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KIRKWOOD RENEWAL: A Week In The Life Of A Healing City

The Kirkwood City Hall tragedy happened on the night of February 7, 2008. The true spirit of our city was seen in the 6 days that followed, a spirit echoed in a verse from Ecclesiastes 3: “A time to kill, and a time to heal /A time to break down, and a time to build up.”

By noon on the day after the shootings, a Kirkwood city official was meeting with Scott Mosby to form a plan to immediately begin repairs on the Kirkwood Council Chambers. After accessing the physical needs of the room, Scott spent hours on the phone rounding up craftsmen and resources to begin the repair and healing of Kirkwood City Hall. Healing this room became a valuable aid in the grieving process.

What follows are portions of Scott Mosby’s journal entries from the days directly following the event.

FRIDAY EVENING – 10 PM

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Since Thursday evening, life has been pretty hectic and emotional, here in Kirkwood. I lost some good friends.

I was approached by Sergeant Mike Bales, of the Kirkwood Police, to lead the physical healing of our City Hall. Within two hours, I grouped together several Kirkwood remodeling companies and we will perform various parts of the repairs and work. We will work side by side to put our public face back together by Wednesday of next week. This includes painting, 300 yards of carpet rush-shipped from Georgia, many sheets of drywall and custom oak trims and raised panel molding.

Many Mosby employees are already working weekends and evenings to meet existing commitments to our clients’ projects. I am grateful for our busy schedule and my strong team that makes all this possible. The Mosby team is super people with hearts so big that I just hug my co-workers as I see them. They too are honored to be part of a company invited to help heal Kirkwood. Many of them stayed until 8 pm tonight to make sure we acquire unusual hardwood pieces like 1 sheet of ¼” quarter-sawn oak plywood. Few people in our industry even know what quarter sawn is, much less where to dig it up at 7 pm on a Friday evening!

I just read the back of the fire chief’s business card and feel the truth in the Kirkwood city slogan:
… where community and spirit meet.

Pray for us in Kirkwood.

 

SATURDAY MORNING – 6 AM

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Today I begin round-the-clock duty to help put our City Hall Council Chambers back together and heal our city building, quietly, as we heal our community publicly. The national media is everywhere, with their generators and lights running in the background of our prayer vigils and memorial worship. The combination of media sounds and public silence creates a strange community aura.

I grieve. I pray. I hurt. I am honored to help and it feels good to respond. I hurt inside when I see the bullet holes in the walls, and the other sights too difficult to describe, yet we continue diligently with our work. Life is so fleeting and precious.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON – 2 PM

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The impossible transformation is now well underway. The spirit, reverence and professionalism of our community is cause for gratitude.

My company, Mosby Building Arts, Riggs Construction & Design and Roeser Home Remodeling are the group re-creating the walls and surfaces of the room, just like healing a wound. Kirkwood citizen Michael Von Gerichten has turned over his company – MVG Painting – to put a new coat of hope on everything. I am sooo impressed with our trade partners (Stephens Flooring, Color Art and Streib Electric) and the deep understanding by our city leaders of the complex emotions we share by being part of this team.

We are honored to fill the request of the city leaders to change the room, change the energy and transform the look and spirit for future city meetings held in this room.

SUNDAY EVENING – 6 PM

Another day of work. I’ve been told that our rebuilding healing efforts were covered in the Sunday Post-Dispatch. We’re too busy to read reports on what we’re doing! Our volunteer teams have removed all of the old and are bringing in all the new beginnings. My spirits are improving but my grieving has yet to begin.

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(Above is the picture that ran in the Post article, “Healing Process Starts With City Hall.” The 2 men shown carrying out a desk are Mosby carpenter Steve Nielson and Mosby project manager/estimator Tim Wahlig. The article ends with an accurate observation from Scott’s wife, Judy: Up in the chambers, the carpenters were taking out the last of the old carpet. The activity helped chase away questions that no one could answer, said Judy Mosby of Mosby Building Arts, one of the contractors helping with the work. “This is helpful, just to feel like you’re doing something,” she said. “It’s better than trying to figure out why.”)

MONDAY MORNING – Scott’s e-mail to Mosby Staff and Trade Partners

I greet you this Monday morning with reverence, gratitude, sadness and pride. Many of us lost friends, acquaintances and people we work with in the events that occurred last week in Kirkwood. This week will be filled with more events around mourning and the funerals of those that perished. Our city employees are grieving and are just now returning to work this week. Please be understanding and patient with our city services as so many city functions will be affected with burying our own.

I am sad about this event and I lost some very dear friends. These were men and women that I admired and treasured their guidance. I will miss their knowledge, experience and civil service. I am, however, most proud to be part of this community. I am proud of how we in the remodeling industry, and at Mosby Building Arts, showed our hearts and served when it is most needed.

I am grateful for our response and leadership, our Mosby get-it-done attitude, the reverence, and the importance of what we do and what we did to heal the Council Chambers. I can report to you now that the Kirkwood City Council Chambers will be “ready for business” Wednesday evening. No events are scheduled for the room but the transformation will be complete. The custom oak trim replacements, new laminate counter tops, new custom oak cabinetry, new carpeting, all new painting of walls, custom staining of trims, new light fixtures, electrical devices, and even new chairs are soon to be completed. I thank those of you who gave of your time from your hearts. I can tell you it has been an honor to be part of the healing process.

The healing of this room happens because of great sacrifices from Kirkwood remodeling companies, trade partners, and suppliers. I thank you, admire you and I am proud be part of you.

We Are Together … Kirkwood,
Scott Mosby

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TUESDAY

I am blessed to have the greatest guys working with me at Mosby, and I’m grateful for the clients who understood the situation that took these crews away from their projects for several hours. Trying times reveal the true measure of people, and I’m proud to be associated with so many exemplary individuals.

Now that the physical aspects of the Council Chambers are nearing completion, we turned attention to the people who work in City Hall. Some of the survivors expressed their fear of having to go back in there. As a group, we prayed with them for strength and renewal. As problem solvers, we worked with cabinetmaker Dave Quevreaux to build a new desk for a Kirkwood Councilwoman who couldn’t bear the thought of ever again sitting at the old desk.

Today, Judy and I have been hugged by so many people who have stopped by to catch a glimpse of the repair and renewal efforts. It’s overwhelming to realize that something we needed to do for ourselves and the city leaders is also exactly what Kirkwood employees and citizens need, as well.

WEDNESDAY MORNING – E-mail from the Kirkwood Fire Chief

Scott,

Thank you so much for handling this. I am just getting ready to leave for Sgt. Biggs’ funeral now. Obviously this city could not have accomplished this project without you. Thank you doesn’t seem to say enough, but that is all I have. Thank you to you, Judy, the Riggs’, Roesers’, and all who have helped to make this happen.

Tom Openlander

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THURSDAY AFTERNOON – 12 PM

Last Friday, we set the goal of completing this renewal project by Wednesday; 5 days to heal the physical wounds, and we did it!

As of late last night, we are officially done with what had to be repaired and renewed in the Council Chambers. Now we’re adding new touches to the Chamber (a new city seal and a quote from Mayor Swoboda hand-painted across the rear wall) and moving onto rooms adjacent to the Chambers, doing needed repairs and some light remodeling. We’re donating these extras because we’ve seen the powerfully positive results that come from physically transforming rooms that hold tragic memories.

We’ve heard from a few city employees who just don’t feel they can ever walk back into City Hall. Can the transformation of troubled spaces help them through the grieving process? We’re making the extra effort in hopes that it will.

Those of us who worked within this room shared a quiet purpose and reverence. Grieving, healing, tears, hugs, teamwork, respect, growing friendships and a shared honor are abundant. I am grateful to everyone who made it happen, and all the companies that rose and responded immediately to the needs of Kirkwood. And now it’s time for Judy & I to attend the final funeral mass, and look toward Friday as the beginning of a new chapter for this city that I am proud to serve.

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The Council Chambers of the Kirkwood City Hall is scheduled to reopen for business after the official dedication.