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Joplin working to fill over 100 open lifeguard positions

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin Parks and Recreation Department is having issues filling lifeguard positions.

What does it mean if they can’t find enough lifeguards? That means they might have to close some pools or rotate which pools are open. They are looking to hire more than 100 lifeguards to keep all three city pools open.

Paul Bloomberg, Parks and Recreation Director, said, “We would really like to get enough lifeguards to open up all three pools. Last year all we opened up was Schifferdecker Pool.”

The Joplin Parks and Recreation Department is struggling to fill more than 100 open lifeguard positions at its three pools. They say because of the pandemic they are not able to do presentations at schools to get the word out.

“We try to recruit them before they want to go work at another place. They’re starting to look for their Summer jobs now. We try to make it financially affordable for these kids to be lifeguards.”

An aquatics engineering and design firm says they have been seeing a shortage in lifeguards nationwide. They say scheduling is a conflict and the job itself is hard to sell.

Lauren Ozburn, Water’s Edge Operations Analyst, said, “Over time families individuals, and teenagers have come to realize and really understand the job of a lifeguard is quite serious and it is in fact lifesaving. They’re taught emergency skills, they perform as a first responder just as an EMT would or even someone within the fire department. Because should an emergency situation arise that person is responsible. “

She says there are some things cities can do to retain employees.

“Developing an enriching work culture predominantly for teenagers is really one of the strongest way you can recruit, train, retain, and then get them back the following year. Its creating that positive culture.”

The Parks and Recreation Department will be hosting lifeguard training in April and May.

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MSSU holds Dress To Impress event

JOPLIN, Mo. — It normally takes more than a diploma for college students to land that first job. Of course, they need to also look the part. For students at Missouri Southern – they can take care of the latter, at no cost to them. And it’s all thanks to an annual event.

Edxel Morales, MSSU Junior, said, “Super helpful, you know kind of living on a college budget you can’t really afford this so this is awesome.”

Edxel Morales is talking about the 7th annual Dress To Impress event on the campus of Missouri Southern State University. It’s a free service put on by the university and the Young Professionals Network. Donated items – some of them brand new – all available for MSSU students and alumni who are looking for that first professional outfit, or are wanting to simply add to their wardrobe.

“It really is a privilege to have this, the University to host this for students, I think this is a huge plus, I always hear it turns out super well, and from coming from this experience my first time this is real, this is awesome.”

Over the last several weeks, individuals and businesses have donated clothing, shoes, and accessories.

Faustina Abrahams, MSSU Director of Advising, Counseling & Testing Services, said, “It would have been tremendous, being able to feel comfortable in the clothes that you wear, it gives you the confidence when you are looking for a job, it gives you the confidence when you start working.”

Faustina Abrahams is a Southern grad and employee and wishes the event would have been in existence when she was a student here. She’s donating her time at the event as a way of giving back to the university. And would probably be doing so even if she didn’t work at Southern.

“I raise two boys, and so I know what it is like when they got their first jobs.”

Because of social distancing practices, this year’s event will span 3 days – so students still have the opportunity to shop Thursday and Friday.

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Pittsburg Parks and Rec to offer training for puppies

PITTSBURG, Ks. — Pittsburg Parks and Recreation will soon be a place for puppies.

The department is offering a 5-week group obedience course for puppies who are between the ages of 9-weeks to 6-months. It’s designed with training techniques to help a pup’s confidence and any anxiety he or she may have.

You can register by contacting the department over the phone, in person, or online.

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Upgrades coming to the Joplin Senior Center

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin Senior Center is getting much needed upgrades.

This week the Joplin City Council approved a $109,469.50 improvement project for the center. Volunteers go to the center to pick up food for seniors that are part of the Meals On Wheels program.

The project will give the center more loading and unloading space along with a canopy to keep volunteers out of the weather.

Patty Heagel, Assistant Director of Planning, Development, and Neighborhood Services, said, “It gives better access for the volunteers who deliver Meals On Wheels. That side of the senior center is where the kitchen is and where they distribute meals to go out to those who are homebound.”

They hope to start construction in April and have it finished by September.

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Lawmakers discuss doing away with presidential primary election for Missouri voters

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Some lawmakers in Missouri are talking about changing the way Missourians vote and even getting rid of the presidential primary election to save money.

Members of the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee discussed only allowing Missouri voters to use paper ballots. Rep. Peggy McGaugh (R-Carrollton) is the sponsor of House Bill 1065, a large election bill, which includes doing away with Missourians voting in the presidential preference primary election.

“It totally eliminates that particular primary that is held every four years,” McGaugh said.

She said that election costs the state $9 million. Election clerks from around the state testified in favor of the bill.

“With the cost of $55,546 for Johnson County, that breaks out to $31.47 per voter, so that’s a pretty expensive election,” Johnson County Clerk Diane Thompson said.

Instead of voters deciding which two candidates would be nominated for president, it would be up to the party’s caucus. Before 2000, that’s how Missouri nominated a candidate for president. This 2020 primary election was just the sixth president preference primary election in Missouri. 

HB 1065 would also allow an absentee ballot to count if the voter dies after the ballot is cast. McGaugh testified saying some counties count the vote while others don’t.

“Larger jurisdictions, it’s just not feasible and i wouldn’t have any idea how they could search their public records to find if anybody has died once they voted,” Livingston County Clerk Sherry Parks said.

Under McGaugh’s bill, local election authorities wouldn’t have to wait until election day to count absentee ballots. It would allow for absentee ballots to be considered “cast” the day they are received, meaning it can be counted.

Another piece of the legislation would allow those using an absentee ballot without an excuse would have three weeks to fill out their ballot, instead of six, but then voters would be able to return it to a drop box.

“It has come to our attention that last year when we used the COVID excuse, that people really needed an outlet to be able to get their ballot delivered,” McGaugh said.

Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller testified in front of the House committee, expressing his concerns for the drop boxes.

“I get concerned with how those drop boxes could be from one county to the other,” Schoeller said. “When I read the language, it is not clear who would be the definer of that. Not only in the terms of the specifications of the drop box, but how the security of that drop box is monitored.”

Deputy Secretary of State Trish Vincent said the secretary of state’s office would be in charge of the boxes.

No one spoke in opposition of McGaugh’s bill during the hearing.

“Related to the ballot box, the secretary intends to write very succinct rules to outline how those boxes will be secured, where they will be placed and how they will be maintained,” Vincent said. “I think it’s a desire to treat everybody the same.”

Rep. Justin Hill (R-Lake St. Louis) also presented House Bill 842, which would require Missourians to vote by paper ballot only. This legislation would allow for disabled voters to touch screen machines until 2024, then those voters will be required to use ballot marking devices.

The third bill read during the committee was House Bill 738, sponsored by Rep. Don Rone (R-Portageville), which includes similar provisions to McGaugh’s bill, but also includes candidates to select poll watchers at their own expense to monitor elections.

None of the bills were voted out of committee, but the chairman said members will do so in the coming week.

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World’s of Fun announces 2021 openings, new water slide attraction

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — World’s of Fun announced that their parks will be opening at the end of May.

World’s of Fun will begin receiving guests on May 22, 2021. Ocean’s of Fun will open one week later on Memorial Day weekend.

Along with the opening of Ocean’s of Fun, the new attraction, Riptide Raceway, will open for the first time. The new waterslide was announced for the 2020 season, but with the season being cut short, it was unable to open.

Tickets and season passes are currently on sale and the park says that 2020 season pass holders will have their passes extended through the 2021 season.

The Grand Carnavale also makes a return to World’s of Fun starting on July 24 and going through Aug. 8.

Halloween Haunt will begin on Sept. 17 and end on Halloween.

The park says they continue to monitor the pandemic and will be working with health experts to ensure safety of their guests.

Worlds of Fun continues to monitor the ever-changing conditions surrounding the pandemic and will continue to actively work with health experts and government officials to maintain the highest safety standards for guests and ambassadors. Guests are encouraged to visit worldsoffun.com for the latest updates on requirements, policies and safety protocols for the 2021 season, as these details and guidelines may be revised.

WORLD’S OF FUN

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'It's not fair': Rioter who put his feet up in Pelosi's office complains to judge

WASHINGTON (KNWA/KFTA) — An Arkansas man photographed sitting at a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office will have another status conference on May 4, a date set by U.S. District Court Judge Christopher R. Cooper.

Richard Barnett, a supporter of US President Donald Trump sits inside the office of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on January 6, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Richard Barnett, 60, called in from jail for Thursday’s hearing.

Cooper suggested the continuance until May 4, but that did not go over well with Barnett.

“I’ve been here a long time … another month … It’s not fair,” Barnett could be heard telling the court about the suggested May date. “You’re letting everyone else out, I need help,” he yelled.

At that point, the status conference was paused so Barnett could talk with his attorneys about the new court date.

After a few minutes, Cooper went back on the record and confirmed the next status conference for May 4.

Meanwhile, Barnett’s attorneys can make a bail application on behalf of their client and a hearing would be scheduled for that. Barnett was represented by the law firm of Metcalf & Metcalf, and the McBride law firm, replacing his previous attorney Anthony Siano.

In February, Barnett entered a not guilty plea to all counts of his indictment:

Richard Barnett holds a piece of mail as he sits inside the office of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi after protestors breached the US Capitol. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
  • Obstruction of an official proceeding
  • Aiding and abetting
  • Entering and remaining in a certain room in the Capitol building
  • Disorderly/Disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon
  • Parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building

Barnett had already been indicted on three federal charges earlier in January:

  • Knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority
  • Violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds
  • Theft of public money, property, or records
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Jasper County Health Department reports 6 new COVID-19 deaths

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The Jasper County Health Department is reporting the deaths of 6 Jasper County residents due to COVID-19.

This brings the total deaths for the county to 149.

The residents include four males with one in his 90’s, and three in their 70’s, along with two females one each in their 40’s and 70’s.

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Small Business Development Center holds cyber security event

JOPLIN, Mo. — When you think of a cyber attack, you might think of major companies being victims. But the same thing can happen to small businesses. Preventing that from happening was the purpose of an event, Tuesday, at Missouri Southern.

The conference room inside the SBDC Center in Joplin became a classroom on Tuesday. It was the location of a virtual training session on data security.

The virtual event featured a member of the Missouri Office of Homeland Security as well as Jason Rincker, with Stronghold Data, who says small business owners are frequent targets of hackers.

Jason Rincker, Stronghold Data, said, “Share with them the knowledge we’ve gained, you know, over the years, cyber threats, the whole cyber landscape is a major threat to all industries, both federal, city, state, you know from a government standpoint but also from small businesses, in fact, small businesses are their number one target.”

Ken Surbrugg with the Small Business & Development Center on the campus of MSSU says data security is an issue you should deal with before you go into business.

Ken Surbrugg, Consultant, MSSU Small Business Development Center, said, “It’s an expense your going to have but think of it also as an investment in your business because protecting data is so important in today’s world.”

He says small businesses often don’t have the financial resources to overcome an information breach, which can hurt owners and employees.

“Everything else is going great with the business, they have a good market and potential and everything else, but if that happens, you know, how many people are going to be confident and secure that they can continue to do business with them, or yeah, it just shuts them down and it’s unfortunate because that’s lost jobs in our community.”