Local nurse takes pride in making a difference

JOPLIN, Mo. — April Willis was recognized for her genuine kindness when she received a special award. This local nurse takes pride in making a difference, inside and outside of the hospital.

“I’ve always been that nurse that wants to make sure that I make a difference in the lives of the people I take care of. I want to feel like a friend to those people. I don’t want to just look like I’m swiping in for a paycheck,” said April Willis, RN, Labor & Delivery, Freeman Health System.

April Willis is a labor and delivery nurse at “Freeman Health System.”

It was just another night in the fall of 2022 for April, selflessly taking care of moms and babies.

But one patient really took April’s kindness to heart.

That’s when the patient nominated her for a DAISY award.

“This just happened to be a night I remember. This patient, she was super kind. She came in and she was very, very sick. She was very scared and I just, I’m so honored that she understood that I was trying to make things that were a very scary situation, very comfortable for her and her family. And it means so much to me that a patient can actually recognize that when they were so sick and having so many health problems at the time,” said Willis.

Dozens for nurses get nominated each month for the daisy award as a way to recognize their genuine compassion and professionalism.

“Kindness goes a long way. And I think with this week, the tragedies that we’ve seen in the NFL, we’ve learned how people can come together and that love honestly does make the world a better place. And so, I think it does help. Just to make sure that you’re not just here, putting on a fake smile and a fake persona to be that nurse, but that you are genuinely like that in everyday life, too,” said Willis.

And for April, her patients’ hand-written letter was more than a nomination.

“I think stopping, taking a moment and writing something out to let others know that, ‘you guys are making a difference too’,” said Willis.

Annual Christmas Bird Count Gathering

JOPLIN, Mo. — There were plenty of smiles, today, at “Wildcat Glades”.

That’s because today was their annual Christmas bird count gathering.

Partnering with the “National Audubon Society”, the event takes place once a year.

It gives kids and families the opportunity to see and count different types of birds in their natural habitats.

Naturalist Kensi Tillman says this is a gateway to get kids outside to explore and identify with nature.

“Well this morning, we did a kid’s Christmas Bird count, which is as simple as it sounds, we counted birds. It’s a long-standing citizen science project with the Audubon Society. And so we come out here and we just count the birds that we see and then that information can be submitted for science,” said Kensi Tillman, Naturalist.

Tillman says the Audubon Society submits the bird information collected today, which is then used for tracking bird populations across the nation.

Annual "Snowflake Crop" hosted by "Creative Memories Independent"

JOPLIN, Mo. — Meanwhile, others in Joplin did a little scrapbookin’ today.

The annual “Snowflake Crop” event was hosted by members of the “Creative Memories Independent” group.

Attendees dressed in pajamas for the monthly session, to catch up with one another and create scrapbooks.

They also share new ideas and make new projects, all with a chance to win a grand prize.

Lori Layne is an advisor of “Creative Memories Independent”.

She says the group is a community and is very welcoming to one another.

“It is a community and it’s great because it’s something that everybody has in common. So these ladies have gotten to know each other, and they enjoy coming and catching up on each other’s lives and their families. So the great thing about our group is they’re so welcoming — so even somebody brand new wants to come and try it out. They’ll act like they’ve known you for years and you’ll have the best time, because you’ll just become part of their community,” said Lori Layne, Creative Memories Independent Advisor.

“Creative Memories Independent” has more events to come.

If you would like to learn about those events, you can visit a link here.

How to apply to grow your own weed in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Recreational marijuana is legal for adults in Missouri. It will soon be legal for adults in the state to buy, and for some, to even grow weed for personal use.

Missouri posted more about what will be needed to apply to get a personal cultivation card.

While the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services won’t begin accepting the applications until Feb. 6, it did post a sample of the application Saturday.

Anyone who hopes to be approved for a personal cultivation card will need to complete the form. It asks for personal information such as your name, social security number, birthdate, and address.

Personal Cultivation Card Application | Missouri Dept. Health and Human Services

Applicants must also be at least 21 years old, submit a recently-taken color picture, two government-issued photo IDs (like a driver’s license and a passport), and pay a $100 application fee.

In addition to personal information, applicants also must verify the area where the marijuana will be grown is in a locked area that is restricted to everyone except the cardholder.

The applicant must agree to give immediate access to anyone from the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services if asked.

After receiving a personal cultivation card the cardholder can legally have up to six flowering marijuana plants, six nonflowering marijuana plants (over 14 inches tall), and six clones (plants under 14 inches tall) for non-commercial use.

Marijuana grown for personal use cannot be shared with anyone, even when living in the same house or apartment. Each person must have their own license.

Again, the state will begin accepting applications for personal grow cards on Feb. 6. That is the same day adults in Missouri are expected to be able to buy marijuana and products containing the drug from dispensaries licensed to sell recreational marijuana.

Human remains identified in Colorado as former Joplin resident

KSNF/KODE — Officials confirm skeletal remains found in Colorado are those of a former Joplin man, who went missing back in 2021.

Here is a link to our previous coverage of this case.

Hikers in Colorado discovered the remains on September 25th of last year in the area of Middle Mountain Road in Pagosa Springs.

The “Pagosa Springs Police Department” announced Friday the remains were officially identified as 42-year-old Michael Kroll.

Authorities list Kroll as a Joplin resident, but say he had been in the Pagosa Springs area shortly before he was reported missing on October 19, 2021.

The case remains an active and ongoing investigation.

Joplin school honors longtime, beloved volunteer on her retirement

JOPLIN, Mo. — A very special volunteer was honored by everyone from administrators to students this morning at Dover Hill Elementary in Joplin.

“Let’s put it this way, I did anything I could do to help the teachers save some time,” said Joanne Wills, Retired Volunteer, Joplin Schools.

Joanne Wills has logged more than 15,000 volunteer hours over the past 22 years throughout the Joplin School District. Now she says it’s time to retire.

Wills has helped out in many ways – from teaching kids how to tie their shoes, to spreading kindness with her contagious smile. But, the reason she began volunteering, may surprise you.

“I didn’t have very many friends at home because there was nobody around me. Here, everybody is so friendly and everything, and then the kids, I love being around the kids. They’re quite a thing,” she said.

Wills says she hasn’t decided how she wants to spend her retirement, but she plans to keep busy because she doesn’t like to sit down.

Creating a "Glass Cactus"

JOPLIN, Mo. — Some also gathered in Joplin, today, to learn a form of art using a unique material.

That gathering happened at ‘Spiva Center for the Arts’ inside the new ‘Harry M. Cornell Arts and Entertainment Complex’.

Attendees created a model glass cactus. Jane McCaulley of ‘Spiva Center for the Arts’ guided participants on how to work with the glass, utilizing certain tools.

She says the longevity of the glass sets this form of art apart from other methods.

“People don’t usually handle glass, only time you handle glass is when you drop it on the floor and have to clean it up probably. But this way, we teach you how to actually use the glass and create something out of it. It’s something that will last, not like making something out of paper, this will last a long time,” Jane McCaulley, Teacher.

In the coming months, McCaulley will teach more classes, including a lesson on weaving glass.

Also this summer, Spiva will host a three day glass camp, for kids ages 8 through 14.

79 nurses honored in Freeman Health System ceremony

JOPLIN, Mo. — Friday marked a very special milestone for several nurses at Freeman Health System.

Seventy-nine nurses were honored for their genuine compassion and professionalism. Every month, nominations from patients and their loved ones are sent in – to truly thank a nurse who went above and beyond.

Freeman Health System has been recognizing nurses this way since 2016. The hospital held a ceremony to showcase every nurse who was nominated and awarded during 2022.

“Of all the nominations that we had, it was more than all of the other years combined of nominations that we had. So, we put a lot of effort into marketing to let our patients know that Daisy was an option for them, and the nominations started rolling in,” said Jeanee Kennedy, Chief Nursing Officer.

“I’ve had the opportunity to probably interact with over five or 6,000 patients and family members going through one of the most difficult times of their lives. I never want to take that for granted and recognize that each interaction is very meaningful,” said Megan Spiering, nurse practitioner.

Each nurses’ hand-written nominations were read out loud.

You could receive $10k for donating blood

JOPLIN, Mo. — January is National Blood Donor Month a time to give thanks to those who donate blood. And, the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks is celebrating with a special 56-Day Challenge. It encourages people to donate once every 56 days. It also gives them a chance to win up to $5,000 dollars.

The first step — donate blood sometime this month.
Next, fill out a challenge form online.
Finally, make a second donation by April 6th.

“After that, you will go in a drawing for a $1,000 Visa gift card. But don’t stop there, because it’s a challenge for all year long. You can donate every 56 days, and every time, the pot gets bigger. So, for the second drawing, it’s going to be a $2,000 drawing, then 3, 4, and 5. And what’s really cool is, if you win once, you can win again,” said Michelle Teter, Media Relations Representative, CBCO.

On average, a person will donate blood twice a year — but this challenge comes with the goal of getting more donors in order to meet the demand local hospitals continue to see.

For more information on the challenge, along with donation sites follow this link here.

New Joplin facility offers more intensive care for patients 65+

Joplin, Mo.— A new medical clinic is open in Joplin, geared at patients 65 and older. Mercy 65 Prime Plus opened Wednesday and celebrated today (1/06) with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a special blessing. It’s located at 2216 East 32nd Street — on the west side of Mid-Missouri Bank.

Officials say it’s different from geriatrics — and offers patients a more intensive primary care experience.

“As our population in the United States changes, we’re seeing a big increase in our 65 and older population. As we see that, we have recognized at Mercy that they have a lot of needs that we might not be able to meet in our regular clinics, and so rather than them feeling like they’re being lost in the shuffle, the idea is this will be more dedicated. Mercy really feels that it’s important to start this work, and in Joplin, we have been the first ones to put it in place,” said Allison Rhodes, Mercy.

The clinic extends appointment times for patients — from 15 minutes to a half-hour. Patients will also receive their appointment times a year in advance.

Same-day appointments will begin in March.