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The Future of Wildcat Glades Is A Little More In Focus After Public Meeting

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     What lies ahead for Wildcat Glades in Joplin?
     It was announced earlier this month that the Audubon Society was ending its partnership with the popular 10-year old nature facility.
     Tonight a community forum was held to talk about the future.
In September, the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center celebrated 10 years...
Then, in November, the Audubon Society announced they were parting ways with the facility.
That left Wildcat's future, in the air, so some local residents decided to take action.
Cameo Harrington, "Rescue Wildcat" Volunteer: "We started a petition about a week ago, we've got about 300 signatures on that, and a lot of comments on that as well, just about the importance, how meaningful Wildcat Glades is to individuals, to families, to the education programs in this area."
That effort hit the highest levels in Jefferson City, so Aaron Jeffries, the Deputy Director with the Department of Conservation, came down, to reassure people, there's no need to worry.
Aaron Jeffries, Deputy Director, Missouri Department of Conservation: "We're going to have a presence here in Joplin, the center may look a little different in the future, than what you see today, but I think folks are going to be proud of what our staff can come up with."
The Audubon Society funded the majority of the center, now, the Conservation Department will have to fund every aspect of operation...
Jeffries: "That means we have to move staff from other parts of the state, we've got to move funding from other programs to make this facility work, which, in my opinion, that's why the partnerships are going to be critical with the city and the local Audubon chapter."
And those changes *could* mean a remodel to bring the facility in line with what the Department of Conservation offers.
The turnout for the community reached into the hundreds, and Cameo Harrington is excited to see what may happen next.
Harrington: "All it took was a few people stepping out and saying 'hey, we need some help, we need a committee, we need to people come and voice their opinions and the community has really rallied around it."
     Conservation officials say that an official timeline for taking over the facility hasn't been ironed out yet, but they expect to take full control from the Audubon Society early next year.
 

Chris Warner
Reporter

A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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417.624.0233 or 620.231.0400
cwarner@koamtv.com

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