Page 1


The Most Important News of your Week 3.9.12


Page 5 The Wine Rack reinvented

Page 14 Romeo and Juliet debuts this weekend at Rodgers

$4.5M Vote to Consolidate Neelyville Schools Flatlanders and Hil People Divided


Semo The Week in Review times “The most important news of your week” 3.9.12 Volume 4 Issue 8 100 S. Main St. Poplar Bluff, MO 573-785-2200

Staff Publisher

Scott R. Faughn

Managing Editor Tim Krakowiak

Reporter Liz Ellis

Creative Director Nicole Malinowski

Cover Photo by

Scott Faughn

It was a good week for SEMO Times Reporter Liz Ellis, who graced the front page of the DAR Thursday. The occasion marks the first time a member of the SEMO Times family has appeared above the fold since Publisher Scott Faughn circa 2001-2010. It was a good week for Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russ Oliver for bringing the Taco Bell bandits to justice.

It was a good week for Butler County office seekers. Despite the daily running a three-page article strictly on Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs seeking reelection Sunday, Van Rhodes of Poplar Bluff filed two days prior, and Wayne Gilmore of Broseley, three days beforehand (they refused to run his press release this week). And, of course, presiding Commissioner Ed Strenfel filed on opening day last week. There’s still two and a half weeks left!

It was a bad week for Mama Nature. Over 1,000 acres of private land across Wayne and Reynolds counties got burned in forest fires. We would like to than voluntary firefighters for not allowing it to turn into an Arizona situation.

It was a good week for passion regarding the students of Neelyville R-IV. No matter how you vote April 3, it’s nice to see people


voicing their opinion about the future of the school district. It was a good week for The Stage Company for taking on its first Shakespearean play. We here at thumbs won’t be missing it.

the social network from our friends at:

Kim McMullin

1. With two city incidents involving guns last week, do you believe crimes of violence are increasing in Poplar Bluff?

1. ‎With corruption, violence historically increases. 2. NO, it’s election year. There is already enough bull to see, hear & smell.

how to join our social network:

2) Are you attending the Professional Bull Riders event at the Black River Coliseum this weekend?

Tim Krakowiak

Kevin Hilderbrand

‎1) There’s always been violent crimes, but I would say, with residential/commercial growth comes a higher crime rate. Just look at any major city in Missouri.

1. We haven’t been here long enough to speak about increasing from the past but two violent crimes in a week is a lot.

2) Yes!

2. No.

1. Become a friend of SEMO Times on Facebook 2. Reply to our questions for a chance to be featured with your profile pic in the newspaper


Cover Story

SEMO Times

$4.5M vote to consolidate Neelyville Schools Flatlanders and hill people divided

by: Tim Krakowiak, Managing Editor NEELYVILLE, Mo. he Neelyville R-IV School District will attempt to pass an 86 cent tax levy increase April 3 to finance a $4.5 million campus upgrade, the first such ballot measure since voters shot down a renovation proposal by the previous administration multiple times. The school district has not passed a bond issue since 1963, the year Hill-

view Elementary was constructed along Highway The principal’s office at Neelyville 160, according to former su- flood waters. perintendent Bill Blagg. Photo by Tim krakowiak “If our kids are not that important, that’s a shame,” taxpayers have to be mindful that the said Blagg this week during one of two district would still have the expense of community meetings about what offi- liability insurance and maintenance of cials are touting as Proposition KIDS: the buildings and grounds. keep improving district schools. Project architect Ben Traxel of Dille R-IV has two school systems, one & Traxel, whose Poplar Bluff firm was in Neelyville for grades 3-12 hired by the Neelyville School Board and the other in Hillview for in December, presented a campus masyounger students. Hillview ter plan that would add 38,400 square will shut down if the proposed feet to Neelyville to accommodate the consolidation is approved next approximate 150 elementary students month, which has captured the from Hillview, plus leave some space attention of the affected com- for future growth. munities. “I’m not just some out of town guy “I understand the sentimental trying to get a project—I consider this value,” said present superin- home, and want to see the area grow,” tendent Brad Hagood, noting Traxel said. “Based on the number of that his graduating high school kids that go there (450-475), Neelyin Arkansas has since closed ville is a larger campus with more down. “If we put everything ready space and services available to aside and do what’s best for the have an immediate impact on 100 perkids, I personally don’t see how cent of the students.” people can say ‘no’ to it.” From a structural standpoint, Traxel Brad Hagood has served as If it meant voters were going said Neelyville has “some of the worst Neelyville superintendent for to pass the levy, Hagood said educational facilities in the state,” with he would consider converting two buildings beyond repair, classfive years the Hillview campus into an rooms made out of repurposed storage Photo by tim krakowiak alumni or community center closets and several buildings with outover selling the property, but door walkways under canopies to shel-


is highly susceptible to

ter students from the elements. Meanwhile Hillview has an unsafe metal building housing several classrooms externally, with no hallways. The campus also contains a library that does not meet the standards set forth by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, according to Hagood. Proponents of the previous rendering also created by Dillie & Traxel failed to pass a $1.65 million bond issue to expand the Hillview campus during four separate elections between 20052007. Under the Hagood administration, consolidating the campuses first came up during the June board meeting, after several new Neelyville candidates brought the notion up while running for the school board. In December, Clayton based investment bank PiperJaffray was hired as the district’s bond counsel to place the measure on the ballot. The school board chose to fund the project through lease purchase financing instead of is-

>>Cover Story, p 6

The Wine Rack loft opening soon

5 Column

by: Liz Ellis, Reporter


he Wine Rack, located at 1212 N. Westwood Blvd., has been undergoing renovations since January and the end is finally in sight. The biggest change to the popular restaurant is the addition of a loft or balcony section along part of the dining floor. “I would have never thought [the building] was this big,” said Michelle Mestas, a waitress at The Wine Rack. “When we first were telling people we were putting in a loft, they kept asking where we were going to put it… but there’s tons of space.” The new addition will be reserved mostly for private parties, although on weekends some customers may be seated in the upper portion as the lower dining floor fills up. The new section will have draperies which can be pulled close for a more secluded party and hopefully some local artwork on the walls. “We’re going for the same eclectic industrial feel,” owner Leesa Tilotta said. “It will be a little more intimate, but still have a similar atmosphere.” The loft section, which should seat about 40 people, will hopefully make its debut on St. Patrick’s Day, but there is still a lot that needs to be completed—a handrail for the custom-made sweeping metal staircase, carpet and draperies for the loft and stairs, lighting, artwork and furniture. Regardless, now that the staircase is in, things should go faster. “There are a lot of custom features,” Tilotta said. “[What we are doing] is pretty specific and it takes a while to pull it all together.” Despite all of the customization and the huge undertaking, the restaurant it-

Don’t be afraid of the big bad banker Don’t be afraid of the big bad banker

self was only closed for a few days—the majority of the construction has happened during weekends. “I think the customers will like it, and I think they already do,” Mestas said. “They come in to see how it’s changed, and what’s been added, and so far everybody loves it.” “We always wanted to add a loft,” Tilotta said. “…We have a lot of private parties and we really miss out because a lot of times they want it completely private. They don’t want to mingle.” The new upper section will also feature a large screen for audio and visual presentations. “It will have an awesome ambience in here with the new upstairs. It’s very exciting,” waitress Debbie Starnes said. But the new loft is not the only thing that has changed in the restaurant. The downstairs dining area has been rearranged slightly, moving the checkout counter under the stairs and clearing out a different corner at the front of the shop for the live music featured there every Friday night. Liz Ellis can be reached by emailing

As realtors, we deal with home sales daily. We literally spend our first year learning what they didn’t teach us when we studied for our real estate exam. Then we spend the rest of our years forgetting that everyone else doesn’t know all that stuff. We get in our groove and somehow assume that everyone knows everything about buying or selling a home. And nothing could be further from the truth… especially when we are talking about financing. Financing options change constantly. You have USDA, VA, conventional, and a dozen other options out there. In Poplar Bluff, we have big national banks that have branches here. We have some smaller regional banks. We have “home loan” companies. We have local banks. We have credit unions. So what is your best bet for financing a new home? That is a very easy question to answer. The answer is “it depends.” Depending on your credit score, your job time, your down payment, your previous home ownership. There are so many variables that there is no “right bank” for everyone. If there was, there

would only be one successful bank out there doing all the business. Instead, you have to find the bank that meets your needs. The bank that offers you the best interest rate and terms, based on your situation. That’s where a good real estate agent can help. We do deal with home purchases every day. We do see the different options that are out there. We will not try to steer you to a particular bank or banker. We will help you see some of your options. In fact, our first question will probably be, “Where do you bank now?” If you have established a relationship with a bank, that is often the place to start... and probably stay. Additionally, establishing that relationship is one of the key steps to buying a home that may start years before you even call a real estate agent. So don’t be afraid to ask questions. Let your real estate agent share some of his/her wisdom from their experiences with you. Don’t allow the financing side of a home purchase to scare you or intimidate. You have some great realtors in this community who will help guide you through this process and an amazing group of local bankers who you will love working with!



SEMO Times

>>Cover Story, from p 4 suing general obligation bonds, which would have held a bonding capacity of 15 percent of the $32.2 million in 2010/11 assessed valuation. Besides a simple majority vote, the advantage of the option selected is that about $100,000 in revenue would come from state assessed railroad and utility property from Butler and Ripley counties paid to the school’s capital projects fund, according to Heather Mudd, PiperJaffray vice president. “Technically the board isn’t limited to borrowing $4.5 million, but they chose to adhere to the spirit of the state’s legal limit, trying hard to keep the levy as low as possible by getting some of the revenue from other sources,” Mudd explained. “It isn’t a perfect economy, but the board feels like the improvements couldn’t wait forever, and the financing interest rates are so low,” $700,000 less over the life of the loan than in 2010.

The board added a sunset provision to the measure, meaning the additional tax would expire when the debt is paid off or after 20 years. A grant application of interest was also submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to construct a safe room. Neelyville’s tax levy is presently $2.7891, in the lowest three districts of over a dozen area schools it competes with in academics and athletics, according to a PiperJaffray study. Passage of the levy issue would increase the taxes to $3.6491 per $100 assessed valuation, bumping Neelyville to the top three districts.

OPPOSITION Several leaders with strong ties to the school district, including elected officials, do not necessary oppose the overhaul, they are against the impact the move may have on the northwest portion of the district.

State Rep. Steve Cookson of Faird- among the first students to attend the ealing, Butler County Commissioner elementary school when it opened in Jeff Darnell and Butler County Trea- 1964. He claimed the Neelyville projsurer Joe Humphrey agreed that clos- ect “does not have full support” from the district. ing Hillview would be a mistake. “Talk to any realtor, they’ll tell you “I’m not for or against any tax increase if the people vote for it,” Cook- a big selling point for real estate in this area is Hillview son said. “I just quesSchool,” Wilcut “I’m not for or against any tax said. “I’d be haption abandoning Hill- increase if the people vote for it. I py to pay twice view, when just question abandoning Hillview, the money to add it has a great when it has a great reputation of onto the Hillview rep u t atio n providing quality education to the campus, I just don’t want to put of providstudents, and is located in both the ing quality that much money education to population and geographic center into a long-term of the district.” plan in Neelythe students, ville, an area and is locat-Steve Cookson that’s declining.” ed in both A young parent the popu- Missouri House of Representatives who also resides lation and on County Road geographic 488, David Smith, obtained the most center of the district.” Wayne Wilcut, a past board member recent voting registration information who lives just north of Hillview, was from the county clerk and determined

that 1,262 of the 2,223 active voters in the district live closer to Hillview than Neelyville, which is eight miles south. Hagood argued that merging campuses in Hillview would cost a conservative three times more. “To me, the administration, the board, the teachers—this isn’t a Neelyville vs. Hillview thing,” he stated. Financial disadvantages to building onto Hillview include less acreage— the school owns about 12 acres there to 20 in Neelyville, fewer buildings and a lagoon at Hillview that presently could not withstand the extra load that the Neelyville sewer system has already been designed for, the superintendent

continued. “It’d tickle me to death to build at Hillview because it makes more sense, but not financial sense,” said board president John French, pointing out that his daughters will be close to graduating from Neelyville by the time the district gets to reap the benefits. “I’m up for reelection—vote for me or not—the board feels we done the best possible thing for the taxpayers. Tim Krakowiak can be contacted by emailing

One of two architectural renderings of the expanded Neelyville School created by Dille & Traxel LLC. Submitted Photo




10 Average Entrée Price $1-$5 = $ $5-$10=$$ $10-$15=$$$ $15-$20=$$$$

Restaurant Guide Ann’s Restaurant 15985

Hwy. 53, Qulin. Ann’s is home cookin’ at its finest, featuring catfish with daily lunch specials. 573-328-4660 $$

Applebee’s Grill & Bar

930 S. Westwood, Poplar Bluff. Applebee’s is a national chain with everything from steak to burgers with a full bar complete with happy hour specials. 573-785-0163 $$$

The Bread Company

1385 N. Westwood, Poplar Bluff. “Where Poplar Bluff does Lunch” is their slogan. The Bread Co. features salads and sandwiches and is open for breakfast. 573-7858500 $$

Buffalo Wild Wings 1429

N Westwood, Poplar Bluff. A sports bar with everything you could ask for. BWW has every game of every sport imaginable while serving up some of the best wings in the area. 573-785-9464 $$

Castello’s at the Inn 2775

N. Westwood, Poplar Bluff. Castello’s is an Italian restaurant with the finest in local cuisine. While they feature Italian, they also offer the highest end in steaks and seafood. 573-712-9090. $$$$

China Buffet 1375 N.




Chinese buffett with delivery. 573-785-9888 $

China Garden 2002 N.

Westwood, Poplar Bluff. A high end Chinese buffet with both hot and cold selections. China Garden also has a grill that serves buffet customers. They have a complete menu to order from. 573-785-4292 $$

Colton’s Steak House

2114 N. Westwood, Poplar Bluff. A real west Texas steakhouse with wild west décor and a complete menu of steaks and lunch specials. 573-686-3880 $$$

The Cow Shed 3067 S.

Westwood, Poplar Bluff. A classic area landmark featuring breakfast all day along with a full menu for lunch and dinner with the area legendary Purple Cow.573-7854051 $

El Acapulco 2260 N. West-

wood, Poplar Bluff. Finest in Mexican cuisine with daily lunch specials and full bar. Widest selection of authentic Mexican cuisine in the area. 573-776-7000 $$

Exotic Grill 1648 Harper, Poplar Bluff. “East Meets West” in this most unique restaurant where you can order the finest in Asian cuisine as well as great seafood and steaks. Be sure to make an appointment at the Hibachi

grill for a great dining experience. 573778-9044 $$$

Fazzoli’s 2501 N. Westwood, Poplar Bluff. A national chain featuring pasta with a drive through window in a great location near Three Rivers College. 573-7853588 $$

5 Star China Buffet 2035 N. Westwood, Poplar Bluff. A Chinese buffet with six food bars. 573-785-5888 $$ Grecian Steak House

Highway 67 North, Poplar Bluff. A full service menu with both a salad and food bar. 573-785-4535 $$

Hardee’s 101 S. Westwood, Poplar Bluff. National burger chain in a great location including a drive through window. 573-785-3300 $$ Hayden’s Drive-In 807 Maud, Poplar Bluff. Landmark area lunch spot featuring burgers and fries in a classic diner setting. Hayden’s also features pink lemonade not to be missed. 573-7854705 $$ Hanuman Express 111 S.

5th S., Poplar Bluff. An outstanding Chinese menu set up for carry out, located in downtown. 573-776-6801 $

Hyde-A-Way Catfish Inn

1180 Highway VV, Poplar Bluff. All you can eat catfish or shrimp. Open Fridays and Saturdays only. 573-7859200 $$$

Jim & Jerry’s Restaurant, Pub, & Billiards 336 Vine St.,

Poplar Bluff. Lunch and dinner specials with some of the finest steaks in the area. Full bar and free pool with lunch. 573-686-2006 $$

Las Margaritas 2144 N. West-

wood, Poplar Bluff. Real Mexican style cuisine featuring the best margaritas in town. Meeting room available in authentic Mexican setting. 573-686-3246 $$

Pizza Hut 1324 N. Westwood,

Poplar Bluff. Carry out or eat in where pizza is featured. Lunch buffet and salad bar anytime. 573-7859694 $$

Ryan’s Family Steakhouse 929

S. Westwood, Poplar Bluff. Buffett restaurant with nightly entrée specials. 573-778-1600 $

Shelley’s Sports Bar & Grill

Mary B’s Eatery 301 S. Main, Poplar Bluff. A downtown favorite lunch spot featuring daily specials and limited outdoor seating. 573686-3111 $

4802 West Blvd., Poplar Bluff. One of the best places in Poplar Bluff to watch a game while enjoying a full menu of Americana. From burgers to steaks to their signature wings, Shelley’s fits the bill. 573-686-9300 $$

Maya’s Mexican Restaurant

Speedy Cone Highway T, Wap-

940 S. Westwood, Poplar Bluff. The finest in authentic Mexican cuisine where you will be greeted by the friendliest staff with an authentic Mexican ambiance. 573785-7966 $$

Mike & Zach’s BBQ 1906 N.

Westwood, Poplar Bluff. World class award winning BBQ. Mike and his son Zach’s BBQ has won awards all around the world. 573712-2626 $$

Myrtle’s 109 N. Broadway. Poplar

Bluff. A downtown favorite, Myrtles features plate breakfasts and lunches along with their famous Back Alley BBQ. 573-785-9203 $

Perkin’s Restaurant & Bakery 2121 N. Westwood, Poplar

Bluff. A favorite for breakfast that also serves a full menu for lunch and dinner and is open late. Their bakery is also a local favorite. 573727-0776 $$

papello. A classic burger and fry joint, which is a longtime favorite among lake goers. 573-222-8677 $

Subway 1029 S. Westwood and 1375 N. Westwood, Poplar Bluff. Subway is famous for its healthy menu of classic sandwiches, and Poplar Bluff has two locations, one in mid-town and the other on the south side of the city. 573-7279400 $$

Taylor’s Stateline Restaurant

21710 Highway 67 S, Neelyville. One of the landmarks of the SEMO area. Taylor’s has the feel of the classic American restaurant serving up the best burger and steak menu around, but what sets Taylor’s apart is the regionally renowned Friday seafood buffet, and the home cooking Sunday afternoon buffet. 573989-3822 $$

Tio’s Mexican Bar & Grill

1135 Bess Blvd., Poplar Bluff. A Mexican restaurant located in west Poplar Bluff. 573778-0217 $$$

Westwood Billiards & Grill 2207 S. Westwood

Blvd., Poplar Bluff. Everything you are looking for in a grill can be found at Westwood Billiards. While they are known for their amazing burgers, they also have a great steak. Come for the pool, but go back for the food. 573-686-4880 $$

Crossword of the Week


Presented by


The Book Shop

1. Having auricular protuberances 2. Mild cigar 320 N. Main Street, Poplar Bluff 573-714-5642 3. Russian revolutionary leader 4. Containing divalent silver 5. Digit of the foot 6. Beth preceder 7. Actress Petty 8. A great deal 9. Ghostly 10. Uttered gratingly 11. First-stringers 12. Cost 13. European viper 21. That, in Tijuana 22. Hurler Hershiser 24. Tina’s ex 27. Heals 28. Peek follower 29. “Aladdin” monkey 30. Directional ending 31. Narrow inlet 32. Packs tight 33. CD-___ 34. Cheer for Crossword puzzles provided by Used with permission Manolete 35. Golfer Ernie 23. Pedantic 43. Flight forma37. Roman capital of Across 25. Shudder tion Palestine 1. Acclaim 26. Ref’s decision 44. Refrain 38. Shrill 47. Cloths 27. Gave a hoot 40. Essence 6. ___ well... 29. Eagle’s home 51. Entertainment 41. Ball belle 10. ___ avis 32. Descendant of 54. Burn the mid 42. Characteristics 14. Olds model Cain night oil, study43. Covered vehicle 15. Coil 44. Skill ing 33. Fish eggs 16. Not much 45. Artist Rousseau 55. The King ___ 36. ___-a-brac 17. Extent 46. Ancient 37. Christmas song 56. Tabula ___ 18. Art Deco 47. Frothy 38. Voting-pattern 57. Jewelled crown designer 48. Angry predictor worn by women 19. E-mail 49. Feels for 39. Actress Merkel 58. Worry command 50. Stylish 40. Brief 59. K-6 52. Apply powder to 20. Ashtabula’s appearance 60. Computer key oneself lake 41. Small change 61. Sardine 53. Aha! 21. Office of a 42. Head lock 57. Driver’s aid bishop Solution on pg 12



SEMO Times

Dear Joy, When my fiancée gets her… friend, everything stops. It’s the end of the world as we know it. She gets emotional, mean… ya know, all the standard symptoms… times 100. She groans in pain, she can’t do anything. I’ve said before, this happens every month. Might be a good idea to get used to it at some point. She tells me I should try being a woman. She says some ladies get it worse than others. How am I to find the patience, Joy? Is she milking it? Or am I just a cold, unsympathetic man? Mars, Poplar Bluff

A weekly advice column from a local romance expert, Ask Joy is our own version of the nationally syndicated Ask Abby. To ask Joy a relationship question, email her at, or befriend her on Facebook at Ask Joy. Names are kept confidential.

Crossword Solution

Good luck to you. -Joy


from pg 11

Mars, First let me say, I know that there are real hormonal changes that happen in our bodies. That being said, this is my personal opinion. I happen to cry easily at that time of the month. Some people do get mean or irritable. I believe many women use it as an excuse to be witches. Have you ever noticed someone can treat you bad, but if someone happens to be in the room they would want to impress, they act sweet all of a sudden? Well, that tells me you can control your behavior. If she has a boss, I would bet she acts different in front of him or her during that time of the month. As people we tend to take our frustrations out on the people we are closest to, or people we know will take our bad behavior. There is help available for her to control her attitude. If she won’t see a doctor about it, or as I think (put her big girl panties on and act like a REAL woman), then she must like being a witch to you. Umm that tells me something. Tell her she needs to read this. Then you might want to leave the house for a few hours!

Opinion & Editorial

SEMO Times


The Rambler by Gordon Johnston

Mix it up and bling it on! One of the things I love about American fashion is that it is much like America itself… a fusion of diversity. Sure… I love specific styles… classic, retro, urban, funky, country, bohemian. The list goes on and on. It’s fun to play with different styles. Fashion allows you to be whoever you want to be for the moment. That’s what makes it fun. There’s an event coming up March 31 that is right up my alley, because it’s about mixing up styles, having fun and raising money for a good cause. It’s the Denim and Diamonds Cancer Gala at Poplar Bluff’s Holiday Inn. It’s called Denim and Diamonds for a good reason. Everyone in this area loves their jeans, cowboy boots and cowboy hats… but add some bling and you’ve got a look! And the event is going to be filled with great food, great music and the great people of this area who love to have fun, and at the same time support the American Cancer Society, and all they do through research and so many programs to extend lives and save lives. I know there probably isn’t a single person in this area that hasn’t lost a family member or friend to cancer. This is a time to honor their memory and actually fight back. Research is making incredible progress. My dad died of a brain tumor over 20 years ago. He was only 52 years old, the same age I am. You don’t real-

ize how young that is until you have to imagine your life being taken at this age. Wow… I’ve got so much left to do. I know he felt the same. And he’s not the only one I’ve lost to cancer… more aunts, uncles and friends than I can count. So… this is my way of fighting back and honoring them. This is my way of saying I haven’t forgotten them, and I intend to do something about it. And this is exactly how Dad would want me to do it. He loved people, and he loved having a good time. The Denim and Diamonds Gala is the perfect venue for honoring him. Join me. Buy your tickets and come have a good time. You may have a tiny moment of sadness thinking about who you’ve lost, but it won’t last. Because you are doing something about it. That’s what they would want us to do. Enjoy our lives… and do something about it. We’re doing it for them… we’re doing it for ourselves… and we’re doing it for our children and grandchildren. It will make a difference. We can make a difference. Tammy Hilderbrand is the owner of Hilderbrand Diamond Company in Poplar Bluff, which can be found online at You can reach her by emailing tammy@

Rambling with pets A friend of mine who lives in Baton Rouge recently came up to visit her mother in Alton, Mo. Usually she travels with a friend, but the friend had other obligations, so she came with her dog, LaBelle. Having not met the dog, I don’t know what sort you would name LaBelle; I assume a little one. My friend got in on Friday evening, and “Sis” took her to an old-fashioned country auction. Everything from furniture to farm animals was for sale. In the email she sent describing the adventure, my friend wrote, “The auction was under way when we got there. The auctioneer said, ‘OK, I got two chickens and a rooster outside; what will you give me for them?’ For some reason I thought this was very funny and could not stop laughing. I guess I’m just not used to buying chickens sight unseen.” I told her I think you’re supposed to come early and check out the livestock before you go in. Anyway, I don’t know if LaBelle went to the auction, but I’m sure she would have enjoyed it. Dogs like to go places, or rather, they like hanging out with you. If you’re going, they want to go too. There’s been quite a bit of discussion lately about dogs—books, articles, television programs. Apparently we are only beginning to scratch the

surface of what our canine friends are capable of in the service of humans. It appears that dogs can smell cancer, for instance. And we still don’t know exactly how dogs came to be. One theory is that some wolves figured out that if they were nice to people instead of trying to eat them, the people would give them food. Then the humans started selecting for traits like friendliness, trainability, etc. As for evolution naysayers, if you don’t believe species can change, how did a wolf turn into a wienie dog in a matter of generations? Cats are a different story. You don’t want to travel with a cat. If you have to take one somewhere, get it ready by letting it hang out in its carrier for a few days—they like that sort of thing anyway—so that when it’s time to go, the carrier will seem like part of its home, and when you get where you are going maybe it won’t try to hide on top of the kitchen cabinets. While a dog’s ultimate loyalty is to people, a cat’s main attachment is to place. They’d prefer to stay home and sleep. A dog doesn’t care where you go as long as they can go with you. To a cat, you are just a big, lumpy piece of furniture, with an annoying habit of not staying put. Gordon Johnston is the director of library services at Three Rivers College. He can be reached by emailing


Arts & Entertainment

SEMO Times

Romeo and Juliet

premieres this Friday High hopes for Stage Company’s first Shakespearean production

by: Liz Ellis, Reporter


hen you think Shakespeare, you think tights and someone holding a skull,” director Rachel Hibler said. “But I think you will be surprised… at how quickly you get swept away in the show.” The Stage Company’s first ever Shakespeare production, ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ will open this Friday at the Historic Rodgers Theatre. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and will last about two and

a half hours—about half the length of what the actual script would be. “It was really hard to cut,” Hibler said. “I love every word of this play, and I had to be careful that it still told a story and had a purpose. And you have to keep your audience in mind.” Hibler said that her focus for the play was more to tell a character-driven story than anything. Shakespeare’s goal was to entertain, and so is Hibler’s. “When we think Shakespeare, we

Mercutio, played by JD Dunn, makes fun of Romeo while Montague kids look on. Photo by Linda Venable.

think it’s untouchable—it’s like the Bible. You don’t mess with it or expect to understand it easily. But Shakespeare wrote for the masses. He wrote the fart jokes, he wrote the drug jokes, he wrote the sex jokes and he wanted people to have access to his work,” Hibler said. And she has allowed that. The play itself is set in the 1980s, with the trademark big hair, hair music and costumes that the audience will appreciate and relate with. “I love the ‘80s theme,”

Romeo, played by Glenn Deaton, dances with Juliet, played by Vanessa Todd, at their first meeting. Photo by Linda Venable.

Arts & Entertainment said Jordan Czerwonka, who portrays language be the star, and that is really Lady Capulet. “It’s a lot of fun, and I the secret to doing Shakespeare well… think it will really help the audience knowing what you’re saying and letunderstand and relate to the story. ting the language speak to people.” ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ while a tragedy, It helps get past some of the stigma people associate with something like is also a family show, and will likely appeal to junior high children to adults. Shakespeare.” “I think the ‘80s is the perfect decade Between the bawdy humor, the bright colors, the to marry this fight scenes play to be“Really everything you and the love cause of the energy of would want in a good story, story, there is something the era and the exuber- Shakespeare put in ‘Romeo for everyone. ance and and Juliet.’” “I think the excess it will be a totally goes -Rachel Hibler, great show along with The Stage Co. to get the everything audience to in ‘Romeo open their minds and just try someand Juliet,’” Hibler said. The set and props are minimal as thing new,” said Vanessa Todd, who well—just the way Shakespeare did it. portrays Juliet in the show. “The audi“That is the thing I wanted to keep ence will have to expect to listen with true to the material—very few sound their hearts and minds to capture the cues, very few light cues, props, any- story.” “Really everything you would want thing,” Hibler explained. “You let the

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in a good story, Shakespeare put in ‘Romeo and Juliet,’” Hibler said. Romeo and Juliet will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 16 and 17, and at 2:30 p.m. March 18. Tickets may be purchased at the door and are $8 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Advance tickets are available at Southern Bank, The Book Shop, the Greater Poplar Bluff Area Chamber of Commerce and The Bread Co. There will be carnations for sale at every show for audience members to give to the cast or each other.

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Carnations will cost $1 and all proceeds go to The Stage Company. “Come see the show, because you’re going to love it,” Hibler concluded. “It’s everything I hoped it would be, and I know if you give it a chance and get past the Shakespeare, you’ll see an entertaining show with some wonderful actors.” Liz Ellis can be reached by emailing or by calling 573-785-2200.

Events from in the 573 area code

Larry Hillis Dodge PBR

Butler County Republican Caucus

The Walker Bros CD Release Party

AMC Denim & Diamonds Gala

March 9 and 10 7:30 - 10 p.m. Black River Coliseum Poplar Bluff

March 17 10 a.m.-noon Tinnin Fine Arts Center Poplar Bluff

March 17 7-8:30 p.m. Bernie High School Cafeteria Bernie

March 31 6-11 p.m. Holiday Inn Poplar Bluff

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