The search for the great Carthage cave, now more than a century old, has run into yet another delay, occasioned this time as often in the past by economic concerns.
At Tuesday night’s Carthage City Council meeting, Councilman Ben Johnson (D-5th Ward) presented an updated report on progress made by a committee he heads toward discovering the exact boundaries of a cave long believed to lie under a major part of the city as a step toward developing it as a tourist attraction.
He said the possibility of using radar equipment as a means of finding the cave now is under consideration and has been discussed with professional firms.
Johnson indicated it could cost up to $7,000 to use the radar search method over a span of four or five days but the first step would be a demonstration study to determine whether the radar could be used effectively with the type of soil structure which exists in Carthage.
He suggested expenditure of $500 for a test by Joplin laboratory staff to see whether the radar approach would be feasible.
Budget concerns were raised at once, with several council members indicating the council’s contingency fund is being steadily depleted and the next fiscal budget looks tight.
Councilman John Gilbreath (D-5th Ward) declared, “We should throw money down a dry hole.”
Johnson said, “I wish we had the money but I don’t know where it could come from.”
Councilman Perry Fleming (R-2nd Ward) observed, “We may have less reserves than we think.”
City Administrator Tom Simpson agreed there is a need to use care with expenditures from the contingency fund because it is getting low.
There was no action on the subject.
The committee earlier drilled a number of exploratory holes at the various sites in an effort to find the cave but the results were generally inconclusive.