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Joplin School district Crews Fill Sinkhole on JHS Parking Lot - KOAM TV 7

Joplin School district Crews Fill Sinkhole on JHS Parking Lot

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Joplin, MO -

A sinkhole opens on the Joplin High School parking lot. 

It's not the first and might not be the last.

It started out small. A depression about the size of a giant beach ball which was first noticed last week.

 Joplin School district facilities director Mike Johnson says, "It didn't fall in until we actually broke the surface with the backhoes. It’s about  

 ten feet deep maybe,  and oh, fifteen feet across in diameter."

Big enough to swallow a small car. While the high school property sits on previously mined land, officials believe this is more likely a naturally occurring sinkhole.

The assistant director of Public Works Engineering in Joplin, Dan Salisbury says, "Some rocks are solid and they can crack and let moisture through. And some rocks aren't as solid and they’ll dissolve when water hits them. Eventually after enough of it dissolves, it collapses and it will work its way to the surface."

Johnson says this isn't the first sinkhole problem for the school district and not just on the high school campus

Johnson says, "We had one up on the baseball field almost identical to this one, underneath the turf after it was put in. It happened up there. We had one at Irving on the parking lot during construction."

The high school property was tested for mining issues. And while sinkholes can be related, engineers say they can't always be prevented.

Salisbury says, "It’s a natural phenomenon and everybody thinks you can predict those.  You have to drill so many holes in the ground to really predict them, it’s not cost effective. I don't think anybody can afford to do that."

After big rock, crews poured in truckloads of gravel that will be topped by steel and a concrete cap.  The cost is about two thousand dollars but Johnson says it’s worth it to prevent someone from falling into a sinkhole which can appear anywhere. And he urges students to be on the lookout. .

 Johnson says, "Let us know right away. That’s what happened here."

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