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Gathering of Little Turtles camp returns after 2 years

WYANDOTTE, Okla. — Kids of all ages are learning about the Wyandotte tribe this weekend. The Bearskin Fitness Gym is hosting the Gathering of Little Turtles camp for the first time in 2 years.

Today through Sunday, kids can learn Wyandotte’s language and history and take part in activities like crafts, traditional gardening, and lacrosse.

The theme for this year’s gathering, turtles, holds an important place in Wyandotte culture.

“Everything in Wyandotte has turtles on it. In our creation story, it’s said that the Earth was created on the back of a turtle. So in our logo of Wyandotte Nation, there’s a turtle, and we have several clans that are turtles within our tribe so turtles are a really important animal for us,” said Kim Garcia, Cultural Preservation Officer, Wyandotte Nation.

Today’s event drew more than 60 kids from across the country.

The annual adult gathering will be held in September.

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CA nonprofit runs fundraising campaign for 11-year-old Joplin cancer patient

JOPLIN, Mo. — She’s the brave little girl with a big dream.

11-year-old Maddy Clemens is from Joplin. In October of 2019, she began having knee pain that spread to both of her legs, and eventually, couldn’t stand or walk.

In January of 2020, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Since then, she’s spent months in and out of the hospital getting treatment.

The California-based nonprofit Campaign One At A Time heard about her story and launched a fundraiser to fulfill her dream of going to Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City. The plan is to go there in October, following her last round of chemotherapy.

“Well, I’ve always wanted to go to it because I, first of all, I love to swim and I love water parks. I have a goal to live life to the fullest and it’s just to make sure that my body is healthy and that I can just, like, be a kid for as long as I can,” said Clemens.

The fundraising goal for Maddy, through Campaign One At A Time, is $5,000.

Those wanting to help can find a link here.

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Neosho Fish Hatchery Senior Day 2022

NEOSHO, Mo. — It was a reel good time Friday morning in Neosho.

A week after a fishing derby was held for kids — the Neosho National Fish Hatchery hosted one for senior citizens and disabled residents. And their chances were good.

The pond was stocked with more than 7,000 fish the end of 2019. That was done to prepare for a fishing event for veterans in 2020 — an event that was canceled due to the pandemic.

“For me, I love seeing the look on some of these folks’ faces. We have people who have never fished before, and they’re not sure what to do, maybe squimish about a worm, but then once they get that fish on, they light up and that’s what it’s all worth,” said Jennifer Cutillo, Neosho National Fish Hatchery.

Around 200 people participated today. Organizers say it was the smallest amount they’ve seen.

The plan is to do it again next year.

The “Kids Fishing Derby” will take place, once again, on the first Friday in June.

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Carthage Chamber celebrates 90th birthday

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The year was 1932. Herbert Hoover was President and Amelia Earhart flew nearly 15 hours across the Atlantic Ocean.

It was also a big year in Carthage, marking the start of the Chamber of Commerce. The community gathered Thursday morning to celebrate its 90th birthday.

That included a long list of awards like the Small Business of the Year, Recognized Volunteers and Community Enhancement, also the Spotlight Award Winner.

The Chamber Director emphasized it’s no small effort to not only survive but thrive for 9 decades.

“So, it’s a testament not only to the businesses in the community but also to the community itself. To the residents who live here that support the businesses, and are listening and going in and shopping those businesses,” said Julie Reams, Carthage Chamber Director.

They wrapped up the celebration with cake and a free lunch in Central Park.

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Employee honored with Carthage Eye of the Tiger Award

CARTHAGE, Mo. — A member of the Carthage School District Transportation Department received more than just a free meal today.

Carthage Superintendent Dr. Mark Baker bestowed a special award on Jeff Kasperski, as being the Outstanding School District Support Staff Member of the Year.

Kasperski has been a very busy man this year as the only mechanic in the transportation department.

“Total shock, I’ll tell you, it’s been a rough year. Usually we’ll have two mechanics, two full-time mechanics, and maybe we could use another assistant. I’ve been by myself this year,” said Jeff Kasperski, Transportation Department Head Mechanic.

Kasperski was personally responsible for keeping all 60 school district buses running this past school year.

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Quapaw Nation approves pension plan for public safety

OTTOWA COUNTY, Okla. — A newly designed pension plan for public safety employees is being called a first of its kind in Native country. It was approved this month by the Quapaw Nation’s Business Committee.

Officials say it matches or rivals the pension plans of other emergency personnel across the state of Oklahoma, and will help the tribe better recruit and retain first responders.

“We’re very big in public safety. We’re very supportive of it, and this, you know, allows us to provide a service to our tribal members, and not only our tribal members, but the citizens of Ottawa County and the citizens that live inside our reservation. You know, we want them to feel safe and know that if they have to call 9-1-1, you know, they’re getting a quality service coming to their door,” said Zack Turley, Quapaw Nation Business Committee Member.

Officials say the pension plan has been in the works for the past year and a half.

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Children's Center celebrates 25th anniversary

JOPLIN, Mo. — An area nonprofit, that helps kids who’ve been abused, is celebrating a special occasion. The Children’s Center of Southwest Missouri is officially 25-years old.

Members of the Center’s current staff, along with several former executive director’s and founding and current board members gathered at the facility today to cut a ribbon on the accomplishment.

Betty cagle was the original executive director in 1997 when the center sat across from Freeman Health System. It was made possible by the Health System’s former President Gary Duncan, who provided the original office space.

Cagle says Center employees have changed over the last 25-years, but the goal has remained the same.

“We still have investigators that are so focused on what they’re doing and fully focused on the children and the families, nurturing, loving, caring, you can feel it when you walk in,” said Cagle.

“It happened quite by accident on a day I saw Phil Garvin walk toward my office, didn’t stop, came in like a tornado, and told me that of the Children’s Center and said, “You need to get them a place. They’ve got work to do, we’ve got to work, we need to work with the children,” said Gary Duncan, Freeman Health System Dir., Emeritus.

“In 2016, we started offering trauma focussed therapy for our child victims, and really the important piece behind that is we’re offering that as a free service to the families and it’s really helping those children process that trauma, deal with that trauma, understand it’s not their fault they were abused and really help them find that hope and healing they’re looking for,” said Matt Stewart, Exec. Dir., Children’s Center of Southwest Missouri.

The organization has provided services to over 20,000 children since opening.

It has 4 locations — Joplin, Nevada, Monett, and Butler.

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Joplin Speech and Debate goes to Nationals

JOPLIN, Mo. — The school year may be over but that doesn’t mean some students at an area high school will have the Memorial Day weekend off. A group of four students from Joplin High School and one faculty member will soon be on their way to Washington D.C.. The reason, to take part in a national speech and debate competition in our nation’s capital.

The Joplin High School Speech and Debate Program has a rich history and they will be sending students to two different national events this summer. The first of which takes place over the Memorial Day weekend.

Misti Meads is their head coach and can’t wait to watch her team compete at the highest level.

“I’m super proud of this group that I get to take to D.C.. They worked really hard all year and this is a tournament where their hard work pays off because they get to go based on how they did all year. So I think the group I’m taking is super deserving,” said Coach Meads.

Both competitions will be the last two events of Christina Post’s high school career.

“This is a bid tournament which means we have to be doing well all year, so consistently trophying at the tournaments we go to and then we compete with the other schools in our district who also want to go to this tournament. In order to be able to go you have to have a better record than the people who are also trying to qualify, ” said Christina Post, J.H.S. Graduate, Team Member.

“It’s called “declamation.” It’s basically where I do an interpretation of a famous speech. Yeah this year I’m doing, it’s called “The Other America” by Dr. Martin Luther King Junior,” said Alissa Kean, J.H.S. Sophomore, Team Member.

“But I’m really excited with the group of people we’re taking and being able to compete with all these people from all around the nation is really going be amazing.”Jeana Compton, J.H.S. Junior, Team Member.

Some of these same team members will also compete for Joplin High School in the National Speech and Debate Competition in Louisville, Kentucky in mid June.

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Innovative Industries seeks to partner with local companies

CARTHAGE, Mo. — A unique facility in Carthage is working on a new product line made by a local company and they’d love to add more companies to their list.

Even though a company like the Marco Group in Neosho makes all the components for a product, in this case a chair. It can be cheaper to have someone else assemble them all into the finished product and package them up for transport. That’s where Innovative Industries of Carthage comes in.

Workers here assemble a variety of products together that are made by a host of different companies.

“So they send it to all the schools around here. They have all different colors of chairs, they even have the little pre school ones up into the office ones so we’ve been making all those.” said Maddy Barton, Supervisor, Innovative Industries.

Innovative Industries provides jobs for people with both physical and mental disabilities.

But this product line is an example just one local business that subcontracts with Innovative Industries. Others include H.E. Williams, Dyno Nobel, Pittsco, Midmark, Sugar Creek and K & S Wire. In some cases, like Schreiber Foods, they even send workers to the worksite.

Cammy Barton would love to work with other local businesses, who may never have heard of Innovative Industries. They’ve been in the Maple Leaf City since 1969.

“Yes, we would love that opportunity. We have very loyal employees; they show up to work every day. We have very high functioning employees that could do the job, but yes, we would love to have that opportunity,” said Cammy Barton, Innovative Industries Operations Manager.

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Lamar art students' mural is underway

LAMAR, Mo. — Some Lamar High School art students are making a positive impact on their town.

Candy Hill’s art class have been planning for this mural since 2019. The mural is not quite finished, but once complete, it will be a 3-D interactive mural. Mrs. Hill and 27 students have worked on the painting portion of this project this week.

Smalley and Associates were happy to have the students paint this on their building.

Mrs. Hill and her students say their goal is to bring positivity to those visiting Lamar’s square.

“The hope is, in a time like we are in now, with covid and post-covid, and everything, we’re really hoping that this will just lift people’s spirits and give them something bright and happy to look at when they’re driving down the square,” said Mrs. Hill.

“When you’re driving around our square, immediately you see this big, bright mural and it makes you smile,” said Peggy Smalley, Owner of Smalley and Associates.

“We’re just trying to share positivity. Have everybody get like, great words to kind of lift them up,” said Hailey Huskey, Lamar High School Junior.

The mural is expected to be finished in just a few weeks.