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U.S. Awards in Pittsburg to expand facility, holds groundbreaking

PITTSBURG, Kan. — U.S. Awards in Pittsburg, which manufactures trophies, banners, and plaques, is expanding.

A groundbreaking Wednesday, September 15, marked the beginning of construction.

The company says it is outgrowing its current facility.

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Joplin prepares for it’s city surplus auction

JOPLIN, Mo. — The City of Joplin will hold its annual Auction on Saturday, September 18, 2021, beginning at 9 a.m. The Auction will be held in the Street Maintenance Barn located northwest of the Public Works Center, 1301 West 2nd Street. Parking will be available at the Center’s parking lot.

The merchandise will be available to the public for viewing from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, September 17, and from 8 to 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 18, prior to the start of the auction.

Numerous items will be sold during the Auction, including vehicles, equipment, office furniture, computers, tools, bicycles, and various miscellaneous items.

The list of auction items is available on the City of Joplin’s website. This list is pending approval by the City Council at their September 7, 2021 meeting. If changes are made to the list during Council’s review, a new list will be posted on September 8, 2021.

Please contact Lynden Lawson, Assistant Director of Public Works for Operations, at 417-624-0820, ext. 1560, or Bob Johnson, Fleet Maintenance Supervisor, at 417-624-0820, ext. 1562 for more information.

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EPA begins cleanup project in Pittsburg

PITTSBURG, Kan. — The EPA is working to take care of lead contamination in a Pittsburg field. The field is on E. Fourth St., across from the Mission Clay Products Property.

A church owns the property and is working with the EPA and the city on the project.

It’s expected to take about two weeks.

Crews will excavate the area, backfill and then sod.

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First Responders save two people in Shell Knob, MO fire

SHELL KNOB, Mo. — The Central Crossing Fire Protection District in Shell Knob says first responders rescued two people from a fire.

Crews were called out to the home in the Stallion Bluff area for a fire.

When they arrived they were informed that two people were trapped inside.

A responding fire fighter, sheriff’s deputy and a neighbor took action and were able to rescue both people.

One of the resident’s refused medical treatment, the other was flown to the hospital.

In a news release the fire protection district said “our thanks to these men for their heroic and brave actions this evening that likely saved two lives.”

Authorities say they believe the fire was intentionally set.

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Freeman location briefly shutdown due to staffing issues

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Freeman Health System’s Webb City urgent care location was forced to shut down Tuesday, September 14, because it was understaffed.

Freeman CEO Paula Baker says it was an issue with scheduled employees not being able to work, not a health system-wide staffing shortage.

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Suicide Crisis: Ozark Center has accreditation for mental health

JOPLIN, Mo. — Freeman Health System’s Ozark Center is boasting a recent accreditation score.

High marks mean officials are “doing something right” when it comes to treating mental health.

KSN’s Jessica Schaer has more in the next part of our series — “The Suicide Crisis: Prevention, Information, and Awareness.”

“CARF stands for Commission of Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities,” said Debbie Fitzgerald, Ozark Center Dir. of Crisis Services.

The Ozark Center has been CARF accredited since May 2014, and has been renewed every 3 years — an honor since some facilities only receive one-year accreditation or no accreditation at all.

The center’s last report from October 2020 was basically spotless.

“Literally, there are accredited services in 28 locations that Ozark Center provides services. And, the exciting news was, that they found no findings or recommendations. And they cited us for having excellent conformance,” said Fitzgerald.

More than 8 thousand providers, internationally — including the Ozark Center — agree to conform to a certain set of standards through the CARF accreditation.

“What CARF really encourages us to do at Ozark Center is to strive to have excellence. And excellence in leadership, excellence in services that we provide,” said Fitzgerald.

Anywhere from 4 to 6 surveyors come to the Ozark Center and spend 3 full days sifting through how the facility operates.

“Looking through literally hundreds, if not thousands, of standards to see if we meet those in providing our services,” said Fitzgerald.

Those standards include things like educating the community, staff training, and providing safety plans to families of someone seeking mental health help.

“It pushes us to find out what’s the latest and best treatment that’s evidence -based, and then incorporate that into our services,” said Fitzgerald.

For example, the Ozark Center uses what they call an “alert banner” in a person’s medical record for any provider who accesses it.

“If somebody’s had a recent suicide attempt, you can tell that because there’s a little color on the chart, and, that way, anyone in any building that sees the individual knows to ask, how are they doing now?” said Fitzgerald.

The accreditation can be a badge of honor, but more importantly, it means someone seeking mental health can know they’re in good hands.

“Our goal is to enrich and improve the lives of those that we serve, at any location, with any difficulty they may be having,” said Fitzgerald.

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 our website — under our “suicide crisis” tab.

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Veterans memorial to be built at Seneca City Hall

JOPLIN, Mo. — And White also made a trip, south, to Seneca today.

He took part in a ground breaking ceremony for a new veterans memorial.

The plan is to build it on the front lawn of City Hall. The 22 thousand dollar project is funded entirely by private donations.

Veteran and longtime Seneca school teacher, Lee Hall, came up with the idea two years ago.

“Brock and Bard Construction” is the company in charge. It’s a veteran-owned and operated business based in Joplin.

“As a veteran being a part of this is just the most amazing feeling in the world. To be able to show how grateful we are for veterans and being a veteran to show my fellow veterans just how much of a sacrifice everybody has made and everybody in this community really cares,” said Brock Dodson, Brock & Bard Construction Owner / Veteran.

“It feels great. I’ve been waiting for this for two years. It feels great,” said Lee Hall, Former Seneca School Teacher / Veteran
“How will you feel when it’s done?”
“Better than great — laughs — how’s that?” said Hall.

Officials plan to have a ribbon cutting ceremony for the memorial on Veterans Day — which is Thursday, November 11th.

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Apple fixes security hole reportedly used to hack an iPhone

BOSTON (AP) — Apple released a critical software patch to fix a security vulnerability that researchers said could allow hackers to directly infect iPhones and other Apple devices without any user action.

Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab said the security issue was exploited to plant spyware on a Saudi activist’s iPhone. They said they had high confidence that the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire firm, Israel’s NSO Group, was behind that attack.

The previously unknown vulnerability affected all major Apple devices — iPhones, Macs and Apple Watches, the researchers said. NSO Group responded with a one-sentence statement saying it will continue providing tools for fighting “terror and crime.”

It was the first time a so-called “zero-click” exploit — one that doesn’t require users to click on suspect links or open infected files — has been caught and analyzed, the researchers said. They found the malicious code on Sept. 7 and immediately alerted Apple. The targeted activist asked to remain anonymous, they said.

“We’re not necessarily attributing this attack to the Saudi government,” said researcher Bill Marczak.

Citizen Lab previously found evidence of zero-click exploits being used to hack into the phones of al-Jazeera journalists and other targets, but hasn’t previously seen the malicious code itself.

Although security experts say that average iPhone, iPad and Mac user generally need not worry — such attacks tend to be limited to specific targets — the discovery still alarmed security professionals.

Malicious image files were transmitted to the activist’s phone via the iMessage instant-messaging app before it was hacked with NSO’s Pegasus spyware, which opens a phone to eavesdropping and remote data theft, Marczak said. It was discovered during a second examination of the phone, which forensics showed had been infected in March. He said the malicious file causes devices to crash.

Citizen Lab says the case reveals, once again, that NSO Group is allowing its spyware to be used against ordinary civilians.

In a blog post, Apple said it was issuing a security update for iPhones and iPads because a “maliciously crafted” PDF file could lead to them being hacked. It said it was aware that the issue may have been exploited and cited Citizen Lab.

In a subsequent statement, Apple security chief Ivan Krstić commended Citizen Lab and said such exploits “are not a threat to the overwhelming majority of our users.” He noted, as he has in the past, that such exploits typically cost millions of dollars to develop and often have a short shelf life. Apple didn’t respond to questions regarding whether this was the first time it had patched a zero-click vulnerability.

Users should get alerts on their iPhones prompting them to update the phone’s iOS software. Those who want to jump the gun can go into the phone settings, click “General” then “Software Update,” and trigger the patch update directly.

Citizen Lab called the iMessage exploit FORCEDENTRY and said it was effective against Apple iOS, MacOS and WatchOS devices. It urged people to immediately install security updates.

Researcher John Scott-Railton said the news highlights the importance of securing popular messaging apps against such attacks. “Chat apps are increasingly becoming a major way that nation-states and mercenary hackers are gaining access to phones,” he said. “And it’s why it’s so important that companies focus on making sure that they are as locked down as possible.”

The researchers said it also undermines NSO Group’s claims that it only sells its spyware to law enforcement officials for use against criminals and terrorists and audits its customers to ensure it’s not abused.

“If Pegasus was only being used against criminals and terrorists, we never would have found this stuff,” said Marczak.

Facebook’s WhatsApp was also allegedly targeted by an NSO zero-click exploit. In October 2019, Facebook sued NSO in U.S. federal court for allegedly targeting some 1,400 users of the encrypted messaging service with spyware.

In July, a global media consortium published a damning report on how clients of NSO Group have been spying for years on journalists, human rights activists, political dissidents, and people close to them, with the hacker-for-hire group directly involved in the targeting. Amnesty International said it confirmed 37 successful Pegasus infections based on a leaked targeting list whose origin was not disclosed.

One case involved the fiancee of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi just four days after he was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The CIA attributed the murder to the Saudi government.

The recent revelations also prompted calls for an investigation into whether Hungary’s right-wing government used Pegasus to secretly monitor critical journalists, lawyers and business figures. India’s parliament also erupted in protests as opposition lawmakers accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of using NSO Groups’ product to spy on political opponents and others.

France is also trying to get to the bottom of allegations that President Emmanuel Macron and members of his government may have been targeted in 2019 by an unidentified Moroccan security service using Pegasus. Morocco, a key French ally, denied those reports and is taking legal action to counter allegations implicating the North African kingdom in the spyware scandal.

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Hundreds show to watch rare corpse flower bloom at University of Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. — There’s a rare flower at the University of Kansas that only blooms for a single day once every decade.

A line with at least 200 people long stretched down a KU hallway. No they weren’t there for tickets to see basketball but to see a flower in bloom the size of one.

“We drove from Kansas City so it was about a 50 minute drive to come look,” said Jennifer Edwards. “But something that happens this rare I wanted to make sure we came and looked at it.”

It’s called the corpse flower, because of its pungent smell described as a mix of Limburger cheese, garlic, rotting fish or flesh, and smelly feet.

“I came in at 12:30 to pollinate it and at that point I could smell it from outside the building, so I just breathed through my mouth the whole time I was in here,” KU’s Greenhouse Manager Sam Sumpert said.

Sumpert has been tending to the flower also called the Titan Arum and waiting for it to bloom. It’s a long wait, often a decade or more, though this smaller 4 foot flower was ready after about 8 years.

“This is way more than what I was expecting initially,” he said. “I kind of just threw it out there initially and people were demanding updates three times a day, I was getting emails 100 times a day.”

When the greenhouse opened Monday at 8 a.m. people flocked into the greenhouse for a picture of the corpse flower in bloom, or to take a whiff. Its smell faded throughout the day, but not the enthusiasm, with at least a thousand visitors also getting a chance to name the rare flower.

“Any opportunity to see something like this in Lawrence, Kansas is just so neat, so incredible, it’s just a privilege,” Cecilia Roberts, a corpse flower fan, said.