The Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society received a $500 preservation grant Saturday from the Route 66 Association of Missouri for its efforts to restore the last remaining Camp Joy cabin in Lebanon and the exterior of the Underpass Cafe in Phillipsburg.

“Roamin Rich” Dinkela, president of the state association, announced the grant at its quarterly meeting in Joplin.

“You probably wouldn’t have noticed it before, but you will now because they’ve taken on and painted the facade and really done a good makeover on it,” Dinkela said about the Underpass Cafe. “It’s pretty cool.”

Ramona Lehman, a founding member of the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society, explained the history of Camp Joy, later known as the Joy Motel, and how society members restored the cabin and moved it to the Route 66-themed Boswell Park. “I’m very proud of it,” she said.

Lehman also talked about the support the project received from descendants of the Spears family, which founded Camp Joy and operated it for generations.

“When they heard it, these people were so elated, so thrilled,” she said.

Lehman said the Route 66 Society “will be very happy” with the grant.

Dinkela praised the Lebanon group for its efforts. “They’ve done some really major things in Lebanon and Laclede County, and this is just a token of appreciation, how we can kind of give back for their efforts,” he said.

The grant was proposed by Judy Wallmark, secretary of the state association and former longtime secretary-treasurer of the Lebanon-Laclede County group.

On Monday, Bill Jones, president of the Route 66 Society, thanked the state association for the grant. “I am pleased they said that we did a good job in Lebanon,” he said.

Video of the state meeting can be viewed here.

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