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OurVeteransFirst holds Car, Truck, Jeep and Motorcycle Show

JOPLIN, Mo. — A local non-profit gave the community a chance to see some unique cars… all while supporting veterans.

OurVeteransFirst held its inaugural car, truck, jeep and motorcycle show Saturday afternoon at Schifferdecker Park.

All proceeds raised from entry into the show went to help the non-profit, which works to create transitional housing for homeless veterans.

To kick off the show, a special ceremony was held to remember September 11.

“We wanted to involve a commemoration ceremony because this is the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the twin towers,” said Michelle Lee, president of OurVeteransFirst. “We support all of our first responders and our veterans and we felt it was really important to have this ceremony today to commemorate that.”

Live music, face painting, monster truck rides and food vendors were also a part of the show.

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An annual art competition in Neosho provided around 50 artists a chance to showcase their work

NEOSHO, Mo. — An annual art competition in Neosho provided around 50 artists a chance to showcase their work.

The 26th annual Thomas Hart Benton Art Competition Awards took place Saturday at the Community Bank and Trust Community Room on Spring Street.

Emerging and professional artists had the chance to take home either fourth through first place in their respected category.

Those include mix media, acrylics, pastel, and oil paintings.

Jackie Kenny – Neosho Arts Council Secretary, says, “It’s really great to see something that could be going this long in our community and as an arts council we try to build more and more opportunities for our fine artists.”

The art competition also gives these artists a chance to sell their art.

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Streets were blocked off on south Sergeant between second and fifth street in Joplin, Saturday

JOPLIN, Mo. — Streets were blocked off on south Sergeant between second and fifth street in Joplin, Saturday.

That’s because the 150 Patrick Murphysburg Anniversary was taking place.

People gathered for live music, a craft beer tent, train rides, a garden tour and more activities.

This event is geared to celebrate the only local and National Historic District in Joplin.

Paula Callihan, Murphysburg Preservation Board Member, says, “We are excited to celebrate. Our passion is bringing people to our neighborhood and witnessing these beautiful homes. Getting them to see and appreciate the architecture, and the beauty and the beautiful neighborhood.”

Tickets for this event were sold out before Saturday.

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Many people were out at George Washington Carver National Monument Saturday for the 34th annual Prairie Day event

DIAMOND, Mo. — Many people were out at George Washington Carver National Monument Saturday for the 34th annual Prairie Day event.

This year’s event featured live music, a presentation from guest author Dr. John H. Pickle, Jr., a wildflower walk, guided tours, junior ranger activities and trail talks.

This event has been a staple for the monument, and a big opportunity for the community to learn about George Washington Carver’s upbringing.

Diane Eilenstein – Prairie Day Event Coordinator, says, “Prairie Day is an annual special event that’s meant to remind everyone what life may have been like here during the late 1800’s when George Washington Carver was a baby and a child here. He grew up here to be about age 10 or 12. And it’s also just about lifestyles and skills of that time period.”

Eilenstein hopes to make next year’s Prairie Day even bigger for the event’s 35th anniversary.

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Pittsburg's "Paint The Town Red" annual tradition returns

PITTSBURG, Kans. — The city of Pittsburg is “red” once again as an annual tradition makes its return.

“Paint The Town Red” made its in-person return after going virtual last year due to COVID-19.

The celebration has been a joint effort between the city, the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, and Pittsburg State University for the past 15 years.

Throughout the week, area businesses got in on the fun with a building decorating contest, keeping with this year’s theme “The Great Gus Gatsby”.

“To see people walking up and down the sidewalk and their businesses and posting on Facebook and other forms of social media that they’re all dressed in red, they’re really getting behind this event and we couldn’t be more prouder,” said Julie Reams, Pittsburg Chamber Special Events Director.

This year’s division winners were “Backyard Discovery,” GN Bank, Fort Scott Community College Cosmetology… And community favorite winner, “Security First Title.”

Businesses will receive on-field recognition during Saturday’s PSU football game.

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Woman loses 85 pounds after joining nonprofit group

MULBERRY, Kans. — A woman from Mulberry is sharing her story of weight loss — after losing 85 pounds.

KSN’s Steffen Reals spoke with Phyllis Polnack, the current reigning “Tops Kansas Queen.”

“It feels so great, I feel so much better than I did 85 pounds ago,” said Phyllis Polnack, 2020 TOPS Kansas Queen.

The journey to today has been a difficult one for Phyllis Polnack. For years she had been struggling with her weight.

“I have had a weight problem for all of my adult life, and I just kept getting bigger and bigger, and I knew, I knew I had to do something,” said Polnack.

Phyllis tried getting involved in a weight loss study.

She was told how much to eat, how much to exercise — and it seemed to work when she lost 60 pounds — but when the study ended, the weight returned.

“I gained my weight back, all but 15 pounds, I knew by that I could lose weight, I knew what I needed to do, but I also knew I needed to weigh every week,” said Polnack.

Her journey lead her to join the non-profit support group “Take Off Pounds Sensibly” — or “TOPS” — and she began losing weight once again.

“Everybody gets everybody’s phone number and we talk through the week or text through the week to support each other because it’s hard, whatever our struggle is, to us it’s real,” said Jovanna Brackett-Oetinger, TOPS Member.

Now 85 pounds down, she has lost more weight than any other female member in Kansas who met their goal in 2020, and has been crowned the “2020 Tops Kansas Queen.”

“I’m so excited for her because it’s a reward for how hard she worked, 2 years she worked. I know her, I know how hard she struggled, I know how much this meant to her,” said Brackett-Oetinger.

“Don’t give up, my health is so much improved because of my weight loss and because of my exercise and I feel younger than I did 10 years ago,” said Polnack.

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Columbus community shows gratitude with annual "Military Veterans and First Responders Appreciation Day"

COLUMBUS, Kans. — The Columbus community spent the day giving back to those who work on the front lines protecting our country and communities.

Today marked the annual “Military Veterans and First Responders Appreciation Day” sponsored by Columbus area churches.

Every piece of food was provided for free by local businesses and organizations, including “Hatfield Motors,” “Sonic,” and the Lions Club.

The meals were prepared by Crossland Construction and handed out by students from Central Junior High School.

“Anytime we have a community event, whether it’s a benefit or whatever it is, our community always comes together and the response is so overwhelming and my kids do an outstanding job at giving back,” said Michelle Mosler, Central Junior High School Teacher

“They’re serving this country for us so serving lunch is the least we could do,” said Macee Troxel, Central Junior High School Student.

Roughly 250 meals were handed out and delivered throughout Columbus.

This is the twentieth year for the event.

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Carl Junction couple remembers their service on 9/11

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — When we think about what happened 20 years ago tomorrow… Every year, 9/11 hits home for a Carl Junction husband and wife.

Both — were active military 20-years years ago. They even had a connection to where one of the hijacked planes went down that day.

“It really impacted me in a way that made me just want to serve my country even more,” said Dr. Shellie Hewitt.

Dr. Shellie Hewitt, and her husband, Bill, are retired air force officers.

Shellie a Staff Sergeant — Bill a Master Sergeant.

“We both come from a military background, a military family. Her father’s a Vietnam vet. I have an uncle and my father was a Vietnam vet,” said Bill Hewitt, Master Sergeant.

20 years ago, Bill and Shellie were stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base in Johnson County, Missouri.

Bill had just been deployed — arriving in Germany on September 9th.
Two days later.

“Just a rollercoaster of emotions from the initial shock and disbelief, and then immediately going to, you know, my family and friends back home, are they safe, are they okay?” said Mr. Hewitt.

“Once we found out, you know, what had actually happened, just really reinforced my resolve as a military member that, you know, those cowards picked a fight with the wrong country,” said Mr. Hewitt.

“I had neighbors, as soon as they saw me pull in the driveway, come up and start asking me questions, you know, what is the base doing, what are you guys doing? Obviously, it’s stuff that I’m not going to be able to talk about, but at the same time, I could tell there was panic and they were looking to me for answers, and so I think at that point in time, that’s when it hit me. It just really got real,” said Dr. Shellie Hewitt.

It also got real close to where her folks lived — Somerset, Pennsylvania — about 15 miles east of where Flight 93″ went down that morning.

Shellie’s mother happened to be in Missouri, visiting. The events of that day for the Hewitts — as they are for many, especially our military men and women — still fresh.

Both believe we should truly never forget.

Both also believe — especially Shellie, who’s the dean of admissions at Missouri Southern — we should educate, learn — and for some — do.

“Take every day that you’re given and live it to the fullest, and if you can serve, I think you should serve,” said Dr. Shellie Hewitt.

“My time in the military helped me be the leader that I am today, and I feel like there are a lot of men and women out there who are just looking for an opportunity to make a difference, and I would say if you have that opportunity, take it. It’ll change your life,” said Mr. Hewitt.

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The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center changed many lives, and for some, it inspired them to join the armed forces

PITTSBURG, Kan. — The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center changed many lives, and for some, it inspired them to join the armed forces.

Pittsburg State University ROTC member Anthony Houston was in the D.C. Area during the 9/11 attacks.

It changed his path in life, and shortly after, Houston enrolled in the United States Army, something he had wanted to do since he was a child.

Houston has spent 17 years in the Army and had done four deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq before later becoming an instructor.

Anthony Houston, PSU ROTC Senior Military Science Instructor, says, “I almost felt like that I needed to go there, that it was something that I was supposed to do and something that I had to do for me and for my family that something like that wouldn’t happen again.”

Houston and fellow members of the ROTC program fired off cannons throughout the day, to remember each of the plane crashes that occurred on September 11.

At 7:30 the first canon went off to start off the Paint the Town Red Freeman Health System 5K”.

The run was one of several tributes to 9/11 throughout the day in Pittsburg.

Runners were joined by members of veteran non-profit VetLinks.

The organization was founded by U.S. Army Major, Brian Kavanaugh to help with specialized care for veterans in need.

Daniel McNally, VetLinks Board Member, says, “If we’re going to send off our heroes of to these places, it’s important for us to honor their service by what we’re doing Sunday, but then also to give them the resources and services they need for going on and taking on that mission for all of us.”

The members of VetLinks carried the American flag throughout the duration of the race.

Also during the PSU football game, members of the Pittsburg ROTC recited each of the names of those who lost their lives during the 9/11 attack.

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Cherokee County law enforcement received some help from the community of Baxter Springs, Saturday

BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. — Cherokee County law enforcement received some help from the community of Baxter Springs Saturday.

The Back the Badge Barbeque helps the non-profit Baxter Springs Police and Cherokee County Reserves.

The fundraising event helps cover the out of pocket cost for equipment and training materials for the non-profits.

Preparations began on Thursday with the delivery of the smoker.

Meat was tended to since Noon on Friday before being served Saturday.

Sierra Hulsey, Baxter Springs Reserves, says, “The people love to support our local law enforcement and it’s really humbling to see all the people that actually do come out and support with everything that’s going on in the world.”

The event is estimated to have brought in around $10,000 last year for the reserves.