SEK organizations working to improve health

SOUTHEAST KANSAS — One Southeast Kansas community is working to become a little bit healthier.

Grow Labette and Live Healthy Montgomery County have released a survey for their counties. Part of the Pathways To A Healthy Kansas initiative, this survey will gather the opinion on community health and ways to improve.

This includes healthy eating, physical activity and tobacco prevention education.


Back For Seconds — Flounders Fish and Chips

FOUR STATE AREA — Last week, Local News Today enjoyed some of the best fish tacos in the Four States when Flounders paid a visit for Food Truck Friday. Monday we go Back For Seconds to learn about the series of events that led to the food truck’s owners new – and successful venture.

Brian Bowman, Co-Owner, Flounder’s Fish & Chips, said, “Everything about this truck just feels like it should have happened.”

Sometimes it’s takes an unfortunate event, to guide you into that next chapter of your life.

Brian Bowman, Co-Owner, Flounder’s Fish & Chips: “A few years ago, I had kidney failure and I’d done construction work all my life and I told her, I said, we got to do something when I get a new kidney, that’s not as hard.”

Brian Bowman is no stranger to hard work, but his battle with kidney failure pushed him to construct a new career and a new reality for him, his wife kim, and their family.

‘And I’d throw ideas at her and say this is what we want to do how about this, no, no, I said food truck, she’s like no. So my little brain said she hesitated, so I can get her.”

Although hesitant, they had endured a lot, so she was up for the challenge.

Kim Bowman, Co-Owner, Flounder’s Fish & Chips, said, “It’s humbling, I’m still shocked at the response we’re getting. To me it doesn’t feel like it’s been a lot of work coming up with the recipes…”

“Because I’ve done it all,” said Brian.

And now 16 months in, Flounder’s Fish & Chips is thriving.

“16 months, so not real long. It’s been a worldwhind, a roller coaster, just amazing,” said Kim

From fresh shrimp tacos, to their fried fish sandwich, and beer battered fries that can’t be beat. There’s one menu item that always keeps people come back for seconds.

“It’s amazing like the kraut balls, if we run out somewhere, the next time we’re there, they’ll be waiting when we get there and say I want to large orders,” said Brian.

“It’s really funny to watch people’s reaction when they first try one, we’ve heard all kinds of crazy responses so we decided to put the top 10 on the back of our shirts,” said Kim.

And although it’s still new–the pair says–seeing how much has changed over the last few months makes them grateful.

“Everybody’s support, the power of God, to get me back on my feet where I’m at. I mean it’s amazing what they can do in the medical field. But it’s also amazing what God can do in your life and how he can guide you,” said Brian.


Journey to Tokyo — Anika Tsapatsaris

NEW JERSEY — The journey to the Olympics can be a long road.

That’s the case for a fencer from New Jersey, who will be watching the Tokyo games and waiting for her chance to compete. In this week’s journey to Tokyo, Marielena Balouris shares her story of bi-continental training as she chases her Olympic dream.

From New Jersey to Greece and back again. That’s the life Anika Tsapatsaris has been living since high school.

Anika Tsapatsaris, Olympic hopeful, said, “So that was a little tough, being a high schooler in New Jersey, having to take weekends off and kind of upping the limit on my absences, coming once a month to Greece, just to maintain that ranking.”

Tsapatsaris is a dual citizen and now competes on two fencing teams — Columbia university’s and the Greek national team. She was introduced to the sport 10 years ago, when she was in 5th grade. She fell in love with both the physical and mental challenges of it.

“They call it physical chess, but it takes a lot of brain power and brain energy, so it’s not just something where you’re the strongest, fastest, you’ll win. it’s all about anticipating the reaction of your opponent and the reacting accordingly within milliseconds.”

When Columbia announced that classes would be online for this school year, she decided to temporarily move to Greece. She balances virtual classes with training sessions — which she’s gotten creative with.

“Because gyms have been closed, I transformed one of the apartment bedrooms into a home gym. It brings me so much joy just to be able to get out those endorphins every day. it helps me think better.”

She isn’t eyeing the Tokyo Olympics because she’ll still be in school and competing for Columbia. Instead, she’s hoping to represent Greece in either 2024 or 2028 game proving that her years of hard work have paid off.

“To even make an Olympic qualifier, to make an Olympic team would be the most incredible way of saying “yes, you can” do it.”


Gorilla Glue responds to viral saga of woman who used adhesive spray on her hair

BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA) – Tessica Brown went viral on Instagram after she posted a video about, in her words, a “bad idea” that led her to use an industrial strength spray adhesive to hold down her hairstyle.

Brown posted to her Instagram on Feb. 3rd, informing her followers and many others about what happened to her hair after she sprayed heavy duty Gorilla Glue adhesive spray in her hair because she ran out of her usual hairspray, Got2B glued hairspray.

She says her hair has been stuck in the hairstyle shown in the video for a month.

“My hair, it don’t move,” Brown said, slapping her hands on the top of her head to prove it. “I’ve washed my hair 15 times and it don’t move.”

On Feb. 6, Brown posted on her Instagram page a picture of St. Bernard’s Hospital in Chalmette, Louisiana, where she said she spent hours in the emergency room in hopes of getting the hardened adhesive removed from her hair.

Healthcare workers sent her home with acetone and sterile water to loosen the adhesive, which she said only burned her scalp and hardened moments later.

“We are aware of the situation and we are very sorry to hear about the unfortunate incident that Miss Brown experienced using our Spray Adhesive on her hair,” Gorilla Glue said in a statement. “This is a unique situation because this product is not indicated for use in or on hair as it is considered permanent.”

They emphasized that the spray adhesive states on the warning label to “not get in eyes, on skin, or on clothing.”

“We are glad to see in her recent video that Miss Brown has received medical treatment from her local medical facility and wish her the best,” the company said.

Her video caught the attention of many celebrities who reposted her video and also followed her Instagram page to receive updates on her journey to adhesive-free hair.

Brown started a GoFundMe page that has exceeded the $1500 goal for help towards her medical expenses.

After an unsuccessful experience in the emergency room, she is now looking into suing the adhesive company alleging that the labels on their products are misleading because they don’t specifically mention hair, sources told TMZ.


Improvement continues in Joplin’s COVID-19 hospitalizations numbers

Improvement continued in Joplin’s COVID-19 hospitalization numbers over the last week at Joplin hospitals, comprising of Freeman, Mercy, and Landmark. As of Sunday, February 7, there is a 38-hospitalization occupancy of COVID-19 patients in Joplin’s hospitals. This is 11 less than the occupancy number from last week on Sunday, January 31.     

This number reflects the number of patients currently being treated with COVID-19 at the three previously mentioned hospitals. The 38-hospital occupancy includes residents outside Joplin city limits. As of February 7, there are 18 Joplin residents hospitalized due to COVID-19. This is three less than the number from Sunday, January 31

According to the Joplin COVID-19 Dashboard, last updated Sunday, February 7 at 10 p.m., there has been a total of 5,667 cases of the Coronavirus in the city. Joplin currently has 124 active cases of COVID-19, 5,421 inactive cases, and 122 deaths. There have been zero new cases in the last day, 149 cases in the last seven days, and 293 cases in the last 14 days. 

Residents in the age group 20 to 29 have the highest number of Coronavirus cases in Joplin, with 1,200 cases. Those in the age group 30 to 39 are second-highest, with 829 cases, and those under 20 are close behind with 804 cases.  

Joplin is currently in Phase 1B—Tier 1 and Phase 1B—Tier 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Missouri residents who fall into these two tiers of Phase 1B, along with those who fall into the previous phase who have yet to receive their vaccine, are now eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. Phase 1B—Tier 1 includes first responders, emergency services, and public health infrastructure; this group breaks down to non-patient facing public health infrastructure, first responders, emergency management and public works, and the emergency services sector. Phase 1B—Tier 2 includes high-risk individuals; this group breaks down to anyone age 65 and older, and any adult who is at an increased risk of severe illness.  

The City specifies on their vaccine infographic that “supplies are limited.” The following vaccine phases include Phase 1B—Tier 3, Phase 2, then Phase 3. Vaccine distribution will advance in line with vaccine availability. The state of Missouri ensures that the COVID-19 vaccine will be free to all Missouri residents, including those without health insurance.   

For more information regarding Missouri’s vaccination plan, visit their new COVID-19 website


Opponents fear overly broad school 'voucher' bill will target large portion of Kansas public schools

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)— Kansas lawmakers held a hearing on a proposed school ‘voucher’ bill Monday. The bill would create an education savings account program for at-risk students in the state.

Lawmakers in the House K-12 Education Budget committee have taken no final action on the bill yet. However, public school advocates are concerned about what this could mean for struggling students if it does pass.

Among opponents’ top concerns is the overly broad nature of eligibility for the program. Some public school advocates believe the bill would not only target a larger portion of Kansas students, compared to other states with similar programs, but it also doesn’t guarantee that students that are severely at-risk will get the help they need.

“A modest income student from a large family could qualify, even if they’re doing fine in school right now, and a truly struggling child in poverty,” Mark Tallman, a spokesperson for the state’s school board association, told the Kansas Capitol Bureau. “There’s absolutely no guarantee that, that child could take advantage of this. We don’t know whether the school would accept them, or whether the family would be involved to make that happen. These are bills to say they are helping struggling kids, but neither the current program [n]or this program actually require[s] that to be the case.”

Under some of the eligibility requirements, the program would be extended to students that are Kansas residents determined to be at-risk, and students who have participated in a form of virtual or hybrid instruction.

Tallman pointed out that it would consist of the majority of public students in the state, who have participated in hybrid learning programs due to the coronavirus pandemic. He spoke at the hearing Monday, providing examples of other states that have education savings account programs in place.

The fiscal note estimates about 10% of Kansas’ student population using the program. A similar effort in Arizona had about 7,000 students take part, despite about 25% of the student population being eligible.

“I tend to think most kids and families are pretty happy with their public school system, and I don’t think there’s a lot of dissatisfaction, but it’s really hard to know,” Tallman said, who estimated about 200,000 students to qualify for the program in the bill.

However, lawmakers estimated eligible students to be closer to around 2,000.

The bill would take base-aid funding usually used for public schools, and use those tax dollars to subsidize private and home schools, or other tutoring and educational services to best serve the child’s needs. If a child qualifies for the program, parents are able to withdraw them from public or charter schools and receive a deposit of public funds into a government-authorized account.

Tallman suggested placing a limit on state funding to the program to eliminate some of the concerns regarding the use of public funds for private and home schools, which don’t have to meet the same standards as public schools to operate in-person classes.

Committee chair, Representative Kristey Williams, R-Augusta, addressed the concerns of opponents, during the hearing. As a supporter of the bill, Williams believes it will benefit students in the state.

“For most people, it doesn’t matter what kind of place they go, it’s just that they are learning,” Rep. Williams said. “It’s just about helping kids, all kids, we need all hands on deck.”

Five states have similar education savings account programs in the U.S. This includes Arizona, which was among the first to implement the program in 2011 to help at-risk students.


Area charities providing resources for the homeless in extreme temperatures

JOPLIN, Mo. — With temperatures dropping into the teens overnight — organizations are making sure the homeless are safe.

The coronavirus pandemic is not stopping nonprofits and ministries from lending a helping hand. Soul’s Harbor, Salvation Army, and Watered Garden’s Ministries are each offering different kinds of help.

Daniel Gurley, Souls Harbor, said, “You want to get as many people off the streets as possible. I know we all make bad choices sometimes, but you shouldn’t have to die for it.”

Souls Harbor is offering overflow sleeping areas to the homeless once it drops below 32 degrees at 817 Main Starting at 7 p.m. They say its important to get the homeless population off the streets — because some will resort to dangerous ways to stay warm.

“Some of the folks out there think if you drink alcohol you’ll stay warmer. The problem with that it gets dangerous because that actually lowers your body temperature.”

The Salvation Army in Joplin is offering a warming center during business hours inside their main building at 320 Main Street.

Lieutenant Marty Norris, Salvation Army, said, “There’s a lot of people that are homeless and stuck out in the cold and this gives them a chance to get out of the bitter cold and warm up for a little bit.”

Meanwhile Watered Garden’s Ministries keeps their warming center open 24/7. They say its important to stay open around the clock to get the homeless out of the cold.

James Whitford, Watered Gardens Ministries, said, “People struggling with mental health or addiction issues may not even be dressed properly to make sure their extremities are staying at the temperature that they should be. We want to make sure to preserve life. Every single life has value.”

All three shelters are enforcing coronavirus precautions including social distancing and offering hand sanitizer and masks. They all say the most important thing is to keep everyone safe.


Covid-19 vaccines and blood donations

SOUTHWEST MISSOURI — The Community Blood Center of the Ozarks is raising awareness about donating blood after getting the coronavirus vaccine.

The center says it’s safe to donate after getting the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. They are asking donors to remember which type of coronavirus vaccine they received. The Community Blood Center of the Ozarks says there is no wait time to donate after receiving the vaccine as long as you do not feel sick.

Belinda Belk, Community Blood Center of the Ozarks, said, “People need to feel well and healthy before they donate. That’s the first question we ask. We would just encourage everyone to eat properly push your fluids before you donate. Maybe give yourself a little break after the vaccine. Everyone is different.”


She says right now the need for blood is growing because donors cancel their appointments and the wintery mix on the roads causes more accidents.


SEK NOW honors ‘Wonder Woman’ Stephanie Spitz

PITTSBURG, Kan. – The Southeast Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women (SEK NOW) has awarded Stephanie Spitz the 2020 SEK Wonder Woman Award.

The annual award honors a local woman each year who works to uphold feminist ideals. Spitz is a violence prevention educator, victim advocate, and campus advisor for Students for Violence Prevention (SVP) at Pittsburg State University. Student Coordinator of SVP Kristen Horyna nominated Spitz for the honor on behalf of all the organization’s members.

“She has always been such an amazing advocate for ending violence against women, LGBTQ+ rights, and so much else,” said Horyna.

Jesse Schultze, SEK NOW board member, said, “Stephanie is one of the most altruistic people I have met. She is a strong advocate for victims of violence and has also spent years as an educator. She is an invaluable feminist in the fight for equality. I was proud to call her my colleague when we worked together, and today, I am even more proud to call her my friend.”

As the 2020 recipient of the SEK Wonder Woman award, Spitz was honored with a plaque and a $200 donation to a charity of her choice. Spitz chose Q Space, a local organization working for LGBTQ+ rights and providing a social community, resources, and support for LGBTQ+ youth, adults, and allies.

“Q Space was started here in Pittsburg by one of my friends, Ali Smith,” said Spitz. “It’s really here to help people in the community. Further, they educate the community on how to be great allies, and support people in the area, and fight for LGBTQ+ rights, which is very near and dear to my heart.”

Spitz received her plaque and ceremonial check on Saturday, February 6 at the SEK NOW annual Galentine’s Brunch.

The SEK Wonder Woman award was created in 2017.  Past recipients are Julie Huston, Brooke Powell, and Sarah Chenoweth.


Miami superintendent apologizes; explains decision keeping schools open Monday

MIAMI, Okla. – Recent weather advisories in Miami, Oklahoma have raised concerns about the safety of in person learning. So when Miami Public Schools announced they would be in session Monday morning, parents were frustrated.


Miami Public Schools will be in session Monday, February 8th!

🔵⚪️💪🏾 #AIFW #TWDW

Posted by Miami Public Schools on Monday, February 8, 2021

“It’s icy, my driveway my porch, everything was just covered in ice,” said Miami mother Heather Vana.

Although she was nervous to drive in today’s slippery conditions, she believed having her kids stay home would cause them to fall behind.

“All I was thinking is should I make that call of keeping my kids home or not,” says Vana. “And I was like I’m gonna do it because if not, my kids are going to be counted absent.”

Miami school superintendent Jeremy Hogan clarified that they want to work with students who originally stayed home

“We had families who kept kids home today which is perfectly fine,” said Hogan.

He says Monday morning he felt comfortable that the school district could get students to class safely, but once the weather took a turn so did their decision

“I apologize, it was a mistake,” confessed Hogan. “If I could roll back time we wouldn’t have had school today, but we did and we worked to ensure they were safe in the school buildings. And if we could get them home earlier in a safe manner, we would do that.”

Later that morning Hogan issued out an apology and allowed parents to pick their kids up at any time in the day, to make up for any issues that came from bringing them to school. Hogan says the district makes sure to use data from the National Weather Service, as well as from local officials to ensure they are making the safest possible decision for staff and students.

Miami Public Schools cancelled school on Tuesday.