JOPLIN, Mo. — We are looking ahead (locally) To some of what’s to come in the new year.

“2023 is going to be an excellent year for us,” said Nick Edwards, Joplin City Mgr.

That starts with better options for drivers.

“The 32nd widening project that’s underway. That should finish up next year and should soon start to see the work to widen Connecticut over 44 will hopefully see the downtown streetscape,” said Edwards.

The former Joplin library building could see new life as city leaders look for the right fit for the space.

“It’s an important asset for the city. It’s a key location and so currently, we’re accepting proposals on the repurpose or the reuse of that library,” said Edwards

Another city building will start from scratch, expanding the Joplin Fire Department with station 7.

“We believe that we’ll be able to finish that fire station construction this year and move into a new facility and improve our fire service,” said Edwards.

Meanwhile, city leaders also want to see better internet service citywide.

They’re looking for a company willing to improve digital connectivity.

“Broadband is really become a necessity for communities to grow. For high quality alive. Broadband impacts the way kids are able to do remote schooling, telehealth, and certainly, big commercial. Commerce relies on broadband.”

City hall itself will be changing, with remodeling on the first floor.

Space that’s currently empty will be reconfigured to house new staff focused on improving declining neighborhoods.

“Earlier in this year, and last year, there were a lot of public comments about enhancing code enforcement and maintaining properties better. And so for us to be able to do that we have to have a workspace for future employees to work in so that we can provide that higher level of service,” said Edwards.

2023 is also a big year for the city itself, hitting the 150-year mark.

“The Joplin Sesquicentennial is next year and so there’s a lot of great events that are planned Ragtime festivals, art, just a lot of different community events. It’s an exciting time to celebrate the city of Joplin,” said Edwards