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Military Family


Honeymoon de Troutman


Heart Month


e v o L l Rea


On With The Show


Happy Valentine’s Day Grant Baker 101 E. Olive Aurora, MO 417-678-5404


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ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 3


TRUE LOVE Are You Tough Enough For It?


e have two very special stories in our February Connection Magazine that we are sharing with our very special readers. The first one, written by Melonie Roberts, is one that features the Briggs family and envelopes love, family and the military. This interested me very much as I have lived this life, and it is not an easy one. Cameron and Kara (Kirsch) Briggs are both friends of mine and were former employees at The Monett Times many years ago — long before they even thought about becoming a couple. It was a lot of fun watching them evolve as a couple, dating, and growing together. I can remember the shyness of the new love that they shared. If I remember correctly, they both liked each other, but were too shy to pursue a date. I believe the newspaper crew kind of pushed the situation, but maybe I’m wrong. It’s February, the month of love, so I will let our crew take credit for it. As you will read, the rest is history. They married, had a family and Kara is employed at Cox-Monett Hospital and Cameron is in the military, and has been for quite some time. This makes Kara a dependent, which is what I was, but she is very blessed as she is close to her family and has a lot of help from her family, especially her mother. I was in other states and at one time spent a couple of years in West Germany. I even gave birth to my youngest child in Frankfurt, Germany. No matter where you are, when you are separated in that aspect, it is hard to keep your family together as normally as possible, but I will give Cameron and Kara kudos; they are doing just about as good of a

job as anyone I know. Even better than some that I know that don’t have to separate for a good reason. The Briggs know what it means to be a family, but Cameron also knows what it means to protect our country. Kara understands that, respects that, and they work it out. That, my friends, is love! Is it easy? No, it certainly is not, and I hope you enjoy the story of their family, and maybe, just maybe, it will tug a little at your heart during this month of love. And if you get that box of candy on Feb. 14 from your love, you will think of the Veterans, male or female, that cannot share their love in person, but the significant other has no doubt that they love them. Thank you Cameron and Kara for sharing your story. Now for our other story, it is kind of a surprise for our constant readers, written by Jordan Troutman. As you all recall, last February, Jordan (Privett) Troutman wrote a story about her and Kyle’s engagement and upcoming wedding. Continued on page 6

4 | February 2021


GENERAL MANAGER Lisa Craft monettcommunity@gmail.com EDITOR Kyle Troutman editor@cassville-democrat.com ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Vicky Abraham Marion Chrysler CONTRIBUTORS Meagan Ruffing Lisa Ramirez Darlene Wierman Melonie Roberts Susan Funkhouser Pam Wormington Jordan Troutman Dionne Zebert Jane Severson Verna Fry Christa Stout Cheryl Williams Sierra Gunter Jennifer Conner Annie Lisenby Smith Mike Gervais PHOTOGRAPHERS Chuck Nickle Jamie Brownlee Amy Sampson

aurora____________________________ Jeramie Grosenbacher, CFP®

Connection is published monthly and distributed free in Cassville, Monett, Exeter, Washburn, Pierce City, Mt. Vernon, Aurora, Verona, Roaring River, Eagle Rock, Shell Knob, Purdy, Wheaton, Freistatt, Marionville, Seligman, Golden and other surrounding areas. Connection is a publication of the Cassville Democrat, The Monett Times and Rust Communications.

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DISTRIBUTION Greg Gilliam Kevin Funcannon TO ADVERTISE 417-847-2610 - Cassville 417-235-3135 - Monett Send email inquiries to connection@monett-times.com Mailing address: P.O. Box 40, Monett, MO 65708

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ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 5



Military Family


You got to read the story of the history of their relationship, how it began and how they fell in love. As you know, Jordan is one of our Connection writers and a reporter for the Cassville Democrat, and Kyle is the managing editor and sports editor for the Cassville Democrat and The Monett Times. Big plans were in the works for a very romantic wedding at a special venue, with close friends and family. Dresses were purchased, invitations were chosen and purchased, details were made, and then — COVID-19. Of course like all of us, we all waited a bit thinking that maybe things would change, maybe it wasn’t going to be as bad as it sounded, but we know the ending to that story. As you will read, changes had to be made. Everything had to adjust to the pandemic. You will read all about it, but the main part is the honeymoon, which of course, is why it is called “Honeymoon de Troutman.” Oh, and did I say there was a surprise? Yes, I did, and you can include yourself for just a few short minutes on the get-away with Jordan and Kyle. Readers, I hope you have a wonderful February and enjoy our stories this month. Just remember love is not always easy, but true love is deep and forever.

Lisa Craft

General Manager, Connection Magazine Lisa Craft is General Manager of Connection Magazine, The Monett Times and Cassville Democrat. She can be reached at monettcommunity@gmail.com or connection@monett-times.com

Honeymoon de Troutman


Heart Month


Real Love


On With The Show



There’s no place like home, and that proved true upon Cameron Briggs’ return from a deployment to Iraq in 2004. Read more on page 10.

CONTENTS 16 Dating Column: Our best efforts 19 Cutest Kid

21 Recipes: Thoughtfulness in the kitchen 23 Parenting Column: Reconnecting with your kids 33 Healthy Connection: Calcium and vitamin D 47 Cutest Pet

48 Rescued, My Favorite Breed 50 Parting Shot

Have an idea for a story you would like to see in Connection Magazine? Email it to connection@monett-times.com Facebook.com/MyConnectionMo Twitter.com/MyConnection_Mo

6 | February 2021

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ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 7


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F E B R U A R Y 2021










What matters most in marriage is the fortitude to stand the test of time and with a patient heart


February is American Heart Month. Doctors and staff of Cox Medical Centers remind readers to reflect on health goals.

35 | LOVE IS?

Who knows true love more than a child? Local experts give us their best definitions.


Local performers rise to the challenge of supporting the arts in the time of COVID.


The Troutman Love Story continues after the wedding and on into a bright new 2021.

ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 9

Love, Life and the Military Making things work despite challenges


fter 15 years of marriage, five kids and a husband in the military, Kara Briggs, of Monett, may know a thing or two about making things work. “Cameron and I started dating in 2001,” she said. “He was active duty from 1989 to 1993, but after 9/11 [Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America by the terrorist group Al-Qaeda], he joined the Missouri Army National Guard and has been with them ever since.” Kara said her husband had been on several deployments, both before their 2005 marriage and after. “He came home in 2005 long enough for us to get married and had our honeymoon, and then he went right back,” she said. “We have kept our relationship solid through lots of phone calls and letters. We have had a strong relationship from the get-go,

10 | February 2021

and I think being able to express our thoughts in our letters was part of that foundation. He was in Germany at the time, and phone calls were expensive. But we really got to know each other as a couple. And in spite of the expense, there were times we would talk for hours on the phone.” The couple would write more often when Cameron was later stationed in Iraq. “I would try to write something every day, but I’d only mail it once or twice a week,” she said. “On some deployments, it’s easier to talk on the phone. On others, it’s not.” The worst part of Cameron’s deployments were when Kara would see images from a war zone on the nightly news. “I’d get scared,” she said. “I was younger then, and would probably handle things much better now. But the thing is, we grew through that process together.”

Story by Melonie Roberts

This family photo before deployment shows the Briggs family in its entirety: Lathem, Little Cam, Lincoln, Cameron, Kate, Kara and Lachlan.

ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 11

The Briggs family is pictured on a family trip to the zoo. In the front row, from left, are: Lachlan, Lincoln and Lathem. Back: Kate, Kara and Cameron.

12 | February 2021

And the strength of their relationship remains the foundation on which their family is built. By the time their first child, Lincoln, came along in 2012, Cameron was working in Carthage at the Missouri Army National Guard Armory. He was still there is 2014, when Lach-

lan came along. By the time Lathem arrived in 2016, he was at the Pierce City National Guard Armory. And when Kate made her appearance in 2018, he was at the Joplin Armory. The family of seven, which includes Little Cam, 21, Cameron’s son from a previous marriage, was satisfied with their active lifestyles, which often included weekend hikes at Roaring River State Park, trips to George Washington Carver Park, Netflix binges, date nights, and workouts. But recently, Cameron was called into active service again. “He will be gone a year this time,” Kara said. “Technology makes it easier to stay in touch now. I’m comfortable that he is just a text away.” However, the little lives have been disrupted, and there are times the children miss their dad and act out accordingly. “He’s a very hands-on dad,” Kara said. “I don’t want him to miss out on anything. Before COVID-19, we were very active, especially with the kids’ activities. But we scaled back a lot during that, which is good. I don’t know how I would be able to do basketball, baseball and Tae Kwon Do all by myself.” And there are some special protocols Kara has put into place to ensure Cameron remains a vital part of the family dynamic. “At dinner, I set the tablet up and FaceTime with him,” she said. “The kids have the chance to talk to him about what is going on in their lives, and it feels like he is right there. “It’s hard on the kids with him being gone. We did get to see him in mid-December, and had a little mini Christmas at that time. But then on Christmas, we got on FaceTime and opened our gifts together. We spent a

remote Christmas together.” Kara is very conscientious about her husband’s reality. “When I get off of work, I come home and my mom has been in to help, and the kids are here, and it’s dinner, baths and bed. When he is done at the end of his day, he goes back to an empty room. I try to make sure we have plenty of contact so he won’t feel like he is missing that much.” Kara said she relies on her mother for help with some of the running and the hands-on work that comes from temporarily being a single parent. “She is awesome,” Kara said. “She comes in a couple of nights a week to help get the kids down so everything is

not on my plate. I get to breathe a bit.” The children also have their “Daddy” dolls, comfort dolls that Cameron was able to record personalized messages on for each of the kids. “They came as part of his departure package,” Kara said. “They are the cutest things, little bears dressed up in camo. He was able to set those up before he left.” Weekends are different while Dad is deployed. “We’ll pile up in my bed on Friday night and watch Disney+ and stay up late,” Kara said. “Our tradition was going to church on Sunday, then brunch. I am hoping we can do that again when he gets home.”

Letters and long phone calls formed the foundation of a lasting marriage. The Briggs family on a hiking trip to Tanyard Creek Nature Trail in northwest Arkansas. Pictured in the front are Lathem, Lachlan and Lincoln. In the back, Kate, Kara and Cameron.

ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 13

Cameron and Kara Briggs, occasionally get some alone time, and one of their favorite places to escape to is All Seasons Inn in Eureka Springs, Ark.

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Although Cameron’s deployment is slated to last most of the year, Kara is looking forward to the time he returns home and things get back to “normal.” “We talk about every day,” she said “Even if it’s just a short chat, to let him know I am thinking about him. I know when he gets back there will be the ‘honeymoon’ phase, and then the ‘adjustment’ phase. What I look forward to most is the place where we can take for granted that he will be home every night and the kids are not missing out because he is not here. That’s what I miss the most.” So, with time, effort and dedication, Kara and Cameron, and their entire family, endeavor to make the relationship and their lives work. “People say they don’t know how I do it, but really, what are my options?” Kara asked. “Don’t get me wrong. The military has blessed us in so very many ways, and we’ve built a good life doing it. I’m blessed to have my mom able to help me, and several good friends willing to step in and help when I need it. “But Cam and I have grown up together doing this,” she said. “We really don’t know any other way.” n

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ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 15


Each month’s delivery will come with its own unique themed idea. For Christmas, we were decorating ornaments, listening to holiday tunes via a curated Spotify playlist, trying to act out or draw Christmas Carols and writing love letters to one another that reflect on the past year.

16 | February 2021

l l u f x o b A of love

By Mike Gervais

Mike Gervais is a writer for Connection Magazine and reporter for The Monett Times newspaper. Mike’s fiancé Kat Jones is a second grade teacher at Monett Elementary School. The couple will continue to receive the boxes and we will follow the surprises monthly.

When Date Night’s Delivered


n the age of coronavirus, it’s been hard for couples to find new and innovative ways to recreate a date night or just a way to be entertained. We don’t get to go to the movies, or spend evenings out like we used to. Sit-down dining in a restaurant is something that is rarely done since the pandemic. For a recently engaged couple, dating has become hard. But my fiancé, Kat, and I have found a fun, intimate and, more importantly, safe way to enjoy personal time together without having to risk prolonged exposure to the outside world. We recently discovered a “Date Night” themed delivery company that makes it feel like we were able to spend a night on the town together, just like the old days. Here’s how it works. You sign up online, with a choice to purchase a one-time delivery, or subscribe for three, six or 12 months. Then you wait. The 15th of each month a shoebox-sized package is sent to your home, containing a surprise date. We first signed up in December, and received our first, holiday-themed date box shortly before Christmas, and we’ve been eagerly awaiting January’s delivery ever since. Our December box came with something sweet, literally, something sappy (not in a bad way, we love sap-

py), and something fun. It was all tied together with a Spotify playlist curated by the company. So, one evening, we decided to go on a date in our dining room. For us, it started with take-out, but hey, if you’re more culinarily-inclined than yours truly, this is a great opportunity for candlelight, a bottle of wine and your best recipe for two. I may try to whip up a fancy meal for our next date night, but for the December box, we were just eager to dig in and see what we got. After dinner, you open a sealed envelope that outlines the surprise date you ordered. Our box had four steps. First, we were directed to set the mood by turning on the playlist, then unpack the box and see what was in store for the night. We found various snacks: M&Ms, pretzels, peanuts and peppermint bark. We found a deck of cards for “Caroling Charades,” a large tube of all-purpose glue, four tubes of glitter and two clear, plastic Christmas balls that can be opened and closed. The next step was to take all the snacks and mix them in a bowl for homemade “reindeer chow,” a sweet and salty treat for the evening. Next, we were directed to take a moment to write love notes to each other, with an emphasis on our top five memories for the past year. For many couples, this step may

Decorating Christmas ornaments as a date night was an activity Kat, a natural artist excelled at. Her partner, on the other hand, just did his best. have been a quick list, but we had a big year. Kat moved half-way across the country to Missouri so we could start our lives together; We got engaged, we bought a house, we both started new jobs, our family grew by one new puppy, and so on. We both had a lot to say, and for me, it was an emotional moment, reflecting on how far our lives have come in 12 short months, how many firsts we experienced and how much I looked forward to all the adventures ahead of us. I think that was the moment I was hooked on the date box idea. What a fun, sweet, sincere and sappy start to a date. For us, it was pretty perfect. But before moving on to the next step, it was time for a game break. ‘Caroling Charades’ is like ‘Taboo’ and

ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 17

Love is in the EYE of the beholder!



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‘Name that Tune.’ You draw a card with the name of a Christmas carol on it, and try to act it out. I learned that I’m no good at Charades. Kat learned that I think if I act out the same motion six times, she’ll begin to understand what I’m trying to say. We decided to play a variant of the game, more like ‘Pictionary’ than Charades, and draw clues to our carols. We aren’t very competitive, so we tossed out the score card and simply shared some laughs. I laughed at how clever her ideas for clues were. She laughed at how silly my three stick figures sitting on rocking chairs around a Christmas Tree looked. Though, she did guess that my card was “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” Now the ornaments. After writing our love letters, we were directed to seal them into the balls, using the glue and glitter to decorate them. Again, Kat’s artistic ability shined. I … did my best. But it was fun to see how different our ideas were. She opted for snowflakes, holly and an engagement ring design. I just tried to make stripes and include the year we made them on the ornament. It was fun. It was messy. It was sweet. And we both laughed a lot throughout our date. Which I think is the hallmark of a good date. The final step for the date was to hang the ornaments on the tree and open them Christmas morning or New Year’s Eve. Because we had our date night after Christmas, and because we reflected on the past year, we decided to store our ornaments with our Christmas decorations, and open our love letters this coming Christmas. There are many companies like this and in many varieties. Anyone who is looking for a safe way to add a little adventure to their relationship without risking too much exposure outside, Kat and I would definitely recommend looking into it. n


Congrats Zoe Holocker, two-year-old daughter of Cobi and Katie Holocker of Sarcoxie.

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ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 19

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for Your t r a e h t e e Sw

Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast INGREDIENTS

1 cup mashed fresh strawberries ½ cup white sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1 cup water 1 cup milk 6 eggs 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ¾ cup white sugar 8 slices bread, cut in half diagonally 1 teaspoon butter 8 sliced fresh strawberries 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar for dusting 1 cup whipped cream

DIRECTIONS 1. Preheat an oven to 100 degrees F ( 40 degrees C). 2. Heat mashed strawberries and 1/2 cup white sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. 3. Mix cornstarch and water together in a bowl, then stir into the strawberries. 4. Cook and stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer while preparing remaining ingredients, stirring occasionally. 5. Whisk together the milk and eggs in a bowl. 6. Mash cream cheese, vanilla extract, and 3/4 cup white sugar in a bowl until smooth. 7. Spread the cream cheese mixture over a triangle-shaped piece of bread, and top with another piece. Repeat with remaining bread and cream cheese mixture to make 8 triangle sandwiches. 8. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. 9. Dip the sandwiches into the egg mixture, 2 or 3 at a time, and place in the skillet. 10. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. 11. Transfer pan-fried sandwiches to a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven to keep warm while cooking remaining sandwiches. 12. To serve, top French toast with warm strawberry glaze and sliced fresh strawberries and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Pepper-Honey Cedar Plank Salmon INGREDIENTS

2 untreated cedar planks ¼ cup pineapple juice ⅓ cup soy sauce 2 tablespoons white vinegar 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon olive oil ¾ cup honey ¼ cup packed brown sugar 1 teaspoon ground black pepper ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper ½ teaspoon paprika ¼ teaspoon garlic powder 6 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless salmon fillets 1 pinch salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS 1. Soak the cedar planks in warm water for 1 to 2 hours. Add a splash of bourbon to the water if desired. 2. Bring the pineapple juice, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and honey to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir in the sugar, 1 teaspoon black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 15 minutes. Set the sauce aside. 3. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat. Place the planks on the grate. They are ready to cook on when they start to smoke and crackle just a little. 4. Season the salmon with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Place the fillets onto the smoking cedar planks, close the lid of the grill, and cook for 10 minutes. Spoon a small amount of the sauce over the salmon fillets, and continue cooking until the fish turns opaque in the center, about 5 minutes more. Serve with the remaining sauce.

ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 21

Sweetheart Cupcakes

Sexy Shrimp Scampi



1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix 1 ¼ cups water ⅓ cup vegetable oil 3 egg whites 8 drops red food coloring 2 drops raspberry candy oil

30 medium shrimp - peeled and deveined 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons butter, melted 2 cloves garlic, minced ½ teaspoon kosher salt ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper



1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a standard muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.

1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Beat the cake mix, water, vegetable oil, and egg whites together on low speed for 30 seconds, then on medium for 2 minutes, until smooth. Fill cupcake liners 1/3 full with white batter; set aside. 3. Stir 4 drops of red food coloring into the remaining bowl of batter to make the batter pink. Stir in the raspberry oil. Pour 1/3 of pink batter into a resealable plastic bag and set aside. 4. Mix more food coloring into the remaining bowl of pink batter until it is an orange/ red color and pour the batter into a resealable plastic bag. Cut a corner off the bag, stick the open tip into the center of each cup of white batter and squeeze in about two tablespoons of red batter.

22 | February 2021

2. Toss the shrimp in a bowl with the olive oil, melted butter, garlic, salt, and pepper; set aside for 10 minutes. Arrange the shrimp in a circular pattern in a round casserole dish. 3. Bake in the preheated oven until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

5. Cut the corner off the bag with the pink batter, stick the open tip into the center of the red batter and squeeze about 1 tablespoon pink batter into each cup. 6. Bake the layered cupcakes in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate-Mocha Pots de Crème (Cream Pots) INGREDIENTS

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped ½ teaspoon instant coffee 1 pinch salt 1 cup heavy cream 3 tablespoons white sugar ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS 1. Stir chocolate, instant coffee, and salt together in a medium bowl. 2. Heat cream, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it just begins to simmer. 3. Pour hot cream mixture over the chocolate mixture; let sit for 1 minute. 4. Whisk the chocolate and cream mixture for 1-2 minutes until combined. 5. Pour the mixture into four small espresso cups. Tap to remove any air bubbles. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. 6. Serve topped with grated chocolate, or add lightly whipped cream and dust with cocoa powder.

By Meagan Ruffing


Meagan Ruffing loves to challenge herself on how she can grow with her kids and continue to find new ways to connect with them. She’s getting ready to navigate parenthood with a teenager and while she’s a bit nervous, she’s excited at the idea of learning even more about her own parenting style.

Reconnecting with Your Kids: 41 Creative Ways to Keep a Strong Bond


ebruary is what we often think of as the month of love. We tend to gravitate toward the love in our life, but this February, let’s focus on reconnecting with our kids. Depending on your personal situation with the current pandemic, you may have found yourself at home more with your kids. Or, maybe you or one of your kids has had the unfortunate reality of getting sick. I want to focus on how to reconnect with your kids, at any age, during this month. My oldest child, Dylan, turned 12 in December, and I can feel the separation between he and

I because of the tween years he’s in. It feels more important than ever for me to find ways to connect with him without being overbearing. In the same way, it’s important that I stay connected with my two daughters who are 7 and 9, because I know they are navigating their own lives in different ways. My 9-year-old is into all things fashion and hair, so I’ve been busy reconnecting with my French-braiding days. It’s been fun. Most nights before bed, she asks me to braid her hair so it will be “crimpy in the morning” and each time I do it, I think of my sister Laura and how she braided my hair when we were growing up. Moments like these make me feel more connected to my kids. ConnectionMO.com/ParentingColumn | Connection Magazine | 23

I’d like to share with you some things that are special to me, and my kids. I hope they bring you as much joy as they continue to bring to us. 1. Braid your daughter’s hair. 2. Paint your nails together. 3. Bake together. 4. Try a new recipe. (I recently introduced my kids to puppy chow mix!) 5. Build Legos with your kids. 6. Color. 7. Go for a walk. 8. Jump on the trampoline. 9. Play dress up. 10. Watch a show together. (My son loves to watch National Geographic shows and I don’t mind sitting down to watch these with him. They’re actually quite interesting!) 11. Play basketball, football, and soccer. 12. Sidewalk chalk. (Your kids will get a good laugh out of tracing you). 13. Sign up for a 5k together. 14. Play Barbies. 15. Rearrange their rooms together. 16. Listen to music together and have a dance party. 17. Go on a Sunday drive and get lost. 18. Have a sleepover in the living room.

19. Always, always, always ask them their highs and lows —Every Single Day. You will learn so much about your kids. 20. Play a boardgame. Play cards. 21. Talk about hard things. (Problems at school, hurt feelings, sadness, disappointment). Find out how they’re doing, mentally and emotionally. 22. Sit down and help them with their homework. You might learn something new. 23. Start a project together. My girls and I are painting a dollhouse right now, and we get so excited about buying furniture for it when we’re done. 24. Clean out a closet together. You might find something that was once lost. 25. Call family. 26. Write letters together to send to family and friends. 27. Go to church. 28. Deliver donuts to a friend, just because. 29. Make dinner with your kids. 30. Play with playdough. 31. Disconnect from electronics. 32. Do what your kids want to do. 33. Have a ‘YES’ day. Try to say yes to your kids as much as you can (within reason).

24 | February 2021

34. Teach them a new skill. I’m showing my daughter how to cross-stitch right now. 35. Go shopping together. Even if it’s just to one store, it’s fun to see what your kids are in to. 36. Eat dinner together. 37. Help them with their chores. 38. Tell them you’re proud of them and talk about why. 39. Read a book together. My 7-year-old is new to reading and it’s been so exciting listening to her work through words. I love it when she asks me if she can read to me. 40. Do a puzzle together. 41. My dad used to take me to the local 7-Eleven to get a Slurpee, and he loved the carwash. My new version of this is grabbing coffee (for myself) and taking the kids through a carwash. I think of my dad every time, and I tell my kids the same story every time in the hopes that they will one day, carry on the tradition of carwashes with their kids.

Have fun with this list and add some of your own ideas to it. I can’t wait to hear how you reconnected with your kids this month. Visit me on Facebook at writermeaganruffing, and let me know which ones were your favorite.

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Amanda Boswell/Free Dove Photography


26 | February 2021

By Jordan Troutman

Jordan, Kyle and Ellie Troutman became a family on Oct. 16, 2020. The wedding was held with only immediate family at Dogwood Canyon in Lampe.

The Troutman Love Story From the wedding to the honeymoon, love was in the air


year ago, I wrote a story for this magazine laying out the plans for my wedding in October 2020. Little did any of us know at the time, everything was about to change. I told the story of how my now-husband and I fell in love, how we became a family, how he proposed and how I imagined my wedding day to go — surrounded by our friends and family. Last March, we made plans for our honeymoon, a 7-day cruise through the Gulf of Mexico that would be filled with fruity drinks and sunshine in the middle of February 2021. If there is one word that 2020, a wedding and a honeymoon, marriage and future planning has taught me —

it’s adaptation. The first adaptation came in March. Lets call it, “The Quarantine Diaries.” School was out, the office was closed and our normally quiet home from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. was suddenly filled with sounds that can only be described as a descent into madness. The animals weren’t used to having humans in their space 24/7, so they adapted to having a 5-year-old try to dress them, but they also quite enjoyed the extra snacks she “accidentally” left out for them. Mom was trying to figure out how to be a teacher, mom, reporter and human — all day, every day. Makeup was no longer a household expense, not to mention certain undergarments that ceased to exist for a solid three ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 27

28 | February 2021

about July when we sat back and realized this pandemic wasn’t going to end for our wedding, and that 120 people gathered together to celebrate our love would be dangerous and selfish. Let’s call this next chapter, “COVID ate my wedding.” We discussed the options: postpone the wedding, cut the guest list down or elope at the courthouse. Eventually, we decided on a mixture of elopement and small ceremony. We invited 25 people, only parents and siblings. Our wedding party was cut to only the Maid of Honor and Best Man. We made many difficult phone calls to give the news, and thankfully everyone was understanding and supportive. Our love story played out on Oct. 16, 2020, and it will forever be embedded in my heart and memories. Naturally, there were a few hiccups. Like my dress zipper failing just before the ceremony, our beautiful child announcing she farted just as the ceremony began, and an incident with an adrenaline-filled bride-to-be breaking down a door to retrieve the marriage certificate accidentally locked in another room. The vows, written just hours before the ceremony, showed how much we love each other. We mentioned our future and standing beside each other as we grow, as well as moments we knew we were falling in love with each other. We danced and drank, kissed and basked in the knowledge this was just a moment in our love story, not an ending. We faced obstacles while planning that day, but we adapted and found that love in no way carves out a perfect road. We each must take what we are given and choose to adapt in a way that brings us closer together and helps us move forward as one. After the wedding day and holidays

Amanda Boswell/Free Dove Photography

months. Snacks were mandatory every hour on the hour, and she picked up the habit of taking her lunch to the park to sit quietly in her car for 30 minutes nearly every day. Dad was a rock. He turned the dining room into an office, made every trip to the grocery store, and he found humor in the madness every day to make us laugh and appreciate being together. He began documenting the moments we experienced in a “Day XYZ of Quarantine” series, including: Ellie trying to make conversation with the mailman from her bedroom window; my rendition of Chattahoochee by Alan Jackson; the great debate of 0.5 or 0.7 ink pens; dreams about the “good” kind of toilet paper; and the famous “They’re my snacks and I want them now” meme, created which showed the world that the Troutman home is truly run by a snack crazed 5-year-old wearing a onesie and a cape. And finally, last but definitely not least, the child who grew more feral than the rest in literally 12 hours. Schoolwork was for the weak and mom’s sanity was no match for the demand of YouTube and SNACKS. Style was no longer an opinion of the mother, the backyard swings saw everything from a bathing suit with fur boots to pajama pants with a stuffed animal hanging out the front like a kangaroo pouch. But, the Troutmans adapted. We learned to enjoy our time together and make the best of it. Parenting styles changed permanently and for the better, movie nights became a regular activity, and while some relationships may have failed the test, ours seemed to grow stronger. Of course, throughout this time we were also planning the wedding scheduled for Oct. 16, 2020. It was

that quickly followed, we were able to look forward to a relaxing honeymoon. Our original plans for the cruise — you guessed it — changed. We decided that the risk was too high and instead planned a week-long mountain escape. The plan included a cozy cabin in the Smoky Mountains and a list of mostly outdoor activities to fill some of our time. And so began the “Honeymoon de Troutman.” We had every day planned out, activities, restaurants, sights and so much more, but as with the theme of this story, we quickly realized we would have to adapt to our surroundings. To our surprise, the Gatlinburg, Tenn., area was much busier over New Year’s Eve weekend than we had expected. We arrived on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. We drove overnight and had to kill a few hours before we could check into our cabin. We drove around Pigeon Forge and went to the mall to shop a bit. Once unloaded, my wonderful husband, now two days without sleep, made the trip to the grocery store for snacks. The following day, we decided to go mini-golfing. That activity wasn’t on our original itinerary, but it was outdoors and Mr. Troutman loves to mini-golf. We finished New Year’s Eve with a warm fire and fireworks that we could see just over the treetops. We were an hour ahead of Ellie, so at 1 a.m. our time we video chatted with a half-asleep child with little concern about the holiday. New Year’s day was a Friday, and we woke up to gentle rain and clouds that helped to block the sun from the giant windows on the front of the cabin. We decided to stay in and enjoy a relaxing day of

The Troutmans have learned to adapt to their surrounding to make the best of every moment together. Our wedding on Oct. 16, 2020, shrunk from a 120 guest list to a 25 person guest list — including us.

Smoky Mountain rain, leftover pizza and movies. That Saturday, we wanted to venture out. We planned to go to the aquarium and the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg. But upon arriving to the little town at the mountains’ foothills, we realized the traffic was only a sign of the hoards of people in the streets. After driving for about two hours and finally finding a place to park, we masked up and took to the street to find the entrance of either activity. After a realization of our surroundings, we found refuge in a small pub quietly tucked away from the madness. Across the street was the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Oddities museum that didn’t seem to be the focus of other travelers’ attention. We ate and walked over to get tickets and spent the next hour admiring oddities and science of the world. The day was completed by a regretted meal at a chain Italian restaurant (overpriced and lacking any sem-

blance of flavor) and a reevaluation of the next few days’ plans. At this point, we are four days in and haven’t done any of the activities we planned. Instead, during our two-hour drive, we sang and danced to our wedding playlist, we spent the morning lazily watching Jeopardy and trying to beat the contestants. We realized that the point of a honeymoon is to spend time with your love, do things that bring you closer together and adapt to the world around you as a team. Sunday, we woke intending to avoid the crowds completely by spending the day in the mountains. We were going to take a drive and possibly add in a hike to get some photos of our beautiful environment. But alas, on our way through Gatlinburg we noticed the throngs of people had disappeared, so we decide to take advantage of the opportunity and go to Anakeesta. The ski lift up to the little mountain village was one of the must-do items on our list,

ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 29

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and it was worth it. The lift to the mountain top was scary, well, for one of us. The village experience at the top was wonderful, including shops, restaurants, fire pits, a treetop skywalk and the glorious mountain views atop the AnaVista Tower. A chilly day was warmed with the excitement and experiences of our love beaming from a mountain top. The evening wrapped up with a wonderful meal from a Brazilian Steakhouse called Gaucho Urbano. Although I had recently been exploring the vegetarian side of life, the food was fantastic. It was a flavorful night with a view of a Ferris wheel covered in lights through the window. Monday morning we decided to head back into Gatlinburg to try the Sky Bridge. While one of us was afraid of the ski lift the day before, she bravely and valiantly climbed onto another one with the sole intention of walking across a 680-foot Sky bridge that stretched across a 150-foot drop into a valley. The experience is highly recommended by both of the Troutmans. We found a gift shop and restaurant area to rest after the exhilaration of a breathtaking mountain view. That evening, all the heights had my stomach in knots, so while we chose the Chesapeake’s Seafood and Raw Bar to have dinner, Mr. Troutman had his fill of crab legs, lobster, mussels and oysters, while Mrs. Troutman nibbled on a sweet potato side dish. Tuesday was our last day on the honeymoon, so we wanted to get into the mountains to get photos. The whole week had five days of sunny 60-degree weather, with just two chilly and rainy days that showed the smoke of the Smoky Mountains. Tuesday was one of those days. While the weather at the foot of the mountain was above freezing the higher you got, the colder it was, and due to ice and snow, the

On the third day of Honeymoon de Troutman, the newlywed couple drove for hours in a crowded town. While that may not seem like fun, the beautiful mountain views and wedding playlist we sang to made it a day to remember.

We expected to come back from the honeymoon with a surprise for friends and family, but we found out a month before we left that we would be expecting baby Troutman this summer.

roads to get where we wanted to go were closed. At this point the Troutman’s are masters of adaption, so we found a driving path that led to a hiking trail. Only a 2.7-mile hike to Rainbow Falls — I love waterfalls. If you have ever tried to climb a mountain you can attest to the thin air, and we were no match for the straight upward battle of a hike. After what seemed like forever, we learned that we had only hiked about a mile and it was only going to get more difficult. We decided to follow the creek back down the mountain to take photos and at the smaller falls along the way. It was a beautiful day, we saw amazing things and felt a cold drizzle of rain as the sound of rushing water surrounded us. That evening, we realized that the entire trip was about our ability to adapt and make the best of our time together. We had fun, felt close to each other, and experienced things together that we will hold dearly for many years to come. Part of the plan to not change the wedding date and to have a honeymoon in the middle of winter was so that we could add to our family and hopefully have a new member near our anniversary in the fall of 2021. However, like all things Troutman, we will have to adapt to our surroundings and our growing family a little earlier than expected. On Feb. 1, 2021, we will be at 14 weeks, or just over three months, of pregnancy. This means our plan to add to the family got pushed up a couple of months. We found out about baby Troutman a month before we left for our honeymoon, so we adapted our plans accordingly. I didn’t know I would have meat aversion, so that made enjoying meals more difficult for us both. I wasn’t sick from the heights of the Sky Bridge, but instead from the

ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 31

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little tadpole growing inside me. We won’t have our little bundle of joy in the fall as expected, but instead, he or she will make their appearance in the middle of the hottest months of the year. The Quarantine Diaries showed us that we are a strong family, ready to stick by each other in the face of any obstacles that come our way. That we will find the good in all our struggles and that being together is how our family will get through hard times. COVID didn’t entirely eat my wedding. We had a beautiful, lovefilled day. We wrote a new chapter in our love story, and we decided to be a husband and wife, a family to start the next adventure we would have. And finally, Honeymoon de Troutman was nothing like we expected. Nausea interrupted a few key moments, and fatigue and cravings weren’t on the list of experiences we had planned. Honeymoon de Troutman was perfect, and the best part was we got to experience it with our unborn child, which was the biggest twist 2020 had to offer. The Troutmans will continue to write our love story and adapt to our ever-changing lives, and, most importantly, we will do it together. I can’t wait to see what 2021 has in store for us. n


Callie Rancourt is currently a dietetic intern at Cox College. She is originally from the Twin Cities in Minnesota. When she is not busy studying she enjoys watching hockey, going on walks, spending time with her friends and family, and cooking.

The Link between Calcium, Vitamin D, and Bone Health


ith shorter days and colder weather, making sure you are getting enough calcium and Vitamin D is even more important. This month, we’ll take a look at these two nutrients and why they are so essential to our health.

What is calcium? Calcium is a mineral that we use in our bodies to build and maintain strong bones. It also allows our blood to clot when we need it to, our muscles to contract allowing movement, and our heart to beat strong.

What is Vitamin D? Vitamin D is a vitamin used to protect your bones through

absorbing calcium in your bloodstream and sending it to your bones. Not having adequate vitamin D can be dangerous since calcium cannot be absorbed as efficiently. This causes the bones to become frail and break easier. Essentially, getting enough vitamin D and calcium will help prevent bones from breaking and heal a broken bone(s) faster. Vitamin D also plays a role in cell growth and immune function.

For vitamin D, both males and females should try to get 400800 IU (international units) daily before age 50 and 800-1,000 IU after age 50. If you are pregnant your calcium and vitamin D needs will increase. This is to prevent pre-eclampsia and a low birth weight/ preterm delivery. Your doctor will mostly likely recommend a calcium and vitamin D supplement to meet your needed amounts.

How much calcium and Where can I get calcium vitamin D should I have? and vitamin D? For calcium, females under the age of 50 should receive 1,000 mg daily and woman 51 and older should receive 1,200 mg daily. Males need about 1,000 mg daily before age 70 and about 1,200 mg daily after age 71.

Food is the best source of calcium and sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. In other words, eating calcium-rich foods is the best way to get enough calcium and being in the sunlight for the right amount of time

ConnectionMO.com/HealthyConnection | Connection Magazine | 33

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everyday allows your skin to produce enough vitamin D. There are some foods with adequate natural vitamin D such as mackerel, salmon, and tuna. Foods like milk, cheese, orange juice, and fortified cereals can have vitamin D added to it. Calcium-rich foods are often found in dairy products. Yogurt, milk, and cheese all have high levels of calcium. If you are lactose intolerant you can still get calcium through soymilk or almond milk. If dairy is not your thing, leafy green vegetables like kale, collard greens, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Bok choy, and Swiss chard are also options for high calcium foods.

Who can benefit from calcium and vitamin D foods? Everyone can see the benefits of calcium and vitamin D. These micronutrients are great for growing children and aging adults. Unfortunately as we get older our bones start to become more fragile and the importance and the amount of calcium and vitamin D will continue to increase with your age. If you have or develop osteoporosis or osteopenia, focusing in on getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet is important in preventing future bone breaks. If you have any questions about calcium or vitamin D ask your doctor or reach out to a dietitian who can point you in the right direction for your needs.

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It’s American Heart Month Located between the CoxHealth Monett Clinic and the hospital’s main lobby is the Cardiopulmonary Rehab. Although empty at the time of printing, equipment is standing by ready for patient use. (inset photo) Equipment will be set up in the Cardiopulmonary Rehab for patients use as part of the program.

36 | February 2021


uring the month of February there are hearts to be found as boxes of candy and valentines. But the American Heart Association draws attention to the heart that beats in each of our chests with American Heart Month. This federally designated event “reinforces the importance of heart health and the need for more research, with a reminder to get families, friends and communities involved” according to the American Heart Association website. In February 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first proclamation of February being American Heart Month. This was nine years after President Johnson

suffered a heart attack. The American Heart Association’s goal is to inform Americans about the dangers of heart disease as well as preventative measures. As Monettans celebrated the opening of the new Cox Monett Hospital on January 22, Dr. Meghan Patni shared his expertise on how all Americans can care for their hearts. Dr. Patni is an Interventional Cardiologist, Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiology, and Interventional Cardiology. He serves as Cardiology staff for both inpatient and outpatient services at Cox Health South and sees patients at an outreach clinic at Cox Monett monthly saving patients time and money.

Story by Annie Lisenby Smith

Cox Monett Cardiopulmonary Rehab staff, Rhonda Toler, RN (left) and Lynette Merritt, LPN (right) are ready to help patients with their heart health.

Dr. Meghan Patni

Interventional Cardiologist Cox Medical Centers

Facts about heart disease from the American Heart Association:

“Make changes when you are in your 20s and 30s, don’t wait to react to heart disease.” “I chose this medical specialty because I have the ability to make a real difference in people’s lives in terms of their overall mental and physical health and well-being,” Dr. Patni said. The advice Dr. Patni gives echoes that of the American Heart Association. For those who are currently healthy and not battling heart disease, “Keep it that way,” Dr. Patni said. “Make lifestyle changes now if you already haven’t. Start early. Make those changes when you are in your 20s and 30s, don’t wait to react to heart disease because at that point we are playing catchup.” Many factors affect cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke combined) that kills about 2,300 people each day. One particular factor that has

Heart disease kills more people than all forms of cancer combined.

become more prevalent in recent years is obesity, in both youth and adults. The American Heart Association reports that obesity is at an all-time high and that youths are being diagnosed with heart disease earlier than ever. Dr. Patni also emphasized the importance of heart care for women. “The predominance of heart disease in women is much higher than people think,” he said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), higher concentrations of heart disease in women can be found in the American South and identifies the annual rate of heart disease amongst women in Barry and Lawrence counties to be at the highest level, 335.2900.5 out of 100,000 people.

Heart attacks affect more people every year than the population of Dallas, Texas. 83 percent believe that heart attacks can be prevented but aren’t motivated to do anything. 72 percent of Americans don’t consider themselves at risk for heart disease. And 58 percent put no effort into improving their heart health.

ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 37

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Seeing these statistics shouldn’t make people lose hope. Dr. Patni said, “I have had patients who listen to their body. They had their version of chest pain with associated shortness of breath, nausea and they acted fast allowing me to get to them as soon as possible to minimize the damage done from the heart attack.” Of course, the first step anyone can take is prevention. Factors that lead to higher risk of heart disease include: smoking, illicit drug use, sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits, uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure), and diabetes. Both the CDC and the American Heart Association encourage people to live a healthy lifestyle that includes eliminating smoking and illicit drug use. With growing obesity rates in the United States, being active and maintaining a healthy diet will help control excess weight. “It is truly amazing how much a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk for heart disease,” Dr. Patni said. “150 minutes of moderate activity a week with a diet with fresh fruits and vegetables and minimal fats and lack of smoking can really make a difference in how you feel and additionally reduce your risk for seeing me in the future.” Should you find yourself in need of help from Dr. Patni and his team, the new Cox Monett Hospital has available cardiac and pulmonary rehab. Janell Patton, Cox Monett Community Relations Manager, describes these as “individualized treatment programs, including evaluation and instruction on physical activity, nutrition, stress management and other health related issues.” This February let those images of hearts for Valentine’s Day also be reminders to care for your heart. Making choices to maintain a healthy lifestyle can have impacts on your heart health for years to come. And if you’d like to show your support for heart health, on Friday, February 5, you can participate in National Wear Red Day organized by goredforwomen.org. n

Love is...

“Love puts smiles on others’ faces. I think love is kindness. Also, love is bring a smile to someone’s face just because.” -Keira Eaton

Local experts weigh in


ove, that wonderful, blissful feeling of warmth, comfort, companionship and belonging, has been sought after, won, lost and redefined by authors, playwrites, wise men and fools. However, no one seems to have the same definition of the word, which can bring about emotions ranging from highest summits of euphoria to the deepest despondency known to humankind. In seeking to expand our collective knowledge of this greatest gift God has bestowed upon mankind, we asked some local experts. Monett Elementary School second-grade students of Katherine Jones weighed in on the matter.

Story by Melonie Roberts

“Love is something that you care about a lot. Love is helping others. Love is being kind. Love is sharing. Love is trust in others. Love is bringing happiness. Love is being nice.” -Eli Swope

“Love is kind, sharing, looking after people, a shared smile with other people and love is trust.” -Caleb Scritchfield

ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 39

“Love is always helping my mom.” -Isabella Rivera

“Spirits helping and others.” -Thierry Thigpen

“Love is being kind, helping others, bringing a smile to someone’s face, trusting others, making someone happy when they are sad.” -Dallas Woody

“Love is helping your mom to clean.” -Brigitte Guadaramma-Valle “Love is something that you share with joy, because joy and love is happy.” -Reilynn Schulz

40 | February 2021

“Love is helping other people do hard choices in games. Also, love is bringing a smile to someone’s face just because.” -Keagan Nixon

“Love is God watching over us. The Holy Spirit in your heart guiding you through.” -Owen Crim

“Love is being kind. Also trusting people.” -Evelyn Hooker

“Love is cheering for your team because it is love.” “Love is helping others and bringing a smile to others. Love is also being kind to others, not mean.”

-Noah Campbell

-Lily Armstrong

ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 41

The seats have been empty for months, but audiences have begun to fill them again for socially distanced performances in the Monett Performing Arts Center.

The Show Must Go On

W Working on memorizing lines during her downtime at rehearsals, Meg Saffer (in forefront) has performed and directed for the Monett Artists’ Guild in the past. She is excited to return to the stage for “The Exact Center of the Universe”.

42 | February 2021

hen the global pandemic hit the United States in 2020, our lives ground to a halt. That included in the arts world. Art exhibitions were closed. Music performances were canceled. Plays and musicals were postponed. In the world of theatre, the traditional “ghost light” was left as the only light shining through dark theatres. While the ghost light has superstitious roots, it’s usually used when a theatre is not operating to keep the stage lit and prevent anyone walking through from accidentally stepping off the edge of the stage.

Story by Annie Lisenby Smith

Todd Borgmann directs the Ozark Festival Orchestra during the 2019-2020 season. Borgmann is directing again in 2021, although things look a little different.

The ghost light became very symbolic as theatre venues closed across the country and around the globe. The lights were left on to remember that the shows would go on. In Monett, the Ozarks Festival Orchestra (OFO) and the Monett Artists’ Guild halted plans for performances too. As 2020 came to a close, the OFO performed a Christmas concert using stringent safety measures, and the Monett Artists’ Guild has plans for a play performance in February using the same measures. Leaders with these groups recognize the importance of the arts during difficult times.

A board member of the Monett Artists’ Guild and director of the upcoming play, Marilyn Mann said, “The arts can be a wonderful escape at any time. Since we all are limiting our time out of the house these days, being able to go to a concert or play can be even more meaningful. Plus, even with smaller audiences we are keeping the performing arts alive.” “The arts play many important roles in a community of any size,” added Todd Borgmann, music director of the Ozark Festival Orchestra. “Our schools in the area do a fantastic job of providing opportunities for students to participate in numerous

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Garrett Maxey (left) rehearses with his castmates for “The Exact Center of the Universe”. artistic performances, but after people are out of school, those opportunities can be hard to come by. The OFO and The Artists’ Guild allow for individuals to continue enjoying performing for audiences well after they have left their school-age years.” The additional value of the arts during difficult times was acknowledged during the Great Depression. The film industry was one of the few industries to see profits as Americans spent time in darkened theatres, enjoying dramatic stories that distracted them from the stresses of daily life. In this day and age, streaming services and television provide these distractions. But they do not compare to live performances. Using strict safety measures, these live performances provide an opportunity for the community to come together both onstage and as audience members. For each of these local groups, masking and social distancing measures have

44 | February 2021

been maintained. For play rehearsals, Mann said, “We socially distance when offstage. Each actor will have his/her own personal makeup kit. No more than one unmasked actor will be in the makeup room at a time.” There were challenges to overcome with the December orchestra performance according to Borgmann. “Woodwind and Brass players had to get creative when it came to masking while playing. String and percussion players were much more fortunate.” During the orchestra concert and for the upcoming theatre performance, safety measures are being used for the audience as well. To support social distancing, seats are marked off so that only guests who arrive together will sit together. Front rows are also marked off to further separate the performers from the audience. Hand sanitizer is available in the lobby, and the performers will not greet the audience after the show. Lastly, the mask ordinance from

Courtnie Velton (left) assists director Marilyn Mann (right) as Mann directs the actors through a scene for the Monett Artists’ Guild’s upcoming play. the City of Monett is enforced. The cast and crew of the upcoming Monett Artists’ Guild performance of The Exact Center of the Universe are very excited to be working together again. “It’s been easy to adapt to COVID precautions because everyone is already used to the expectations of distancing and masks. Mrs. Mann made expectations clear at auditions,” said Courtnie Velten, production stage manager. Much thought went into choosing this particular play. “I first saw this show in 2002, and it was beautiful and charming. I put it on my back burner for shows to direct in the future. November came, and it didn’t look like things were going to get better. So, I thought it’d be easier to work with a smaller cast. This show had a cast of five actors.” The Exact Center of the Universe is a drama with comedic moments that centers on Vada Love Powell who is

Members of the Ozark Festival Orchestra perform during the 20192020 season before they were restricted for COVID precautions. trying to scare off her son’s prospective bride. When Vada gathers her friends, Marybell and Enid, she doesn’t know that her son, Apple, has already married Mary Ann. The play continues ten years later where Vada is still very involved in her son’s life as well as the lives of Apple and Mary Ann’s twins. This play about the ups and downs of family is described as “charming, reflective, and funny.” For this production, Mann also cast understudies, something not commonly done with the group. “It is difficult to have understudies learn an entire script, but if an actor is out for an extended time and the understudy learns the lines, he/she will perform in one of the three performances,” said Mann. Mann continued to explain her high level of concern for the safety of the performers, crew, and audience. “I chose to direct because if I feel that it is not safe to move forward on the performance, I wouldn’t feel pressured in

my decision. With 5 actors I’m sure we could put the show on at a later date if necessary.” Live-streaming the play was considered but is not possible because of the added costs of copyrights and technology. Mann explained, “Our facility is large and we anticipate no more than 100 persons at each performance (the auditorium seats 670). We are also going to mic the actors so that all attending will have no problem hearing.” The common phrase in theatre is that the show must go on. COVID has given us many challenges, but local artists are overcoming them to benefit the community. The OFO will have another performance on April 25, the annual Pie and Ice Cream “Pops in the Park” Concert. “We are planning a concert in June, but that date and location has not been determined,” said Borgmann. “We are always looking for more musicians, especially string players. There are no auditions or tryouts

needed. All one needs to do is contact me, and I will give them the information they need.” More information on the Ozark Festival Orchestra can be found on their Facebook page. The Monett Artists’ Guild will present The Exact Center of the Universe on February 12 & 13 at 7:00 p.m. and on February 14 at 2:00 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center. The group is planning a musical performance this summer depending on the COVID situation at the time. “Monett is such a fortunate town to be able to have performance groups like this. In my hometown, we were not so lucky,” Borgmann said. “Many places in the country are not as supportive of the arts as the Monett community. It is so refreshing and invigorating to see such a love and outpouring of support for the arts in Monett. My hope is that these groups can continue to give back to the community and continue to grow.” n

ConnectionMO.com | Connection Magazine | 45

CUTEST PET Loki is the eight-month-old fur baby of Carlee Williams of Cassville

Loki Email your pet’s photo to connection@monett-times.com

If you think your furry or feathered friend is the cutest in the area, let us know! We invite you to share a photo of your pet to be featured in Connection’s Cutest Pet contest. Photos should be sent in the original JPG format at the highest resolution possible. Remember to include your pet’s name, city of residence and your contact information. 46 | February 2021


Happy at Huckleberry Rescue I know I’ve said this before, but you meet the best people in the rescue world. I recently made a trip to Pineville to see Bev and Mark, the owners and operators of Huckleberry Rescue. The reason I wanted to talk to them was because their rescue is a little different, it is foster based, meaning that all of the dogs they take in are placed with volunteer fosters and the only facility they have is a small kennel area where the intake dogs are placed pending the expiration of the 5-day required stray hold. Bev and Mark are wonderful people who have a ton of dogs of their own, foster some of the dogs and walk the dogs in the intake kennels every day. And that’s in addition to running the organization, doing some fund raising and coordinating with McDonald County and the City of Pineville when dogs are found by the local police and sheriff’s departments.

They tell me that the dogs come into their organization through the rescue phone, mostly they are either dumped or owner surrenders. They will take the dogs so long as they have room in their intake area, if not, they have a waiting list and when space becomes available, they will call the person who has the dog to let them know they can bring the dog to Huckleberry Rescue.

REMINDER: Have you scheduled your annual vet visit? Is your dog or cat spayed or neutered? Are the shots up to date?

During the 5-day stray hold, the dogs will get their initial shots and go through an evaluation process - Bev is also a dog trainer and she is very astute at finding a dog’s personality, traits, strengths and potential weaknesses. This also helps in finding the proper foster parent. They try to match the dog with the foster, for example, some fosters prefer puppies, others prefer small dogs or large dogs, or females vs males. A happy foster makes a happy volunteer who takes care of happy dogs. There are even some fosters who do only hospice foster, those dogs who are very senior or have a terminal health problem—A tough job that takes a lot of empathy. Huckleberry Rescue has a fairly large pool of volunteer fosters, and Bev attributes that to making sure they tailor the foster to the

ConnectionMO.com/RescuedMyFavoriteBreed | Connection Magazine | 47

huckleberryrescue.com | facebook.com/HuckleberryRescue/ correct dog type. Also, she says that their volunteer fosters bring in friends and friends of friends to help. Of course, volunteers are also needed for chores such as laundry, answering phones, taking care of social media, transport and a number of other tasks. So what does it take to be a foster parent to one or more dogs? It takes some dog experience, because it is hoped that the dog would come out of foster knowing some basic commands, such as sit, down and stay; a fenced yard is a must, because you certainly don’t want a dog to get away from a foster inadvertently. And the primary requirement: a passion for dogs, without love of dogs, foster wouldn’t work. Food and veterinary care is provided by the Rescue, unless the foster parent wishes to take care of this also. Of course, the ultimate goal is to get the dog adopted. For this purpose, Bev, Mark and an Adoption Team take adoptable dogs to PetSmart, Pet Supply or Tractor Supply in Bentonville or Rogers, Ark. The adoption team also arranges meet and greets for prospective adopters and they check vet references as well as do some home visits. When dogs come into intake either very depressed, scared, abused or without socialization, or if it is a very talented dog, it might be best to provide some additional training, which

48 | February 2021

Although I met many of Bev and Mark’s dogs, and they were all well behaved, and oh so loving and sweet, here is a special one: Momma Ava was found by law enforcement after she had been dumped and hit by a car. Of course, Huckleberry Rescue took her in and brought her to their home, where she simply laid for a time, not moving, and in shock. Bev kept watching Ava and pretty soon, she realized Ava had a very round tummy and that there was something moving in the tummy. Oh my, they are going to have puppies! Not long after, she had 5 gorgeous little puppies, and she and the puppies are doing great. The puppies are currently 8 weeks old and will need to wait another 4 weeks before they can be adopted. Take a look at these wonderful pictures. Ava and her 5 puppies shortly after they were born, and Teddy and Tillie at 6 weeks old. I suspect if you are interested, they might agree to put you on an adoption list, if they are not already spoken for! is generally done in Joplin. If a dog has this advanced type of training, the adoption fee will be increased to cover at least part of the training. Bev says they adopt dogs all over the country, and recently even had a dog go to Canada—a rather lengthy transport! Huckleberry’s plans for the future include a heated and cooled facility for intake. This may

require some fundraising with corporate sponsors, and they have submitted some grant applications for capital funds. Bev attributes their success to community participation and support from the local law enforcement agencies. Here are some important links for Huckleberry, and if you are lucky enough to meet Bev and Mark, say hello from me, I hope to stay in touch with them. n

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February Connection 2021  

February Connection 2021