EDITORIAL: Reasons to cheer this winter

Dec. 3—It's great to see Christmas lights and decorations popping up all over town, adding cheer and festiveness to the darkest days of the year.

Here are several more reason to be cheerful:

Union Depot

An engineer recently assessed the historic but long-abandoned train station and found that it is in good structural condition, according to Lori Haun, director of the Joplin Downtown Alliance, which obtained the study with a $5,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the depot was designed by Kansas City architect Louis Curtiss and was built by the Manhattan Construction Co. of New York. It opened in 1911 as a passenger stop for the Kansas City Southern Railroad.

The engineering report could help pave the way for redevelopment of the building because it reduces uncertainty about it.

In addition, the DJA has applied for brownfield tax credits that could help private investment in the cleanup and rehab of the building.

We appreciate all the hard work that went into the study and the effort to find investors and tenants, and are optimistic that it will soon join the downtown renaissance.

Rapha International

This week the group launched a campaign to increase the size and capacity of its Hope and Healing Center, which also will include an art therapy room.

Joplin-based Rapha also is celebrating 20 years of serving survivors of trafficking, exploitation and abuse. It had previously opened an outpatient trauma therapy center at 712 S. Main St. in 2020, said Aryn Tanksley, director of programs and development. They have now acquired property at 2501 E. 20th St. in Joplin to house an expanded center that will allow it to serve additional survivors.

Rapha's goal is to raise $1.2 million. Earlier this month, the Children's Trust Fund of Missouri announced more than $19 million in grants awarded to 59 organizations throughout the state aiming to protect children from abuse and neglect, and Rapha received $462,853.

This is a great cause worthy of supporting. Go to rapha.org/next-chapter to learn more.

PSU Partnership

Pittsburg State University announced partnership with Washburn School of Law in Topeka that will allow for faster degrees, saving time and money for those who are seeking law degrees.

"We have inked a partnership that will allow students to complete a bachelor's degree as well as a law degree in six years total — three years here at Pittsburg State, and three years at Washburn School of Law," Chris Childers, director of PSU's School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences, said in a statement.

Southeast Kansas is considered underserved when it comes to the number of cases on the books and the number of lawyers available.

Kansas Supreme Court Justice Marla Luckert said in a statement: "We have a critical shortage of attorneys ... especially in rural Kansas."

This sounds like a great program. Well done!