Area employer provides second chances

JOPLIN, Mo. — It’s not all that unusual to see area restaurants displaying help wanted signs. But one may have found a solution to the manpower shortage. In fact, in this instance, you could say it’s simple.

Many of the employees of the Simple Simon’s restaurant on St. Louis and Broadway in Joplin have something in common. It’s called a 2nd chance.

Rose Greenfeather, Simple Simon’s Employee, said, “This place has helped me tremendously.”

An example is Rose Greenfeather who’s about to celebrate her 4th anniversary of working at the restaurant and her fifth anniversary of being clean and sober. She can’t say enough about the couple who owns and operates the business for taking a chance on her and others in the same situation.

“It can be hard for people in recovery or people coming out of incarceration to maintain a job just because people are very judgmental and so I think it’s helped us a lot because we do have so many people in recovery here that people feel comfortable and we surround our people with you know we just support them and pray over them and encourage them.”

Jennifer Johnson, Owner, Manager, Simple Simon’s Pizza, said, “When Mike and I bought the restaurant we kind of wanted it to be an outreach and community and community service, geared towards helping people.”

Johnson says the vast majority of the employees they give a 2nd chance to, not only work out, but become some of their best employees.

“Rose is my family, definitely, I actually, every one of my employees I really feel is part of my family, and we have a family atmosphere here so we all try to work for each other and towards helping each other when somebody’s going through something they’re all welcomed to call me.”


Mental health as first aid

JOPLIN, Mo. — A unique skill set is changing how many approach a mental health emergency. It’s designed to help the average person know what to do for someone in crisis, before they can get that person to a mental health professional.

In the next part of our series The Suicide Crisis: Prevention, Information, and Awareness, we learn more about mental health first aid.

Freeman Health Ozark Center’s Community Support Specialist Kevin Walker is teaching a handful of participants about what’s known as mental health first aid.

Kevin Walker, Ozark Center Community Support Specialist, said, “Mental health first aid helps people to become aware and knowledgeable on what to do in a psycological crisis. A mental health crisis.”

It’s a program that began in Australia in the early 2000’s. It’s been especially prominent in the Joplin community since the 2011 tornado.

“A program like this, to help people respond — community members who may have no training in mental health whatsoever.”

David Auernheimer, Class Participant, said, “More recently I came across a young mother, and her boyfriend, and two young children.”

David Auernheimer is a U.S. Forest Service Senior Firefighter and knows how helpful this skillset can be.

David Auernheimer, Class Participant, said, “I just got renewel of my CPR and First Aid, and a lot of people take that and that’s for your body. Why wouldn’t we want to also have first aid for the mind?”

Ozark Center Employee Belinda Kirkland is also participating in the class.

Belina Kirkland, Class Participant, said, “I think it’s all about understanding who the person is, what’s they’re going through and how you can help them.”

“There has been and continues to be a stigma attached to people who have mental health problems or who are experiencing mental health problems,” said Walker.

Walker says that’s one of the goals — to nonjudgementally understand what someone in crisis is going through, then actively use those first aid skills.

“We really want people to think about the use of language, how that impacts somebody who may have a mental health issue.”

“Knowing the signs. Knowing what available treatment is out there,” said Kirkland.

Think of an analogy to CPR.

“Just like the person performing CPR out in the community probably isn’t a doctor, right? They’re performing some life saving procedures until the ambulance can get there, or the emergency responders can get there, and get that person to the hospital for the help that they do need,” said Walker.

Similarly, someone trained in mental health first aid can get a person in crisis the help they need.

“Just knowing that somebody is there that is aware of what’s going on can be extremely calming, as well.”

If you know anyone struggling with their mental health and they need someone to talk to, we urge you to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-talk. We also have more resources for you on four states home page dot com — just search for our suicide crisis tab.


Joplin City Council holds work session

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin City Council is reviewing its list of projects for 2021.

City council heard the reviews of ideas from citizens committees. The groups came up with suggestions about which projects are most important.

Nick Edwards, City Manager, said, “I think Joplin as a community could use a space like Memorial Hall.”

The Finance Oversight Committee reviewed the feasibility study for Memorial Hall. They decided a community center facility is important for the city.

“The next step ultimately will be put to voters to decide as to whether or not they want to renovate Memorial Hall with an addition through property tax. I heard from the community and one of the things the city has a need for is entertainment.”

If the renovation is approved — the committee wants to have a way to finance non-routine maintenance. They also want the city council to allocate funding to create more parking. One of the recommended parks projects is to install security lighting and cameras at eleven parks.

“There were a lot of comments from the community that they would like our parks to feel safer. So by adding lighting and cameras thats one way to deliver that.”

The city will now prepare ballot information for the parks and stormwater sales tax renewal. Next Monday City Council members will vote on the proposed ballots.


SMB makes donation towards Duquesne city park

SOUTHWEST MISSOURI — A local community is one step closer to its dreams of having a city park coming true.

Southwest Missouri Bank presented the city of Duquesne with a $10,000 check for the park at this evening’s city council meeting. Plans are for the park to be located right next to city hall and include a playground, splash pad, and walking trail. This isn’t the first time the bank has given to the city — they’ve also donated property for road expansions.

Tracy Crider, Senior Vice President/Branch Manager, Southwest Missouri Bank Duquesne Branch, said, “Southwest Missouri Bank really enjoys partnering with our communities — especially our small communities. We try to do a lot for their citizens and we’re always happy to help, whether it’s with people or money or other type of donations.”

Plans are for the park to also include a memorial for those who lost their lives in the 2011 tornado.


National Nurses Week

JOPLIN, Mo. — It’s National Nurses Week — and Freeman Health System is celebrating by giving its nurses a day of pampering.

Food, therapy dogs, giveaways, and even a massage were on the agenda for nurses this afternoon. Nursing leaders say it’s more important than ever to give back to their staff — especially in the uncharted territory of the covid-19 pandemic.

Jeanee Kennedy, Chief Nursing Officer, said, “Our nurses have worked incredibly hard over the last 12-plus months. Under really hard circumstances, they come to work and they give their all every single shift, so this is an opportunity for our nursing leadership and our organization to give back to them to show them how much we’ve appreciated everything that they’ve done for our community, our patients and our organization over the last 12 months.”

The American Nurses Association’s theme for this year is excelling, leading and innovating.


Southwest Missouri teachers recognized in Golden Apple awards

JOPLIN, Mo. — Four teachers in the Joplin School District are being recognized for their hard work.

This afternoon the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce announced its 2021 Golden Apple Award Recipients.

The winners are Stephanie reither from Cecil Floyd Elementary, Kathy Nicodemus from Irving Elementary, Cheryl Sieber from North Middle School and Syeda Greenlee from Joplin High School were given a crystal apple.

Reither has been a teacher for 22 years and was nominated several times — but this is her first win.

Stephanie Reither, Cecil Floyd Elementary Teacher, said, “Its been a long time and I just want to dedicate this for my family and my grandmother especially who taught kindergarten her whole life and wasn’t recognized in any kind of way.”

This year the twelve finalists were given a $140 gift card for their hard work. The donation was in honor of Kathleen Keisner who was a former teacher and Golden Apple nominee.


Miami restaurants recognized for giving walls

MIAMI, Okla. – From chicken and waffles to fried pickles and even a cheeseburger with fries, everyone can get something good even if they can’t pay.

“It’s already paid for,” says Lacey Perry, co-owner of Zack’s Cafe in Miami.

That’s all because of the generosity of others — something that’s made a big impact in the community.

“We probably get 30 put up a day and 20 pulled down in a day,” explains Perry.

In February, Lacey and Zack Perry started a giving wall at the cafe after one of her friends saw a similar idea on Facebook. The way the giving wall works is pretty simple. Customers and people in the community can pay for meals and the receipts are put on the giving wall so that someone else can get those meals without worrying about paying.

Perry explains that in just a few short months, more than 400 meals have been put on the wall.

“I knew our community would support it. Everything that we all try to get together on always works really well,” says Perry. “But for average joes that are just coming in and eating, I didn’t think it was gonna get that big. But it has blown up. We have people who will come travel route 66 just to travel, and they’ll come in and eat and buy four or five tickets just because they thought it was cool.”

It’s blown up at The Dawg House as well. Just in the few months since it was set up in February, owner Jennifer White explains around a thousand meals have been put on the wall.

“It’s been exciting. I had to expand to a second wall,” says White.

That’s roughly ten thousand dollars… all going to people in need.

“Nobody had to give. Nobody is forced to. And they’ve just gone above and beyond to take care of their neighbors,” explains White.

But they aren’t the only restaurants with giving walls. Montana Mike’s, also in Miami, also started a wall in February. And Hi Way Cafe in Vinita was not far behind.

“I hope it continues to stick around. And not just that but hopefully give people other good ideas. I wanna know how we can help next,” says White.

It’s because of that generosity that The Dawg House and Zack’s Cafe were officially recognized by the state. On Saturday (5/8), they were given official citations from the state house of representatives.

“I’m really just thankful that everyone’s seeing all the hard work that all of us little restaurants are doing and I just hope that more people jump on,” explains Perry.

But they aren’t taking all the credit, saying that none of it would be possible without the generosity of their small town.

“It just speaks volumes about how awesome our town is,” says White. “I hope our town keeps continuing to be amazing.”

The giving walls at Zack’s Cafe and The Dawg House have also benefited from donations from people all over the country, and even as far away as Australia and Germany.


Humane Society of the US releases “Horrible Hundred” report


The Humane Society of the United States releases an annual report, highlighting 100 problem puppy sellers in the country.

The 2021 Horrible Hundred report says Missouri tops the list, with 21 puppy sellers. Kansas has seven on the list.

Locally, in Neosho, Missouri, the report details when a dog at J and K Puppies LLC and Puppy Travelers was found lethargic and with dried mucus around it’s nostrils.

In Oronogo, Missouri, the report says dogs at Darin Miller/ David Miller Kennel “appeared to have barely enough room to turn around, no space to run and play, and very little headroom in their small hutches.” The report says the USDA has not inspected the facility since 2019.

And it details dogs at Whispering Oaks Kennel in Coffeyville, Kansas, were photographed in crowded enclosures.

None of these businesses have been cited by the USDA.

You can read the full report here: https://www.humanesociety.org/sites/default/files/docs/2021_HorribleHundred.pdf


Independence Police identify body found in house fire

INDEPENDENCE, Kan. — The Independence Police Department’s arson investigator was called to a house fire on the 500 block of N 24th at 9 am on Friday, May 7.  There was a body located inside the home.  The victim is believed to have been identified.  IPD is not announcing the victim’s name to give family time to notify other family members.  IPD investigators have not found any indication of criminal activity at this time.  The state fire marshal responded to the scene.

A link to our previous story on this fire can be found here.