One of the many events aimed at helping those less fortunate in the area during the holiday season will be taking place Saturday.
The Parkland Toy Run, now in its 24th year will get started as in years past with a gathering in the parking lot of Qdoba Mexican Grill in Farmington.
Event Organizer Pam Sumpter said bikers will begin congregating in the parking lot at 9 a.m. and will depart to drop off food and toys to the St. Francois County Community Partnership at 11 a.m.
After leaving Farmington, the riders will head north to Leadington and take Main Street through Park Hills. The route will then take the riders into Desloge and back onto US 67 to Bonne Terre, looping through Miner’s Park before heading back south and ending at the Desloge VFW Post for chili.
Sumpter said the ride is not only for motorcycles, although it is sponsored by the local chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association (CMA). She said it’s an excellent opportunity for members of car clubs to bring out their ride for a good cause.
Organizers will still be accepting donations of a new, unwrapped toy or a non-perishable food item at Qdoba before the ride begins and the donations are given to the St. Francois County Community Partnership.
The donated toys will be distributed to area children in need, while the food items will be distributed to local food pantries.
Sumpter said the run has brought out 200 participants in years past, with donations helping thousands of families.
Thunderstorms moving through southeast Missouri on Thursday night caused several brief power area outages in the Parkland, as well as a four-hour blackout in Fredericktown, but perhaps most notably knocked the power out at Mineral Area College’s Park Hills campus, damaging a piece of equipment that resulted in the community college having to cancel day and evening classes Friday.
MAC President Dr. Steven Kurtz was attending a conference in Branson, but responded to a request from the Daily Journal Friday afternoon to provide details on the school’s forced closure.
“My understanding is that a lightning strike knocked out the power for a little while and then it came back on,” he said. “Apparently the lightning strike caused some damage to a device called a Current Transformer (CT). It’s the way that Ameren monitors our power and it’s located by the boiler room.
“They just discovered it and Ameren is there fixing it and so we should be up and running temporarily in a few hours and then we should have power fully restored by Monday — so, we’ll be fully operational.
Asked if the school had ever experienced a similar outage, Kurtz said, “Oh, yeah. We had some issues way long ago where we had problems with power surges and we decided to take a day off and have Ameren and our folks look at it and they were able to solve the problem. We haven’t had problems like that since then. Things like this always seem to happen when a bunch of us are gone.”
West County High School students had the opportunity Friday afternoon to hear stories and ask questions of the veterans they will be honoring at next week’s Veteran and Senior Citizen’s Dinner.
Five veterans were on hand in the school gymnasium while each class cycled through, asking the veterans about their experiences during their respective times of service. The attending veterans represented service during Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea and World War II.
Junior Ty Simily said the opportunity was a valuable one, especially with the state of national events.
“It’s always cool when you have the experience to sit down and talk with people who served your country,” Simily said. “Especially with everything that’s going on right now in the world with the football players kneeling. It’s just cool to hear their stories.”
The West County FCCLA, sponsored by Tiffany Miller holds a meal and concert to honor veterans and senior citizens every year. This year, the organization added Friday’s meet and greet to give students an idea of why it’s important to honor the nation’s veterans.
Miller said students were encouraged to directly dialogue with the veterans, pushing some out of their comfort zones.
FCCLA President and West County Senior Jacob Briley said the first meet and greet went well, with the students enjoying their time with the veterans.
“It’s gone really well,” Briley said. “All the students have enjoyed it. We’ve actually had a few that wanted to stay later than they were supposed to because they didn’t get to talk to the veterans as much as they wanted to, so that’s awesome to hear — that they actually wanted to participate in the event and get to know the veterans in the community.”
Two of the veterans present were brothers Joe and Clyde Briley, who both served in Vietnam. They said they have been involved with functions at the school district for years, with the change in generations being apparent with each visit.
“When we used to go into classrooms, especially younger kids, the first thing they’d ask would be, ‘How many people have you killed?’” Joe said. “They thought everybody had to be an infantry shooter. But technically, for one infantryman it takes 12 individuals to support him through all the different types of supply and logistics.
“But these guys mainly wanted to know how your life was and what you did,” he said. “And what you learned from your experience.”
Clyde said he can still remember being in the same boat as some of the high school students, giving him and other older veterans the ability to advise students on what life can hold for them.
“When I graduated, I was a typical high school graduate and I thought I knew everything,” Clyde said. “That was until I got stationed with some guys from New York City and I realized I didn’t know anything! Just being in a different state or country, you realize you’ve got your comfort zones, but there’s a whole wide world out there.”
Joe and Clyde pointed out one of the main things that has changed from generations past is technology. Not only in the sense that most of the students they spoke with grew up with smartphones, but even in the way modern military action is carried out.
“The kids, they don’t understand a lot of what used to be,” Joe said. “As the generations have grown up and the times have changed, the stuff we experienced — they have no idea about it.
“And the service has changed so much. When I was in the service and you were out in the battlefield and they wanted to know what was over a hill, they’d pick a small squad and send them over the hill. If they went over the hill and they heard gunfire, they knew somebody was there. Well nowadays, they don’t have to do that. They send a drone over the hill.”
Despite the generational differences, Joe and Clyde said they were able to describe what military life was like for them, in terms that the students could understand. Next week, the attending veterans and many more will return to West County High School for the Veteran and Senior Citizen’s dinner.
The dinner will be held at 5 p.m. on Nov. 9, with a free meal being provided for senior citizens and veterans. Following the meal at about 7 p.m., there will be a concert and band concert for the veterans, in addition to a slideshow presentation honoring local veterans and featuring photos submitted from the community.
Parkland residents might want to take full advantage of this weekend’s temperatures in the 70s because the region is in for a changeover to more seasonable weather next week.
According to the National Weather Service, the work week will bring much cooler temperatures and the chance for severe thunderstorms beginning Sunday, along with a switch over to mostly rain showers through Tuesday.
A warm front entering the region early Saturday morning will bring a chance for fog and/or drizzle. A brief period of showers can not be ruled out later in the morning, but models differ regarding just how much cloud cover will linger into the day.
Near record temperatures in the mid- to upper 70s are expected on Sunday as strong southwesterly winds return to the area. A cold front associated with this system should reach northwestern portions of the region early in the afternoon, with storms developing as the day progresses.
The threat of severe weather will continue into the evening hours across much of the coverage area. The greatest threat will continue to be across the eastern half of the region, where very large hail, along with a chance for damaging winds and an isolated tornado will also be a possibility.
The bulk of the storms should be south and southeast of the coverage area by around midnight Monday as the cold front pushes thru the area and more seasonable temperatures return for the remainder of the forecast period for the region.
Here’s the detailed NWS forecast for the Parkland and surrounding region through Thursday:
Saturday will see the chance for patchy drizzle with a slight chance of showers before 7 a.m., patchy drizzle between 7 and 10 a.m. and patchy fog before 11 a.m. Otherwise, the day will be mostly cloudy with a high near 72 and a southwest wind of 3-8 mph. The chance for precipitation is 20 percent. In the evening, there will be a 20 percent chance of showers after 1 a.m., with mostly cloudy conditions, a low around 64 and a south wind of 7-9 mph.
Sunday will bring a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1 p.m. under mostly cloudy conditions and a high near 77. Winds will be from the south 10-17 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph. That night, showers and thunderstorms will be likely before 1 a.m., then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after 1 a.m. Conditions will be cloudy with a low around 55 and a 70 percent chance of precipitation.
Monday’s conditions will likely be wet with a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms and a high near 61. Overnight, a 50 percent chance of rain continues with a low around 46.
Tuesday brings a continued chance for rain, mainly after 1 p.m. The chance of precipitation is 60 percent. In the evening hours, a 50 percent chance of rain will be in the forecast until around 1 a.m. Conditions will be cloudy, with a low around 39.
Wednesday into Thursday will see partly cloudy skies with highs between 52 and 54 degrees, with lows around 35.
For the latest NWS forecast, watches and warnings, check out the Daily Journal website at www.dailyjournalonline.com.
The St. Francois County Commission covered a brief meeting agenda that consisted of several "housekeeping" items when it met in regular session Tuesday on the third floor of the courthouse annex.
First on the agenda, the commissioners authorized the acceptance of sealed bids for laptop computers that will be installed in 25 sheriff's department vehicles.
"This puts them into the computer age," said Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher. "Right now everything is being done by radio based on the computers in the office. Now this will give the deputies on-site computer access to everything — references, background checks and all that."
Gallaher noted that Sheriff Dan Bullock has a budget line to cover the cost of the laptop units.
Next, County Clerk Mark Hedrick asked for authorization to perform a voter canvas in the county.
"This is just to check on the number of qualified voters in the county," Gallaher said. "Right now we have around 37,000 registered voters in the county. The canvas will be performed through the mail by an outside company.
"They've done it in-house before, but they think they can save some money by having the professional people do it — for instance, they can get postage for about half price. So, they're going to look at that."
Lastly, the commissioners OK'd a variety of position and salary changes for county personnel.
"There were several people that had reached the time factors and job advancement for the next year," Gallaher said. "It was just functional, year-end stuff that we had to take care of."
The next regular meeting of the county commissioners is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday on the third floor of the courthouse annex, located at 1 W. Liberty St. in Farmington.