Grand Lake pastor celebrates 90th birthday

GROVE, Okla.  – A longtime area Baptist pastor is celebrating a milestone birthday today.

The family of Rev. Gerald Dyer is hosting a 90th birthday celebration today at 2 p.m. at the Baptist Village Honey Creek Community Room in Grove.  

Rev. Dyer was born on Dec. 31, 1932, in Broken Arrow.  He later served in the Korean Conflict from 1953 to 1955 and was stationed in Alabama where he was called to preach. Rev. Dyer answered the call and moved to Inola where he founded Gregory Baptist Church.  

In 1959, he married Barbara, and during his 29 years of pastoral ministry, he pastored eight churches in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.

“He is an encourager,” said John Crowley, a retired Baptist minister. “He is a solid believer that cares for people.”

Prior to his retirement in 1999, Dyer worked as Director of Missions for the Northeast Baptist Association for 15 years. He served as interim pastor at seven area Baptist churches and was a mentor to many pastors and church leaders since retiring.

The couple has three sons, Steve, Danny and Marty, seven grandchildren, and a multitude of great-grandchildren. 

Cards and well wishes can be sent to Gerald Dyer at 153 Ingram Rd, Grove, OK 74344.

What is Missouri's minimum wage for 2023?

ST. LOUIS — Missouri’s minimum wage will increase by 85 cents per hour at the start of the 2023 year.

Starting Jan. 1, the state’s new minimum wage will be $12 per hour for employees who work in private businesses. The 2022 minimum wage for such employees in Missouri was $11.15.

Missouri has raised its minimum wage gradually each of the last seven years, according to the Missouri Department of Labor. Recent increases are part of a plan approved by voters in 2018 to raise the minimum wage every year through 2023.

The state’s minimum wage law does not apply to public employers, nor does it allow the state’s minimum wage rate to be lower than the federal minimum wage rate. This means that the minimum wage increase may not apply to workers in retail and service businesses.

According to the department of labor, “employers engaged in retail or service businesses whose annual gross income is less than $500,000 are not required to pay the state minimum wage rate.”

Employees who work for tips, like restaurant servers, must be guaranteed at least half of the minimum wage per hour, per state law.

Top 10 political moments in Kansas in 2022

TOPEKA, (KSNT) — 2022 was a year packed with historic political moments in Kansas. That includes a Primary vote on abortion rights that garnered national attention and a Midterm Election that put Democrats and Republicans to the test.

Here are 10 of the top political moments in the state in 2022.

Kansans uphold abortion rights

Abortion took center stage this year, after the fall of Roe v. Wade. Kansas was the first state to hold a critical vote, deciding the future of abortion rights.

Nearly 60% of Kansas voters voted to reject a constitutional amendment on the Primary ballot, which would have given lawmakers the power to potentially pass more restrictions or limits on the procedure.

After backlash from supporters of the amendment and a last-minute recount, the Primary vote count was confirmed, upholding the constitutional right to abortion in the state.

Another amendment: Sheriffs fight back

Long-winded and sometimes confusing ballot questions didn’t end in the Primary. Amendments appearing on the November ballot also had some voters wondering what their vote actually meant.

One of the amendments, which passed this year, was HCR 5022. It came down to who has the power to push an elected sheriff out of office, and, if local counties can choose to have a sheriff at all.

Riley County is the only county in the state without a sheriff, after consolidating with the city of Manhattan to have one law enforcement agency – Riley County Police. In the state’s other 104 counties – sheriff’s are elected by the people.

The amendment prevents counties from completely eliminating or merging their sheriff’s office with another law enforcement agency, like a local police department. It also prevents local prosecutors from ousting a sheriff, leaving the process to the Attorney General’s Office or a public vote. A majority of Kansas voters approved the amendment in November.

Kelly-Schmidt State Fair Debate

The battle for the next Kansas Governor came to a head at the first debate of the election season.

Democratic incumbent Laura Kelly faced off with Republican nominee Derek Schmidt at the Kansas State Fair, proving to be one of the most heated exchanges between the two candidates.

Schmidt slammed Kelly over her handling of the pandemic, and the status of the state’s economy. However, Kelly fired back, touting a list of accomplishments, which included receiving “trophy after trophy” for economic development.

Kelly’s rebuttal ended in applause, after she asked Schmidt about his opinion on Sam Brownback’s leadership, hinting at a failed tax experiment. She delivered, what later became, a notorious tagline.

Political mud-slinging, drag shows, trans athletes and more

Political mud-slinging is sometimes thrown in the mix, during an election year, and the 2022 Midterm was not an exception.

Campaigns and political parties found new ways to take jabs at the opposing side, using creative political ads.

Democrats took aim at Republican gubernatorial nominee Derek Schmidt, launching an interactive website ahead of the Primary. The party doubled down on their push to tie both figures to the shortfalls of former Governor Sam Brownback’s administration, citing his failed tax experiment.

National and state GOP groups also attacked democratic Governor Laura Kelly for refusing to pass a bill banning transgender athletes from women sports. The Governor later released an ad, saying that “men should not play girls sports,” which some Republicans pointed to as a sign that the governor was backtracking her prior stance and lying about her record.

Toward the end of the campaign season, Schmidt held a press conference accusing the Governor’s administration of sponsoring drag shows with taxpayer dollars. The Governor, her administration and her campaign said the claims were “not true.”

Kelly wins Re-election, Kobach makes comeback

After a whirlwind election season, there were some surprise wins from some highly contentious races in the state. Republican Kris Kobach made a political comeback, securing a seat as the next Attorney General.

Democratic incumbent Laura Kelly also won a second term, defeating Republican Derek Schmidt in a tight race.

Both Kobach and Kelly narrowly defeated their opponents. However, the margin was even larger for one of the most watched Congressional races in the state.

Democratic U.S. Representative Sharice Davids defeated Republican Amanda Adkins by nearly 12 percentage points, despite having to campaign in a new congressional district.

Based on the 2022 Midterm results, some political experts argue that the state may be leaning more “purple” than “red.”

Sports betting legalized, wrapped in controversy

Kansas took a monumental step to legalize sports betting, and rushed to get the system up and running within just a few months.

However, a New York Times Investigation released in November shined a light on how sports betting legislation in the state was passed. The investigation indicated that lawmakers may have been influenced by sports gambling lobbyists to pass a plan that may not be in the best interest of the state.

The state cut from sports betting is set at 10% under the current plan, generating far less revenue than states like New York, which have set their tax cut at 51%.

There have been discussions from some state leaders to revisit the plan, and determine whether the state got a good deal.

Medical marijuana comeback

Kansas lawmakers could take a major step toward marijuana reform in 2023.

Democrats and Republicans formed a special committee to work on a medical marijuana bill ahead of the 2023 legislative session.

While the bill has passed the House chamber in the past, Republican Senate President Ty Masterson has said that medical marijuana is not a legislative priority.

Senator Rob Olson, who is spearheading efforts to draft the bill, said he [doesn’t know] where the bill will end up, but he does intend to introduce a plan.

DCF backlash grows

The Kansas Department of Children and Families has been in the spotlight after several complaints from foster care families.

One of the incidents involving a foster family in Gardner, prompted lawmakers in the state’s Child Welfare committee to hold a press conference, decrying “lies” and “inconsistencies” with the state’s foster care system.

The controversy surrounded the Gardner family’s ongoing battle with Cornerstones of Care, a non-profit organization in the Kansas City area.

Nicole and John Dehaven, who are contracted as foster parents through Cornerstones of Care, recounted the roadblocks they’ve encountered in trying to adopt their three-year-old foster daughter, who has been with them since within days of her birth.

The DeHaven’s daughter is part of a sibling set of eight.

In an interview with Kansas Capitol Bureau, another foster parent, Jackie Schooler from Tonganoxie, came forward with similar complaints. Schooler detailed her struggles with advocating for her foster children, who are also part of the sibling set.

Suellentrop steps down 

Kansas Senator Gene Suellentrop, who made headlines, after being caught speeding down the wrong side of the highway in 2021, will not be returning to the Legislature in 2023.

The Republican from Wichita was sentenced to serve 2 days in jail and 12 months of probation for a DUI and reckless driving, but was released early, according to records obtained by Kansas Capitol Bureau.

In November, Suellentrop, who has served in the Senate since 2017, notified Senate Leadership in an email about his plans to leave office on January 2, 2023, a spokesman for Leadership confirmed.

KHP lawsuits, Gov. stands by Leader 

Multiple lawsuits against the Kansas Highway Patrol moved forward earlier this year. Former troopers broke their silence, after claiming that they were wrongfully fired from the agency.

Sean McCauley, an attorney who represented a couple of troopers, who filed lawsuits claiming retaliation from the department, said it’s been a “common theme” in prior cases, where troopers “speak out” against Superintendent Colonel Herman Jones.

The Kansas State Troopers Association has called for Governor Laura Kelly to remove Colonel Herman Jones from his leadership position.

However, in an exclusive television interview with Kansas Capitol Bureau, Kelly defended Jones’ position as Superintendent.

Quitting smoking in 2023

JOPLIN, Mo. — Quitting smoking is often on the list of those making new year’s resolutions.

Experts say the time is now to do so.

“Smart choice to make to quit smoking an if you have this on your mind as in your New Year’s resolution, or if you don’t have a new year’s resolution yet and you are thinking about quitting smoking, I think this is the perfect time to do so,” said Dr. Vigyan Bang.

Dr. Bang says the first step to quitting starts with your mentality.

“First thing I’d start off with is the intention to quit smoking. And once you have made the choice of quitting smoking, I think it is a partnership with your doctors to decide what the best strategy for you is,” said Dr. Bang.

He says smoking is one of the top three killers in the country.

“It is linked to about 90% of cancers in the United States and heart disease. Cancer and stroke are the top three in that order killers in the United States today, and if you stopped smoking is certainly impacting the top three killers in this country,” said Dr. Bang.

Many people believe vaping isn’t as harmful as smoking, but dr bang says that’s not the case.

“Smoking and vaping are absolutely in the same category. And I want to dispel this notion that vaping is not as harmful. There is not data we have in the scientific community to suggest vaping is any better or more healthy than smoking is,” added Dr. Bang.

He says the benefits of quitting can affect the body in just 20 minutes

“Smoking is the single largest preventable factor to improve cardiovascular health in the United States today. and the benefits of smoke of smoking cessation. Start from about 20 minutes. Once you kick the cigarette butt, and you realize that there is reduction in blood pressure 20 minutes into the last cigarette that you smoked,” said Dr. Bang.

NYE at Downstream Casino Resort

QUAPAW, Okla. — A local casino is providing the space, yet again this year, for people to ring in the new year.

“Downstream Casino Resort” has been prepping for the past several days for New Year’s Eve, and they’re anticipating a big crowd tonight.

Representatives say it’s their biggest night of the year and they look forward to it every year.

There will also be a live music performance and they’ll be giving away a big prize to one lucky winner.

“Right now we have a 75k giveaway and at midnight one person will win 25,000 dollars in cash. Not to mention we’ve got the Four States’ largest balloon drop. Mayday by midnight is on the stage at Legends party favors you name it, we got it,” said Shay Teeter, Downstream Casino, marketing manager.

The fun started at noon, and the $25,000 drawing will be at 12:15 a.m.

Witnessing the Schifferdecker & Zelleken houses' restoration

JOPLIN, Mo. — Two historical pieces of Joplin open up to the community, despite still being under construction.

“What we want to do is to tell the story of these two families,” said Brad Belk, Director of Joplin Historical Neighborhoods, Inc.

Around 50 people showed up to tour Joplin’s famous Schifferdecker house, and the Zelleken house next door, on Saturday.

“Edward and Margaret Zelleken Home and the Charles and Wilhelmina Schifferdecker Homes, were built in the 1890s,” said Belk.

The two historic structures have been undergoing the renovation process over the past several years.

“They were business associates, and they moved over. They were in Baxter Springs, they moved to Joplin, Missouri, and they decided that they’d like to have, build two houses, and be next-door neighbors. And, indeed they were,” said Belk.

Those overseeing the restoration of the homes wanted to give people a look at the progress.

“So, you kind of come and see where it is right now, and then, hopefully, when we get open, you’ll want to come back. And then you can say, oh I remember that that was that, and that type of thing,” said Belk.

“I wanted to see the work they were doing, and I’m anxious to get it done because I’m just excited that they’re taking history and making it beautiful again,” said Coco Chickering-Berry, Tour Participant.

No end-of-construction date has been released to the public.

But, the hope is to tell the community about its history and get a better understanding of how the two families, who immigrated from Germany, impacted the city of Joplin

“They bought a lot of lead and zinc mining land. And, with that, they leased the land and got royalties from that. So, they were land barons first, and then they got involved in banks and city parks, you name it. They are very much intertwined in our community,” said Belk

Once done, regular tours will be available to the public.

And the two families’ legacies will live on through these homes.

“The idea of younger people getting interested in our past, it’s essential. They need to know the foundation of why we’re here and the importance of that. And, sometimes it’s a little better to learn the experience by walking through and being able to be immersed in this environment,” said Belk.

“My mom used to say… she was Helen Chickering, she was big in Joplin’s history. And she always said if you don’t know where you’ve been, you won’t know where you’re going,” said Chickering-Berry.

Grocery tax cut will start soon in Kansas, here's when

KANSAS (KSNT) – The food sales tax for Kansas will be dropping significantly at the beginning of 2023, giving local residents more money in pocket.

Currently Kansas has the second highest sales tax rate on food in the entire country at 6.5%. House Bill 2106 is set to eliminate that state sales tax on groceries by 2025.

On Jan. 1, 2023 the Kansas food sales tax will drop to 4% and in 2024 it will drop again to 2%. Washburn Economy professor Paul Byrne told 27 News that the reduction is a win-win for Kansans.

“It will certainly help the grocery store industry,” said Byrne. “People will buy more in that industry so that industry will be better. To the extent where people don’t buy more food that’ll be a little more dollars in their pocket.”

The foods that do qualify for the tax reduction are basic grocery items including:

  • Foods that qualify
    • Milk
    • Eggs
    • Bread
    • Meat
    • Bottled Water
    • Soft drinks
    • Candy
    • Dietary supplements
  • Foods that do not qualify
    • Alcohol
    • Tobacco
    • Prepared foods

Local sales taxes like city and county tax will still apply at the grocery store.

Stamps to increase in price

(Image Courtesy – Getty Images)

KSNF/KODE — The United States Postal Service has announced price increases due to operating expenses and a lack of revenue.

The increase in prices are expected to take effect on January 22nd, 2023. Prices for standard 1oz. letters will increase from 60 cents to 63 cents. Domestic postcards will increase from 44 cents to 48 cents and international postcards and letters will both increase by five cents to $1.45.

The Postal Service’s expenses have exceeded its revenues year-after-year since 2007. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Postal Service is able to remain in business by increasing its debt and missing required federal payments funding retiree pension benefits, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

USPS has lost $87 billion over the past 14 fiscal years, including over $18 billion since the beginning of the pandemic. The Postal Service did receive $10 billion in COVID relief funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, but according to the GAO, the USPS business model is unsustainable, and all retiree health benefits would be depleted by 2030 if a major restructuring doesn’t take place.

In March of this year, the U.S. Senate passed a major financial relief bill that would fund USPS with $50 billion over the next decade and would require retirees to enroll in a federally sponsored health insurance plan — but like the CARES Act relief, it still may not be enough for the Postal Service to stay afloat.

The City of Duquesne under state investigation

DUQUESNE, Mo. — The City of Duquesne is under investigation.

A spokesman for Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway confirms state investigators are looking into the details of Duquense operations. He declined to give specifics, but the auditor’s website states it investigates any claims of fraud or abuse, which could lead to an audit of city finances and business practices.

We contacted Mayor Bill Sherman and he declined to comment at this time.

Wildcat Glades join MO State Parks First Day Hike 2023

JOPLIN, Mo. — The new year is now hours away and some fans of the great outdoors want you to consider spending that day with mother nature. It’s a program called, “First Day Hike” which is exactly what it sounds like — a walk outside on the first day of the year.

Missouri State Parks is hosting hikes at Prairie State Park in Mindenmines, Roaring River State Park in Cassville, and Big Sugar Creek State Park in Pineville. But folks aren’t limited to an official hike.

“But you know the organized hikes are good because they kind of show you what to be looking for. But if you just want to go out on your farm, if you want to go out around the neighborhood in the city, that’s fine too. The important thing is that you’re getting out,” said Francis Skalicky, MDC Media Spec.

There’s also a “First Day Hike” in Joplin — beginning and ending at the Wildcat Glades education cottage.

You can pre-register here.