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Weekend fire claims 14 dogs

Separate fires this weekend destroyed a home and two large dog kennels resulting in the loss of 14 dogs.

Firefighters responded to a call at 2:44 p.m. Saturday reporting two large dog kennels on fire at 7328 Highway D.

Big River/Bonne Terre Fire Chief Dave Pratte said the owners were home at the time of the fire and three of the dogs managed to get out. He said the kennels were a complete loss and they believe 14 dogs died. The owner had minor injuries to his hand.

"It appeared to have been started by a space heater," Pratte said. "There were multiple space heaters heating the building.”

“Please if you have supplement heating elements such as space heaters be very aware of the situation with them," Pratte said. "Especially with space heaters in the house. They are very very dangerous and I realize people have to have them sometimes to supplement their heat but they really need to pay attention how they place them and make sure to not leave their house with them on or leave the room with them on.”

Pratte wanted to remind the community that if you have to use extension cords, use heavy duty ones, keep an eye on them and do not place them under rugs.

“Right now it is so critical with everyone trying to stay warm,” Pratte said.

Pratte said that most of the problems he sees are human error that can be avoided.

Emergency personnel were on the scene for nearly two hours.

Assisting Big River/Bonne Terre were Park Hills Fire Department, Farmington Fire Department, Goose Creek Fire Department, Leadington Fire Department, Desloge Fire Department, De Soto Rural Fire Department and St. Francois County Ambulance District. 

Firefighters responded to a house fire at 9:47 p.m. Friday on Horse Collar Bluff.

Pratte said no one was home at the time of the fire and no one was injured.

“The home was totally consumed in fire upon fire department arrival,” Pratte said.

The cause of the fire is unknown. The state fire marshal's office will be investigating to try to determine a cause. 

Firefighters were on scene for two and a half hours.

Assisting Big River-Bonne Terre were Farmington Fire Department, Lake Timberline Fire Department, Desloge Fire Department, De Soto Rural Fire Deparment, Park Hills Fire Department was moved up and Goose Creek Fire Department was called but dismissed before arrival. The St. Francois County Sheriffs Department, St. Francois County Ambulance District and the State Fire Marshal' Office were also on scene. 

Freezing temperatures at both fires added additional obstacles for firefighters.

"Trucks were trying to freeze up," Pratte said. "We had to keep an eye on our trucks and hoses and drain them before we could leave the scene."

Firefighters and other responders on the scene were careful to watch for water dripping from the hoses on the tankers which was freezing on the ground, making for very slippery conditions.

Victoria Kemper, Daily Journal 

Sam Sutton, in the water, and Doug Smith, jumping in, brave the 7-degree weather on New Year's Day to participate in the Annual Polar Plunge held at Goose Creek Lake. The event was supposed to be held at the dock area but when participants and bystanders arrived the lake was an inch of ice thick. Participants walked on the ice, jumping up and down realizing it was not going to happen, but Sutton suggested moving the location to the community's dam. As the two Goose Creek residents came out of the water with steam coming off them Smith was asked why he does it every year. He said it is tradition.

More photos can be seen at

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Long-term cold temps expected

While the Wind Chill Advisory issued Friday by the National Weather Service ends at noon today, that doesn’t mean the Parkland is out of the woods when dealing with seasonably cold temperatures.

NWS is forecasting that highs through Friday won’t rise out of the 20s and the lows are going to range from the single digits to low double digits. Highs won’t edge into the 30s until Saturday. Then, highs for the following week will remain in the 30s, with lows dipping into the 20s.

Sunday will bring a 70 percent chance of rain, so it’s a good thing that highs in the region are expected to remain above freezing — and the rest of the week is forecast to be dry with little chance of any precipitation anticipated through the period.

Don’t expect highs in the 50s until sometime around the middle of January — and then for only a brief period until temperatures dip back into the 30s and 40s for the remainder of the month.

Of course, this is Missouri we’re talking about and weather conditions can turn on a dime. While it appears the dry weather pattern will remain in the region through the end of the month, there will be brief times here and there when southeast Missouri may see a dusting of snow or a little bit of ice.

The best advice for Parkland residents is to bundle up before heading outdoors and, if possible, stay indoors at times of extreme cold. In cases where working outside is a necessity, don't overstrain yourself. Check on the elderly to make sure they are warm. Also, when traveling, make sure you have packed blankets and warm clothing.

Due to the cold temps this morning, officials at North County and Richwoods school districts decided to cancel school today. Other schools are still closed for Christmas break. 

For the latest advisories, watches and warnings, check out the Daily Journal website at

Making music: A team effort

For many years, the Little Theatre Guild at Mineral Area College has staged some of greatest Broadway musicals to ever been performed. Their audiences have been swept away by the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim and a great many more.

Spectators have been amazed by the performers who have taken the stage to sing classic hits from "Guys and Dolls" to "Rocky Horror Show." But there is one element that seems to have gone undiscovered. The beating heart of the entire show - the band.

“Without the band, there is no show,” said Regina Brown, the vocal director on many of the Little Theatre Guild’s musicals. “People out front, the actors, can not do what they do without those behind the curtain, such as the band and the stage crew.”

The process of bringing a musical to stage, however, is an arduous task that requires the union of three people just to prepare the music.

The musical journey begins at the desk of the Director of Theater Chuck Gallaher where he begins matching music to the actors who are available for the show. It's a process which may take place several months or even a year in advance of the show.

“You always have to make sure the music is not only interesting to an audience,” Gallaher said, “But you also have to make sure you have the people that can make the music an emotional experience for the audience as well.”

Although Gallaher may be the director, he understands the importance of allowing others to share their expertise in bringing a production alive. In the latest musical productions, Michael Goldsmith has served as band director and Brown as the vocal director.

“Usually, I meet with the band director and the vocal director and start talking about what characters have what range, what kind of vocal and physical qualities are we looking for,” Gallaher said. “Then with the band director, we talk about size of the band, what instruments are needed and rehearsal scheduling.”

At this point in time, Gallaher now turns his attention to the actors and set designs and Goldsmith and Brown take over the musical helm of the show.

During the audition portion, Brown will decidee who has the musical chops for the demands of the upcoming production and whether or not a certain role has to have changes made to fit those who are available.

“Sometimes we get lucky, and we hear exactly what we are looking for,” Brown said. “But other times we have to get a little creative and figure out how to make it work. During 'Putnam County Spelling Bee' the role of Mitch Mahoney ended up being played by a female instead of a male actor. In 'Little Shop of Horrors,' I had to play the role of Mushnick, another role that was originally written for a male actor. We do what we have to do to fill the roles.”

From auditions to show time, Brown works the vocal end of the play, teaching each and every performer their musical role through hours and hours of rehearsal.

“I spend a lot of time teaching the vocal parts, especially in the larger group numbers where there is more harmony,” Brown said. “I pay attention of how to break down the chords and what voices to assign to what part. I try and keep people close to their vocal comfort zone because they will be more apt to sing well if they know the note is a good place for them.”

But as Brown stated earlier, the magic of the theater would be lost if it wasn’t for those behind the curtain, and with a musical, she refers to Goldsmith and his magical musicians, who are often performing half a building away from the theater during the show.

Except for the Monday evening before opening night, which is only two days prior, the band is never again in the same room as the actors. Throughout the performance, the band plays from the music department’s band room, which is a separate room completely isolated from the theater.

“On Monday before the show begins, we will meet in the theater, so we can see everything,” Goldsmith said. “But then Tuesday, we are back in the band room. From then on, everything is piped in through CAT five cables. We use a projector, so we can watch, and speaker monitors to listen.”

Goldsmith adds he is always amazed how well this works, and how they do not experience any delays between them and the actors.

“It simply blows my mind that this works,” Goldsmith said. “We are also mic’d in the band room and there are monitors on the stage so the actors hear us, and somehow, this magical process works.”

The magical process Goldsmith refers to actually starts a couple of months before he sees any of his musician or the actors. The beginning process seems rather mundane compared to electricity of the performance, but it is an essential component of the production.

“My part of a production is separate from Chuck’s (Gallaher) or Regina’s (Brown),” Goldsmith said. “I work with getting the musicians prepared. We each have our own component that we work on, and one week before the show begins it all comes together and it really seems to work.”

According to Goldsmith, shortly after the show is decided upon, Brown and he will receive a piano score and a director’s score and the two directors will sit down and go through the entire show. Goldsmith then begins the process of designing a band.

“Once Chuck decides on a show, we will get the instrumental list, we will go through it and decide how many members we will need to do the show,” Goldsmith said. “It may be a 15-piece band, but for several reasons, we may need to make it smaller.”

Both Goldsmith and Gallaher are both committed to not watering down the musical scores and getting musicians of exceptional talent to play.

“Once we decide on what instruments we are going to use, I’ll take time to go through all of the books and look at the difficulty level and that tells me who I should contact to play,” Goldsmith said. “This last show, 'Bat Boy,' the bass part was very difficult, and my first choice was not available. The musician who stepped in was actually in high school, but he is already playing at a professional level.”

Although Goldsmith makes this process seem easy, he will be the first to say it is isn’t. In fact, he states definitively it is a very difficult and complex task.

Once the band members are chosen, Goldsmith sits down, listens to the Broadway recordings and then goes through the entire score and looks at every musician's part to ensure perfection.

“I go through the entire score and make a lot of notes” Goldsmith said. “I make a note of what is happening at this point, what are the tempos, where do I think we will need some cues or will we need to rewrite some sections.”

Eventually, Goldsmiths says, he will meet again with Brown and the two will discuss the vocals and whether or not changes will have to be made to the score because a key is too high or too low for an actor. Sometimes, the two will even have to rewrite sections based on range of the vocalist.

After four or five weeks working with his band, working with Brown and working with Gallaher, the production is ready to for opening night.

“Doing a live show you have to have a lot of trust,” Goldsmith said. “You have to have trust that Chuck is behind the scene instructing his actors and the actors are doing what they normally do. But there are times when an actor may drop a line and skip ahead, but the band can work on the fly, so we are always on our toes.”

But in the end, no matter if an actor drops a line or skips ahead, it is the band’s duty to convince the audience that is actually how it was meant to be.

Victoria Kemper, Daily Journal 

Firefighters extinguish a fire that engulfed two large dog kennels taking the lives of 14 dogs.

View additional photos at

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Local man killed at Springfield motel

Springfield Police have released the identity of a Fredericktown man shot and killed in North Springfield Friday afternoon.

According to the department's post on social media, police confirmed the victim is 41-year-old Stephen G. Dowd.

Springfield Police were dispatched at 12:49 p.m., Dec. 29 to a room at the Motel 6, located at 2655 N. Glenstone.

According to police, the 911 caller stated a male subject had been shot at the location. When officers arrived on the scene Dowd was found seriously injured with an apparent gunshot.

Officers and paramedics conducted lifesaving procedures, but the victim died on scene.

The Springfield Police Department is asking anyone who has information about the incident to contact the department at 417-864-1810 or to make an anonymous call to Crime Stoppers at 417-869-8477.

The Daily Journal will provide more details as they become available.

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New Year's fire destroys home

New Year’s Day started with a Leadington family losing everything when their home caught fire in the early morning hours.

Firefighters responded to a call at 5:36 a.m. Monday reporting a house fire at 515 Union Street in Leadington.

Leadington Fire Chief Doug Graham said that the family was home at the time but that no injuries were reported. Firefighters were on the scene until roughly 9 a.m. and Big River, Bonne Terre and Park Hills Fire Departments assisted.

According to the Leadington Police Department, the home and all of the families belongings were destroyed due to the fire and smoke.

With temperatures dropping as low as -6 degrees in some areas, firefighters had added difficulties including water freezing on the scene, trucks freezing up and being out in the frigid temperature for long periods of time.

Graham said that he is not certain of the exact cause of the fire but urges all citizens to use caution when using space heaters.

The State Fire Marshal's Office was on scene investigating the cause of the fire.

The Leadington Police Department is searching for donations to help the family. According to their Facebook page, the family, consisting of mom, dad, a 14-year old-girl, 12-year-old boy and two twin boys, is in need of clothing and bedding.

Please contact the Leadington Police Department by calling Central Dispatch at 573-431-3131 if you are able to help.