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Past Kiwanis projects reviewed at meeting

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dayton Mackey reviewed past projects of the Monett Kiwanis Club, providing an overview of the group's history of community service at last week's Kiwanis meeting.

The Monett club was established in 1924 as the fourth Kiwanis club in Missouri and was sponsored by the Springfield club.

Mackey said service projects have always driven the club's activities. In the early years the club helped people in need by providing food and medicine.

Among the early major projects was a crippled children's clinic in 1927. Club members made arrangements for local children to get treatment at Mercy Hospital at no charge.

Pharmacist Logan McKee was very active in the club for many years. His daughter, Ellen Nutting, left a $15,000 memorial fund when she died. The club used the money to help the Barry-Lawrence County Development Center get into its current building at Third and Dunn and to purchase wheelchairs and crutches for children, a slide for the club's kiddie playground at South Park and basketball goals.

As a way to help beautify Monett, club members planted trees along the south side of Highway 60 between Waldensian Road and Highway 37 and along Waldensian Road by the park and the golf course. The effort earned a plaque of commendation from the Missouri governor.

Mackey recalled that when Miracle Recreation Equipment moved to Monett, club members helped landscape around the factory on Highway 60 between Chapell Drive and Bridle Lane. In return, the company donated playground equipment for South Park.

Another major project at the park involved establishing a veterans memorial. The club helped assemble the F-4 Phantom Jet that arrived in pieces with no directions from an Air Force base in Arizona. The pedestal on which the plane sits came from a nuclear submarine. The jet was painted by Joe McConnell and Rusty Mullins to look like one of the Blue Angels stunt planes.

Another major community project involved establishing affordable housing for senior citizens. The club started the Monett Housing Authority and gathered $20 pledges from the community. Funds were used to secure a loan from the Farmers Home Adminstration which led to the construction of the Sunset Villa apartments on Eisenhower. Club members provided landscaping in return for getting the buildings bricked.

Kiwanians have put their money and effort back into the community, Mackey said. Some efforts have been modest and more private, like selling Rose of Sharon bushes and helping to plant them. Items sold have ranged from fruitcakes and grapefruit to holiday candles.

On one occasion, the club received a donation of lakefront property. The land was sold for $8,000 that was used in community projects. Last year the club sponsored a circus visit as a different kind of fundraiser.

Often the club has collaborated with other organizations on bigger ventures. In working with Miracle Recreation Equipment, the club has helped secure numerous pieces of playground equipment for both North and South Parks. The club was able to acquire the water slide for the swimming pool from Miracle, which was donated to the city.

The club worked with the Clark Community Mental Health Center and others to help establish the Smart Start Daycare Center, which offered overnight service and infant care in a state-licensed facility for the first time.

Donations collected during Peanut Day fundraisers have gone to the Children's Miracle Network, coming back to Monett in services and equipment provided to Cox Monett Hospital. Pancake breakfasts and dinners remain regular activities.

Mackey said all these efforts fit into the club's motto of "We serve."

Other club undertakings have involved supporting Kiwanis programs for the future and in other communities. The organization also sponsors the Key Club at Monett High School to help young people learn about service activities. The club sponsors Contemporary Issues Day at the high school to introduce students to subjects and speakers outside the regular curriculum.

Monett Kiwanians have sponsored clubs in other communities, including the Pierce City club, which was very active from the late 1950s into the 1970s.

Kiwanis President Eric Kean presided at the meeting.

The Monett Kiwanis Club meets weekly for a meal and a program. Next week, the club will have one of its quarterly evening meetings at 6 p.m. at Big Baldy's Barbecue. Joplin Fire Chief Mitch Randles will speak about the May 22, 2011, tornado in Joplin and provide photos of the event to illustrate the emergency response. The public is welcome to attend.

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