July 23, 2024
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By Debby Woodin

The city of Joplin is seeking a court order to remove a woman and her family from their home in north Joplin so it can be destroyed.

In a petition to the Jasper County Circuit Court, city officials claim that Donna Moses Bray of 217 N. Gray Ave. had been given two years by the City for repairs that could stabilize the home, but no repairs were made. The city officials want Bray ordered to leave the property so the house could be demolished under the declaration of nuisance.

Jasper County Circuit Court has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 8, 2019 to hear the city’s petition.

The petition states that she received a notification on July 1, 2021 that her home was considered a nuisance because it was in poor condition. It needed to be repaired. The city chief building official Bryan Wicklund told the Building of Board Appeals that she had a permit to make repairs on Oct. 10, but they were never done.

In court documents, the city states that it had issued an official declaration of nuisance. It notified her on Sept. 3, 2020. The city then scheduled an hearing for its Building Board of Appeals in order to determine what needed to be done so that the home could no longer fall under city control.

Wicklund, who testified in January 2022 at an administrative board meeting after the repairs had still not been completed, said that the roof would need to be removed to the rafters, and then rebuilt. Wicklund also stated that the water-damaged south wall would need to be completely removed from the foundation of the home and rebuilt.

The board decided to demolish the home based on the testimony of the owner and the photographs taken of the house.

Bray told the officials that she did the work herself on her property because she couldn’t afford to pay someone else to repair it. Over the course of several meetings, she told the board that she was either applying or had applied for help with the project through church or charity organizations or low-income programs. Later, she said that her requests for help were rejected because the city had declared the property a nuisance and then because it was declared for demolition.

Bray appealed to the City Council the order of demolition in August but it did not reverse the decision made by the Building Board.

Bray said that she has limited income and is disabled. The house has been hers for 37 years. The damage to the roof was caused, she said, by the high winds which swept through Joplin after the EF5 Tornado in 2011. She claimed that she couldn’t get help with repairs because she wasn’t in the tornado area.

She told The Globe that her home had suffered from many leaks and the wind caused damages to two walls and the roof.

She claimed that she had previously purchased $3,500 of roof shingles but the prices for wood decking have increased so dramatically that she cannot afford it. She said that she also spent money on an attorney who appeared with her at the building boards, which reduced her budget to repair the house.

She said that when she had to appear before the board of building, she removed the two walls which were sagging.

She said, “Every month I was expected to provide detailed lists about what I did and what I planned to do in the following month.” I was absent for three board meetings because of emergency situations. Each time, the board decided to tear down my house. The next month, I had to go back and ask them for another chance.

She said that at that time, although she was eligible to receive funding, no one wanted to do the repairs because of the declaration by the city that the home posed a risk.

Bray stated that “they agreed this was a serious problem, but refused to remove me from their agenda.”

Bray says she’s trying to locate an attorney to take on her case, but she doesn’t have the money.

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