The dedication ceremony for the St. Luke’s A.M.E. Church Park was held in Farmington on Saturday.
In attendance were members of the Matthews family – who donated the land for the park – as well as city officials and residents noting the important piece of Farmington history.
The park, located at the corner of Franklin Street and Third Street near downtown Farmington, was the site of the St. Luke’s A.M.E. Church – the first African Methodist Episcopal Church west of the Mississippi.
The property was donated to the city by former Farmington City Councilman Bill Matthews and Charles Matthews in February of 2014.
The gift of the land was given by the brothers for the city to develop the site into a memorial park in honor of the African-American families who played an integral part in the history and development of Farmington.
A monument at the park was unveiled, honoring their parents, Lynn "Skip" Otis and Mary Imogene Matthews.
Bill Matthews, Sr. lives near the property where the park is located. He spoke of his time on the city council, noting it was his work to have a sidewalk installed along Franklin Street after he was elected to the council following his military service.
“We couldn’t have done this without the support of the city council and Larry Forsythe, the mayor,” Matthews said. “He wanted to get this done…I’m so happy we’ve been able to work with the mayor, Larry Forsythe, the city council…I appreciate everybody in Farmington.”
Charles said he was so pleased with the turnout for the event.
“The city met us more than halfway to implement this park,” he said. “I’m just speechless. And, we’re not finished with it. We have a few other things we are going to do.”
Parks and Recreation Director Chris Conway introduced the mayor, who said it was one of his first priorities after being elected in April to bring the park to completion.
Members of the city’s tree board implemented the design for the park – utilizing Ivory Silk trees to note the outer walls of the former church and boxwoods in the area where the altar once stood.
Local historian Jon Cozean expressed thanks to the Matthews family and the city government for the contribution to the creation of the park. In turn, Bill thanked Cozean for his work in helping make the part a possibility.
The church was built in 1887 and was organized by Rev. Christopher Tayer. The building stood until 2004.
“All of us are standing right now on hallowed ground,” Cozean said, adding current generations and those to come will be eternally grateful for the creation of the park.
Cozean noted the park serves to show a rich heritage of the African American community in the history of Farmington.
“This park make be small – but its significance is enormous,” Cozean said.
Delivering the invocation for the ceremony was Bishop Ron Luellen, Sr. of Mount Pilgrim Free Will Baptist Church, expressing thanks for the vision of the Matthews family and city leaders in the creation of the park and for “dreams that come true.”
The Fredericktown Board of Education met during a regular monthly meeting recently and approved Officer Jake Musgrave to attend school resource officer and D.A.R.E. training.
Fredericktown Police Chief Eric Hovis met with the board to discuss position changes among a few of the department's officers.
Hovis said current School Resource Officer Jordan Myers will begin training to become the handler for the new K-9 the department is working to obtain.
"As soon as the pup is ready, Myers will go away for 10 days of training," Hovis said. "We will make this a smooth transition and work together."
The department is in need of a new K-9 due to its current dog "Alexio" reaching 5 years of age. Police canines usually retire at 7, giving the department two years to transition to the new dog.
"The cream of the crop end up becoming SROs," Hovis said. "What better place for them to be than protecting our kids."
Fredericktown R-I Superintendent Brett Reutzel said Musgrave is already familiar with the school district. Reutzel said the officer has stopped in to eat lunch with the kids on several occasions.
The board approved Officer Musgrave to go to the next available SRO and DA.R.E. training courses.
In other news, R-I Director of Transportation Scott Sikes presented the board with the current bus route information for approval. He said they cover about 1,000 miles per day.
"We could do it in less miles in town," Sikes said. "But we try to stop at every house that has a kindergartner. We keep our students safe."
The board approved the bus routes.
Reutzel then presented Sikes and Alan Shetley with the Exemplary School Bus Maintenance Award.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recognized the district for its exemplary school bus maintenance program. The department was 100 percent in compliance with regulations and safety standards during the spring 2017 inspection conducted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
The board approved payment of the third pay order for the intermediate school project.
“The project is currently a month ahead of schedule,” Reutzel said. “They are now due to finish the end of February."
The board rejected concrete bids for the alternative learning campus sidewalks, steps, ramps and basketball court.
Reutzel said that he had an uneasy feeling about the current bids. He added that further investigation would be needed before they proceeded with the project.
The board then approved the updated list of substitute teachers.
The board also discussed upcoming calendar dates. The Fall Athletic Banquet is at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 7 at the high school. The JROTC Veterans Breakfast will be Nov. 9. The StuCo Blood Drive will be 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 at the high school.
The Learning Zone Musical will be Nov. 16 and 17 at the middle school cafetorium, and the Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot is 8 a.m. to noon on Nov. 18 at the high school.
The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m., Nov. 14, at the school district offices.
Mineral Area College’s Career and Technical Education Division is now recruiting students for the Hybrid Pharmacy Technician program beginning Jan. 6 on the Park Hills campus.
The hybrid version of the standard Pharmacy Technician program is designed for current PTs who would like to prepare for the national Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) exam. Of the two national certification agencies, program coordinator and instructor Jenny Majeske said the pharmacies on her advisory board all favor the PTCB certification and some even require it within one year of hire. Additionally, the PTCB claimed that the number of states now requiring national certification is 23 and that number is rising.
Majeske said current PTs must have a minimum of 240 hours of pharmacy experience to be admitted to the hybrid program. Most of the course is delivered online, but students will be required to come to the campus for the technology orientation and for three labs held one Saturday per month.
Majeske added that she employed competency-based methodologies in the development of the program which allows students to move through the course at a quicker pace.
“Students may test out of material in which they are already competent and move on to the next chapter,” she said. “They will also be allowed to apply for prior learning credit to fulfill the clinical requirements since they already have 240 hours of experience.”
In all, students may earn up to 20 credit hours and earn a Pharmacy Technician Certificate in 9 to 12 weeks.
The pilot program is 100 percent funded by the MoSTEMWINs $19.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. As such, qualifying students may be eligible for free tuition.
Several steps must be completed before the Dec. 8 application deadline and space is limited, so interested parties should not wait to contact MoSTEMWINs Program Support Specialists Stacey Wideman at swideman@MineralArea.edu, 573-518-2145 or Tina Miller at tmiller@MineralArea.edu, 573-518-3840.
According to Missouri State Highway Patrol several local individuals were involved in weekend accidents.
A Farmington man was injured in a one-vehicle accident early Saturday morning south of Doe Run.
Justin Johnson, 36, of Farmington, was driving northbound on 221 north of King School Road around 2:28 a.m. when he failed to negotiate a curve to the right. Johnson’s 2006 Chevrolet Aveo traveled off the road and overturned.
Johnson sustained moderate injuries and was transported to Parkland Health Center in Farmington by way of St. Francois County Ambulance.
Another one-vehicle accident early Sunday morning sent two Michigan men to the hospital with injuries.
James Lewis, 43, of Grand Haven, Michigan, was driving east on Old Irondale Road west of Route BB around 1:35 a.m. with two passengers when his 2004 Chevrolet Trail Blazer ran off the left side of the road and struck a tree.
Larry Lewis, 53, and Christopher Retherford, 40, both of Grand Haven, received moderate injuries and were transported to Parkland Health Center in Farmington via St. Francois County Ambulance. No injuries were listed in the report for the driver, James Lewis.
A public meeting will be held to discuss water rates at 7:15 p.m. at Leadwood City Hall, located at 708 Bank Street. This meeting will be open to the public.
The St. Francois County Commission meets in regular session at 10 a.m. on the third floor of the courthouse annex in Farmington. The meeting is open to the public.
The Desloge Chamber of Commerce holds its noon luncheon at VFW Post 2426, 399 W. Oak St. Guest speaker is Janey Radford with SEED$.
SFC 911 Board
The St. Francois County 911 Board of Directors meets in regular session at 10 a.m. at Desloge City Hall, 300 N. Lincoln Drive. The meeting is open to the public.
Farmington City Council
The Farmington City Council meets in regular session beginning at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers, located at 110 W. Columbia St. The meeting is open to the public.
Bismarck Board of Aldermen
The Bismarck Board of Aldermen meets in regular session at 7 p.m. in the old train depot on East Main St. The meeting is open to the public.
The Annual Parkland Toy Run was held Saturday, bringing dozens of bikers through the area on a mission to deliver donations of toys and food to those in need this holiday season.
The riders met at Qdoba in Farmington for coffee and pastries, and taking the opportunity to say hello to old friends and to greet first-timers to the run.
Chris Robinette said he has been coming to the toy run from Festus for around six or seven years, having discovered the event through his involvement with the Christian Motorcycle Association.
“For me, it’s a way of supporting other local CMA chapters,” Robinette said. “And it’s nice to know that everything that is given stays local.”
Frank Conour, known in the area for riding his bike while dressed as Santa Claus each year, said he has been coming to the toy run for about 10 years. He also learned about the event through the CMA.
When asked what keeps him returning, Conour said it’s all about the kids and families who benefit from the donations received each year.
CMA member Kevin Sumpter said the event is the result of members of the community working together.
“Everybody’s aware of it now,” he said. “It’s a community effort for the St. Francois County Community Partnership.”
The toy run is now in its 24th year. This year it took riders through Farmington, Desloge, Bonne Terre and ended at the VFW Post in Desloge with a chili meal.
The Parkland Toy Run provides area children with toys for Christmas presents and non-perishable food items for area food banks each holiday season.