Kansas prepares for new COVID-19 phases

CRAWFORD COUNTY, KS — Southeast Kanas will soon be entering the next step in their vaccine distribution.

“We have people just waiting out there who are waiting to get the shot, just to be held back because of the phase program, which was appropriate, now we got an opportunity to open up,” said Brian Caswell, Owner of Wolkar Drugs

Like the rest of the state, Crawford County is preparing for their next step in vaccine distribution.

“The governor this week in her news conference has written that we’re going to move through a combined phase three and four starting next monday,” said Dr. Timothy Stebbins, Crawford County Public Health Officer

There’s also something else which could help in the process for rural areas, who had previously been more ready to move onto future phases much faster than urban cities.

“Senate bill 295 appears to try and allow the local community health board and commissioners make decisions regarding vaccinations for their community,” says Stebbins.

And while this could help move things along, officials don’t think it would immediately help.

“A little leeway is reasonable, but we don’t want to have a free for all for vaccines because that will likely cause more harm than good,” says Stebbins.

Their concern is to make sure those highly critical individuals are taken care of.

“We certainly need to vaccinate those that are highest risk first across the state, and across the nation and that’s why the phase idea came about, is to meet the need of those who are most likely to be injured or killed from COVID-19,” says Stebbins.

To help make sure they, and the rest of the country can be ready to have vaccines available to everyone.

“I am very hopeful that we will get there by may 1st, and have accessibility to anyone who wants a shot by that time,” says Caswell.

Local church gives away diapers and food to the community

JOPLIN, Mo. (KSNF/KODE) — You could get more than just spiritual enlightenment at an area church on Friday.

Calvary Baptist Church in Joplin was the setting for a giveaway of both food and a necessity for growing families.

Pastor Kenny Cox says his church had already been selected to be part of the Farms to Family food program.

The church was then able to get involved in another program for growing families.

“So every two weeks we’re giving away about 250 boxes of food which includes meat and produce and dairy and milk. And, then, we also had the opportunity through the Diaper Bank of the Ozarks to be distributing, on a consistent basis, diapers to over two hundred babies every month,” said Cox.

This was the first time Calvary had the diaper giveaway and the second time for the food basket program.

He says this is a way to reach out to the local community on days other than just Sunday.

For more information on those two programs, click here.

MO Department of Agriculture offers grants to farmer's markets

MISSOURI — Two local farmer’s markets are getting some grant money from the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

The Joplin Empire Market and the Monett Area Farmer’s Market are among 22 entities that are getting $1,000 a piece in grant funding to be used for promotion. The goal of that funding is to raise awareness of the markets throughout the area they serve.

For more information on the Department of Agriculture and its programs, you can visit their website.

Free sports physicals to be offered in McDonald County

MCDONALD COUNTY, Mo — Ozark Community Hospital will offer free sports physicals for local student athletes in McDonald County.

There are two opportunities. One will be on March 20th — the other is on April 17th. Both days run from from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

There is no appointment necessary to be checked. It will be held at the Ozark Community Hospital located at the Pineville Medical Clinic — 5265 South Business Highway 71.

Kansas Rural Opportunity Zone Program

KANSAS — Economic development in rural Kansas could soon be getting an upgrade.

House Bill 2431 is being reviewed by the Kansas House of Representatives. If passed this would add more benefits to the rural opportunity zone program. The program was launched back in 2011 and was designed to incentivize people to move to more rural areas in kansas.

The ROZ Program was designed to help promote community growth throughout the state.

Jake Letner, Columbus Community Development Coordinator, said, “There’s a housing shortage in Cherokee county and Columbus specifically we hear from our real estate professionals in the area for residents, so any tools or incentives we could use as a county and as a city would be welcomed to meet that need.”

Right now the program offers up to $15,000 in student loan assistance and tax waivers. If passed, this would also include assistance in making down payments.

Carthage Crisis Center launches matching grant challenge

CARTHAGE, Mo. — An area shelter needs your help for a unique fundraising project.

The Carthage Crisis Center is giving you the chance to get more bang for your donation buck. Members of the Carthage Crisis Center Board of Directors have kicked off a major fundraising campaign. Executive Director Jim Benton says board members have dug deep in their own pockets to get the ball rolling.

Jim Benton, Executive Director, Carthage Crisis Center, said, “Recently we had a $20,000 matching grant challenge provided by our board of directors, so that everything that is given here in the next six weeks or so is going to be matched dollar for dollar so we could get as much as $40,000 through this effort.”

So just how generous are residents and some businesses in the Carthage area?

Brooke Ramirez-Pua, Crisis Center Resident, said, “Well last year, this Center served about 48,000 meals last year, and they only had to spend $500 doing so.”

Benton says area grocery stores and individuals donate food on an almost daily basis. The Carthage Crisis Center also received food donations from major airlines when the pandemic all but shut down that industry.

“Our Mission Statement is to help people who are homeless and needy to return to self sufficiency with God’s help and the support of the community, and that last part is something that we added recently because that’s really where it all happens, it’s the community,” said Benton.

It’s that same community that’s helping Brooke Ramirez Pua and her family get back on their feet. Since coming to the facility her husband has found work again and they hope to be back out on their own soon.

If is wasn’t for this place, where would you have ended up?

“We would probably be in the streets still, maybe in a car, I probably wouldn’t have my kids and me and my husband might not still be together, and it’s changed us, we was out of hope and everything,” said Ramirez-Pua.

The fundraising drive runs from now through the end of April.

Pittsburg to host Pittcation in place of Spring Break

PITTSBURG, Ks. — Spring Break is a little different this year because of the pandemic, but one city is trying to make the best of it.

Brittan Brenner, Pittsburg Community Development Specialist, said, “We just started talking about events that should happen and we were like “Well there’s no spring break, maybe we could play off something like that, and then it just kind of blew up.”

Now the city of Pittsburg is hosting its own version of Spring Break.

“We’re planning a week long event called Pittcation starting this Saturday March 20th through Saturday March 27th.”

Pittcation is designed to give the mid-semester break so many are craving, whether they’re a student or teacher.

“Basically if you go to school, you teach at a school, or you work at a school, this week is for you.”

The events aren’t just geared toward Pittsburg, Pittcation hopes to highlight tourism destinations throughout Southeast Kansas.

“It’s truly a regional event, we wanted to get people out and see what our community has to offer.”

Joe Manns, Big Brutus Manager, said, “The win-win for us is go home and tell mom and dad, your neighbors, your aunts and uncles and come on out and see us.”

To help build on what’s been a successful start to the year.

“In the first quarter of last year we had 452 through, in the month of January we had 718.”

Not only helping tourism and businesses, but families as well.

“Families may not be traveling like they normally would and so we want to provide opportunities where families can get out in the community, relax, take a break, have something for the kids to do,” said Brenner.

As something the whole community can enjoy, whether they’re in school or not.

“Even a community member that’s like “Hey yoga in the park, that’s totally my jam,” come on out, we’d love to have you, bring a mask and a towel and a water bottle and you’re good to go.”

More information and updates can be found on the Pittcation Facebook page.

Freeman Medical Focus — Nutrition advice for babies

JOPLIN, Mo. — Federal guidelines have some new nutrition advice for babies – and also reinforces what pediatricians have already been saying.

Dr. Beth Garrett, Pediatrician, said, “I think what’s new is that they’re covering a lifespan and they’re including children including infants in the guidelines.”

And one priority from the U.S. Ag Department and the Department of Health and Human Services is that babies and children shouldn’t have any added sugar in their diet.

“Sugar is in everything. we may think we’re giving our baby, yogurt , baby yogurt, that actually has sugar in it and so sugar can be in a lot of foods we think are healthy.”

Dr. Beth Garrett recommends reading nutrition labels closely.

“High fructose corn syrup I think is the big one that we need to look for. But if you’re not sure – look at the grams of sugar in that and look at the ingredients. If that’s not fruit, then you want to think that’s added sugar.”

The guidelines also stress breastfeeding alone for babies through six months, and only using formula if breast milk isn’t an option. Start other foods at six months and cow’s milk at one year.

“But like peanut butter, eggs, yogurt, and cheese, we want to introduce those foods earlier on so that we train the immune system not to be allergic.”

Missouri dad goes viral after emotional testimony on transgender daughter and sports

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Lawmakers met in Missouri’s capitol on March 3rd to discuss if voters should decide if transgender students should be required to play sports on the team that reflects the sex on their birth certificate. Brandon Boulware, a father from Kansas City, has gone viral after testifying in front of the Missouri House of Representatives emergency issues committee.

Brandon Boulware spoke about his experience with his transgender daughter. He says at first he didn’t accept it, but now he sees how this resolution could hurt her chance of playing sports.

The ACLU posted video of Boulware’s testimony on social media Monday and it quickly went viral, receiving more 6 million views on Twitter than 300,000 views on the organization’s Instagram.

“My name is Brandon Boulware and chairman I’ll go as quickly as I can. I’m a lifelong Missourian. I’m a business lawyer. I’m a Christian. I’m the son of a Methodist minister. I’m a husband. I’m the father of four kids, two boys, two girls, including a wonderful and a beautiful transgender daughter.

Today happens to be her birthday. I chose to be here. She doesn’t know that. She thinks I’m at work.

One thing I often hear when transgender issues are discussed is I don’t get it. I don’t understand. I would expect some of you to have said that and feel the same way.

I didn’t get it either for years. I would not let my daughter wear girl clothes. I did not let her play with girl toys. I forced my daughter to wear boy clothes and get short haircuts and play on boys’ sports teams.

Why did I do this? To protect my child. I did not want my daughter or her siblings to get teased. Truth be told I did it to protect myself as well I wanted to avoid those inevitable questions as to why my child did not look and act like a boy.

My child was miserable. I cannot overstate that she was absolutely miserable. Especially at school. No confidence, no friends, no laughter. I honestly say this, I had a child who did not smile. We did that for years. We did that against the advice of teachers, therapists, and other experts.

I remember the day everything changed for me. I’d gotten home from work and my daughter and her brother were on the front lawn. She had sneaked on one of her older sister’s play dresses and they wanted to go across the street and play with the neighbor’s kids.

It was time for dinner I said, ‘Come in.’ She asked can she go across the street. I said, ‘no.’ She asked me if she went inside and put on boy clothes, could she then go across the street and play.

It’s then that it hit me, that my daughter was equating being good with being someone else. I was teaching her to deny who she is. As a parent, the one thing we cannot do is silence our child’s spirit. And so on that day my wife and I stopped silencing our child’s spirit. The moment we allowed my daughter to be who she is, to grow her hair, to wear the clothes she wanted to wear, she was a different child.

I mean it was immediate. It was a total transformation. I now have a confident, smiling, happy daughter. She plays on a girl’s volleyball team. She has friendships. She’s a kid.

I came here today as a parent to share my story. I need you to understand, that this language, if it becomes law, will have real effects on real people. It will affect my daughter. It will mean she cannot play on the girl’s volleyball team or dance squad or tennis team. I ask you please don’t take that away from my daughter or the countless others like her who are out there. Let them have their childhoods. Let them be who they are. I ask you to vote against this legislation.”

Transcript of Brandon Boulware’s testimony

The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) already has policies in place for transgender students involved in sports. According to the handbook, transgender boys, (female to male) can participate on boys’ and co-ed teams, but transgender girls (male to female) cannot play on girls’ teams. The handbook goes on to say that if a transgender boy has taken hormone treatment, he may compete on a boys’ team but can no long eligible to play on a girls’ team. For transgender girls, being treated using hormone treatment can continue to play on a boys’ team but cannot play on a girls’ team.

If the resolution passes both chambers and gets the governor’s signature, it would be on the ballot for voters to decide in 2022.

Swarm season is upon us; what to do when you find a cluster of bees

JOPLIN, Mo. – Spring is just around the corner and that means swarm season for honey bees is beginning. If you see a cluster of bees hanging on a limb or other object, it is typically best to leave them be until they vacate on their own.

But if the swarm is making a home on your property or located in a high traffic area, beekeepers urge individuals not to exterminate or harm the bees in order to remove them. Stay calm and contact a local beekeeper.

“If they’re going to eliminate them, then these colonies will never have a chance. The population won’t increase like it should,” said local beekeeper Sean Allen of Allen Family Farm & Apiaries. “We need those pollinators.”

Swarms of bees are simply bees without a home. They are not defending a hive and therefore typically docile – their only task is to protect their queen.

Why bees swarm; what to do and what could happen

Local beekeeper John Smiles of Hive2Honey farm explains how the swarms come to be.

“Swarms are the natural reproduction of a bee colony. When the hive has been filled, the bees begin looking for more room. Queen cells in the hive form and a new queen is laid. The old queen then leaves with roughly 60% of the colony to start a new location. This is the cluster we see hanging in trees, on fence posts,” said Smiles.

Allen adds that the swarms of bees are just resting until they find their next destination.

“They’re just getting everybody together, giving the queen a rest because she hasn’t flown for a long time. Then from there, they start heading wherever they have planned to go until they find their new home or until a beekeeper comes along and gives them a new home,” said Allen.

Another reason bees swarm is called absconding – when bees completely abandon their hive. This is due to reasons like lack of food, parasites or problems with the queen.

Swarming behavior in honey bee colonies increases between spring and early summer. Swarms can often be found in tree branches, clumps of vegetation, fences, mailboxes, walls or even on the ground.

Bee swarms can be temporary. Smiles says that in most cases, the bees will fly off if left alone. But other times, they can take up residence in your property.

“Then they become a problem and need to be removed as soon as possible before the colony has time to build much comb and begin growing in the walls,” said Smiles.

It is best to have the swarm removed before it becomes in need of a cut-out, a more extensive removal, which could damage your property.

“We do not do the repairs, but we get the bees,” said Smiles. “The home needs repaired by a licensed contractor. So it saves to call a beekeeper as soon as you see them hanging in that tree.”

Who to contact

To get in touch with local beekeepers for swarm removals and more, you can contact the Joplin Area Beekeepers Association.

The association hosts classes, events, meetings and more if you are interested in learning about beekeeping. You can join their Facebook group which has over 1,000 members.

You can also contact the MU Extension in Jasper County at 417-358-2158. They have a list of beekeepers and will get you in contact with one available for a swarm removal.

Smiles also welcomes residents to contact him at 417-622-8549 for swarm removals and cut-outs.