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Provided by Cpl. Dustin Cash 

St. Francois County school resource officers, along with DARE Officer Gary Carver, are presented armored panels/shields donated from Angel Armor by Cpl. Dustin Cash, third from the right, who along with serving on the Desloge Police Department also serves as a salesman for Angel Armor equipment.

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Santa's coming to the park

Christmas in the Park, one of the area's more popular traditions of the holiday season, returns from 1-3 p.m. Saturday in Desloge City Park.

According to Librarian Misty Boyer, the free annual event, hosted by the Desloge Library Board, will again feature a craft-making area for the kids, with a number of attendance prizes and holiday refreshments.

“We’ll have hot chocolate and individually-wrapped Christmas-themed treats,” Boyer said. “The children, as well as many of the adults, love them.”

When asked what activity is the favorite of those attending the event, Boyer said, “It’s a toss-up. For the kids, it’s sharing their Christmas list and having a photo taken with Santa Claus. For the adults, it’s the horse-drawn carriage rides that take passengers on a tour around the park.”

In addition, library volunteers strolling the park in period clothing from the 1800s adds a nostalgic feel to the celebration of the holiday season.

Boyer noted that prior to Christmas in the Park, Santa Claus will be taken on a tour of the city riding high on the top of a city fire truck and then be delivered to the city park to meet the crowds, courtesy of the Desloge Fire Department.

"It's a nice extra to the day that makes it even more special for people of all ages, Boyer said. "All of us with the library love putting on the holiday event for the Parkland every year," she said. "Christmas in the Park is always lots of fun for the kids and adults, too.

"People seem to come out no matter the weather — if it’s nice outside or even if it’s cold and snowy we always have a good crowd. Whatever this year's weather turns out to be, we're hoping everyone in the Parkland will attend Christmas in the Park to have a fun time with their families."

Shawnna Robinson, Daily Journal 

Dancing in the role of Clara in the Young People's Performing Arts Theater production of "The Nutcracker" are (in no particular order) Savannah Schaefer, Josie Swyers, Ella Davis and Ella Scott. The holiday classic takes the stage on Dec. 6-8 at the Centene Center in Farmington. 

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Holiday classic returns to stage

The Young People’s Performing Arts Theater brings “The Nutcracker” to stage on Dec. 6-8 at the Centene Center in Farmington.

But, what many may not know about is the hours of work and detail going on behind the scenes of this production. This is the 22nd production of the ballet, based on the E.T.A. Huffman story, "The Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” set to the magical score of Peter Tchaikovsky.

The ballet tells the story of a young girl, Clara, who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King. After the Prince defeats him, Clara is whisked away to a winter wonderland and then transported to the Land of the Sweets.

For the YPPAT production, Shelly Andrews heads up the wardrobe, overseeing hundreds of pieces of costuming for the 165 cast members of this year’s production.

There are new pieces featured this year, including those for the “Petite Performers” and even new clothing for the young men in the cast.

“We have a new Sugar Plum (Fairy) tutu and Sugar Plum crown,” she said. “It’s gorgeous. And, it’s really nice.”

Dancing in the role of Sugar Plum Fairy are Taylor Stamm and Kelsey Cheaney.

Andrews heads up a crew of volunteers who begin in the off-season to tidy the costume room before the start of rehearsals in August – when the work starts into full swing.

She said the behind the scenes is a show in and of itself, with the fast-changes and making sure everyone goes onstage with the needed items.

“And, we’re repairing (items) along the way that come undone,” Andrews said.

Artistic Director Kimberly Gavin Anderson stopped in the room before the start of rehearsals to take a peek at the Snow Queen leotards updated by Nikki Galczynski or “Miss G” – as she is affectionately called.

She’s been helping with the wardrobe since her daughter was little – noting this is her fourth or fifth Nutcracker.

Sarah Rottler was working in an area where her late mother, Chris, served as the wardrobe mistress for a number of years.

For her, she said "The Nutcracker" means camaraderie – participating as a dancer when she was a child and coming back as adult as well.

“Getting to visit and see the other side of it,” she said. “It’s a family.”

Marissa LaMartina and Gabriella Miller are two of the four dancers in the role of Snow Queen and were trying on the costumes with tutus to see the fit. The other dancers in the role are Maria Harris and Annie Varhalla.

Anderson said boning was added to the bodice of the Snow Queen costumes to aid with partnering and giving a more corset-feel to the costume.

“This is such a workroom,” Anderson said, noting everything that goes on in the wardrobe room is a vital part of the production.

The two dancers said they were able to partner with the dancer in the role of Snow King – and it was an exciting experience for the two.

“It was a bit of nerve-wracking experience the first time,” Miller said. “But, oh my gosh, we’re like a team now. He’s awesome.”

YPPAT was founded in 1981 by Anderson. She explained the organization’s mission is to provide young artists expanded and enriching performing opportunities in a full length, classical production by bringing classics to the area.

Anderson is artistic director for the show, assisted by her daughter Maggie Haupt.

Performances are Dec. 6-7 at 7 p.m., and Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $13-$15 and available the Farmington Civic Center.

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Chamber plans for parade

Plans are well underway for the annual Park Hills-Leadington Chamber of Commerce’s Hefner Furniture Christmas Parade on Dec. 6.

During the chamber's monthly luncheon meeting last week, it was announced this year’s theme is “Christmas Musical Magic.” Parade participants are encouraged to decorate floats to reflect their favorite Christmas songs.

The evening kicks off at 6 p.m. with a Christmas tree lighting and music by Raelyn Winick, Central first graders and the fifth grade honors choir at Leadington Plaza in front of Hardee’s.

The parade begins there at 7 p.m. After the two-mile parade route, festivities will continue at the Park Hills Sports Complex. Grab free hot chocolate and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the “Santa House.”

There will also be a Christmas tree lighting there with musical performances by Winick, the Central High School Concert Choir, and On Stage Performing Arts. There will be a number of vendors and activity booths set up.

The deadline for parade entries is Dec. 3. Vendors are also being sought. For more information call the chamber office at 573-431-1051.

The Fifth Annual Chamber Cares Holiday Drive for Children will continue through Dec. 18. This year community members are asked to donate personal care items to Central Schools as well as non-perishable food for Central’s Backpack Program.

There are several drop-off locations including the chamber office at 12 Municipal Drive in Park Hills, and the Daily Journal, located at 1513 St. Joe Drive.

During the Tuesday chamber luncheon, St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney-Elect Melissa Gilliam was invited to speak publicly for the first time since defeating incumbent Jerrod Mahurin in the November election.

Gilliam, a Farmington graduate, began her legal career as a deputy district attorney in the Colorado Springs District Attorney’s office. After two years in that office, Gilliam went to work as a prosecutor in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office.

Until she left the office in 2016, Gilliam handled cases including drug and gun crime, property crime, violent crimes such as assault, kidnapping, robbery and murder and white collar crime. In 2016 she returned to Farmington, working for a local firm for a year before opening her own law firm in 2017.

Gilliam has spent 20 years practicing law, the vast majority of that time as a prosecutor.

She said she plans to focus on the future and has a list of things she wants to work on once she takes office in January. She said she knows that list will change and grow.

Rather than being “soft on crime” or “tough on crime,” she said she wants to be “smart on crime," using data-driven prosecution and collaboration from the community, including police officers.

She said one of her focuses will be on the drug court and there are misconceptions that exist now. She said drug court is not a “cake walk.” Rather, many defense attorneys steer clients away from drug court because it is very difficult to graduate the program. She said it is a really good program and there is room for a lot more drug court participants in St. Francois County.

She also believes victim advocacy services is lacking in the county. She has learned of a state grant to hire a second victim advocate for the office.

During the meeting, Mineral Area Overhead Door was the business spotlight of the month. The business began in 1978 and serves commercial and residential needs in the Parkland and beyond.

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Illinois woman injured in crash

An Illinois woman was seriously injured in a crash on Route Y near Brickey Road early Monday morning.

The accident occurred at 12:25 a.m. According to Missouri State Highway Patrol, 23-year-old Chelsea Johnson, of Dallas City, Illinois, was driving a 2000 Toyota Sienna west on Route Y when the vehicle went off the right edge of the roadway. Johnson over-corrected and the vehicle skidded across the roadway and off the left side of the roadway, striking a fence, embankment, utility pole and utility pole guide wire. The vehicle overturned onto its passenger side. 

She was taken to Mercy Hospital-South for serious injuries. 

A Bonne Terre woman was injured in a crash on the northbound U.S. 67 entrance ramp from Highway 32.

According to the patrol, at 11:32 a.m. Monday, Lori Moore, 50, was driving north when she suffered a medical condition causing her 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt to leave the road, striking three reflector posts and a ditch. 

She received minor injuries and was taken to Parkland Health Center.