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Exhibit educates parents, caregivers on signs of abuse

A special informative event for parents and caregivers is taking place at a local middle school.

Farmington Middle School is hosting an interactive event on Wednesday called “Hidden in Plain View” presented by the group Addiction is Real.

Counselor Tess Moore said the event features a typical teenager’s bedroom with 70 items hidden in the room. Those items, Moore said, are indicators of a child’s use of drugs.

Those who attend are given a clipboard and asked to identify anything in the room that may signify substance abuse.

Moore said the exhibit shows those everyday items that, upon closer look, can be used to hide the signs of drug abuse.

One example she gives are a pair of flip flops located at the foot of the bed. At first glance, the footwear looks insignificant — just a pair of shoes casually tossed off at the end of the day.

“When you look at them, they’re just sitting at the foot of the bed like any other kid would have,” she said. “When you pick one up, there’s a slit on the top of the sole with a pocket cut out that would be a place to put pills or a small bag of whatever it is they are using.”

Once a list is completed, the participant is then given a list showing those 70 items found in the display – indicators of possible drug and alcohol abuse.

She became familiar with the exhibit during a conference with the Jefferson County School Counselors Association of which she is a member — and last year was awarded the Jefferson County School Counselor Association "Counselor of the Year" award on Feb. 10, 2017 at the association’s annual meeting, only later to receive the state-wide honor.

The exhibit, Moore said, was eye-opening for this educator who also teaches a course at Mineral Area College. It is designed for parents and community members to participate.

The exhibit is open from 3 to 5 p.m. and again from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday — an early-out day for the district. Presentations take place at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. for each event. The school is located at 506 S. Fleming St.

Addiction is Real, according to the website, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2015 by a group of concerned parents based in St. Louis whose sole mission is to educate parents about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and provide them the tools to take a more proactive approach in having these discussions with their child.

Moore said one of the speakers during the presentation is the mother of a victim of substance abuse.

“It affects all of us,” she said. “It’s not just an isolated group. There is no socioeconomic status that drug abuse covers — it could be anyone.

"If we can stop it ... if we can make parents aware and teachers aware of the dangers that are there. This is about awareness and trying to get people to not be using drugs, to find better things to do with their time."

Bringing new life downtown

Rich history can be discovered almost anywhere in the Parkland, from legends passed down through families or records of generations past. In some cases, however, history stands tall and obvious over Main Street — or to be more specific, West Main Street.

The building referred to by many as the old YMCA building at 322 West Main Street has stood for more than 100 years, serving a myriad of purposes and passing through the hands of several owners.

In 2015, local real estate investors and cousins Chris and Derrick Hulsey acquired the building with the intention of renovating and reopening the property for apartment rentals. As they began working toward that goal, another idea arose to continue the varied legacy of the building.

Chris’ wife Ashton and Derrick’s wife Ashley suggested the idea of putting a coffee shop in the bottom floor of the building, and for the past two years they have been working on an idea that resulted in the creation of RaeCole’s Coffee Bar.

“When they got this building, I was just thinking that it would be a perfect opportunity,” Ashley Hulsey said. “They came back within a couple of weeks and asked if we really wanted to do it. From that point on, for the last two years, we’ve been brainstorming and listening to what people want. So for me, it was about bringing something to this part of town that we didn’t have.”

The name comes from a combination of Ashton and Ashley’s middle names, Rae and Nicole.

Derrick said while he and Chris worked on renovating the space, Ashton and Ashley worked on the logistics of the coffee shop.

“It was a really long process,” Ashley said. “We’re a little over two years into it now and we never anticipated it taking that long. It took six months just to get the tenants out and then there was a lot of tearing out. It had to be gutted, but they left all the bones of the original that they could.”

In a larger context than starting a business or continuing the legacy of the old YMCA building, Ashley said she feels like the venture is part of the next revitalization of downtown Park Hills, with the addition of several other nearby businesses and renewed focus from officials at city hall.

“I was part of the whole ‘cruising’ era,” she said. “It was a big deal. With the kids now, it’s totally different. So I’ve been thinking about that — my kids will be able to look back 10 years from now, and hopefully this is still up and running and there will be multiple new businesses. And we’ll realize that it all started revitalizing around now. I think it’s so cool.”

Ashley said there are hopes for a patio area for students, members of the community and residents in the apartments above the coffee shop to enjoy as well.

“Beyond just the opportunity for the community, I started thinking about how I can help young students who need jobs and being here to mentor them, giving them opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have,” she said. “It gave us more incentive to go forward with it. We’ve taken a leap of faith and I think it will be good.”

If the downtown area continues to grow and improve, a building that has stood for more than 100 years could continue to be a beneficial and relevant piece of the Park Hills economy for decades to come.

David Easter has held the position of president of the Downtown Park Hills Association since 2005 and said the recent growth downtown is a great example of the vision the organization has for the downtown area.

"Our goal has always been to not only keep the businesses we have downtown, but to bring in new businesses and encourage people to open up shops here in the downtown district," Easter said. "We've had several in just the past few years."

"For example, the Factory Diner, which during the time that I was mayor, the administration was working hard to bring in more resaurants into the downtown area. The Riverside Grill is another, which is aptly named, for being right by Flat River Creek. Another, hopefully soon to be opened, is the Old Mine House Bar and Grill, which we're looking forward to."

Easter said there are now approximately five locations to eat in the downtown area, including the previously named restaurants, Subway and Country Mart.

Beyond restaurants, Easter said there are other possible new businesses coming to the downtown area in the future.

"I believe we have a boutique coming in, we have StayFit fitness studio near the boutique, and I believe a different type of grocery store than Country Mart," he said. "We still have some buildings for entrepreneurs to come into the city to try different things, to look around and see what we don't have and to open up their own specialty shops or convenience stores."

Credit for the gains being made downtown is due to several parties, according to Easter, including the business owners themselves and city officials.

"A lot of credit goes to the Park Hills-Leadington Chamber of Commerce and the efforts made by the city council, both past and present, in getting more businesses and encouraging more people to come into the Park Hills area," he said.

Ashley Hulsey said as the downtown area grows, it can be good to try and change things up a little bit, which is what she hopes to accomplish at RaeCole's.

“I’m definitely not a city girl,” Ashley said. “But I think we don’t always have to abide by the small-town feel just because we’re in Park Hills. I love small towns, but I do feel like we can have something different. I think it’s good to have all the different elements and be well-rounded.

“I think this will be an opportunity for people who want something different to realize they can be outside of the box. We definitely want a place where everybody feels welcome.”

Work on the coffee bar and apartments are nearing completion, with the Hulseys hoping to open the doors in the coming weeks.

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Charged in kidnapping, assault

An area man is being charged with several felonies after he was reportedly involved in kidnapping and assaulting his girlfriend.

James Harris, 28, of Park Hills, is being charged with a class B felony of kidnapping in the first degree, a class B felony of domestic assault in the first degree, a class D felony of unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance.

According to a probable cause statement, on Feb. 21 at 10 p.m. a St. Francois County Sheriff’s deputy spoke with a woman in reference to an assault. She said on Feb. 16 Harris became mad that she had tried to leave a few weeks prior.

She told the deputy that Harris was hitting her and telling her it was her own fault. She said it continued through Feb. 19. Harris allegedly kicked the woman’s leg until she was unable to stand and repeatedly beat her about the head until she nearly lost consciousness.

The woman said Harris found her mom’s ring and forced her to swallow it, telling her that if she didn’t he would knock her teeth out. It was confirmed through X-rays that the woman had, in fact, swallowed the ring.

She also told the deputy that Harris used a glass perfume bottle the size of a baseball to hit her in the back of the head. He also allegedly pushed her into a corner and began choking her until she neared unconsciousness. He also reportedly dragged her around by her hair, hitting her with any object he could find.

The deputy saw pictures of the woman and noticed several bruises on her head and ear. The woman also told the deputy she was scheduled to have a procedure done to remove the ring. She also explained she was unable to call the police since Feb. 16 due to Harris not allowing her to leave the house.

She said every night she would start to fall asleep Harris would grab her by the hair and begin to drag her around the house. She said she finally convinced him to let her leave for work.

The woman said she went to work and convinced her employer to let her go to the hospital. She left the hospital and contacted authorities.

According to court documents, when the deputy arrested Harris he found marijuana and paraphernalia.

Harris reportedly asked if he could just be charged with the domestic assault but not a marijuana-related charge. The woman came home after Harris was arrested and gave consent to search the home.

Harris is a convicted felon and should not be in possession of a firearm. The deputy found one in the kitchen closet that the woman said Harris had placed there.

Harris was booked into the St. Francois County Jail on a $100,000 bond with the stipulation that upon his release he be monitored with GPS tracking.

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MoDOT to focus on pothole repair in March

The Missouri Department of Transportation wants you to be a member of its “Pothole Patrol.”

This month maintenance crews will be repairing potholes. The public is asked to report potholes so MoDOT maintenance crews can assess the damage and complete the needed repairs.

Potholes form when temperatures warm up during the day, but continue to be cold at night. This is the main cause of potholes in highways and why they are prevalent during spring. The rain and snow from winter leave moisture that seeps into cracks and joints in the pavement. When temperatures drop, the water freezes and expands the pavement. This expansion causes the pavement to bulge and crack. When cars drive over the bulging pavement, it eventually causes chunks of pavement to pop out.

“We don’t want to take any shortcuts and sacrifice the safety of our customers and our crews,” said State Maintenance Engineer Becky Allmeroth. “We are focusing on quality repairs. It is not a good use of resources to have our crews going out multiple times repairing the same pothole.”

Allmeroth asks motorists to watch out for crews making the repairs, slow down and move over a lane to give them room to work. As many as 300 pothole patching crews may be working to make state roadways safer.

“Please be aware of crews on the roadway give them room. The work they are performing is saving lives, saving taxpayers’ money and costly repairs to their vehicles,” Allmeroth said.

Motorists can report the location of potholes on state maintained roads using the following tools:

• Call our 24/7 Customer Service Center at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (888-275-6636)

• Use our Report a Road Concern form on the web at

MoDOT spends approximately $15 million a year on pothole patching with the majority of that during the month of March.

The state of Missouri maintains 34,000 miles of road including interstates, U.S. and Missouri routes and lettered routes. Potholes on city streets or subdivisions should be directed to local cities or counties.

This Week in the Parkland


SFC Commission

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.

Desloge Chamber

The Desloge Chamber of Commerce holds its monthly noon investors luncheon at city hall.


Bismarck Aldermen

The Bismarck Board of Aldermen meet in regular session at 7 p.m. at the old train depot. The meeting is open to the public.

Farmington City Council

The Farmington City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers, located at 110 W. Columbia St. The meeting is open to the public.