In April 2019, voters in the Springfield Public School District voted to entrust officials with a $168 million investment in school facilities by approving the Proposition S bond issue.
For its work on 39 building projects, plus three bonus projects paid for through cost-saving measures, Springfield Public Schools was named the Springfield Contractors Association’s Developer of the Year during the 37th annual Salute to Design and Construction Awards Banquet on Nov. 12.
In a video presentation, Ty Alexander, SCA board president, said, “These improvements have a critical impact to our students and teachers, creating fantastic learning environments and resources to give our students the best chance to succeed.”
Alexander cited the district for its significant expansion of early childhood education, as well as the construction of the new Adah Fulbright Early Childhood Center. The district also added 31 secure school entrances, four new elementaries (Boyd, Delaware, Sunshine and Williams), a new Jarrett Middle School and a partial renovation and new addition to Hillcrest High School.
Additionally, school officials say savings in projected costs have allowed for the construction of a new York Elementary, plus storm shelters at Mark Twain and Field elementaries.
Michael Sapp, president of Sapp Design Associates Architects PC, which designed the Adah Fulbright center, among other district projects, noted SPS is important to everyone in the community.
“For Springfield, a huge driver of our quality of life is our public school system,” he said in a video introduction to the award presentation. “This bond issue is more than just supporting kids; it’s supporting our entire community locally and regionally in a lot of different ways, directly and indirectly.”
Gregg Scholtens, executive vice president of Nabholz Construction Corp., which was the general contractor for the Williams Elementary and Hillcrest projects, called the district a collaborative owner to work with.
“They truly want your input as the contractor. They don’t just want you to come and build a building for them; they want you to be a very integral part of that process,” he said.
Sapp praised the partnerships forged by the district, as exemplified by the collaboration between Williams and the Boys & Girls Club of Springfield unit that shares its building. He said the partnership is proof dollars are being used wisely.
“When they talk about partnerships, they truly mean it,” he said.
Travis Shaw, SPS’s executive director of operations, accepted the award on behalf of the district.
“This is a celebration for the entire community of Springfield,” he said. “It’s humbling that we can affect so many kids’ lives.”
Shaw credited the community with supporting the bond issue that earned the district its distinction, while noting about half of the 39 original group of Prop S bond projects are finished.
Two people were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards for their contributions to the design and construction industries: Chris Nattinger, the former owner of Nattinger Materials Co. with five decades of experience in the construction industry, and Norris Cornell, whose six-decade career included work with Sharp Brothers, Garney Construction, Walton Construction Inc., Williams Construction and Q & Co. LLC. The award was presented by the Salute to Design and Construction Council.
Jim Anderson, former president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, said Nattinger was the youngest person ever to chair the chamber board. In a video honoring Nattinger, Anderson praised his mentorship of young professionals in the field.
“He gave back to the community in spades, and I think that was a model and a mentoring opportunity for a lot of people, especially in the construction industry,” he said.
Nattinger was a co-founder of the Springfield Business Development Corp. and a key figure in the formation of the Partnership Industrial Center, an industrial park located along Interstate 44 in northeast Springfield.
“Several thousand quality manufacturing jobs are at that industrial park today, thanks to the leadership of Chris Nattinger,” Anderson said.
Russ Marquart, board chair of Central Bank of the Ozarks, also spoke in the video about the significance of the industrial center.
“That was not an easy deal to do; that was actually a very controversial thing. … But he was able to help negotiate and navigate the situation to get that development going,” Marquart said. “Now, we are truly a better community because of having it.”
Nattinger was unable to attend the event but expressed his gratitude via a video message.
“I do believe that construction is one of the really necessary, basic industries,” he said. “Without construction, nothing happens. When you build something, economic development blooms, people have jobs, financial people make loans and our society progresses.”
In his introduction, Cornell was praised for his attention to detail and care for everyone at a job site.
“Norris just really seemed to have a caring spirit for the underdog, whether it was a laborer on the job site or a small subcontractor that seemed to be new to the industry,” said Grant Miller, president of Springfield Glass Co.
Larry Stock, CEO of Queen City Roofing & Contracting Co., agreed.
“One of his skills was making all the subs and people working on the job work together as a cohesive team to finish the job, as opposed to just everybody out on their own to get what they can,” Stock said.
Ron Mann, operations manager for Emery Sapp & Sons Inc., said Cornell was committed to the industry and the region during his career.
“He’s got impeccable integrity,” Mann said. “If Norris tells you the sky’s falling, you’d better get a hard hat.”
Cornell received a standing ovation from the banquet audience.
“There’s so many people in here that deserve to be up here right beside me,” he said. “If it wasn’t for you guys, it wouldn’t be happening.”
SCA presented the Design Team of the Year award to the architects and engineers behind Innovative Dental, which opened in 2020 at 6401 S. Innovation Ave., on the south end of Springfield along U.S. Highway 65.
The team comprised of Buxton Kubik Dodd Design Collective, for architecture and interior design; Anderson Engineering Inc., civil engineer; Miller Engineering PC, structural engineer; Jennifer Winslow PE/Buxton Kubik Dodd Design Collective, mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer; Snyder Construction Group LLC, construction manager; and Dr. Grant Olson/Innovative Dental, owner.
The American Institute of Architects presented the Craftsman of the Year award to Dianna Devore and her Design Fabrication Inc. team for their work on the new Miller Engineering office building. The AIA also named Aaron Keeton of Nabholz Construction as Superintendent of the Year for his work on Williams Elementary.
The National Association of Women in Construction issued two awards. The Vesta Award, given to someone who has worked in the industry over 10 years, was presented to Melissa Turpin, president of Unique Tile. The Rosebud Award, for someone in the industry less than 10 years, went to Megan Short, executive director of the SCA.
For most, winter offers a break from gardening. But there’s plenty of action at Amanda Belle’s Farm on East Primrose Street, a Springfield Community Gardens project at the edge of the Cox Medical Center South campus.