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Volume 4 | issue 4 | august 2013

oplin Metro Magazine

13 i n each i ssu e

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18 12 Profile: Ronald McDonald House

celebrates 15 years

18 on the cover: METS— everyday

heroes on duty 24/7

37 Profile: Hiking the Grand Canyon 40 profile: Two sisters played in ‘A League of Their Own’

44 Profile: Midwest Gathering of Artists 2013 is

25 living: Back to school technology

29 taste: Hackett Hot Wings

48 music to the ears: Third Party

31 style: Back to school cool digs

51 minding your business: Carmen’s Apples

33 Profile: Maine Coon Cattery

THE J TEAM EDITOR Kevin McClintock Phone: 417.627.7279 Fax: 417.623.8598 E-Mail: kmcclintock@joplinglobe.com MAGAZINE WRITER Ryan Richardson CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Scott Meeker

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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Scott Meeker Katy Schrader Michael Coonrod

one of area’s most prestigious art shows

CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS Roma Harmon Regina Carnahan Barry Linduff

COVER DESIGN Brian Huntley

PHOTOGRAPHERS T. Rob Brown Roger Nomer Curtis Almeter B.W. Shepherd Drew Kimble Ryan Richardson

THE J O P LIN GLOBE

COVER PHOTO B.W. Shepherd

GRAPHIC DESIGN Gaila Osborn PRESIDENT AND PUBLISHER Mike Beatty Phone: 417.627.7291 Fax: 417.623.8450 E-Mail: mbeatty@joplinglobe.com EDITOR Carol Stark Phone: 417.627.7278 Fax: 417.623.8598 E-Mail: cstark@joplinglobe.com

DIRECTOR OF ADVERTISING Brent Powers Phone: 417.627.7233 E-mail: bpowers@joplinglobe.com SALES MANAGER Janette Cooper Phone: 417.627.7236 Fax: 417.623.8450 E-Mail: jcooper@joplinglobe.com CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Jack Kaminsky Phone: 417.627.7341 Fax: 417.623-8450 E-Mail: jkaminsky@joplinglobe.com

4 Calendar 6 the scene 10 the 10-spot 55 the J list 56 the parting shot

DIRECTOR OF MAGAZINES Julie Damer Phone: 417.627.7323 Fax: 417.623.8450 E-Mail: jdamer@joplinglobe.com Joplin Metro Magazine is a publication of Newspaper Holdings Inc. and is published monthly. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. The publisher reserves the right to accept or reject any editorial or advertising matter. The publisher assumes no responsibility for return of unsolicited materials.


from the editor

Another feature story inside this August edition takes a look at the Ronald McDonald House of the Four States and its 15 years of “giving sick kids the gift of family.” While reading about this very special house, go ahead and check out The 10 Spot, which profiles 10 local nonprofit

As always, you can reach me at kmcclintock@joplinglobe.com, by mail at Joplin Metro Magazine, 117 E. Fourth St., Joplin, Mo. 64801 or call us at 417-627-7279.

Kevin McClintock, Editor Joplin Metro Magazine

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You’ll also read about September’s Midwest Gathering of the Artists, which is one of the largest such festivals found in the Four State Area; Scott Meeker’s first-person account of his hike up and down (make that down and back up) of the Grand Canyon in Arizona; and two Grove, Okla. women who played in a softball league during World War II, among others.

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We also want to introduce two new writers to the magazine, Katy Schrader and Michael Coonrod. Katy is a newspaper veteran, who wrote features and news stories for the Joplin Globe before heading the paper’s Newspapers In Education program for a number of years. Read her story on a Joplin Maine Coon cat breeder. Micheal, a graduate of Missouri Southern State University, has worked for more than a decade as a writer and photojournalist for KY3 television station in Springfield. Mike tackles a story about back-to-school technology in the magazine’s Living section.

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In fact, our coverage of METS and the heroic men and women who save lives each day is the third and final part of our three-part series detailing Joplin’s three emergency services. We followed several Joplin police officers on patrol over a 24-hour period back in 2011, and we looked in-depth into what Joplin Fire Department personnel did in the aftermath of May 22 tornado in a 2012 cover package.

organizations who do much good in Joplin for so little in return.

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’m pretty sure that, at some point when he was a kid, head magazine writer Ryan Richardson played with Hot Wheels, and one of those wheeled vehicles was an all-important, all-white ambulance. So I guess it’s only fitting that, in our latest issue, Ryan was given the rare privilege of riding in the back of a METS ambulance and following the exploits of two EMTs — Randy Haycock and Julie Wacker — during an eight-hour shift. His cover piece makes for some exciting reading inside.

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calendar

September Co i n , g o l d a n d s i lv e r s h o w The date and location have now been set for the Original Route 66 Coin, Gold, and Silver Show. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Continental Banquet Center, 2802 N. Range Line Road in Joplin, just behind Granny Shaffer’s Restaurant. This free event will feature a day of trading and networking with area dealers buying and selling coins, gold, silver, gems, jewelry, currency and related hobby items. Coin clubs from the surrounding area will be in attendance, including the Joplin Tri-State Coin Club as well as coin clubs from Sedalia, Pittsburg, Kan., and Parsons, Kan. Appraisers and buyers of coins, gold, silver and related items will be on hand to assist collectors and hobbyists. Details: 620.423.6600.

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fresh fruit and veggies from local vendors. Details: 417.624.0820, ext. 203.

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FAMILY O l d - Fa s h i o n e d Toys & G a m e s : 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1, at the George Washington Carver National Monument. Playtime was a simple affair in the 19th century, as children invented their own games or played with homemade toys. Experience the joy of playing with some old-fashioned toys and games. Details: 417.325.4151. J o p l i n Fa r m e r s M a r k e t: 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Wednesday through Sept. 27th, at the Memorial Hall parking lot. Stop by and pick up some

T e e n G a m e N i g h t: 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at the Joplin Public Library. There will be American and European board games and PS2 and Wii video games for teens, school grades 6-12. Teens should not bring their own games and there will be snacks. Details: 417.623.7953.

P r a i r i e Day C e l e b r at i o n : 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, at the George Washington Carver National Monument. Come and celebrate life on the prairie during the

19th century. Musical entertainment, nature exhibits and a variety of living history demonstrations are the highlights of the event. Visitors are invited to dip candles, churn butter, tour the prairie in a horse-drawn wagon, and much more. Details: 417.325.4151.

T h i r d T h u r s d ay: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, at downtown Joplin. Third Thursday has become Joplin’s trademark cultural event. As always, there will be good food, shop-walking, music and the Art Walk: Galleries up and down Main Street filled with art collections from


local artists. There is also a shuttle to galleries beyond 1st and 7th streets, including Spiva Center for the Arts, Local Color and Phoenix Fired Art. Details: www.downtownjoplin.com. G u i lt y By A s s o c i at i o n T r u c k S h o w: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday, Sept. 27, and Saturday, Sept. 28, at the 4 State Trucks on I-44, exit 4. It’s a cross between a truck show, a customer expo and an open house. There will be a truck and tractor show on Sept. 27 and a concert on Sept. 28. Details: www.chromeshopmafia.com.

S P ORTS 8 t h A n n ua l F o u r S tat e s Op e n : Friday, Sept. 27, through Sunday, Sept. 29. The Joplin Disc Golf Club proudly presents the 8th annual Four States Open. This year’s tournament is the area’s first ever PDGA A-Tier event. There will be a minimum of $3,500 added cash to the Pro divisions, split out as $2,000 to MPO, $1,000 to FPO, and $500 to all other Pro divisions.

M a p l e L e a f Pa r a d e : The 47th Annual Maple Leaf Parade applications and regulations are now available at the Carthage Chamber of Commerce, 402 S. Garrison. The parade will take place on Saturday, Oct. 19.

J o p l i n L i t t l e T h e at e r : From Wednesday, Sept. 25 to Sunday, Sept. 29, the Joplin Little Theater will perform “Gypsy,” a musical based on the memoirs of striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee. The play will be directed by Greg Swartz. Details: 417.623.3638.

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THEATER A n U n co m m o n Way: 1 to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, at the George Washington Carver National Monument. This 50-minute film documentary produced by Franklin Springs Family Media chronicles Carver’s amazing journey from seeking an education to becoming a household name. Details: 417.325.4151.

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Festival Chairperson Jeanine Poe says, “We sincerely hope that this year, parade entrants will embrace the theme of ‘Sounds of Celebration.’ Last year’s classic floats and decorations were so much fun that the Maple Leaf Car Show has once again pledged a $250 cash prize to the best traditional float entry.” Deadline for submissions is Sept. 30. Details: 417.358.2373.

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the scene

T h e P o s ta l S e rv i c e

Photography by Ryan Richardson

Jenny Lewis, of The Postal Service, sings during the band’s opener “The District Sleeps Alone,” which featured Lewis on the keyboard. When the band recorded their 2003 debut, most of the music was recorded by each individual member and was then sent via mail to the others for mixing, hence how the band got their name.

Ben Gibbard rocks through the single, “We Will Become Silhouettes.” The band took the stage for the first time in 10 years inside Kansas City’s historic Midland Theater.

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Lewis and Gibbard play off of each other during their single, “Nothing Better.” The four piece band, headed up by Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard and Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis, put on a two hour set that featured music from the band’s 2003 album “Give Up” and several covers.

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Gregory Harbach, MD

Michael B. Grillot, MD

Thomas D. McClain, MD

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Paul M. Olive, MD

David B. Rogers, MD

Mercy Clinic

3126 S. Jackson Suite 200

417-625-CAST (2278) J. Scott Swango, MD

mercy.net


the scene

dig into reading

Photography by B.W. Shepherd

Volunteer face painter and Joplin Public Library staff member Cherokee Miller holds a mirror up for three-year-old Sawyer Dalrymple of Webb City, as he takes a look at the handsome new mustache he sports. The library held its annual “Dig Into Reading” summer reading celebration in late July.

Two-year-old Taytum Berry of Joplin yells “Arrggg!” at the top of his lungs, giving her best pirate impression after constructing her very own pirate hat recently at the Joplin Public Library.

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Chloe Wininger, 6, of Joplin, enjoys a blueberry snow cone during the Joplin Public Library’s “Dig into Reading” celebration. Kids had the chance to play games, build a pirate hat, get their faces painted or bounce inside a bounce house.

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the 10 spot

n o n - p r o f i t o r g a n i z at i o n s

By J Mag Staff

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here’s really no calculating just how important nonprofit organizations are to the community of Joplin and the surrounding counties. Suffice to say, when the need arises, people are happy they’re there. Below are just 10 of numerous nonprofit organizations based here in Joplin, who quietly go about ensuring residents lead happy, safe lives.

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L a fay e t t e H o u s e 1809 S. Connor Ave. 417.782.1772 Mission: Since 1978, the Lafayette House has been a sanctuary for women, children and their families touched by domestic abuse or drug addiction. Today, Lafayette House offers 55 beds and a full range of support, including domestic violent intervention, substance abuse treatment, children’s services and child care.

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B i g B r ot h e r s B i g Sisters of the Oz a r k s - J a s p e r a n d N e w to n co u n t i e s 3510 E. Third Street 417.626.9244 Mission: The purpose of this volunteerdriven organization is to match children with qualified caring adults. These oneon-one relationships directly help create a sense of self-worth and responsibility.


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U n i t e d Way o f Southwest Missouri and Southeast K a n s a s 3510 East Third Street, Joplin 417.624.0153 117 West Fourth Street, Pittsburg, Kan. 620.231.8140 Mission: United Way improves lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good. In 2008, United Way World Wide initiated a 10-year

In addition to subcontract work, Joplin Workshops, Inc. operates a linen service, Healthcare Linen Specialists, on the premises.

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American Red Cross - G r e at e r Oz a r k s Chapter – Joplin 410 S. Jackson Ave. 417.624.2391 Mission: When disaster strikes, the Red Cross is there. Based out of Springfield, with chapter offices in Joplin and a half-dozen other communities, Red Cross volunteers are on standby to go anywhere in America when a major disaster strikes. Volunteers also provide free disaster preparedness and fire safety presentations to groups of all ages.

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House of Hope Joplin 3405 S. Hammons Blvd. 417.624.4833 Mission: The House of Hope is a safe place for hurting teenagers; a place to build and restore families. Ultimately, it’s a place for healing. They work to offer strength and courage to a teen’s parents. Romans 5:3-5 says: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

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M i r ac l e L e ag u e of Joplin 3301 W. First Street 417.439.5793 Mission: This organization can’t change or even cure the medical issues that life has dealt to children with various disabilities. What they can do, however, is provide them with an opportunity to experience the joy and benefits that come from playing America’s national pastime — baseball. Anyone with a disability between the ages of 5 to 20 are eligible to play Miracle League baseball played on the Will Norton Miracle Field.

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Joplin Workshops, Inc. 501 School Ave. 417.781.2862 Mission: Joplin Workshops, Inc. employs individuals with disabilities who, under skilled guidance, are capable of performing the most intricate tasks. For jobs that may not be cost-effective, the Joplin Workshops Inc. can certainly handle the job. From relative simple procedures to those requiring special skills, the workshop meets the needs of industry, whatever the task, and at a reasonable price. No job is too large or too small. Every job is quoted ahead of time and done at that quote. For added convenience, the subcontract building is even equipped with truck-high loading docks if your need includes timely, direct-load shipments.

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Goodwill Industries 2102 S. Range Line Road 417.782.6363 Mission: A donation drop-off point and retail store, clean and organized with a friendly staff, specializing primarily in clothing, with brand new shoes, jeans, shirts and dress pants at great prices.

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program designed to improve education and cut the number of high school dropouts; helping people achieve financial stability and get 1.9 million working families on the road to economic independence; and promote healthy lives and avoid risky behaviors.

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701 Picher 417.782.4453 or 866.594.2836 Mission: Children’s Haven provides a temporary home to children ages birth through 17 years of age, whose families are experiencing a crisis: including hospitalization of parents, fears of abuse or child neglection, lack of food or shelter, death of a parent or parent incarceration. Through the provided services, Haven volunteers work to protect children and reduce family street, ultimately working to keep families together.

C h i l d r e n ’s Center of SW Missouri 921 E. 34th Street, Suite A 417.623.2292 Mission: Children’s Center provides a safe, child friendly setting for the investigation of child abuse in Southwest Missouri, including sexual and/ or physical abuse, living in a drugendangered environment, neglect, exploitation through the Internet or child pornography and/or witnessing a serious crime. They provide children two critical services: Forensic interviews and sexual assault forensic exams by trained professionals. A multidisciplinary team of law enforcement, children’s division, the juvenile office and medical professionals determine a course of action that best serves the interest of the child.

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C h i l d r e n ’s H av e n o f Southwest Missouri

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profile

Ronald Mcdonald house

by Kevin McClintock Photography by B.W. Shepherd

‘ There’s No Place Like Home’

Volunteers, many of them students, from the R-8 School District, maintain the Home’s beautiful landscape. Everything is provided for this special house through donations. In 15 years, they’ve never had to buy a single light bulb.

Unique Joplin home becomes haven for parents of sick children

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t’s hard to imagine what life was like for parents of hospitalized children before the Ronald McDonald House was built in Joplin 15 years ago.

Some families were forced to drive back and forth between Joplin and their homes. Other families, who could afford it, would stay in Joplin hotel rooms. Others, if lucky enough, would stay with family or friends.

one, covering several weeks. And they had no place to sleep or relax. According to Thurston, the family was forced to sleep inside their van parked out in the hospital’s lot. “We’ve all wondered what families did without this facility,” Thurston said. “I can’t imagine what it would feel like to not have a place to stay during one of the most stressful times for a family.”

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But no longer.

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But some families had no friends or family in Joplin, or they couldn’t afford a motel room or the gasoline between home and hospital. For them, there were very few options available. “The story that best illustrates what it was like,” said Annette Thurston, executive director of Joplin’s Ronald McDonald House of the Four States, was a young couple from Fort Scott, Kan.” Their first baby was born and delivered at Freeman Hospital, but (the baby) was born premature.” Because of that, the young couple’s stay at the hospital would be a long

For the last 15 years, the Ronald McDonald House has served as an allimportant “home away from home” for parents of sick children staying at the two Joplin hospitals. Under Thurston’s leadership, she’s seen an empty lot at 3402 S. Jackson Ave. transform into a beautiful, 14,000-square-foot house that has served more than 2,300 families in need. The mission of the house, of course, is to house families with children, birth continued on page 14


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profile

ronald mcdonald house

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A statue of the famed Ronald McDonald greets visitors at the home. continued from page 12

through 18 years of age, who are in medical crisis. “There’s no family that wants to be pregnant and deliver a baby and not take that baby home when they leave,” Thurston said. “There’s no family that wants to know their teenage son or daughter has been involved in a motor vehicle accident and is being hospitalized. So it’s a highly stressful time for the families who stay with us. “I’ve heard many (families) tell me over the years, ‘I don’t know what we would have done without the Ronald McDonald House.’”

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We are proud to be your partner for 15 years and look forward to many more!

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The large house has 10 large bedrooms, a fully stocked kitchen, two family rooms, laundry facilities, a chapel, indoor and outdoor play areas and gardens, and two conference rooms. 800.557.7471 112 E. Rose Pittsburg, KS 66762 www.pittcraft.com

Joplin’s Ronald McDonald House was funded and established as a direct complement to Freeman Health System’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the only one of its kind found within a 70-mile radius.


The unit provides specialized care for premature or critically ill babies. Thus, the nearby Ronald McDonald House, built five years later, immediately began serving as a relaxed landing spot for stressed parents staying near their tiny loved ones. At the end of June of this year, families have accumulated more than 23,000 lodging nights inside the house. An average stay is seven days. The longest was recorded at 139 days, with a story that made local headlines. The first family checked into the home on Aug. 20, 1998. The volunteer who registered them into the home, Carol Tupper, still volunteers at the house today, manning the front desk. “I just love what I do here,” she said. “This is such a wonderful place.”

Shirley Hylton, manager of the Ronald McDonald House, shows off the home’s extensive dining room and, beyond that, the kitchen.

The majority of those who use the home come from a 60-mile radius, Thurston said. Residents from Neosho, Carthage, Miami, Okla. and Pittsburg, Kan. use the house the most. “Right now, we’ve counted 250 local communities

Ronald McDonald of the Four States facts: • Of the 326 Ronald McDonald Homes built worldwide, the Joplin facility was the 185th built. • Since opening its doors on July 27, 1998, the Ronald McDonald House of the Four States has served 2,310 families, for a total of 23,325 nights.

“Strengthening our families through comfort and compassion” — the motto of the Ronald McDonald House of the Four States at 3402 S. Jackson Ave.

• Ronald McDonald House paid staff and volunteers work hard to get the mother and father thinking and working together as a single, cohesive unit, because sadly, 85 percent of families who go through the stress of a sick child in a hospital do not stay together.

• The first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia in 1974.

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• A common misconception is that a Ronald McDonald House is owned or in some way funded by the McDonald Corporation. That is not the case. Each Ronald McDonald House is locally owned and operated; the Joplin location is owned by Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States, a non-profit corporation which has obtained its tax exemption under Section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

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• Families staying at the Ronald McDonald House are asked to contribute $10 per night. If that is not possible, their stay is free.

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• The Joplin Ronald McDonald house was the first to have a chapel built inside the walls.

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profile

ronald mcdonald house

Ronald McDonald House volunteer Joy Morris sweeps the dining room area. Morris is one of 130 volunteers who help out inside the home on an annual basis.

in our Four State Area who have been represented by families here in the house,” Thurston said. “They’re so glad that we’re here.” When the house first opened in 1998, there was one paid staff member and 30 volunteers to call upon. Fifteen years later, there’s a full-time and part-time staff members and 130 volunteers willing to help in whatever capacity needs fulfilling, whether it’s

manning the front desk, cleaning the house or outdoor landscaping. “We never bought a light bulb,” she said. “We have 14,000 square feet and the generosity of people has allowed us never to buy a light bulb. “This becomes home to them,” Thurston continued. “This is home to them. We see the family every day to make sure their needs and their cares are being met. That makes a huge difference for them.

The roomy living room inside the Ronald McDonald House. The house has served more than 2,300 families in 15 years.

“We’re still doing the same mission (now) as we did 15 years ago, and we hope to be doing that 15 years” down the road, Thurston said. Details: For more information about the Ronald McDonald House of Joplin, please contact Annette Thurston at PO Box 2688, 3402 S. Jackson Ave., Joplin, MO 64803 tel (417) 624-2273, Fax (417) 624-0270.

Congratulations Annette On your accomplishments & dedication to the

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Ronald McDonald House.

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Thank you for 15 great years, from your friends at Keller Williams. 619 S. Florida, Joplin www.kellerwilliamsjoplin.com 417-623-9900


on the cover METS

by Ryan Richardson

Quietly saving lives Everyday heroes on duty 24/7

A hospital on wheels. —Photography by Ryan Richardson

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Adam Clifton, EMT student and EMT Alexis Jeffers update their gear inside a METS ambulance before heading out on a May 2012 run. —Photography by T. Rob Brown

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Emergency medical technician Julia Wacker and Paramedic Randy Haycook check supplies inside their ambulance inside the truck bay at 625 Virginia. —Photography by B.W. Shepherd

Photography by Ryan Richardson


Alexis Jeffers, EMT, checks a Joplin’s METS ambulance back in 2013 to make sure it’s ready to go when needed. — Photography by T. Rob Brown

“I’m on no sleep right now and last night was busy,” Davis says. “Right now I’m on a 24-hour shift with 48 hours off after that.” Davis takes another swig of his coffee. I can tell he is worn

As I enter the lounge area of the building, I notice a sign that reads: “Committing our lives to save yours.” It sits above the pictures of the organization’s 68 staff members. That phrase remains in my head as Downs shows me around his “home away from home.” The METS building may appear small on the outside, but they have managed to neatly pack in the living quarters and office space in addition to other necessities, such as a weight room, bedrooms, training rooms and a full locker room. “Any job that you have to stay at for 24 hours for a shift becomes your home and your co-workers become your family,” Downs says. “We try and make it like home here for them.” The bedrooms are there for naps during particularly long shifts. The weight room is one of the most used rooms, Downs says. “We do weight-loss and health competitions here because that’s the kind of industry we are in. And we also have to take an extra focus on health because it is easy to just eat out and get junk food when you work shifts like this.” The classroom is an interesting area to me because I never realized just how much training these men and women go through. “You never stop learning on this job because there is always a way to do it better,” Downs says. “Every month we review something new and we focus on how we can use that in our day to day operation. We train to save lives.”

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7 : 1 5 a . m . – S ta f f m e e t i n g I’ve been assigned my driver and EMT partner for the day, but he is out on a call this morning. Most likely, he was in the ambulance that passed me by earlier. As I wait outside on a picnic table, several members of the morning crew come in to relieve the night shift. Every one of them — from new medics to drivers and local police who work with METS on responder calls — warmly greet me as they go on in. One of the overnight staff, John Davis, strikes up a conversation with me.

7 :4 5 a . m . – T h e G r a n d To u r My partner for the day is not back yet, so I get a tour from staff member Russell Downs. Downs has been with METS for eight years and I start to realize what kind of person it takes — a very special kind of person — to be a part of this team.

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7 a . m . - A r r i va l I arrive at the METS main location at 625 Virginia Ave., in downtown Joplin. On my way in, an ambulance passes me going the opposite direction down Main Street. I always thought there was a time where things slow down for this job, but this may be my first indication this isn’t always the case.

As he comments on the heat, I take a look at my phone’s weather app and note it’s going to reach 97 degrees with a heat index in the low 100s. “They are going to be packed today,” Davis says.

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5 a.m. The alarm goes off, telling me it is time to jump into my eight-hour shift with the Metro Emergency Transport System (METS) here in Joplin. The sun isn’t up yet and this is way before my normal time to greet the world in the morning. Today is going to be a long shift with these guys and I’m not sure what to expect. Everyone thinks they know what ambulance drivers and EMTs do, but I’m going to live a day with them and find out what exactly they do.

out from last night’s work. “We never do stop,” the two-year METS vet says. “This time of year gets hot and we get a lot of heat-related issues like heat stroke or dehydration. Seizures also are common this time of year.”

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eroes. They come in all shapes and sizes. While the Joplin Police Department and the Joplin Fire Department may receive a majority of the newspaper headlines, the members of the Metro Emergency Transport System (METS) quietly go about their business, saving lives 24/7. The following is Joplin Metro Magazine’s third in-depth look at the city’s emergency services, beginning with the JPD in 2011 and the JFD in 2012. Now Ryan Richardson brings you an in-depth look at the inner workings of the city’s ambulance service.

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METS

on the cover

Photography by Ryan Richardson

One Ride At a Time Thirty-one Years and Counting

by Ryan Richardson

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or more than three decades, Joplin’s Metro Emergency Transport System has served as the first people on the scene when a medical emergency strikes in the Joplin area.

Here are some following stats about METS and the men and women who serve it. • METS has three ambulances stationed permanently at the main depot at 625 Virginia Ave. in downtown Joplin; two more ambulances in south Joplin, and two more vehicles at the Webb City Fire Department at 506 Ellis St. • METS ambulance crew cover more than 400 square miles on a daily basis. • The service today known as METS began life in the early 1980s as the Joplin Area Emergency Medical Services Corp., or JEMS. Starting as a private nonprofit business, the company served as a cooperative agreement among the city of Joplin as well as Joplin’s then three hospitals. Previously, the city’s ambulance service had been maintained by the Joplin Police Department. JEMS transformed into METS in 1998, when JEMS merged with Webb City Ambulance Service. Today, METS is owned jointly between Freeman Health Care System and Mercy Hospital.

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• METS employs nearly 80 , including emergency management technicians, paramedics and office staff.

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• METS crews operate four, 24-hour ambulances, two 12-hour ambulances and one 8-hour ambulance, which is reserved for peak demand during the day. Each ambulance is staffed with two medically-trained personnel, either emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics. • METS’ ambulances covers an area stretching from I-44 to the Barton County Line, and from Kansas to 71 Highway. In Joplin, the area between 32nd Street and I-44 is shared with Newton County Ambulance. • According to METS Director Jason Smith, the company responds to more than 16,000 calls each year. • METS has eight staff members who have taken an extra 40-hour class to become trained as tactical medics. These medics respond with the Joplin Police Department Special Response Team (SRT) to serve high-risk search warrants as well as to assist with stake outs.

8 :1 7 a . m . – I t e m c h e c k s My partner for the day, Randy Haycook, has returned from his emergency run and is now ready to start his day, but not before a detailed check of his ambulance. The 32-year ambulance veteran apologizes for missing me earlier. “It is unfortunate when you don’t get to do your check first because there is a call,” Haycook says. “It happens a lot more than not.” Carrying a clipboard with an itemized checklist, Haycook cycles through hidden compartments in almost every corner of the ambulance, as he checks what supplies he has. “You check things like narcotics to make sure they are accounted for. You make sure that our oxygen levels are good to go,” Haycook says. “When you are faced with taking care of someone, you don’t want to worry about not having what you immediately need in immediate reach.” All of Haycook’s years in the back of an ambulance shows in both small and major ways as he runs through the check list. He is quick, but supremely efficient, as he describes to me what everything does, including the “marrow drill,” which pinpoints a vein when finding one proves difficult. “You have to know your tools and how to fix things. There is nothing in this van that I haven’t had to use,” Haycook says. “This is why we do our check every day. What would have happened and we needed to use this and no one had checked it out?” As we are wrapping up the first sheet of


The word originally meant a moving hospital, which follows an army in its movements. During the American Civil War, vehicles for conveying the wounded off the field of battle were called ambulance wagons. Field hospitals were still called ambulances during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and in the Serbo-Turkish war of 1876, even though the wagons were first referred to as ambulances about 1854, during the Crimean War.

When we arrive, there are five police cars and a man already in handcuffs. He is bleeding from different wounds, but the most serious one appears to be near his nose. A woman is standing nearby and she appears to have been involved in the dispute.

As Katelin and Randy work on the female, they start to ask her questions to ascertain her mental state. “What day is your birthday?” is one question. “What day of the week is it today?” is another.

Randy, our driver, Katelin Dashiell, and I, all exit the vehicle as the pair jumps into action. The woman is placed in a neck brace and is checked for wounds. A second ambulance arrives and that team goes to work on the male. He is placed on a stretcher and loaded into the other ambulance.

They also start to check for possible internal injuries that aren’t apparent to the untrained eye. Once they make sure she is stable, they load her into the back of the ambulance. Randy places an oxygen mask on her face. His hands travel quickly around the back of the ambulance to get everything he needs,

METS

9:01 a.m. – First Call We get the information of a possible stabbing near Hill Street in Joplin and the ambulance is off. We are also informed it is related to a domestic disturbance.

The term ambulance comes from the Latin word “ambulare,” meaning to walk or move about which is a reference to early medical care where patients were moved by lifting or wheeling.

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the morning checklist, the ambulance receives its first call. With the flash of the overhead lights and roar of the engine, we’re off and running.

all the while speaking to the woman, gaining additional information as well as keeping her calm. My adrenaline is already flying. I can’t believe this was the first thing that’s happened today. As Katelin drives, she asks me what I thought of the call. She tells me that a lot of times, they sound a lot worse than they really are. “We have a general idea of what we are getting into medical wise, but the how is what

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METS

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METS driver Katelin Dashiell pushes back in their stretcher after delivering a patient to the hospital’s emergency room. Dashiell often preps the vehicle for its next run while 32-year veteran Randy Haycook completes the paperwork with the nursing staff inside. — Photography by Ryan Richardson

we have to find out a lot of the times so we can figure out treatment,” she says.

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As the two ambulances head south on Main Street toward Freeman Hospital, they pass a third one rushing in the opposite direction. It is already a busy morning.

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9 : 4 1 a . m . – H o s p i ta l A d m i t ta n c e The patients are seamlessly handed off between doctors and the ambulance staff. As Randy handles the transition, Katelin restores order to the back of the ambulance. She changes the cover on the stretcher while disposing of the medical waste. “We could get a call immediately (so) we have to be ready to go,” she says. “You get the work done because of that exact reason.”

Did you know? In addition to the daily commitment to saving lives and responding to health emergencies locally, METS also responds to disaster situations countrywide. METS sent ambulances in response to Hurricane Katrina, Rita and Ivan over the past decade. METS were also the primary ambulance transportation in Joplin following the May 22, 2011 tornado. During the hours following the tornado, more than 250 people were transported through dangerous roads to Freeman Hospital to receive treatment. All METS members were on the ground that evening to assist the medical needs of Joplin residents.

The METS ambulance service was part of the EF-5 Tornado Disaster Medical Strike Team that played such a pivotal role in the aftermath of the May 22, 2011 tornado. — Photography by T. Rob Brown

1 1 :3 7 a . m . – Lu n c h , Ta k e 1 As we are en route to lunch, we receive a call to assist a person at the fire department on 303 E. Third St. “That is why we take the ambulance everywhere we go,” Katelin says. “There are no breaks. There is no off time.” The lights are flashing and we are heading out to help once again. When we arrive, we find a girl on a bench inside complaining of severe abdominal pain. Without hesitation, Kaitlin and Randy go right to work. Again, the questions start flying as they try to narrow down what’s wrong with the girl. Randy attaches a heart monitor and gets her on oxygen once she’s brought aboard the ambulance. He discovers this girl’s pain has been occurring over the past week. He immediately starts an IV drip and he probes her mid-section to isolate the area where it’s hurting her. He quickly scribbles down some notes and asks her what level her pain is on. “Eleven,” she says in-between sobs. 1 2 :0 4 p. m . – M e r c y H o s p i ta l The girl is wheeled in and doctors quickly swarm her, as Randy


METS

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Randy Haycook, one of many METS “heroes” Written and photographed by Ryan Richardson

“I got to the door and said ‘Man, is this hot,’” Haycook said. “I went to open it up and that’s when the smoke came out and hit me.” Neighbors were quick to tell Haycook that a young girl was still inside the house. During his initial check he hadn’t seen her, though he did find the adult who had originally placed the “respiratory distress” call. The original call for the EMTs hadn’t mentioned anything about a fire. The Joplin Fire Department had been immediately notified of the blaze, but there would still be a delay

relays to them the girl’s condition and what the ambulance’s monitors have discovered. As the hospital staff goes to work on the girl, Randy wraps up the paperwork with the nursing staff. Once again, Kaitlin is finishing up in the back of the ambulance, jotting down what supplies they’ve already used up on the trip. “You keep up with everything during the day because you can easily run out if you aren’t paying attention,” she says. “You stay focused and you provide the best care that you can.” 1 3 : 1 8 p. m . – Lu n c h , ta k e 2 After stopping to pick up lunch, we sit together at the table in the lounge. Even while we are eating, the METS members continue to work. Team members filter in and out and give each other a heads up on the day’s business.

Calls like this one is what Haycook finds the most challenging about his job. “There was no indication of there being a fire until we got right up to the door and then we had to react with what we have on hand. There are a lot of tools we use and we have to work hard with all of them,” Haycook said. “The reason we do what we do is because we have to act right to save lives. In this case, our tools and our quick action saved her life.”

Despite the obvious heavy workload, there isn’t a down member of the team. They seem stressed, and that goes along with the field of work, but they all seem to be working together smoothly. Randy says a lot of that comes from the bonds the METS workers have developed over the years. “We turn into each other’s support here,” he says. “There isn’t a lot of time to be distracted or down in our field. We find ways for each other to make it through the day and to overcome problems that they have.” 1 :4 5 p. m . – C a l l T h r e e We receive a call to respond to a mid-50s male with chest pains. We arrive mere minutes after the call is received and we meet the fire department responders there.

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“But this was a lot different,” Haycook said. The man’s “respiratory distress” was actually caused by smoke damage from a fire raging inside the house.

The girl was unconscious. Haycook carried her outside and, with the help of another EMT, was able to get her to breathe again. “I don’t think she would have made it if we’d had to wait or if we didn’t find her that quickly,” Haycook said. “We got lucky. She was only in the hospital for a few days, which was great. It could have been much, much worse.”

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But some calls aren’t always what they seem. Back on April 28, he was part of a team that responded to a house near Mineral Street in Joplin. Inside, a man was suffering “respiratory distress”

The house, Haycook continued, “had not vented yet, and we had no idea how long it would be until the fire department (would get) there. That’s when we went back in and found her.”

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Most calls are “common,” he said. “We make sure everything is in working order and (we) help them to the hospital if need be,” Haycook said.

before they reached the house. “That really got the adrenaline flowing,” Haycook said. “We decided to go back in there and search.” The little girl may not have even been inside the house, “but we had to make sure. The smoke was way too thick for someone to (stay) alive for much longer.”

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ith more than 30 years inside the back of an ambulance, Randy Haycook has personally saved countless lives throughout the Joplin area.

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For the first time that day, the person who placed the call meets us at the door and explains that he is in pain and is worried about a possible heart attack. He is walking around, but it’s obvious he’s in pain. My team gets him on a stretcher and they ask him if he’s had a previous heart attack or pre-existing medical condition. Randy attaches the heart monitor to both his chest and legs. There’s a fast beeping sound coming from the monitor, and the man looks concerned. Randy talks to him, keeping him calm. He gives him oxygen and his heart rate slows. We rush him to Freeman Hospital and he is admitted as a preventative measure. As we are loading back into the van, Randy tells me a lot of their job is to calm people during these highly stressful moments. “A heart attack can be a scary thing and that guy needed to know we got there in time,” he says. “The body can respond in really strange ways and going into a high stress situation when something may be going really wrong inside can just make things so much worse. We get them talking, we get them to explain what is going wrong with them as we do our jobs.”

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3 :4 5 p. m . – Lo u n g e The afternoon has slowed down considerably and Kaitlin has retreated to one of the private rooms to catch a quick nap in the middle of her 24-hour shift. Randy says many of the METS workers make good use of these rooms throughout their shift. “A lot of times you are running on pure adrenaline, which is not a good replacement for real sleep,” he says. “Thirty minutes here or there can really help someone get refreshed and refocused for a busy shift.”

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4 :2 0 p. m . – E n d o f S h i f t As my time winds down, I have become friendly with a few of the others inside the main lounge. One of those is Justin Primm, who is studying for his board preparation certification. He has been at the station most of the day with his face buried inside a sprawling binder filled with prep questions for his upcoming test. Primm, who is also working most of the day, says he has no choice but to stay focused on his task. “Sometimes you don’t have a lot in the tank but you keep going,” Primm says. “You stay focused and you stay aware. You look out for your friends here and you look out for those people you are taking care of.” I point out the board and its words on the wall, and he nods and utters the motto aloud: “Committing our lives to save yours.” “That is the truth about working here,” Primm says. “It is a real commitment to everything you have to do in this kind of work. You have to make that commitment every day.”


living

technology By Michael Coonrod Photography by J Mag staff

Back to School

Technology Backpacks, pencils and a Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 Tablet

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ot too long ago, you didn’t need much to go to college: pens and notebooks, an alarm clock, and maybe a calculator to factor those logarithmic functions.

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Students today have a veritable sci-fi film’s worth of gadgets. There are enough electronics to bring new meaning to the phrase, “leave you to your own devices.” So what does a parent do when confronted with the task of equipping their child for the halls of higher learning?

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The Baker family lives in Vernon County, with two kids enrolled at Missouri Southern State University. Jordan is a junior majoring in sociology with a psychology minor. His sister, Lindsay, will be starting as a freshman this fall. She’s interested in dental hygiene. Their dad, Chris, is a 1988 graduate from Southern with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. What does he think of today’s technology compared with his college years? “There really wasn’t any when we went. Computers were still fairly new and they were certainly larger desktop-type models. Laptops were non-existent.

So what are Jordan and Lindsay packing off to school? “We bought both of the kids a laptop for high-school graduation,“ says their mom, Lori Baker. “Some kids already have them when they live at home, but we had a community one

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Cell phones had just started to show up, but they were certainly units that you installed in a car or carried a brick [battery] around with you,” says Chris. “They were so expensive that nobody really had access to them. I did see a few people with recorders, and at that time they were still the mini or the micro-cassettes that people would take to classes for lectures. But for the most part, just good old pen and paper.”

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Brian says many parents come into the

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But what if you feel a need for the fastest and most powerful in computing? Something suitable for spreadsheets, surfing the Internet, or dare we say

gaming? “Breaking it down, more tablets and computers that are designed for gaming are also coming equipped with more memory and faster speeds for homework, school-related things, software,” says Brian Mink, a computer and tablet specialist at Joplin’s Best Buy. He’s also a senior accounting major at Pittsburg State University.

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Smartphones are also important tools for students and parents alike. “I know the kids can sign-up and get text messages for class cancellations or severe weather,” says Chris.“That can be relayed by text instantly, and the nice thing for

Lori and I as parents is that we’re actually able to sign up for that ourselves through the kids’ accounts. We can list our cell phone numbers and get text messages when their classes are cancelled or the weather’s bad, which is pretty nice.”

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for the whole family. When it came time for them to graduate high school and get ready to go out on their own, we bought them each one.”

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store not knowing what device their student needs. “So just explaining, breaking down what each one can do. That way, both parties are happy.”

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He also thinks students should plan to upgrade on a regular basis, if it’s financially feasible. “About the beginning and midway of college, I upgraded my smartphone so I could quickly check my emails, and upgraded my laptop so it was easier to move around on campus, pull things up, do homework, and submit things.” Other popular item include headphones and emergency chargers for those long study sessions. Some of these clip on a belt loop and charge themselves as you walk. Lastly, don’t overlook e-readers. “It’s called an ebook,” says Brian, noting that many schools now have electronic textbooks available to students. “You just have a little Kindle, and you’ve got your books right there.”


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taste

wings

By Kevin McClintock Photography by T. Rob Brown

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ong before Buffalo Wild Wings and chicken wings at pizza outlets, there was Hackett Hot Wings.

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Hollerin’ over some

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Within days, area residents were introduced to something new:

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In late 2003, Floyd and Jacqueline opened the doors to their restaurant at 1301 E. Langston Hughes-Broadway. It was the first “hot wings”-type restaurant found in Joplin.

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taste

h a c k e tt H o t W i n g s

Authentic Memphis-style hot wings. The couple had perfected their various rub and sauce recipes while sampling wings at a number of family wing joints based in and around Memphis, Tenn. While working for Pfizer pharmaceutical company, Floyd dabbled inside with his own various flavored rubs and sauces. Soon, he was making delicious wings for friends and families. “That’s when they told me I needed to open a restaurant of my own,” Floyd said. Floyd had lived in Joplin between the ages of 5 to 11. On June 28, 2003, he and Jacqueline married. Three days later, they were moving to Joplin. And less than two months later, Floyd’s restaurant was a reality. In 2008, they moved to their current location at 520 S. Main St., with its more Memphis “Beale Street” vibe, Floyd said. Since then, Hackett Hot Wings has been named “2011 Restaurateur of the Year” by the Missouri Restaurant Association officials as well as voted “No. 1 wings” by three regional magazines.

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Q — You were the first of your kind here in Joplin. There’s been tons of imitators since you first opened in 2003. What makes you and your wings stand out, here in 2013, from the rest? A — My own sauces and rubs. I created those. I didn’t want to be like everybody else. I’ve made a lot (of rubs and sauces). A lot of trial and error. Nobody has (the rubs and sauces) that we have. We’ve got customers all over the United States and they want us to be where they live at — they say they don’t have anything like (what we serve here). I had a man who came in and said nobody (in Chicago) could beat my honey/hot wings.

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Q — Is it nice to be located right on Route 66? A — Oh, it’s great. When we moved over here we knew it was going to be an awesome place to be at. We’ve had customers from overseas who come here, never tasted us before, and they love (the wings). Or those who have never had a dry rub before. They are amazed (by the taste. And for several international groups heading from Chicago to L.A.), we are now one of their stops along the way. So it’s great to be a part of Route 66. We bring a lot of people downtown. Q — Just curious, what’s your favorite rub and sauce? A — My favorite rub is lemon pepper, and sauce? Beer. Q — Would you ever want to go back to Memphis, since that’s where dry rubs originated? A — We would do well, but I kinda like this area here. The lord told me to come to Joplin, Missouri – and here I am. (And when people eat his wings), not only do they come back, they bring two or three of their friends.


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m a i n e c o o n c a tt e r y

Over the Moon for Maine Coons

by Katy Schrader Photography by Roger Nomer and Marian Goepfert

Local family continues efforts of longtime cat breeder

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Two Maine Coon kittens bat at a toy in the air.

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“My husband used to have a rule that the pets can’t outnumber the humans in the house…” she says. Well, no more. Goepfert and her husband, Daniel, have operated MoJo Maines in Joplin for two years now, and Maine Coons have become their passion.“He loves the cats just as much as I do,” Goepfert says of her husband.

The Goepferts’ foray into cat breeding occurred as a matter of simple circumstance. After losing their overstock resale business in Joplin’s 2011 tornado, they were looking for another business opportunity. At about the same time, Daniel Goepfert’s mother purchased a Maine Coon kitten from longtime breeder Karen Rose in Nevada. It was then that the Goepferts discovered a genuine interest in the Maine Coon breed. “From there we just started

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Each one has its own color pattern and its own personality. And each one is unmistakably a Maine Coon. These socalled “gentle giants” of the cat world are just temporary residents of Goepfert’s home while they await placement in a permanent home with an owner who

will treasure them as much as Goepfert does.

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urled up in the corners of Marian Goepfert’s home are numerous warm, fuzzy balls of fur.

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m a i n e c o o n c at t e ry

talking some more (to Rose),” says Marian Goepfert. “We spent a good year visiting with her and going to cat shows and talking to other breeders.” The Goepferts began their own breeding operation by purchasing several Maine Coon kittens from Rose, but Rose also loaned them two adult male and two adult female cats so they could begin producing litters right away.

At 13 weeks old, Little Miss Polka Dot is inquisitive about the camera. She is a brown patch tabby.

Critter, a 14-weekold red and white tabby, was recently claimed by a family in Idaho.

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This 12-week old Maine Coon male is known as Fanboy.

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Rose, who operated Rose Petals Maine Coon Cats for 20 years before retiring in March, was thrilled to find someone serious about carrying on her beloved line of “Rose Petals” Maine Coons. She says some of her “Rose Petals” bloodline had been bred with the “Angels Afoot” bloodline of Maine Coons belonging to Joplin breeder Julie Tichota, who later died of an illness. “I had promised Julie before she passed away that I would keep her line going as long as I could,” says Rose. After she worked with the Goepferts, Rose said she finally felt free to retire knowing her commitments would be continued. “I could tell how serious they were about it and that they were definitely going to be a reputable breeder. I was happy to find a wonderful family to keep those lines going. They are the only ones in 20 years I felt I could trust to take over my cats.” While the Goepferts had owned cats before, they found themselves smitten with the Maine Coon breed the more they learned about it. As the name suggests, the breed originated in Maine; the “coon” moniker is a reference to the cat’s bushy tail, which in some cases carried rings like those on a raccoon’s tail. “They were considered a working cat because they were very good mousers,” says Rose. Besides the bushy tail which the cat can curl around its body for warmth, other distinct features of the Maine Coon include its large, sturdy body, uneven shaggy coat, and thick tufts of hair on


Marian Goepfert hugs the Maine Coon she calls her “gentle giant” — the huge Naranja. Naranja, almost two years old, weighs in at 17 pounds and may still gain a pound or two before reaching full maturity.

All of the Goepferts kittens are purebred Maine Coons registered with the Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA), which maintains the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats. Since becoming a Maine Coon breeder, Goepfert and her husband have also

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“Everyone’s amazed at the little chirping sound from such a big cat,” says Rose. “They don’t meow and when they do there’s usually a reason.”

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The Maine Coon is native to America and is a natural breed, meaning it is not the product of mixing other breeds. It has a reputation for being a friendly, intelligent cat that mixes well with children and other pets. Goepfert says another endearing quality of the Maine Coon is its unusual vocalizations. “They chirp and they trill. They’re just charming,” she says.

Parker

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the bottom of the paws, between the toes and in the ears. These features are all cold-weather adaptations that kept the animal warm during harsh New England winters.

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While giant Naranja watches from Marian Goepfert’s lap, three other Maine Coon kittens leap for a chew toy.

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enjoyed showing their cats at CFA and ACFA (American Cat Fanciers Association) shows. As a breeder, Goepfert says the shows are a great way to connect with other breeders, and they provide an opportunity to gauge the success of her own breeding program. “The reason for the show is to make sure your cat is the breed standard or better than the breed standard. It’s also fun,” she says. “It’s good to see other people and the other cat breeds.”

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While Goepfert is thoroughly enjoying her work with Maine Coons, she acknowledges that operating a cattery the right way is hard work that is heavy on expense. The breeding cats and their kittens must have highquality, nutritious food for optimum

health, and the kittens are dewormed, vaccinated and spayed or neutered before going to their new homes. Goepfert also screens her breeding cats for a gene mutation that can cause a heart disease known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Although HCM can occur in any breed of cat, Maine Coons are known to be predisposed to the disorder.

out a kitten application which assesses their ability to provide a good home; if the application is approved, the buyer must sign a contract stipulating that the cat will live indoors and will not be surgically declawed. Goepfert’s Maine Coon kittens are $750 apiece, and she encourages buyers to visit their kitten before it goes home with them at 12 weeks.

With so much invested in producing a healthy, pedigreed cat, reputable breeders don’t make money, says Rose. Instead, they get into the business to preserve and improve specific breeds, which is one of the overall objectives of the Cat Fancier’s Association.

Charles and Mary Stoner of Ozark, Mo., visited their new kitten, Plato, at the Goepfert’s cattery three times before bringing him home. Today, he is adjusting well to his new environment and providing plenty of entertainment. “My husband is just as crazy about him as I am,” says Mary Stoner. “He makes us laugh all the time.”

Potential buyers interested in one of Goepfert’s Maine Coons must first fill

Maine Coon Fast Facts - Intelligent and trainable - Sturdy and athletic - Known for exhibiting dog-like behavior - Fond of playing with water - Gentle disposition making them ideal family pets, companions or therapy cats - Maine Coons are, understandably, recognized as the official state cat of Maine

“And these are the happy endings that make her efforts worthwhile,” says Goepfert. “I get the satisfaction of knowing that the kittens are going to good homes, to people that are going to love them as much as I do. I feel good about giving people a good, healthy cat.” Details: For more information about MoJo Maine Coons, call 417.627.0029, or visit them at www. facebook.com/MoJoMaineCoons.


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grand canyon hike

By Scott Meeker

A grand adventure J Mag staffer travels to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

and a half ago I found myself researching this inverted mountain and wondering what it would be like to take in the view from its “summit.” After reading up on Phantom Ranch, I decided to go for it and called last spring to make reservations.

I’m not sure how I was bitten by the Grand Canyon bug, but about a year

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There had been an agreement that

Our destination lay a few miles ahead – Phantom Ranch, a lodge located in an oasis at the base of the Grand Canyon.

In mid-July, my friends Chad Fletcher, Campbell Fisher and I hopped in the car and headed west. Taking in the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, the badlands and the gorgeous views in Sedona, Ariz., was an amazing experience, but nothing prepared me for the breathtaking view from the canyon’s south rim. In those moments of awed silence, gazing across the vast expanse carved out over millions of years, a sense of perspective flooded in.

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The series of switchbacks running down toward the Colorado River were exposed to the sun, and heat radiated off the canyon walls. In the shade, of which there was precious little, the temperature was 100 degrees. Out in the open, it was 15 degrees warmer.

the first one of us to complain about the heat would be obligated to make a highly embarrassing introduction to a total stranger. So instead of complaints, we made a lot of general observations: “I’m not complaining, but ... it feels like we’re walking through an oven.”

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s we trudged down the area of the trail dubbed Devil’s Corkscrew, it wasn’t hard to see how it got its name.

So the reservations were made and training began during the winter months. I dropped the pounds I had put on when I stopped running (after a doctor told me I have the knees of someone twice my age) and packed the weeks with long walks, sit-ups and stair-climbing.

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Turns out it’s not that easy. Even though less than 1 percent of the national park’s 5 million annual visitors make the trip down to the ranch, reservations must be made up to 13 months in advance.

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grand canyon hike

I found myself in total agreement with Danny Glover’s character in the movie “Grand Canyon”: “You know what I felt like? I felt like a gnat that lands on the ass of a cow chewing his cut on the side of the road that you drive by doing 70 miles per hour.”

dian Gardens rest areas. We encountered fellow hikers from France, Australia and seemingly all other points of the globe, as well as a pair of American hikers who tested our sanity by piping pan flute music through speakers built into a backpack.

And then, we began the journey down the Bright Angel Trail. Originally built by Native Americans, the trail was improved over the years and extended to

The heat during the last half of our hike down was intense, and my energy had started to wane by the time we finally crossed the river and entered Phantom Ranch. We enjoyed a steak dinner in the canteen, and it was easily one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The table was shared with three hikers from Ireland, but other than some brief pleasantries, every one of us was mainly intent on packing away the food on our plates.

the Colorado River. While not terribly steep, there is nearly a mile change in elevation as you descend the seemingly endless switchbacks over 10 miles. Also, some of the rocky terrain had me worried about turning an ankle and made me wish I hadn’t laughed off the idea of using a walking stick. The temperature rose as we made our descent, but water was plentiful thanks to the 1.5-mile, 3-mile and In-

After an evening ranger program about the formation of the canyon, it was off to bed in the ranch bunkhouse, but not before I dropped $10 on a wooden walking stick. Sleep came quickly, but so did 4:30 a.m., when everyone got up in order to make an early start up the trail and beat the heat. Including water stops, photo-ops, eating lunch and grabbing some muchneeded shade, the 10-mile descent to the ranch took the three of us about seven hours. The trip back up to the rim was a bit more taxing.

Devil’s Corkscrew, the toughest part of the previous day’s hike thanks to the unforgiving temperatures, was a breeze in comparison. But after the midway point at Indian Gardens, the increasing altitude began severely taxing my lungs. At one point, we found a turtle that had been stepped on by one of the mules that carry travelers and supplies up and down the trail. It was perfectly recognizable as a turtle, only it was compressed down into what appeared to be only a few centimeters in thickness. My lungs began to feel like that turtle as the air thinned out, and I had to stop frequently to catch my breath. The money spent on the walking stick was the best investment I could have made, as it not only helped with footing, but frequently provided something for me to rest (or, to be honest, prop myself up) against. By the time we reached the rim, 11 hours had passed and the pointed end of the stick had been worn down to a flat nub. I was exhausted … more exhausted than I’ve ever been in my life. I was wheezing and it would be several days before my chest stopped aching, but taking in that view from the top again, there was also a feeling of accomplishment. Of having taxed myself physically. Of having been rewarded with some of Mother Nature’s majesty that only a small percentage of people ever see. And of still feeling small in the grand scheme of things, but standing slightly taller than before at the edge of the canyon.

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softball sisters

Written and photographed by Kevin McClintock

Playing in a ‘league of their own’ Two sisters played fast-pitch softball during WW2

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hey called her “Chirpie,” because she was always smiling and talking, non-stop; an excitable presence on the baseball diamond. And at the age of 14, in 1944, Gina Casey could only serve as an energetic batgirl for the Riverside Townies, one of the teams comprising the Championship Fast Pitch Softball League. Only when she turned 16, in 1946, would Casey find a permanent spot on the infield at second base. Her older sister by six years, Alice Fracasso, saw plenty of time on the field during the World War II years. She was the Townies’ primary catcher. In fact, it was Alice, famed for the thickset glasses she always wore on the ball field, who helped the Townies win Rhode Island State Champion trophies from 1944 to 1951.

Alice Fracasso (left) and Gina “Chirpie” Casey, fast-pitch softball sisters, pose in front of several framed signed bats inside their Grove, Okla. home. Note Gina’s T-shirt with the famed phrase from the 1992 movie, “A League of Their Own.” 40

The two sisters would form the nucleus of a team that spent its summer months crowded inside a Greyhound bus, roaming the Eastern seaboard, sometimes even venturing north into Canada, playing a game they loved in front of a warweary but appreciative public.

Both girls grew up playing sandlot ball with their brothers. They had a lot of brothers. They were two of 14 brothers and sisters in their family. Alice started playing amateur ball first, “and I started dragging (Gina) along with me. And the team fell in love with her. So she became our batgirl. We made her carry our bats.” “And guess who had to clean the spikes after each game?” Gina added with a laugh. What you see in the popular movie “A League of Their Own” pretty much mimics what Alice and Gina did for more than 10 years, though the team in the movie, the Rockford Peaches, was a professional team, while their own Riverside Townies, based out of Providence, R.I., played in an amateur league. Still, like the Peaches did in the Penny Marshall-directed film, Alice, Gina and the rest of the Townies would suffer through long trips inside a bus, sometimes lasting all night, going from one game to the next. They would play their


A promotional Rockford Peaches poster from the mid-1940s, along with dates of upcoming games.

A collection of pictures of Alice and Gina meeting and greeting “A League of Their Own” director Penny Marshall and several cast members from the movie.

“He was a great coach,” Gina said of the Riverside Townies manager, whose name had escaped her at the time. “He was a very fair coach.” Probably the biggest difference between the movie and reality, however, was that the fans who paid to watch

“And we were good,” Gina added. In some ways, the movie “A League of Their Own” could have easily been modeled after Alice and Gina. The two sisters in the movie played on the same

When asked if either Gina or Alice ever thought the movie could have been about them and their exploits, Gina shook her head no. “Oh no, never. We wouldn’t do that. “But it was based on a true story,” added Alice. “There were these two sisters, the Callihans, from Canada, and they were on the same team — one was a third baseman, the other was a center fielder. And they did have a rivalry, though it was a friendly one: Who got more base hits, who stole more bases, stuff like that.”

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In reality, “They liked watching us play,” Alice said. “We played the prelim games, before the boys came out to play, so not too many (fans) came out.” But those who did, she continued, “respected us. Because they knew we could play a good ball game.”

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In the movie, some of the fans were there only to deride the women’s play, mocking them or catcalling them as they ran the base paths, or paying only to stare at their tanned thighs.

team, just as Alice and Gina did. Dottie, the movie’s lead character (played by Geena Davis) was a catcher, just like Alice was. And Dottie’s younger sister, Kit, was an energetic and important player on the team, just like Gina was, though Kit was a pitcher in the movie.

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But there were some major differences, too. Unlike the Hollywood version, the Townies wore no high-thigh skirts. “We wore white knickers,” Gina said. The bus was a nice one, not a smokebelching monster. Their coach was a quiet, compassionate man, who respected his players and their play; unlike the coach from the movie, memorably portrayed by Tom Hanks.

the all-girl teams play appreciated what they were doing out there on the baseball diamond, Alice said.

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games inside small venues, sometimes lightly populated by the public. Occasionally there would be double-headers during the hottest parts of the day.

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softball sisters

Gina and Alice had a similar, friendlybased rivalry going while they both wore the Townies’ uniform. “The joke was that I couldn’t run fast,” said Alice, who was listed in 1944 at 5-foot-3 and 115 pounds. And that’s not surprising — most catchers aren’t fleet of foot. “Everybody ran faster than I did. But I managed.” However, Alice was the better hitter of the two, Gina said, who was listed in 1944 at 4-foot-11 and 105 pounds. “I sacrificed my body and let the ball hit me any way, shape or form,” Gina said proudly. “They used to make me bunt a lot. I could outrun a bunt” down the first-base line. The sport was very popular to play among bored women and housewives. And it was taking place nationwide. “During the war that’s really all that women could do,” Alice said, other than working in the factories to keep food on the table while husbands and fathers were abroad fighting the Germans,

A signed picture of the “real” Rockford Peaches, from the 1945 Life Magazine centerfold.

Italians and Japanese. “They would go to work and there was nothing else to do because of gas rationing, so for us girls it was all fast-pitch softball.”

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Like many scenes portrayed in the 1992 film, there were plenty of fun moments — usually on the bus. “Some of the bus drivers were husbands” of the women players, Gina said, “and we played a lot of tricks on them.”

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One prank that stands out in her mind was the time when Gina and several other rookie players crept to the back of the bus, where one of the husband/ drivers slept. They managed to slip off his ball cap, curl pink-colored rollers into his hair, and place the hat back atop his head. The poor guy didn’t

realize his new hairdo until the following afternoon, when they all had to doff their caps for the playing of the


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softball sisters

Alice Fracasso (left) and Gina Casey pose in front of a few bats from their ball-playing days.

The sisters are associate members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. By associate, it means they were not professional players on professional softball teams; “it was

“We just played for the love of the game.”

Alice has been a member of the AAGPBL for 35 years; Gina for 30 years. Ironically, neither sister really watches baseball all that much these days. “The game’s changed,” Gina said. “The umpires don’t control the game like they used to.”

Another reason why they might not sit down together in front of the tube is the fact that Alice is a die-hard New York Yankees fan, while Gina is a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan. The only baseball they will watch in the same room together is the World Series — or when their two teams play each other. “We have to divide the (living) room with police tape so she stays on her side and I stay on mine,” Gina said with a laugh.

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And no player, added Alice, “is faithful to their city or team anymore. So I don’t watch it.”

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Another time, when the Townies were playing a team out of Connecticut for the New England softball title, they were in a 0-0 lock in the ninth inning (most games went only seven innings). One of the opposing hitters slapped at the ball but, on her way to first, stepped out of the base path, which was a nono in the league. Despite that, the ump called her safe at first base. That player eventually came around to score the winning run, and that team went off to Texas for the championship game. “To this day,” Gina said, “I’m still mad at them for that.”

Four of her teammates did make it professionally during her tenure with the Townies.

Gina continued. That’s why they played fast-pitch softball for so many years. “Our whole hearts were in it,” she said. “We just went out there and we had fun.

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There were some memorable moments during a game that Gina still clearly remembers. One was a double-play ball that dribbled her way. After stepping on the second-base bag, she flipped the ball to first, but the runner charged her down and caught her in mid-leap, “flipping me like a bug. Seven stitches.”

more like we played on a farm team,” Alice said.

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national anthem, and his pink rollers could be seen by everyone in the ballpark. “But he liked to get us after that,” Gina said with a laugh.

But watching baseball isn’t like playing it, 43


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m i d w e s t g at h e r i n g o f t h e a rt i s t s

by Kevin McClintock Photography courtesy Sandy Higgins

Gathering of Artists MGA ’13 is one of area’s most prestigious art shows

“We’re Not Done Yet” by Robyn Cook

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or a majority of its 36 years in Carthage, the Midwest Gathering of the Artists has always featured a nice blend of both veteran and up-and-coming artists. The 2013 version is no different.

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Robyn Cook

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Robyn Cook, who hails from Pierce City, is one of three new artists invited into this rather elite gathering of artists this year. “I would definitely say it is another step (up),” Cook said. “I’ve been showing work in Texas for several years and am now starting to get involved with shows and local organizations. “I accidentally, sort of, did things backwards,” the Ozark High School graduate said. “I think most artists start locally and then venture out.” Which may be the case, but only a select few local artists are invited into this group, which includes some of the most recognized names found anywhere in the area: Lowell Davis, Bob Tommey and Andy Thomas. “My feeling,” said Sandy Higgins, who has organized the MGA event for de-

cades now, “is it’s my goal to encourage (the artists) to go into shows like this.” MGA “is a stepping stone for many artists and their careers.” The other two new artists joining the MGA ranks this year is David Libby and Kim Graham. Overall, 32 artists will be displaying their work at either the art auction on Friday, Sept. 20, or the art show and sale on Saturday, Sept. 21 and Sunday, Sept. 22. The auction, $20 per person, will begin at 6 p.m. with wine and hor d’oeuvres. Following a mayor’s presentation at 7 p.m. and the award’s presentation at 7:15 p.m, the art auction begins at 7:30 p.m. Each artist will be contributing one piece to the auction. The highest bidder, in what is always a charged and exciting atmosphere, gets to purchase a fine piece of art for their home, Higgins said. On display to the public throughout the day Saturday, Sept. 21, and Sunday, Sept. 22, will be eight pieces from each artist, excluding Bill Snow, Doug Hunt and Andy Thomas, Hig-


“All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go” by Robyn Cook

“Through the Mesquite” by Robyn Cook

Horses and dogs play prominently into her works of art. Which makes sense. Cook grew up on a little farm in Ozark. “I have a lot of appreciation for animals. I love their expressions, their eyes, and the happiness they bring. They show honest emotions and I love capturing that.” This year’s MGA takes place at Memorial Hall in Carthage, 407 S. Garri-

She’s pleased with the Art Walk event during Third Thursdays in Joplin, and the number of art galleries that have popped up in Joplin’s historic downtown area. “I’m so happy to see Joplin come alive with their art work. That’s been just a recent development and it’s just so beautiful over there.” MGA is known as one of the area’s most prestigious art shows. “I love it; it never grows old,” Higgins said of the event. “I look forward to it every year

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The Maple Leaf City may not be Jasper County’s largest community. But when it comes to the arts, it has a presence that could match major metros. Carthage and the surrounding counties, she said, “is very rich in talented artists. We have wonderful artists here. Carthage, in particular, has been the engine of the train, or the springboard, for the rest of the area.”

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“I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember,” she continued. “I was always trying to create something. Of course, almost everything I sketched was a horse. I have always been fascinated with them.”

The event is free to the public, and interaction between the artists and the public is encouraged, Higgins said.

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Cook utilizes the pencil instead of the more traditional paintbrush with her work. “Black and white has always caught my eye, so much more than color,” she said. “It’s a challenge to work in monochromatic values, too. I like the control I have with a pencil and the details I can achieve.

son Ave. Roughly $12,000 will be distributed in award money to the artists.

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gins said, because of schedules. That’s more than 230 art pieces available for viewing.

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and it’s easy for me. The minute it’s over I start right in on the next year’s event.” MGA was founded in 1977 by Lowell Davis, who had just settled down in Missouri after moving from Texas, and his good friend Bob Tommey, whom he encouraged to come and join him in Carthage. They joined a coffee-shop acquaintance, Danny Hensley. The first show took place on Tommey’s back porch. The rest, as they say, is history.

“Shawnee Sunset” by Steve White

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A 20x24 painting worth $5,000 by Pennsylvania-based artist Andrew Knez Jr., one of nearly 30 artists displaying original art during the 32nd Midwest Gathering of Artists.

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Lowell Davis Often referred to as the “Norman Rockwell of Rural Art,” Lowell Davis’ work — oil paintings, figurines and bronze sculptures — reflect the simple life of times past, usually depicting rural life of America. Lowell is also one of the founders of the Midwest Gathering of the Artists. Doug Hall Secluded inside a log cabin in Huckleberry State Forest in McDonald County where he can focus 100 percent on his paintings, Doug’s

Dan McWilliams Dan works in oils to capture the essence of his subjects, which can range from the last glow of a sunset to a child at play. McWilliams characterizes his style as a blend of impressionistic realism. He was born in Sheldon. Theresa Rankin Born in Hollywood, Calif., Theresa knew she wanted to be an artist at six years old. “I have always believed that art should speak to everyone. Capturing a place in time, an event or moment and infusing it with emotion... are my highest priorities.” She resides in Carthage, and is a member of Oil Painters of America, American Women Artists and The American Impressionist Society.

Andy Thomas Many call Andy the “storyteller,” because each of his paintings, most of them action-filled western art, details so much in a single snapshot. In the past, Andy has painted many subjects from a picnic by the river or kids playing sports to a brutal bear fight. Andy currently resides in Carthage. Bob Tommey Bob Tommey, nationally known painter and sculptor, was born March 2, 1928, in Ozan, Ark. He is best known for his western art and is an admired and respected art teacher with a long list of successful artists who credit Bob’s expertise for their achievements. Since 1978, he has been a founder and driving force behind the Midwest Gathering of the Artists show. He lives just outside Carthage.

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April Davis A sculptor and painter, April’s paintings and detailed floral sculptures are inspired by nature. Currently living near Red Oak II in Carthage, she is the daughter of renowned painter Lowell Davis.

John P. Lasater IV John worked for 13 years as a designer, illustrator and art director with a division of Hallmark Cards, so it was a natural transition to begin creating meaningful images using paint. Currently living in Siloam Springs, Ark., John’s honors include multiple awards, and inclusion in national shows and outdoor painting exhibitions.

Jack Sours Jack Sours is an accomplished sculptor, stone carver and potter. Living on a farm near Neosho, he has concentrated his artistic talents into stone carving since 2008. Over the years, he has chiseled beautiful sculptures from hunks of marble weighing tons.

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Tricia Courtney McAuley High School graduate and Joplin resident, Tricia is an oil painter who paints landscapes and floral works with a style that’s bold and bright with highly textured strokes.

Jason Inman A professional oil and pastel artist from Monett with an emphasis in portraits, Jason grew up in nearby Pierce City. In 2009, he won first place in the emerging artist’s category at the Thomas Hart Benton Art Show. His current focus has been portraits and still life in oil and pastel, which he does for commission.

Debbie Reed For Debbie, art is a celebration of life, full of joys, wonders, sorrows and despairs. “Painting has become my chosen means of expressing our common interests.” Born in Lubbock, Texas, she has lived in Joplin since the early 1980s and uses watercolors and oils as her favorite mediums.

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Robyn Cook Living in Pierce City, Robyn is the first of three new artists to the MBA, and she prefers the pencil over the paintbrush and black and white over color. Little, humorous moments of life with people or animals are among the main targets of her eye.

work reflects the admiration and respect he harbors for the culture of the early Eastern Woodland Native Americans.

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Larry Case Born and raised in Northwest Oklahoma and currently living in Oklahoma City, Larry’s pencil drawings and oil paintings are primarily modern-day ranch scenes dealing with people, animals and the land.

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Here are 17 local artists that will have art on display during this year’s Midwest Gathering of the Artists in Carthage.

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Midwest Gathering of the Artists

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music to the ears T h i r d pa rt y

Written and photographed by Ryan Richardson

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Third Party members pose for a shot before taking an opportunity to watch the opening band at a show on July 26. From left to right: Jason Beckett, Mike Sullivan, Kelly Maddy, Patrick Beckett, Greg Walker.

Music to the

Ears: Third Party

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hird Party is a Joplin-based, five-piece band that blends old school funk with a drop of prog and elements of modern indie rock. Together, this creates a distinctly experimental sound the band uses to seek new soundscapes.

Consisting of percussionist Mike Sullivan, singer and guitarist Patrick Beckett, pianist and guitarist Jason Beckett in 2010, Greg Walker on drums and Kelly Maddy on bass, the band released their first EP â&#x20AC;&#x153;Inertiaâ&#x20AC;? back in January. They plan to follow that up with a full-length LP by the end of this year. Before their July 26 show at Blackthorn Pub and Pizza in Joplin,

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been to the places that we are going to and it took a lot of support from those bands to get a foot in the door. Maddy: It is also getting your music out there and getting heard in the first place. If you are putting out solid music that people can latch on to, it goes a long way into getting shows.

Sullivan: A lot of it is finding bands to align with and vouching for each other. Bands like [Austin, Texas-based] Pop Pistol and [Springfield-based] Jah Roots, we felt at home with even though our sounds aren’t exactly the same. They have

J: You guys play an eclectic show that touches on a lot of genres. I don’t think I’ve ever had the same explanation of your sound from any two people. What influences you in your music?

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J: You’re growing into a regional act with your latest tour. You’re also expanding into markets like Colorado and Arkansas. How do you approach growing into a regional act and what challenges has it posed?

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the band sat down with Joplin Metro Magazine to discuss plans for their upcoming tour, as well as their growth as a regional act and the difficulties of recording new music as a band.

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Bassist Kelly Maddy shares vocal duties during the July 26 set. Maddy was the last member to join the band.

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The members of Third Party are currently gearing up for a tour that will take them to Colorado, Nebraska and other shows inside Missouri. This is the first tour that will take them far outside Joplin.

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music to the ears

t h i r d pa rt y

All: Radiohead. [laughs] Jason Beckett:There aren’t a lot of bands that touch on the experimental side of things that don’t cite them. If they don’t, they are kidding themselves. Walker: Mars Volta is a big one for me. Maddy: Flaming Lips, Red Hot Chili Peppers. Patrick Beckett: Hip-hop is a great jumping off point for me. People that have a message and want to get it out there. J: You are also doing your first festival shows this year including Harvest Fest in October. How do you prepare for shows of that magnitude? Maddy: These are huge scores for us. Sullivan: This will be one of our biggest shows and it is a great opportunity. We just want to go out there and do what we do.

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J: It is a great opportunity and it is something that bands, especially in the Midwest, didn’t have 15 years ago, unless they got extremely lucky. Do you think it makes you focus on music as something serious?

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Patrick Beckett: I think the attention has refocused us and made us more responsible. We’re pretty independent in how we run our band and how we keep up with it. Before we wouldn’t get something done for months, but now there is this sense of urgency.

Guitarist Patrick Beckett plays during the band’s July 26 set at Blackthorn Pub in Joplin.

Jason Beckett: We have been playing long enough together that we’ve really become tight together in our playing. It is happening quick for us, but we’re comfortable with how this is going so far. J: So what about a coherent album down the road? It seems that a lot of bands are relying on shows instead of putting out music because of how much the industry has changed in the past decades.

Sullivan: I want it before the end of the year, but we have a lot of work between now and then. Maddy: We are kicking around ideas right now, but we are still writing. Jason Beckett: When we did “Inertia,” we were changing things right up until when we were recording. We were basically taking the best songs we had then and we recorded them. We want to establish a theme with our album and then run with it. Walker: It will be eclectic, but we feel that with what we already have, we have a good idea of where we are going already. Patrick Beckett: Basically, we are going to tour so we can put this out. It will be worth it though.


minding your business c a r m e n ’ s a pp l e s

by Kevin McClintock Photography by T. Rob Brown

Apples to apples

The new Carmen’s Apples store is located just off North Range Line Road.

Joplin family makes business out of candy-coated fruit

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“We were standing at the front door,” Eric said, “and people were coming and going and I told Ana, ‘you get the people going in and I’ll get the people coming out’ and we were saying, ‘Excuse me, sir, would you like to buy a covered apple’ and Ana was hooking people... and they were coming back out of the store with change (in their hands). We were selling $4 per apple and we sold all 30 apples in less than

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our years ago, standing in front of a busy retail store, Eric Stuhlman and his 14-year-old daughter, Ana, sold 30 candy-covered apples in less than an hour. Neither could believe the monetary haul they ended up with.

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Chocolate-covered pineapple chunks

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carmen’s apples

minding your business

A selection of Carmen’s Apples’ chocolate-covered fruits and fruit cups minutes away from being shipped from the family home and taken throughout Joplin for sale.

45 minutes. I couldn’t believe the profit we made (that day). “I get chills when I think about it,” Eric continued. “I get chills talking about it right now. I just can’t believe what a few covered apples have turned into. I couldn’t believe how much money we made off it, real quick and simple. So I said we’re going to take this to the next level.” That was four years ago.

Calling this store, located inside Evans Plaza on north Range Line Road, a “home away from home” may be more appropriate, since the delicious chocolate-covered fruits sold by Eric, Ana and his wife Carmen over the last 48 months were sold from their Joplin home’s kitchen.

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Recently, the two were ignoring the sweltering July heat, busy tidying up the future storefront of their family business: Carmen’s Apples.

Operations “have always been in our home, and we do it all inside our kitchen,” Eric said, “and we’ve gotten so good at it you can hardly tell we do it there now. We actually take on well more than people would ever believe.” Each morning, the three ship out 100

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pounds of fruit. Later in the day, they haul in a new 100-pound batch of fruit for prep work the following morning. It’s a never-ending cycle, Eric said. It goes on each day; 365 days a year. Eric hopes to open his family’s new store by the end of the summer. Four years ago, while Eric worked on a Fort Bliss-based construction project in Texas, his daughter witnessed a man selling delicious covered apples from his vehicle in a retail store’s parking lot. They were looking to make an extra bit of cash, and he decided that selling sweetened apples would be a neat way to do it. Thus, Carmen’s Apples was born.

They made their first big sells while still living in Texas, gaining confidence in their created products and customer service after an El Paso, Texas-based law firm and as well as a local bank made large orders. So once the Stuhlman family moved from Texas back to his hometown of Joplin, they hit the ground running without any hiccups. “We did some research and looked up stores in New York and Chicago to see what they were doing there and then we tried to do what they did as closely as possible, and people have just never seen anything like it around here,” Eric said, “and they love it.” But it’s not just the delicious treats,

Eric Stuhlman pieces together a fruit cup inside his home’s kitchen. Soon, he, his wife and his daughter will be doing this each morning out of their new store on North Range Line Road.


with fruits purchased from local farmers market dealers. “It’s my daughter’s hard work, it’s my wife’s hard work, and it’s my big mouth going out there and not taking no for an answer,” Eric said.

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Wrote Lisa Stevens Pattin on the Carmen’s Apples Facebook page: “These are the best apples I have had in my life.” It just proves, Eric said, “that anything tastes good with chocolate.” Because wife Carmen hails from Mexico, they plan on selling Mexican fruit juices and fruit desserts at some point in the

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Once the new store opens for business, he hopes to immediately open a second store over on 32nd Street. “We figure (the North Range Line Road location) can cover Carthage, Oronogo, Webb City and this end of Joplin and (the 32nd location) can cover the hospitals, because we do fresh (fruit) salads and edible fruit arrangements, and our main customers are with Freeman Hospitals. We’ll be right over there for them. We did some research and looked at stores in New York and Chicago and we saw what they were doing and we tried to do it as closely as they were doing right here in Joplin.”

Lunch Entrées

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Free deliveries to anyone within 30 miles of Joplin takes place until about 11 a.m., Eric said. “After that, I just drive around town and go to the hospitals, doctor’s offices, restaurants and beauty salons” to sell the rest of the fresh stock.

“Not Just Greek”

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Husband, wife and daughter rise from bed each day, seven days a week, at 4:30 a.m., to blanket select assortments of fruits — apples, strawberries and bananas, to name just a few — with chocolate, caramel, nuts and sprinkles. They also make fresh fruit bowls and fruit salads. “We sell 88 apples a day, 30 bags of strawberries, 30 bags of pineapples, about 25 bulk mixed fruit bowls and 15 bags of chocolatecovered bananas,” Eric said. “About 100 pounds of fruit leaves the house each morning and 100 pounds of fruit comes back into the house each night.”

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carmen’s apples

minding your business

A piece of chocolate-covered fruit gets processed.

Ana Stuhlman decorates various chocolatecovered fruits with pink drizzle.

Ana Stuhlman, 14, packages chocolatecovered pineapple chunks inside the family kitchen. Each day, the Stuhlmans decorate and sell 100 pounds of fruit.

future. Items will include chocolatecovered jalapeno peppers, mangochili ice pops, exotic fruit dishes as well as waters made from sugar and fruit juices, including cantaloupes and honeydews.

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CANNOT BE DUPLICATED OR COPIED. NOT VALID WITH A LA CARTE MENU ITEMS OR ANY OTHER OFFER, SPECIAL OR DISCOUNT • EXPIRES 9/30/13

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“They’re going to like it. ( Joplin) has never had anything like this. I drove around to all the and nobody had it.” It’s hard work, Eric admits, “but we’re not complaining. That’s the thing about working for yourself. If you’re gong to do it, you’ve got to put in the hard work. And we’re going to make it.” Details: For now, you can purchase Carmen’s delicious fruit and arrangements by calling 417.434.8939 or by visiting their popular page on Facebook. Prices are reasonable: All candied or caramel apples are $4. Chocolate covered strawberries go from $4 for six to $28 for a tray of 30. Two chocolate-dipped bananas in a bag go for $3.


5 “Must Have” School I-Phone Apps

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Co u r s e S m a r t View the full text of more than 7,000 textbooks on your iPhone, iPad or Kindle Fire. Take the eTextbooks on the go, no backpack required. By going digital, students can save up to 60 percent off the price of a printed textbook. It can also come in handy if you misplace or lose your textbook.

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L e xc yc l e S ta n z a This is a freeware program for reading eBooks, digital newspapers and other digital publications via the iPhone. In addition to including magazine and newspaper content, the program links to the massive Project Gutenburg, which maintains free copies of more than 30,000 classic books that have fallen into the public domain, meaning their copyright has expired. Stanza keeps track of your progress and lets you adjust the text size to avoid eyestrain.

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m y H o m e w o r k Keeping organized is always one of the most difficult tasks for students. With the myHomework app, it’s much easier to keep school work organized. It features a classroom/homework/test tracker, a calendar display as well as supports time, block and period schedules. It also syncs with a desktop counterpart, keeping your iPhone and computer up to date on what’s due. And it’s free.

Need a little help with the homework, especially during the first few weeks of school? Download these inexpensive apps onto your iPhone.

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D i c t i o n a r y. co m There’s a dictionary here in the J-Cave that weighs an honest-to-goodness seven pounds. With the Dicitonary.com app — which has 400,000 definitions and a thesaurus at your fingertips, you’ll no longer be forced to lug around such monstrosities just so you can look up the proper way to spell “Czechoslovakia.”

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D o c u m e n t s To G o If you’re looking to view or save documents on your iPhone, you’re out of luck without an application. Unless you have this $4.99 app. The program has the ability to sync and view Microsoft Office files, PDFs and more to your phone or iPod touch, making it a convenient storage place for syllabi, class notes and more. 55


parting shot

s u mm e r s t o r m

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Photography by B.W. Shepherd

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A Purple Cone flower sways in the breeze at the Diamond Grove Prairie Conservation Park as a late summer storm approaches from the west.



Joplin Metro Magazine, Heros On Wheels, August 2013