Voters to decide on funding for Carthage Schools Performing Arts Center in April

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The Carthage School Board approved a ballot measure to fund a new performing arts center at Monday night’s meeting.

The $18 million initiative will be on the ballot during April 5th’s election.

Officials said there will not be a tax increase if it passes.

Along with housing a new space for band, drama and choir, the facility would also free up classroom space at the high school.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Katie Crigger, vocal music director at Carthage High School. “I’ve worked for the district since 2010. I was actually a student at Carthage High School and graduated from here in 2003, so I’ve seen through the years how desperately needed this facility is for our students and for the community of Carthage and just the exciting things we’ll be able to do within Carthage by having a new facility.”

The current facility is based at the Carthage 6th Grade Center and was built in 1987. Its auditorium holds around 800 people. Carthage R-9 Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Baker said issues with the present auditorium include lights, sound, the stage, dressing rooms, size, storage, the scene shop, seating and the pit area.

“We hope the ballot measure will pass so we have a performing arts center and also new classrooms,” Baker said.

The final vote for putting the issue on the ballot was 5-2.


Warm and breezy today; Much colder with flurries south tomorrow

Today (Tuesday) will be the warmest day of the week with highs in the upper 50s thanks to some sunshine and southerly wind gusts up to 25 MPH. Those winds will shift out of the north overnight with the passage of a cold front, and temperatures will quickly fall not only overnight, but through Wednesday, as well. Temperatures will continue to fall until they hit the single digits on Thursday morning. Wednesday afternoon could see a few flurries mainly south of I-44 with a trace of accumulation possible, but impacts look to be minimal to none. Expect cold temperatures through the end of the week before we warm back above average by the start of next week.


KDHE discontinues COVID-19 contact tracing operations

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Health will no longer conduct contact outreach and monitoring starting in February 1, 2022.

“As we enter the third year of this pandemic, public health has to begin to adjust the level of response to help alleviate the strain on the Public Health system,” Janet Stanek, acting secretary, said.

KDHE said that contract tracing staff will be reassigned to contact investigations.

The department said county health departments in the state are already slowing down their contact tracing efforts and K-12 schools participating in contact tracing may suspend operations as well.

“The pandemic is far from over, but this step is a move toward managing COVID-19 as an endemic disease,” Stanek said. “The responsibility of protecting yourself and others belongs to all of us.”

A person who tests positive for COVID-19 will now have the responsibility of notifying their close contacts. If the person exposed others at high-risk settings, KDHE or the local health department will contact the setting.

As the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, KDHE recommends that people get vaccinated and boosted, wear masks, get tested and stay home if exposed or if they are sick.


Missouri AG Eric Schmitt: Lawsuits against school districts with mask mandates coming this week

JEFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt doubled-down on his efforts to bring Missouri school districts to court for continuing to enforce mask mandates.

“Last month, I informed a number of school districts that their decision to continue to enforce mask mandates is illegal and must be stopped immediately,” Schmitt said. “Some school districts dropped their mask mandates and quarantine orders, but others continue to defy the law, despite the fact that COVID-19 poses very little risk to children.”

In recent meetings, Lee’s Summit, Park Hill and Raytown school boards have all voted to implement mask mandates for individuals inside school buildings and busses.

All three districts said the mandate would be revisited later:

  • Lee’s Summit – February 3
  • Raytown – February 15
  • Park Hill – January 27

Schmitt added that litigation would be filed by the end of the week.

“My Office is currently finalizing lawsuits against all non-compliant districts to end the forced masking of schoolchildren, which will be filed later this week,” Schmitt said. “It’s far past time that the power to make health decisions concerning children be pried from the hands of bureaucrats and put back into the hands of parents and families, and I will take school district after school district to court to achieve that goal.”

In December, a Cole County Circuit Judge sided with Schmitt in a ruling after five Missouri counties, including Jackson County, attempted to reverse a ruling that stripped local health departments of the ability to impose COVID-19 regulations.


COVID-19 emergency could end this year, WHO says

GENEVA (AP) — The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization said Tuesday that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic — deaths, hospitalizations and lockdowns — could be over this year if huge inequities in vaccinations and medicines are addressed quickly.

Dr. Michael Ryan, speaking during a panel discussion on vaccine equity hosted by the World Economic Forum, said “we may never end the virus” because such pandemic viruses “end up becoming part of the ecosystem.”

But “we have a chance to end the public health emergency this year if we do the things that we’ve been talking about,” he said.

WHO has slammed the imbalance in COVID-19 vaccination between rich and poor countries as a catastrophic moral failure. Fewer than 10% of people in lower-income countries have received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Ryan told the virtual gathering of world and business leaders that if vaccines and other tools aren’t shared fairly, the tragedy of the virus, which has so far killed more than 5.5 million people worldwide, would continue.

“What we need to do is get to low levels of disease incidence with maximum vaccination of our populations, so nobody has to die,” Ryan said. “The issue is: It’s the death. It’s the hospitalizations. It’s the disruption of our social, economic, political systems that’s caused the tragedy — not the virus.”

Ryan also waded into the growing debate about whether COVID-19 should be considered endemic, a label some countries like Spain have called for to help better live with the virus, or still a pandemic — involving intensified measures that many countries have taken to fight the spread.

“Endemic malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people; endemic HIV; endemic violence in our inner cities. Endemic in itself does not mean good. Endemic just means it’s here forever,” he said.

Public health officials have warned it is highly unlikely COVID-19 will be eliminated and say it will continue to kill people, though at much lower levels, even after it becomes endemic.

Fellow panelist Gabriela Bucher, executive director of the anti-poverty organization Oxfam International, cited the “enormous urgency” of fairer distribution of vaccines and the need for large-scale production. She said resources to fight the pandemic were being “hoarded by a few companies and a few shareholders.”

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, decried the “total collapse of global cooperation and solidarity” over the last two years, saying it was “totally unacceptable” that only 7% of Africa’s population was fully vaccinated.

He also sought to douse the belief among some that vaccine hesitancy is widespread in Africa, citing studies that say 80% of the continent’s populations were ready to get shots if the vaccines were available.

The comments came on the second day of the online alternative to the annual World Economic Forum gathering, which was postponed over pandemic health concerns.

In speeches at the event, world leaders like Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett discussed approaches to the pandemic. He said his country, which quickly rolled out a widespread vaccination campaign, has a strategy of being “at the forefront of the medicines and the vaccines” against COVID-19.

Citing advanced research in Israel, Bennett said, “We want to be first in the world to know how vaccines and the new variants respond to one another.”

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said separately that his country had high levels of vaccination because society values protecting the elderly and vulnerable. He plans to keep stringent border controls in place until the end of February.

He said he was trying to balance restrictions with keeping the economy open but that “so-called zero COVID policy against the omicron variant is not possible nor appropriate.”

In a separate press briefing Tuesday, WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the omicron variant of COVID-19 “continues to sweep the world” and said there were 18 million new COVID-19 cases reported last week.


How to order your free at-home COVID tests from the federal government

(NEXSTAR) – Americans are now able to request free at-home COVID-19 tests from the federal government as the country faces widespread shortages. Those shortages will also impact how many free tests you can request, with the White House limiting orders to just four free tests per home.

While it was initially reported that the website would not begin accepting orders until Wednesday, Jan. 19, the website, COVIDTests.gov, is now online and appears to be processing requests for tests. These tests are completely free to order, with tests expected to ship within 7 to 12 days.

Available tests are rapid antigen at-home tests, not PCR tests. All of the tests being shipped are FDA-authorized, but you will not be able to select which brand you receive. The tests give results within 30 minutes and can be used whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms or are vaccinated.

On the website, the White House recommends taking the at-home test if you begin having COVID-19 symptoms, at least five days after you have close contact with someone with COVID-19, or when you are going to gather with a group of people.

How to order your free COVID tests

Once you visit COVIDTests.gov, you will see a button on the homepage to order your tests. If you need a COVID-19 sooner than the free tests are expected to arrive, the federal government recommends reviewing other testing options, such as purchasing an at-home test and having your health insurance cover the costs.

When you click on the “Order Free At-Home Tests” button, you will be taken to a new page on the U.S. Postal Service’s website. There, you will need to fill in your contact information and shipping address.

You won’t be able to select how many testing kits you order – the U.S. Postal Service’s website defaults to the limit of four tests. After filling in your contact and shipping information, you can select “Check Out Now.”

If you input your email address to get status updates on your order, you should receive a confirmation email shortly after checking out on the U.S. Postal Service’s website. Once your order ships, the U.S. Postal Service says it will send you a tracking number and updates on the expected delivery date.

COVID-19 tests are expected to begin shipping in late January.

Can I order more tests?

Amid the December surge in omicron COVID-19 cases, President Joe Biden announced the White House would purchase 500 million at-home tests to kick-start this program. In January, President Biden announced he would double the order to 1 billion tests.

Although this seems like a large number of tests, the White House is imposing a limit of four at-home tests per residential address, regardless of how many people live in each house. If you are searching for a free test, there are other options available, like community testing sites and by-appointment testing with major retailers and pharmacies.

The White House has also instructed health insurers to cover the costs of purchasing at-home COVID tests. This means private health insurers are now required to cover eight home tests per month for each of their members.

Depending on when and where you purchase the at-home tests, you may be able to get it covered by insurance on the spot, says the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. If you do pay out of pocket, you’ll want to keep your receipt as proof of purchase. You’ll need to file a claim for reimbursement with your health insurance company, not the federal government.

How much money you can be reimbursed for depends on if your insurer has set up a “network of preferred stores, pharmacies, and online retailers at which you can obtain a test with no out-of-pocket expense,” explains CMS.

If your insurance company has set up a way for your to get a test without paying upfront, then you will get up to $12 per test. If your insurer has not set up its own network or way for you to get the test through them, then they’ll owe you the full cost of the test kit, even if it’s more than $12. More details about this program can be found here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Carthage Crisis Center purchases a new van

CARTHAGE, Mo. — A nonprofit has a new set of wheels to help its residents get back on their feet.

The Carthage Crisis Center recently purchased a nearly $6,000 2009 Chrysler Town & Country van.

The seven passenger van was purchased with money from a $2,500 grant from the Carthage Community Foundation.

“We had another van, but what would happen is we wouldn’t have enough vehicles to transport people. We transport them to doctors appointments, probation and parole. All kinds of other things. When people are getting back acclimated into society there’s a lot of things they need to take care of. So our biggest problem was we didn’t have enough vehicles,” said Jim Benton, Carthage Crisis Center Executive Director.

With the two vans the center can now transport 20 residents at a time and pick up food donations.


Shipping delays are causing issues for construction in Neosho

NEOSHO, Mo. — Shipping delays are causing issues for the city of Neosho.

Last year City Council approved building a new Parks and Recreation office and work center next to its old location.

The new building was supposed to be completed last October, but shortages and shipping delays caused the city to push the project back 8 months.

The new building at Wheeler street is now up and the city is waiting on five garage doors before the building can get heat, and finish construction.

“Prices on everything went up. The price of the building itself. By the time we started doing the planning on the building to when we actually had it purchased price had gone up 20 to $25,000. There again a local construction company put the building up for us,” said Clint Dalbom, Neosho Parks Director.

Dalbom says they plan on salvaging some Carthage marble that’s in the 79-year-old building before tearing it down.

They expect to have the garage doors by the end of the month and hope to have the building completed by June.


Warming through Tuesday; Cold front drops temperatures on Wednesday

After a cold and cloudy weekend, snow will finally have a chance to melt today and tomorrow. Temperatures will warm into the upper 40s this afternoon and the upper 50s tomorrow, with help from a southwesterly wind gust up to 25 MPH Tuesday. A cold front will pass over us in the early morning hours of Wednesday, where temperatures will promptly cool through the end of the week. This cold front will bring precipitation to our southeast, so right now, it looks like we will stay dry through this week. Temperatures will warm back into the lower 40s by the weekend.


Arrowhead Stadium fireworks can't keep up with Chiefs explosive offense… again!

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs offense showed so many fireworks on the field Sunday night, that they ran out of them for celebrating touchdowns!

“Chiefs fan, we are sorry to report but, due to your support and the Chiefs continually finding the endzone, we have run out of touchdown fireworks. Please direct all of your complaints to your nearest fans first booth,” read the message on the big board to fans at Arrowhead.

After going down 7-0 in the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chiefs went on to score 42 points, exhausting the stadium’s supply of pyrotechnics.

This is not the first time Arrowhead Stadium has been in this situation.

In Kansas City’s Super Bowl run in the 2019 season, the Chiefs came back from a 24-0 deficit at home against the Houston Texans.

The Chiefs rattled off seven consecutive touchdowns, eventually scoring 52 points causing the firework crews to run out.

After that game, the Kansas City Royals released a video on social media where Sluggerrr finds extra fireworks and shares them with KC Wolf.

The Royals re-published that video after Sunday night’s win asking, “Hey Chiefs, need us to send Sluggerrr on another fireworks run?”