Show Me The Ozarks - July 2023

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July 2023 • Volume 22 • Issue 11 FEATURING Southeast Kansas Honoring OUR MILITARY RONALD MCDONALD of the FOUR STATES HOUSE Hope and Home at the
July 2023 • • 3 Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated Member SIPC & NYSE | Brad R. McIntyre Vice President/Investments (417) 627-5715 | Debbie Koehler Client Service Associate (417) 627-5716 | Josh DeTar Financial Advisor Associate (417) 627-5719 | Stifel is pleased to announce the formation of the M/D Wealth Management Group The M/D Wealth Management Group is located in Joplin, Missouri, and is excited to help you create a customized wealth management plan that aligns with your vast goals and needs. (417) 627-5716 main | (417) 781-9847 fax 420 S. Main Street | Joplin, Missouri 64801 M/D Wealth Management Group Sol ar We take pride in giving our customers an exceptional experience when they work with us to replace or repair their roof. 417.540.4411 Our Services Roof Repair & Replacement Roof Inspections Storm Damage Repair
4 Offer of credit is subject to credit approval. Bank NMLS #539634 THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU! SEE ME FOR A HOME LOAN KASEY COWGER NMLS# 564095 SCAN MY QR CODE TO APPLY ONLINE. JOPLIN 1710 E. 32nd St. 417.621.1453 |
July 2023 • • 5 Contact Kristi Seibert at 417-434-2200 or The 11th Annual Pink Ribbon Gala, benefiting Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, will take place at Indigo Sky Casino and Resort. Join us to raise funds to help those in our area facing a breast cancer diagnosis with direct financial assistance. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. PRESENTS FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2023 | 6:00 PM Masquerade 11TH ANNUAL PINK RIBBON GALA sas Masquerade & Mammo

We celebrate the 25th anniversary of assistance and support to area families at Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States. Offering a temporary home to parents with children needing additional medical care, the Ronald McDonald House has served hundreds from its location on South Jackson Street and with a Family Room at Mercy Hospital. Read more to learn firsthand the level of care one family received from the staff at the house not just once but twice. The Gleason family is giving back to the organization that helped them in their time of need. Learn more about why in this month’s cover story.

features SMTO contents July 2023 Featuring Southeast Kansas 39 It’s the Biggest of Celebrations as Big Brutus Turns 60 40 Faces of Southeast Kansas 44 Q&A for Matt O’Malley 46 The Creative Edge - Heather Horton 48 Community Volunteers Create Pittsburg Arts District 50 Route 66 Roadside Park Refreshing Gateway to Downtown Baxter Springs 52 Parsons, Kansas, to Expand Trail System 54 Galena Lodgings Among ‘Best Airbnbs on Route 66’ 56 Southeast Kansas Business Spotlights
Our Military
Vernon Marchington
Samantha Sims 63 Mark A. Costello 64 Larry Mills 65 Alex P. Rivera 66 William Cole Gardner 68 Madison Stratton 70 Ministering to Veterans & First Responders Provides Hope to Those Hurting 71 Expressing Honor and Respect While Serving Those Who Served Us
CJ High School Introduces Air Force Junior ROTC Program About the Cover 36 76 80 54 37

in every edition


16 It’s all about water this month in the Four States with a creek crawl, water festival and fishing derby. You’ll work up an appetite on the water, so treat yourself to fresh produce at the local farmer’s markets. Indoors, learn how to line dance or create your own artwork. Fun in the Four-State Area is hot in July!

12 Cultural Arts and Entertainment

26 Northeast Oklahoma Events

27 Independence Day Celebrations


21 Tastes of the Four States - Haven 55

22 Show Me Dining Guide

74 Your House ... Your HomeDecorating with Navy Blue

76 The Great Outdoors - A Different View of Independence Day

78 A Naturalist Voice - Morning Person or Not, It’s Worth It

Cover Story

36 Hope & Home at the Ronald McDonald House of the Four States

Can you find it?

80 Recipe: Blueberry Barbecue Sauce

81 Connecting Local Veterans with Caring Resources

82 Fit For Life: Stretching - Better movement for a better you

84 Health Events

86 Why I Run: Couple establishes group run to help new runners

88 Saved by Narcan many times, Justin Johnson sees God had a plan for him

14 Connect2Culture plans to heat up July with its summer music festival

18 Show Me Carl Junction

19 Spotlight on Carthage

20 Joplin Arts District

28 Oklahoma Business Spotlights

29 Fashion Forward - Wig’N Out Boutique

30 Things We Love

34 The Big Picture - Ronald McDonald House of the Four States

37 Ronald McDonald House of the Four StatesCelebrating 25 years of hope and family

38 Honoring the Life and Impact of Libby Jennings

60 Faces & Places - Joplin Outlaws Opening Night

Find the GREEN smiley face on one of our pages. Email sue@ with the page number and spot where you found it. Submit your entry by the 15th of the month. A winner will be drawn from all the correct entries and will receive a gift certificate from an area retailer. One entry per household please. Good luck!

Congratulations to Sherry Gastel, the winner of the May edition “Find the Green Smiley Face” contest. Sherry wins two gift certificates to Panera Bread in Joplin, Missouri. The Green Smiley was on page 80 in photo #4 on the woman’s shirt.

July 2023 • • 7
health other great reads
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Jeff Cantrell

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Show Me The Ozarks Magazine is published monthly by Show Me Communications, PO Box 3325, Joplin, MO 64803. Copyright 2022 all rights reserved. Reproduction of this magazine, in part or in whole, is prohibited without written permission from SMTO. Subscription rates: $19.99 for one year, $32.99 for two years, $41.99 for three years. Advertising rates sent on request. Unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, and art will not be returned unless accompanied by self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage.

NOTE: Information published herein is subject to change without notice. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited by law. SMTO makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of published information, however the publisher cannot be held responsible for any consequences arising from errors or omissions. SMTO does not take responsibility for, or always endorse the opinions of contributors or advertisers. SMTO reserves the right to not run an ad or article that is reviewed to be in bad taste or goes against the focus or mission of that of Show Me The Ozarks Magazine. Editor photo by Hannah Sanderson Photography.

July 2023 • • 9

Life happens

Love Begins Here

Mother Teresa said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” We are so blessed to live in a region where family extends to friends, neighbors, coworkers or anyone in need. Our family is our community.

We are celebrating 25 years of Ronald McDonald House service with our cover story. Ronald McDonald House of the Four States provides a home away from home for families of seriously ill children or ill expectant mothers being treated at local hospitals. They keep families close, connected and provide support during challenging times. Executive Director Annette Thurston says it best when she mentions the character of the people in the Four-State Area and how the work would not be possible without the volunteers, medical professionals and supporters. Our family is our community. Community volunteers in Pittsburg, Kansas, have come together to support Pittsburg Art District. Crista Cunningham and a group of passionate art-loving volunteers had an idea, made a plan and sought approval. Check out “Heart of Art” in Pittsburg! This 16-block art district is a work of love and a home for art lovers in our community. Our family is our community.

Starting on Page 60, we honor our veterans. There is no bigger way to make a change in our world than to serve in the military. Without the service of veterans, we would not have the freedoms we do today. They literally fought for us, risked their lives and demonstrated the true meaning of sacrifice. They did it for their families, people they will never meet and for future generations. Thank you to the veterans we featured and to all veterans. We appreciate your sacrifice! Our family is our community.

Taking care of others starts with taking care of yourself. In this edition, we feature the expanded walking trails in Parsons, Kansas. Having trails in our community supports your physical health and fosters the love for outdoor activities. Our Calendar of Events includes activities and events to bring people together, make you laugh and appreciate the beauty of the natural landscape of our region. And in our Health Events section, we bring you an arsenal of resources to take care of your mental and physical health. Changing the lives of others starts with self-care.

Mother Teresa was right. Changing the world starts at home, and I am so glad my home is with all of you!

Happy Fourth of July! Stay safe and enjoy the summer!

10 We offer Financial assistance Average Payment Plan
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P.O. Box 3325 • Joplin, MO 64803 417.455.9898 • 417.850.5557
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July 2023 • • 11 NEWTONSJOPLIN.COM 428 S Main St. | Joplin, MO | 417.623.2800 Design her Dream Ring with Newton’s State Farm Bloomington, IL 2001875 Get great service & great rates. You know I’m always here with Good Neighbor service. But I’m also here with surprisingly great rates for everyone. Call me for a quote to see how much you can save. You might be surprised. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.® Individual premiums will vary by customer. All applicants subject to State Farm® underwriting requirements. Karen Rutledge Ins Agcy Inc Karen Rutledge, Agent 616 E 32nd Street Joplin, MO 64804 Bus: 417-624-2661

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Carthage, MO


Through July 22: artCentral Annual Membership Exhibition, artCentral. From paintings and sculptures to photographs and jewelry, there’s no limit to these artists’ creativity. More information:, 417.358.4404.

Joplin, MO


July 1: 2023 Hymn Festival, 3 p.m., First Baptist Church Joplin, 4128 Connecticut Ave. An afternoon of worship and gospel music performed by local musicians. Free. More information:

July 1: Dailey & Vincent with The Isaacs, 7:30 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Leggett & Platt Green. Tickets:, 417.501.5550 or at the C2C box office inside the Cornell Complex (Tuesday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m.). Tickets: $40=$60. More information:

July 8, 15, 22 & 29: JOMO Jammin’, 7 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Leggett & Platt Green. This outdoor summer music festival celebrates local talent and features. Tickets:, 417.501.5550 or at the C2C box office inside the Cornell Complex (Tuesday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m.). Cost: $10 each Saturday (optional $5 chair rental); kids 12 and under free with adult entry. More information:

July 12 & 13: Eddie 9V House Concert (ages 18+), 7 p.m., The Coda Concert House, 2120 E. 24th St. Suggested minimum donation of $35. For reservations, email In response, a confirmation email with the address, directions, parking, etc., will be sent. All proceeds benefit the artist performing. More information:

July 30: Reverend Horton Heat with The Delta Bombers, 7:15 p.m. An intimate evening of short songs and tall tales with a Texas legend. For reservations, email In response, a confirmation email with the address, directions, parking, etc., will be sent. All proceeds benefit the artist performing. Suggested minimum donation: $65. More information:


July 2, 9, 16, 29 & 30: Open Mic Comedy Night, 9 p.m., Blackthorn Pizza & Pub. Try out your latest stand-up routine or take in the acts of local comedians. Age restrictions: 18+ until 10 p.m.; 21+ from 10 p.m. until close. Free. Info:, 417.540.9186.

July 5: Adult Take-home Kit, 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Grab this month’s adult take-home kit and get creative! Kits can be picked up in the Reference Area and are available while supplies last. Free. More information: sturnerhill@, 417.623.7953 x1030.

July 6: First Thursday ArtWalk, 5:30-8:30 p.m., downtown Joplin. Dozens of artists will show or demonstrate their artistic process and all art will be for sale. Map of participating locations is available at Free. More information:, 417.438.5931.

July 6, 13 & 18: Teen Takeout Kit (ages 12-18), noon–8 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Available while supplies last. Free. More information:, 417.623.7953 x1027.

July 6: Nature Friendships with the Missouri Department of Conservation (ages 5-12), 2-3 p.m. Free. More information:, 417.623.2184.

July 6: Escape Rooms by Escape Joplin (ages 18+), 5-7 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Registration required; call 417.623.7953 x1030 to register. Free. More information:, 417.623.7953 x1030.

July 6: Children’s Chess Club (ages 6-12), 5:30-6 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Meets once a month for approximately 30 minutes to learn, play and have fun. Free. More information:, 417.623.2184.

July 7-9: FilmSpiva 48-Hour Film Competition, Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts. Back for its 13th year, Spiva Center

for the Arts’ FilmSpiva 48-Hour Competition allows participants to exercise their creativity while working within a limited time frame. Contestants are to meet in the first-floor lobby of the Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex July 7 at 6 p.m. Teams will receive the criteria needed to create a four-minute short film. They have until 6 p.m. July 9 to submit their films to Spiva. All entries will be screened July 22 at Bookhouse Cinema, with awards presented after the final screening. Cost: $25 per team. Info:, 417.623.0183.

July 7: Jay & Leslie’s Laughing Matters (ages 5-12), 2-3 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Free. More information:, 417.623.2184.

July 8: Summer STEAM: DIY Marble Run (ages 6-12), 1-2 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Be an engineer for the day and design your own marble run using everyday items. Children under 9 must be accompanied by an adult. Free. More information:, 417.623.2184.

July 11: Art Adventure: Community/Family Portrait Quilts (ages 5-12), 2-3 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Bring your family or friends to make collaborative portrait quilts. Children under 9 must be accompanied by an adult. More information:, 417.623.2184.

July 11: Tuesday Knight Chess (ages 11-18), 6-7:30 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Meet in the Teen Department for practice games and strategizing. This activity is designed for teens in grades 6-12 with basic knowledge of and experience playing chess. Free. More information:, 417.623.7953 x1027.

July 11: Chat & Craft (ages 18+), 6-8 p.m., Joplin Public Library. All crafts are welcome. Free. More information: , 417.623.7953 x1030.

July 12: Full STEAM Ahead with Creative Learning Alliance (ages 9-14), 10-11 a.m., Joplin Public Library. Registration is required; call 417.623.7953 to register. Free. More information:, 417.623.2184.

July 13: Cultural Heritage Workshop, 1-5 p.m., Joplin City Hall. Join Missouri Humanities in historic Joplin for a Cultural Heritage Workshop. Registration required; visit Free. More information: claire@

July 13: School-age Storytime (ages 5-8), 3:30-4 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Free. More information:, 417.623.2184.

July 13: Joplin Goes to the Movies: The Hitch-Hiker, 6 p.m., Joplin Public Library. This event is part of the Joplin sesquicentennial celebration. Free. More information:, 417.625.4789.

July 13: Joplin Writers’ Guild, 6 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. Members have published novels, nonfiction books and articles. Dues $10 for the year, but anyone interested can attend their first meeting free. Info: s.v.farnsworth@gmail. com, 417.691.0480.

July 14: Spin, Pop, Boom! with Mad Science (ages 5-12), 2-3 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Children under 9 must be accompanied by an adult. Free. More information:, 417.623.2184.

July 15: Model Train Show and Swap Meet, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Joplin History & Mineral Museum. All proceeds benefit the Joplin History & Mineral Museum. Admission: Adults $5, children 12 and under admitted free. More information: sogardner1@att. net, 620.230.9545.

July 15: Lego Build-a-Thon (ages 4-12), 1-2 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Collaborate, build and explore your creative side during this Lego build-a-thon! Free. More information:, 417.623.2184.

July 17: Tween Program: DIY Pet Toys (ages 10-13), 4-5 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Free. More information:, 417.623.7953 x1027.

July 18: Summertime Play Date (ages 2-5), 10-11 a.m., Joplin Public Library. The first 30 attendees will receive a ticket for a free sack lunch provided by Bookhouse Cinema. Free. More information:, 417.623.2184.

July 19: Crosswords & Coffee (ages 18+), 9-11 a.m., Joplin Public Library. Sit and stay a while or take a word puzzle to your favorite spot in the library. Free. More information:, 417.325.4151

July 20: Third Thursday, 5:30-8:30 p.m., downtown Joplin. Third Thursday, Joplin’s premier cultural event, is back! Every third Thursday, March through October, thousands of people gather on Main Street in downtown Joplin to enjoy local artisans, music, entertainment and food. Free. More information: ivy@, 928.514.7713.


July 20: All-ages Trivia Night (ages 6+), 6-7 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Recommended for ages 6 and up. Free. More information: sturnerhill@, 417.623.7953 x1030.

July 21: Fire Dog (ages 5-12), 3:30-4:30 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Sing, dance, clap and howl along to these awesome St. Louis-based children’s musicians! Children under 9 must be accompanied by an adult. Free. Info: cmatekel@joplinpubliclibrary. org, 417.623.2184.

July 22: Centennial Celebration of the Valley of Joplin Scottish Rite Cathedral, 9 a.m.-noon, Scottish Rite Cathedral. Celebrate the 100-year history of the Joplin Scottish Rite Cathedral with a full day of activities. Info:, 417.625.4789.

July 22: Ending Celebration, 11 a.m-1 p.m., Joplin Public Library. This all-ages event will include music, games, indoor and outdoor activities and opportunities for snacks. Free. Info:, 417.623.2184.

July 22: Uncommon Musical Instruments, 1-2 p.m., CLA Creativity Lab. Join the Creative Learning Alliance and discover some uncommon musical instruments! Registration required; visit to register. Cost: $5. More information:, 417.850.7137.

July 25: Dog Day Afternoon (ages 6-12), 4-4:45 p.m., Joplin Public Library. Registration suggested; register in person or by calling 417.623.7953. Free. More information:, 417.623.2184.

July 25: Bingo Night (ages 18+), 6-7 p.m. Joplin Public Library. Play bingo and compete for prizes during this fun, free event. Info: sturnerhill@joplinpubliclibrary. org, 417.623.7953 x1030.


Through July 15: Jim Mueller: Local Legacy, Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts, 212 W. 7th St. An exhibition to commemorate the life and work of renowned photographer, instructor and PhotoSpiva co-founder Jim Mueller. Free; donations appreciated. More information:, 417.623.0183.

Through July 22: Flashpoints: Material/Intent/Fused, Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts. Enticed by touch, four artists explore a wide range of materials and processes linked through craft and meaning, with a shared focus on encaustic (pigmented hot wax). Free; donations appreciated. More information:, 417.623.0183.

Through July 29: Quapaw Nation 151, Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts. The story of the Okaxpa: The Quapaw told through this installation of historical and contemporary art. In conjunction with Quapaw Nation’s 151st Powwow, this exhibit honors the diversity of the Quapaw Nation through artistic expression. Major Native American aesthetic forms such as painting, photography, sculpture, traditional regalia, beading and ceramics honor moments in Quapaw history following the American Civil War, as they negotiated and fought for reservation lands. Free; donations appreciated. More information:, 417.623.0183.

Through July 31: Reflections of Hunger: Disordered Eating and Body Image Through Their Eyes, Joplin Public Library. Art showcase features the wisdom and lived experience of people in our community. Interested in submitting artwork to be featured in this exhibit? Free. More information:, 417.347.7500.

July 1-31: Art at Plant Parenthood 417, Plant Parenthood 417, a store that helps people experience, grow and decorate with plants, is not only dedicated to plants, but to local artists as well! Free. More information:

July 21: The Styles That Made the Day: A Formal Fashions Exhibit, 4-7 p.m., Scottish Rite Cathedral. This event is part of the Joplin sesquicentennial celebration. Free. Info:, 417.625.4789.


July 1: Raku Celestial Faces with Christina Lorenzen (ages 14+), 1-3 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts. Registration required; register at $40. Info:, 417.623.0183.

July 5: Mindful Meditation with Rachel Barnes (ages 13+), 12:15–12:35 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Art. Registration required; register at $10. Info:, 417.623.0183.

July 8: Impasto Painting with Samantha Ervin (ages 12+), 1-3:30 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts. Registration required; register at $30. More information: jhenning@, 417.623.0183.

July 12: Moving Mindfully: T’ai Chi on the Green with Becky Browne (ages 13+), 3:30-4:30 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts. Please wear comfortable clothing. Registration required; register at spivaarts. org/classes. $15. Info:, 417.623.0183.

July 15: Gothic Art with Jordan Murdock-Thompson (ages 12-17), 1-3 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts. Registration required; register at Cost: $20. More information: jhenning@, 417.623.0183.

July 15: Abstract Expressionist Painting with Samantha Ervin (ages 12+), 1-4 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts. Learn to paint like Zao-Wou-Ki—a. Registration required; register at $30. More information:, 417.623.0183.

July 19: Soul-Full Stretching (ages 13+), 9-10 a.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts. Registration required; register at Cost: $15. More information:, 417.623.0183.

July 22: You & Yoga with Sandi Krumsick (ages 13+), 9-10 a.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts. Join Sandi Krumsick on the mat or in a chair for yoga in the gallery! Registration required; register at spivaarts. org/classes. Cost: $15. More information:, 417.623.0183.

July 22: Felted Creations with Stacy Heydt (ages 11+), 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts. Registration required; register at $35. Info:, 417.623.0183.

July 22: Wabi Sabi Scrolls with Ann Leach (ages 13+), 2-3 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts. Registration required; register at $15. More information:, 417.623.0183.

July 22: Slow Stitching Open Studio with Ann Leach (ages 13+), 3-4:30 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts. Registration required; register at $15. More information:, 417.623.0183.

Spiva Center for the Arts, 222 W. 3rd Street

Tuesdays: Creation Station (ages 6-11), 4-5:15 p.m. Painting, drawing, clay, collage, sculpture and more. Pre-registration recommended; register at classes. In advance $6, at the door $8. More information:, 417.623.0183.


Create N’ Sip Studios, 223 W. 3rd Street:

Wednesdays: Wine’d Down Wednesday, 5-9 p.m. Canvas and home decor DIY event. Choose the project that works for you. Prices vary depending on chosen project. $28-$58. Info:, 417.680.5434.

Saturdays: Saturday Morning Choose Your Canvas, 10 a.m. Select the painting you want to recreate and let the experienced staff at Create N’ Sip help you make a masterpiece. Prices vary depending on chosen project. Cost: $28-$176. Information:, 417.680.5434.

Local Color Art Gallery & Studio, 1027 S. Main Street:

Call the gallery at 417.553.0835 to sign up.

Every Tuesday: Beginner’s watercolor class, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., $20. Bring your own supplies. Ages 8 and up.

Every Wednesday: Drawing class, 3-5 p.m. $25; all drawing supplies furnished.

July 14: Watercolor class; 1-3 p.m. $30, includes all supplies.

July 15: Saturday Paint Class, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., $30, includes all supplies and ice cream cone from Caroline’s; ages 8 and up. Paint Monet or Van Gogh.

July 2023 • • 13

Local musicians featured at JOMO Jammin’ Music Festival

Connect 2Culture plans to heat up July with its summer music festival

“We’re excited to produce this outdoor summer music festival that celebrates local talent and features two area bands each Saturday,” said Connect2Culture Executive Director Emily Frankoski. “This year the festival will be held on the Cornell Complex’s Leggett & Platt Green, our brand-new outdoor venue, and it promises to be a marvelous way to celebrate summer with the community.”

Special guests for the concerts include:

Granger July 8

This band is from Joplin, Missouri, and is comprised of Luke DeWitt, Torey Smart and Hunter Vaughn. The group got its start in late 2017 when they released their first single, “Dear Sam”. Kevin Gates (Reach Audio) produced the track, and when it dropped, they knew it was just the beginning. Since then, they have released two more songs and a full-length LP. Summer finds this group in the studio working on a summer release and booking future tour dates.

Blister Soul July 8

Blister Soul is a four-piece rock and roll band from Joplin who will also perform July 8. Their debut EP, Sign of the Times, was released June 18, 2021. The band’s lineup was formed in the summer of 2017 and includes Greg Ballew, Jason Otero, Bryan Bridgford and Tony Otero. Musical influences include The Drive-By Truckers, Vigilantes of Love, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Starflyer 59.


Patti Steel’s musical talents and powerful stage presence have wowed audiences for over a decade. Steel’s sultry blues vocal style draws from her inspirations, greats like Aretha Franklin, Patsy Cline and Whitney Houston. Steel easily switches from clarinet, spoons, guitar, mandolin and many other random noise makers at performances, keeping her sound fresh. She puts her soul into every note you hear; her words and stories are thought provoking and deliver an emotional strength and comfort with a positive influence. She wants to help take the world as it is and leave it a better place and inspires her audiences to do the same.




Dance Monkey Dance! was formed out of the necessity to create. After spending years with a successful, international touring band, Doug Dicharry felt the pull to return to his roots and rediscover his love for playing music. Even while becoming a talented multi-instrumentalist (drums, trombone, trumpet, mandolin, washboard, spoons), Dicharry decided to pick up the guitar and has been obsessively writing songs since.

ROUTE 3 July 22

ROUTE 3 is a bluegrass band based out of Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas. With a traditional sound, original compositions and great instrumentation, they bring a hard-driving bluegrass style to every performance. Members Jason Jordan (guitar), Doug Clifton (bass), Gaylon Harper (banjo) and Roy Bond (mandolin) create a distinctive and passionate sound that earned them the title of 2020 Arkansas Country Music Awards’ Bluegrass Artist of the Year.


Based in Southwest Missouri, this four-piece bluegrass band has entertained audiences across the country for the last seven years. From an early age, Julie Dawson (bass), Ty Dawson (guitar), Daniel Shilling (banjo) and Jon Harden (fiddle) played music in family bands at music halls, festivals and hootenannies. Their musical influences are diverse— country, gospel, jazz, rock and, of course, hard-driving bluegrass—but have all come together to create the sound of Borderline Bluegrass. From regional festivals to their debut at the world-famous Station Inn in Nashville, Tennessee, the band is continuously gaining momentum and building their ever-growing fan base.


This Four State’s leading jazz instrumental group has entertained audiences since 2013. Comprised of five talented artists, each member’s unique sound and energy combines to provide a catalyst for the band’s explosive performances. From soulful originals to Big Band-era classics, Jomo Jazz will perform a variety of songs to keep the audience entertained.


Playing great standard jazz, including tunes from the Great American Songbook, as well as modern hits and classic songs from the past 50 years, the artists of NWA Jazz & More Orchestra pride themselves in their versatility and their professional musicianship. From rock and roll to swing and everything in between, this traditional big band will not disappoint.

Want to Go?

Tickets for each Saturday performance are $10 per person with an optional chair rental fee of $5. Children under 12 are free with adult entry. No personal chairs are allowed, but you are welcome to bring a blanket for lawn seating if desired.

Concerts begin at 7 p.m. and are held outside on the Leggett & Platt Green at the Harry M. Cornell Arts and Entertainment Complex.

To purchase tickets, visit or call the box office at 417.501.5550

July 2023 • • 15

What’s Happening Calendar of Events

in the Ozarks

If you have an event you would like to see listed in the Calendar of Events, please email your request to: Events are printed on a space available basis and must be received by the 5th of the month prior to the month of the scheduled event.

Support Your Local Farmer’s Market!

Grove, OK: Saturdays 9 a.m.-2 p.m., downtown.

Pittsburg, KS: Saturdays 8 a.m.-12 p.m., 11th and Broadway streets, downtown Pittsburg. 620.231.8310.

Anderson, MO: Saturdays, 8 a.m.-12 p.m., 100 N. Jefferson St.

Carthage, MO: Wednesdays and Saturdays 8 a.m.-1 p.m. North side of the historic Carthage square. attraction/carthage-farmers-market.

Lamar, MO: Saturdays, 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m., Moore Pavilion, 10th & Poplar. 417.682.3579.

Joplin, MO: Every Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Empire Market, 931 E. 4th Street.

Monett, MO: Saturdays 8 a.m.-12 p.m.; Tuesdays TBD. South Park by the YMCA parking lot.

Neosho, MO: Saturdays 9 a.m.-12 p.m., directly across from the library downtown.

Webb City, MO: Tuesdays 4-7 p.m., Thursdays 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Pavilion at the Main Street entrance to King Jack Park.

Pittsburg, KS

Wednesdays: Trivia Night, 7 p.m., Drop the H Brewing Company, 107 E. Rose St.

Thursdays: Thursday Night Line Dance Lessons, 7-9 p.m., Dirty Mule Restaurant Bar & Event Center, 134 S. US 69.

First Friday of the Month: Heavy metal bands, live music, 9 p.m., Dirty Mule Restaurant Bar & Event Center, 134 S. US 69.

Second Friday of the Month: Drag Shows, 10 p.m., Dirty Mule Restaurant Bar & Event Center, 134 S. US 69.

Last Friday of the Month: College Night w/ DJ A Baby, 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Free admission with college ID. Dirty Mule Restaurant Bar & Event Center, 134 S. US 69.

ArtForms Gallery Workshops, 620 N. Broadway, Pittsburg, KS. 620.240.0165. Check our Facebook page during the month as artists may offer popups.

Every Tuesday: Art Exploration/Weekly Beginning Painting, 12:30-2:30 p.m. Free. Explore different art techniques. Feel free to bring something you are working on.

July 15: Chameleon Cells Fluid Art, 1-2 p.m. This calming and therapeutic technique will add a funky pattern to a basic flip cup. Participants will take home a 6”x6” artwork after their paint has dried. Beginners to advanced students. $35, due at time of registration. Age: 14+; class limit: 13.

July 22: Create Your Own Garden Stepping Stone, 2-4 p.m. Create a colorful, beautiful concrete stepping stone for your garden or walkway. We will pour homemade concrete into a mold and decorate it with jewels, rocks, marbles, glitter and so much more. All materials provided. These will stay in the gallery to dry, and you

can pick them up after 24 hours. Ages: 8-100. $30, due at time of registration. Class limit: 14 people.

July 29: Fused Glass Pocket Vases and Nightlights, 1-3 p.m. Two projects, twice the fun! Pocket vase: Decorate a pre-fused glass pocket vase with other glass embellishments of your choice. These sweet pocket vases will be finished after fusing with a copper wire to hang on a wall or window. You can fill it with real flowers (as the vase holds water), a small succulent, or silk flowers. Nightlight: Basic glasscutting skills will be demonstrated, so prior glass experience is not necessary. After fusing, your glass will be mounted to a nightlight fixture and ready to light your way during the night. $50, due at time of registration Ages: 12 years and older. Class limit: 10 people. All supplies included. Please do not wear open-toed shoes when working with glass.

Carl Junction Community Center: 303 N. Main St., 417.649.7237

Monday, Wednesday & Friday Pickleball, 6-10 p.m., Tuesday & Thursday 1-3 p.m., and Sunday 1-6 p.m. Tuesday Yoga 6 p.m.

July 1: Carl Junction Lions Breakfast, 8-11 a.m., CJ Community Center. Cost: Adults $6; children under 6 years, $3. Call 417.439.7724. Carthage, MO

July 1: All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast, 9-11 a.m., Carthage Shrine Club. Public welcome. $7 per person. Call 417.317.0609.

Diamond, MO - George Washington Carver National Monument Visitor Center Free Programs. Two miles west of Diamond on Highway V, then 1/4 mile south on Carver Road. Visitor center and park grounds open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Call 417.325.4151 or visit *Programs will be presented outside on the park grounds.

July 1 & 2: African American Trailblazers, 1 p.m. Talk with a park ranger and explore contributions made by African American trailblazers and discover their pioneering achievements.

July 8: Carver Day, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Join us for a special day celebrating 80 years of George Washington Carver National Monument! This event features programs interpreting the life and legacy of George Washington Carver, including guest speakers, musical groups, a Junior Ranger station and exhibitors.

July 15: Laboratory Demonstrations, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Discover how George Washington Carver used some often-overlooked plants to change the way we think about agriculture.

July 16: Film: Harriet Tubman - Visions of Freedom, 1 p.m. This 60-minute PBS® film is a rich and nuanced portrait of the woman known as the conductor of the Underground Railroad, who repeatedly risked her life and freedom to liberate others from slavery.

July 22 & 23: Expressions of the Soul, 1 p.m. Chat with a park ranger as they “paint a picture” of George Washington Carver and how his creations were expressions of his soul.

July 29 & 30: Struggle for an Education, 1 p.m. Learn about challenges George Washington Carver faced in his pursuit of a formal education in the years after the Civil War.

Joplin, MO

Saturdays: Joplin Empire Market, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 931 E. 4th St. The Joplin Empire Market is the place to find the best in locally grown produce, gourmet foodstuffs and handmade artisan goods. Curbside ordering available, and orders may be placed Tuesday at 8 p.m. until Thursday at 8 p.m. at Curbside pickup hours are Saturday 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. More information:

July 7: The Woman’s Club of Joplin Club Day, noon, Twin Hills Golf and Country Club. Annual BINGO Fund Raiser. This year, the funds raised will be donated to Lafayette House. Everyone is


invited! For more information or to make reservations, call or text 417.483.6336.

Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center, 201 West Riviera Drive, Joplin, MO. The Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center is your local connection to Missouri’s fish, forests and wildlife. Check out the native plant landscaping, exhibits or hike the trails. Purchase a fishing or hunting permit, attend a nature program or watch for wildlife along the trails and banks of Shoal Creek. Enjoy a variety of free public programs throughout the year. Education Center is open Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Closed Sunday, Monday and most state holidays. Call 417.629.3434, email or visit for upcoming events. The parking lot, grounds and trail are open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset.

July 6: Nature Friendships, 2-3 p.m. Registration required. All ages.

July 14: Little Acorns: Let’s go Camping, 10:30-11 a.m. Registration required; recommended for ages 3 to 7. It’s so much fun to take a summer camping trip! Join us at our Shoal Creek “campsite” (classroom) to talk about fun camping activities, outdoor safety tips and learn about some of the amazing critters you may see or hear on your own camping trip!

July 18: Conservation in the Parks: Creek Crawl, 10:30 a.m.12:30 p.m. Registration required; ages 7 and up. A cool, clear Missouri stream or creek is a great place to spend a warm summer day. Each stream is full of life; some can be seen swimming by while others stay hidden. Join us as we dive below the water’s surface and discover what aquatic creatures are hidden in our creeks and what role they play. Meet at the gazebo west of the Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center.

July 22: Water Festival, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Families cool off and beat the heat at the Shoal Creek Water Festival. Join us for this partnership event with the Wildcat Glades Nature Group at the creek in Wildcat Park for a day of water fun. Take a dip in Shoal Creek in your cardboard boat, cheer your duck on to victory during the duck race and enjoy a nature program with the kids. Discover nature and learn about conservation, water quality and ecology at one of the water activity booths as you stroll along the creek. Visit or the Wildcat Glades Nature Group Facebook page for a complete lineup of the day’s events.

July 22: Kids Fishing Derby, 9-10 a.m. Ages: 5 to 15. Kids will have the opportunity to catch and release fish from the education pond. Awards and prizes will be given away at the Shoal Creek Water Festival following the derby. All equipment, tackle and bait provided. Fishing slots are limited, so please register each child separately. All children 15 years old and younger must be accompanied by an adult mentor.

July 27: Snakes of Missouri Webinar, 11 a.m.-12. p.m. and 2-3 p.m. Registration required. Ages: 5 and up. Despite their scary appearances, most snakes in Missouri are harmless and play an important role in our ecosystems. Join us to learn more about these often-misunderstood reptiles and see live snakes during this webinar.

July 28: Nature Boardgame Day, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Registration required. All ages. Why not combine two passions and join us to play nature-themed board games? Whether a beginner or avid player of tabletop games, we will have a variety to play for all skill levels and ages. Stop by the center anytime to learn about nature through board games.

Webb City, MO

Saturdays: Webb City Farmer’s Market, 9 a.m.-noon. Farm-fresh produce, baked goods, herbs, jams, jellies, humanely raised meats and so much more. Information: 417.438.5833.

July 21: Golf Tournament, 12-5 p.m., Briarbrook Golf Course. Shotgun start at 1 p.m. Enjoy 18 holes of golf with cart, lunch and contests. Call 417.673.1154.

July 21: Girls’ Night Out, 8 p.m., Just A Taste. A swanky girls’ night out, featuring a Charleston dance class that will have you kicking up your heels and feeling like a flapper. Call 417.673.1154.

Wildcat Glades Friends Group, 201 Riviera Dr., Joplin, Missouri. All programs are free of charge, but registration is requested. To register, email or visit our Facebook page for online registration options.

July 5-7: Camp Wildcat, 8:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. $100/child, sponsored by the Ozark Gateway Audubon Chapter; ages 7-14, in the Wildcat Glades Education Cottage. Wildcat Glades Nature Group is excited to host the first annual Camp Wildcat event! Children who attend will learn about wildlife, plants and habitats at Wildcat Park through hands-on activities. They will have the opportunity to gain experience in outdoor skills and how to enjoy the outdoors safely and responsibly. Each camper will receive snacks and lunch daily. Registration is only open until June 27, and you must pre-register to attend. Partial scholarships will be available on an application basis. For information regarding scholarship availability, email maddie@ You can pre-register by visiting CampWildcat2023.

TBD: Wildcat Park Habitat Restoration Initiative, various dates in July; ongoing project. Wildcat Glades Nature Group, in partnership with Missouri Southern State University, continues to have workdays to remove invasive species at Wildcat Park. Invasive species are detrimental to native plants and wildlife in the park. Removing the invasive species provides better habitat for plants and animals, and in turn, benefits us. The restoration plan is an ongoing project that will be carried out over the next 10 years. The workdays are completed by Wildcat volunteers, representatives from MSSU and Wildcat staff. If you are interested in becoming involved with the project, please reach out to

July 8: Yoga in Nature for Kids, 10:30 a.m., Wildcat Park Pavilion. Free to attend. For ages 4 and up accompanied by an adult. Led by Amanda, a registered yoga teacher, this class is designed to incorporate elements of fun, breathing and yoga poses specifically for kids. Bring your yoga mat or a towel and a reusable water bottle. Yoga is beneficial for children’s health and even better when it can be done outdoors. Must pre-register. Please sign up by following the instructions on our Facebook page, by visiting NatureYogaKids or by emailing

July 12 & 15: Preschool Connections: Ladybugs, 10-11 a.m. Free class sponsored by Calvin Cassady for ages 7; July 15 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Wildcat Glades Education Cottage. Whether you call them ladybugs, lady beetles or ladybird beetles, you know one when you see one! They are usually one of the first insects children feel comfortable picking up. Join us to read a story, sing a song and complete a ladybug-themed craft! You must preregister by going to our Facebook page, emailing or by going to

July 18: Conservation in the Parks: Macroinvertebrates, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Wildcat Park. All ages welcome, recommended for 7 and up. Did you know many insects spend the first part of their lives in the water? In fact, many insects spend most of their lives underwater and the terrestrial portion we see is just a small part of their life cycle. Join Wildcat Glades Nature Group and Missouri Department of Conservation naturalists in the water at Wildcat Park to look for these interesting critters! Participants will be in shallow water, so please dress appropriately. Register by visiting our Facebook page, emailing or by going to ConservationInTheParksJuly2023.

July 2023 • • 17

Carl Junction is THE place to be this summer. We kicked off our first Second Tuesday in the Park of the season last month. This free community event takes place on the second Tuesday of July and August from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Memorial Park. There are food trucks, games, vendor booths and music, plus the new splash pad is open. The Dog Days of Summer is July 11 and is sponsored by

Looking ahead to the fall, you want to save the date for the 26th Annual Carl Junction Bluegrass Festival Saturday, September 23, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. in Center Creek Park.

Higdon Florist. The Great Outdoors is August 8 and is sponsored by Kyle Hickam - State Farm Insurance.

57th Annual Maple Leaf Festival Theme Announced

While summer has just started, the Carthage Chamber of Commerce and the Maple Leaf Festival® volunteers are busy planning one of the most significant events in the Southwest Missouri region, the Maple Leaf Festival®. This year will mark the 57th annual event and will be one of the biggest yet, with activities each day Oct. 13-21. One of the most significant events is on the third Saturday in October, the Maple Leaf Festival® parade.

“This year, we received calls in January asking if a theme had been chosen,” said Julie Reams, president of the Carthage Chamber. “We were just getting back in the office from Christmas break and had already started the planning for what fall would look like and the festival.”

The 57th Annual Maple Leaf Festival® Parade theme is There’s No Place Like Home.

“We are excited about the theme and the look of the parade T-shirts,” said Reams. Athena Marketing, located in Joplin, provided all the design work for the T-shirt. “We are delighted to have collaborated with Athena Marketing on the logo design. I think our businesses will pull out all the stops, and we will see some amazing floats this year. Merging an iconic phrase and all about Carthage, we hope those creative minds building the traditional floats for the parade will bring to life our theme of There’s No Place Like Home.”

The Chamber will begin taking parade applications starting July 10.

Another new look being launched regarding the Maple Leaf Festival® is the new logo. Items like sweatshirts, T-shirts, magnets, cups and more will be branded with this new look. The marketing team of H.E. Williams worked with the Carthage Chamber to bring a new fresh look to the festival. Merchandise will be available for purchase in the coming months and will be available at the Chamber office. Pre-orders for specific items will be available soon through the new online store the Chamber is currently developing on its website at

A full schedule of this nine-day event will be released later in the summer, highlighting new and traditional events. Sponsorships are available, and volunteers are needed.

Contact the Carthage Chamber of Commerce at 417.358.2373 for questions or more information.

Race Brothers carries a complete line of farm and home supplies including clothing, electrical, plumbing, lawn and garden, outdoor power equipment, tools, truck accessories, pet supplies, cattle-handling equipment, farm fencing and toys. Dedicated to providing the Carthage area with quality service and products for over 40 years. You’ll like the way we do business…tell a friend!

July 2023 • • 19 Race Brothers Farm & Home Supply 2309 Fair Lawn Dr. 417.358.3529
The’s No Place Le Home

Where it’s ‘COOL’ to be YOU!

Visit these local establishments to experience a variety of creative events and entertainment this summer:

JOPLIN ARTS DISTRICT NEWS - A snapshot of news, events and activities happening in July.

Art Exhibits, Theater and Music

Connect2Culture, 212 West Seventh St., presents:

• “Dailey & Vincent with the Issacs,” a fusion of country, bluegrass and gospel July 1. Performances are outside on the Green with chairs available.

• The JOMO Jamming Music Festival with all performances on Saturdays, 7-10 p.m. on the Green, $10 (12 and under free). Artists include Granger and Bluster Soul (rock) performing July 8; Patti Steel and Dance Monkey Dance (Americana) July 15; Route 3 and Borderline Bluegrass July 22; and on July 29, JOMO Jazz and NWA Jazz & More Orchestra. For ticket information and other details, call 417.501.5550. All performances are held in the Harry M. Cornell Arts and Entertainment Complex.

First Thursday ArtWalk with seven locations July 6 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in downtown historic Joplin. Indoor venues with local musicians performing and area artists selling their art. Find a map of locations posted on Facebook/ firstthursdayartwalkjoplinEvents.

Local Color Art Gallery, 1027 South Main St., has painter Barb Hicklin teaching beginning watercolor (ages 8 and up) every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., $20 walk-in and bring your supplies. Walk in or RSVP 417.553.0835.

Spiva Center for the Arts, inside the Cornell Complex, 212 West Seventh St.: Enjoy the following shows in four galleries: Quapaw Nation 151, the art and history of the Quapaw Nation; the exhibit Flash Points: Material, Intent, Fused features the works of four artists focused on encaustic works. Also see Jim Mueller: Local Legacy, celebrating the life and work of renowned photographer and instructor; and the works by Charles Banks Wilson, whose work reflects his commentary on the history of Native Americans.

Third Thursdays street festival is an outside, downtown community event on Main Street from First through Seventh streets. Learn more at JoplinThirdThursday. Join us July 20, 5:30-8:30 p.m., where you can enjoy music, entertainment, food trucks and artisan crafts.

Urban Art Gallery, 511 South Main St.: Painter Scott Leeper with his exhibit, Light and Heavy, during July. Meet Scott 5:30-8:30 p.m. during First Thursday Artwalk July 6.

Bar, Restaurant and Shop Offerings

Blackthorn Pizza and Pub, 510 South Joplin Ave.:

• July 1 at 9 p.m.: Coventry Sacrifice, Basses Loaded and Tene Vernum, $5, ages 21+.

• July 7 at 10 p.m.: The Travel Guide and Electric Lungs, $5, 21.

• July 8 at 10 p.m.: The Comic Rock Beans and The John Waynes, $5, 21+.

• July 12: Brutally Frank and Violets are Blue (all ages until 10 p.m.), $5, 21+.

• July 14 at 10 p.m.: Drag Show, $5, 21+.

• July 15 at 9 p.m.: Rage is My Rival, Scarlet View and Tragic Fate, $5.

Brew Pub & Parlor, 813 South Main St.: Karaoke every Tuesday, 8 p.m., 21+, no cover. Jam nights on Thursdays, 7 p.m. Catch a free comedy show the last Friday of every month.

Chaos Brewing Company, 122 South Main St.: Play free trivia Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Second Tuesdays are for disc golf 6-9 p.m. with Local Route putting competition.

Club 609, 609 South Main St.: Presents painter Natalie Avondet with her “Face to Face” colorful pop art series of celebrities during July. Meet her July 6 during First Thursday Artwalk, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Club XO, 502 S. Joplin Ave.: Fridays Ladies Night

Joplin Avenue Coffee Company, 506 South Joplin Ave.: Aurora painter Deana Markus with her exhibit Forms, Farms, and Fancifuls. Meet Deana during First Thursday Artwalk July 6 in the back room from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Plant Parenthood, 528 South Main St.: Artwork from artists Marta Churchwell, Merlen White, Connie Miller, Brent Skinner and others. Meet the artists July 6 during First Thursday Artwalk 5:308:30 p.m.

Whiskey Dick’s, 516 S. Joplin Ave.: Outdoor music on Fridays/ Saturdays

Xscape Bar, 532 S. Joplin Ave.: Thursdays-Saturdays for music and dancing

Countryside in the City is one of the leading florists in Joplin for fine, quality roses, flowers, plants and gifts for every occasion. Let our experienced designers and staff create a one-of-a-kind gift you will love. We also offer beautiful custom-designed wedding flower arrangements including wedding bouquets, centerpieces and boutonnieres. Open Monday-Friday 8 am-5 pm and Saturday 9 am-1 pm. Convenient parking.

Blackthorn Pizza & Pub is a welcoming and inclusive Irish pub in the heart of downtown Joplin. This hip spot is famous for its delicious food, huge beer selection on tap, the area’s best live music and unforgettable drag shows. Follow Blackthorn on Facebook for upcoming events. Open 7 days a week and now also open for lunch Thursday through Monday.

Blackthorn Pizza & Pub 510 S. Joplin Ave Joplin, MO 417.623.2485 Facebook: @ BlackthornPizza&Pub Countryside in the City Florist • Event Planner Event Venue 422 S. Joplin Ave. 417.781.3719

Haven 55

Tucked away next to the beautiful Little Sugar Creek with a relaxing river view, Haven 55 in Pineville, Missouri, offers a laid-back dining experience surrounded by nature. Owner George Alan Bone III, who honed his culinary skills in Orlando, brings his passion for cooking to this charming establishment. Haven 55 has been serving satisfied customers for 11 years and has become a beloved destination.

According to Bone, the crowd favorites on the menu are the New York strip steak with blue cheese and the fried green beans. They have nightly specials, which include tempting options like prime rib or all-you-can-eat snow crab.

During my recent visit to Haven 55, I started with a refreshing Mortimer’s Catch Cocktail and the crispy fried green beans. The blue drink, garnished with a red gummy fish and a lemon slice, instantly gave off ocean breeze vibes. The green bean appetizer was a perfect match with its tasty horseradish sauce. Moving on to the main course, the Haven 55 Chicken was delicious with its rich and creamy portobello sauce. The chicken was served with a side of Brussels sprouts, which I highly recommend.

Haven 55’s grilled sirloin steak is served on a tangy red wine reduction with shallots. Each bite was a burst of flavor, and the perfectly grilled asparagus added a fresh touch. And let’s not forget about their magnificent twice-baked potato. It’s a tower of creamy, buttery and perfectly seasoned potato goodness.

To wrap up the meal, I treated myself to a heavenly Chocolate Bouchon, topped with a scoop of irresistible vanilla ice cream. It was a sweet ending to my first visit to Haven 55.

Given its popularity, I highly recommend making reservations in advance to secure a table at Haven 55. The restaurant is open Wednesday to Saturday, serving lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

You might also want to check out the Haven 55 Tavern, which offers a lively atmosphere with entertainment and a bar. They serve wood-fired pizzas and tasty sandwiches, providing a laid-back setting for a great time.

Whether you’re looking for a satisfying lunch or a romantic dinner with a view, Haven 55, located at 408 Havenhurst Drive, is a must-visit spot for delicious food, a cozy atmosphere and beautiful scenery.

July 2023 • • 21
• Pineville, MO • 417.223.2055 • Open: Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m.
>> Haven 55 is located at 408 Havenhurst Drive

ShowMe Dining Guide

Red Onion Café

203 E. 4th • Downtown Joplin, MO 417.623.1004 •

Casual urban dining in historic downtown Joplin since 1995. Famous for fresh salads, smoked chicken dip, burgers, pasta, grilled fish and steaks. The menu has a wide variety of gluten-free, low-carb and keto-friendly items. Extensive craft beer menu and wines by the glass. Full-service catering for groups large and small. Consistently voted “Best Restaurant” and “Best Menu” by 417 Magazine and The Joplin Globe. $-$$

Hours: Monday-Saturday 11am-9 pm

Hackett Hot Wings

520 S. Main • Joplin, MO 417.625.1333 •

“The only wings better are on an angel.” Offering 13 flavors of wings, plus salads, catfish, chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, boneless wings and more! Call for catering and reservations. Now offering an additional dining area and sports room with 17 big-screen TVs and full bar featuring Coach Hackett’s Ultimate Bloody Mary. Check out the online store at (Smoke-free) $-$$

Hours: Mon-Thurs, 11 am-9 pm; Fri-Sun, 11 am-10 pm; Mon-Wed Lunch Specials, 11 am-2 pm; Mon-Wed Happy Hour, 3-6 pm.


Restaurant 70220 East Hwy 60 • Wyandotte, OK 888.992 SKY1

Shawanoe Restaurant, located inside Indigo Sky Casino, is serving delicious award-winning chef creations daily. Bring your family and friends and enjoy delicious desserts, gourmet sandwiches, upscale salads, and a wonderful selection of pasta dishes. For the steak lover, mouth-watering steaks cooked to perfection. Everything to satisfy your appetite, plus your favorite beverage. Go to for additional information. Located inside Indigo Sky Casino, Hwy 60 West of Seneca, MO. $-$$$

Bailey’s Family Dining

1200 Briarbrook Dr. • Carl Junction, MO 417.781.2944 • Like us on Facebook!

Bailey’s restaurant offers a variety of home-cooked meals that are sure to satisfy. Enjoy one of our many delicious burgers with hand-breaded onion rings or try a pulled pork chimichanga. On the weekend, join us for breakfast where everything is made from scratch. From sweet to savory, we offer specialty pancakes, omelets and all your breakfast favorites. $-$$

Hours: Monday-Friday 11 am-10 pm; Saturday-Sunday 7 am-10 pm.

Special Advertising Section

Club 609 609 Main Street • Joplin, MO 417.623.6090

“Treat your appetite to a GOURMET DELIGHT served ‘Joplin style’.” Flavorful specialties for any occasion, featuring salads, burgers and sandwiches. Delicious entrees – beef, chicken, pork, seafood and seven “pastabilities!” Offering appetizers, homemade desserts, soup du jour, beer, wine and mixed drinks. Kids menu available. $-$$$

Hours: Kitchen open Monday-Friday 11 am-10 pm Saturday 11 am-10:30 pm • Bar open later

Casa Montez

4224 S. Main St. • Joplin, MO 417.624.2272

Casa Montez is back in business and ready to serve you! The team at Casa Montez is serving up all of your favorite recipes as before as well as their famous cheese dip. If you’re looking for the perfect Mexican cuisine including delicious tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and so much more, you must visit Casa Montez at their new location. Call ahead for your to-go order and conveniently pick up at the walk-up window. $-$$

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11 am-8 pm

Undercliff Grill & Bar

6835 Old Highway 71 • Joplin, MO 417.629.2869 •

Undercliff Grill & Bar is back in business! This historical restaurant has been brought back to life under new ownership, so come by to grab a bite to eat and see what’s new. Chow down on some good old-fashioned comfort food or grab a beer at the bar. Undercliff Grill & Bar is the perfect spot for breakfast, lunch, a date or a night out with friends and family. Follow Undercliff Grill & Bar on Facebook to learn more! $-$$.

Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 11 am-9 pm; Saturday, 9 am-9 pm; Sunday, 9 am-3 pm.

Just A Taste 105 S. Main St. • Webb City, MO 417.673.9463 •

Just A Taste Webb City has a plethora of incredible spaces for you to try out. Every time you come in, you can have a unique experience. Visit our tasting room, which features our own wine made in St. James, Missouri. Or, join us for dinner in our intimate restaurant or indoor courtyard, where we feature a farm-to-table menu. Or, stop in for a drink in our cozy cocktail bar featuring an inventive cocktail menu and hundreds of beer and spirits. $$-$$$. Check Facebook for hours.

July 2023 • • 23 Special Advertising Section

ShowMe Dining Guide

Bricks & Brews

1531 Military Ave. • Baxter Springs, KS 620.304.2056 •

Bricks & Brews Woodfire Grill & Pub is bringing classic woodfired pizza to Route 66! In addition to our delicious pizza, we also offer a selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, desserts and have recently added barbecue and a salad bar to our extensive menu. Come in and enjoy our full bar, as well, featuring a large selection of craft beers. Don’t miss live music every weekend! Come see your favorite local artists perform. We can’t wait to see you soon! $-$$

Hours: Mon-Thu, 11 am-10 pm; Fri/Sat, 11 am-12 am; Sun, 11 am-8 pm


2707 E. 32nd Street • Joplin, MO

417.624.3466 •

Finn’s is a semi-fine dining restaurant that caters to all your dining desires. Enjoy our dog-friendly patio and warm, inviting fireplaces. From our uniquely crafted cocktails, farm-fresh ingredients and Joplin’s best in-house bakery paired with our elegant, intimate atmosphere for small gatherings or a night out. Finn’s chefs are experts in their craft, with just the right touch to make your restaurant experience special. $$-$$$

Hours: Monday -Saturday: 11 am-9 pm

Sunday: CLOSED

Mis Arcos

1926 S. Garrison Ave. • Carthage, MO


For the delicious authentic Mexican food you crave, there’s no place like MisArcos. We offer great choices, from our mouthwatering quesadillas to sizzling fajitas to massive burritos. There’s a reason we were voted Best of the Four States for Mexican food! Did we mention our two for $5 margaritas? Mis Arcos is the home of great food, fun times and lots of laughs! $-$$

Hours: Mon-Wed, 11 am-9 pm; Fri, 11 am-9:30 pm; Sat/Sun 11 am-9 pm

Taste of Italy

4321 S. Chapel Road • Carthage, MO


“The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later, you’re hungry again.” Taste of Italy serves up delectable, authentic Italian food with new specials almost daily. Owner and Head Chef Aleks Sula was born in Albania and raised in New York City, so he brings 20-plus years of experience in traditional Italian and Mediterranean cooking to his menu. You can expect made-from-scratch bread, sauces, pasta and more. $-$$

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am-9 pm; Sunday, 11 am-3 pm

Special Advertising Section

Club 1201

1201 E. 32nd Street • Joplin, MO 417.626.0032 •

Now serving Joplin’s best brunch! Homemade beignets, pastries, biscuits and gravy, peppered bacon, eggs and parmesan fried potatoes and more! For lunch, enjoy your favorite appetizers, “out-of-this-world” salads, seasoned breads and your choice of dressing, soup du jour, sandwiches from burgers to apricot turkey and over 30 other choices! We offer a full service catering menu for private parties, business meetings and special events.

Hours: Tuesday-Thursday: 11 am-3 pm; Friday: 11 am-10 pm; Saturday and Sunday: 9 am-2 pm

Sam’s Cellar Bar & Oven

101 N. Wood • Neosho, MO 417.451.3330 •

Sam’s Cellar offers a unique dining experience under the historic square in Neosho, MO. Enjoy gourmet wood-fired pizzas, burgers, wings, wraps, subs or a specialty salad. The full bar offers signature cocktails, draft beers and wine to wet your whistle. Come visit us at Sam’s Cellar for a dining experience you will never forget! $-$$

Hours: Monday-Sunday, 11 am-Close

Kascade Steakhouse

988 S. Country Club Rd • Carthage, MO 417.553.7357 • Like us on Facebook!

Kascade Steakhouse is Carthage’s newest spot for a delicious bite to eat. The chef is an expert in gourmet steaks, steakburgers, salmon and Italian food – his authentic alfredo is to die for. Come in on Fridays for the prime rib special. Under the same owners as Midway Café in Bartlesville, OK, where we are serving up the breakfast you have come to know and love. Dining room and lounge accommodates groups, events and weddings. $-$$

Open Tuesday-Saturday 4-9 pm

Haven 55

408 Havenhurst Drive • Pineville, MO 417.223.2055 •

Haven 55 is a cozy country restaurant with a magnificent view, delicious homestyle food and exceptional service. The culinary masterpieces from Owner and Executive Chef Alan Bone cannot be beat. You will love the New York strip steak with blue cheese cream sauce, the fried green beans, and you don’t want to miss Wednesday night prime rib! Located on the site of the old Havenhurst Mill, built in 1868, this historical restaurant overlooks the dam on Little Sugar Creek. $-$$$

Hours: Tues-Sat for lunch 11 am-2 pm, and dinner 5 pm-9 pm

July 2023 • • 25 Special Advertising

EVENTS Northeast OK

July 1-4: 151st Annual Quapaw Nation Powwow, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Quapaw Nation Powwow Grounds, 5681 S. 630 Rd., Quapaw

Whether you’re a first-time attendee or a seasoned veteran, the Quapaw Powwow has something for everyone. You’ll have the opportunity to witness stunning displays of Native American art, crafts and jewelry, as well as feast on delicious foods. And let’s not forget about the amazing music! You’ll be blown away by the rhythmic beats of the drum circle and the lively melodies of the singers and dancers.

July 15: Golden Sound of The Platters, 7 p.m. Coleman Theatre, 103 N. Main St., Miami

Direct from Branson, all the Platters’ music! Eddie Stovall and Willie Nash are together again performing the music they are famous for.

July 28-29: Route 66 Heritage Fest, 4-11 p.m. Downtown Miami

Food trucks, marketplace vendors, kids’ activities, corn hole tourney, KCBS barbecue competition and a beer garden is set for visitors and attendees to enjoy over the weekend. Saturday, July 29, will feature the car and bike show, which starts at 9 a.m. on South Main Street and ends at noon.

July 29: Willie Run, 7-9 a.m.

West Avenue, Miami. The seventh annual Willie Osborn Memorial Run 5K and 1-mile fun run. Registration begins at 7 a.m.

July 29: GAR Cemetery British Flyers

Remembrance Ceremony, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. 2801 N. Main St., Miami

For more details about events in Miami please contact Lauren Hart at 918.542.4435.

Grove, OK

July 7: Food Truck Friday, 5-9 p.m. City of Grove City Hall lawn, Broadway and West Third Street

A Drag Boat Show-n-Shine and musical performance by Backwood County. Bring a seat and enjoy the fun!

July 15: Thirds annual GCPAA Car, Truck, Motorcycle and Golf Cart Show, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Wolf Creek State Park, 936 N. 16th St., Grove.

The Grove Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association Car Show is back! Feast your eyes on some beautiful wheels or register your own vehicle for the event. Cars, trucks, motorcycles and golf carts are all welcome, so sign up today!

July 21-22: Old Time Gathering and Music Festival

Har-Ber Village and Museum, 4404 W. 20th St., Grove

Two days of fun old-time music, Contra dance and living history demonstrations. With extended hours until 6 p.m. and special $5 admission per person.

Dates and times are subject to change. Please call the Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau at 918.542.4435 to confirm.

Independence Day Celebrations

Anderson, MO

July 2: Anderson Fireworks Display, 6 p.m., Anderson Sports Complex, 263 Indian Creek Rd. Fireworks start at dusk. Enjoy a concession stand, food trucks and cornhole.

Carl Junction, MO

July 4: Independence Day Parade, 10 a.m.noon, Main Street. Decorate your wagons, bikes, lawn mowers, scooters, strollers, etc. Trophies and prizes awarded. Come out and enjoy the parade.

Joplin, MO

June 20-July 4: Black Market Fireworks retail fireworks at three air-conditioned locations: West 7th past Schifferdecker, Highway 43 across from Petro, North Main by Front Page and tent locations throughout the area. Also, wholesaling fireworks throughout the year.

July 4: Joplin’s Independence Day Celebration, starts at 5:30 p.m., Fred G. Hughes Stadium, located on the campus of Missouri Southern State University. This spectacular event features live music by The Mixtapes, food trucks and fireworks.

Schedule of Events:

• 5:30 p.m.: Event Kick Off: Food Trucks Open

• 7 p.m.: Stadium Opens to Visitors

• 7:30 p.m.: Live Music by The Mixtapes

• 9:45 p.m.: Fireworks Show (approximate show time is 20 minutes). The show is set to music, which visitors can tune into 88.7 KXMS to experience.

The football stadium is an NCAA regulation field, and no one will be allowed on the football turf. Seating is available in the stadium and along the grass around the field.

Items that ARE allowed inside the stadium:

• Water • Food • Small Coolers • Seat Cushions

• Folding Chairs • Blankets • Strollers

What NOT to bring:

• Personal Fireworks • Alcohol • Grills

• Pets (service animals are allowed)

• Tobacco

Plenty of parking available throughout the campus. A festivities map will be posted closer to the event as well as a list of expected vendors.

For more information about this year’s celebration, contact Joplin Parks & Recreation at 417.625.4750 or check out https://www.

Carthage, MO

July 4: Red, White and Boom, 2 p.m., Municipal Park. A full day of family fun, food trucks, games, live entertainment and fireworks. Call 417.358.2373 or ekitsmiller@

Seneca, MO

July 3-4: Faith, Family, Freedom--4th of July Celebration 2023, Seneca Park. Car show, Lil’ Miss & Mr. Firecracker contest, 5K run, pie auction, duck race, music, food trucks, kids’ games and fireworks.


July 1: Girard Celebration at Crawford County Fairgrounds. Info: Girard Area Chamber of Commerce, 620.724.4715.

July 2: Celebration at Crawford State Park, Farlington, 620.362.3671.

July 4: Mulberry Celebration, Mulberry City Hall, 620.764.3315.

July 3-4: Hepler Rodeo & Independence Celebration. Info: Kim Harris, 620.368.4792.

July 4: Pittsburg Celebration, Pittsburg Parks & Recreation, 620.231.8310.

July 2023 • • 27

Spotlights Oklahoma Business

Come to Play... Come to Play... Plan to Stay to Stay

July 3 Grove reworks at Wolf Creek 6pm

July 3 Grove reworks at Blue Bluff Resort

July 3 Quapaw Downstream Casino

July 4 Jay Huckleberry Fireworks

July 4 Duck Creek Fireworks Arrowhead

July 4 Miami Fireworks Buffalo Run Casino

New Life Spa is excited to have expanded with more space and more offerings to our already comprehensive list of services, which most recently includes physical therapy and skincare and our new hyperbaric oxygen chamber. Along with our expansion, we are now able to offer several different ozone therapies and frequency therapy. We look forward to serving others and sharing Christ through the talents God has given us.

Har-Ber Village Museum

4404 W. 20th St. • Grove, OK

Email: Info@HAR· • 918.786.6446

A visit to this quiet lakeside village will take you on a nostalgic journey into the past. Har-Ber Village Museum celebrates the bygone era of pioneer life in Oklahoma. Multiple log cabins house eclectic collections of antiques, and frequent living-history demonstrations bring the times alive for visitors. Remember the past, celebrate the present, imagine the future! Open the third Saturday in March through the first Saturday in November. Hours 9 am-3:30 pm, closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Lendonwood Gardens

One mile west of Main St. on Har-Ber Road 918.786.2938 •

Don’t miss the summer colors of Lendonwood Gardens, an 8-acre botanical garden in Grove. You’ll enjoy beautiful azaleas, rhododendrons, daylilies, dogwoods, peonies and more! Stop by the Oklahoma Garden for regional plant ideas, and check out the Japanese Pavilion overlooking the Koi pond. You’ll see why Lendonwood offers the perfect backdrop for weddings, photography and special events. Open year-round from dawn to dusk.

New Life Spa Wellness Center
2086 S. Main • Grove, Oklahoma • 918.948.2758
20 28 Langley Zena Tia Juana 66 TwinBridges Fairland 59 125 60 69 59 66 137 10 HISTORIC Route 66 Cleora 10 59 Afton 85 60 69 60 69 66 82 85 44
1 Horse Creek Fireworks
Resort across from
Horse Creek
Unnished Bridge July 1 Commerce High
Grove Mountain
July 3 Grand Lake Fireworks Disney Spillway June 30 Vinita Craig
June 24 Welch Stockyards
July 3 Wyandotte Nation PowWow Grounds 6:30 July 1 Gran Tara by water 10ish
July 2 Lake Eucha Green Country Giggers 8pm
July 2 Monkey Island Fireworks Shangri-la Resort July 2 Quapaw PowWow Grounds
July 2023 • • 29 Fashion Forward • Wig’n Out Boutique Celebrate the Fourth of July in style with this fun graphic tee, good food and great company! Paired with some of our favorite denim shorts. We love helping ladies feel as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside! From clothing, shoes and accessories to hair pieces, extensions and wigs, “We’ve got you covered from head to toe.” Wig’N Out Boutique 20 S. Main St. Webb City, MO 417.717.5099

The Vogue Boutique

144 S. Main • Carl Junction, MO • 417.649.7911

Just 10 minutes from downtown Joplin

Insta: @thevogueboutiquecj Facebook: thevogueboutiquecj

The Vogue Boutique has a huge selection of Birkenstock® for summer and early fall. Stop in and let our friendly staff help you put together the perfect outfit or select the perfect gift. Shop in-store Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. or online anytime at Located at 144 South Main Street in Carl Junction, just 10 short minutes from downtown Joplin. Be sure to follow us on socials for the latest updates: Insta @ thevogueboutiquecj and Facebook thevogueboutiquecj.

Radiant Glo

1710 E. 32nd St., Ste. G1 • Joplin, MO • 417.434.2963

The Jet Plasma treatment is a revolutionary skin tightening treatment that uses cold plasma to improve skin appearance. Putting out 14,000 volts of plasma, the pen can tighten at 14.8% with just one treatment. It helps with aging skin, acne prone skin, sun damaged skin, stretched skin, crepey skin, rosacea, melasma, scars, hyper/hypopigmentation.

No pain, no marks, no risks and no downtime. Treatments can be done as frequently as every 48 hours, and we suggest a series of at least three. Results last 3-4 years. Reach out today to schedule your appointment!

Wig’N Out Boutique

20 S. Main St. • Webb City, MO 417.717.5099 •

Show off your patriotic side this Independence Day with the perfect graphic tee. We have a variety of shirts in our USA collection ready for you to express your freedom this month, or any month! At Wig’N Out Boutique, you will also find stylish clothing, shoes and accessories for every occasion. And always remember: “We’ve got you covered from head to toe!” Visit us in store or online!

MO • 417.356.5190

The Paw Spa Bathhouse for dogs is THE place to treat your dog to a spa day! A quiet, calm atmosphere is what we strive to provide for your dog’s grooming experience. Located next to BigDog Boutique on the square in Carthage, the Paw Spa offers full grooming, wash services and nail trims in a quiet, one-on-one environment. Let us give your dog a bath while you shop or have lunch with a friend! Services are by appointment only. If you don’t need grooming but have a stinky dog, try out the self-serve stations! Available Fridays and Saturdays only, our wash stations provide everything needed to wash your own dog including premium shampoos and conditioners, brushes, towels and heated dryers. Check us out on Facebook with the QR code above, or call/text us to set up an appointment! 417.356.5190.

30 Special Advertising Section Treat your dog to a sPaw day! *Grooming *Wash services
serve stations
Paw Spa • A Bathhouse for Dogs
323 S. Main •

Ozark Nursery

5361 N. Main • Joplin, MO 417.623.0224 • Find us on Facebook

This July, honor our armed forces with high-quality statuary for your garden! We have statues of all sizes representing each branch of service as well as police officers and firefighters. Ozark Nursery is a full-service, locally owned nursery for over 50 years. You will find plenty of flowers to spruce up your yard here, and we also have a landscape division to install fine plants, trees and flowers to help with your landscaping. We offer incredible customer service, and everyone greets you with a friendly smile!

Blue Moon Boutique

613 S. Main Street • Joplin, MO • 417.553.0826

Facebook: @Blue Moon Boutique Joplin

Eat your heart out, Ken! It’s Barbie’s season! Hot pink and bright colors are trending, and you can find all the newest colorful summer looks at Blue Moon!

One 24 Outlet

13105 Kodiak Rd • Neosho, MO • 417.451.1144

Like us on Facebook! • Download our APP!!

One24 Boutique is a unique mother/daughter-teamed store that specializes in the unique. Located in Neosho, this small-town store has gifts, home decor, one-of-a-kind finds and FASHION!! The new “One24 Rags” clothing line was custom designed by the two ladies! Everything in the outlet is 40% off. A portion of all proceeds is donated each month to the KU Bladder Cancer Department to fund a research scholarship.


4 S. Main St. • Webb City, MO • 417.717.0073

Facebook & Instagram: @SocietyWebbCity

For something cute and unique, visit Society for your very own quilted overalls! You won’t find these trendy pieces anywhere else! We carry a pants option and shorts option along with quilted shirts and shorts. Straps can be tied and adjusted to your height, and there is a hidden zipper on the side. Each overall is one of a kind and perfect for summer. Visit us in downtown Webb City for the best of the best in clothing, home décor, jewelry and so much more!

July 2023 • • 31 Special Advertising Section

Big R’s Pies 417. 437.3135 was 23 years in the making. Owner Twyla Housh sold the barbecue portion of Big R’s in April, but she and her mother Carla kept the pie portion and set up a commercial pie kitchen. Whole pie pickups are at Big R’s, Red Onion Espressoria in Galena, Kansas, and Chatters in Pittsburg, Kansas. No charge for delivery within Joplin city limits.

Zena Suri Alpacas is celebrating the freedom of Independence Day through the entire month of July. Tom and Wolfman are taking a break from a tour. Bring a picnic, feed an alpaca, learn about fiber, make felted soap, stay in our cabin. We are handicap accessible and have air-conditioned areas. You know you want to come. Call 804.389.2579 and arrange your tour. We are near Grand Lake, Oklahoma.

Extreme Sports Scuba

5203 S. Range Line Road • Joplin, MO • 417.659.9009

At Extreme Sports Scuba, we offer beginning scuba and a large list of specialty classes. We don’t believe in hidden costs and supply all gear for the Open Water SCUBA Diver Course except for boots. The Open Water Scuba Course is only $395 per person and includes educational material. Now is the perfect time to learn to dive!

Come see us and like us on Facebook.

Journey Through Slime Event Studio

2310 S. Main • Joplin, Missouri • 417.317.5416

Journey Through Slime Event Studio and Scoop Shoppe is excited to introduce rolled ice cream. First in the area to serve rolled ice cream, this new experience will debut summer of 2023, keep watching on Facebook! Our guests can choose one of our creations of rolled ice cream or they can create their own. While you are in, enjoy other sensory-focused experiences such as designing slime, shopping our fidget toys and trying our hand-dipped ice cream. Our outdoor patio is now open for guests to enjoy! The Scoop Shoppe, home of the rolled ice cream experience!

32 Special Advertising Section
35401 S. 580 Road • Jay, OK • 804.389.2579
Suri Alpacas
“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in that action.” ~ Mother Teresa
Photo by Mandy Edmonson

Happy anniversary to the staff, board of directors and the many volunteers who help make the Ronald McDonald House a home away from home for families who sought support, understanding and comfort within its walls. We can’t wait to watch your next 25 years of continuing service and unconditional love for your guests unfold in our Four-State Area.

Board of Directors Front Row: Paula Baker, Dr. Fred Wheeler, Teresa Brown, Annette Thurston, Mary Greenwood and Sharon Dean Back Row: Amanda Mitchell, Gary Brown, Montie Taylor and Michael Matney Not Pictured: Joe Caputo, Phil Close, Michael Herr, Robin Mussa, Dr. Rahul Oberoi and Patrick Scott

Hope &Homeat the


Watching Gracelynn and Lennex

Gleason as active children today makes it hard to believe their early weeks of life were not as carefree. Both babies spent time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Freeman Health System and that meant their parents, Tylor and Natalee Gleason, did, too. Fortunately, Ronald McDonald House of the Four States was able to provide a home away from home to the young family.

“In 2016, at 38 weeks pregnant with Gracelynn, I experienced severe itchiness of my hands, feet, face and arms and noticed Gracelynn was not moving as much as she usually did,” Natalee said. “I called my midwife to let her know, and she wanted to see me as soon as possible. But Gracelynn was doing great.”

Still, the midwife was concerned and suspected Natalee could have cholestasis, a condition caused when the flow of bile from the liver stops or slows. They decided to induce labor that day.

Labor and delivery went well, but, shortly after, the doctor announced Gracelynn needed a lot more help breathing so he sent her to the NICU.

“It was heartbreaking and terrifying news to us when we learned of Gracelynn’s needs,” Natalee said. “We were overwhelmed with emotions.”

The couple was told about the services of Ronald McDonald House, and they were relieved to learn that, despite living in Joplin, they could still use this close-by resource for their own stay. “Ronald McDonald House turned out to be the biggest blessing to us,” Natalee said. “They welcomed our family with support, comfort and provided a sense of home.”

In 2019, the Gleasons were pregnant with Gracelynn’s brother, Lennex. Again, Natalee exeperienced itching of her feet and hands. Again, she called her midwife, and they induced labor the next day.

“Just as before, labor and delivery went great! We were able to spend an hour with Lennex just holding and loving on him,” Natalee said. “When the nurse came in to check on things, I mentioned that he had the cutest little grunt. This was concerning to her, so she decided to take him down to the nursery where they ended up putting him on oxygen. Again, the doctor came in with news we were familiar with. Lennex would need a NICU stay.”

Natalee said, “The sadness was there again but one thing was for certain: We knew we would be staying at the Ronald McDonald House again.” The parents were grateful Ronald McDonald House allowed them to be close to Lennex and maintain a routine for their then 3-year-old daughter.

“We were able to do nightly routines together,” Natalee said. “We were able to squeeze in playtime and have breakfast together in the mornings. As far as Gracelynn knew, we just got to stay at a fun hotel when baby brother was born”.

Today, the kids are active and doing well. Gracelynn, age 7, is active in dance, singing and theater. Lennex, age 4, loves trains, trucks and bulldozers.

The Gleasons are now active with Ronald McDonald House as volunteers. “We want to always be a part of the Ronald McDonald House family,” Natalee said. “Volunteers are a huge part of what keeps the house going, and if we can contribute to that so they can continue serving more families, then we will continue to be involved.”

“We have been so blessed by those around us who give, love and support us well, and we want to do whatever we can to help others experience that kind of love.”
~ Natalee Gleason
Cover Story SMTO

RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE of the FOUR STATES Celebrating 25 Years of hope and family

until three years later that they received permission and that license to build a 10-bedroom Ronald McDonald House.”

In 1996, as president of Joplin Daybreak Rotary, Thurston had the honor of presenting Mike Jennings with the first $5,000 toward the vision of Ronald McDonald House of the Four States.

As Annette Thurston reflects on 25 years of service at Ronald McDonald House of the Four States, she is quick to mention the character of the people in our Four-State Area and how it is reflected in the volunteers, medical professionals and supporters of the house and its original mission.

“Our mission has remained the same – we help keep families close to their ill children,” she said. “The people of the Four States have significantly given of their time, talents and resources to reducing the stress of families by providing physical and emotional support to all family members.”

In the ‘80s, hall of famer and Commerce, Oklahoma, native Mickey Mantle approached McDonald’s Owner/Operators Bob and Libby Jennings about establishing a Ronald McDonald House in Joplin. The idea became a passion for Bob, but there were not enough children’s services provided at local hospitals to meet the requirements for a licensed Ronald McDonald House.

“Bob and Libby Jennings’ passion and persistence is why the house is here today,” Annette said. Freeman Health System opened the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in 1993 and shortly after that, St. John’s Hospital began delivering babies. “Bob asked his son, Mike, who was in the family business, to go back to the international Ronald McDonald House Charities committee and ask that our area once again be considered to receive a house license,” Thurston said. “But it wasn’t

“Shortly after presenting Mike the donation, he asked if I would consider helping with the house project team and ultimately serve as the executive director of the charity,” she said.

“I said ‘yes.’”

The House opened July 27, 1998, and the first guest checked in Aug. 20. Guests come to the house for a variety of reasons, such as having a newborn in the NICU, a child having specialized surgeries, ill expectant mothers or trauma involving children under the age of 21. The 14,000-square-foot house offers each family a bedroom suite with a private bath, two large family rooms, indoor and outdoor children’s play areas, a kitchen, laundry facilities, a chapel and a patio and garden area. In addition, families have access to transportation, meals, computers, comfort dogs, counseling, recreational activities and more. Families are asked to contribute $10 per day, but if unable to do so, the visit is funded by private and community donations.

The Charity also operates Ronald McDonald Family Room located on the sixth floor of Mercy Hospital. The Family Room serves as a quiet rest area for family members who have a child in the hospital. Both programs are staffed by volunteers, led by one full-time program manager. “Our volunteers are the heart of our house and our Family Room,” Annette said. “With the additional support of community organizations, businesses and individuals, parents leave with resources to support and strengthen their families.”

Thurston sees one common factor amongst all the guests. “They all walked through our door as strangers,” she said. “They are welcomed, embraced, provided comfort and care, and they all became part of our Ronald McDonald House family – a true gift to our Four-State Area.”

To learn more about how you can support the work of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States, contact 417.624.2273 or visit

July 2023 • • 37
25 Years of Continuous Service Gary and Teresa Brown, Annette Thurston and Joy Morris Not Pictured: Charles Keeter, Jennifer McVay, Linda Phipps and Lynn Simmons
“The foundation of this House is love: the love and strength of family. It has been a gift to this community.”
~Annette Thurston, executive director
Associate Director Tara Horinek; House Program Manager Jerri Sargent; Executive Director Annette Thurston; Program Assistant Joy Morris; Associate Director Shirley Hylton; Communications Coordinator Emily Gibson


Libby Jennings was a driving force behind the efforts to bring a Ronald McDonald House to the Four States. She passed away April 29, 2023, at age 89. Libby was born and raised in Springfield, Missouri, and attended Southwest Missouri State University, where she met her husband, Bob Jennings. They were married in 1954 and started their family. The couple moved to Joplin in 1964 to begin working as owner/operators of several McDonald’s franchises. They channeled their success into helping establish the Ronald McDonald House of the Four States in Joplin in 1998. Libby remained active with the organization while raising a family of five and giving back to the community through her philanthropic involvement with several area organizations.

the Four States


It’s the Biggest of Celebrations as Big Brutus Turns 6o

Cindy Morris, who serves as general manager/executive director at Big Brutus, Inc., says a specific 60th celebration event this past May “brought in more than 1,100 visitors who enjoyed activities for kids that included bounce houses, kiddie train rides and a visit from KC Wolf and Gus Gorilla. Everyone enjoyed food trucks, live music and tons of fun.”

At, visitors are encouraged to “discover the story of the largest electric shovel in the world” by visiting this monument to mining history.

Morris says the museum “was able to save this impressive piece of history and preserve the coal mining industry.”

The website describes this mammoth mechanism as standing 16 stories tall and weighing 11 million pounds while indicating it represented the peak of mining technology during its era.

Other features of this magnificent masterpiece include a 150-foot boom and a dipper capacity of 90 cubic yards (enough to fill three railroad cars). Its maximum speed of .22 mph and cost of $6.5 million in 1962 reflected the enormous investment in industrial machinery that defined the mid-20th century.

The shovel on Big Brutus was designed to dig from 20 to 69 feet down and unearth relatively shallow coal seams, which would themselves then be mined with smaller equipment.

People come from far and wide to tour this incredible invention and timely tool from a bygone timeframe. Morris says, “Big Brutus, Inc., is a familyfriendly atmosphere. Visitors enjoy the opportunity to get to see and go inside this massive machine and see how coal was removed from the earth.”

Morris recognizes it is vital to keep this history alive and strong. “Being placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of Interior made us realize Big Brutus is very important to so many people.”

There are quite a few folks who are hands on with upkeep and helping to promote the museum. Morris says, “We currently have a staff of six people who keep the daily operations going, and they enjoy their work.

“We also have a very active board of directors who volunteer countless hours helping to maintain the property and assisting with special events.”

Morris is beyond thrilled to have a role in this important homage to the rich coal mining history of this region and says, “Big Brutus offers a very fulfilling job for me, and I enjoy seeing our visitors untameably having a great time and making great memories.”

All those who stop by to get a close-up look at Big Brutus and learn more about what this historical treasure is all about are sure to never forget such an enjoyable experience.

Big Brutus Fast Facts


6509 NW 60th Street, West Mineral, Kansas

Phone Number: 620.827.6177

Email Address:

Hours of Operation: Open all year, seven days a week, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day)

Admission Prices: $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and military, $5.50 for children ages 6-12 years old (children 5-under get in free)

Events & Activities: Offers a unique and picturesque venue for weddings, receptions, private parties, group tours, school field trips, picnics and family reunions. The Visitors Center & Big Brutus both feature exhibits, ever-changing displays and photographs that enhance the colorful history and heritage of this region and this bucket-wielding machine. Be sure to take advantage of the self-guided tour.

July 2023 • • 39
There’s something gigantic worth seeing in West Mineral, Kansas, and this might just be the perfect time to check it out, especially since Big Brutus is celebrating its 60th birthday in 2023.
Featuring Southeast Kansas SMTO

Southeast KANSAS


July 2023 • • 43

Q&A for Matt O’Malley

Q: How long have you been volunteering in the Pittsburg community?

A: I began volunteering as a Meals on Wheels driver back in 2007 while I was still in college. I did that once a week for about four years and really enjoyed getting to know the people on my route.

Q: What motivated you to start volunteering in the first place?

A: In college, I was going through a rough patch in life and began a journey of self-discovery. I ran across the Gandhi quote: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” I hoped maybe if I placed the needs of others before my own then I would gain some perspective on the insignificance of my own problems.

Q: What do you love most about living and working in the Pittsburg community?

A: Pittsburg is the right place for me. I love my hometown. Whether you want calm and quiet or fun and exciting, you can find it here. It’s definitely a college town, and I am grateful for the excitement the student population brings. The people in Pittsburg are good people. They are caring, passionate, helpful, experimental and innovative. I am glad my parents decided to stay here and look forward to passing my pride of Pittsburg to my own children.

Q: How has volunteering changed your perspective on life and the world around you?

A: Volunteering has helped me realize just how fortunate I am and have always been. My parents worked so hard to take care of me and my siblings. We never missed a meal. We had school supplies every year. We always had a roof over our heads. They made sure we grew up educated, kind and confident. Volunteering has given me opportunities to sit with people who never had the privileges I have had and to learn about some of their almost impossible situations. Those conversations have not only given me empathy but also the will to commit to improving the policies, systems and environments that keep people from reaching their full potential. Now I just want to leave Pittsburg better than I found it and help others gain chances to succeed.

Q: When you’re not volunteering, what do you enjoy doing?

A: I have two small boys, ages three and six, so I spend a lot of time wrestling, coaching t-ball, playing with dinosaurs and getting dirty in the back yard. As far as hobbies go, I enjoy gardening, golfing, playing poker and watching movies.

Q: What is something the community may not know about you?

A: Something others might not know about me is that I used to be severely depressed. It took me a long time to dig myself out of the dark

places I wound up in, and I still deal with internal struggles. I hope anyone who reads this who feels sad or alone knows it is okay to feel that way, and this too shall pass.

Q: If you could inspire others to start volunteering, what message or advice would you give them about the meaning and purpose behind it?

A: Volunteering is good for you; it’s like sunshine, sleep or a long walk outside! I can’t tell you how many times I have felt I got more out of volunteering than the people or organization I helped. There is joy and perspective and purpose in it. You don’t have to commit hours and years of your time. Just start somewhere. Pick a few of your favorite nonprofits and let them know you have an hour to give a month and see what needs they have. After a few shifts, you will figure out where you belong, and you can give more time if you have it to give. Before you know it, you will be out there changing the world one small act of service at a time. Volunteering can fill you up – let it!

Q: Is there anything you’d like to share about how others can get involved in their community?

A: The best way to get involved is to join a local civic organization. Wherever you live, your community probably has a young professionals group, Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Shriners, etc. Reach out to them or go to a meeting as a guest. These organizations are deeply rooted in their communities and are likely involved in some great projects. Or, and trust me, it’s possible, do your own thing. You can pursue your own great idea to fill a need in your community. Start by bringing together a small group of friends, family, coworkers or mentors. Have a quick meeting and start putting a plan down on paper. People will gravitate toward a good idea, especially if someone with passion is driving it.

402 North Broadway, Suite B Pittsburg, Kansas 620.404.2812 Featuring Southeast Kansas SMTO
Matt O’Malley Fast Facts Executive
at Community Green Farms
July 2023 • • 45

Pittsburg, Kansas, artist Heather Horton is creating from a different painter’s palette than most artists. Hers includes the refrigerator, the stove and a lot of fresh produce.

“Culinary art has been a passion of mine for over a decade,” Horton said. “I’m a painter at heart but have honed my culinary skills and have opened TOAST, a funky little restaurant in the heart of Pittsburg to showcase those talents and share with the community.”

The restaurant showcases local creatives, and many are hired to work at TOAST. Their work is regularly displayed and available for sale at the restaurant, which helps to supplement their artist lifestyle. Horton, too, contributes some of her hand-drawn earrings to the mix as a side hustle. “I sell them for fun,” she said. “But mostly I support other artists and their endeavors.”

Heather Horton
Featuring Southeast Kansas SMTO
Horton’s creativity also shows up through photos of her food for the social media pages of her two businesses, TOAST and a bakery. Her volunteer work as a member of the board of directors for the Pittsburg Arts Council and doing quick sketches of future jewelry pieces fill her days.

Her interest in art began early in life, but it wasn’t until a college display of eight paintings by Horton got the attention of a special Pittsburg resident, which gave her the validation she needed to continue making art. “The then-mayor, a female, had seen the pieces at an ArtWalk and sought me out to buy one, and it was one of my first sales,” Horton said. “I was shocked someone would enjoy that piece as much as I did, and I was humbled. The support she had for me as a baby artist stuck with me my whole life.”

The former mayor is now a regular customer at TOAST and Horton credits her with giving her the confidence to do things that make her happy.

And there is no doubt Horton is happiest when she is promoting and connecting other artists with opportunities to further their own art careers.

“While I am not a full-blown working artist these days, there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t have something brewing in my mind about how to make our area a more successful art community,” she said. “Even if that is making the ordinary a little abnormal,” such as the time she commissioned a metal artist to construct a bike rack in the shape of a loaf of bread for her restaurant rather than putting out a manufactured one. “These small acts of creativity can make someone’s day and bring life to wherever they are,” she said. “Pittsburg has enough ‘normal.’ We bring the weird and fun.”

July 2023 • • 47

Community volunteers create Pittsburg Arts District

Crista Cunningham is forging the way for Pittsburg, Kansas, artists to continue influencing and contributing to Pittsburg’s booming arts scene through her efforts as president of the Pittsburg Arts Council, and she’s more than happy to do so.

“I lead a committee of very art centric and passionate individuals who are always on board to build a bigger and better arts scene in our area,” Cunningham said. “There is never a

shortage of exciting and sometimes ambitious ideas that get added to our proverbial bucket list after each meeting. Creating an arts district was one of those items on my list. I felt it was time to put a proper label on the ‘heart of art’ in Pittsburg and pitched the idea to my committee.”

The support from the group was unanimous, and the next step was to gain support from local citizens and to create a pitch for the mayor and city commission.

“I remember spending several hours preparing a presentation, practicing my speech, preparing for rebuttal and gathering supporters,” Cunningham said. “I was truly ready to go to bat for this initiative and expecting pushback. To my surprise, when the presentation was over, the commission happily

voted unanimously to pass the resolution naming a 16-block radius of downtown as the Pittsburg Arts District. It was incredible to me to see the unequivocal support of the pursuit of art from our local leaders.”

The Council presentation highlighted arts happenings from the past decade, including the biannual ArtWalk, the ongoing renovation of the Fox Theater, the development of Block 22, and the collaboration between artists and business owners. “Murals are popping up on every block, business owners have organically started hosting paint and sips, open mics and small musical acts, and festivals are seeing record participation rates,” Cunningham shared. “The groundwork for an arts district had already been laid for the creation of a district that celebrated creators and artistic

Featuring Southeast Kansas SMTO

values. Designating this area as the Pittsburg Arts District was not intended to replace any of our current downtown organizations or efforts but to pay homage to those responsible for Pittsburg’s cultural past, present and future.”

The Pittsburg Arts Council is comprised of an 11-seat board of artists, musicians, business owners and residents of Pittsburg, as well as four officers. Cunningham said it is not necessary to be a board member to attend meetings. The group also welcomes art-loving

individuals to get involved by creating events and showcasing local artists through the town.

“It takes a village to bring great ideas to fruition,” Cunningham said. “Our committee meets on the first Saturday of each month to discuss the ArtWalk and other upcoming events. Anyone interested in sitting in on a meeting or becoming part of a committee can reach out to the council by emailing us at or messaging us on Facebook or Instagram.

The council’s focus is to maintain the current culture, become a mechanism for tourism, draw creative individuals and families to the area, and generate additional economic growth. The arts district stretches as far north as Trailhead Park, south to Euclid, east to Elm, west to Walnut, and everywhere in between. Cunningham said, “It is home to local artists, residents, businesses and organizations that wish to maintain the spirit of art and culture in Pittsburg.”

July 2023 • • 49

Route 66 Roadside Park Refreshing Gateway to Downtown Baxter Springs

It’s an exciting time for Baxter Springs, Kansas, Historical Society as this organization had a ceremony in late May to officially break ground on a Route 66 Roadside Park that is expected to be a delightful addition for this community.

According to a press release with details about this forthcoming park, it will adjoin the Route 66 Visitors Center and provide parking for downtown Baxter Springs, as well as showcase a mural wall and a statue commemorating Baxter Springs’ heritage as the first Cowtown in Kansas.

Featuring Southeast Kansas SMTO

“I’m incredibly excited to start work on this project,” said Jordan Adams, Historical Society Board President. “This will serve as a fantastic gateway to downtown shops and restaurants, while highlighting the colorful history of our area.”

As for how this idea originated, Adams recalls, “The project was the brainchild of Phyllis Abbott, one of our historical society board members and former board president. The lot was originally occupied by a vacant building, and we were fortunate the owner finally decided to donate it.

“Since we own and operate the visitors center, we wanted to have a tourist attraction that would function to both educate and accommodate by creating a parking area for downtown.”

Going into much more descriptive detail, Adams says the main features of the park “will be the mural wall and the

longhorn statue. The mural will be anticipated to have a life of about 10-15 years, with each new generation of board members commissioning an update that reflects the community.

“In terms of amenities, we will have parking, a drinking fountain and a pet relief and watering area for tourists.”

In recognizing some of those who have been most instrumental helping bring this to reality, Adams says, “The Hartley Family Trust has been our key partner. We mentioned several large donors in an earlier press release, but the Hartley family have been supporters from the beginning.

“We were also fortunate to receive a cost-sharing grant from the State of Kansas. Additionally, Cory Moates and Kelli Abbott have been extraordinarily helpful in coordinating construction.”

Adams rationalizes that what makes this park such a big deal is “it will be a jumping off point to downtown shops and an opportunity to highlight our long and varied history. Additionally, it serves to beautify the community and improve living for local residents.”

While being reflective on how wonderful it has been to see this come together, Adams says, “Volunteer work in a digital age is hard. People can essentially shop for a community, and that is a great thing.

“At the same time, it makes it all the more heartwarming when local people come together to create a better community experience, not just for them but also for the people around them. I’m proud of the folks in this area for coming together and creating something that will improve the lives of residents for years to come.”

Baxter Springs Historical Society

Route 66 Roadside Park

Fast Facts

Address: 740 East Avenue, #740, Baxter Springs, Kansas

Phone Number: 620.856.2385


Email Address: baxterspringsmuseum@outlook. com

Park Details: For more information about the Route 66 Roadside Park Project, contact Mary Billington, Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum Director

Timeline: With the groundbreaking now completed, construction is expected to be completed in time for the next tourist season. Major construction is expected to be completed within six to nine months, with completion of the mural before the next tourist season, as well.

Visit any of our 11 locations in Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas.

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July 2023 • • 51
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Parsons, Kansas, to expand trail system

Having trails throughout a community holds significant importance for various reasons. First and foremost, trails promote physical activity and a healthier lifestyle by providing accessible spaces for walking, jogging, biking and other recreational activities. Trails also contribute to environmental conservation by preserving natural spaces, connecting green areas and promoting sustainable modes of transportation.

Parsons, Kansas, has a bright future when it comes to an accessible trail system. Recently, a $50,000 T-Mobile grant, over $50,000 from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Pathways grant money and a $800,000 Kansas Department of Transportation Transportation Alternative Grant with some local match for improvements to the path is expanding the trails in the community in an incredible way for the citizens of Parsons and the surrounding communities.

“We are hearing great things from everyone in the community: running groups, bikers, everyone is excited for the trail system,” said Director of Parsons Economic Development Jim Zaleski. “This will be a huge part of our economic development.”

Additional share-the-road bike paths are being added along Southern Boulevard to the Parsons Arboretum Trail System. Improvements to Tolen Creek Trails include adding a 10-foot-wide concrete sidewalk to a 3,900-foot-long section, running from what will be the new Holiday Inn Express, under Highway 400, to the commercial shopping area on the other side of the highway.

“Part of the trail is already there,” said Zaleski, “but making sure the trail is accessible for ADA and for PD and fire is very important if they ever need to come on to the trail. We also want to make it comfortable for pedestrians so they can come from where the hotels are to where some of the retail is.”

There is also a plan to install emergency blue light stations that will be connected to the police department. This will allow people to walk on the trails regardless of the time of day and feel safe.

Overall, Zaleski hopes to see the city connected with safe trails from the far north end all the way to the southern border and east to west. The expansion is expected to be completed within the next year. Upon completion, there will be 20 miles of trails connecting the Arboretum Trail, Frisco Trail and Tolen Creek Trails.

“We are excited to help bring something that promotes a better quality of life to the community,” said Zaleski. “My philosophy is to create or build something that more than half of your community will use for recreation. That balance is important for economic development. And that is as important as bringing in new businesses.”

Investing in a connected trail system is crucial for communities to promote active lifestyles, enhance quality of life, boost the economy, foster community connectivity, and improve public health and wellbeing. The community of Parsons understands that and is excited to offer its citizens this trail expansion in the near future.

Additional improvements on the far northern end of town include widening of the trail. While being rebuilt under the TA Grant mentioned earlier, the Tolen Creek portion of the trail system will include 20-foot-wide bump-outs so Amish buggies can safely pass each other and pedestrians on the trail.

For those trail walkers looking for a little bit more exercise, there are also three 18-hole disc golf courses accessible along the trail system all within the Parsons city limits. Mile markers on the Frisco section of the trail allow walkers and joggers to mark their distance in quarter-mile segments while stopping to use the fully accessible exercise stations located in the Marvel Park section.

No matter what kind of exercise or if you just want to get back to nature while traveling safely, the Parsons trail system will soon have it for you!

Featuring Southeast Kansas SMTO
Connecting the City More than 20 miles of trails For an Outdoor Guide Call 620-421-6500

Galena lodgings among ‘Best Airbnbs on Route 66’

Route 66, also known as the Mother Road, continues to captivate travelers with its enduring charm and nostalgic allure. The excitement surrounding this iconic highway stems from its historical significance, scenic landscapes and vibrant cultural heritage. As a symbol of the American dream and the spirit of exploration, Route 66 offers a unique road trip experience that takes you through a tapestry of small towns, breathtaking natural wonders and quirky roadside attractions. Travelers are drawn to the sense of adventure that comes with traversing the route’s 2,448 miles, immersing themselves in the rich history of the American West. From the stunning vistas of the Grand Canyon to the neon-lit signs of retro diners, Route 66 showcases a bygone era and offers an opportunity to step back in time.

Booking a stay along the historic route is something travelers often enjoy and, lucky for us, accommodations are at our fingertips courtesy of Jim and Kristi Adams. Recently selected as a Conde Nast Traveler “Best Airbnbs on Route 66,” The Old Riverton Post Bed & Breakfast is a whimsical vintage pop of days gone by on Kansas Route 66.

Jim is a Southeast Kansas native, and Kristi is a Missouri girl. They established the Post in 2016. They held their first event in December 2017 and hosted their first B&B guests in March 2018. They’ve recently expanded their love for hospitality by opening The Mollie on 66, another event venue and guest retreat in Galena, Kansas.

“We are blessed to have the opportunity to indulge guests of the Old Riverton Post B&B and Event Center from near and far, whether you’re one of the many travelers from around the world who are touring historic Route 66 or just passing through the area for pleasure or business,” said Jim.

54 Featuring Southeast Kansas SMTO

Jim and Kristi take pride in the details of their properties, and their highest priority is to furnish guests with comfortable and clean lodging while offering a safe and peaceful experience.

The Old Riverton Post B&B is a mid-century inspired living space with two bedrooms and one bathroom. Authentically decorated, this airy second story space was designed for you to feel right at home. It also has a beautiful covered balcony to enjoy a front row seat to small town USA. The event center, located directly below the B&B, is an intimate boutique venue, perfect for those celebrating moments that matter most. The unique space seats up to 60 guests and has a fully equipped kitchen.

The Mollie was created and designed as an adults-only couple’s getaway or solo traveler’s paradise. It boasts the same vintage vibe as The Old Riverton Post B&B but with luxe accommodations. You’re invited to hide away in this sophisticated and swanky king studio suite tucked within the heart of historic downtown Galena on Kansas Route 66. The Mollie also has an event center that can accommodate up to 75 guests.

The opportunity to stay in an Airbnb or host an event on Route 66 allows you to relish in the nostalgia, offering a glimpse into the past while enjoying modern amenities. Whether you’re a road trip enthusiast, a history buff or simply seeking a one-of-a-kind stay, Jim and Kristi Adams’ properties promise an unforgettable experience that combines comfort, style and the timeless allure of America’s most iconic highway.

For events, contact Jim and Kristi at or www. or you can book your rental for the B&B and Here and Now travel trailer rentals at

July 2023 • • 55

Galena Public Library

210 W. Seventh St. • Galena, Kansas • 620.783.5132

We have the best story time at the Galena Public Library and want you to be a part of it! We service daycares Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. and families Wednesday 9:30 a.m. Storytime runs from August through May, ending with our stuffed animal sleepover, where you can follow along online for all their fun and mischief.

In addition to story time, our library is a nationally recognized Family Place Library. We offer monthly family stay and play sessions where we feature an early childhood professional to visit with families. The library hosts summer library every June and many monthly activities throughout the year.

Galena Senior & Event Center

720 Wall St. • Galena, Kansas • 620.783.5265

Join us at the Galena Senior and Event Center every Tuesday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., where we offer free meals for the senior citizens in the area. Our weekly menu can be found on our Facebook page or by calling us. Each Thursday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., is game day. We have games available at the center or seniors are welcome to bring their own. It’s a great time to sit, chat, play and have a great time!

Did you know you can rent our facility? We offer half-day and fullday rental packages to the public, available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It’s a great place to host your next event! For more information about everything we offer, visit our Facebook Page or give us a call at 620.783.5265, ext. 201.

Galena USD 499

702 E. Seventh St. • Galena, Kansas • 620.783.4499

Galena USD 499 is a 3A school district in Southeast Kansas that serves over 800 students and offers a variety of co-curricular and extracurricular activities. Our students have access to a June program that extends our 175-day school year while providing free breakfasts and lunches. Our dedicated, caring staff work to provide a safe, high-quality learning environment for all students. We are proud to be Bulldogs!

Mi Torito Mexican Restaurant

418 S. Main St. • Galena, Kansas • 620.783.2883

Come for the incredible food and stay for the entertainment! Mi Torito Mexican Restaurant is a family-owned authentic Mexican restaurant and cantina, located on Historic Route 66. You’ll get a taste of Mexico in the Midwest! Find all of your favorite entrees, including enchiladas, tacos, fajitas and more! Sip on one of our famous margaritas or your favorite beer. We also have karaoke and live entertainment on our outdoor patio all season long. Open for dining in and take out 11 a.m.-9 p.m. every day.

56 Special Advertising Section
Toby VanCleave

Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum

740 East Avenue • Baxter Springs • 620.856.2385

The Baxter Springs Museum is filled with exhibits representing the various stages of the city’s history from Native Americans, the Civil War, the Exodusters, early cow town, Tri-State mining, baseball, 20th century military, Route 66, member of the African American Trail and more. Enjoy 20,000 square feet of climate-controlled exhibits and free admission. Visit us on Facebook. Open 10 a.m.4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Preserving and presenting the history of Baxter Springs and Cherokee County, Kansas!

Baxter Springs Chamber of Commerce

1004 Military Ave. • Baxter Springs, Kansas 620.856.3131 or text 620.870.1442

Follow the road to Baxter Springs, Kansas, where there is much to see and do! Since 1948, the Baxter Springs Chamber of Commerce has remained a steadfast supporter of small businesses in Southeast Kansas. We are here for you! Come see us!

Route 66 Visitors Center

940 Military Avenue • Baxter Springs

620.856.2385 •

The Kansas Route 66 Visitors Center is in a restored 1930 Phillips service station. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Operated by the Baxter Springs Historical Society, the center welcomes travelers with period furnishings and artifacts. Visitors will find extensive literature, maps and souvenirs related to the “Mother Road.” Open 10 am-4 pm daily April through November as volunteer staff is available. Visit us on Facebook.

Sonic America’s Drive-In 1838 Military Ave. • Baxter Springs • 620.856.2369

Whatever it is you are craving, Sonic® has got you covered. Stop in at our Baxter Springs location and enjoy the endless possibilities of delicious food. We serve our entire menu, made-to-order, all day, every day. Half-price drink specials 2-4 p.m.

July 2023 • • 57 Special Advertising Section Americas Drive•In

Columbus Chamber of Commerce

320 E. Maple • Columbus • 620.429.1492

Columbus Hot Air Balloon Regatta/Columbus Day Festival to be held October 6-8, 2023. Balloon glow, three hare and hound races, 20 balloons from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and Kansas. On Saturday enjoy activities on the historic downtown square: car show, entertainment, quilts, crafts, antique tractors. Call 620.429.1492 or visit

ArtForms Gallery LLC

620 N. Broadway • Pittsburg

620.240.0165 •

Celebrating its seventh anniversary in downtown Pittsburg this year, ArtForms Gallery is an artists’ cooperative gallery. It features high-quality handmade arts and fine crafts from some of the region’s most talented artists. Original works in painting, sculpture, photography, ceramics, jewelry, glass, wood, fiber and mixed media are for sale in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. ArtForms also offers monthly workshops led by its member artists. Visit their website, and join their mailing list to receive the monthly schedule via email. Or, follow them on Facebook or Instagram to see what exciting things are happening at ArtForms Gallery!

Pippi Mae’s Boutique

401 N Broadway, Suite C • Pittsburg, Kansas • 620.249.5170

Pippi Mae’s Curated Home is a home decor boutique with collected, handcrafted and artisanal finds. It’s where vintage meets unique and where you’ll find the perfect item for your home. If you can dream it, it’s likely you’ll find it at Pippi Mae’s. We carry something for every home, from our hand-painted stoneware and vintage art to candles, rugs and dried florals along with so much more! We invite you to stop by and visit us in downtown Pittsburg, located between Toast and Brick & Mortar.

Big Brutus

6509 NW 60th St. • West Mineral, Kansas • 620.827.6177

Big Brutus isn’t just the largest electric shovel in the world — it’s a testament to the hard work and determination of the American mining industry. Big Brutus offers visitors a unique insight into the history of mining and the fascinating technology behind it. Our visitors center and museum provide a wealth of information, interactive exhibits and even an opportunity to explore Big Brutus up close. Ready to embark on a unique camping expedition? Our new RV campsites are ready and open for reservations!

58 Special Advertising Section

White Elephant Emporium

804 N. Broadway St. • Pittsburg, Kansas 407.456.0460

Designers Stephanie Beitzinger-Watts and sister-in-law Danielle Beitzinger are the owners of White Elephant Emporium, a fabulously unique home décor store located in historic downtown Pittsburg. The duo love engaging with the community in their shop, helping with any décor needs. You’ll find many vintage items that have been rescued and revived, including furniture, rugs, artwork, lamps and so much more. Open the first weekend of every month, White Elephant Emporium is the place to find the perfect eclectic items you’re shopping for. Follow them on Facebook for additional pop-up openings.

July 2023 • • 59

Joplin Outlaws Opening Night Opening night was a huge success because of our awesome sponsors, loyal fans and young, talented Outlaws team. It was an exciting game with Des Moines Peak Prospects. The Outlaws won the game 5-4 with a walk-off win. This year’s head coach is Chris Dawson, who was here two seasons ago and did a phenomenal job. The Outlaws have five returning players and several local players. There are several opportunities in July to support the team while having family fun. Please support your local breast cancer foundation, Hope4you, on the annual Pink Night, July 15, at 7 p.m.

1. Matt Glover and Marc Glover 2. Billy, Karli, and Kennedy Garrigan 3. Rex Wagner and Vicki Wagner 4. Chris and Lori McGilvray 5. Mark and Edwina Rains 6. Chase Kraft, Tami Maggard, Mariah Kraft, Reagan Kraft, Shelly Kraft, Carson Kraft, Randy Kraft, and Derrick Hatfield 7. Steve Luber and Mark Rains 8. Jennifer Beyer and Deedra Beatty 9. Elli Dodson, Kati Dodson, and Elizabeth Doman 10. David Green Left: Jim Morgan, board member, and Bentley Virgin Photos by Mandy Edmunson
1 7 9 6 5 3 4 2 8 10


Vernon Marchington Fast Facts

Hometown: Billings, Montana

Age: 50

Graduated from High School: 1992

Education: Motorcycle Mechanics Institute/ Certified Harley Davidson, Honda & BMW Mechanic

Family: Wife, Michelle, passed away two years ago. They were married 24 years. Children are Brittany, Elijah and Dakota.

Final Rank: Sergeant Promotable

MOS (Military Occupational Specialty): 74D20 L5 CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Specialist) with Tech Escort

“I was headed down the wrong path,” Marchington admits. “The military helped me straighten my life out. The military was the perfect path.” Marchington originally enlisted in one branch of service before deciding on another that seemed a better fit, and it became a career.

“I joined the Navy straight out of high school,” Marchington recalls. “I served four years on aircraft carriers. I decided the Navy wasn’t for me. I joined the Army because I was used to the military lifestyle. I just decided to stay and retire from it.”

Before officially retiring from the service in 2015, there were plenty of adversities along the way. “The most challenging thing about serving in the military is that I was always away from my family. My family is the most important part of my life.”

Despite the difficulties, it was an enjoyable experience. “I got to meet people from all over the world. I’ve been all over the world. And I got to meet a lot of soldiers when they came to my units and was able to help train them.”

Marchington calls it an honor to have been in the military, and he emphasizes, “What makes me most proud and thrilled about serving is I got to help protect this wonderful country.”

Since returning to civilian life, there have been struggles for Marchington, but his service dog, Bella, changed everything. “Jimmy Burgess, director of Heartland Canines for Veterans, contacted me. He knows what I’ve been through in my life and recognized my need.

Honors: Iraq Campaign Medal with three Campaign Stars; Meritorious Service Medal (second award); Army Commendation Medal (third award); Army Achievement Medal (third award); Meritorious Unit Commendation; USN Meritorious Unit Commendation; Valorous Unit Award (second award); USN “E” Ribbon; Army Good Conduct Medal (fifth award); USN Good Conduct Medal; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Korea Defense Service Medal; Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (second award); Army Service Ribbon (second award); Overseas Service Ribbon (fifth award); USN Sea Service Deployment (second award); SW Asia Service Medal; Combat Action Badge; Expert Marksmanship with Rifle Bar

“Bella helps keep me calm. I have real bad anxiety, PTSD. She helps me cope with the public. Before Bella came into my life, I rarely left my house except to go to work. I take her everywhere with me.”

Bella is perfect for Marchington, and his fun-loving, furry four-legged friend seems to be the best therapy for him.

“I give her all the attention she needs,” Marchington says. “We go for walks together and play. I make sure if she needs any medical attention, she gets it.”

Marchington served his country with everything he had to give. Now, he and Bella are focused on serving each other as the very best of friends.

July 2023 • • 61
fter getting out of high school in the early 1990s, Vernon Marchington realized the direction he was taking didn’t make sense and signing up for a military tour of duty would be ideal..
Honoring OUR Military SMTO

Samantha Sims Fast Facts

Samantha Sims

“I’d never thought about being in the military when I was younger,” Sims says. “It wasn’t something that was promoted to girls. My dad, Jeff Sims, suggested I apply to attend the Summer Leader Experience at West Point. At first, I was hesitant, but I went anyway.

“I decided it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend a week at West Point and have a mini experience of what cadet life could be like. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed it. I’ve always been drawn to leadership and West Point builds leaders.” Sims came away from the experience with an entirely different outlook and says, “I’ve never been as challenged and inspired as I was when I was there for my visit. I knew the only option was for me to continue to push myself and attend the Academy myself.

“Attending West Point was the right decision because I want to be surrounded by the best of the best. I want to challenge myself to become a better version of myself, and the path I’m taking will help me do that.”

Although Sims isn’t sure what will be the toughest aspect of military life, she says, “I anticipate my greatest difficulty going into West Point will be isolation from my family and friends during such a huge adjustment period.”

Hometown: Born in Mankato, Minnesota (moved multiple times and lived in several states until eighth grade, when she moved to Carl Junction, Missouri)

Age: 18

High School Alma Mater, Year Graduated: Carl Junction High School, 2023

Family: Parents, Jeff and Lecia Sims, and brothers, Corporal Jacob Sims (Army) and Specialist Dylan Sims (Missouri Army National Guard)

Student-Athlete Recognition: At Carl Junction, Sims had success in the classroom and actively participated in extracurricular activities. She was a member of the varsity softball team for four years and the varsity soccer team for three years, while earning the Iron Dog Award. She was selected to represent her school at Girl’s State as a junior. In her senior year, she was selected for the Missouri Scholars 100, a statewide program that honors Missouri’s top academic students in the graduating class of 2023. She was also named one the CJHS Class of ’23 valedictorians.

Favorite Military/War Movie: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Current Rank: Cadet Candidate at United States Military Academy – West Point

MOS (Military Occupational Specialty):

As a cadet, she does not have an MOS yet. (She will find out which branch/job on Branch Night when she is a senior (Firstie) at West Point). As a student at West Point, she plans to major in psychology.

Despite the challenge of being so far from home, Sims is excited, and she says, “I expect the sense of teamwork and community that surrounds West Point will be most enjoyable to me.

“I am proud that I will be able to follow in my brothers’ (Jacob and Dylan) footsteps with serving my country but also to be able to pave my own path while doing so.

“And serving my country will allow me to be part of something bigger than myself. I am also truly proud of the fact that I am attending West Point, and once I graduate, I’ll be part of the rich history that is ‘The Long Gray Line.’”

Sims was prepared for this moment as she was accepted to West Point through a competitive selection process while receiving Congressional nominations from United States Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, and U.S. House of Representatives member Billy Long.

It might be surprising that recent Carl Junction High School graduate Samantha Sims reported to ‘Beast’ (basic training) late last month, especially since going into the service hadn’t seemed so likely for her at an early age.
Honoring OUR Military SMTO

Mark A. Costello


But when it comes to why Colonel Costello originally enlisted, his logic really had nothing to do with achieving a great deal of accolades.

Instead, Colonel Costello says, “I always wanted to serve my country, and the military was the best choice for me.”

Colonel Costello recounts, “I served 31 years in the U.S. Army, four of which were in the Army Reserve (1980-84).

“After retiring from active Army service in 2011, I served as a Senior Army Civilian for four years. My total number of years served was 35.”

As for what made a military career right for him, specifically the branch in which he signed up, Colonel Costello says, “Army service made it possible to travel and accomplish goals I never could have dreamed about.”

Just like with any young man or woman who goes into service, Colonel Costello had to go through various trials and tribulations along the way, and he admits, “The greatest challenges were the many deployments and time away from my family.”

Most specifically, Colonel Costello says, “I missed quite a few special events, such as birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.”

Despite all those things, Colonel Costello says it was an enjoyable experience because “the people you meet along the way are just amazing individuals.”

Colonel Costello has every reason to be thrilled with his time in the military, and he says, “Serving my country is a calling only 1% of the population answers. I am proud of my years in the Army.”

Military life has truly become a family affair. “I am proud of my wife (Barbara) who has endured many hardships. And I am proud my son, Major Nicholas Costello, currently serves and my two daughters (Samantha Huffaker and Sarah Peregory) are both married to U.S. Army Captains.”

Colonel Mark A. Costello Fast Facts

Hometown: Florissant, Missouri

Age: 62

High School Alma Mater, Year Graduated: Hazelwood Central Senior High School, 1979

College Alma Mater, Year Graduated: University of Missouri-St. Louis, 1983; Central Michigan, 1993 College Degree: B.S. in Administration of Justice from University of Missouri; Master of Science in Human Resources Management from Central Michigan University; and Master of Arts in National Security & Strategy Studies from the U.S. Naval War College

Military Education: Military Intelligence Officer Basic & Advance Course; Tacfire Tactical Operations Course; Signals Intelligence Officer Course; Combined Arms Services Staff School; Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP) Course; U.S. Army Human Intelligence Management Course; Post Graduate Intelligence Program; Army ROTC Instructor’s Course; Army Command & General Staff College Correspondence Course; Air Force Command & Staff College Resident Program; Department of the Army Staff School; Security Assistance Team Training; and Naval War College

Family: Wife, Barbara Jean Freiert; children, Major Nicholas Adam Costello (wife, Amanda), Samantha Lynn Huffaker (husband, Captain Andrew Huffaker) and Sarah Elizabeth Peregory (husband, Captain Austin Peregory), and grandchildren are LilliAnne, Colin, Olivia, Adaline, Benjamin, James, Alivia and Skylar.

Favorite Military/War Movies: Saving Private Ryan, We Were Soldiers Once

Final Rank: Colonel, U.S. Army MOS (Military Occupational Specialty): Military Intelligence

Career Timeline: Colonel Costello attended U.S. Army Basic Training (1980) and was commissioned as a Military Intelligence Second Lieutenant through ROTC from Washington University in St. Louis (1982), before beginning his active-duty service (1984).

Honors: Legion of Merit; Bronze Star; Purple Heart; Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two awards); Meritorious Service Medal (eight awards); Army Commendation Medal (two awards); Joint Service Achievement Medal; Army Achievement Medal (four awards); National Defense Service Medal (two stars); Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary & Service Medals; Korean Defense Service Medal; Humanitarian Service Medal; Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon (four devices); Joint Meritorious Unit Award; Army Superior Unit Award (three awards); Combat Action Badge (Iraq); Parachutist Badge; Army Staff Identification Badge; and U.S. Army Civilian Superior Service Award

July 2023 • • 63
A. Costello is a distinguished and highly decorated veteran of military service for more than three decades of dedicated devotion to his career.

Larry Mills Fast Facts

Larry Mills

“I joined the Army in 1997 following the death of my father, (David Mills), Larry Mills recalls. “He had been in the Army and served three tours in Vietnam. I chose the Army because that’s the branch my father was in as an infantryman.”

Along with going the same direction as his dad, Mills says what also made enlisting right for him was, “The military was perfect for me to be able to see the world, develop leadership skills and help provide a secure future for my family.”

While Mills knows the military was good for him, there were tough times with plenty of trials and tribulations. “The biggest challenge was being shot at.

“It was something we had all prepared for in our training, but until I was in that moment, I didn’t know what you are supposed to expect with it.”

Regardless of the greatest difficulties he was forced to face head on during his 22 years in service before retiring in 2019, Mills says what made it all so enjoyable and exciting was “the brothers I gained from it.

“I made lifelong relationships I will never take for granted. I had eight deployments and met so many great people.”

In Mills’ mind, it couldn’t be clearer what makes him most proud and thrilled about his service. “It prepared me to be able to serve God.

“l was able to go to college and become a pastor to help lead others to Christ through all of my experiences and struggles.”

Although Mills is focused on helping others in his profession as a pastor, he recognizes

Hometown: Sarcoxie, Missouri

Age: 47

High School Alma Mater, Year Graduated: Sarcoxie High School, 1994 College Alma Mater, Year Graduated: Liberty University, 2014

College Degree: B.S. in Religion

Family: Wife, Rebekah, married for 12 years and sweethearts since they were 16 years old. Children are Jonathan Mills, Josh Mills, Madison Hays, Luke Mills, Gabrielle Mills and Michaela Mills. Parents, David Mills (deceased) and Cleta Mills. Sister, Delora Harbin.

Favorite Military/War Movie: Lone Savior

Final Rank: Staff Sergeant MOS (Military Occupational Specialty): 11B & 21X

Honors: EIB (Expert Infantryman Badge); CIB (Combat Infantryman Badge); German Armed Forces Badge for Weapons Proficiency in Gold (Schützenschnur in Gold); Meritorious Service Medal (MSM); multiple ARCOMs (Army Commendation Medal); multiple AAMs (Army Achievement Medals); two Iraq Service Medals; two Kosovo Medals.

a need for working through so many of the things that impacted him personally in the military.

“A friend told me about Heartland Canines for Veterans, so I reached out to them. Several people had encouraged me to see about getting a dog to help me with some of my issues that I had been struggling with since coming home.”

Mills’ service dog, Archie, has been a godsend for him, and he says, “He is always by my side. He senses when I need him, and he stays right next to me.”

Clearly this duo has become the best of friends and Mills says of Archie, “He has bonded with my family, but when it comes down to it, he is always looking out for me.

“I always help Archie by just giving him all the love and attention he deserves from me every day we are together.”

Mills figures he doesn’t deserve attention for his service to our country, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth as he put his life at risk to keep us all safe and should be applauded for everything he endured while suiting up to defend our freedoms.

When Larry Mills decided to enlist in the military and determined which branch he’d officially join, it was all about following a path that seemed perfect for him, particularly as he set out to pursue his dad’s own similar journey.
Honoring OUR Military SMTO

Alex P. Rivera

As a young, impressionable student concentrating on his studies, when Alex P. Rivera saw those planes flying into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon 22 years ago, he knew what to do.

“I decided to join the military after I saw the 9/11 attacks when I was in high school,” remembers Rivera, who originally served a short time (200304), then re-enlisted in 2012 before leaving for good in 2015.

As for part of his logic in deciding on the Navy, Rivera says, “I liked the uniforms, even though my aunt’s husband pushed for me to join the Air Force.”

Rivera maintains that what made the military right for him was, “I always wanted to do something in life other than just working and going to college. Serving my country was always a goal.

“I felt like it (the Navy) was a branch with the chance for advancement and multiple training schools to attend.”

While he was thrilled to serve, Rivera admits the greatest challenges from his point of view “would have to be bootcamp and basic training because of being away from friends and family for eight-plus weeks.”

There were plenty of reasons Rivera found the military to be enjoyable, and he says what helped make it exciting was “meeting new people of different races and backgrounds, going to school and just learning something new every day.”

Rivera takes great pride in his service. “I never knew where I would be stationed or if I would go overseas or serve on a ship. I always knew I was serving my country during war time and as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.”

In transitioning back to civilian life for good, Rivera faced a gut-wrenching experience that took a lot of strength to overcome. “I had my first service dog, which was Shadow (Shado’), from September 2019 to New Year’s 2022, when he suddenly passed away. That was the hardest period in my life.”

Rivera received much-needed follow-up assistance and shares, “In December 2022, I got a recommendation from a mentor, Ted Donaldson, at Compass Quest Veterans Advocacy Group in Joplin, Missouri, about an organization, Heartland Canines for Veterans in Neosho, Missouri, that helped get my current service dog, Sammi. “We’ve been working as a team ever since. We’re a perfect match. He allows me to function better in public due to anxiety associated with PTSD.

Alex P. Rivera Fast Facts

Hometown: Zion, Illinois

Age: 38

High School Alma Mater, Year

Graduated: Zion Benton Township High School (District 126), 2003

College: Community College of Lake County (Grayslake, Illinois)

Degree: Associate degree (Information Technology)

Family: Mom, Diana Perez, and sisters, Ava Wells-Quantrell and A’sha’na Wells

Favorite Military/War Movie: The Hurt Locker

Final Rank: (E5) Petty Officer Second Class

MOS (Military Occupational Specialty): Boatswain Mate (BM2)

Honors: Swimmer 2nd Class; National Defense Service Medal with one Bronze Star; Navy Good Conduct Medal with one Bronze Star; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal

Rivera is diligent in caring for Sammi and says, “I try my best to make him happy every day with positive reinforcement and work and training, and providing him treats and play time.”

Rivera is adjusting to life post-military, and he says, “You can usually catch me enjoying car shows or anything involving automobiles. Or you can find me at parks or trails, or just about anywhere possible walking with my dogs.”

July 2023 • • 65

William Cole Gardner

William Cole Gardner Fast Facts

Hometown: Greenfield, Missouri

Age: 39

High School Alma Mater, Year Graduated: Greenfield R-IV School District, 2002

Collegiate Studies and Employment: Attended one year at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Missouri, with GI Bill in 2008-09 but did not graduate (had an opportunity to start working at a body shop, Automotive Collision Repair).

Family: Wife, Samantha. Three sons are Carson Calvin (10), Cohen Calvin (8) and Lincoln Gardner (4)

Favorite Military/War Movie: Top Gun Maverick

Final Rank: Airman

As with so many people in the early 2000s, William Cole Gardner says, “9/11 was the main factor for me in my decision to join the military.

“The Navy just seemed like the better fit for me because I had grown up on the water and the lake while serving as a lifeguard in the summertime.

“I also chose the Navy because of the wide range of jobs, and I thought it would give me more job opportunities when I got out.”

Gardner found out that being in the Navy wasn’t easy, by any means, and he says, “My greatest challenges in the military were the amount of time we had to spend in training and the long hours working.

“It wasn’t anything to spend 20-hour days on the Flight Deck during flight operations, where the temperatures were well over 100˚.

“I was a Crash & Salvage Firefighter on the Flight Deck. Those responsibilities included responding to fuel spills, engine fires and any other emergencies pertaining to the personnel and aircraft onboard.”

While the work was hard, Gardner says, “I enjoyed traveling to several different countries while I was on an aircraft carrier. I went to places such as Hong Kong twice, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore twice and Thailand.

“But most of all, the brotherhood you would gain with men from all over the United States is so special. Those are friendships that last a lifetime.

MOS (Military Occupational Specialty): Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Aircraft Handling (ABH)

Honors: National Defense Service Medal; Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (two times); Global War On Terrorism Service Medal; Humanitarian Service Medal; Good Conduct Medal

“What I’m most proud about is volunteering my life to serve this country.

“It is and always will be the greatest way to show your patriotism. It was such a great honor to have served for all the ones who had fallen before me as well.”

In his post-military civilian career, Gardner and his wife started their own custom apparel company called ColeTrain Designs, which specializes in all sorts of custom apparel for businesses, schools, sports organizations churches and much more.

Gardner continues to have a heart for those who serve, and he says, “Last year ColeTrain Designs founded a yearly event called Wheels and Warriors Fest. This is a car show and concert fundraising event to raise money for veterans’ mental health.

“We also chose to donate to Peterson Outdoors Ministries. They run a great organization for veterans like me, who need to know God can bring veterans who are struggling with PTSD and other problems so much peace of mind.”

Gardner is making a difference in the lives of so many veterans daily and he understands the importance of being truly appreciative to all those men and women who sacrificed so much for all of us.

Honoring OUR Military SMTO
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Madison Stratton

When Madison Stratton made her decision to enlist in the Marines in 2016, this young woman’s reasoning was twofold, and she clearly had a great deal of passion about it.

“I joined because I’ve always loved my country and wanted to protect it from people who would do us harm,” Stratton emphasizes. “I also couldn’t stand watching innocent people losing their lives around the world.”

As for Stratton’s logic on her choice for which branch she opted to go into, don’t ever imply “can’t” to her.

“I always wanted to join and was thinking of joining the Army when I was a sophomore in high school; however, during my junior year of high school, I was told by a senior I should join the Army.

“He stated I would never make it in the Marines because I was too weak. So, I enlisted in the Marine Corps that summer.”

She admits “losing fellow Marines has taken a great toll on me.”

Rationalizing more on the challenges and difficulties and how to balance them, Stratton says, “One of the hardest things about the military is leaving your old life behind.

“When you join, your life is split in half. One half of you misses the way it used to be and the other half copes with what life is like now. But I had my brothers and sisters with me to help me get through it.

“The people made it enjoyable. However, it was my job that made it exciting. I would build antennae out of random objects and be overjoyed when it worked. Nothing beats a positive radio check.”

Madison Stratton Fast Facts

Hometown: Born in Glendale, Arizona, and raised in San Diego, California

Age: 25

High School Alma Mater, Year Graduated: La Jolla High School, 2016

Current College Student: Sophomore at University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Collegiate Studies: Studying to obtain a degree in graphic design

Family: Dad, Brent Stratton; mom, Laurel-Ann Schrader; and older sister, Ashley Stratton

Favorite Military/War Movie: VetTV (streaming app for veterans)

Final Rank: Sergeant (Sgt) (E-5)

MOS (Military Occupational Specialty): 0621 Radio Operator

Overall, Stratton couldn’t be more thrilled with having been in the military and she says, “I was proud to be a part of something bigger than myself.

“Serving alongside my brothers and sisters was an honor and a privilege. I am proud to be a part of the few and the proud.”

As she makes it day by day post-military since 2020, Stratton is thankful to have a special four-legged friend to assist her with anxiety from her four years in the Marines.

“I was struggling with PTSD and was part of a group that helped veterans overcome their PTSD and rejoin society,” Stratton shares. “I told the group I was looking for a service dog and my mentor, Rob Wood, pointed me toward the amazing group of people at Heartland Canines for Veterans. Rob is a mentor to all the veterans in the program and has helped us through hard times.

“I contacted them (Heartland) and started the application process. So far, my dog, Gunther, has been instrumental in helping me. He provides me with a constant companion and specific help when I’m out in public.”

Stratton couldn’t be more appreciative for having Gunther, and she says, “I show my gratitude by giving him all the love and treats I can. I am also very grateful for the kindness and support for all the good people at Heartland.”

And we are all beholden to Stratton for her personal sacrifices to help keep us all safe, while working hard to preserve our country’s freedoms.

Honoring OUR Military SMTO

Ministering to Veterans & First Responders Provides Hope to Those Hurting

Peterson Outdoors Ministries/Lodge of Hope Fast Facts

In providing an overview of the overall objective, POM Executive Director Tron Peterson says, “Our mission is to help stop veteran and first responder suicide through faith-based outdoor therapy and faith-based retreats offered at no cost with the hope of providing encouragement and healing through a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

POM has broadened its scope of work with veterans and first responders to provide much-needed assistance for police officers, military chaplains and Gold Star Families and Blue Star Families.

“These groups are all intertwined when it comes to experiencing trauma for the sake of our freedom, and they all have a high rate of suicide because of their trauma and stress,” Peterson says. “We want to cut down on the rate of veteran and first responder suicide and provide hope and healing for them and their families.

“In this line of duty there are, unfortunately, many who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice, and they leave behind grieving families. Military families who’ve lost a loved one are referred to as Gold Star Families. Police officers’ families who’ve lost loved ones are Blue Star Families.”

As for the military chaplains, Peterson says, “They’re an important group as they are the pastors of the military. Those with trauma and burdens go to military chaplains to talk about their issues.

“Many of our military chaplains experience compassion fatigue and burnout. The suicide rate among chaplains is extremely high. If we can restore the passion of our nation’s military chaplains through our yearly chaplain retreats, then we’re helping them do a better job ministering to troops under their immediate care.”

Spending quality time in the great outdoors seems to be a refreshing way of supporting those who are dealing with

Official Beginnings: Peterson Outdoors Ministries started as Peterson Outdoors LLC in 2006, before becoming a 501(C)3 non-profit in 2010 and changing the name to Peterson Outdoors Ministries

Headquarters: Lodge of Hope is located at 26756 South 2440 Road, Sheldon, Missouri. The mailing address is P.O. Box 469, Webb City, M0 64870 and the website is www.


Executive Director Tron Peterson Phone: 417.529.0115


Guests from Across the U.S.: Lodge of Hope hosts veterans from all over the United Sates, from all wars and all branches of service.

Basic Structure: There are usually about 40 events a year hosted by the ministry, not only in Missouri, but in several other states. Each event is offered at no cost and is designed to strengthen the faith of those who attend and provide tools and a support structure to help prevent veteran suicide.

Event Planning: Team leaders and volunteers get together several times throughout the year to plan events.

I Want to Attend: Individuals can sign up for events by going to www. and filling out a contact form. They will then get a phone call or email guiding them through the registration process and hopefully be selected for a future event.

loss. “We have the perfect peaceful setting at Lodge of Hope for those families to experience peace with their loved ones if they just need to get away for a few days.”

There’s so much POM offers, and Peterson says, “We have more than 40 events a year, spanning across five states and two countries with an outreach to veterans and first responders across the nation.

“Some of these services are therapeutic retreats, which include outdoor recreational therapy in the form of hunting, fishing, shooting, boating, archery, horseback riding, kayaking and more, combined with a faith-based program that has proven results in stopping veteran and first-responder suicide.”

It’s easy to understand why POM is so invaluable, and Peterson rationalizes, “We believe with more than 22 suicides a day, our mission is critical in the fight to save lives, and it’s working.

“Thousands of veterans, first responders and individuals with disabilities or terminal illnesses have benefitted from our programs and all of them say, ‘What your organization provides is life-changing.’”

Peterson takes tremendous pride in this initiative. “I am proud to be able to serve those who have served us.”

The calling and conviction of Peterson Outdoors Ministries (POM) has remained consistently strong for 17 years as this organization continues to serve those who valiantly made sacrifices while they protected so many of us.
Honoring OUR Military SMTO

Expressing Honor and Respect While Serving Those Who Served Us

When Charlie 22 Outdoors opened its doors in 2017, Executive Director/CEO Scotty Rae Hettinger had a specific purpose to simply serve those who sacrificed so much in the line of duty, while helping protect our country’s freedoms and keeping us all safer right here at home.

Hettinger maintains that providing much-needed assistance to veterans and their families is important, “Because they served us. They signed on that dotted line to serve our country.

“That signifies they served us. Not even knowing us. Not knowing me. Not knowing my family. But they were still willing to go do what they did. And that is something we must honor and respect.

“I think that having veterans know we are here for them is probably the most important part.

“Many veterans do not believe they can be forgiven for what they have seen or done. We try to reassure them nobody earns forgiveness. It is given to us because of the love of Jesus.”

At the heart of its foundation, Hettinger shares, “It’s about serving our nation’s veterans and those in active duty. We know we are not curing PTSD. We also know we are not taking away the demons they face.

“But we also know and believe to our core that Jesus Christ is the way to battle what they face. And we’re trying to show there are events to help, and we just do this out of love for them.”

The Charlie 22 Outdoors website indicates it has been said that “22 veterans commit suicide in our country every day,” which makes this assistance even so much more valuable.

“Battling the ’22 a day’ is why it’s important,” Hettinger assures. “This is a terrible statistic, and we need to do all we can to get that number down. One a day is too many.”

There are so many individuals who lend a helping hand to make Charlie 22 Outdoors successful by doing everything from serving meals to setting


• Cruise-A-Palooza (July 14-15)

• Operation Little Flat Creek Session II (July 14-16)

• Ladies F.R.O.G. Bible Study (July 18)

• Re-Boot Camp Little Flat Creek (July 19)

• Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Bible Study (July 20)

• Board Meeting (July 31)

• Volunteer Appreciation Day Little Flat Creek (August 12)

• Ladies F.R.O.G. Bible Study (August 15)

• Re-Boot Camp (August 16)

• Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Bible Study (August 17)

• Summer Women’s Retreat (August 18-20)

• Operation 2Alpha USPSA Shooting Match (August 26)

• Annual Dinner Banquet (August 26)

up and tearing down at event functions and much more.

Hettinger is appreciative of all those who are part of this initiative, and he says, “There’s too many to single out everybody. And everybody plays an important role. We want to thank all our volunteers and supporters.”

The best part of all this for Hettinger is hearing firsthand from those who’ve benefitted from Charlie 22 Outdoors.

“Having veterans return to every event we’ve had the last two years is what I’m proud about.

“They come back to share it with others. They want to make sure others get the same experience they had, as well. They believe in it and want to help make sure it continues. I love that.”

Most of all, Hettinger loves that Charlie 22 Outdoors is helping make things better for veterans and their families, while serving them with compassion and showing them there truly is hope for a brighter future.

July 2023 • • 71
115 North Madison Webb City, Missouri
Number: 417.437.7247
Email address:

CJ High School Introduces Air Force Junior ROTC Program

A comprehensive high school experience focused on leadership and service

Beginning this August, Carl Junction High School will embark on an exciting new journey as it welcomes over 50 students to its inaugural Air Force Junior ROTC program. Led by Major Scott Norman and Captain Courtney Bailey, this four-year program aims to provide students with a unique high school experience, instilling values of leadership, discipline and service. The AFJROTC program at Carl Junction High School promises to offer an array of enriching opportunities, from classroom instruction to field trips, social events and community service initiatives.

Building the Foundation: In its first year, the AFJROTC course will focus on leadership, providing students with a comprehensive introduction to the history, organization, mission, traditions, goals and objectives of the Air Force and the JROTC program. Major Norman and Captain Bailey have taken on the crucial task of establishing and nurturing this program, which aims to go beyond traditional classroom activities. By creating a strong foundation through this introductory year, the AFJROTC program at Carl Junction High School will pave the way for future classes, evolving into a four-year curriculum.


High School Experience:

At Carl Junction High School, the AFJROTC program aims to offer a holistic high school experience that will prepare students academically and equip them with valuable life skills. Alongside regular coursework, students will participate in aerospace science, leadership education, drill and ceremonies, and health and wellness activities. These diverse components of the program will contribute to the students’ personal growth, self-discipline and ability to work collaboratively as a team.

Field Trips and Social Events:

To enhance the learning experience, the AFJROTC program will feature exciting field trips that expose students to real-world applications of the knowledge they acquire in the classroom. These trips may include visits to Air Force bases, aviation museums and other relevant destinations, providing students with firsthand exposure to the military and aerospace industries. Additionally, social events will be organized to foster camaraderie among the participants, allowing them to form lasting bonds with their fellow cadets.

Community Service Opportunities:

The AFJROTC program places a strong emphasis on community service, encouraging students to give back and make a positive impact. Through various service projects and initiatives, participants will have the chance to actively engage with their local community, promoting civic responsibility and developing a sense of empathy and compassion. These community service experiences will further enhance their leadership skills while instilling in them a lifelong commitment to service.

Physical Education and Graduation Requirements:

One noteworthy aspect of the AFJROTC program at Carl Junction High School is its unique contribution to the physical education requirements for graduation. By completing two years of JROTC curriculum, students can fulfill their physical education obligations while simultaneously benefiting from the program’s comprehensive offerings. This aspect of the program provides students with flexibility in their academic schedules, enabling them to explore other areas of interest or take on additional coursework aligned with their career goals.

The introduction of the Air Force Junior ROTC program at Carl Junction High School marks an exciting opportunity for students seeking a comprehensive high school experience that goes beyond traditional academics. The program aims to instill leadership skills, a sense of discipline and a commitment to service. Through engaging classroom activities, field trips, social events and community service opportunities, students will acquire invaluable skills that will serve them well in high school, college, their future careers and life as responsible and engaged citizens. The AFJROTC program at Carl Junction High School sets a new standard for holistic education, empowering students to reach new heights and positively impact the world around them.

July 2023 • • 73
Honoring OUR Military SMTO
By Tracie Skaggs


Decorating Navy Blue

Blue is one of the primary colors on the color wheel, along with yellow and red. These primary colors are colors that cannot be created by mixing with other colors, and they are used to help create other colors. When blue is mixed with red, you get a shade of magenta. When blue is mixed with yellow, you get a shade of green. Blue can be mixed with white to get a lighter blue or black to get a darker blue. And mixing it with other colors like cyan and magenta can give you a completely different shade of blue.


One of my favorite colors of blue is navy blue. It is listed as a favorite for men and women.

Navy blue can be used in every space from the entry to bathrooms, bedrooms and outside of your home. We often think of navy blue in a nautical and or Americana-type theme; however, navy blue can be used in so many other ways.

Navy blue pairs exceptionally well with white and gray and other shades of blue. It is one of the colors you can use to paint an entire wall and still add other things in the same navy blue and not feel like it is too overwhelming. This room is light, bright and comfortable with blue walls, a side chair in navy blue and is balanced with the crisp white flooring, trim and accents of other shades of light blue and gray. And while it feels bright, this color scheme would be perfect for a traditional or modern home by tweaking the pictures on the wall and the scale and shape of the furniture.

Blue is the opposite of yellow and orange on the color wheel. This combination of colors is bright and cheerful and can be quite modern when paired together. The use of orange and the shapes of the wall treatment make this room feel modern and bright. The navy blue helps complement it and make it feel modern yet comfortable. If the sofa had been another bright color or there were more bright orange accents, this room might

feel overwhelming. However, the navy blue grounds the room and is used as a neutral in this space. This color combination would be great for a living room, bedroom or kid’s room.

For the outside of your home, you can use navy blue for the front door and shutters along with crisp white or gray for a classic look. The addition of the green landscaping and blue flowers make this home appear manicured and beautiful. If you were to reverse this and paint the entire house dark navy and trim with white, it would be just as lovely. You could add navy blue painted pots filled with

flowers on the front porch and painted blue rocking chairs.

To add navy blue as an accent color in your home, you can add solid navy-blue throw pillows or find some with a pretty floral or stripe pattern to add color to your couch or bed. Blue is a popular color in rugs, curtains, dishes and towels for your bathroom and kitchen. Whether you use navy blue with the colors next to it on the color wheel or opposite of it, you cannot go wrong with using it as your main color. The most classic use is hanging up your American flag this month for your red, white and blue celebration of our nation!

July 2023 • • 75

The Great


A Different View of Independence Day

It was Independence Day, as dusk began to fall on the land. An old Indian stood on a hill with his son, enjoying the great view of the valley below. This land was once the land of their Native American ancestors. They lived here together in peace with their families and other tribal members. They hunted, fished, trapped and planted crops to help support everyone in their tribes.

Then, white people started coming from a land across the great ocean. When they arrived, some of their people helped them survive the first winter and showed them how to plant crops and harvest food from the land.

As more white men came, they wanted the land and resources of the Native Americans for themselves. Buffalo herds were slaughtered for their meat and skins and left to rot. They killed many of their ancestors as they fought to take their land. The rest were sent to government reservations. Their children

An award-winning magazine and newspaper writer, radio host and blogger for more than 40 years. His book, “Seasons: Stories of Family, God and the Great Outdoors,” is available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle.

were taken from them and put in schools where they tried to make them be like white people.

The Native American Indians were called savages. What would you have done if someone stole your land, possessions and your way of life? You would fight to keep it. They were not savages. We were.

As the night got darker, the old Indian and his son sat and watched fireworks fill the sky. A gigantic illuminated American flag waved in the breeze. They both stood to attention and saluted the flag of the people who stole their ancestors’ land long ago.

The son was a Vietnam veteran. The old Indian was a World War II veteran. He was a Code Talker. Hundreds of Native Americans from more than 20 tribes used their Indigenous languages to send secret coded messages enemies could not break. These men helped U.S. forces achieve military victory in some of the greatest battles of the war. Father and son fought in the white man’s wars because they still felt this was their land. Some tribes use the Fourth of July as a time to honor Native American veterans. When they finished their salute, the old Indian used the same hand to wipe a tear from his eye. Then, his son helped him back down the hill to the reservation.

As the battle continues in our country over immigration, remember all of us, except the Native Americans, are descended from immigrants. Some signed the Declaration of Independence, forever changing the lives of those whose land this was.


“Out of the Indian approach to life, there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, enriching faith in a Supreme Power, and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood as a guide to relations.”


It is time to right some of the wrongs we have done as Americans. I think the Native American should be at the top of the list. They were here long before we came. Their family ties were strong. Like most of you reading this, they loved the outdoors. They camped under the stars every day. They hunted to provide meat and clothing for their families. They fished and harvested plants from the land. Nature was a part of who they were.

“When a man does a piece of work which is admired by all, we say that it is wonderful; but when we see the changes of day and night, the sun, the moon, and the stars in the sky, and the changing seasons upon the earth, with their ripening fruits, anyone must realize that it is the work of someone more powerful than man.”

– Chased-by-Bears, Santee-Yanktonai Sioux

“We are about to leave our native land, the country the Great Spirit gave our Fathers. We are on the eve of leaving that country that gave us birth. It is with sorrow we are forced by the white man to quit the scenes of our childhood. We bid farewell to it and all we hold dear.”

– Cherokee Chief Tsalagi in 1838 as they began their journey on the Trail of Tears


You’re missing a lot of fun if you have never tried fishing at night. Before you try it, develop an intimate feel and knowledge of the water you will be fishing. Fishing the lake frequently during the day can help when you use your GPS tracking system to take you back in the dark. Mark potential fish-holding structures and landmarks, and any hazards that are hard to see at night when cruising down the lake. Launch your

Our ancestors came to their land and wanted it for themselves. What they did to steal their land is a sad chapter the history of our nation. Most Native Americans still live on reservations located on worthless land. If you think their tribes are wealthy because they all have casinos on them, you are wrong. Very few do. The white man is taking advantage of Native Americans again.

We need to right the wrong done to the people brought to America as slaves, but we also need to right the wrong done to the people whose land we took.

boat an hour or two before dark. That way, you can organize your gear and take advantage of fish that feed heavily just before night falls.

Submerged islands and offshore humps are places fish love to prowl at night in search of a meal. Some fish species will move into the shallows and aggressively feed. Others will gather around lighted docks or bridge piers. You have to fish by feel rather than sight. When you feel a bump, set the hook.

Besides good fishing, you will enjoy the feel of night fishing when no one else is around. It is peaceful and quiet when things go bump in the night.

July 2023 • • 77
– Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux Chief


Many of us know and cherish the morning summer float. We foresee the heat of the day and know a dip in the water still does not navigate around a summer-searing voyage in a metal canoe or even rigid plastic kayak. Fishing will have slower results in mid-day July heat. Wildlife watching, too, will diminish. So, I will choose starting early in the summer every time.

We are fortunate to have navigable waters in Missouri with legal access via properly maintained river accesses. Some states do not allow paddlers to float by private land without confirmed permission from adjacent landowners. So not only are Missouri’s rivers and streams exciting, engaging and beautiful…it is a true privilege to have access to this wonderful resource.

All cautious float trips take pre-trip planning. A similar precaution applies to floating as it does a hunting trip: a contact should know when they should be concerned and check on you. Always tell some friends what stretch of the waterway you plan to float and when you plan to return. Weather forecast and recent water levels are serious factors for when to plan a trip. A personal floatation device is necessary as well as some type of float bag for vehicle keys, wallet, phone etc. Plenty of

Field notes by Jeff Cantrell, photos courtesy of the MO Dept. of Conservation

fresh drinking water and snacks are part of the packing routine. You will plan on tying or using a bungee cord to fasten down any cooler or tackle box you bring along.

As I get ready to launch the boat in the early morning on the stream bank, I might feel a little weary from all the hustle and early drive to the water, but the moment is dawning. The moment my feet feel the stream water launching the kayak, I know I made the right decision for the day. The cool water flowing adds to the senses that will take in all the great vibes from the float.

Our Ozark streams often have a mist layer to them in the mornings, and as we float through straights coming out of riffles, we often find ourselves among what appears to be low-hanging linear clouds following the stream course. Our fishing has better luck as we cast lines for smallmouth bass and goggle-eye.

We will notice we are not the only anglers this hour in the morning; great blue herons and green herons are the most common wading birds in our region. Floaters are occasionally treated to glimpses of yellowcrowned herons and great egrets with their plumes flowing. They are one of many discoveries and reasons to have binoculars handy. Belted kingfishers, too, will be angling for a variety of fishes and crawdads. They are one of the uncommon examples of female resident birds having more color than the males. They vocalize up and down the waterway and often stay just ahead of the canoe or kayak until we reach the invisible border of their territory and then they fly over us back to their defended claim of riparian zone with the live water being the habitat’s “Main Street” of food/water/shelter and needed space.

Being quiet as possible in the boat is essential for the naturalist who wants to acquire stunning photos. The before-noon hours are the special times to float close to wood ducks, see mink along the sycamore’s root wads and maybe witness otter or beavers playing out their daily chores.

Mid-summer days heat up quickly. The local outdoors fills our wishes to get out and enjoy. We might have to adjust our schedules slightly just as wildlife does to maneuver around the heat. But the adjustments are always worth it; we are privileged with those cool shady moments of refreshing water and fish and wildlife adventures.

Enjoy our Ozark streams. I hope to see you out these July mornings… Big Sugar and Indian Creek being just two of my favorites! - Jeff

Jeff Cantrell is an outdoor educator and naturalist for the MO Dept. of Conservation. He proudly claims to be a MO Stream Team advocate. Contact him at

July 2023 • • 79 TICKS A part of

Add a patriotic twist to your barbecue with this amazing blueberry barbecue sauce. Bursting with tangy blueberry goodness, rich butter and a touch of jalapeno heat, this sauce will take your barbecue to the next level. Whether you’re cooking up steaks or chicken, I promise this sauce will wow your guests. Enjoy!

Blueberry Barbecue Sauce


1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup chopped onions

1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno

1 pint blueberries


2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup ketchup

In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.

Add the chopped onions and jalapeno to the saucepan and sauté until they become soft and translucent.

Add the blueberries, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, Dijon mustard and Tabasco sauce to the saucepan. Stir everything together.

Bring the mixture to a low boil and let it cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1/4 cup butter, cut into tablespoons

Salt and pepper to taste

Transfer the sauce to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

Place a colander over a bowl and strain the pureed sauce to remove any solids and achieve a smooth consistency.

Return the sauce to the saucepan and heat it over low heat. Whisk in the butter until it melts and incorporates into the sauce.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool slightly before serving.


My name is Roger Koch, and I’m a 20-year retired Army veteran who works as an Ozark Center Military Liaison.

I understand that the process of integrating back into civilian life is often difficult, and Ozark Center knows military service can be physically, emotionally and mentally traumatic for veterans and their families. This is one of the main reasons Ozark Center created the Veteran Integration Program (VIP) – to offer transitional help to veterans and their families.

In VIP, I serve as a military liaison single point of contact, partnering veterans and their families with Ozark Center programs and providers, area hospitals, US Department of Veterans Association, veteran groups, area community resources and more. VIP staff know one size does not fit all when it comes to veterans’ needs, and our experienced staff has received specialized training to address the unique challenges military service members experience. Whether a veteran struggles with PTSD, needs help finding employment or just wants to find a way to plug into the community, VIP is here to help.

Connecting local veterans with caring resources

VIP services include:

• Individual and group counseling

• Bravemind, a virtual reality exposure treatment using customized virtual environments designed specifically for veterans

• Substance use treatment

• Peer support

• Case management

• Medication management

• Employment services

• Help navigating housing assistance

• Connecting with other veterans’ resources in the community

VIP participants and the community at large can use Ozark Center’s Crisis Intervention Services, which offers 24/7 support for individuals experiencing a personal, emotional or mental health crisis.

For more information about VIP, call 417.347.7567 or visit VIP. Crisis services are available to veterans and non-veterans at 417.347.7720 or 800.247.0661. You can also send a text message to 720.7.TXTOZK (720.789.8695) for an anonymous, two-way counseling session via text message, day or night.

Quotes from Roger:

“Our number one goal is to assist and be there for the military veteran.”

“Working with veterans is a great service that needs to be done,” Koch said, “and it’s a great fit for me personally.”

“Through VIP, I can help veterans connect with others like them and find the support they’re looking for.”

July 2023 • • 81
Provided by Roger Koch of The Ozark Center

STRETCHING Better movement for a better you

As always, your health is unique to you. Always consult your doctor or a personal trainer before making changes to your exercise routine.

So, what are the benefits of stretching? I think most people know stretches warm up your muscles and joints to help prevent injuries and thus let you get more out of your exercises long-term. That by itself should make you start stretching, but like most health topics, there’s more to the story. Stretches aren’t really warm-ups; they are exercises in their own right, and they help improve your joints’ range of motion, your blood flow to your muscles and your muscle efficiency.

Obviously, these benefits will help improve your workouts, but you don’t need to limit them to the muscle groups you’re going to exercise. Stretching improves your range of motion, which will make everyday tasks easier and help you stay moving. Muscle pain and joint discomfort are some of the most common causes of sedentary lifestyles; helping to eliminate those discomforts from your life will help you maintain the drive to be more active and healthier.

One thing to consider is that stretches have a form to them just like any exercise. It’s important to make sure your stretch is smooth – you aren’t flinging your limbs around but, instead, moving them in a controlled motion. You want to emulate the motion you’re trying to improve, and like a lot of exercises, there’s a benefit to taking things slow: when you reach the limit of your motion, holding your position for at least half a minute if possible. As always, listen to your body. If you have a problem area your doctor has told you to watch, you might need to consult a physical therapist to see what stretches are appropriate for your level as your problem area or a past injury could compromise your form and lead to another injury.

One of the best parts of stretching is that it can be whatever you need it to be. You don’t have to turn yourself into a pretzel to gain everyday benefits from it. It can be complicated with your twisting your torso while reaching out your hands or it can be as simple as trying to touch your toes. Whatever the motion you choose, with consistency and proper pacing, you can see benefits and with it, you can see yourself becoming more active in your daily life.

July 2023 • • 83
It’s common to seek exercises that have more noticeable benefits: exercises that will tone specific muscle groups or exercises that will help us burn more calories to increase our fat loss. This is well and good, but there is a functional component to some exercises that should not be overlooked.
Stretching is a noticeable exercise that is usually seen less as an exercise and more of a supplement to actual exercise, but stretching by itself has a lot of benefits that might make you consider adding it to your daily routine.

Parsons, KS

July 11: Breast Cancer Support Group, 3:30 p.m., Cancer Center Conference Room. Meets the second Tuesday of each month. Call 620.235.7516.

July 13: Grief Companions Support Group meets the second Thursday of each month, 6 p.m., Elm Haven West. Call 620.704.1110.

Via Christi Hospital - Pittsburg, KS

July 26: Cancer Support Group, 3 p.m., Cancer Center Conference Room. Meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. Call 620.235.7900.

Joplin, MO

Every day: Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings. Call 888.740.4568.

Every Monday: Tips for Living a Healthy Life, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., South YMCA, 3404 W. McIntosh Circle. Free; registration required. Call 417.625.2492.

Every day: 12-Step Recovery Meetings, Alano Club, 1800 E. 30th. Call 417.623.9645.

July 11: Brain Injury Support Group meets every second Tuesday, 12-1:30 p.m., The Independent Living Center, 2639 E. 34th. Contact 417.659.8086 for information and referral.

July 26: Grief Support Group meets every fourth Wednesday of each month, 6-7:30 p.m., Hospice Compassus, 2216 E. 32nd St., Ste. 201. Call 417.623.8272.

Freeman Health System

Joplin, MO

All events are free and open to the public, unless noted; support group meetings are cancelled on days Joplin R-VIII Schools close due to inclement weather.

Safe Sitter®

July 11: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

July 13: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

July 18: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

July 20: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Freeman Hospital East Conference Rooms, 932 E. 34th St.

Freeman Screen Team’s Safe Sitter® program is for any child who has completed fifth grade, who wants to learn life-saving skills to help them be safe while babysitting or if they are staying home alone. The one-day class is $40. Pre-registration is required to attend. Call 417.347.4430 to register.

July 12: Freeman Cancer Support Group, 2-3 p.m., Freeman Cornell-Beshore Cancer Institute, 3415 McIntosh Circle. Call Kelley Wheeler at 417.347.4000 for more information.

July 18: Ozark Center Autism Support Group, 12:30-1:30 p.m., third Tuesday of the month, Bill and Virginia Leffen Center for Autism Conference Room. Open to people with autism, parents and caregivers. For more information, please contact 417.347.7850.

July 18: Bariatric Weight-loss Support Group, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Freeman Business Center Conference Rooms, 3220 McClelland Blvd (back entrance). Designed to help those who have had bariatric surgery. For more information, call 417.347.1266.

July 18: Freeman Breastfeeding Class, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Freeman Hospital West, 1102 W. 32nd St.

Taught by a certified lactation consultant, Freeman’s free breastfeeding class provides information on how to establish your milk supply, how to help a baby latch and how to establish pumping. The class also teaches signs of adequate milk intake and prevention and treatment suggestions for common breastfeeding problems, such as engorgement, sore nipples and clogged ducts. Please register for the class at freemanhealth. com/events.

July 19: Freeman Blood Drive, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Freeman West Conference Rooms 1W-4W. Roll up your sleeve and help someone in need. Photo identification required. Please eat well and drink plenty of fluids prior to donating.

July 20: Freeman Caregiver Support Group, 1-2:30 p.m., Joplin Senior Center, 2616 S. Picher Ave. Are you a caregiver interested in having a safe haven to share your feelings? Receive information about resources and coping mechanisms, gain advice on what lies ahead, make new friends and learn how to deal with family members. Debbie White, Joplin Senior Center director, will present about the activities, meals and healthcare opportunities Joplin Senior Center offers. Door prizes will be given out. RSVP to Kathy Mason at or 417.347.8463.

July 22: Freeman Prenatal Class, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Freeman Hospital West, 1102 W. 32nd St. Freeman offers free prenatal education classes each month to help expectant mothers and families prepare for the arrival of a new baby. These classes can ease the tension and fear surrounding labor and delivery, as well as aid in your overall comfort when the time comes. You will learn rhythmic breathing techniques and learn about the choices available to you. Please register for the class at freemanhealth. com/events.

July 25: Freeman Bariatric Weight-loss Seminar, 4:30 p.m. (registration), 5:30 p.m. (seminar), Freeman Business Center Conference Rooms, 3220 McClelland Blvd (back entrance). Better understand the options available for weight-loss surgery. Contact 417.347.1266 or to register.

National Alliance on Mental Illness - For information on NAMI, call 417.781.6264 or visit


Meetings held at the NAMI building, 219 W. 2nd St., in Joplin.

Every Monday: NAMI Basics, 6-8:30 p.m. A signature education program for parents and caregivers of children and adolescents living with mental illnesses.

Every Tuesday: NAMI Connection Support Group, 6:30-8 p.m.

Every Tuesday: Self Injury Support Group, 5-6 p.m.

Every Tuesday: Family Support Group, 6:30-8 p.m.

Every Wednesday: Dual Diagnosis Support Group, 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Every Wednesday: Post-5/22 Stress Counseling Sessions, 10 a.m.

Every Thursday: Family to Family Class, 6:30-8:30 p.m. For families or caregivers of individuals with severe mental illnesses. Includes current information about most major mental illnesses; information about medications, side effects and strategies for medication adherence; developing strategies for handling crises and relapse; focusing on care for the caregiver.

Neosho, MO

July 24: Caregivers Support Group meets the fourth Monday of each month, 5-6 p.m., Medicalodge, 400 Lyon Drive. Help with care, finances, insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, respite care, hospice care, day care and support for the caregivers. Sponsors: Avalon Hospice and Medicalodges Neosho. Call 417.451.2544.

Nevada, MO

Tuesdays: Farmer’s Market, 3-6 p.m., southeast corner of Ash and Douglas. Check out the freshest in farm produce each Tuesday afternoon just across the street from the hospital. Local growers meet Tuesdays 3-6 p.m. to offer fresh fruits, vegetables and home-grown specialties.

July 1: Birth and Beyond Class, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Hospital Mezzanine. Nevada Regional Medical Center offers a four-hour class covering childbirth, breastfeeding and infant care for women in their last trimester. Especially suited for women who are giving birth for the first time, this class covers all the basics of the birthing experience. For more information or to register, visit or call 417.448.2101.

July 25: Rich Hill Family Medical Clinic Screenings, 11 a.m.noon, Kern Senior Center. Free screenings every fourth Tuesday of the month: This month features free blood pressure readings along with a bone density test. For further information, please call the Rich Hill Clinic at 417.395.2150.

Integris Baptist Regional Health Center, Grove, OK

INTEGRIS Baptist Regional Health Center, Miami, OK - For more information, visit

Every Tuesday: Free blood pressure and glucose screenings provided by INTEGRIS Regency Home Care and Hospice. First Tuesday: Commerce Nutrition Center, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Second Tuesday: Nine Tribes Tower, 10-11 a.m. Third Tuesday: Miami Senior Center, 10-11 a.m. Fourth Tuesday: INTEGRIS Baptist Village, 9-10 a.m.

July 4: Alzheimer’s Support Group meets first Tuesday monthly, 11 a.m., Generations fourth floor visiting room. Call 918.542.3391.

July 11 & 25: Depression Support Group meets the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, 2 p.m., Northeastern Tribal Health System Conference Room, 2301 Eight Tribes Trail. Call 918.675.2093.

Crisis Text Line Text 741741

Free 24/7 support for those in crisis to create a plan to stay safe and healthy.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code

July 2023 • • 85 A G E H E A LT H I E R & L I V E HA P P I E R I T C A N S TA R T W I T H A S I M P L E T E S T Find out how optimized hormones may improve your energy, sleep, weight, and libido. Schedule an appointment today: DERMA-TECH 2935 E. 18th Street, Joplin, MO 64804 417-206-4884

Couple establishes group run to help new runners

Renato and Katherine Pinto believe in the mental and physical benefits of running but not necessarily in doing it together all the time.

“Everyone seems shocked when we tell them we typically do not run together,” Katherine says.

“Renato is almost 6 feet and I’m right at 5 feet, and our legs do not move the same. We do run together when we travel, though.”

Katherine credits running for the physical and mental health benefits. “Running requires you and the road, nothing else,” she says. “It’s simple and allows me to turn my brain off for a while.”

Doing so helped her lose 100 pounds once she made a commitment to health. “I had no money and no idea where to start, but I knew running was free and seemed pretty straightforward.”

Renato pursued sports in school, playing some football and wrestling, but running became a primary exercise activity because “I truly enjoy it,” he says. “You don’t need much. You just need a pair of shoes and a good attitude.”

Katherine agrees it’s not about having the best gear. “It’s not needed to get you going,” she says. “Just lace up and start slow. I started with walking and running intervals. I recommend picking a plan and sticking to it. I have found several from Training Peaks online that I really like.”

Both Renato and Katherine set personal running goals for themselves, such as reducing their personal race times or running a big race to commemorate a birthday. “It’s one thing to enjoy the process, and we should always make sure we are so we don’t get burned out,” Renato says. “And working toward a specific goal has given me that extra motivation to

keep logging some miles.”

When they are running, this couple enjoys listening to music and Katherine will also tune into her favorite true crime podcast for long, easy runs since it “allows me not to get carried away with the fast tempo of the songs on my running playlist.” Renato’s ritual is to remind himself how fortunate he is to be able to run. “I may not be the fastest but I’m still better than I used to be and that’s the only person I should compare myself to,” he says.

Both of these runners support others just getting started through a buddy program and invite those interested to check it out. “We’re on social media as The Running Collective,” Renato says. “We meet every Wednesday at 5:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. for a group run. You’ll find somebody that runs at the same pace as

you and keeps you accountable. You’ll find yourself enjoying this and look forward to it every week, like we do.”

Katherine adds, “Running is for everyone. I was always told I didn’t have the body type because I am short and muscular. But all bodies are running bodies.”

Renato adds, “I think that’s just an excuse you tell yourself to feel better about not exercising. You are in charge of who you can become. The sooner you start, then the sooner you will become that person. Motivation follows action. Just get out there and motivation will find you.”

July 2023 • • 87

Saved by Narcan many times, Justin Johnson sees God had a plan for him

If it weren’t for Narcan, Justin Johnson wouldn’t be alive.

The former ASCENT Recovery Residences’ resident has been brought back to life nine, 10 or 11 times. While he isn’t sure of the exact number, the count is too many and his back-to-life moments occurred from July 2020 to July 2021. Fortunately, he doesn’t remember what happened or was aware of the overdosing event as it occurred.

“I can remember up to when it happens,” Johnson said. “Every time, I look up and see the paramedics and cops when I wake up. It always takes a second to figure out where I’m at.”

Later this summer, Narcan will be approved to buy over the counter. With more people having access to the opioid antagonist, the hope is more people can be saved from drug overdoses.

“Saving a life is so important,” Teddy Steen, executive director of ASCENT, said. “If alive, there is always hope.”

Johnson said the reverse effects make you sick, and that he didn’t really know, want or think he would have to be resuscitated so many times. One time, he was incredibly lucky as a friend gave him mouth-tomouth for 26 minutes before the paramedics arrived.

Not only has Johnson survived drug overdoses, but he was shot on Mother’s Day in 2013, and the bullet is still lodged on his spine. Dabbling in drugs before, he turned to heroin after the pain medication ran out. He was also involved in a car wreck in which his girlfriend died.

“I wasn’t sure about life at that time,” Johnson said. “My story after Narcan is God’s story, not mine. It’s crazy, but God definitely had a plan for me. My life is so different than before.”

Sober for two years now, Johnson’s story is a successful ending to another article written in September 2021. In that piece, titled “Cohesiveness is Needed to Navigate Systems When Drug Addicts Need Immediate Assistance,” the story was told of a kid who called Steen and needed help. He needed to get into a medically cleared detox facility. He didn’t have his I.D., but Steen told him it was OK because he was in the system. He gave his birth date, but no luck. She had to talk to the people to get him in, but no detox beds were available. They decided he should go to the hospital, but once there, he tested positive for Covid. Then the hospital wouldn’t take him. By chance, a man who went through ASCENT saw him and told the hospital Johnson was acting crazy and suicidal. He finally got into a hospital for five days. After all this, Johnson went through the ASCENT program for the fourth time, and this time it stuck. He works at ASCENT and sponsors men and conducts and plans programs. He is also employed at Boyd Metals and volunteers at his church and other places where he is needed.

“My life has changed, and everything is different,” Johnson said. “The things I could never get right I want to help others make it right in their lives.”

Steen also agrees God had a plan for him. She said he is a bright, talented individual and sees how he was supposed to be alive to help others.

“Twelve-step recovery says, ‘We can’t keep what we have unless we give it away,’” Steen said. “Not everyone gets this many chances. God’s plan was to keep him around because he has one hell of a story to share to bring hope to others who are suffering.”