A club at North County Middle School is making a difference for a special group of students who wouldn’t otherwise have such an opportunity.
North County Middle School Strategy Specialist Angela Zolman said the club, Friends Link, was kid-inspired after Principal Brenda Hampton hired her to co-sponsor their Middle School Student Council.
“My kids are special needs and they get to hire peer tutors,” said Zolman. “Then they get to do work and personalization stuff and it is really fun. My room became a hub of kids, with student council kids coming in throughout the day working on posters and projects, and it kind of broke the ice between the two groups.”
Zolman said she has worked with special needs for 11 years and one thing she has noticed with exceptional kids is that it is hard for them to develop relationships. The student council really started to get her kids out more and after talking with other community members about a club, they decided to run with it.
“We wanted to see how many kids were interested in it and we ended up having 75 kids apply,” Zolman said. “We have to knock it down to the first 30 because there was no way the kids could interview everybody.”
Zolman said they saw them working so well together, the kids were developing friendships and recognizing social norms.
“So my para Angie Gillam and I thought, 'Wow! We could turn this into an official club!'” recalled Zolman. “I talked to Mrs. Hampton about it and she took it to the board and it was accepted as a club.”
She explained they will have game days to see if a person is a good fit with the special needs student. Zolman said they will bond after that and become friends. They all have someone to sit with at lunch now whenever they eat and that is a big deal.
“Once we became a club, we needed to fundraise money for field trips,” said Zolman. “Our Special Ed Director Dawn Eaton offered up the idea of starting a coffee shop and the rest is history. Honestly we wouldn't be as successful as we have been without the support and enthusiasm of our awesome administration.”
Zolman said they have 10 students with exceptional needs with various disabilities and identifications. Right now in the club there are 30 kids and they get to choose a kid or two they get to work with in the group.
“The idea of the club is that it is a joint partnership between the students; my students spend socialization time with different applicants of the club and my kids choose who they want to work with,” Zolman said. “Once the peers are 'hired,' we teach the teams lessons in socializing and understanding cues from both sides.”
Zolman explained they tell their new hires, they are all on a level playing field and they have something that helps them become better people.
“The friendships that develop here are authentic and original and we enjoy watching both sides learn acceptance and appreciation of each other's differences and talents,” said Zolman. “Along with the developing relationships, our teams learn how to work together and run businesses.”
Zolman said the coffee shop is a real hit in the building. The groups develop and learn recipes, proper food hygiene expectations, money counting and management characteristics that can be utilized in future employment opportunities.
Emma Weiss said they take kids, like her friend, Satina Gage, to give them a chance to do something on their own.
“We are just here to help them if they need help,” said Weiss. “So they are really running all of this, they make the coffee, they take the money and we go on deliveries to deliver coffee to teachers. It helps to make money for the club to do things.”
Weiss said she loves being a part of the group and enjoys everyone’s company.
Abigail Law said the club is so great and everyone is always so nice. She added they have all become best friends.
“Sometimes we play games, have a meeting or talk about what we want to do the next month,” said Law. “I love being able to do things like this and when I found out about the club I couldn’t wait to be a part of it.”
Liam Engle is part of Zolman’s class and he said he likes to work and help with delivering coffee. He also handled the money on Wednesday and they brought in $70 just from selling coffee.
“A lot of people like mocha and I like to help with making things on the menu,” said Engle. “I am happy to help animals from being extinct. I have never been with a club like this before and I like it. I have lots of friends around the entire school. We get to know each other a lot.”
Engle said he thinks everyone should be part of some kind of club, any kind of a club.
Gage said she is on seventh grade and she has met a lot of new friends. It makes her so happy to be a part of it.
“I made a flying dragon, but it’s gone,” said Gage. “I wanted to hang it up and have it say 'be careful dragons like to drink coffee.' I feel pretty happy to deliver and make everyone’s coffee. That makes everyone else happy.”
Gage said she draws decorations on the cups and will sometimes deliver them.
"Friends Link is a great opportunity and privilege," said Addy Reed. "The kids bring out the best in me and always put a smile on my face."
Zolman said their club is also teaming up with the Student Council, Future Tree Huggers Club, and the Missouri Department of Conservation to plant and cultivate an outdoor classroom that doubles as a monarch butterfly garden.
“Several graduates of our high school's LCE program have been successful in finding work in the local parks and gardens, so this too can piggy back off of the high school program to help open doors for future employment opportunities,” said Zolman. “Overall this club has been a blessing to be a part of and watching teenagers learn how to respect and accept one another, while sharing kindness and understanding toward one another gives me faith in our future as a society.”
Zolman added that in addition to raising money for the club, the coffee shop is also a hands-on learning experience for the kids. They learn math while they measure ingredients and count money.
While new cases of flu are still being reported in the Parkland and its surrounding counties, area health departments are reporting an encouraging trend. Despite a few anomalies, the number of influenza reports appear to be declining.
"As of Feb. 18-24 our flu numbers are down," said Ethan White, St. Francois County Health Center. "We actually saw 83 cases of influenza B and 24 cases of influenza A last week, for a total of 106. Of course our grand number from the whole season is still high compared to last year.
"The total cases reported this season as of Feb. 18 was 1,939. That's in comparison to last year at this time when there we'd had 875 cases reported. The trend does appear to be going down - and that's a good thing.
White took part in a conference call on Wednesday with other health departments in the district where he learned that most counties in southeast Missouri are beginning to see a drop in the number of influenza cases.
"We're in the Eastern District and so everybody in the surrounding counties - Washington, St. Genevieve, Perry, Franklin, Jefferson, St. Louis, St. Charles, Warren, Lincoln and Pike - talked together so we would all be aware. Of course, flu was the main topic. It seems that the majority of the counties are seeing a downward trend of flu."
Mary Roth with the Ste. Genevieve Health Department also noted a decrease of new flu cases in the county.
"We're still having flu but it's less than what it was," she said. "We are seeing more influenza B strain now than influenza A. I'm hoping that the A has peaked and that it might have gone for the year. I don't know if we have peaked yet on the type B flu, but it seems to be the most prevalent flu right now. It usually goes this way, so it's following the course."
At the Washington County Health Department, Sandy Hutchings is seeing a similar decline.
"The situation is much better," she said. "We're seeing those numbers decline very well. We had one school closure and that's been several weeks ago. Other than that, it's been going well now. I'm really hoping and thinking it is a trend down."
Madison County is experiencing fewer cases of flu but it's still a problem, according to Teresa Francis with the county health department.
"For Feb. 18-24, we're seeing flu, but not as bad as what we were," she said. "We had 12 cases of influenza A reported last week. Influenza B is hitting us a little harder. We had 24 cases of influenza B reported. So, we're still seeing cases and the 5 to 14-year-old age group continues to be our highest population. I think it's going to be around here for a little while longer."
The news from Iron County is also looking positive. Beverly Myers of the county health department said the number of reported flu cases is down.
"We have seen more flu B than we have flu A lately, but it has started to decrease, although it's still around," she said. "It does look like it's moving downward."
Dylan Steigerwald of the Jefferson County Health Department is still seeing cases of the flu, but not as many as were seen a month ago.
"We're still seeing a trend down, which is good," he said. "We've seen a decrease over the last four weeks in a row. We've been going down steadily for the last month. Last week we had 179 confirmed cases and it looks like both A and B are decreasing. That's a good sign as well."
Although the number of influenza cases appear to be declining, there are still months to go before the end of the flu season. All of the health department workers contacted encourage those who have not gotten a flu shot to do so as quickly as possible. They also ask that those who are experiencing symptoms of the flu to stay at home and away from others.
Candidate filing for the Aug. 7 primary election reportedly had a successful start Tuesday, both statewide and in St. Francois County.
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced Wednesday that a total of 433 candidates visited his office, the most to show up for the first day of candidate filing since at least 2012.
Ashcroft said, of the 433 candidates filing, the breakdown by party affiliation was 257 Republican, 164 Democratic, 10 Libertarian, one Green and one Constitution. The bulk of candidate filing was for state representatives, with 291 filing. State auditor was the office with the least number of candidates with only four filing.
Among those filing were (I = Incumbent)
U.S. Senator - (Republican) Tony Monetti, Warrensburg; Austin Petersen, Peculiar; Josh Hawley, Columbia; Fred Ryman, Jefferson City; Christina Smith, Jefferson City; Kristi Nichols, Independence; Bradley Krembs, St. Charles; and Ken Patterson, Eureka; (Democratic) Carla (Coffee) Wright, St. Louis; Angelica Earl, St. Louis; Leonard Joseph Steinman II, Jefferson City; John Hogan, St. Charles; and Travis Gonzalez, Maryville;
State Auditor - (Republican) Kevin M. Roach, Chesterfield; David Wasinger, St. Louis; and Paul Curtman, Washington; (Democratic) Nicole Galloway, Columbia (I);
U.S. Representative: District 8 - (Democratic) Kathy Ellis, Festus; (Libertarian) Jonathan L. Shell, Fredericktown
State Representative: District 144 - Chris Dinkins, Annapolis (I); (Republican) Scotty Schrum, Potosi; and Beau McCoy Gooch, Piedmont
State Representative: District 115 - (Republican) Elaine Freeman Gannon (I)
State Representative: District 116 - (Republican) Dale L. Wright, Farmington
State Representative: District 117 - (Republican) Mike Henderson, Bonne Terre (I)
Circuit Judge: Circuit 24 Division 2 - (Democratic) Wendy Wexler Horn, Farmington (I)
Circuit Judge: Circuit 24 Division 1 - (Republican) Jerel Lee Poor II, Ste. Genevieve; (Democratic) Sandy Martinez, Fredericktown (I)
Locally, St. Francois County Clerk Mark Hedrick reported that the first day of filing at his office went smoothly. Of the candidates filing at the courthouse annex, six were affiliated with the Democratic Party and four with the Republican Party.
Candidates filing with the St. Francois County Clerk were:
Recorder of Deeds - (Democratic) Steve Grider (I)
Circuit Clerk - (Democratic) Vickie Weible (I)
Auditor - (Republican) Louis Seiberlich (I)
Collector - (Democratic) Pamela Williams (I)
Presiding Commissioner - (Republican) Harold Gallaher (I)
Prosecuting Attorney - (Democratic) Jerrod Mahurin (I); (Republican) Melissa Gilliam
Associate Circuit Judge - (Democratic) Joe Goff Jr. (I)
Probate & Associate Circuit Judge: Division 4 - (Democratic) Shawn McCarver (I); (Republican) Patrick King
Candidate filing for the Aug. 7 primary election continues through March 27.
The time to nominate your favorite businesses for the 2018 edition of the Daily Journal’s Best of the Parkland Contest is drawing to a close. The nomination period ends at midnight Saturday.
The contest began last year and had dozens of businesses in St. Francois, Madison, Washington, Iron and Ste. Genevieve Counties recognized by the public for their outstanding service. This year the public has had the opportunity to nominate businesses in more than 100 categories ranging from best food, places to shop, services, auto mechanics and many more.
For the past few weeks the Daily Journal has received several thousand nominations per week, but there's still time to add favorites to the list. Nominations for each category can be made by visiting www.dailyjournalonline.com/contests/ until midnight Saturday. If nominations do not fit an existing categories, a new category will be created.
Then starting Sunday our staff will be documenting and double-checking the nominations. After all are finalized, voting for the "best of" in each category will take place from March 24 to April 7, accessible by the same web address as the nomination form.
"Nominating your favorite businesses is only half the process," explained Daily Journal Media Manager/Advertising Director Cody McGee. "Then you need to go back in after March 24 and cast votes for your favorites in each category."
You can vote once per day per category, so return several times to help assure your favorites are named "Best Of ..." for 2018.
Winners will be published in the April 28 edition of the Daily Journal, the May 2 edition of the Democrat News and the May 3 edition of the Farmington Press.
Nominated businesses will be promoted on social media, and should promote themselves on social media and directly to patrons, through mentions about the contest encouraging patrons to vote for them.
But for now the time is ticking on the nomination period. Go to www.dailyjournalonline.com/contests/ to nominate your favorites in the Parkland.
An area man is wanted after authorities say he dragged a police officer down the road during a traffic stop and then led police on a pursuit.
St. Francois County Sheriff Dan Bullock said one of his deputies pulled over a man, later identified as Dustin Parker, 29, of Bonne Terre, on or near Highway 47 in Bonne Terre city limits after the deputy ran his plates and it came back as not being on file.
“Once pulled over, the deputy tried to talk to him and the guy refused to get out of the car and started fighting to stay in the car,” said Bullock. “They asked him several times to get out of the car and he refused, so they then attempted to get him out of the car. At that point the man gunned the gas, dragging the officer with him for a short way.”
Bullock said Bonne Terre and Terre Du Lac police officers tried to assist and Parker ran off the road on Old Cadet Road and drove into the woods.
“The officer followed in for a short distance and since they knew who he was and where he lived, they called off the pursuit to keep from damaging vehicles and putting people’s lives in danger,” Bullock said. “He was still in his vehicle going through the brush and was never on foot. He eventually got away.”
Bullock said Parker was running trees down and the officers didn’t want to tear their cars up since they knew who he was.
“A woman must have gotten out of the vehicle at some point and officer talked to her a short time later,” said Bullock. “She was not arrested and he has a current warrant for non-support (failure to pay child support). We will be seeking warrants for fleeing, assault on the officer and other charges. He did put the officer and people in danger and they will pick him up.”
Bullock said fortunately the officer was not hurt and did not require any medical attention.