Missouri communities and bordering states to this natural disaster has been overwhelming. Realizing that many residents of Rolla have relatives, friends and loved ones who reside in the Joplin area, I am heartened to know that the support, aid and outreach from the Rolla community once again has been tremendous as well.
   Although I’m not fully aware of all the response teams, church groups, and outreach efforts that have or are making their way with aid to the Joplin area from Rolla, I am aware that the mass casualty trailer from Phelps County Regional Medical Center was deployed to the Joplin area, as well a four-member team with the Rolla Homeland Security Communications/Command Post. This group is providing communications systems such as satellite phone, radio communications, and internet connectivity for the AmeriCorps Volunteer Group, comprised of about 300 volunteers. This group is operating out of the Missouri Southern University campus located off of Newman Road. In addition, Rolla Police Officer Roberto Rizo, who is formerly of the Joplin area, has been working there all week on behalf of the Rolla PD. Officer Rizo has been assisting the Joplin Police Department with Search and Rescue efforts, and other duties as assigned.
   There are also numerous agencies, businesses and organizations in the Rolla area that are collecting non-perishable items, and monetary donations that will be sent to those impacted by the horrific tornado that destroyed nearly 70 percent of the Joplin area. Denny Ford Lincoln Mercury of Rolla is also helping coordinate a local community driven effort to provide basic supplies to the thousands of people in Joplin. Many individuals and businesses want to donate items, but don’t know how they will get them to Joplin. Denny Ford has stepped forward and will be collecting desperately needed items for the Joplin area through Friday, June 3.  Deliveries will be made as items are collected and deliveries will continue as long as items are donated and/or needed. A special request has been made to please refrain from donating used clothing as the Joplin region has already received an enormous supply of used clothing. Immediate needed items are monetary donations, cleaning supplies, trash bags, non-perishable food items, pet supplies, personal hygiene items, first aid kits and extension cords. Also needed are new and unopened packages of socks, underwear, etc. and baby supplies such as formula, diapers, and wipes. All donated items must be brand new and unopened. If you have any questions, please contact Denny Ford at (573) 364-1211.
  In closing I’d like to remind everyone SplashZone, Rolla’s outdoor water park, located in Ber Juan Park opens today, Saturday, May 28 from 12-noon to 6 p.m. and will remain open throughout the summer months Monday through Friday (noon-7 p.m.) and Saturday and Sunday (noon-6 p.m.). Closing day at SplashZone is Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5.  SplashZone is one of the great vacation bargains at $4.50 per person and one of the local summer favorites in Rolla and Phelps County. For more information for special events, private rentals, swimming lessons and other information, please call 364-8222 or 341-2FUN. The summer hours at The Centre, Rolla’s 63,000-square-foot health and recreation complex, (also located in Ber Juan Park), have gone into effect. Hours at The Centre are Monday through Friday (5:30 a.m.–9 p.m.); Saturday (8 a.m.–5 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m.-5 p.m.).
   With the Memorial Day weekend upon us I would like to remind everyone that Rolla City Hall and the Environmental Services Department will be closed on Monday, May 30.  Monday’s trash will be picked up on Tuesday and Tuesday’s trash will be picked up on Wednesday, and there will be no special pick ups on Wednesday. The Centre will be open Memorial Day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and SplashZone will be open from 12-noon to 5 p.m. Also on Memorial Day, May 30, the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a Memorial Day service beginning at 10 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park, located on Southview Drive off Hwy. 72. The service is open to the public, and provides a great opportunity to pay tribute and homage to the millions of brave men and woman who, throughout the years, have protected our nation in time of war and peace.
   Please don’t forget to mark your calendar for next weekend for the Route 66 Summerfest and Rolla’s Sesquicentennial Celebration. Rolla’s day-long Sesquicentennial Celebration begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 4 with a Walk Through History at Rolla City Hall. Friends and relatives from other states are already making plans to stay at area hotels, and attend both the Route 66 Summerfest activities on June 3 and 4 and Sesquicentennial festivities on June 4. For a complete schedule of events for both Summerfest and the Sesquicentennial Celebration, please visit or pick up a flier at Rolla City Hall or the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center. We are expecting a very large attendance next weekend, and know that both events will be enjoyable, and memorable. Have a safe and enjoyable week, and be sure to stay aware of changing and dangerous weather conditions through the media and your weather radios. 

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