Route 66 in the News

Association Seeks Participation

2010-01-21 19:01:02

CARTHAGE, Mo. - It may have been decommissioned 26 years ago, but Route 66 is alive and well in the heart of Carthage and in the minds of millions around the world.

The Route 66 Association of Missouri and an engineering firm from Springfield are working on a “Corridor Management Plan” that would help take this road from the past and make it a part of Missouri’s future.

Carthage Police Officer Doug Dickey, who also serves as a member of the Stone’s Throw Theater Board of Directors, knows Route 66’s past and he sees the great potential for Route 66 to help Carthage economically and culturally.

“When you’re coming from the east into Carthage, you go right past Kellogg Lake and Roadside Park where you have sections of the original Route 66,” Dickey said. “As you come further into town, you have the Drake Motel, you’ve got the Jasper County Courthouse, all that were accessed through Route 66. Going down Oak Street, the old highway, you see the remnants of old stores that sat here and you can just picture the travelers parking their car on the highway, getting out, going in, getting a cold Orange Crush and a stack of bologna and bread so they could go to Municipal Park and eat in one of the shelters and head to Webb City.

“Rock Stadium is out there, Municipal Park, which still has historic buildings out there, yes the potential is there,” he continued. “Some of these buildings are showing their age, but I think this is something that as word gets out that we’re making it more attractive, making it more accessible, I think anything we do that brings people to Carthage and the Jasper County area to see all this will benefit everyone.”

Officials with Great River Engineering hosted almost 50 people Tuesday at Powers Museum in Carthage for a public forum to talk about creating that Corridor Management Plan that could benefit everyone on The Mother Road.

Jerany Jackson, with Great River Engineering, said the public meeting was one of 10 being held in the 10 counties on Route 66 to find out from people who live on the road how best to protect the road and make it work for current and future residents.

“This whole corridor management plan is not only about preserving and protection, it’s also about looking for economic development opportunities along Route 66,” Jackson said. “We have creates a special logo and this logo has some significance for us and you’ll notice at the bottom, the logo has the tagline ‘It’s yours. Mine. Ours.’ Because we believe that Route 66 really is yours, it’s mine and it’s ours and it’s our responsibility to find out what the history is and what the future is for Route 66 in Missouri.”

Great River has already done some of the legwork on creating a plan. They’ve driven the route and catalogued some of its features and created a logo and a new mascot, called Mo Kicks 66, to serve as part of a marketing plan for the route.

Tommy Pike, Springfield, president of the Route 66 Association of Missouri, told the crowd at Tuesday’s meeting that plan is part of an effort get the federal government to designate Route 66 an “All-American Road.”

Pike said that designation and this plan could help local communities gain access to federal grant money for preservation projects and promotion along Route 66.

“This is all involved around heritage tourism and this byways program is an opportunity for communities like Carthage and Webb City and Carterville and Joplin,” Pike said. “There’s funding there. Most of the grants are on an 80-20 match and it’s an opportunity for you to get some funding for projects in your community.”

Pike said the Association received a $188,000 grant from the federal government and is contributing $37,500 of its own money to pay Great River to create this plan.

For Carthage resident Judy Goff, whose family owned businesses on the Route in its heyday, promoting Route 66 is a good thing for Carthage.

“I think historic tourism is something that is so important to Carthage and I don’t think we take advantage of what we have,” Goff said. “I don’t think we utilize all the wonderful things we have here. We just take it for granted and it is economic development, historic tourism is.

“Carthage is going to have to get on board. I’m enthused that we have a county commissioner here and council members here. I’m enthused by that.”

~John Hacker, Carthage Press


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