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Free tax service opens in Joplin

KSNF — If you don’t feel comfortable with doing your own taxes, and you don’t want to break the bank paying someone to do them for you, a newly opened tax service might be ideal for you.

Many people dread tax season, but not Sherry Fisher. She knows who will do them for her and how much it will cost.

“Is this the first time you’ve come here?” asked KSN’s Stuart Price.

“No, I’ve been coming here every year,” answered Sherry Fisher, Repeat Customer.

“For?”

“For about five years,” said Fisher.

“Here” is the VITA, or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, office in Joplin.

“I love the service here. It’s quick, easy, and you don’t have to pay, so it’s free. You may have to wait a while but it’s worth it,” said Fisher.

David Torres is the site coordinator and explains who is eligible for the free tax service.

“We are a community based organization that provides free tax service mostly for seniors and people with incomes of $60,000 and under,” said Torres.

Because of the coronavirus, last year’s service was a drive through and drop off, but not this year.

“This year we’ll be doing a limited in-person site, so you actually will check in downstairs at the Great Plains Credit Union south-side door. They will take your number and you will wait in your car.”

Torres says masks will be required once you get inside the building.

“We cannot do farms and we also cannot do large businesses. So we can do small businesses such as hair stylist, things like that, but any kind of medium to large businesses we cannot do, we cannot do depreciations.”

The VITA office here in Joplin opened on Monday, but Torres says it you want to avoid most of the lines, he says avoid coming in until after February, in Joplin.

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Healthcare Spotlight: Kendra Cochran, Freeman Rehabilitation and Sports Center

JOPLIN, Mo. — When you think of going through physical therapy, you may not look forward to the potential pain, pushing yourself to heal and get stronger.

But Kendra Cochran says many times, it’s a better choice than other treatment options.

It’s a career she’s enjoyed for more than a decade. It’s just one reason she’s tonight’s Healthcare Spotlight.

“We have occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists,” said Kendra Cochran, Rehab Svcs, Clinical Coor.

It’s all part of the mix at Freeman Rehabilitation and Sports Center. And that’s Cochran’s work home.

“I’ve just always been drawn to that, to the healthcare. I like the study of human movement, like helping people. It’s just, it is a rewarding career to get to make a big difference in people’s lives.”

She started as a staff physical therapist 13 years ago. More recently, she’s taken on the role of Clinical Coordinator at the Rehab Center.

“So we get to do the fun stuff. The doctors get to fix them and then we get to see them through to get the results that they’re looking for and get them better. And back to where they were before they got injured.”

Kendra points out that rehab is generally cheaper and faster than other kinds of treatment.

“We help people learn how to use movement and exercise instead of medicine to control their symptoms and get better.”

She likes that her job gives her a chance to educate patients about taking charge of their health.

“Giving them power to understand what’s going on in their body, why they’re hurting and what they can do to control it and get it better. Just giving them some type of ownership over their health, over their condition,” said Cochran.

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National Poll Worker Recruitment Day

JASPER COUNTY, Mo. — On election day, you hear a lot about the candidates and the importance of your vote. But today, it’s the election workers themselves who are in the spotlight.

It’s National Poll Worker Recruitment Day.

They’re the ones in charge of setting up elections sites, verifying voter registration, and issuing ballots.

Jasper County Clerk Charlie Davis is making a point today to commend his team and urge others to consider signing up for this important but often thankless job.

“So it’s a lot of work. It makes a long day. But the vast majority of people that I talk to, that we recruit, talk about the service to community. You know their involvement in the community. And elections is one of the greatest constitutional rights that we have, to vote in this country,” said Davis.

Missouri residents interested in signing up to be a poll worker can follow this link.

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Joplin R-8 Superintendent Dr. Melinda Moss announces retirement

JOPLIN, Mo. — Joplin Schools Superintendent, Dr. Melinda Moss, is retiring.

Dr. Melinda Moss announced her retirement during tonight’s school board meeting.

Dr. Moss says her biggest accomplishments were voters passing the bond issue to remodel Kelsey Norman and the construction of Dover Hill.

Dr. Kerry Sachetta will move into that role on July first and Dr. Moss will help him transition into that role until she retires on September 30.

The district usually searches for a new superintendent nationally, but did not go that route this time.

“We’ve thought about this for several months. I would say the decision solidified over Christmas break and I wondered how I will feel once I made that known to our board, but I have peace about it. It’s time,” said Dr. Moss.

“I’m very excited. And there’s lots of reasons to be excited because of everybody that I’ve worked with in the district for this many years, and being in Joplin and serving our kids for this long a time. I’m extremely humbled and honored to have the opportunity,” said Dr. Kerry Sachetta, Assistant Superintendent for Operations of Joplin Schools.

Dr. Sachetta has been with the Joplin School District for 20 years.

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The Joplin Board of Education rejects a Missouri Southern partnership

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin School Board is turning down a partnership with Missouri Southern.

Tonight, for the second time in as many months, the district decided not to move forward with the MOSO CAPS Program.

The program gives high school juniors and seniors the chance to see life on a college campus while working toward a goal of getting into local industry.

Tonight’s decision came even after the university decreased the number of slots the high school needed to fill, from 59 to 36.

Multiple donors also came forward to cover up to 36 unused MOSO CAPS slots for the district.

“We are the Board of Education to represent all kids. When I look at the number of kids that we have that are struggling from second to eight grade on test scores and there are thousands of kids that could use the resources. I think it’s a better idea that we pour resources and efforts into that idea,” said John Hird, School Board Member.

The program would have cost each student close to $2,500 a year.

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Dover Hill Elementary School Update

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin School Board got an update on the new Dover Hill Elementary School.

Crossland Construction officials say, so far, construction is on schedule and on budget. They now have a timeline of when they will start pouring the second floor slab.

“There’s been no finishes yet. Structural steel is going on. The gym walls are going to be erected here in the next three weeks. A lot of the infrastructure is going on,” said Aaron Hight, Senior Project Manager for Crossland Construction.

Crossland Construction says they have had issues getting certain items, but supply costs have not gone up on building Dover Hill Elementary.

“There are supply chain issues mostly with bar joists and structural steel. We worked through that and we are on track now,” said Hight.

Crossland Construction will start pouring the second floor slab on Thursday.

“If anyone has driven by, obviously they can see the school on the hill. I call it a beacon of hope. I relate it all the way back to the Joplin Tornado. It was such a down time for the Joplin community and since then, the school has been planning for new facility. And this, to me, is that beacon of hope for Joplin,” said Hight.

The next step in construction will be precast installation for the gym and cafeteria in February.

“I was up on the site yesterday and I was really impressed. And you can really start to see and feel as the structure was going up what it’s going to feel like,” said Dr. Kerry Sachetta, Assistant Superintendent for Operations of Joplin Schools.

The project budget is at more than $26,000,000.

“Hopefully the change orders will be minor from here on out and we have contingency funds to take care of that right now. There’s also a couple things with technology and furniture that we can save a little money. We’ve been talking to the furniture vendor we selected and we feel like that we can come in budget-wise under that area,” said Dr. Sachetta.

Crossland officials say the cold weather is having minor impacts on construction right now.

They anticipate the project will be completed by December.

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Big Spring Park is getting a new addition

NEOSHO, Mo. — Today’s Daily Dose of Good News, something new is coming to Big Spring Park in Neosho.

A new all-inclusive swing set.

It’s being made possible by a donation from the Arvest Foundation.

The total cost of the project is a little less than $10,000. Crews will also build a sidewalk leading to the swing set to make it more easily accessible.

“It will have a couple different types of swings on it that, one, that will accommodate wheelchairs, and the other will be a strap-in type seat so that, you know, everybody can have an opportunity to swing. There are two other swing sets in this park already and there’s also another playground here, so, you know, this will be, something that’s needed here,” said Clint Dalbom, Neosho Parks & Rec Director.

The project should be finished and ready to go within the next few weeks.

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Flurries possible tonight; Much warmer by the weekend

Temperatures today will be slightly warmer than yesterday, but clouds will increase by this evening ahead of a small system that will bring some flurries into the Four States between 8pm-12am tonight. Impacts are not expected, and at most, we could see a light dusting on grassy and elevated surfaces by Thursday morning. Temperatures will warm into the 40s through the end of the week before soaring well into the 50s this weekend and into early next week. The first day of February is next Tuesday, and the month will begin well above average, but precipitation will be above average, as well, as we are expected to enter into an active weather pattern next week.

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Details released on morning structure fire in Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. — Large plumes of smoke rise above a residence just off of W. Junge Blvd Wednesday morning.

The fire started sometime before 9 A.M. Wednesday morning at 1314 Byers in Joplin.

Fire fighters said it happened at a two-story garage complex where the top story was being used as a living space.

The building filled with flames and smoke but fortunately no one was inside. No injuries were reported either but the building is considered destroyed. At one point the second story collapsed onto the first.

The fire took time to fight due to live electrical wires posing safety concerns for fire crews.

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How Gov. Parson's proposed 2023 budget will affect MSSU

MISSOURI — Governor Parson’s state budget recommendations for the next fiscal year proposed new investment for Missouri’s public higher education – here’s a look how Missouri Southern State University will be impacted.

For fiscal year 2023 – beginning July 1st, 2022 – Missouri Governor Mike Parson included significant boosts to higher education funding in Missouri. While what’s included looks very promising, at any point the recommendations from Parson could be altered, noted MSSU in a release.

After discussions in both Missouri legislative chambers the final budget will be sent to Gov. Parson for his approval. Until that time, the currently listed items in the budget that will also impact MSSU are as follows:

  • A 5.4% core budget increase for all public higher education institutions: Equals out to about a $1.4 million increase for MSSU. 
  • $31 million in funding for MoExcels projects: MoExcels funding facilitates development and expansion of employer-driven education and training programs and initiatives to substantially increase educational attainment. MSSU could “potentially receive $767,732 in one-time funds to the Center for Digital Media and Virtual Production.” The grant requires a 50% match from the university. MSSU had previously received MoExcel grants in other programs.
  • $475 million in capital investment in higher education: A “transformational” capital project (as listed in the Governor’s proposal) that challenges schools to make a 50% match in funding. For now, MSSU would plan to match about $15 million for an overall $30 million project that would create a Health Science Innovation building.

More on MSSU…

“I am extraordinarily grateful for Governor Parson’s proposed investment in public higher education and the future of Missouri,” said Dr. Dean Van Galen, university president. “During these challenging times, it’s heartening to know that he has made it a priority to invest in our ability to ensure the success of our students while bolstering our ability to meet their needs.”