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Popular scams in 2020 recognized by the BBB

MISSOURI — The Better Business Bureau is warning the community to beware of a trend of Coronavirus related scams that were popular in 2020.

They say online purchase scams were the top scam of 2020 with five different versions.

The BBB says the online purchase scams varied with scammers pretending to sell masks, pets, pretending they had jobs, grants, and investment opportunities.

Online purchase scams have always been an issue, but the BBB has seen an increase with more people being at home.

They also say there’s an easy way to check if the website is fake before buying anything online.

Stephanie Garland, Regional Director of Springfield BBB, says, “If you go ahead and look in the upper left hand corner on the web browser that says https that ‘s’ means secure. If it has that little lock that means it’s secure. If it has the little lock that means it’s secure. If it does not the ‘s’ if it does not have the lock that does not mean it’s a secure website and Better Business Bureau would recommend for you not to shop there.”

She says another red flag is if someone tells you the deal expires in the next 24 hours.

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Flower shops are preparing for Valentines Day

JOPLIN, Mo. — Flower shops are preparing for their busiest day of the year.

The Curly Willow put their Valentine’s Day flower order in the first week of December in anticipation for the holiday.

Over the past three months they have been ordering vases, ribbons and other items.

They say online orders have been trickling in since the first of the month.

The curly willow says if you forgot to put your order in — its not too late.

Kittie Oberg, Curly Willow Floral Designer, says, “I think the people who call ahead of time are people that are wanting deliveries or certain types of flowers. But if you are just wanting to stop by and pick something up we’ve got it starting at fifteen dollars all the way up to a dozen roses. So we’re ready for you just stop in and pick it up.”

The curly willow will be open on Valentine’s Day from 12 P.M. to 4 P.M.

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Candy House Gourmet has been prepping for Valentines Day since last summer

JOPLIN, Mo. — Meanwhile some candy shops in Joplin have been preparing for Valentine’s Day since summer.

The “Candy House Gourmet” has been ordering candies they do not make in house eight months in advance.

They start creating chocolates for candy heart boxes right before Christmas.

Candy makers have been clocking early hours to prepare for the holiday rush.

Kayla Koff, Candy House Gourmet Manager, says, “Days like Saturday and Friday when we have a lot of berry orders that are fresh produce. We dip fresh to order the day they’re picked up. Our staff do come in at four am sometimes earlier. And there are very long days sometimes fourteen hours or more goes into preparation for valentines day especially for berries.”

The “Candy House Gourmet” will be open for last minute Valentine’s Day shopping tomorrow from 9 A.M. – 1 P.M.

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Funds being raised for new library in Monett

MONETT, Mo. — The Barry-Lawrence Regional Library in Mount Vernon is raising funds for a new library in Monett.

The proposed $6 million facility would be built next to the Price Cutter on Cleveland Avenue. The current library has been around for 50-years – and wasn’t suited to house a lot of the essentials to properly serve the area.

Half of the money has been saved in designated funds – officials hoping to receive the other half with donations. The new 20,000 square-foot library would also include an inspiration kitchen for culinary programs – along with an 800 square-foot concession and coffee bar area that will double as a lounge.

County officials hope to break ground later this Summer.

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Barton County Chamber of Commerce to hold virtual event

BARTON COUNTY, Mo. — One Southwest Missouri Chamber of Commerce is getting ready for a virtual scavenger hunt.

Saturday the Barton County Chamber of Commerce is holding its Wisper Internet Scavenger Hunt. The event is online and goes from eight a.m. to eight p.m. Players will be looking for photos, get to explore the county, and learn more about what the community has to offer.

There will be two first-place prizes and participants can win up to a $50 gift card.

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Local middle school in semi-finals of STEM competition

MONETT, Mo. — Monett Middle School has been named a semi-finalist in a national STEM contest from Samsung.

Its Solve For Tomorrow contest encourages students to solve real-world issues in their community using classroom skills in science, technology, engineering, and math. Monett 8th grade students will be creating a mask sanitization station. And they hope to earn some more cash for their school in the process.

The semi-finalist schools that make it to the top 20 win $65,000.

Le Ann Struckman Science and Social Studies Teacher, said, “I’m super proud of the kids. It’s just great to see them just get so intrigued in science or engineering at this young of an age like this is the age you can really take them and get them interested into science before they get to high school and they can like you know understand the process of maybe go in future careers of engineering.”

Monett is one of 75 semi-finalists. It’s already earned $15,000 – along with a Samsung Galaxy Note-20.

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Thomas Jefferson students Chinese New Year

JOPLIN, Mo. — One of the world’s oldest cultures is celebrating a special event Friday.

February 12th is the beginning of the Chinese New Year. And if you’re wondering, it’s the year of the ox. Students taking Chinese at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School marked the event by learning about Chinese culture and how to write that language on traditional rice paper.

Fang Martin, Chinese Teacher, Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School, said, “Students got to practice traditional Chinese Calligraphy with me, they were able to use the traditional Chinese brush, the ink, the ink stone and paper to write the word of happiness, particularly that character is for Chinese New Year.”

Martin says she was planning on having the students make and eat traditional Chinese food as well, but says the weather made it too difficult for students to do so this week. She’s hoping to reschedule that fun when the weather gets better.

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SWMO lawmaker looks to address cyber-stalking

JOPLIN, Mo. — A former Joplin Police Chief wants to crack down on cyber stalking.

And now that he’s a state lawmaker, he’s hoping to see that happen. House Bill 292 would address a whole new generation of ways stalkers can keep tabs on and threaten a victim. The focus is digital devices and how they can be used.

MO State Rep. Lane Roberts, R, said, “I can remember many, many times having to look a woman in the eye and explain to her why we couldn’t protect her because the law simply didn’t cover that.”

And now that former Joplin Police Chief Lane Roberts is a state representative, he wants to change that.

“Trying to fill in those gaps in the law that exist today that put women at risk.”

Roberts retired from JPD nearly seven years ago. And he says since then, it’s only gotten worse.

“Things like technology, Facebook, cell technology, tracking devices. There are so many things that people can access now and abuse for the purpose of stalking that didn’t exist. And our state law doesn’t really cover it.”

Something House Bill 292 would change.

It would cover intimidation using cell phones, GPS, and cameras, as well as using a third parties to threaten a victim.

“I don’t know that most individuals unless they’ve been the victim of stalking – have any idea of what it means to live under that constant threat. It’s simply not fair and for the first time in my life I’m in a position to do something about it.”

Currently, a Missouri order of protection only applies to physically tracking a victim or unwanted communication. The house committee on crime prevention has taken testimony on the bill but it hasn’t yet come to a vote.

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State officials prepare for snow in addition to frigid temps

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Kansas Department of Transportation is preparing for snow for most of the state. The cold weather is changing how it could manage the roads.

“Depending on the temperatures, the amount of wind, and if it’s a dry snow, if you don’t put chemicals out, it’ll just keep blowing across the cold road, and so we just have to keep the accumulations pushed back,” said Jaci Vogel, bureau chief of maintenance for KDOT.

Plowing will be the biggest task for those working to keep the roads clear. Normally trucks would put down salt mixtures beforehand, but that loses its purpose to prevent freezing when it gets this cold.

“With these extreme cold temperatures, it’s not warranted, because it wouldn’t be effective. So our tools in our toolbox are very reduced,” Vogel said.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management is encouraging people to stay at home if they can because you don’t want to get stuck in this weather.

“These temperatures are deadly, and it is not safe to be outside for extended periods of time, and that includes if you were to become stranded on a road if you were driving out in winter weather,” said Devan Tucking, response and recovery services section chief for KDEM.

Tucking said to prepare for the worst.

“Keep in mind that the unexpected could happen and it’s very, very dangerous for that to occur right now,” Tucking said. “If you do get stranded, try to leave a light on in your vehicle, try to stay warm, and then call for help, and make sure you do not leave your vehicle to try to walk for help.”

Officials also said to be prepared at home with food and water and to make sure animals are taken care of.

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State labor department says federal unemployment program to begin paying out by Feb. 19

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Kansas Department of Labor announced when people can expect to receive payments under a federal extension program on Friday.

Kansans will be able to file for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which is an extension for people who’ve exhausted state unemployment benefits, by Feb. 19.

The department said payments for other programs are going out every day.

“Everyone is different depending on her/his claim, and we pay out every day. In terms of the Continued Assistance Act, we began paying FPUC in late January, and announced people could file for PUA this past Monday and PEUC by the end of the month.”

Kansas Department of Labor

While some people are already expecting payments, others are wondering what’s causing the delay.

The department can’t speak to individual claimant situations. Jerry Grasso, a spokesman for the state’s unemployment office, said every person’s claim is unique. He encourages people to call their call center or use the online chat feature for help.

However, for those that have had issues getting in touch with someone to speak about their claim, state leaders suggest contacting local lawmakers to help.

“Some of the people that I have helped, have come back and told me that their situations are resolved. That they are starting to get their unemployment benefits,” Rep. Stephanie Clayton, D-Overland Park. “I will continue, of course, to help people, and continue to urge people to contact their legislators, so that we can get you on that call back list.”

Lawmakers said fraudulent activity could be one reason for the delay, while many people are unaware that their accounts have been flagged for fraud, until they’re able to access their account.

“It’s causing problems for the department. It’s causing problems for individuals trying to get benefits that they deserve,” said Rep. Kyle Hoffman, R-Coldwater.

KDOL said it will announce more details next week when the program launches.