News to Know: Carl Junction cancels school, Carthage voters to decide $18 million school bond

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. – The Carl Junction School district announces it’s cancelling classes for the rest of the week. Officials say student and staff attendance has gotten so low due to covid, they can’t stay open. The district says the days missed this week will not be made up later in the year.

COLUMBUS, Kan. – A jump in covid cases across the 4-States has caused many schools to go virtual over the past week, But, the Columbus School district tells us they haven’t seen enough covid spread among students to do that. They say the recent spread has been affecting staff. That, combined with a shortage of substitute teachers, has been a challenge, and staff members who are not sick have had to fill-in all over. The superintendent says this is all an effort to keep school safe and in person.

CARTHAGE, Mo. – The Carthage School Board takes the next step aimed at getting a new performing arts center on the high school campus. The board has approved the language for an 18-million dollar school bond proposal to fund the project. The proposal would extend the current tax levy. Voters will decide the issue on April 5th.

JOPLIN, Mo. – A special night for many preschoolers in the Joplin area on Wednesday who were introduced to basketball. The Little Dribblers Program is sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Missouri. Classes focus on developing various basketball skills and having self confidence. Little Dribblers is open to children 3 to 4 years old. The cost is $38 per child.

SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: How do you deal with stress? Some of us find a quiet place, while others prefer to talk to someone. Exercising and entertainment can be outlets for stress as well. What’s your trick? Join the KOAM Facebook discussion and weigh in on our KOAM InstaPoll @ koamnewsnow.com/vote.



Delaying Surgery During COVID: Hazardous to Your Health?

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — A recent study found that 53 percent of people surveyed said their bone, joint, and muscle issues have worsened since the COVID lockdown, and many of these patients have put off surgery to fix their pain. But postponing procedures may lead to a serious backlog for doctors. Ivanhoe explains.

Judy McCormack has always been active. But constant hip pain was interfering with her on-the-go lifestyle.

“Cancelled ski trips and wasn’t able to get my leg up over my bike like I wanted to,” shared Judy.

She needed a hip replacement and doctors told her the news in the middle of the COVID pandemic. Judy decided to go ahead with the procedure after taking a few precautions.

“I was very concerned about being vaccinated before,” Judy continued.

Richard Berger, MD, Hip & Knee Replacement Surgeon, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush says Judy was smart not to wait. Delaying hip or knee surgery can worsen arthritis and lead to a longer rehab. But patients and hundreds of U.S. hospitals have put elective surgeries on hold because of COVID. Researchers predict the number of hip replacements to double and the number of knee replacements to increase at least five-fold in the next decade. A study in the Lancet found the U.S. should expect a backlog of more than one million joint and spinal surgeries by mid-2022. Dr. Berger says if you’re experiencing pain, don’t wait to schedule your surgery. And if you’re worried about going into a hospital, don’t be.

“It’s probably the safest environment to go into. Safer than the grocery store. Safer than the gas station. Everyone here has been tested and vaccinated. It is really the safest place you could possibly be,” said Dr, Berger.

Judy is happy she had surgery when she did and is now back to her active self.

“I would just say if you can get in, get it done sooner than later, you won’t regret it,” said Judy.

If your surgery is postponed, there are some ways to help you cope with the pain. Using an aid, like a walker or cane, may help alleviate the discomfort. You can also try over-the-counter pain relievers or applying heat and ice to the affected joint.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.


Columbus school staff busier than usual amid rising Covid cases

COLUMBUS, Kan.–Rising Covid-19 cases in the community have caused Columbus superintendent Brian Smith to become a triple threat:

Superintendent, principal… and substitute teacher.

“It gets pretty serious when the superintendent has to substitute. But I’ve had to do that and I’ve enjoyed it too,” Smith said.

He says the need to fill in really picked up last week when more staff were staying home due to Covid-19.

“We had staff start calling in, but our people have been amazing and they’ve stepped up and they filled whatever voids we’ve had and we’ve been able to keep school going, so I’m proud.”

While the district hasn’t had many issues with students becoming sick, the current spread of Covid has affected their teaching staff, even their substitutes.

“Well, we’ve had of course staff that came down with it or some of our substitutes actually have come down with it. We’ve had several who just got back from having to go through the protocols of Covid, but they’ve come back and subbed for us. so yeah, that’s been a big problem”

The need for substitutes keeps subs like Maggie Mooney busy. In addition to being a substitute for the Columbus School District, she also works with Galena, Riverton, and Baxter Springs, so she’s seen firsthand the hardships schools are facing right now with staffing.

“It’s hard”, she said. “It’s hard on secretaries, it’s hard on kids, it’s hard on the teachers, it’s hard on the principals, everybody, it’s just hard.”

Although for Mooney, she’s ready for whatever the schools may throw at her.

“I can see where people don’t like being called at 7:00 in the morning and say, ‘can you be here by 8:00?’ But I just take it. that’s just the way that day is going to be, and go with the flow.”

Mooney said she loves her job, especially when she can see the positive impact firsthand.

“You know, it’s so rewarding. It’s when a child sees you and says, ‘oh, I’m so glad you’re here for us today and it’s the students. I’ve seen a big change in them. they thank us for being here as a sub and that didn’t happen before covid. you were just, you know, you were just here. but are you going to be back again tomorrow? and Mrs. Mooney who will you be tomorrow? and thank you so much for coming today,’ and that just makes your day, it truly does.”

Superintendent Smith also said that despite it being more difficult to keep normal school operations going, they believe they’ll get through this sometime in the future.


UPDATE: "Betty White Challenge" brings in nearly $15K for local animal shelters

JOPLIN, Mo. — Local animal shelters are feeling the love after donations in the name of Betty White have totaled almost $15,000 for the area.

The Joplin Humane Society received $6,600 and at least a thousand pounds of dog food.

Golden Paw received $1,600 and an abundance of food and blanket donations. More than $2,500 were donated to the Carthage Humane Society.

And in Kansas — the SEK Humane Society raised $4,000 to pay for surgeries, medication and other treatments for its shelter animals.

JOPLIN, Mo. — Today, January 17th, would have been a milestone for Betty White had she not passed away recently.

She would have turned 100 years old.

Fans of the actress are donating either money, supplies, or their time at Humane Societies across the country in honor of the beloved entertainer. Among them, Sheila Miller, who made a contribution at the Joplin Humane Society.

“We brought in some dog food and some cat food in honor of Betty White. Today would have been her 100th birthday. She was a huge animal activist, and we heard on Facebook that as a suggestion to honor her memory, was to come in and donate. So we chose today,” said Miller.

“Celebrities can play a big role in advocating for animals, homeless pets, spay and neuter programs, things like that. When they take their platform and they use that to promote these things, it is a huge benefit to those animals in need,” said Tianna Fisher, Humane Society Shelter Services Manager.

If you’d like to make a donation in White’s honor to the Joplin Humane Society, you can follow this link to their website.


Employers planning for big raises in 2022, survey finds

(NewsNation Now) — New data shows companies are doing more to keep employees happy, including putting more money in their pocketbooks.

A new survey by Willis Towers Watson shows that nearly a third of the more than 1,000 U.S. companies involved in the study are planning to bump up salaries from last year.

So how do you leverage this opportunity to earn more money in 2022?

“Raise your hand and say, ‘Boss, I’d like to earn more and I think I’m worth it,” Rebecca Knight, senior correspondent for Insider, said during an appearance on “Morning in America.” “A lot of people are doing it right now.”

We know that the “Great Resignation” is taking place. In November, the latest month for which figures are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.5 million people voluntarily left their jobs.

“One of the biggest reasons they’re doing so is to make more money,” Knight said.

According to Knight, employees got about a 2.8% salary bump last year. At the beginning of 2022, companies were considering about a 3% raise, but are now looking at about 3.4%.

“People are leaving their jobs in droves,” Knight said. “And companies are falling all over themselves to make sure their employees stay, to attract and retain the people they’ve got.”

Cost of living increases are normally around 3%, so companies might have to do a little better than that, especially with the inflation rates that we’re seeing.

But to keep and hire the best talent, is the money enough?

“So right now, it’s not working,” Knight said. “And it’s not working by a long shot because employees during this global pandemic — that has been pretty undeniably horrible for everyone — employees have really done a lot of soul searching and reflection and thinking they want more out of their lives, out of their careers. So they don’t just want the money.”

Of course, the money doesn’t hurt, but employees “want flexibility,” Knight said. “They want autonomy. They want to feel like the work that they’re doing matters. They want to feel purpose. They want to feel a connection with, not only with their colleagues but with their organizations.”

So employers have got their work cut out for them right now as we seem to be at a turning point in the marketplace, where employers are having to pay attention to the desire of their employees to want to make the world a better place while at work.

“We realize what we want out of our lives and I think employers if they are going to hold onto us and get the best out of us, they’re going to need to connect their mission, what they do, to what we’re searching for,” Knight said.

Watch the full interview with Rebecca Knight in the video player at the top of the page.


Nearly 300K deer harvested during Missouri's hunting season

ST. LOUIS — Hunters harvested 293,670 deer during Missouri’s 2021-2022 deer hunting season, according to the state’s Department of Conservation.

Of the deer harvested, 143,049 were antlered bucks, 26,599 were button bucks, and 124,022 were does. The top harvest counties for the season were Franklin with 6,392 deer harvested, Texas with 5,478, and Callaway with 5,452.

“We’ve seen an increasing trend in statewide deer harvest for about the past eight years,” said Missouri Department of Conservation cervid program supervisor Jason Isabelle.

“The deer population has continued to increase across much of southern Missouri at the same time that we’ve seen a population recovery in most of the counties impacted by the severe hemorrhagic disease outbreak that occurred in 2012,” he added.

While this past year’s harvest total was about 3% above the previous five-year average, it still fell slightly behind last year’s mark. Hunters harvested 297,214 deer during the 2020-2021 deer hunting season.

The deer hunting season ended on Jan. 15 with the close of the archery season. Preliminary data from the Department of Conversation shows hunters checked 60,834 deer, making it the third-highest archery deer harvest on record. St. Louis was among the top counties for the archery season, with 1,368 deer harvested.


Ford recalls 200,000 cars over brake light problem

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling about 200,000 cars in the U.S. to fix a problem that can stop the brake lights from turning off.

The recall covers certain 2014 and 2015 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ midsize cars as well as some 2015 Mustangs.

All were sold or registered in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Hawaii.

High temperatures and humidity can cause a rubber brake pedal part to disintegrate, keeping the lights on, confusing other drivers and increasing the risk of a crash.

Drivers with automatic transmissions also can shift out of “park” gear without having their foot on the brake.

Dealers will replace brake and clutch pedal bumpers. Owners will be notified by mail starting March 3.


U.S. allows teens to drive big rigs in new pilot program

(AP) – The federal government is moving forward with a plan to let teenagers drive big rigs from state to state in a test program.

Currently, truckers who cross state lines must be at least 21 years old, but an apprenticeship program required by Congress to help ease supply chain backlogs would let 18-to-20-year-old truckers drive outside their home states.

The pilot program, detailed Thursday in a proposed regulation from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, would screen the teens, barring any with driving-while-impaired violations or traffic tickets for causing a crash.

But safety advocates say the program runs counter to data showing that younger drivers get in more crashes than older ones. They say it’s unwise to let teenage drivers be responsible for rigs that can weigh 80,000 pounds and cause catastrophic damage when they hit lighter vehicles.

The apprenticeship pilot program was required by Congress as part of the infrastructure bill signed into law Nov. 15. It requires the FMCSA, which is part of the Transportation Department, to start the program within 60 days.

The American Trucking Associations, a large industry trade group, supports the measure as a way to help with a shortage of drivers. The group estimates that the nation is running over 80,000 drivers short of the number it needs, as demand to move freight reaches historic highs.

Under the apprenticeship, younger drivers can cross state lines during 120-hour and 280-hour probationary periods, as long as an experienced driver is in the passenger seat. Trucks used in the program have to have an electronic braking crash mitigation system, a forward facing video camera, and their speeds must be limited to 65 mph.

After probation, they can drive on their own, but companies have to monitor their performance until they are 21. No more than 3,000 apprentices can take part in the training at any given time.

The FMCSA must reach out to carriers with excellent safety records to take part in the program, according to the Transportation Department.

The program will run for up to three years, and the motor carrier agency has to turn in a report to Congress analyzing the safety record of the teen drivers and making a recommendation on whether the younger drivers are as safe as those 21 or older. Congress could expand the program with new laws.

The test is part of a broader set of measures from the Biden administration to deal with the trucker shortage and improve working conditions for truck drivers.

In a statement, Nick Geale, vice president of workforce safety for the trucking associations, noted 49 states and Washington, D.C., already allow drivers under 21 to drive semis, but they can’t pick up a load just across a state line.

“This program creates a rigorous safety training program, requiring an additional 400 hours of advanced safety training, in which participants are evaluated against specific performance benchmarks,” Geale said. The program will ensure that the industry has enough drivers to meet growing freight demands, he said.

But Peter Kurdock, general counsel for Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, said federal data shows that younger drivers have far higher crash rates than older ones. “This is no surprise to any American who drives a vehicle,” he said.

Putting them behind the wheel of trucks that can weigh up to 40 tons when loaded increases the possibility of mass casualty crashes, he said.

Kurdock said the trucking industry has wanted younger drivers for years and used supply chain issues to get it into the infrastructure bill. He fears the industry will use skewed data from the program to push for teenage truckers nationwide.


Fairland man sentenced to 35 years in fatal shooting

MIAMI, Okla. – A Fairland man received a 35-year sentence for fatally shooting the son of his former girlfriend.

Edwin Deaver Ball, Jr., 50 entered guilty pleas in Ottawa County District Court in November to murder in the first degree – deliberate intent, shooting with intent to kill, and assault and battery with a deadly weapon.

Ball’s conviction stems from a 10-hour standoff in March 2020, where he fatally shot Brendan Van Zwell, 25  Ball also shot and injured Van Zwell’s uncle and an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper. The trooper was struck by a pellet or shrapnel and sustained an eye injury.

He appeared in court on Tuesday where the court handed down a life sentence on all three charges and ordered him to serve 35 years with the balance suspended, according to online court records. All three sentences are to run concurrently.

A restitution hearing is set for Feb. 8.


Missouri Governor orders flags to half-staff in honor of fallen St. Louis firefighter

ST. LOUIS–State and national flags at firehouses and elsewhere across Missouri will be flown at half-staff Thursday in memory of Benjamin James Polson, the St. Louis firefighter who died on duty January 13 while fighting a fire in Hamilton Heights.

On Wednesday, Governor Mike Parson has ordered that all U.S. and Missouri flags at all government buildings in the city of St. Louis, the Fire Fighter’s Memorial of Missouri in Kingdom City and firehouses across the state on Thursday.

A public visitation is set at Kutis Funeral Home from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Overflow parking and shuttle service will be available from nearby Grant’s Farm. A funeral mass open to the public is set for 10 a.m. Thursday at the Cathedral Basilica. An inurnment at Resurrection Cemetery in Affton is scheduled after the funeral mass.

“Benjamin Polson was a second-generation firefighter with the St. Louis Fire Department who cared about the people with whom he served and those in the community whose lives he touched each day,” Governor Parson said in a news release Wednesday. “Firefighter Polson died in the line of duty, willingly taking on risks in a highly dangerous profession so that others in St. Louis could be safer. He will always be remembered as an honorable, dedicated public servant who made the ultimate sacrifice because of his commitment to the well-being of others.”