The group of volunteers that's been working on beautifying the Jasper County Courthouse will turn its attention to the 900 block of Grant Street starting on Saturday morning.

The group of volunteers that's been working on beautifying the Jasper County Courthouse will turn its attention to the 900 block of Grant Street starting on Saturday morning.
That's when the Carthage in Bloom program gives way to Restoration Carthage and the third year of the volunteer effort to beautify the Grant Street corridor between the Carthage Square and Historic Homes District on Grand Avenue.
Abi Almandinger, who has been heading up the Restoration Carthage program since it started in the 600 and 700 blocks of Grant in 2016, said the group has set aside two Saturdays, May 5 and May 19, to work on three or four homes in the 900 block of Grant.
“If we get everything we need to get done done on the Fifth of May then we won't need to do anything on the 19th as far as Restoration Carthage goes, but there will be plenty to do here (on the Courthouse lawn),” Almandinger said. “There are three small rental homes that are in pretty good shape that are being cared for so they don't really need us to do anything, but there are three or four homes in the neighborhood we'll be focusing on, and we've got the cooperation of the homeowners to do the work there.”
The Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity and its Hearts and Hammers program will have volunteers and tools on hand to help. Habitat has partnered with Restoration Carthage on work days in each of the previous two years.
Restoration Carthage, like Carthage in Bloom, is a subcommittee of the Vision Carthage Citizens Committee, which was born from the 2012 Drury University Study that created a vision for downtown Carthage.

Progress blooms
Volunteers spent the fourth weekend in a row on Saturday April 28 working on the Jasper County Courthouse lawn.
Almandinger said this week the prep work was finished and more than a dozen volunteers turned up to help plant beautiful blooms along the sidewalks around Carthage's centerpiece structure.
“It's been the love of the community and the passion of a couple of people who had a vision of what we could do and turned it into reality regardless of the weather,” Almandinger said on Saturday, April 28. “Now we have a beautiful day and we have a lot of volunteers helping us today, getting the plants in and really being able to see it become beautiful by putting in the plants. We'll have more plants over the course of the next few days and couple of weeks.”
Almandinger said a contractor is scheduled to install a drip irrigation system to the different flower beds sometime this week, which will make maintaining the flowers much easier.
Volunteers will return, possible on May 19 if they can accomplish what is needed on Restoration Carthage on May 5, volunteers will be back to finish the job on the Courthouse.
“If we won't need to do anything on the 19th as far as Restoration Carthage goes, but there will be plenty to do here,” Almandinger said. “Ee can get it mulched and get it looking finished and that will continue. The blooms will grow out and blend all together so there will be a whole big patch of color.”

Why all the fuss
As Almandinger and the volunteers were planting the flowers around the historic Courthouse, a group of travel writers traveling through town on a bus tour of Southwest Missouri, was walking around taking pictures of it.
Almandinger said the sight of those people taking pictures on the Square was part of what drove her to initiate Carthage in Bloom.
“The courthouse is the most unique structure, possibly in the state of Missouri,” she said. “It's a castle and we want to do everything we can to promote how awesome it is, promote tourism to our town. It's good for the economy for the city.”
Vanessa Orr, one of those travel writers, from Pittsburgh, Penn., said she loved the courthouse and really liked seeing the volunteers working on it.
“It shows you love your community and you're proud of it,” Orr said. “I like that people are taking ownership, The courthouse is amazing, it's absolutely gorgeous. I'm very much into architecture and I love when old buildings like this are kept up.”