Show Me the Ozarks - July 2024

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July 2024 • Volume 23 • Issue 11 FEATURING Southeast Kansas Honoring OUR MILITARY From Modern Marine to Colonial Soldier: Dustin’s Journey of Living History

Go Vote August 6

David Osborn dedicated to truth and trus t

David Osborn in his pursuit for the seat of the Newton County Treasurer could be called the great disrupter and seeker of the truth

Osborn said that Incumbent County Treasurer Gina Rodriquez fails to perform the job of County Treasurer. Rodriguez has performed poorly and made grave mistakes during her 20-year tenure in public office, he said

Looking to the future of his county, Osborn strongly supports investing in the growth of county tax dollars As commissioner he was instrumental in getting tax dollars invested in higher yielding accounts which produced considerably more interest income.

“As District 2 Commissioner, I work for the citizens to protect their investment in our future and the overall return on investment of tax dollars As a result, we saw county funds yield significantly more than when I took office 4 years ago The simple but difficult fund movements for Rodriguez suggested to her by the county commission yielded considerable interest income,” Osborn said. The simple but difficult fund movements for Rodriguez suggested to her by David and the commission

was a net gain of $1 134 million dollars of interest income for Newton County on an annual basis

“Currently, Rodriguez is stalling commission efforts to change banks from First Community Bank to Guaranty Bank for higher interest rate through a previous lawsuit continuing through a motion filed to stall the commission efforts This is costing county taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest income to this day Who knows how long it will continue?” he said

From experience, he strongly supports CD laddering for higher yielding returns – calling it a double advantage benefiting with long term rates and short-term frequent access to funds

Osborn said the county has had no oversight over the treasurer’s checking account and check registry for far too long

“Dual signatures must be implemented to internally control and manage the county’s cash flow,” he said, “Under the current system, checks are issued improperly in a onesignature system, the sole signer of checks being Rodriguez.”

Oversight should be used in other areas in

the current operations of the treasurer's office, he said

“No government document should be selfattested,” he said.

“The incumbent attested her own signature on a Newton County bank resolution. For two decades the incumbent has allowed herself the practices of a career politician, becoming lax in her duties,” Osborn said

Osborn points to his insight in county government as commissioner, his experience as performing all duties current treasurer of the Harry S Truman Coordinating Council and vice chairman on the board of the Economic Security Corporation as to why Newton County voters can trust him as their next treasurer.

Commissioner DavidOsbornfor Newton County Treasurer

David Osborn, candidate for Newton County Treasurer, urges voters to go to the tasks of each officer

the polls Aug 6 when they will pick between Osborn, the current county commissioner, or the incumbent, Gina Rodriquez.

“The residents of this county deserve total transparency and absolute performance from the treasurer’s office,” Osborn said

A lifelong Newton County resident, Osborn serves with vast experience from the various roles he fills As District 2 Commissioner, he has knowledge of county government and

He improved the county’s investment practices and was instrumental in getting tax dollars invested in higher yielding accounts

“I have maintained transparency within the county commissioner’s office and stayed involved in agencies and issues to benefit local residents,” he said.

He is treasurer of the executive board of the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council (HSTCC), part of regional planning that provides Newton County many services like working with state and federal agencies, an expert technical staff, grant writing and more Osborn is vice president of the board of directors of the Economic Security Corporation, to help low-income residents in rural and urban areas, revive them and reduce poverty.

Osborn introduced the Newton County Second Amendment Preservation Act passed by the commission and signed by the county sheriff and the commission

SAPA protects gun owners against gun control measures that contradict either the U S Constitution or the state constitution

Osborn is a veteran of the Army National Guard. His successful career of 27 years taught him values and discipline, he said.

“I learned teamwork and trust and utilize those skills to this day,” he said

Osborn runs his family’s farm where he and Kelli, his wife of 32 years, raised two boys, Drew and Lane

Paid for by Committee to Elect David Osborn, Kelli Osborn Treasurer

July 2024 • • 5 420 S. Main Street | Joplin, Missouri 64801 Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated | Member SIPC & NYSE | Mutual Funds | Annuities | Retirement Plans | Managed Accounts Investment Banking | Unit Investment Trusts | Corporate Bonds Municipal Bonds | Government Bonds | Custodial Accounts Financial Planning | Estate Planning | Life Insurance Brad R. McIntyre Vice President/Investments (417) 627-5716 | (417) 781-9847 fax Investing in your future

Former Marine Sergeant Dustin Strong brings history to life through his role as president of the newly formed Little Balkans Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) in Pittsburg, an organization dedicated to promoting patriotism and American history. Through reenactments, Dustin ensures the sacrifices of those who came before us are never forgotten.

July 2024 COVER STORY 44 From Modern Marine to Colonial Soldier: Dustin's Journey of Living History Featuring Southeast Kansas 26 Faces of Southeast Kansas 28 Discovering the Custom Experience at Comeau Jewelry 31 Smokey Racks BBQ: A Triumph of Flavor This National Grilling Month 32 Rediscovering Downtown Parsons: A Community Cornerstone 34 Fostering Connections: Cultivating Love and Support for Foster Families 36 The Creative EdgeSylvia Grotheer, Sunny Daze Ceramics 38 Baxter Springs: A Blend of History and Community at the Heritage Center & Museum 39 Faces & Places: Business and Residents Honored at Pittsburg Chamber Annual Banquet 40 Why I Run: Celebrating the Athletes at Special Olympics Kansas 42 Southeast Kansas Business Spotlights Honoring Our Military 48 Deborah Davila 49 Russell Smith 51 Stewart Tyree 52 Loran Hatfield 53 Charles (Chuck) Hull 55 Dennis Burr About the Cover 14 69 44 60 49
SMTO contents

in every edition


12 Cultural Arts and Entertainment

14 Connect2Culture presents ...

16 Calendar of Events: In addition to Independence Day celebrations, your Four States fun can include any of the following: kids can color on real poodles (with pet-friendly paint pens) or learn about cicadas—the official bug of summer. Any age can enjoy a creek crawl, annual water festival or family night hike, just to name a few things. Enjoy these lazy and fun days of summer!

58 Northeast Oklahoma Events

63 Independence Day Celebrations


21 Tastes of the 4-States - Ghetto Tacos

22 Show Me Dining Guide

64 Your House ... Your HomeFestive Fourth of July Decorating

71 The Great Outdoors - Real Men Do Cry Sometimes

72 A Naturalist Voice - May I quote you?

Can you find it?

60 Recipe: Creamy Veggie Poblano Lasagna

66 Health Events

67 CORI Surgical System® Robotic Knee Surgery Offers Better Motion Range, Less Pain

68 Award of a State Contract Allows ASCENT Executive Director Teddy Steen to Join ASCENT and The ROCC Full-time

69 Sunburns: A little summer fun you're best to do without

other great reads

19 Joplin Arts District 20 Scoop & Slime: A Deliciously Creative Journey in Joplin

59 Oklahoma Business Spotlights

61 Fashion Forward: Wig'N' Out Boutique

62 Things We Love

Find the GREEN smiley face on one of our pages. Email 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 David Mezel of Lamar, Missouri, the winner of the June edition Find the Green Smiley Face contest. David wins a gift certificate to McAlister’s Deli in Joplin, Missouri. The Green Smiley was on page 32 in the Neosho Farmers Market stir fry picture.

July 2024 • • 7
Name: Address: Email: Form of payment: Check Credit Card Card Number: Name on Card: Card Expiration: / Mail this form with your check, money order or credit card info to: Show Me The Ozarks, P.O. Box 3325, Joplin, MO 64803 Subscription Form Subscribe today! $41.99 - three years $32.99 - two years $19.99 - one year Visit to subscribe and pay online. Don’t miss a single edition of the magazine that has all of the region talking! The Ozarks Magazine Since 2001


Wendy Brunner


Kevin Elrod


Lee Timmsen


Kelley Talent


Cheryl Franklin


Bridget Bauer

Jeff Cantrell

Amy Howe

Holly Hukill

Ann Leach

Don Lowe

Bradley Morris

Kristi Spencer

Larry Whiteley


Mandy Edmonson


Kevin Elrod

Gary and Desma Sisco

8 Show Me The Ozarks Magazine is published monthly by Beach House Publishing, LLC, PO Box 3325, Joplin, MO 64803. Copyright 2024 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. The Ozarks Magazine Since 2001
~ Founded by Lee Radcliff-Timmsen in 2001 ~ Staff
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Explore the Four States with us!

This month, we’re featuring Southeast Kansas, we’re honoring our military and we’re celebrating all things summer.

You might know Southeast Kansas as the home of Big Brutus, Pittsburg State University and Little Balkans Days, but it’s also home to thriving downtowns filled with unique businesses and great eating.

In addition, this issue is filled with stories of Southeast Kansas attractions and inspiring articles about Special Olympics Kansas and Fostering Connections, a Southeast Kansas organization aiming to improve the experiences of foster families and children.

With Independence Day around the corner, it’s the perfect time to honor our local servicemen and servicewomen. Read about Dustin Strong, a Pittsburg newspaper reporter who was a modern-day Marine and now lives the life of soldiers past during historical war reenactments.

Several local heroes share stories about their time serving our country starting on page 47. Be sure to thank a soldier or veteran for his or her service!

I’m so inspired by the small business owners who took the brave leap to invest in their communities and the courageous men and women willing to dedicate their lives to keeping freedom alive.

As the new publisher/editor of Show Me The Ozarks Magazine, I’m excited to continue the legacy of sharing your stories that my predecessors, founder/publisher Lee Radcliff-Timmsen and publisher Chonda Ralston, successfully established these past 23 years. I’m honored to follow in these ladies’ footsteps.

I grew up in Carthage, Missouri, graduated from the University of Arkansas and have lived in Joplin for 25 years. I was an associate editor for Show Me The Ozarks Magazine for 12 years, and this region and the magazine are part of my heart. My husband, Kevin, grew up in Southeast Kansas, so the Four-State Area is home to us. You are our neighbors that we can’t wait to get to know through your stories.

Please have a safe, fun and Happy Independence Day!


Wendy Brunner, Publisher/Editor

P.O. Box 3325 • Joplin, MO 64803

844.417.SMTO (7686)

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What’s Happening Calendar of Events SMTO

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 Farmers Market

Anderson, MO: Every Saturday, 8 a.m.-noon, and the first and third Thursday, 5:30-8 p.m., corner of Jefferson Street and Main Street. Carthage, MO: Wednesday and Saturday 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Central Park, 714 Garrison Ave.

Joplin, MO: Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Empire Market, 931 E. 4th St. Lamar, MO: Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-noon, Moore Pavilion, 10th & Poplar streets. 417.682.3579.

Monett, MO: Saturday, 8 a.m.-noon and Tuesday TBD, South Park by the YMCA parking lot.

Neosho, MO: Saturday 9 a.m.-noon, directly across from the library, downtown.

Webb City, MO: Tuesday 4-7 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-noon, pavilion at the Main Street entrance to King Jack Park.

Bentonville, AR: Saturday 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Bentonville City Square, 100 S. Main St. 479.222.0946.

Gravette, AR: Saturday 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Old Town Park, 110 Park Drive. 479.787.8998.

Rogers, AR: Wednesday and Saturday 7 a.m.-1 p.m., 100 N. Dixieland Road. 479.246.8383.

Pittsburg, KS: Saturday 8 a.m.-noon, 11th & Broadway streets, downtown Pittsburg. 620.231.8310.

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

Quapaw, OK: First and Third Fridays 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 326 Main St. 918.238.3168.

Calendar of Events

Northwest Arkansas

July 5: July First Friday – A Salute to Service, 3-9 p.m., 103 S. Main St., Bentonville. Join us to honor those who served and those who are serving this country and fighting for our freedom. This event is a free, family-friendly community event that features local artists, live music, a variety of events and fun for the whole family. For information, email or call 479.295.2396.

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

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

First Saturday of each month: Carl Junction Lions Breakfast, 8-11 a.m. The CJ Lions Club sponsors a monthly buffet breakfast with proceeds going to various community organizations and projects. Adults and children 11 and up $7; children ages 3-10 $3; children under 3 eat free.

Joplin, MO

Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center, 201 W. Riviera Drive, Joplin. 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 3: Virtual Program: Bushcraft Skills Series – Char and Char Cloth, 12-1 p.m. Registration required. Ages 12-up. This virtual program is part five of a multi-part series on primitive skills and bushcraft. In part five, learn how to make and use this simple and effective fire-starting aid. (Note: Bushcraft is the use and practice of skills, thereby acquiring and developing knowledge and understanding, to survive and thrive in a natural environment.)

July 10: Virtual Program: Bushcraft Skills Series – Useful Cordage Plants, 12-1 p.m. Registration required. Ages 12-up. This virtual program is part six of a multi-part series on primitive skills and bushcraft. In part six, learn how to identify, prepare and use common plants for bushcraft needs. (Note: Bushcraft is the use and practice of skills, thereby acquiring and developing knowledge and understanding, to survive and thrive in a natural environment.)

July 11: Snakes on Tour, 10 a.m., Cedar County Library, El Dorado Springs. Join Missouri Department of Conservation staff and live snakes while they visit local libraries during the summer reading program, “Adventure Begins at Your Library,” where you’ll learn more about these often-misunderstood reptiles.

July 16: Conservation in the Parks: Creek Crawl, 10:30-11:30 a.m., Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center in Wildcat Park. Registration required. Ages 5-up. A cool, clear Missouri stream or creek is a great place to spend a warm summer day. Join us as we dive below the water’s surface to discover what aquatic creatures are hidden in our creeks and what role they play. Meet at the pavilion next to Shoal Creek.

July 16: Little Acorns: Furry Scurry, 10:30-11 a.m. Registration required. Recommended for ages 3-7. Missouri is home to many amazing furry animals. Join us to learn more about these furry friends and why we love them. You will make a craft to take home.

July 17: Virtual Program: Where Can I Ride Bicycles?, noon-12:30 p.m. Registration required. Ages 12-up. Bicycles and some electric bicycles (e-bikes) are now allowed on roads open to public vehicles, multi-use bike trails and most service roads. In this program, we will discuss the rules and regulations and some areas where you can ride your bicycle.

George Washington Carver National Monument Visitor Center Free Programs. Two miles west of Diamond, Missouri, on Highway V, onequarter 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 park grounds.

July 6 & 7: Epitaphs and Engravings, 1 p.m. Discover hidden meanings behind the symbols found on the headstones at the Carver Family Cemetery.

July 13: Carver Day Celebration, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Join us for a special day celebrating 81 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 14: Film: “George Washington Carver: An Uncommon Life,” 1 p.m. This 56-minute Iowa Public Broadcasting Service documentary highlights George Washington Carver’s complexities and reveals the full impact of his life and work.


July 20 & 21: Laboratory Demonstrations, 1-2 p.m. Discover how George Washington Carver used some often-overlooked plants to change the way we think about agriculture.

July 27 & 28: African American Trailblazers, 1 p.m. Talk with a park ranger and explore contributions made by African American trailblazers and discover their pioneering achievements.

ArtForms Gallery Workshops, 620 N. Broadway, Pittsburg, KS. 620.240.0165. ArtForms Gallery is a co-op of artists offering monthly workshops ranging from acrylic painting, watercolor, glass fusing, pottery, metalsmithing, jewelry, textiles, kids’ art and more. Call ArtForms Gallery to register for any artist’s workshop. Refunds/ cancellations: Decisions regarding refunds and cancellations are determined by the artist leading the workshop. For information, check our Facebook page at ArtFormsGallery620/ or go to www.

Every Tuesday (July 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30): Art Explorations, 12:303:30 p.m. Free. Join Gallery Artist Pat Glick every Tuesday afternoon for a fun time working on your own project or art.

July 5: Wood-burned Bookmarks, 1-3 p.m. Workshop fee $25, due at time of registration. Class limit of 8. Ages 12-up, unless with a parent. We will draw a design or stencil on a wooden bookmark and then will use wood-burning tools to burn the design onto your bookmark. At the end, we will clear-coat the bookmarks with Mod Podge.

July 7: Ceramic Butter Dishes, 1-3 p.m. Workshop fee $50, due at time of registration. Class limit of 10. Ages 12-up. Create your own ceramic butter dish from a clay slab. Use your imagination to embellish the form.

July 10: Water Marbling, 1-3 p.m. Workshop fee $35, due at time of registration. Class limit of 10. Ages 12-up. Artist: Mona Jurshak. Create one-of-a-kind marbled paper. Mesmerizing paint floats on the water surface before being transferred to paper in this surface design technique. All materials provided.

July 13: Poodles & Art, 1-3 p.m. Workshop fee $10, due at time of registration. Class limit of 15. Ages 7-up. (Note: Kids under 6 years old need to have an adult present.) Kids can color an actual poodle with Opawz paint pens.

July 14: Basic Knitting, 1-3 p.m. Workshop fee $40, due at time of registration. Class limit of 8. Ages 12-up. You’ll learn how to cast on stitches, do a basic knitting technique and then cast-off stitches to finish your piece. The resulting size of your sample will depend on your speed, but we’ll try for a 4-inch square that can be used as a small dishcloth. You’ll take your knitting needles and yarn with you.

July 16: Small Wood-burned Wall Hanger, 4-7 p.m. Workshop fee $30, due at time of registration. Class limit of 8. Ages 12-under. Draw a design or stencil on a wooden wall hanger. Wood-burning tools available to burn the design onto your project. At the end, the wall hangers will be clear-coated.

July 18: Creative Creatures, 10:30-11:45 a.m. Workshop fee $35, due at time of registration. Class limit of 15. Ages 6-11. Students will work with polymer clay to build a one-of-a-kind sculpture around a base form that is provided. Projects will need to be heat-treated and can be picked up after July 20.

July 20: Figure Formulas, 1-3 p.m. Workshop fee $35, due at time of registration. Class limit of 10. Ages 12-16. This is a 3D workshop where students learn the basic proportion of figures and then sculpt a figure or animal in synthetic clay. Projects will need to be heat-treated and can be picked up after July 20.

July 20: Glass Mosaic Candle Holder, 1-3 p.m. Workshop fee $40, due at time of registration. Class limit of 14. Ages 10-100. Want to

add a colorful glow to any room in your house? Artist will demonstrate how to attach beads, glass and tiles to a clear, round candleholder, but you will use your own artistic inspiration for the design and color choices. You will caulk, clean and take home your candle holder. All materials provided.

July 21: Upcycled Guardian Angels, 1-3 p.m. Workshop fee $40, due at time of registration. Class limit of 6. Ages 14-up. We will use all recycled materials to create your one-of-a-kind angel. All materials provided.

July 24: Wood-burned Jewelry Tray, 4-6 p.m. Workshop fee $25, due at time of registration. Class limit of 10. Ages 12-up. We will draw a design or stencil on a wooden tray. Wood-burning tools available to burn the design onto your project. At the end, your project will be clear-coated.

July 28: Line Art Embroidery on Canvas, 1-3 p.m. Workshop fee $35, due at time of registration. Class limit of 10. Ages 10-up. (Note: Those 14-under must be accompanied by an adult. Adult need not pay workshop fee unless they also wish to participate.) If you back-stitch embroidery, then you can do this. If you don’t know how, it’s not hard –come and learn. Participants will select or design their own minimalist pattern to create a unique line art embroidery on canvas artwork of their own. All materials provided.

Wildcat Glades Friends Group, 201 Riviera Dr., Joplin, Missouri. All programs are free of charge, unless otherwise noted. Registration is requested. To register, email, call 417.291.3156 or visit our Facebook page for online registration options.

Various Dates in July, Ongoing Project: Wildcat Park Habitat Restoration and KCU Student Trail Initiative. Wildcat Glades Nature Group, in partnership with Missouri Southern State University and Kansas City University continues to have work days to remove invasive species at Wildcat Park. The Restoration Plan is an ongoing project that will be carried out over the next 10 years. Workdays are held nearly every Saturday during the summer. If you are interested in becoming involved with the restoration effort, you can check out our Facebook page or reach out to

July 8: Yoga in Nature for Kids, 10:30-11:30 a.m., Wildcat Glades Education Cottage. Free. For ages 4-up accompanied by an adult. This class is designed to incorporate elements of fun, breathing and yoga poses specifically for kids. Must pre-register. Sign up by following the instructions on our Facebook page, by visiting YogainNature2024 or by emailing

July 13 & 17: Preschool Connections – Cicadas. July 13, 1-2 p.m., and July 17, 10-11 a.m., Wildcat Glades Education Cottage. Free. For ages 3-up. Does summer have a signature sound? If it did, it’d be the singing of the cicada! Come sing a song, read a story, make a craft, and – most importantly – learn about these fascinating insects. Must pre-register by visiting or by emailing colvin@

July 20: Water Festival, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Wildcat Glades. Free. All ages welcome. This year’s event will feature cardboard boat races (built by a few creative and brave souls), shoebox boat races for kids who build and bring their masterpieces, a rubber duck race and fishing derby. Includes food trucks and tons of activities to entertain the entire family. For more information on registration for the cardboard or shoebox boat races, email

July 26: Family Night Hike, 8-9:30 p.m., Wildcat Glades. Free. Join our staff on an easy, family-friendly introduction to the wonderful world of night hiking that’ll lighten up your night. This hike will cover a variety of topics that go “bump” in the night, from spiders to moths to crickets and everything in between. Must pre-register. Register by following the instructions on our Facebook page, by visiting FamilyNightHike24 or by emailing

July 2024 • • 13

presents... JOMO Jammin’ in july

July 6


Things are heating up outside, but music festival goers will enjoy the cool sounds of regional bands performing inside the Beshore Performing Arts Center. Audiences will celebrate two regional bands on each of four Saturdays in July: the 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th. Here’s who is performing during JoMo Jammin’:

Created by the song craft of Lily Moonflower and Jake Keegan, this performance features tight vocal harmonies and interesting instrumental conversations. Expanding on the styles of Americana, bluegrass, folk and country music, the group invites the audience to enjoy some liberated expression and genuine songwriting.


This all-star group of Eureka Strings players offers upbeat, boot-scooting boogies as well as a traditional repertoire. Established nearly four years ago, the musicians say the Joplin audience should expect “barn-burning, hell-raising, foot-stomping music with psychedelic swells.”

The group is eager to visit Joplin and flattered to have been invited and notes their band member, Sophia Clark, is from this area.

July 13


is a three-piece indie, art-rock band that was established in 2018. The members are brothers: Connor, Ryan and Cuinn Brogran, whose music is inspired by film scores, visual arts and personal experiences. Many of their songs center around themes of longing, alienation and feelings of nostalgia with lyrical references to dreams and memories of a time before.

“We’re grateful to be asked to be a part of this series,” Connor Brogran says. “We’re happy to share our music.”


is a band making anthemic, jangly indie rock that started in 2020 by brothers Nathan and Caleb Hurley, with the addition of Davis

Drake and Evan Todd. With relationships to each other going back to childhood and high school orchestra, the group has been touring ever since.


July 20


This fusion reggae band was formed by Rochelle Bradshaw in 2013 and hails from Fayetteville, Arkansas. Bradshaw’s musical career spans over 18 years and includes singing on a Grammy-winning album and touring the world with musical legends. Bradshaw said JoMo Jammin’ audiences should expect “a reggae jam as we meld reggae with other influences and energy.”

The group has never played in Missouri, and Bradshaw says, “We feel very honored and excited to be a part of this concert series at the Cornell. We look forward to bringing our variety of music to Joplin in support of cultural expansion in this region. It’s our passion and mission.”

July 27

Brock Wade Band

features Springfield, Missouri, singer/songwriter Brock Wade. He has been a part of numerous projects throughout the years, playing a wide variety of music that includes country, rock, pop, rap and hip-hop. While playing shows around the country, Wade has shared the stage with the likes of Parmalee, Josh Turner, Keith Anderson, Michael Ray and many others. He combines his own personal style garnered from his experiences with multiple genres of music.

Mariachi de Flor Missouri

began in 2016 when vocalist Rachael Bishko and her husband, Andrew, formed the band, along with their daughter, Honor, and six other musical friends.

Rachael Bishko says the audience should expect “laughter, tears, exciting and moving music with vocal powerhouse singers and flashy instrument players. We explain mariachi and the meaning of the songs, so everyone is included in the performance.”

The band is excited to bring their music to a new audience. “We often play for weddings and fiestas,” Bishko says, “so it will be nice to be on a stage.”


are a premier level ‘90s tribute band playing all the favorite radio hits. Each member of this five-piece group sings, which assures a huge range of music spanning The Cranberries, Nirvana, No Doubt, Beastie Boys, TLC, Radiohead, Spice Girls, Weezer, Rage Against the Machine, Britney Spears, Beck and much more. This band brings the songs and the nostalgia to life in this high-energy show.

Want to go TO JOMO JAMMIN’?

July 6: MoonShroom and Eureka Strings

July 13: Modeling and Fox Royale

July 20: Rochelle Bradshaw & Hypnotion, and Mariachi Flor De Missouri

July 27: Brock Wade Band and The Mixtapes

Single tickets to all shows are $27.30 for adults, $24.70 for seniors/military/college students. Children ages 13-17 are $11.70 per ticket and those under age 12 will pay $4.42 per ticket. You can purchase tickets to all four nights at a discount price of $89.70.

July 2024 • • 15

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Joplin, MO


July 6, 13, 20 & 27: JOMO Jammin’ Music Festival, 7 p.m. (doors 6:30 p.m.), Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Beshore Performance Hall, 212 W. Seventh St.

• July 6: Enjoy country and Ozark folk from MoonShroom and Eureka Strings.

• July 13: Enjoy indie rock from Modeling and Fox Royale.

• July 20: Enjoy world music from Rochelle Bradshaw and Hypnotion as well as Mariachi Flor de Missouri.

• July 27: Enjoy covers from the Brock Wade Band and The Mixtapes.

Buy tickets to all four nights and receive 15% off—$89.70 per JOMO Jammin’ package ticket. Tickets may be purchased at, by calling 417.621.9824 or at the C2C box office inside the Cornell Complex (Tues.-Sat., 1-5 p.m.). Tickets: $4.42 kids (ages 12-under), $11.70 kids (ages 13-17), $24.70 senior/military/college student, $27.30 adults. More information: lauren@, 417.501.5550.

July 14: Sad Daddy, 6:30-8 p.m. (doors 6 p.m.), The Coda Concert House, 2120 E. 24th St. Sad Daddy combines unique sounds for a mix of American Roots music. For reservations, email In response, a confirmation email with the address, directions, parking, etc., will be sent. All proceeds benefit the artist performing. Suggested donation: $30. Information:

July 28: MSSU Choral Society Summer Concert, 3 p.m., First Community Church, 2007 E. 15th St. Conducted by Melissa Belk, this is an area-wide, mixed choir featuring a mix of patriotic, fun and good old, toe-tapping music. Free; donations appreciated. More information:, 417.385.3996.

July 31: Dale Watson & His Lone Stars House Concert, 6:30 p.m. (doors 6 p.m.), The Coda Concert House, 2120 E 24th St. Dale Watson is a true outlaw, carrying on where Waylon Jennings left off. For reservations, email In response, a confirmation email with the address, directions, parking, etc., will be sent. All proceeds benefit the artist performing. Suggested donation: $45. Information: info@codaconcerthouse. com.


May 1-Aug. 21: Thomas Hart Benton Art Competition and Exhibition Call for Entry. Submit up to two pieces of your original 2D works to be judged and for a chance for your artwork to be exhibited or awarded cash prizes. Open to artists ages 18-up. Deadline: Aug. 21. For more information and guidelines, visit Cost: Circle of Patron Artist Members $15-$20, non-members $20-$25. Information:

July 1: Teen Takeout Kit (ages 12-18), noon-6 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. Available while supplies last. Free. Information: teen@, 417.623.7953 X1027.

July 2 & 13: Teen Crafternoon (ages 11-18), 2-4 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. This is a come-and-go event with a new project featured every program. Free. Information:, 417.623.7953 X1027.

July 2: Family Fort Building Night (ages 6-12), 5-6:30 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. This family event includes fort building in the Children’s Department and stories by flashlight. Information: cmatekel@, 417.623.2184.

July 2: Tuesday Knight Chess (ages 11-18), 6-7:30 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. Meet in the Teen Department for practice games and strategizing. Designed for teens in 6th-12th grades with basic knowledge of and experience playing chess. Free. Information: teen@joplinpubliclibrary. org, 417.623.7953 X1027.

July 2: Chat & Craft (ages 18+), 6-8 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. Whether you crochet, knit, stitch, draw or paint, bring along your current project and chat with others. Free. Information: sturnerhill@, 417.623.7953 X1030.

July 3, 10-11 & 17-18: Read and Play Preschool Hour (ages 3-5), 9:30-10 a.m. and 10:30-11 a.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. Join the Joplin Public Library’s Children’s Department on Wednesdays and Thursdays for preschool story time. Free. Information:, 417.623.2184.

July 3, 10 & 17: School-age Storytime (ages 5-8), 4:15-4:45 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. A story time just for early elementary students! Explore books and stories through reading, singing, talking and playing. Free. Information:, 417.623.2184.

July 5, 12 & 19: Read and Play Toddler (ages 0-2), 9:30-10 a.m. and 10:3011 a.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. Join the Joplin Public Library’s Children’s Department for toddler story time on Friday mornings to sing, read, talk and play together! Free. Information: cmatekel@joplinpubliclibrary. org, 417.623.2184.

July 6: Puzzle Competition (ages 18+), 2-4 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. Register a group of up to four adults and compete against other teams to see who can finish a 500-piece puzzle the fastest. Registration required; register at puzzle-competition-2722, call 417.623.7953 X1030 or register in person in the Library’s Reference Department. Free. Information: sturnerhill@, 417.623.7953 X1030.

July 7, 14, 21 & 28: Open Mic Comedy Night, 9 p.m. (sign-up 8:30 p.m.), Blackthorn Pizza & Pub, 510 S. Joplin Ave. Join Joplin Comedy and 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. Information:, 417.540.9186.

July 9: Tween Library Olympics (ages 8-12), 1-3 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. This Teen/Children’s Department collaborative event includes a mix of library-related relays and (not quite Olympic-level) activities. Free. Information:, 417.623.2184.

July 9: Tiny Art Night (ages 13+), 6-7:30 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. Tiny canvases and paint will be provided to create tiny masterpieces. No registration required. Free. Information: sturnerhill@joplinpubliclibrary. org, 417.623.7953 X1030.

July 11: Children’s Chess Club (ages 6-12), 5:30-6 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. Children of all skill levels are invited to learn to play chess with the JPL Children’s Department and the Joplin Area Chess Club! Free. Information:, 417.623.2184.

July 11: 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. Participating artists will be located inside various venues along with live, acoustic music from local musicians. This event is held on the first Thursday of the month, March-October. Map of participating locations is available at Free. More information:, 417.438.5931.

July 16: Art Adventures: Weaving (ages 6-12), 2-3 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. Learn about a variety of weaving techniques and make your own creation! Free. Information: cmatekel@joplinpubliclibrary. org, 417.623.2184.

July 16: Adult Take-home Kit (ages 18+), 4-8 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. Kits can be picked up in the Reference Area and are available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 4 p.m. while supplies last. Limit one kit per person. Free. Information: sturnerhill@joplinpubliclibrary. org, 417.623.7953 X1030.

July 20: Summer Reading Ending Celebration, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. This all-ages event will include a mobile art lab from Crystal Bridges, live music, indoor and outdoor games and more. Free. Information:, 417.623.7953 X1030.

July 27: Lego Build-a-Thon (ages 4-12), 1-2 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. Collaborate, build and explore your creative side. Free. More information:, 417.623.2184.


July 27: Anime/Manga Club (ages 11-18), 2-3:30 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. Joplin Public Library’s Teen Department invites you to enjoy the exciting world of anime and manga! Hang out, watch some anime, draw your favorite characters and more. Cosplay is always welcome but never required. Free. Information: teen@joplinpubliclibrary. org, 417.623.7953 X1027.

July 30: Dog Day Afternoon (ages 6-12), 4-4:45 p.m., Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. This program allows independent readers to practice their skills by reading to certified therapy dogs. Registration suggested; register in-person or by calling 417.623.7953. Free. More information:, 417.623.2184.


May 31-July 20: artCentral Annual Membership Exhibition, artCentral Carthage, 1110 E. 13th St, Carthage, Missouri. An annual, juried showcase of artCentral’s members’ talent and range! From paintings and sculptures to photographs and jewelry, there’s no limit to the creativity of these artists. Free; donations appreciated. More information: artcentral1110@, 417.358.4404.

June 2-July 25: “Front and Center” by Joplin Regional Artists Coalition (JRAC), The Maple UnCommon Guest House & Gallery, 120 E. Maple St., Columbus, Kansas. See a wide selection of artwork in a variety of mediums and styles from some of the area’s finest artists. Free. More information:, 417.483.8084.


July 13: Clay for Kids with Stephanie Roy (ages 4-6), 10 a.m.-noon, Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts, 212 W. Seventh St. Kids will have a blast getting messy with clay while making their own pinch pots to be fired. Registration required; register at Cost: $40. More information: sclements@, 417.621.9813.

July 13: Portrait Drawing with Jordan Murdock-Thompson (ages 14+), 1-3 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts, 212 W. Seventh St. This class will help demystify the portrait process and break it down into fundamentals. Registration required; register at Cost: $25. More information:, 417.621.9813.

July 13: Wheel Throwing with Stephanie Roy (ages 15+), 1-4 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts, 212 W. Seventh St. Make your own clay creations! Registration required; register at Cost: $60. More information: sclements@, 417.621.9813.

July 20: Drawing 101 with Erica Evans (ages 15+), 10 a.m.-noon, Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts, 212 W. Seventh St. Discover the essentials of proportion, shading, line and form. Registration required; register at Cost: $25. More information:, 417.621.9813.

July 20: Plaster Painting with Stacy Heydt (ages 12+), 10 a.m.-noon, Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts, 212 W. Seventh St. Impasto is the painting technique of laying down thick paint that creates a three-dimensional texture. Now, you can make your own impasto painting using acrylic paint and plaster. Registration required; register at Cost: $35. More information:, 417.621.9813.

July 20: Mosaic Planters with Katrina Richards (ages 12+), 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts, 212 W. Seventh St. Join the mosaic master in creating your own stunning succulent pot—succulents included! Registration required; register at Cost: $45. More information:, 417.621.9813.

July 20: Watercolor 101 with Erica Evans (ages 15+), 1-3 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts, 212 W. Seventh St. Dive into essential techniques, unleash your creativity and embark on your artistic journey. Registration required; register at Cost: $35. More information: sclements@, 417.621.9813.

July 27: Intro to Improv: Kids with Joplin Improv (ages 5-9 and 10-15), 9:30-11 a.m. for ages 5-9 and noon-1:30 p.m. for ages 10-15, Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Spiva Center for the Arts, 212 W. Seventh St. Through various games and exercises, children will learn the basics of improvisation, enhancing their confidence and teamwork abilities. Registration required; register at Cost: $25. More information:, 417.621.9813.


Create N Sip Studios, 1505 W. 10th St., Joplin: Wednesdays: Wine’d Down Wednesday, 5-9 p.m. A Canvas and Home Decor DIY Event. Choose the project that works for you. Cost: $28-$58. More information:, 417.680.5434.

Saturdays: Saturday Morning Choose Your Canvas, 10 a.m. Select the painting you want to recreate. Prices vary depending on chosen project. Cost: $28-$176. More information:, 417.680.5434.

Firehouse Pottery-Joplin, 112 S. Main St:

Tuesdays: Ladies’ Night Out (ages 18+), until 8 p.m. Enjoy a creative evening. More information:, 417.553.0671.

Fridays: Date Night, until 8 p.m. Friday nights are date night 2-for-1 studio fees for all couples. More information:, 417.553.0671.

Judy’s Ballroom Dance, 3950 E. Newman Rd., Joplin:

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays: Judy’s Ballroom Dance Private Lessons

Judy can help transform you into a skilled, elegant dancer! Call 417.392.0215 to book your private lesson. Cost: $50 per hour. More information:, 417.392.0215.

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

Tuesdays: Beginner Watercolor Class with Barb Hicklin (ages 8+), 11 a.m.1 p.m. Bring your own supplies. Register by calling Local Color Art Gallery & Studio at 417.553.0835. Cost: $20.

Tuesdays: Oil, Acrylic, & Watercolor Class, 2 p.m. Improve your painting and learn principles of design. Bring your own watercolor, oils or acrylic paint for personal instruction from award-winning artist Paula Giltner. Register by calling Local Color Art Gallery & Studio at 417.553.0835. Cost: $20.

July 6: Saturday Paint Class with Jesse McCormick and Margie Moss, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Includes all supplies and ice cream cone from Caroline’s. Ages 8-up. No experience necessary. Paint an Impressionist painting or bring a picture of what you would like to paint. Register by calling Local Color Art Gallery & Studio at 417.553.0835. Cost: $30.

July 12: Watercolor Class with Joan Allen, 1-3 p.m. Includes all supplies. Register by calling Local Color Art Gallery & Studio at 417.553.0835. Cost: $30.

July 20: FUNdamentals of Paint Pouring Class with Mary Parks, 6 p.m. One 8” x 10” and one 11” x 14”. Includes all supplies. Ages 9-up. Register by calling Local Color Art Gallery & Studio at 417.553.0835. Cost: $40.

Spiva Center for the Arts, 212 W. Seventh St., Joplin:

Fridays: Memories in the Making, noon-2 p.m. This art experience is centered on the expression of creativity through painting for those dealing with memory loss. More information:, 417.621.9812.

Tanglefooter’s Round Dance Club, 1802 W. Second St., Joplin:

Mondays: Tanglefooter’s Round Dance Club, 7-8 p.m. Learn choreographed ballroom dancing with experienced teachers. Cost: Individual $7.50, couple $15. More information:, 417.529.0686.

July 2024 • • 17

Where it’s ‘COOL’ to be YOU!

V isit 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 this summer.


Walk the venues of First Thursday ArtWalk July 11 (on the second Thursday of this month) in historical downtown Joplin. Enjoy an ice cream social at 4th and Main streets at Spiva Park, hosted by the Spiva family. And the monthly Third Thursday event, a downtown Main Street festival, is July 25, featuring local talent and businesses. This month’s event is for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion with a march from Second and Main streets to Sixth and Main streets at 6 pm. Theme: “You Belong Here.” Both events happen between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Connect2Culture, 212 W. Seventh St.: Cornell Complex, home of Connect2Culture and Spiva Center for the Arts:

• “Awkward Family Photos” on exhibit until Aug. 24.

• “Robert Dohrmann: As Seen on TV Trays” on exhibit until Aug. 17.

• In collaboration with the Joplin Toad, “Embrace Your Awkward: Challenge Accepted” until Aug. 17.

• “Lil Olive: The Nature of Things” through July 27.

• JoMo Jammin’ Music Festival 2024 featuring bands each Saturday at 7 pm.

• July 6: MoonShroom and Eureka Strings

• July 13: Modeling and Fox Royale

• July 20: Rochelle Bradshaw & Hypnotion and Mariachi Flor de Missouri

• July 27: Brock Wade Band and The Mixtapes.

Keystone Gallery, 401 S. Main St., is the newest downtown art gallery showing fine art from 22 local artists. Visit the open house July 11 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


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 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Convenient parking.

Local Color Art Gallery, 1027 S. Main St.: You are invited to join artist Barbara Hicklin for a beginner’s watercolor class on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a $20 fee. Bring your own supplies. Artist Paula Giltner offers a painting class on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. for $20. Bring your own watercolors, oils or acrylic paints. Call 417.553.0835 to register for classes.

Urban Art Gallery, 511 S. Main St., presents “Floral Magic” paintings by Lou Stine. Meet the artist July 11 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Music provided by Tough Luck Chuck. Bar and Restaurant Offerings

Blackthorn Pizza and Pub, 510 S. Joplin Ave.: July 5: Comedy Drag Show hosted by Maxine Knopf at 9 p.m. Cost: $5, ages 21 and up. See Electrik Bill, Lyrica Queen, Myka Lit So Kold and Snur Knopf.

Brew Pub & Parlour, 817 S. Main St.: Karaoke every Thursday and Friday, 8 p.m.

Chaos Brewing Company, 122 S. Main St.: Play free trivia Wednesdays at 7 p.m. July 11, 7-9:30 p.m., is putting league night with Local Route. Enjoy beer, pizza and disc golf.

Club 609, 609 S. Main St.: For the month of July: Contemporary paintings by Philip Ledbetter in “Profusely Illustrated.” Meet the artist July 11 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Joplin Avenue Coffee Company, 506 S. Joplin Ave., is hosting “Shawn‘s Art U Love” photography by Shawn Riley. Meet the artist July 11 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dwayne Smith will provide music.

530 Somewhere, 530 S. Main St., features Cain Butcher with his paintings in “A Different Perspective” for July and August. Meet artist July 11 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

July 2024 • • 19
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
Event Venue 422 S. Joplin Ave. 417.781.3719
Florist • Event Planner

& Scoop & Slime:

A Deliciously Creative Journey in Joplin

July is National Ice Cream Month in the United States.

With over 90% of Americans indulging in this beloved treat, there’s no better time to celebrate ice cream in all its delicious forms. In Joplin, Missouri, there’s a unique place that combines the happiness of ice cream with the sensory-focused fun of slime: Journey Through Slime Event Studio and Scoop Shoppe.

Journey Through Slime Event Studio and Scoop Shoppe has an inspiring origin story. The visionary behind this sensory-focused haven is Amelia Bolin. At just 11-years-old, she dreamed of creating a business that shared her passion for making slime. Her father, Travis Bolin, not only listened to Amelia’s dream but also made it come true. Just 137 days after Amelia shared her vision, Journey Through Slime opened its doors at 2310 S. Main St. in Joplin in 2021.

While many know Journey Through Slime as the premier space to create slime, it also boasts an impressive selection of hand-dipped and rolled ice cream. This unique combination offers a true sensory-focused experience, engaging touch, creativity and imagination with slime, and taste with ice

cream. Guests can design and create their own slime and peruse fidget toys before indulging in their rolled ice cream creations. Rolled ice cream is a unique treat in Joplin. Journey Through Slime is the only place in town where you can find this delightful dessert. The process involves flash-freezing the ingredients and rolling them into thin, spiraled ribbons of yumminess. On the menu, you will find both Amelia and Travis’s favorites. Travis’ favorite creation is packed with peanut butter, while Amelia adores a combination of Nutella, strawberry and banana. Fruit flavors like piña colada and strawberry banana are especially popular in the summertime.

In addition to the rolled ice cream creations, Journey Through Slime offers a delicious selection of hand-dipped ice cream, crafted at the Ice Cream Factory in Eldon, Missouri. The most popular flavors include Gooey Butter Cake, Peanut Butter Blast, Tiger King, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Whether you prefer your ice cream rolled or dipped, with multiple toppings— there are 50-plus to choose from—as a sundae or in a float, the options are endless and delightful.

Journey Through Slime is a space for creativity, play and community. The Bolins have been overwhelmed by the support and kindness of their slime guests. Their slogan, “Slime makes you happy,” reflects the positive impact this venture has had on their lives. The studio will offer summer events, including Parties on the Patio with half-price ice cream, Slime Camp and an upcoming class called “How to Tame Slimy Worry Monster,” designed to help participants cope with anxiety and stress.

Travis, a licensed professional counselor, advocates for the importance of play for all ages. He emphasizes that his family and team of “Slime Experts” offer a unique experience for slime guests. Whether you’re dropping in for a quick treat, making slime or reserving the event space for your next celebration, at Journey Through Slime, you can create, indulge and uncover the happiness that comes from a unique sensory-focused adventure.


Ghetto Tacos

If you are a fan of the Joplin food scene, you’ve surely heard of Ghetto Tacos. This popular eatery recently made waves by being featured on the Food Network’s “Best Bite in Town” show. The show asks chef hosts to present their favorite dishes from local restaurants to a panel of expert judges.

Owners Marcos and Carletta Renteria were thrilled to represent Ghetto Tacos alongside other wellestablished and accomplished restaurants in Joplin.

Marcos described the entire experience as nerve-wracking but extremely rewarding. Despite the pressure, the show’s hosts encouraged Marcos to be himself, and it turned out the judges loved Ghetto Tacos. Marcos and Carletta felt humbled when watching the episode with their friends, and their appreciation was evident. Marcos showed his gratitude for their success by taking a knee and pointing to the sky, he says, giving all the glory to God.

During my visit, I tried the Mulita, which propelled the restaurant to fame as the judge’s pick for the Best Bite in Town. This dish is bursting with flavor. It comes with your choice of meat, grilled onions and an amazing guacamole sauce. It’s a must-try.

Along with the prize-winning dish, I also tried the Quesabirria Tacos, which are made with delicious slow-roasted meat and served with a richly flavored broth. This dish comes from Marcos’s dad’s recipe.

I tried the Crunchwrap, the Ghetto Burrito and the original Street Tacos. Also, they offer a delightful Tres Leches cake topped with strawberries for those with a sweet tooth.

You can get your Mexican food fix at Ghetto Taco’s dine-in restaurant on East Road in Webb City, Missouri, or at their food trucks. The Ghetto Tacos food truck is located at 22nd and Main Street in Joplin and is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. You can also find them out and about all over the Four States. Keep up with them on social media to see where they’ll be serving up tacos next.

Ghetto Tacos has a significant impact on Joplin’s food scene, making it a must-visit destination for Route 66 enthusiasts. The restaurant is known for its exceptional menu, inviting atmosphere and the honor of being named the Best Bite in Town. The Renteria family and Ghetto Tacos continue to capture the hearts and taste buds of locals and visitors alike.

July 2024 • • 21
>> Ghetto Tacos • 536 N. East St. • Webb City, MO • 417.717.1261 • Open Tuesday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

ShowMe Dining Guide

Ghetto Tacos

Now you can get your Ghetto Taco fix in two places: in the Ghetto Taco shop in Webb City and the Ghetto Tacos food truck around the community! We’re serving all of your favorites, including our famous tacos available in the shop and on the food truck, and burritos and nachos available at the shop only. Follow us on Facebook to see our specials and to see where the food truck will be. Named "Best Bite in Town" by Food Network! $-$$

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

For over 50 years, Granny Shaffer’s has been serving up the best home cooking in the area. From made-to-order breakfast served all day to pasta, steak and Dowd’s catfish, you’re sure to find something to love. Here at Granny Shaffer’s, it’s the little things that make the difference, like serving real butter with our homemade rolls and making our pies from scratch. There’s a reason we’ve been in business for so long! Come see us for your next meal: breakfast, lunch or dinner! $-$$

Hours: Mon-Sat, 6 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Sun, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.

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 a.m.-3 p.m.; Friday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

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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 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

Special Advertising Section Bailey’s Family Dining 1200 Briarbrook Dr. • Carl Junction, MO 417.781.2944
Restaurant 2728 N. Range Line Rd. • Joplin, MO 417.659.9393
Club 1201 1201 E. 32nd Street
MO 417.626.0032
• Joplin,
536 N. East St. • Webb City, MO 417.717.1261

Trackside Burgers & BBQ

1515 West 10th St. • Joplin, MO 417.717.1161

Trackside Burgers & BBQ is more than just award-winning burgers! We also have gourmet chicken sandwiches and tenders breaded and cooked to order, salads and much more. Trackside also offers award winning barbecue specials and catering for events, large and small. We are locally owned and operated. Come by and dine in, pick up a delicious meal from our drive-thru or order online! Cookin’ good food is what we do! $-$$

Hours: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Shawanoe Restaurant,

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 a.m.-2 p.m., and dinner 5 p.m.-9 p.m.

July 2024 • • 23 Special Advertising Section
Haven 55 408 Havenhurst Drive • Pineville, MO 417.223.2055 •
Shawanoe Restaurant 70220
East Hwy 60 • Wyandotte, OK
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. $-$$$ Sam’s Cellar Bar & Oven 101 N. Wood • Neosho, MO 417.451.3330 • Sam’s
offers a unique dining experience under the historic square in Neosho, MO. Enjoy gourmet wood-fired pizzas, burgers, wings, wraps, subs or a specialty salad.
cocktails, draft beers
wine to wet your whistle.
a dining experience
will never forget!
Business of the Year” by the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce & the Neosho community. $-$$
bar offers signature
us at
Cellar for
Voted “2023
Hours: Monday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-Close

ShowMe Dining Guide

Tractors BBQ and Grill

1008 E. 12th St. • Lamar, MO 417.682.6677

Tractors BBQ and Grill: Small Town, Big Flavor! We pride ourselves on offering a large versatile menu and serving our community for breakfast, lunch and dinner. From comfort classics to barbecue and everything in between, you will not leave hungry. We offer a Sunday buffet from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and catfish buffet Tuesday night from 5-8 p.m. Stop by and let us serve you! We are open Tuesday through Saturday 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday 6:30 a.m.8 p.m. Closed Monday. $-$$

“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) $-$$

Mon-Thurs, 11

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 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri/Sat, 11 a.m.-12 a.m.; Sun, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

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 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Special Advertising Section
203 E. 4th • Downtown Joplin, MO 417.623.1004 •
Onion Café
Bricks & Brews 1531
• Baxter Springs, KS 620.304.2056 •
Hackett Hot Wings 520 S. Main • Joplin, MO 417.625.1333 •
a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri-Sun, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Mon-Wed Lunch Specials, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Mon-Wed Happy Hour, 3-6 p.m.

Mis Arcos

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 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sat/Sun 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

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 a.m.-8 p.m.


Hours: Tuesday -Saturday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday and Monday: CLOSED

July 2024 • • 25 Special Advertising Section Casa Montez 4224 S. Main St. • Joplin, MO 417.624.2272
Finn’s 2707 E. 32nd Street • Joplin, MO 417.624.3466 •
a semi-fine dining restaurant that
dining desires.
our dog-friendly patio
uniquely crafted
Finn’s is
caters to all your
inviting fireplaces. From our
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. $$-$$$
1926 S. Garrison Ave. • Carthage, MO 417.237.0547
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. $-$$$
Kitchen open Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. • Bar open later


Books & Burrow Darcie Shultz, Owner

Darcie Shultz opened Books & Burrow in downtown Pittsburg, Kansas, in November 2020. “It was one of those situations where the opportunity presented itself, so we didn’t have a lot of time to process or overthink it,” Shultz recalls. Inspired by her daughter’s love for reading, the bookstore quickly became a local favorite.

Books & Burrow’s commitment to the community is evident in its nonprofit branch, Beyond the Page. With generous funding, this initiative has distributed around 1,200 books to local children through school outreach, partnerships and in-store events.

“Beyond the Page focuses on book choice, equitable access and diverse representation,” Shultz explains. The initiative hosts workshops and author events.

A significant aspect of Books & Burrow is its connection to Shultz’s heritage. “My heritage is a big part of the store and our programming. The store is dedicated to highlighting Indigenous authors and stories - hoping to be seen as an outlet for those mending and reclaiming their cultural identity through connective literature.”

Last spring, Shultz and her brother commissioned a mural in their shared alley space to celebrate their Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma ancestry. Titled “Lenaswa Waayaahtanonki,” the mural, created by artist Jessica Stout, tells the story of their ancestors’ journey and heritage. “We want the mural to be a community space that encourages interpretation but radiates history and affirms our people’s presence today.”


Miners + Monroe Dave Froman, Owner

Since its opening in November 2018, Miners + Monroe has become a staple in Pittsburg, Kansas, offering quality men’s apparel and grooming products. The shop, founded by Davey Froman and his wife Kim, reflects their deep roots in retail and their passion for high-quality, timeless fashion.

“We relocated from the Kansas City area to Pittsburg and felt it was the right time to try our own shop,” says Froman, emphasizing their journey to create a unique retail experience.

Froman and his wife manage everything themselves, from checking stock levels and ordering new products to handling merchandising and store upkeep. Additionally, they are working on a new project, the Miners Loft, a downtown short-term rental option, which will add a new dimension to their business.

Miners + Monroe is deeply integrated into the Pittsburg community. They regularly support local schools and organizations through donations and participation in events like the 620 Day celebrations, Art Walk and Earth Day. “We love our community and always look for ways to give back,” Froman says.

Many might not know Miners + Monroe doubles as a small concert venue. Since 2021, they’ve hosted numerous concerts, including a concert series at the historic Colonial Fox Theatre. With the completion of the loft renovation, they plan to resume hosting shows and enriching Pittsburg’s music scene even further. Looking ahead, Froman envisions Pittsburg as the anchor location for Miners + Monroe, expanding the inhouse product lines and potentially opening more locations.

2024 Faces of Southeast KANSAS 2024 Faces of Southeast KANSAS SPECIAL PROMOTION SPECIAL PROMOTION
212 S. Broadway St. | Pittsburg, KS 620.238.5330 |
214 S. Broadway St. | Pittsburg, KS 620.704.5412 |


Albers Marine from left to right, Ryan Stuart, Scott Tassi, Glenn Harrison, Rose Ann Smith, Suzanne Butcher, Rachel Fox, and Donnie Fox.

Albers Marine has been in business 38 years.

Homer Albers opened the business in 1986, and Rose Ann, Glenn and all the staff continue to operate Albers Marine.

Their business specializes in all things boating and fishing. Albers Marine has a full line of live bait and tackle, along with name-brand boats such as Nitro, Tracker, Sun Tracker, Tahoe and Mercury/Mercruiser Motors. With 6-8 employees and a busy storefront, Albers Marine remains

true to its roots when it comes to taking care of customers.

“We believe the best reward we can receive is the feeling of touching the lives of all the great customers we have and turning those customers into lifelong friends,” said Rose Ann. “We enjoy making them feel appreciated, valued and listened to.”

Rose Ann also knows none of this could be accomplished without the great staff, and she


City of Galena Ashley Qualls Groves, Mayor

The City of Galena was established in 1877. Once a booming mining town, its now a quiet, quaint, small town in Southeast Kansas. As mayor of Galena, Ashley Groves works hard leading her community toward the common goal: progress.

“Our five basic departments (police department, fire department, public works, city clerks’ office and city court) are filled with individuals committed to serving the public and always looking for ways to progress our town and constantly solve problems,” said Ashley. “Each department is led by staff who are knowledgeable in their

profession and have a passion for our city.”

Ashley’s highlight is serving people. She enjoys helping citizens every day. Ashley also has the opportunity to sit on several boards and has an insight into what goes on in the community.

“The people of our town are always our top priority,” said Ashley.

Galena is a welcoming city and Ashley invites anyone to come visit or even make it their home.

“We have great boutiques, quality restaurants, an awesome school and the best people,” she said.

“You won’t be sorry!”

211 W. 7th St. | Galena, KS |

appreciates all they do for Albers Marine and its customers.

Albers Marine donates to many different organizations and events in the community and likes to sponsor local fishing tournaments. They also are big supporters of their younger local anglers.

403 N. 69 Hwy | Arma, KS 620.347.8853 |

2024 Faces of Southeast KANSAS 2024 Faces of Southeast KANSAS SPECIAL PROMOTION SPECIAL PROMOTION

Discovering the Custom Experience at Comeau Jewelry

Situated in the vibrant community of Pittsburg, Kansas, with a second location in Joplin, Missouri, Comeau Jewelry has been a beacon of elegance and craftsmanship for over two decades. This family-owned business, spearheaded by Chad and Jill Comeau, has made its mark not just with its stunning readyto-wear pieces but with its unparalleled custom jewelry services that offer a deeply personal touch to each customer’s experience.

“Our custom pieces are the biggest part of our business, but most people don’t even realize we do this,” says Jill Comeau, co-owner of Comeau Jewelry. “We have the professional staff to accomplish just about anything a customer needs in relation to jewelry. We can restore heirloom pieces, remake pieces that are no longer fashionable, and

most importantly, we can create bespoke pieces that are unique to the customer.”

The process of creating custom jewelry at Comeau Jewelry is a blend of art and science. It begins with a simple conversation, where customers share their vision, inspirations and the story behind their desired piece. This initial consultation is a crucial step in understanding the client’s needs and preferences.

Jill emphasizes, “We can design a beautiful piece of jewelry for you to fit nearly any budget. Our team listens closely to ensure that we capture the essence of what the customer envisions. It’s about turning their dreams into reality.”

Once the concept is clear, the Comeau team, led by Chad Comeau with his extensive bench experience and formal training from Trenton Jewelry School, begins the meticulous process of designing the piece. Using both traditional techniques and modern technology, they create detailed sketches and 3D models, allowing customers to visualize their jewelry before it’s brought to life.

Featuring Southeast Kansas SMTO
Owners Jill and Chad Comeau.

Chad’s journey in the jewelry business began long before he and Jill opened their first store in Pittsburg in 2001. With over 30 years of experience, including his tenure as a bench jeweler at Tivol in Kansas City, Chad brings a wealth of knowledge and a passion for craftsmanship to Comeau Jewelry.

“We are a member of The Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO), which offers us extensive buying opportunities, allowing us to bring the top fashions and best prices to our clients,” Jill says. “Through IJO, we can buy directly from diamond cutters in Antwerp, Belgium. We will even make the trip overseas to act as your broker and hand-select your diamond from the vast inventory at their disposal.”

This connection to IJO not only ensures the highest quality materials but also keeps the Comeau team at the forefront of industry trends and innovations. Regular attendance at IJO trade shows and educational seminars ensures they remain knowledgeable about the latest in gemology and jewelry design, enhancing their ability to serve their clients with expertise and up-to-date fashion insights.

Comeau Jewelry is truly a family business, with Chad and Jill’s adult sons deeply involved in the craft. Their oldest son, Stuart, works in the Joplin store, while their second son, Will, applies his skills in the Pittsburg store. Both sons are accomplished jewelers and excellent craftsmen, continuing the family’s tradition of excellence in every piece they create.

“Chris Keller, the manager of our Joplin store, is amazing and runs a great store,” Jill adds. “Having such dedicated and skilled team members ensures that our clients receive the best service and quality, no matter which location they visit.”

At the core of Comeau Jewelry’s success is its unwavering commitment to customer service. Jill highlights, “Today, one of the most overlooked aspects in buying a piece of jewelry is customer service. At Comeau Jewelry Co., we pride ourselves on our customer service and knowledge of our products. We want to be your ‘Jeweler for a Lifetime,’ and we are here to check, clean and service your jewelry through its lifetime.”

This dedication to service extends beyond the sale. Whether it’s regular cleaning, maintenance or restoration, Comeau Jewelry stands by its creations, ensuring each piece remains as beautiful as the day it was crafted. This lifelong service not only maintains the jewelry’s physical integrity but also preserves the sentimental value it holds for its owners.

One of the most cherished services at Comeau Jewelry is the restoration and transformation of heirloom pieces. Many customers come in with jewelry that has been passed down through generations, often carrying immense sentimental value but showing signs of wear or being outdated in style.

“We love working with heirlooms,” Jill shares. “Restoring these pieces or transforming them into something new is incredibly rewarding. It’s about honoring the past while creating something beautiful for the present and future.”

By breathing new life into these treasures, Comeau Jewelry helps preserve family legacies, allowing them to be enjoyed by future generations. This ability to balance respect for tradition with contemporary

design sensibilities is a hallmark of Comeau Jewelry’s approach.

As Comeau Jewelry celebrates over 20 years in business, the focus remains firmly on providing exceptional, personalized service and creating jewelry that tells a story. From their humble beginnings in downtown Pittsburg to their expansion into Joplin, Chad and Jill Comeau have built a business that is not just about selling jewelry but about building relationships and crafting memories.

In a world where mass-produced items often dominate, Comeau Jewelry stands out by offering a bespoke experience that is as unique as the customers they serve. Whether it’s a custom engagement ring, a restored family heirloom or a piece designed to mark a special occasion, Comeau Jewelry is dedicated to making each creation a reflection of individual beauty and significance.

“We are here to turn your dreams into reality,” Jill says with a smile. “That’s what makes our work so special. Every piece we create tells a story, and we’re honored to be a part of those stories.”

July 2024 • • 29
Chris Keller is the manager of the Comeau Jewelry store in Joplin.
1936 Rangeline Rd Joplin, MO 525 S Broadway Pittsburg, KS www comeaujewelrycompany com Featuring Southeast Kansas SMTO

Smokey Racks BBQ: A Triumph of Flavor

This National Grilling Month

Smokey Racks BBQ is more than just a restaurant— it’s a testament to passion, resilience and the love of great food. Founded in a humble garden shed by Jared Sharpe, Smokey Racks has evolved into a beloved barbecue haven under the stewardship of Celeste Baker and her husband Ray, who acquired it in May 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smokey Racks BBQ offers a mouth-watering array of meats, including brisket, ribs, pulled pork, turkey, chicken, pork loin, hot links, Italian sausage, smoked meatloaf, chili and ham. Each meat is smoked to perfection, promising a taste that keeps customers coming back for more.

“We have pretty extensive sides,” Celeste says, listing options like baked beans, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes, deviled egg potato salad and sweet potato casserole.

For those with a sweet tooth, Smokey Racks doesn’t disappoint. The dessert menu includes chocolate chip cookies, macadamia and white chocolate cookies, snickerdoodles, smoked peanut butter cookies and so much more.

After acquiring the business, the Bakers faced a significant setback when a fire closed the restaurant for several months. Just as they were preparing to reopen, Celeste faced a life-threatening illness. In November 2021, she was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis and underwent multiple surgeries to save her legs.

“I spent 10 days in ICU in a medically induced coma and had five surgeries within the first weeks of being there,” Celeste recalls. Her recovery was long and grueling, but her determination to return to her passion never wavered. By September 2022, Smokey Racks BBQ reopened at a new location—a former three-bay carwash and radiator shop—bringing a unique charm to their establishment. “It’s not perfect but it’s perfectly flawed, just like us,” Celeste reflects.

For Celeste, owning a barbecue restaurant was a natural extension of

her love for feeding people. Her journey from working at Taco Bell to mastering the art of smoking meats on a custom wood-fired smoker has been one of learning and adaptation. “I never really smoked meats before ... grilling, yes, but smoking only a handful of times,” she admits. Despite the challenges, including learning the nuances of a new smoker made by Bbq Smoker Pros of Braselton, Georgia, Celeste’s dedication to quality and flavor has remained steadfast. Her hard work and passion have not gone unnoticed, as Smokey Racks BBQ was voted “Four States Finest” by KOAM TV viewers in both 2023 and 2024.

“This is my joy and my peace, and I love serving the community and surrounding towns.”
Celeste Baker

As we celebrate National Grilling Month this July, Smokey Racks BBQ stands as a beacon of what makes grilling so special—community, flavor and the joy of sharing a meal with loved ones. Celeste’s journey from novice to pitmaster embodies the spirit of this month-long celebration.

“I was given a second chance to get to do what I love doing, and I don’t take one minute for granted,” Celeste says. Whether you’re a barbecue enthusiast or just love a good meal, Smokey Racks BBQ invites you to join in the festivities and savor the rich, smoky flavors that have made them a local favorite.

At its core, Smokey Racks BBQ is a family. The team, described as a “big, dysfunctional family complete with jokes and sarcasm,” works tirelessly to serve up great barbecue. For Celeste, this isn’t just a job; it’s her joy and peace.

“I absolutely love what I get to do. This is my joy and my peace, and I love serving the community and surrounding towns.”

July 2024 • • 31

Rediscovering Downtown Parsons: A Community Cornerstone

The heart of Parsons, Kansas, beats strongly in its historic downtown. Since the city’s founding in 1871, this vibrant area has seen many transformations, evolving from a bustling commercial and industrial hub to a modern-day center of community life. Today, downtown Parsons is a dynamic space filled with entertainment, banking and even a beautiful pocket park known as The Gathering Place.

lot has been turned into a vibrant community space. Events like Food Truck Friday bring people together, fostering a sense of belonging and enjoyment.

“Everybody knows about downtown,” Jim says. “It’s a wonderful marketing tool, and we try to bring new events downtown whenever we can. The Gathering Place has become a central hub for these activities.”

The historic architecture of downtown Parsons adds to its charm. Many buildings date back to the 1800s, each with its own unique story. From a former horse stable now serving as a furniture store to new developments like a real estate company’s upcoming building, the blending of old and new.

“Downtown Parsons is the cornerstone of our community,” says City of Parsons Director of Economic Development and Tourism Jim Zaleski. “It’s where the past meets the present, offering something for everyone.”

The transformation of downtown Parsons is a testament to the community’s dedication and vision. The Gathering Place, a pocket park built in late 2020, is a prime example. What was once an empty

“Several of our buildings are original,” Jim says. “It’s incredible to see these historic structures repurposed for modern use. It’s part of what makes our downtown so special.”

Parsons’ downtown isn’t just about preserving the past; it’s about looking forward. With a population of just over 9,000, the community’s

32 Featuring Southeast Kansas SMTO

efforts are focused on expanding visitor numbers through special events. This October, the streets will close for Art Walk, followed by the Hometown Holiday event in December.

“Honestly, in downtown Parsons, the future is now,” Jim shares. “Our goals are to expand visitorship by offering special events. We’re always thinking about how to enhance the downtown experience.”

One of the keys to downtown Parsons’ success has been a methodical approach to development. As Jim puts it, “We approached the downtown, and what’s known as eating the elephant one bite at a time, making sure that we focus on the building that needs to be fixed up and putting all of our efforts into that one building.”

This focused strategy has paid off. Downtown Parsons now boasts a 100% occupancy rate, with a diverse range of businesses calling it home. From charming shops and restaurants to a recreation of the historic Katy Train Station housing Labette Bank, there’s something for everyone.

“Explore the historic downtown area of Parsons,” Jim encourages. “You can find charming shops, restaurants and historic architecture. It’s a wonderful place to take a stroll and enjoy the local atmosphere.”

“Winning these awards was a huge honor,” Jim reflects. “It showed that our hard work was paying off and that others recognized the value of our efforts.”

Downtown Parsons, Inc. has since merged with the Parsons Chamber of Commerce, but the commitment to improvement remains strong. The Design Committee, an original part of the downtown program, continues to play a vital role as a sub-committee of the Chamber.

Annual festivals like the St. Patrick’s Day parade in March, Moonlight Madness in August, the PK Arts Festival in October, and the PK Hometown Holiday in December contribute to the lively atmosphere, drawing both locals and visitors to the heart of Parsons. During these events, the streets are closed, and there is common consumption throughout the entire downtown district, allowing patrons to “Sip and Shop” at our local businesses.

“These events are a big part of what makes downtown Parsons so vibrant,” Jim says. “They bring people together and showcase what our community has to offer.”

“Downtown Parsons is more than just a place. It’s a reflection of our community’s spirit and dedication. We invite everyone to come and experience it for themselves.”

The revitalization of downtown Parsons has not gone unnoticed. A few years ago, it was recognized as a National Great American Main Street Award Winner, celebrating the community’s efforts to breathe new life into the area. Downtown Parsons, Inc., an organization dedicated to promoting activities, events and businesses, has won three Governor’s Awards of Excellence through the Kansas Main Street Program.

1 6/12/24 9:52 AM


— Jim Zaleski, City of Parsons Director of Economic Development and Tourism

As downtown Parsons continues to thrive, it remains a testament to the power of community, history and forward-thinking. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, there’s always something new to discover in this charming Kansas town.

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Shop • Dine
• Dine

Fostering Connections: Cultivating Love and Support FOR Foster Families

An organization is making a profound difference in the lives of foster and adoptive families in Southeast Kansas. Fostering Connections, founded by Lacy Nickelson in 2018, has been providing hope and support while bridging the gap between community resources and the needs of children in foster care. Through a variety of programs and services, Fostering Connections is dedicated to ensuring every child feels loved and valued, despite the challenges of the foster care system.

The inception of Fostering Connections is a story of faith and a call to action. “In 2017, I knew God was asking for a step of faith and obedience,” says Lacy Nickelson, founder and president of Fostering Connections. “My husband and I said yes to PPC (police protective custody) care, and through that, our eyes were opened to the great

need in our area for more quality PPC homes, respite homes and foster families.”

Lacy observed a significant gap in resources and support for foster and adoptive families. “Foster families are typically the ones responsible for the doctor appointments, therapy appointments, tantrums and the work it takes to help blend them in with your own children—it can be exhausting,” she explains. Determined to make a difference, Lacy felt a calling to support these families through events, activities and

34 Featuring Southeast Kansas SMTO
Fostering Connections founder Lacy Nickelson.

training, all while showing God’s love through community and church collaboration.

Fostering Connections Initiatives

Family-centered initiatives:

• Moms’ Coffee Nights

• Foster Parent Retreats

• Free Family Fun Events

• Caring Closet

• “Sleep in Safety” Program

• Home Improvement Assistance

• Restaurant Gift Card Program

Child-centered initiatives:

• Teen Shopping Spree

• Kids Night Out Events

• VIP Kids Bags

• VIP Kids Birthday Program

• Graduating Senior Program

• TIE (Teen Impact Event)

• Christmas for Kids

For more information about these initiatives, visit

Fostering Connections offers a range of initiatives designed to meet the needs of families and children. “We currently offer seven family-centered initiatives and seven child-centered initiatives,” Lacy shares. These programs include events, resources and support systems that help foster children feel special and appreciated. One of the standout programs is the VIP Kids Birthday Gift initiative, which ensures every foster child receives a personalized birthday gift.

“Our hope is that children in care will feel loved and appreciated when they are treated to one of our events or by receiving a VIP Kids Birthday Gift,” Lacy says.

The organization also provides senior gifts for graduating foster children and works to support foster parents in their journey. “The more support we can provide for quality foster families, the less bouncing around children will have to experience,” Lacy notes. This stability is crucial in fostering a sense of security and normalcy for children who have already faced significant upheaval in their lives.

Since its establishment, Fostering Connections has touched many lives, providing much-needed support to foster and adoptive families. One particularly heartwarming success story involves a family who was able to foster and subsequently adopt siblings thanks to the resources provided by the organization.

“They needed to make some minor repairs to their home in order to keep their placements. Fostering Connections was able to help them with those minor repairs, and as a result, the siblings were able to stay together and then be adopted,” Lacy says.

Testimonials from foster parents highlight the profound impact of the organization’s work. Debbie C., a foster parent, shared, “Jackson

learned to ride the bike you guys got him. He rode a couple laps around the school parking lot. Thank you, now he has transportation!” Another foster parent, Beth J., expressed her gratitude, saying, “Your whole organization is just amazing! Thank you for the Amazon gift card for clothes and restaurant gift card.” These stories underscore the meaningful difference Fostering Connections makes in the lives of foster children and their families.

Fostering Connections thrives on partnerships with local churches, businesses and community members.

“We are independent of any one child-placement agency,” Lacy explains. “However, we have formed partnerships with all of the child placement agencies in the counties we serve.” This collaborative approach allows the organization to extend its reach and provide comprehensive support to foster families.

The organization relies entirely on donations and support from the community. “Our mission to bless foster and adoptive children is able to expand when we receive support from normal people like you and me,” Lacy says. This grassroots support is vital in ensuring Fostering Connections can continue its mission to make a difference, one child at a time.

Fostering Connections’ vision is one of hope, love and community support. Despite the flaws in the foster care system, they remain steadfast in their belief that every child deserves to feel special and loved. “We may not be able to change a system, but we can all show love to these children and help them to feel special one life at a time,” Lacy says.

Through the dedication of Lacy and her team, Fostering Connections continues to plant seeds of love and support, nurturing the lives of foster children and their families. The organization’s story is a testament to the power of community, faith and the unwavering belief that every child deserves a chance to thrive.

July 2024 • • 35

As we embrace the final six months of 2024, where do you plan to be at year’s end?

Pittsburg, Kansas, Potter Sylvia Grotheer can tell you her plan: to not fail at running a new business, continue sharing her love for clay with her community and continue to grow a space where people can find ways to express themselves with clay. And she’s well on her way to goal achievement.

“Things have been going well so far,” Grotheer said. “Time sure does fly when you’re running a business by yourself, but I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. The response and reception have been great so far.”

Grotheer discovered a love of ceramics in high school. She had noticed a potter’s wheel at the back of the classroom, but there were no lessons on how to use it. Still, it called her name. “It was something I wanted to try,” she said. “I was always drawn to the functionality of pottery.”

Grotheer pursued her study of ceramics at Pittsburg State University, and she met many pottery friends at her first public studio experience at the now-closed Phoenix Fired


Fun and function come together at Sunny Daze Ceramics

36 Featuring Southeast Kansas SMTO
“Making pottery is amazing and fun, but I really thrive when teaching people to achieve their own visions, just as my mentors did with me.”
— Sylvia Grotheer

Art in Joplin. “They helped me learn and progress and gave support to me over the last 10 years,” she said. “These friends helped broaden my views of what could be done with clay and how to hone my skills in the direction I wanted them to go.”

The community and open studio environment in Joplin inspired Grotheer to create something similar in her hometown of Pittsburg. She said, “Making pottery is amazing and fun, but I really thrive when teaching people to achieve their own visions, just as my mentors did with me. If I can pass on the enthusiasm for clay and acceptance for expression they provided, I’ll have succeeded in my vision.”

This vision sprung from Grotheer’s belief that “fostering spaces where we can gather together and be ourselves with no pressure to actually ‘be’ anything else are important.” And she began to build her business and a space where “everyone feels welcome, valued and might be surprised

at how much creativity they have when they have a space to express that part of themselves.” Grotheer’s studio is set up as a collective and shared one. Glass artist Raven Copeland shares the back part of the space, while Grotheer works in the front. “It’s set up as open as it can be. There is lots of natural light, wheels for working, plants, and clay projects in various stages of creation are scattered throughout.”

Visitors to the studio can take single session and drop-in classes, sign up for more learning in a four-week class, attend workshops and attend open studio times for students who have already taken classes.

And when Grotheer isn’t teaching, she’s creating her own porcelain pieces. “I hand paint every piece with a unique scene. What that scene is depends on my mood and vision of that moment. I’m very much an organic process person and combining fine illustration with functionality really speaks to me.”

July 2024 • • 37

Baxter Springs: A Blend of History and Community at the Heritage Center & Museum

Located in Baxter Springs, Kansas, the Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum is a beacon of local history and community activity. Directed by Mary Billington, the museum offers visitors a journey through time with its wide array of exhibits and events. As the museum prepares for the tourist season, Mary shares insights into the latest developments, including a new park, and highlights the programs that make this museum a key part of the community.

Celebrating her eighth year this month as director, Mary Billington is the driving force behind the museum’s mission to share the rich history of Baxter Springs with a diverse audience.

“My role is to facilitate the sharing of the history of our area and all that the museum encompasses to all our tourism guests, whether they are local, regional, national or international,” Mary says. “Meeting so many different people and learning their stories, being a part of their day – that’s what I love most about working at the museum.”

One of the most anticipated developments this season is the new park located at 938 Military Ave., just north of the Kansas Route 66 Visitor’s Center. Mary is particularly excited about this addition.

“The new park will provide additional parking for the downtown area, a greenspace with picnic and pet relief areas, and a statue plaza dedicated to our area’s history,” she says. The park is already beginning to take shape with the planting of several large trees, setting the stage for a serene and welcoming environment for locals and tourists.

Education is at the heart of the museum’s mission. Each April, the museum hosts a living history event for local school children from

first to sixth grade. “Classroom groups, summer school programs and homeschool groups are always welcome to schedule a tour visit. We even offer a museum scavenger hunt,” Mary shares. Additionally, guest speakers and artists are invited throughout the year to share their talents and knowledge with the public.

One of the museum’s marquee events is the Civil War period encampment, held every other year on the first weekend in October. “Our next encampment will be in 2025,” Mary notes. This immersive event takes visitors back in time, offering a unique glimpse into the past on the museum grounds.

The lifeblood of the Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum is its volunteers. “All of our events and programs for the community are dependent upon our volunteers,” Mary says. The museum is currently seeking new volunteers to join their team, with opportunities available from as little as four hours per month. “We would love to see new volunteers in our community come forward. Call the museum to see how you can be a part of our local history.”

The Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum is a collaborative effort between the Baxter Springs Historical Society, the City of Baxter Springs appointed museum board and members of the local community. The museum operates several significant sites, including the Route 66 Service Station and the Fort Blair Civil War site. The service station, built in the 1930s, has served thousands of travelers along historic Route 66, while the Fort Blair site marks one of the iconic western battles of the Civil War.

As the tourist season unfolds, the Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum invites everyone to explore and engage with the rich history of this unique area. Whether you’re a history buff, a local resident or a traveler passing through, the museum offers a wealth of experiences that promise to enlighten and inspire.

For more information or to become a volunteer, visit the Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum. Discover the stories, embrace the history and be a part of this community treasure.

38 Featuring Southeast Kansas SMTO

Businesses and Residents Honored at Pittsburg Chamber Annual Banquet

Over 300 guests attended the 2024 Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet May 16 at Pittsburg State University. The Annual Chamber Banquet is a night to highlight the people who make the Pittsburg area a great place to live and work. Many prestigious awards were given out, including Volunteer of the Year to Brian Lorimer, Educator of the Year to Hannah McCoy, Employer of the Year to Heritage Tractor, Small Business of the Year to JT Companies and Spirit of Pittsburg to Dawn McNay. Presenting sponsors were KOAM-TV and Names and Numbers.

6. Christel and Blake Benson

7. Tina and Howard Smith

8. Pat and Brian Jones

9. Pat and Marty Beezley


1 3 7 2 5 4 6 9 8 10
1. Pam and Ben Henderson
Renato and Katherine Pinto
Allen McKinney and Bob Burk
Jeff Elliott
Dave Looby Tina Heydenrych, Jacque Simoncic and Sarah Runyon Far Right: Mattson Gromer and Daisy Flood

The participating athletes are fresh off the track from the Kansas State Special Olympics Games and they are still celebrating.

“The state competitions are a highlight for not only our athletes but also our volunteers,” Special Olympics Kansas (SOKS) Senior Director for Development Erin Fletcher said. “Southeast Kansas hosts two State Games in July for powerlifting and flag football. We just completed the Summer State Games. Athletes from across the state come to Maize, Kansas, to compete, play and make friends. This is such a great atmosphere of welcoming and acceptance. Athletes are celebrated for their accomplishments and get to know each other a little more.”

Celebrating the Athletes at Special Olympics Kansas

Fletcher served several years as a volunteer for Special Olympics Kansas and joined as a staff member in November 2017. “The work that SOKS does affects every aspect of our community,” she said. “Our programs provide ongoing fitness and wellness information as well as leadership and inclusion learning. We are more than just a track meet. Schools are getting involved in our Unified Champion Schools program where athletes with a disability join with students without disabilities to form teams. They compete in sports and work together in school to create inclusion programs for elementary and middle school students. We’re all about improving the quality of life for individuals with intellectual disabilities.”

40 Featuring Southeast Kansas SMTO

Quality of life is important for all, and Fletcher is working on hers, too. “I ran track and participated in multiple sports,” she said. “I have competed in 5Ks and tried to keep up with Zumba and other fitness classes. It is important to stay active whether it is yoga or running a marathon. Lately, I have engaged in walking mostly. This exercise helps in so many ways.”

The Special Olympics athletes increase their quality of life by participating in the Healthy Athletes program that provides specialized health screenings for athletes as well as ongoing health promotion.

Additionally, SOKS provides Athlete Leadership Programs. “These programs offer classes in everything from banking to public speaking,” Fletcher said. “And at the Opening Ceremonies for last month’s Summer Games, athletes who participated in the Athlete Leadership Council gave public speeches and welcomed everyone to the Summer Games.“

For those who would like to get involved with SOKS as either a volunteer or athlete, visit their website at

“From there, you select how you would like to be involved and our staff will help you along the way,” Fletcher said. “We welcome everyone to come out and cheer our athletes on, too. And there is a list of all of our upcoming events and how to get involved on the website as well.

July 2024 • • 41

123 N. Broadway • Pittsburg

620.308.6800 •

Embellish Boutique is celebrating its ninth anniversary in business! Join Embellish Boutique July 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a day filled with excitement. Enjoy delicious offerings from food trucks, receive special swag bags and enter for a chance to win fantastic door prizes. Come and share in the festivities as we thank you for your support over these amazing nine years. We look forward to celebrating with you!

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!

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 a.m.-4 p.m. 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., and drinks are halfprice in the app all day long.

42 Special Advertising Section
Embellish Boutique

Wolkar Drug

At Wolkar Drug, we understand your medication is important, and you want to make sure the pharmacist who prepares your prescription is knowledgeable, prudent, efficient and friendly. The pharmacists at Wolkar Drug are well-trained to perform prescription refills, prescription transfers and other pharmacyrelated tasks, and they constantly learn new methods in the science of pharmacy. We are also pleased to offer a daily delivery service and a drive-thru for convenient pick up and drop off!

Red Onion Espressoria - Galena

Experience the best of American cuisine at Red Onion Espressoria – Galena! Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, we offer a delightful array of sandwiches, gourmet burgers, fresh salads and more, delivering an exceptional dining experience. Proudly providing food service for Mercy Specialty Hospital Southeast Kansas, we ensure quality and flavor in every meal. Whether you’re craving an exquisite breakfast, lunch or dinner, Red Onion Espressoria in Galena is your go-to spot for delicious dining in a welcoming atmosphere. Come join us at our Galena location!

Columbus Chamber of Commerce

320 E. Maple • Columbus • 620.429.1492

Columbus Hot Air Balloon Regatta/Columbus Day Festival to be held Oct. 11-13, 2024. 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 eighth 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!

July 2024 • • 43 Special Advertising Section
1619 K 66 • Galena 620.783.1748
Avenue • Baxter Springs 620.856.5555

From Modern Marine to Colonial Soldier:

Journey of Living History

44 Cover Story SMTO

Nestled in the heart of Pittsburg, Kansas, Dustin Strong’s story is one of dedication, transformation and an unwavering commitment to history. At 52, this former United States Marine sergeant has traded his modern military life for reenactments of Colonial times, merging his past experiences with his passion for historical education.

to Okinawa, with notable stops in Hawaii, Guam, Wake Island and Thailand. However, it was his service in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope that left a lasting impact, bringing home both malaria and PTSD.

After transitioning to the Reserves, Dustin continued his military career until 1999, eventually achieving the rank of sergeant. “I got out after serving just under 10 years. It was time for a new chapter,” he says. Returning to civilian life, Dustin worked for his brother’s masonry company before pursuing higher education. He earned a bachelor’s in education in 2007, followed by a master’s in history curriculum and course design in 2010 from Pittsburg State University.

Dustin’s journey began in Great Falls, Montana, where he was born in July 1972. As the son of Methodist ministers, he moved frequently during his childhood, finally settling in Pittsburg for his high school years.

“I decided to join the Marines when I was in third grade,” says Dustin. “Growing up, I was surrounded by World War II veterans who became my surrogate grandparents, listening to their stories about the war and life in the military.”

In August 1989, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program, and by the time he left for boot camp in August 1990, the world was on the brink of the Gulf War.

“All through basic training and my MOS school, I was preparing to go to war,” he shares. Trained as a mortarman, Dustin was set to deploy to Saudi Arabia when fate intervened. “After we completed desert training, we learned the war had been over for 24 hours.”

Assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment at Twentynine Palms, California, Dustin served until August 1994. His deployments took him from Panama

“I taught as an adjunct for two years before returning to construction,” he says. “But history was always my passion.”

For the past two-and-a-half years, Dustin has worked as a reporter for the Morning Sun newspaper in Pittsburg, covering historical events, local politics and school boards. His love for history naturally led him to living-history reenactments, where he portrays soldiers from various eras, from the Revolution to World War II.

In 2023, Dustin became a member of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), an organization dedicated to promoting patriotism and American history. In March, he was elected president of the newly formed Little Balkans Chapter of the SAR in

Pittsburg. “The chapter is still getting its legs under it, but we’re excited about the future,” he says.

Under his leadership, the chapter aims to create a historically accurate Color Guard for public events, from parades to football games, especially with the country’s 250th birthday and Pittsburg’s 150th coinciding in 2026. “Our goal is to showcase the life of an 18th-century soldier and demonstrate the battle tactics of the period,” Dustin shares. “We hope to grow into a full-fledged local reenactment society.”

Dustin’s vision for the SAR chapter is guided by the same principles he used in the military. “I set the goals and have the chapter members carry them out while I facilitate their efforts,” he says. His extensive contacts from his reporting career help in organizing events and reaching out to the community.

Dustin’s personal connection to the American Revolution is profound. He is a direct descendant of Georg Jakob Fyock, a German immigrant who served in the 13th Pennsylvania Regiment of the Continental Line. Fyock saw action in some of the most significant battles of the Revolution, including Long Island, Trenton and Valley Forge.

Dustin’s connection to history is very personal. His five-times great-grandfather participated in the Battle of Trenton, crossing the Delaware River on Christmas night. Exactly 216 years later, Dustin found himself in a similar situation, crossing the Somali desert to secure a remote airfield.

“Being a combat Marine, I’ve been in those same situations. I’ve experienced the same hardships that my five-times greatgrandfather did 216 years before,” Dustin reflects. “I understand exactly what he went through. I know my history.

“Knowing our history—knowing and understanding where we came from as a nation and as individuals—is more important than many realize or want to admit,” he shares. “History is the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next. Mathematics, art, science, literature, engineering, language, none of it exists unless passed down through time. Knowledge does not exist without history.“

Despite his diverse experiences and achievements, Dustin remains humble. “One of the reasons I was chosen as president of the SAR is because I’m ‘young’ – I turn 52 in July,” he jokes. His leadership, however, is anything but youthful naivety. “Our plan is to provide a period-correct color guard for civic events and celebrations. My prime directive for the members is: if you think of it, you’re in charge of it.”

From his days as a Marine sergeant to his current role as a SAR chapter president, Dustin embodies a unique blend of military discipline and historical enthusiasm. His story is a testament to how one can honor the past while educating and inspiring the present. Through reenactments and leadership, Dustin ensures the sacrifices of those who came before us are never forgotten, bringing history to life one event at a time.

46 Cover Story SMTO

A Soldier Is...

A soldier is many things:

Steady, solid, and strong

Optimistic, outstanding, and organized

Loyal, logical, and level-headed

Diligent, decisive, and disciplined

Intelligent, idealistic and, when necessary, immovable

Earnest, effective, and efficient

Rational, resourceful, and resolute

Yes, a soldier is many things, but above all these admirable qualities, a soldier is a hero.

The following pages contain stories of area soldiers’ valor, sacrifice and heroism. The life of a soldier is not an easy one, but how blessed we are that men and women are willing to devote years of their lives to ensure freedom remains a part of our world.

Thank you to all soldiers and veterans for your service!

Deborah Davila

Immediately after high school, Deborah Davila had her mind made up to join the military. Ironically, though, Davila’s choice for the branch she intended to enlist didn’t play out as she figured it would go.

“I had an appointment to join the Army,” Davila says. “But when I showed up to the Army recruiting office, it was closed. I went next door and talked to the Navy recruiter and decided to sign up.”

Regardless of which branch Davila joined, when this then-18-year-old signed up 34 years ago, the monetary benefit for an education was pivotal and she says her thought process was about getting a “Montgomery GI Bill to pay for college, along with basic needs it provided me while I was traveling across the U.S.”

There were several things Davila found to be satisfying about her time in the military and she says among them were “the camaraderie and learning about different cultures and foods, and seeing other parts of the world and U.S.

“Also, it was rewarding to get an opportunity to learn new things. Learning anything from different people is a lot of fun whether it’s good or bad.”

While there was a great deal of satisfaction along the way, Davila found her fair share of challenges and she admits it was tough “being away from home for the first time when there wasn’t any internet or cell phones to keep in touch or get the latest information back then.

“We spent $400 to $500 per month on phone cards for calling back home, and that could be half of our pay during deployments.”

Despite any difficulties that came her way, Davila recognizes it was an experience that helped shape who she is today. “Being given so much responsibility and independence at a young age made me grow up quickly.

“It also made me think for myself and be more self-sufficient. The boring and slow times made me learn to have patience. I can stand in line and not complain, because I had been used to standing in a chow line every day and made a game out of it.”

As Davila and her husband, Jorge, who was also in the Navy, returned to civilian life, she says their transition out of uniform was smooth because “we were already involved with our local church and people in our neighborhood in Virginia Beach, Virginia. We just continued with our plans of going to college and working.”

Helping to adapt and become more settled in their post-military lives, Davila says, “We eventually moved closer to our families in Missouri and Texas after Jorge retired and finished his college degree in 2015, which then allowed me to build a successful career and family life over the past decade since leaving the Navy.”

Deborah Davila Fast Facts

Hometown: Missouri. Moved to Joplin, Missouri, when grandfather started family business in Joplin.

Age: 53

High School Alma Mater, Year Graduated: Seneca R7 High School, 1989.

College Alma Mater, Year Graduated: Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, 1998; University of HawaiiManoa, 2004.

College Degrees: Bachelor of Science Business Administration in Financial Management and Master of Science in Accounting.

Family: Parents Kim and Sandi Growth. Husband Jorge Davila. Daughters Anna Davila and Katarina Davila.

Favorite Military/War Movie: “Platoon”

Final Rank: Petty Officer, Third Class MOS (Military Occupational Specialty): Electronics Technician

48 Honoring OUR Military SMTO

Russell Smith

As a young man barely out of high school almost 60 years ago, Russell Smith wanted to continue his education but didn’t have enough money to do so. “I actually could not afford college but figured I’d be able to use the military benefit (GI Bill) to go to school.”

Once Smith, who was not even 20 years old at the time, formulated a plan to pay for college, he decided which of the armed services he wanted to join. However, that course of action didn’t go according to Smith’s intentions.

“Before my Army service, I was attempting to get into the Navy,” Smith recalls. “But at that time, there were not any slots available. The draft got me before I could get into a different branch of service.”

A little more than a year after graduating from Joplin High School in 1966, Smith’s time in the Army officially got underway

in August 1967. “My Basic Training was at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. My Infantry Training was at Fork Polk (now known as Fort Johnson) in Louisiana.

“My next year was spent with the 199th Infantry Brigade in Vietnam. Upon returning to the U.S., I was stationed at Fort Benning (now known as Fort Moore) in Georgia.”

Being so inexperienced and lacking knowledge about a lot of things and finding himself thrust into a war taking place in a foreign land wasn’t easy and Smith admits, “I think one of the challenges is that I was young and a little immature.”

Russell Smith Fast Facts

Hometown: Born in Claremore, Oklahoma. Moved around quite a bit in younger years. Wound up in Joplin during junior high school. Completed schooling in Joplin.

Age: 76

High School Alma Mater, Year Graduated: Joplin High School, 1966

College and Career: Tulsa Business College (Drafting & Design)/Real Estate School in Tulsa/Ross School of Aviation in Tulsa/Photography (Tulsa & UTEP)/Started own company, R Smith Design LLC, which supplied engineering and design services for the oil and gas industry.

Family: Son Greg Smith and daughter Rikki Smith.

Favorite Military/War Movie: “We Were Soldiers”

Final Rank: Sergeant/E5

MOS (Military Occupational Specialty): Infantry

Awards: Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Stars/Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 Device/Valorous Unit Award/ Combat Infantryman Badge/Two Overseas Bars/Expert with 81 mm Mortar 45 Caliber Pistol M16 and M14/Army Commendation Medal for Leadership Against an Armed Hostile Force in Vietnam

Without much choice to do otherwise, Smith says, “Combat, and especially leading others in combat, has a tendency to make you mature in a hurry.

“I was part of an Infantry unit, and we were fighting in the jungle (Vietnam). You take your men on patrols. You take care of them. The goal was to get each one of them out of there alive.”

While virtually everything about the experience was demanding, when Smith looks back on his service he says, “I think one of the most satisfying things for me was not losing a man during my command, despite numerous enemy encounters.”

Despite all the trials and tribulations, Smith put it all behind him while striving to focus on a productive and prosperous future. “I think the reason for my successful return to civilian life was my positive attitude and not having participated in activities in Vietnam that would bother my conscious later in life.”

Smith considers his life, both in and out of the military, as one that has been filled with amazing achievements and accomplishments at every turn he’s taken.

July 2024 • • 49 Honoring OUR Military SMTO


AUGUST 10, 2024





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“This is my command be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Take a moment to honor those who have served.

Simmons Bank is proud to honor the men and women who have sacrificed to protect our freedom. To all who have put their lives on the line, thank you.

Simmons Bank is a proud supporter of the moments that matter.


Stewart Tyree

Tyree made the decision in 2011 to pursue a military career, his logic was simple as an 18-year-old young man: “I chose the Army because they could get me enlisted on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.”

One of the most gratifying aspects about serving his country is all about “the smile you have on the 4th of July,” Tyree says.

In reflecting more about his original thought process that led him to enlist, Tyree says, “I wanted to find a purpose and make a difference, while somehow helping our country.

“I also felt that having the same career for 30 years and getting a retirement someday would be a very good thing for me.”

During his nearly decade of service, Tyree found himself far away from the comforts of home in Southwest Missouri several times and he says, “I went to Afghanistan, Germany and Romania.”

There were several challenges Tyree had to face along his journey, and he admits, “Learning how to hurry up and wait was tough, and being put in countries that I didn’t know anything about was hard.

“Learning to function with minimal sleep and adjusting to the quality and differences in food wasn’t easy either.”

Tyree’s departure from the service proved troublesome for him and he confides, “Worst of all was exiting the military and trying to figure out how to be around civilians again and not around my fellow soldiers. I have been out four years and have not yet figured it out. I miss being around soldiers every day and if I were able to go back, I would.

“Dealing with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is not an easy task and adjusting back to civilian life is not easy either. So, when you add both together, I’m not sure

Stewart Tyree Fast Facts

Hometown: Born in Springfield, Missouri, and raised in Webb City, Missouri

Age: 31

High School Alma Mater, Year

Graduated: Webb City High School, 2011

Family: Parents Chad Tyler and Melissa Tyler. Brother Caleb Edge and sister Allyson. Spouse Samantha Tyree. Daughters Payton, Laikyn and Olivia.

Favorite Military/War Movie: “Black Hawk Down”

Final Rank: Corporal

MOS (Military Occupational Specialty): 91L/Construction Equipment Mechanic

Despite any hardships and still trying to figure things out as a civilian, Tyree did find some sense of satisfaction in serving and he says some things that made it gratifying were “being around like-minded people that all have similar interests.

“We all understood the importance of taking care of each other when any of us needed help. Always having someone to lean on that truly understands what you are going through mentally is a big deal.”

Knowing he could count on another person in dire circumstances made it all worthwhile and Tyree says there’s nothing more special than “having people so close to you that you’re willing to die for them.

“And you know without a doubt they feel the same way toward you. It’s about making lifelong

Honoring OUR Military SMTO

Loran Hatfield

After originally planning on the Navy, like his adoptive father and grandfather before him, then 18-year-old Loran Hatfield was first convinced by an Army Reserve recruiter he could get a head start on a military career while still in high school and briefly going to college at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma.

However, after a short time with the Army Reserve, this young man from Joplin, Missouri, opted for a longer tenure in the Oklahoma National Guard (ONG).

It was a whirlwind time for Hatfield at the outset and he says, “I transferred to the Oklahoma National Guard for their education benefits and proximity to college. Imagine my surprise when mere weeks after signing that contract, I was preparing to go to Iraq.”

Going into the service was in Hatfield’s mind as a little boy and in remembering how things evolved, he says, “It’s something I’d been saying I wanted to do since I was a small child. I don’t know if there was ever any doubt, I’d be a career military man and it was destiny from the beginning.

“But 9/11 and the reaction of our country, particularly our response and unity, as

well as enhanced displays of patriotism, steeled my resolve.”

Deployments to Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan (twice) and Ukraine were challenging, and life in and out of the military resulted in plenty of difficulties. “Struggling to maintain a family life and civilian employment was hard at times. Also, lifelong struggles with health issues and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

“I spent a long time pretending I didn’t have any issues and it almost cost me my marriage and my life. Thankfully, I’ve since sought help and while I don’t think those things ever go away, I’ve found coping mechanisms to help deal with the trauma.”

Hatfield maintains that relationships is what made serving worthwhile and he says it’s all about “hearing from soldiers I worked with who have become lifelong friends and family. I’m a godfather to one of the gentlemen I deployed with to Afghanistan.

“I have another one I’ve recently called and made plans with him to visit the graveside of one of our fallen, which I hadn’t done due to my struggles with PTSD recently, knowing when I made the phone call to ask him the answer was going to be yes. It didn’t matter the ask. We always stick with each other.”

Loran Hatfield Fast Facts

Hometown: Joplin, Missouri. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, and was in foster care for a time before being adopted and moving to the Joplin area in 2002.

Age: 36

High School Alma Mater, Year

Graduated: Joplin High School, 2007, attended Pittsburg State University for a time.

Family: Adoptive parents David and Della Hatfield (both deceased). Sisters from blended family include Anna, Ashley, Brandi, Carol, Christy, Jennifer, Joanna, Mandi, Melanie (deceased), Stacie and Wendy. Wife Melony Hatfield. Children David and Francis “Levi.”

Favorite Military/War Movie: “Band of Brothers”

Final Rank: Specialist/E4

MOS (Military Occupational Specialty): 92G/Culinary Specialist

Awards: Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three Campaign Stars/Iraq Campaign Medal with two Campaign Stars/Army Commendation Medals (2)/Army Achievement Medals (4)/ Meritorious Unit Commendation Medals (3)/Army Good Conduct Medal/National Defense Service Medal/Global War on Terrorism Service Medal/Army Service Ribbon/Overseas Service Ribbon/Armed Forces Reservist Medal with M Device/ NATO Medal/Combat Action Badge/ Driver Badge

While returning to civilian life might be a work in progress, Hatfield says keys to success post-military for himself have been centered around “having a firm family life. Also, using my GI Bill benefits helped start me on a path to business ownership.

“I’m also helping make sure my fellow veterans are taking advantage of their benefits. Further, volunteering with organizations such as Charlie 22 Outdoors has helped me connect with fellow veterans on a one-to-one basis and tell war stories and reminisce.”

Although it might not have been easy for him, Hatfield persevered through everything he’s faced and continues to push forward with tremendous determination and dedication.

52 Honoring OUR Military SMTO

Charles (Chuck) Hull

When he was just a lad, recent Carl Junction High School graduate Charles (Chuck) Hull decided joining the United States Air Force (USAF) would be an amazing thing to do someday.

That’s exactly what Hull did, and after only finishing high school two months ago, this 18-yearold, who was a three-sport star at CJHS, will officially join the USAF later this fall.

Fondly thinking back on that moment when, as a youngster, he knew the military was for him, Hull recalls, “I chose to serve after I first saw a USAF jet when I was a kid.

“After seeing it just fly around and look so cool up in the sky, I decided that is what I wanted to do.”

It shouldn’t take Hull long to get comfortable wearing a uniform, especially since this now former standout Bulldogs athlete spent plenty of time in recent years suiting up to compete in football, baseball and archery.

Hull believes all his years in athletics and being a part of team sports provided him with a better view of the structure he’ll have in the military, and he says, “What got me more excited about joining the military is the brotherhood.

“I know it is kind of just cliché, but it’s true. And, after being an athlete for years, I will

Charles (Chuck) Hull Fast Facts

Hometown: Carl Junction, Missouri

Age: 18

High School Alma Mater, Year Graduated: Carl Junction High School, 2024

Family: Parents Craig and Julie Hull. Brother Thomas Hull. Favorite Military/War Movie: “Memphis Belle”

Enlisted: 2023

know what it is like when I get there to look out for one another.”

Hull will start his USAF duties as enlisted personnel with responsibilities for carrying out orders and possessing the knowledge, skills and abilities to help ensure the success of his unit’s missions.

As he ponders where his time in service will lead him, Hull says, “I hope to be an aerial gunner. Afterwards, I hope to become a pilot.”

Hull strongly believes there’s nothing more pivotal than enlisting in the military. “I feel

it is important to serve this country because even though we have our flaws, this is still the greatest nation on earth.”

He understands there aren’t nearly as many young men and women going into service these days and as his time in uniform is about to get started, Hull proudly says, “The biggest sense of pride I feel about joining is the fact that only a small percentage of the U.S. population is in the military.

“We are such a small part of the nation. But we are expected to defend it until our final breath.”

July 2024 • • 53 Honoring OUR Military SMTO

Dennis Burr

When then-19-year-old

Dennis Burr enlisted in the military 56 years ago in August 1968, this longtime resident of Neosho, Missouri, knew which branch was his preference. “The Air Force was always my first choice. We were involved in the Vietnam War and I wanted to serve my country.”

While Burr was passionate about serving, that’s not to say there weren’t difficulties along the way. Those difficulties included “time away from family, relocating often, mission responsibilities and long hours.”

During Burr’s time in service, he found himself stationed abroad at Aviano Air Force Base in Italy and Goose Bay Air Force Base in Labrador, Canada.

In the U.S., Burr spent time at Beale Air Force Base in California, Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma and McChord Air Force Base in Washington.

Burr’s time in the military was rewarding in that “it prepared me for my future tasks. I also enjoyed living in other countries and learning their customs.

“The friendships that last a lifetime are wonderful. My children got to see places most people will never see, and it helped teach them to adjust to different situations. Getting to share memories with fellow airmen was so special.”

Throughout his two decades in the USAF, Burr found it worthwhile, and he says it was all about “the joy of serving our wonderful country and making a difference.”

While it has been 36 years since he took off his uniform for good, Burr reflects that his successful transition back to civilian life was the result of being “more mature and prepared,

thanks to life lessons, and applying the responsibilities the military taught me.

“I feel it (service) made a huge difference in the decisions I’ve made. I thank God for the opportunity to serve.”

Since 2019, Burr has worked closely with a support group that strives to help those who served. “I have been involved with the Charlie 22 Outdoors mission for five years.

“We work with veterans who might be experiencing difficulties after leaving the service. The testimonies are incredible. It’s an outstanding organization and one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.”

Dennis Burr Fast Facts



High School Alma Mater, Year Graduated: Neosho High School, 1967

College Alma Mater, Year Graduated: Wayland Baptist University, 1985

College Degree: Bachelor of Science

Family: Parents Dale and Flossie Burr (deceased). Brothers Robert Burr and Russell Burr. Spouse Debbie Burr. Daughters Julie Burr and April Topham, and son United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Robert Booth.

Favorite Military/War Movie: “We Were Soldiers”

Final Rank: Master Sergeant (MSGT)/E7 MOS (Military Occupational Specialty): 64870

Awards: Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Longevity & United States Air Force NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) PME (Professional Military Education) Graduate

Explaining in more detail how passionate he is about Charlie 22 Outdoors, Burr shared his recent testimony:

“Being part of our Charlie 22 mission has been rewarding on so many levels. I’ve had the privilege to work with our mission for five years. So many have had life-changing moments. I recall a good friend, a Vietnam veteran, saying, ‘It was the first time I have felt welcomed home.’ These are things I know. I have been blessed beyond measure. I have been forgiven beyond measure. I have been healed beyond measure. All through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, the key focus of our missions.

“I am so glad my path crossed with other veterans. I am proud to call each of them my friends. Edifying one another, this gives new meaning to ‘I’ve got your back.’ I would ask everyone to read Romans 8:38-39.

“Know this: Nothing can separate you from the love of our Heavenly Father. Nothing. For the rest of my life, I will search for moments full of the grace of Jesus Christ. Come take that journey with me.”

July 2024 • • 55 Honoring OUR Military SMTO
Korean War veteran Brad Ruggles, right, and Dennis Burr connected through their Charlie 22 mission. Scott Hettinger, left, and Dennis Burr at a Charlie 22 retreat in Colorado.
56 12167 St. Hwy. 43, Webb City, Mo Great Food, Live & Silent Auctions, Raffles!! Lodge Of Hope Hope Given, Lives Saved Peterson Outdoors Ministries /Lodge of Hope ministers to disabled combat veterans, their families and those with disabilities yearround through outdoor activities and outreach. We provide immediate and continuing services to those who are struggling and needing help now. Please plan on attending to help us honor our veterans and to thank God for all He has done! As a charitable 501c3, all donations go to funding the ministry and veteran serves. Contact: Tron Peterson – Director ~ 417.529.0115 For Additional Info concerning what P.O.M. does please go to / Saturday, August 10th P.O.M.’s Faith Based Mission: Admission Free ~ Sponsorships Available: See Contact Below
L u k e H o c h e v a r Former Pitcher for the 2015 World Series Champions-Kansas City Royals All of us at PETERSON OUTDOORS MINISTRIES and 360 AUTO SERVICE would like to express our admiration and gratitude to area First Responders and their families by inviting them to join us in a day of fellowship and fun! Thank You To All of Our 1St Responders For Your Service And Sacrifice! Location: LODGE OF HOPE 26756 S. 2440 Rd. Sheldon, Mo. Driving Directions: Take Bellamy exit #91 off- of I-49 go East on DD 7.1 miles. For additional info go to or contact: Tron Peterson 417-529-0115, or Shane Pennel 918-314-2025 Live Performance By K e n n y R a y H o r t o n Gold Record Awarded Singer/Songwriter, Navy Veteran, Entertainer, Husband and Father

EVENTS Northeast OK

Jay, OK

June 28-July 6: Huckleberry Festival. Celebrate the wild huckleberries that thrive in the area. Browse through exhibit halls filled to the brim with arts and crafts, a quilt show, homemade goods and various vendors. Events will be held citywide, so pick up a snow cone or a refreshing glass of huckleberry lemonade and wander through downtown Jay to make sure you see it all. Area bakers will submit their best pies for the huckleberry pie contest, while a wide variety of pies will be put on the auction block for the festival’s popular auction. Cool off with a slice of juicy watermelon or treat yourself to a huckleberry milkshake. Visit the hog fry for delicious barbecue or simply pick up a bag of popcorn from an area vendor. Also features old-fashioned games, including horseshoe pitching, a turtle derby, tricycle race, water balloon relay race and a root beer chug-a-lug contest. Visit the festival’s baseball card show for entertainment that hearkens back to simpler times and make your way to Jay’s downtown square for free ice cream and huckleberry sauce while supplies last. For more information, call 918.253.8698.

Miami, OK

July 12: Jeff Allen – Are We There Yet? 7-10 p.m., Coleman Theatre, 103 N. Main St. Jeff Allen’s rapid-fire humor, which centers on marriage and family, is a hit with all ages. A live comedy favorite, Jeff has appeared on Dry Bar Comedy, America’s Got Talent, Netflix, Amazon, Huckabee, PureFlix, Showtime, Comedy Central, VH1 and more. He starred in the critically acclaimed film “Apostles of Comedy,” the syndicated comedy series “Bananas,” his own one-hour comedy special, “Happy Wife, Happy Life” and the Warner Bros. comedy film “Thou Shalt Laugh.” Tickets $30-$60 (plus taxes and fees). For more information, call 918.540.2425.

July 19: “Elvis: In Person” Starring Matt Stone & The King Creole Orchestra, 7-10 p.m., Coleman Theatre, 103 N. Main St. Matt Stone & The King Creole Band will be Dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock at Coleman Theatre July 19. Widely believed to be the most authentic representation of the King, Matt Stone was recently named by Elvis Presley Estate as one of the Top Elvis Tribute Artists on the planet. With so many other tribute artists on the market, there’s an important distinction between Matt Stone and many of his competitors: Matt portrays the King in his prime … the way he should be remembered. He has even earned the approval of Elvis’ friends and family, who said: “When I heard (Matt) … now if I close my eyes, that’s Elvis. It touched my heart. The only person I ever heard sing like that was my brother, and (Matt) was real close –SCARY – that’s how close it was.” – Billy Stanley (Elvis’ stepbrother). “Matt is incredibly gifted and handsome, with incredible energy and sex appeal.” –Joyce Bova (longtime Elvis girlfriend). Matt has even been heard on SiriusXM’s ELVIS RADIO. With most fans being disappointed with cheesy Elvis impersonators, Matt Stone’s “ELVIS: In Person” concert is changing the game! So, strap on a pair of Blue Suede Shoes and get your tickets now. Tickets $20-$50 (plus taxes and fees). For more information, call 918.540.2425.

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

Spotlights Oklahoma Business


Enjoy Lendonwood Gardens, an 8-acre botanical garden in Grove. Stop by the Oklahoma Garden for regional plant ideas and the Monarch Waystation to learn about butterflies. Don’t miss the Hummingbird Garden, where you might spot hummers landing on nectar plants. Visit the Japanese Pavilion overlooking the Koi pond, where you can feed the colorful fish. This summer, come see beautiful flowers as you stroll along winding pathways under towering oaks. You’ll find color and texture everywhere at Lendonwood Gardens! Open year-round from dawn to dusk.

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 a.m.-3:30 p.m., closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Special Advertising Section

July 2024 • • 59
One mile west of Main Street on Har-Ber Rd. • Grove, OK 918.786.2938 •

Poblano Lasagna Creamy Veggie


Celebrate the best of summer with this Creamy Veggie Poblano Lasagna featuring sweet corn, fresh zucchini and smoky roasted poblanos. This meatless dish is perfect for showcasing seasonal produce, but if you prefer, you can add two cups of shredded rotisserie chicken for extra heartiness. Enjoy the flavors of summer in every creamy, delicious bite!

4 tablespoons butter, divided

3 cloves garlic, minced, divided

2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)

2 cups heavy cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion

1 large zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise

In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add 2/3 of the minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Mix in the corn and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and thyme, cooking over medium-low heat for 5 minutes to incorporate the flavors. Turn off the heat and let it cool slightly. Transfer the mixture to a blender and purée until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add

4 poblano chiles, charred, peeled, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch strips

12 (7 by 3-inch) no-boil lasagna sheets

2 cups shredded Oaxaca cheese or mozzarella

the remaining garlic and cook for 1 minute. Mix in the zucchini and poblano strips and cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Season with salt and pepper, then turn off the heat.

Spread about 1/4 of the corn mixture over the bottom of an 11 by 8-inch baking dish. Cover with a layer of 3 lasagna sheets. Spread 1/4 of the poblano mixture and 1/4 of the cheese over the pasta. Repeat the layering three more times. Cover the dish with foil.

Bake in the preheated oven until the pasta is cooked and tender, about 50 minutes. Remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to broil. Broil until the top is golden brown and bubbly, 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


Wig’N Out Boutique has everything you need this summer. Shop this look and many others at our store in downtown Webb City, Missouri. From the latest fashions, handbags and shoes to hair pieces and extensions, we’ve got you covered from head to toe! Visit us at 20 S. Main St. in Webb City or shop us online.

Wig’N Out Boutique

July 2024 • • 61 Fashion Forward • Wig’n Out Boutique
20 S. Main St. Webb City, MO 417.717.5099

Extreme Sports Scuba

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

Learn to dive with Extreme Sports Scuba and become one of the over 1,000 divers we’ve certified since 1997! Joplin’s No.1 SCUBA center offers beginning scuba and many specialty classes as well as equipment sales and service, and travel. We supply all gear for the Open Water SCUBA Diver Course except for boots, and the cost is only $395 per person. Come see us and like us on Facebook!

It’s July! Celebrate with the people and alpacas at Zena Suri Alpacas. Pet and feed Stiggy the Llama. Bring a picnic lunch, stroll across the grounds and shop in the store for unique clothing and gifts. Enjoy the peaceful times with friends and family. Stay in our cute cabin. Call 804.389.2579 for reservations to see our animals— still only $5 per person!

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.

Find your summer hair at Wig’N Out Boutique! We have a large selection of stylish wigs, hair extensions and hair pieces and can help you with your hair

or shop us online!

62 Special Advertising Section
Wig’N Out Boutique 20 S. Main St. • Webb City, MO 417.717.5099 •
Alpacas 35401 S. 580 Road • Jay, OK • 804.389.2579
needs and goals! We also offer stylish clothing and accessories! Visit us in downtown Webb City
One 24 Outlet 13105 Kodiak Rd • Neosho, MO • 417.451.1144

Special Advertising Section

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 independenceday.

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 2024 • • 63

Festive Fourth of July Decorating

The red, white and blue colors we all associate with the Fourth of July are strong with history. According to, the colors red, white and blue hold specific meaning when discussing the American Flag. When the flag was adopted in 1777, these colors did not have official significance. However, they were later defined for the Great Seal of the United States in 1782:

• Red: Symbolizes bravery and valor.

• White: Represents purity and innocence.

• Blue: Signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.  These colors reflect the core values of the nation and its Founding Fathers’ beliefs, per Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress.


I love the meaning of these colors and I love to decorate with them from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July and into Labor Day. Here are some ideas of how to use them in inexpensive ways this Independence Day. Decorate your front entry with all kinds of colors to represent the American flag. Create small vignettes with your items by layering items such as star-shaped baskets with more American flags propped up in the baskets and behind them, and a large wooden American flag draped with a metal hanging basket. Smaller items like wooden stars and a small cutlery basket painted red, white and blue can also be added in the opposite corner.

Everything pictured was inexpensive to purchase at my local hobby store, or in the case of the wreath, items were purchased and the wreath was handmade. Even the wooden flag was a recycled pallet at one time and was hand painted. However, you can find many of these same items already made and ready for you.

You can also make your own T-shirts for the Fourth of July. All you need are a few simple items: a white T-shirt and some fabric dyes and a few rubber bands. Wash the T-shirt beforehand and dry. Follow the directions on the fabric dyes for whether you need wet or dry fabric. Roll the T-shirt and tie with the rubber bands and dip part of the shirt in the red and blue colors. Allow to dry according to the directions on the fabric dyes and then remove the rubber bands. You can now wash

your shirt in cold water. Use your imagination for all types of patterns for your patriotic T-shirt.

The red, white and blue theme can be carried throughout your decorations, from your front door to your yard to your clothing. I love the use of vintage items found at rummage sales or inexpensive items purchased that you then make your own. Whatever your decorating style, add patriotic colors to your home décor and have a great Fourth of July.

July 2024 • • 65

Joplin, MO

Every day: Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings. Call 888.740.4568.

Every Monday: Tips for Living a Healthy Life, 10 a.m.-noon, 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 24: 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.

July 2: Espresso Yourself Breast Cancer Support Group, 5-6 p.m., Joplin Avenue Coffee Company, 506 S. Joplin Ave. Come and enjoy a coffee courtesy of Freeman CornellBeshore Cancer Institute. Our monthly breast cancer support group enables members to share, gain helpful information and useful tips, as well as form new friendships. Enjoy listening to a special guest from time to time. RSVP to Marcella Sowell at 417.347.2662.

July 3: 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 16: Freeman 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 Janice Drake at 417.347.1266.

July 16: Ozark Center Daytime Autism Support Group, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism, 2808 S. Picher Ave. Open to people with autism, parents and caregivers. Call 417.347.7850 for more information.

National Adult Literacy Action - For information on NALA, call 417.782.2646, email or go to Located at 123 S. Main St., Joplin. Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday and Friday 8:30 a.m.-noon.

Nevada, MO

July 13: Birth and Beyond Class, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Meets at the NRMC Mezzanine Conference Room. This class covers childbirth, breastfeeding and infant care for women in their last trimester. Includes a tour of the NRMC OB when available. $15 registration fee. Fee may be waived if cost is prohibitive. Register by calling 417.448.3710.

July 23: Rich Hill Family Medical Clinic Screenings, 11 a.m.noon, Kern Senior Center. Free health screenings are offered every fourth Tuesday of the month to residents of Rich Hill.

July 25: Community Blood Drive, noon-6 p.m., Nevada Regional Medical Center Mezzanine Conference Room. Blood collected through hospital drives remains in our area to assist patients in need. To register for a specific appointment time, visit and click on the “donate blood” button. Walk-ins are also welcome.

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

July 9 & 23: 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.


CORI Surgical System® Robotic Knee Surgery Offers Better Motion Range, Less Pain

Three Freeman orthopaedic surgeons – Dr. Robert Lieurance, Dr. Derek Miller and Dr. Thomas Sanders – are the first and only physicians in Southwest Missouri to use the CORI Surgical System®, a robotic-assisted computerized tool that has proven revolutionary when it comes to partial and total knee replacement surgeries.

Thanks to detailed computer scans and a nimble handheld tool, the system adds an extra layer of pre-surgical planning to surgeries along with improved cutting precision that was almost unheard of 20 years ago.

“CORI has allowed us, as surgeons, to ‘map’ an individual’s knee anatomy in live time,” said Dr. Lieurance, who has performed more than 30 CORI total knee replacement procedures since early January; he also performed Freeman’s first-ever CORI surgery Jan. 12, 2024. “We program the amount and level of bone to resect as well as adjust rotation of the implants to best balance each individual’s

knee replacement and give a more custom total knee replacement that’s individualized to each patient.”

The difference is the precision, said Dr. Miller, who has performed more than 100 CORIassisted surgeries since the first of the year.

“Robotics enables me to prepare bone down to a tenth of a millimeter throughout,” he said. “This is an accuracy that we’ve never had before. CORI is a true paradigm shift when it comes to knee surgeries.”

The basic concept behind knee replacement surgery hasn’t changed with CORI’s introduction. Freeman ortho surgeons are still replacing the damaged portions or an entire arthritic knee joint with a prosthetic implant designed to replicate the natural knee joint in shape, motion and stability.

“We have used essentially the same cutting guides for total knee arthroplasty for the last 30 to 40 years, so this is certainly an improvement from a technology standpoint,” Dr. Lieurance said. “It allows ‘real time’ adjustments with the precision and assistance of a computer.”

Prior to surgery, the CORI system eliminates the need for timely and expensive CT scans.

“It’s completely image-free, meaning we don’t have to pre-load a CT scan, X-ray or MRI into the computer. Most other systems you see

around (Joplin) require a long CT scan from the hip down through the ankle,” Dr. Miller said. “It’s a tremendous amount of potentially harmful radiation, and a large expense since many insurance companies are now denying CT scans, deeming it an unnecessary expense.”

CORI’s other primary benefit is the robotic assistance it offers Freeman surgeons during the actual surgeries. The three doctors are in complete control of the robot.

“It’s not like I’m standing in another room working the machine,” Dr. Miller said. “I’m holding this robotic hand piece and still in control of everything.”

Before, usually using a bone saw, a computer would tell physicians where to manually cut and remove the bone. Now, the hand piece mills the bone down to a pre-determined level. Beyond that level the blade won’t cut.

“CORI allows us to perform more precise joint replacement surgery and improves the predictability for our patients,” said Dr. Sanders. “CORI represents another advancement in orthopedic care.”

To learn more about knee surgeries and the CORI surgical system®, visit To schedule an appointment today with any one of our surgeons, call 417.347.5400.

July 2024 • • 67

Award of a State Contract Allows ASCENT Executive Director Teddy Steen

to Join ASCENT and The ROCC Full-time

After working part-time at ASCENT Recovery Residences, executive director

Teddy Steen is returning to the ASCENT program and the Recovery Outreach Community Center (ROCC) full-time.

A contract with the state through the Department of Mental Health (DMH) has been awarded to the ROCC. Over the years, DMH has funded four to five recovery centers and recently put out a request for applications from other centers. After a long, tedious process, the ROCC was chosen to receive a contract from DMH, and Steen will spend most of her time there.

“We feel so blessed to have received this contract and want to make sure we are good stewards of the honor,” Steen said. “We’ve always been certified by DMH but not funded. The ones that are funded have been for a long time. This contract pays for salaries and expenses, like utilities, snacks and supplies, at the ROCC, and we can offer more services. I am proud to say that the Department of Mental Health and the State of Missouri take this crisis very seriously and are willing to support the effort.”

The award of the new and additional funding is good news for the recovery community. At the end of June, Steen finished her position with the drug treatment courts and will work at the ROCC full-time. The change allows her to get back into the community and focus on the mission of helping those in recovery.

“I’m pretty excited to have my flexibility back,” Steen said. “I can be at all the tables I need to be at and be in the know. I can be on different boards and know what’s going on and can go to all the community meetings that are part of trying to make this community safe and healthy.”

While working for the courts, Steen was limited to what she could do in the community and to help at the ROCC because she was full-time and her focus was on court matters. Now, she’ll be able to expand the ROCC’s outreach and devote all her time to expanding the services and the reach and visibility of the ROCC.

“I can work with the local police and other courts and other judges, not just in the treatment courts,” Steen said. “I can go to court with clients and be an advocate for clients in court and can talk to more people and families. I can also go into the courts and offer services and not be a conflict of interest.”

With the extra funding, the ROCC will be able to offer more services, programs and classes, especially for families. Additionally, Steen will teach classes, including anger management and MRT (Moral Reconation Therapy).

One person who is excited for Steen to join the ROCC full-time is operations director Paula Donaldson. With Steen around, Donaldson can focus on the paperwork side of running the ROCC. She also sees the benefit of Steen devoting her time to ASCENT and the ROCC.

“She has always been the face of ASCENT and has so many community connections,” Donaldson said. “It’s so advantageous for the recovery community. I am so excited to see her here full-time, and she will liven the place up.”


sunburns: A little summer fun you’re

best to do without

With summer here, summer plans will be in full swing. While everyone enjoys summertime differently, people will be more likely to be traveling and enjoying the warmer temperatures across the states or even the world, and many will be coming back from their trips with bright red sunburns. While it’s easy to laugh about sunburns, it is important to remember sunburns carry some serious risk with them and it’s best to practice safety if you’re going to be out in the sun. As always, everyone’s health is unique, and no health advice will always apply to everyone. Always consult with a doctor about your individual risks. It’s easy to write sunburns off as just annoyances we have to deal with for a week after our trips, but they can do serious, long-lasting damage. Sunburns can increase your risk of skin cancers, in part because of the damage it can cause to the DNA in your skin. While for adults, getting sunburned five times can double your chances of skin cancer, children are especially vulnerable to DNA damage, and getting one sunburn can double their chances of developing skin cancer later in life. It’s especially important to help children avoid sunburns.

So, what are some ways to avoid too much exposure to sunlight? Good sunscreen is one of the best protections you can have. If you’re going where there’s water, like the beach, make sure your sunscreen is water-resistant. Also, if you’re planning a day out, try to plan earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. Generally between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. are considered to be when the sun’s rays are the strongest, so if possible, avoid being out for extended periods during those times.

If you do get sunburned, be on the lookout for things such as blisters. If you notice any changes in your skin besides a tan, or you notice any particularly darker spots or your sunburn is taking a very long time to go away, it’s best to have a doctor look at it to help avoid infections or other more-immediate issues.

I always ask you consult your doctor about lifestyle changes. It’s important here because some medications can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. These can be specialized medicines or common ones such as ibuprofen. What causes this sensitivity can vary by medication, so consult your doctor about your medications to make sure one won’t make you more sensitive to sunlight. While it’s important to get outside and enjoy time off, it’s important to make sure we protect ourselves and our loved ones. Just as taking a vacation from work or home is good for us, taking precautions to help protect our skin is one of the best things people can do long-term for their health. A few precautions today can help you avoid serious health issues for years.

July 2024 • • 69


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.

The Great Real Men Do Cry Sometimes

I still remember that day in 1954 vividly. I was 8 years old and walking around Grandpa and Grandma’s farm with my BB gun in my hand.

A bird landed on the fence. I swung my BB gun toward it, aimed and fired. The little bird fell to the ground. I walked over to where it lay, dropped to my knees and picked it up. I cried as I held the lifeless little bird. I told it I was sorry. My dad heard me. He told me it was just a bird and did not try to comfort me. He said, “Big boys do not cry, so quit it.” If I did something wrong and he spanked me, there was to be no crying. He was like most men back then and like many are still today. They believed crying was unmanly.

As I got older, I hunted squirrels, rabbits and quail around the farm. A few times, when I took their life, I almost cried.

I had to choke back tears when we buried our old farm dog Trixie and later Blackie, but the words my dad said stopped me.


“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness but of power. They speak more eloquently than 10,000 tongues.”
– Washington Irving

I do not remember crying at my grandpa’s funeral. I did not dare with all those people there. The closest I came to crying was when my parents divorced and I had to move to town with my mom. I loved that old farm and did not want to leave it. I choked back the tears as we drove away.

After high school, I joined the Navy. I did not cry then. I wanted to several times but remembered my dad’s words again—real men don’t cry. I was a real man then.

Later in life, I married and we started our own family. I remember lying on the bed with our newborn son. I told him I would always love him. I did cry a little.

Dad wasn’t around much anymore and the real-men-don’t-cry mantra gradually faded away. I am not ashamed to say tears were in my eyes when my sons, grandsons or granddaughter caught their first fish. Or when a grandson and a granddaughter got their first deer. When my son, at 40 years old, got his first deer, tears were in my eyes. A few years later, away from others, my tears flowed hard when I heard that same son had cancer.

I cried when I lay on the floor with my arm around Memphis, my son’s beloved family dog. I told Memphis how much we all loved him. He couldn’t raise his head, so he licked water out of my hand. I told him his family would be alright as I petted him. He could close his eyes and go home.

Young boys and men need to know there is nothing wrong with showing their emotions or feelings and they are not any less of a man for doing so.

If you are a believer, you know Jesus himself cried. If you are not a believer and want to know more, I am not bashful about sharing with anyone what Jesus did for me and you.

I read a story recently on a friend’s blog where he wrote about a change he made in his life. I had been praying for him for a long time. I am not ashamed to say I cried as I read it.

In his story, he tells how his grandpa, who was an avid outdoorsman, the life of the party and drank a lot of beer, was his hero, and he wanted to be like him. He was for many years.

Besides drinking way too much, he went through a messy divorce. His cabin was burnt to the ground by an arsonist. It was enough to make any man cry. Then, his teenage girls moved in with him. He realized his drinking was going to affect them just like his grandpa’s drinking affected him. He probably shed a few tears through his journey.

He said for the first time, he felt the miraculous hand of God in his life. In the darkness was a light, and God guided him out of that darkness. You can read his inspiring story at You may cry as you read it but do not be ashamed.

July 2024 • • 71

May I quote you?

Icollect quotes from historical figures and/ or inspirational conservationists like Rachel Carson and Terry Tempest Williams. I may use an old standard saying that you and I may love from Edward Abbey or Margaret Mead. But there is an ingredient I must add to a collection of inspirational sayings I use for programs, articles and lectures; that ingredient is the remarks I note from my volunteers and individuals who approach me for service to our great outdoors.

One benchmark quote I use from Margaret Mead, a celebrity in the public-service sense, is, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

One feel-good avenue of volunteering is the Missouri Master Naturalist program. I’ve been the advisor of the Joplin area’s Chert Glades MO Master Naturalist (MMN) since 2005 and have assisted with the Springfield Plateau MMN the following years up to the present day. We are a network of statewide chapters modeled after similar organizations from many sister states.

As a Missouri Department of Conservation employee along with my peers at Joplin’s nature center, Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center, we are here to assist learning and citizen science projects for all people of all ages, abilities and nature-related interests. The master naturalist program takes it a step further … participants embrace service. They are a small group at times and even volunteering as individuals, but they are changing our world and helping our local environment for the better. This program is sponsored by the MU Extension and the state’s conservation department to develop naturalist skills in people willing to share their love for nature with their communities.

The established adult members meet monthly, and they also have outings and hikes, etc., for their own discoveries and networking

with colleagues. Their projects are varied as much as their hobbies and pursuits in nature. Both the Springfield and Joplin chapters have training classes this late summer and fall. The Joplin chapter will have three Saturday field experiences and Tuesday evenings dedicated to training; Springfield’s will be announced soon.

Training for both classes consists of 40 hours of natural resource education by experts in various fields. After completion of training, a capstone project and 40 hours of community service, volunteers become a certified Missouri Master Naturalist. Each year, they will complete eight hours of advanced training and 40 hours of service to maintain certification. Interested? We will have an information program at Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center July 30 and Springfield’s will be Aug. 1 at the Botanical Garden at Nathaniel Greene/ Close Park. Registration is required so we know who is attending. We look forward to meeting our kindred spirits who enjoy sharing nature and love giving back to the habitats, rivers and wetlands of our local environment!

When training finishes every year, one of the most common quotes I hear is, “What are we going to do on our Tuesday evenings?” A wonderful thing about being a Missouri Master Naturalist is it’s easy to find someone for a nature walk or citizen science project on an available Tuesday or anytime.

I hope to see you outside embracing our natural resources! Environmental quotes do inspire and so does firsthand experiences on the creek or taking in the colors of a July prairie. Enjoy! - Jeff

Check out our website at and our Facebook page: Chert Glades Missouri Master Naturalist for more information. Feel free to email me at


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