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Local nurse takes pride in making a difference

JOPLIN, Mo. — April Willis was recognized for her genuine kindness when she received a special award. This local nurse takes pride in making a difference, inside and outside of the hospital.

“I’ve always been that nurse that wants to make sure that I make a difference in the lives of the people I take care of. I want to feel like a friend to those people. I don’t want to just look like I’m swiping in for a paycheck,” said April Willis, RN, Labor & Delivery, Freeman Health System.

April Willis is a labor and delivery nurse at “Freeman Health System.”

It was just another night in the fall of 2022 for April, selflessly taking care of moms and babies.

But one patient really took April’s kindness to heart.

That’s when the patient nominated her for a DAISY award.

“This just happened to be a night I remember. This patient, she was super kind. She came in and she was very, very sick. She was very scared and I just, I’m so honored that she understood that I was trying to make things that were a very scary situation, very comfortable for her and her family. And it means so much to me that a patient can actually recognize that when they were so sick and having so many health problems at the time,” said Willis.

Dozens for nurses get nominated each month for the daisy award as a way to recognize their genuine compassion and professionalism.

“Kindness goes a long way. And I think with this week, the tragedies that we’ve seen in the NFL, we’ve learned how people can come together and that love honestly does make the world a better place. And so, I think it does help. Just to make sure that you’re not just here, putting on a fake smile and a fake persona to be that nurse, but that you are genuinely like that in everyday life, too,” said Willis.

And for April, her patients’ hand-written letter was more than a nomination.

“I think stopping, taking a moment and writing something out to let others know that, ‘you guys are making a difference too’,” said Willis.

"Polar Bear Ride", a chilly tradition

JOPLIN, Mo. — “Hideout Harley Davidson” kicks off the new year with a chilly tradition.

It’s the annual “Polar Bear Ride” and it’s been happening during the first full weekend in January for the past 15 years.

50 bikers started their Saturday bundling up and “Bearing” the crisp air.

It’s about 20 degrees colder than the actual temperature when riding a motorcycle.

The store’s general manager says this event is like a homecoming each year for many who feel like it’s one big family getting together.

“A lot of these people haven’t seen each other for a few months. They’re coming in, a lot of people, a lot of locals in the area. They look forward to getting together and doing this ride and going out, then coming back, having something to eat and just hanging out and just having a great time together,” said Warren Bybee, General Manager, Hideout Harley Davidson.

The group drove through different back roads in Joplin for about an hour before circling back to the shop to eat lunch together.

The next event is an open house, where the shop will showcase new models of bikes for the year.

That will be held on January 18th; starting at 10 a.m.

Annual Christmas Bird Count Gathering

JOPLIN, Mo. — There were plenty of smiles, today, at “Wildcat Glades”.

That’s because today was their annual Christmas bird count gathering.

Partnering with the “National Audubon Society”, the event takes place once a year.

It gives kids and families the opportunity to see and count different types of birds in their natural habitats.

Naturalist Kensi Tillman says this is a gateway to get kids outside to explore and identify with nature.

“Well this morning, we did a kid’s Christmas Bird count, which is as simple as it sounds, we counted birds. It’s a long-standing citizen science project with the Audubon Society. And so we come out here and we just count the birds that we see and then that information can be submitted for science,” said Kensi Tillman, Naturalist.

Tillman says the Audubon Society submits the bird information collected today, which is then used for tracking bird populations across the nation.

Annual "Snowflake Crop" hosted by "Creative Memories Independent"

JOPLIN, Mo. — Meanwhile, others in Joplin did a little scrapbookin’ today.

The annual “Snowflake Crop” event was hosted by members of the “Creative Memories Independent” group.

Attendees dressed in pajamas for the monthly session, to catch up with one another and create scrapbooks.

They also share new ideas and make new projects, all with a chance to win a grand prize.

Lori Layne is an advisor of “Creative Memories Independent”.

She says the group is a community and is very welcoming to one another.

“It is a community and it’s great because it’s something that everybody has in common. So these ladies have gotten to know each other, and they enjoy coming and catching up on each other’s lives and their families. So the great thing about our group is they’re so welcoming — so even somebody brand new wants to come and try it out. They’ll act like they’ve known you for years and you’ll have the best time, because you’ll just become part of their community,” said Lori Layne, Creative Memories Independent Advisor.

“Creative Memories Independent” has more events to come.

If you would like to learn about those events, you can visit a link here.

Check your address to help Missouri get better broadband access

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri will get a piece of $42 billion to help pay for broadband access as part of a federal program. However, the state is asking residents to help make sure that everyone gets the right coverage.

FCC Map: Missouri broadband coverage

All you need is your phone or computer. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is trying to figure out who has access to broadband and who doesn’t. Your participation could lead to Missouri be awarded hundreds of millions of dollars. 

It’s a challenge with the hope of connecting all Missourians. Missouri residents are encouraged to check and possibly challenge the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Map. On Jan. 13, residents can file challenges to correct inaccuracies on the FCC map. The entire process to submit a complaint is outlined here.

Fill out this form if you have issues accessing broadband in Missouri.

“South central Missouri and northern Missouri have struggled with access in general, where the population just isn’t dense, and it cost a lot to get service to those areas,” Director of the Office of Broadband Development BJ Tanksley said. “Once we have this map decided, we’ll see the red dots remaining, the unserved and the underserved locations. We say that’s probably 100,000 to 200,000 locations across the state.” 

Missouri ranks low nationally for high-speed interact access, with around 400,000 Missourians without any access at all. Roughly 13% of the state is unserved, meaning there is less than 25 megabytes per second download and less than 3 megabytes per second upload and almost 17% of the state is underserved, meaning less than 100 megabytes per second download and less than 20 megabytes per second upload. 

State officials say the effort could help ensure coverage for homes, businesses, and communities is accurately represented, and possibly secured a larger share of funding if the map does not properly represent an area in need.

“As we make historic investments to expand internet access, I encourage Missourians to
participate in the FCC’s broadband map challenge process,” said Governor Mike Parson.
“Ensuring we have an accurate understanding of broadband coverage in Missouri is vital.
Maps that reflect our needs will ensure our state receives and administers the necessary
resources to advance our progress in this critical priority.”

Errors could relate to physical locations or types of internet service availability.

The FCC’s map, which displays the best available data of the state’s served, underserved,
and unserved areas, will determine how much of more than $42 billion the state will
receive for broadband expansion.

Missourians are asked to go to the FCC map online, then type in the address of your home or business. 

“It will zoom into your location, and you will see red dots or green dots and that is going to be based on the served that it has,” Tanksley said. “Red meaning unserved or underserved, green meaning it has access to service.”

Then, if you click on the dot, it will show a list of providers that claim to serve that area. 

“And if one of them doesn’t, you can click and challenge broadband availability and then actually put in your evidence that you actually don’t have service at your location,” Tanksley said. 

Before now, the FCC made broadband maps based off census blocks, which Tanksley said was less accurate. If you don’t have internet access, the department has you covered 

“We have reached out to the libraries across the state, they have this information, as well as the University of Missouri, their local extension offices which they have one in almost every county,” Tanksley said. 

Tanksley estimates that Missouri could receive up to $500 million in federal funds, but said it’s based on if Missourians participate in the challenge. Previously, Tanksley said it would cost $2 billion dollars to completely close all the broadband gaps in the state. Last year, the General Assembly approved $265 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds. 

Click here for more information on how to submit a challenge.

Many action-packed sports days ahead for St. Louis in 2023

ST. LOUIS — A sports equinox happens when all four major professional sports leagues in the United States play regular-season or playoff games on the same day. That includes the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL.

It’s not possible for St. Louis to fulfill this feat alone with the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues representing those four leagues. That said, there will be some days in 2023 that could represent a makeshift St. Louis sports equinox.

As St. Louis CITY SC and the St. Louis Battlehawks start their seasons next month, Downtown St. Louis will essentially double its professional sports scene from two teams to four this year. With more teams comes more opportunities for dedicated St. Louis sports fans to not only root for several hometown squads on the same day, but within the same general vicinity.

For a small stretch in April, the St. Louis Cardinals, Blues, CITY SC and Battlehawks will all be playing meaningful regular season games. In fact, St. Louis sports are guaranteed a makeshift equinox, in which all four teams compete on the same day, on April 1 and April 8 this year.

APRIL 1

  • Blues @ Nashville Predators (Noon)
  • Cardinals vs. Toronto Blue Jays (1:15 p.m.)
  • Battlehawks @ Houston Roughnecks (2 p.m.)
  • CITY SC vs. Minnesota United FC (7:30 p.m.)

APRIL 8

  • Battlehawks vs. Vegas Vipers (Noon)
  • Blues @ Minnesota Wild (Noon)
  • Cardinals @ Milwaukee Brewers (6:10 p.m.)
  • CITY SC @ Seattle Sounders (9:30 p.m.)

It would be pretty epic if all four schedules aligned for home games in St. Louis on the same day. However, that is not the case right now. There might not be a day in which at least three of them play at home at the same time, unless the Blues or Battlehawks push for playoffs past mid-April.

That said, St. Louis fans can support two of their hometown teams at home on these upcoming days. Some will involve a bit of walking and creative planning to catch both.

MARCH 12 – Blues and Battlehawks

  • Battlehawks vs. Arlington Renegades (3 p.m.) – HOME OPENER
  • Blues vs. Vegas Golden Knights (6 p.m.)

MARCH 18 – CITY SC and Battlehawks

  • Battlehawks vs. D.C. Defenders (6 p.m.)
  • CITY SC vs. San Jose Earthquakes (7:30 p.m.)

APRIL 2 – Cardinals and Blues

  • Cardinals vs. Toronto Blue Jays (1:15 p.m.)
  • Blues vs. Boston Bruins (2:30 p.m.)

APRIL 4 – Cardinals and Blues

  • Cardinals vs. Atlanta Braves (6:45 p.m.)
  • Blues vs. Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m.)

APRIL 16 – Cardinals and Battlehawks

  • Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (1:15 p.m.)
  • Battlehawks vs. Seattle Sea Dragons (2 p.m.)

MANY DATES – Cardinals and St. Louis CITY SC

  • April 1: Cardinals (1:15 p.m.), CITY SC (7:30 p.m.)
  • April 15: Cardinals (1:15 p.m.), CITY SC (7:30 p.m.)
  • May 20: Cardinals (6:15 p.m.), CITY SC (8:30 p.m.)
  • June 11: Cardinals (1:15 p.m.), CITY SC (Noon)
  • July 15: Cardinals (6:15 p.m.), CITY SC (7:30 p.m.)
  • Aug. 20: Cardinals (1:15 p.m.), CITY SC (8:30 p.m.)
  • Aug. 30: Cardinals (1:15 p.m.), CITY SC (7:30 p.m.)
  • Sept. 20: Cardinals (6:45 p.m.), CITY SC (7:30 p.m.)
  • Sept. 30: Cardinals (6:15 p.m.), CITY SC (7:30 p.m.)

Chiefs go viral with ring around the rosey play call

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The Kansas City Chiefs are pulling out all the stops as they get ready for playoff mode.

Before the Chiefs went up 21-3 on the Las Vegas Raiders in the final regular season game, the offense’s huddle began moving in a circle before lining up in a formation where running back Jerick McKinnon took the snap.

McKinnon ran right and gave the ball to Patrick Mahomes who threw left to Kadarius Toney and ran it in for a touchdown. The play was nullified by a penalty on center Creed Humphrey.

On the next play, Toney scored on a jet sweep.

After the game, Mahomes said that the team calls the play ‘Snowglobe’ and it was a joke that the offense practiced before head coach Andy Reid installed it into the game plan.

Reid is known for his creativity on offense, especially in the redzone.

The Chiefs have locked up the AFC number 1 seed and will get a first-round bye next week.

How to apply to grow your own weed in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Recreational marijuana is legal for adults in Missouri. It will soon be legal for adults in the state to buy, and for some, to even grow weed for personal use.

Missouri posted more about what will be needed to apply to get a personal cultivation card.

While the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services won’t begin accepting the applications until Feb. 6, it did post a sample of the application Saturday.

Anyone who hopes to be approved for a personal cultivation card will need to complete the form. It asks for personal information such as your name, social security number, birthdate, and address.

Personal Cultivation Card Application | Missouri Dept. Health and Human Services

Applicants must also be at least 21 years old, submit a recently-taken color picture, two government-issued photo IDs (like a driver’s license and a passport), and pay a $100 application fee.

In addition to personal information, applicants also must verify the area where the marijuana will be grown is in a locked area that is restricted to everyone except the cardholder.

The applicant must agree to give immediate access to anyone from the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services if asked.

After receiving a personal cultivation card the cardholder can legally have up to six flowering marijuana plants, six nonflowering marijuana plants (over 14 inches tall), and six clones (plants under 14 inches tall) for non-commercial use.

Marijuana grown for personal use cannot be shared with anyone, even when living in the same house or apartment. Each person must have their own license.

Again, the state will begin accepting applications for personal grow cards on Feb. 6. That is the same day adults in Missouri are expected to be able to buy marijuana and products containing the drug from dispensaries licensed to sell recreational marijuana.

Stamp prices are going up

KSNF/KODE — You have two more weeks to purchase stamps at the current price.

January 22nd, that’s when the price of a Forever Stamp will change from 60 cents to 63 cents.

According to the “United States Postal Service,” as operating costs are also on the rise, changes to prices are necessary in order to keep up with those costs, while still having a stable revenue.

USPS says this increase is part of a 10-year plan, which is meant to offset an estimated 160 billion dollars in losses throughout the next 10 years.

In July of last year, stamps saw a jump from 58 cents to 60 cents.

And on top of stamp price increases, there are some other changes regarding mailing weighted letters and packages.

You can find more information on The USPS website, where you can see the price differences for various sizes and weights of letters and packages.

Human remains identified in Colorado as former Joplin resident

KSNF/KODE — Officials confirm skeletal remains found in Colorado are those of a former Joplin man, who went missing back in 2021.

Here is a link to our previous coverage of this case.

Hikers in Colorado discovered the remains on September 25th of last year in the area of Middle Mountain Road in Pagosa Springs.

The “Pagosa Springs Police Department” announced Friday the remains were officially identified as 42-year-old Michael Kroll.

Authorities list Kroll as a Joplin resident, but say he had been in the Pagosa Springs area shortly before he was reported missing on October 19, 2021.

The case remains an active and ongoing investigation.