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Victoria Kemper, Daily Journal 

Emily Kuehl shows her spirit during the Farmington Dance Invitational.

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Health center receives grant to tackle opioid crisis

The St. Francois County Health Center has been selected as a 2018-19 Local Opioid Overdose Prevention and Response (LOOPR) awardee.

The Health Center will receive up to $100,000 from NACCHO (National Association of County and City Health Officials) and the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control to increase its capacity to respond effectively to the opioid epidemic at the local level.

According to the health department, the funding will help the health center work with community partners to develop an action plan and implement a community initiative to address the opioid epidemic in St. Francois County through academic detailing and other evidence-based strategies.

“Obviously we were disappointed to not receive the previous opioid response grant we applied for back in September,” Amber Elliott, St. Francois County Health Center assistant director, said. “But our director, Jessica McKnight, and I never stopped looking for funding to help our community address this problem.”

The Health Center was contacted by NACCHO in late November about the LOOPR funding opportunity and after several conference calls was notified right before the holidays about the award.

“Since finding out about the funding we have held two meetings with our community partners in the opioid consortium,” Elliott said. “We picked up right where we left off in July talking about exactly what our community needs are.”

The opioid consortium is looking at ways to prevent or reduce the incidences of opioid overdose in St. Francois County through measures such as increasing access to life-saving Narcan and medication assisted treatment; preventing transmission of hepatitis C and HIV; improving prevention programs in local schools; and increasing community awareness.

Elliott added that a big focus of the grant funding is for provider education and support through a peer-to-peer learning program known as Academic Detailing.

The Health Center is recruiting up to six healthcare professionals to participate in a training provided by the National Resource Center for Academic Detailing (NaRCAD) at the St. Francois County Ambulance District on March 5-6.

According to information provided regarding the training, "participants will learn outreach education techniques to foster a relationship and facilitate conversation with clinicians to identify individualized needs to provide evidence-based measures in treating and preventing opioid use disorder."

The opioid consortium plans to meet next month to continue developing the community action plan identifying specific activities to address opioid-related issues in St. Francois County.

In 2017 the U.S. Department of health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency. Drug overdoses are currently the leading cause of unintentional injury in the United States.

St. Francois County was among the top counties in the nation recently identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as being at risk for HIV and Hepatitis C infections due to injection drug use.

St. Francois County’s drug overdose rate (36/100,000) is higher than the US average (19.8/100,000). The county has seen increases in reports of injection drug use and heroin use in substance use treatment admissions, increases in drug-related hospitalizations, and in arrests for both adults and juveniles for drug-related offenses.

For more information or help with addiction, contact the St. Francois County Health Center at 573-431-1947 or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health National Helpline at 1-800-662 HELP (4357)

For more information on the opioid consortium or the academic detailing training contact Elliott at the St. Francois County Health Center at 573-431-1947, ext. 113, or email

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MAC meeting with president candidates

The first of four meet and greets being held for school employees and the public to meet four candidates who have been selected as finalists to fill the open position of president at Mineral Area College in Park Hills was held Monday afternoon in the Rice Lecture Hall.

The college began seeking a new president after Dr. Steve Kurtz announced his resignation from the position as of the first of the year. The first featured candidate was Dr. Joe Gilgour of State Fair Community College in Sedalia.

According to the school, dates for additional meet and greets are Wednesday with Dr. Tim Taylor of Oakland Community College; Thursday with Dr. Amber Henry of Missouri Baptist University; and Feb. 20 with Dr. Thomas Mills of Seminole State College. All the meet and greets will be at 2 p.m. in Rice Lecture Hall on MAC's Park Hills campus.

According to Shaun Braswell, MAC’s director of marketing/adjunct instructor, the meet and greets are free and open to the public.

“We are hoping to pack the place,” he said. “I will have the streaming link posted each day for each candidate on the Mineral Area College Facebook page for viewers who are off campus, or for whatever reason are unable to attend the meet and greets.”

Dr. Joe Gilgour

Provided by MAC 


Dr. Gilgour is originally from Chillicothe, and currently serves as dean of student and academic support services at State Fair Community College in Sedalia. He has been with Missouri community colleges for 14 years and has lived in Missouri all his life.

According to Gilgour, he believes in the power of higher education and community colleges specifically as the answer to not only bridging the skills gap in the state of Missouri, but also the best way to reach those who are less likely to attend or be able to afford college.

He holds a Bachelors in Theatre and Psychology from Southwest Baptist University; a Masters in College Student Personnel from Arkansas Tech University; and a Doctorate in Education-Higher Education Administration from Saint Louis University.

Gilgour has presented at numerous conferences including the Higher Learning Commission, Missouri Community College Association and Missouri College Personnel Association. He collaborated with other colleagues from ACPA on the publication of “From Remediation to Graduation: Directions for Research and policy Practice in Developmental Education.” Gilgour has served as instructor of graduate programs at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

He and his wife Stephanie have two children, Grant and Genevieve.

Dr. Tim Taylor

Provided by MAC 


With a background in academic leadership, community partnerships and performance-based curriculum design, Dr. Taylor said he "brings tremendous depth and leadership focused on student success."

From 2014-18, Taylor served Oakland Community College (OCC) in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, as campus president with progressive responsibilities as chief operating officer for the college’s two largest campuses: Auburn Hills and Orchard Ridge (Farmington Hills) with responsibilities for campus administration and operations.

Taylor said that in May 2017 he "intensified his efforts to focus on student success and community need in a newly created academic officer position as associate vice chancellor of academic affairs at OCC where he provided leadership and support to one of the largest technical and career programs in the Midwest."

He further stated that, "while his focus is on manufacturing, engineering, industrial technology and emergency services," he had "an integral role in the college’s strategic plan, as well as administrative development of board policy."

Prior to his work at OCC, he served as president of Frontier Community College, one of four community colleges in the Illinois Eastern Community College District. Taylor began his career in a faculty role before moving to leadership positions in business, technology, skilled trades and agriculture.

He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin; a Master’s in Science in Vocational Education from Southern Illinois University; a Bachelor of Science in Electronics Management from Southern Illinois University; and an Associate of Applied Science in Electronics Technology and Industrial Maintenance from Danville Area Community College.

Dr. Amber Henry

Provided by MAC 


Dr. Henry has 23 years of experience in the field of education, with 20 of them at varying levels of leadership in higher education. She has experience in the areas of transfer and articulation; program design and development; student services; recruitment and retention; online and distance education; and strategic planning.

Dr. Henry serves as the associate vice president for extended learning, leading Missouri Baptist University’s (MBU) regional learning centers; adult and post-traditional programs; and the department of online and distance education. As a professor of education, she currently teaches in the Higher Education Leadership program at MBU.

According to Henry, she has "dedicated her career to providing accessible and affordable education and been instrumental in extending access to high quality education through the creation of regional learning centers, articulation agreements with community colleges and the development of online and distance learning offerings."

Dr. Henry holds an associate degree from Jefferson College; a bachelor’s degree from MBU; a Master’s in Educational Administration from Southwest Baptist University; a Specialist Degree in Information Systems and Learning Technology from the University of Missouri-Columbia; and a Doctorate in Education from Walden University.

She and her husband James have two sons, Logan and Dylan.

Dr. Thomas Mills

Provided by MAC 


Dr. Mills has more than 28 years of experience in higher education, the last 25 in the service of two community colleges — Seminole State College and Rose State College.

According to Mills, throughout that time he has built a reputation as an authentic leader and team builder “with unwavering integrity and dedication” to student success and the community college mission.

For the last 16 years, he has served the students, faculty and staff of Seminole State College (SSC), a rural community college in Seminole, Oklahoma. During his career he has progressed from the position of biology instructor/basketball coach to director of athletics, on to serving as dean of instructional compliance and his current role as the school’s vice president for academic affairs.

As vice president for academic affairs, Mills said he has “fostered a culture of learning and spearheaded the development of numerous programs,” as well as “led a very successful student success initiative,” which he attests nearly doubled the school’s graduation rate.

Prior to his tenure at SSC, he served nine years as a biology instructor/basketball coach at Rose State College in Midwest City, Oklahoma, a larger comprehensive urban community college. He noted that his length of stay and community activism while at both Seminole State and Rose State "provides evidence of his willingness to put down deep roots and make long term investments in the communities where he serves."

Mills holds a Ph.D in Biochemistry from the University of Houston; a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Central Oklahoma; and an Associate of Arts Degree in Education from Rose State College.

Mills and his wife Yvonne share their home with their pug Cricket and enjoy spending time with their three children, Kendall, Brandon and Kirby, who are all attending graduate school. In his personal time Mills likes to read, lift weights, hike, camp and build things with his hands.

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More than just a cop

With school shootings, bullying, sexting and juvenile crime becoming more prevalent in society, schools have turned to having more resource officers on staff.

What is a school resource officer’s purpose? Are they there simply to police the school or do they have a much wider range of job duties? How should students feel about their resource officers?

The first school in the county to utilize a school resource officer was the Farmington School District. Sgt. Sam Weekley, Farmington Police, has been working in the Farmington School District since 1997 and is in his 21st year of SRO duties. Farmington’s resource officers are employed by Farmington Police Department, however, the district reimburses a portion of the cost.  

Farmington also has two additional officers, one who works the intermediate and middle school buildings, Officer Wendy Helton; and Officer Jeff Vandiver who concentrates on the kindergarten center, Washington-Franklin Elementary and Jefferson Elementary.

Weekley said SROs are required to have a mandatory one-week training in Jefferson City. In addition, they must have graduated from the police academy and also keep up on their P.O.S.T. Certification (Peace Officer Standards and Training).

“We police all criminal activity (in) all buildings, assist in abuse and neglect investigations, auto accidents on campus, traffic control, and work special events such as ballgames and dances,” said Weekley.

Weekley said that he and the other officers take care of intruder training, emergency plans, and teach students about the law, driving safety and drug use. 

“SROs are teachers, counselors, and law enforcement officers,” said Weekley.

Central School District in Park Hills also utilizes a resource officer. Officer Summer Bentley is currently in her seventh school year. Bentley is supplied to the district through the Park Hills Police Department. A second position is vacant. 

mmcfarland / Submitted 

Officer Summer Bentley takes care of law enforcement and training programs for Central R-3 Schools. 

Bentley said that a large part of her role is district safety procedures. She is currently working with other school officials to create a new Emergency Operations Plan. Bentley also teaches intruder safety and performs drills with staff and students, teaches classes on bullying, sexting, and drug use, and works social service-related cases.” 

Bentley also has had the mandatory SRO training and maintains her P.O.S.T. certification.

“A big part of my position in the district is working with the Critical Incident Team. This team has four people in each building who are CPR and first aid trained who can respond in the event of an emergency, which could range from an active shooter to a natural disaster such as a tornado or earthquake,” said Bentley.

North County School District has gotten on board with the SRO trend. The district, which has buildings in both Bonne Terre and Desloge, has two officers on staff who are commissioned by the county.

mmcfarland / Submitted photo 

Deputy Brian Whitfield (L) and Deputy Jamie Crump (R) are both in their first year of keeping student and teachers at safe in the North County School District.

Deputy Jamie Crump and Deputy Brian Whitfield are the two officers who work for the North County School District.

“We react to any legal issues on campus, teach several classes (covering topics such as) underage drinking and DWI, nicotine and vaping, and opioid addiction,” said Crump. “We are here for the students and sincerely care about them. Any student who has any issue, personal or school related, can come to us at any time.”

The Bismarck School District added a school resource officer for the 2018-2019 school year. Officer Scott LaHay is the resource officer for the Bismarck district. He began in August of 2018 and is an employee of the school.

LaHay said he carries a dual commission by the Bismarck Police Department and the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department. This is because a lot of the school district is outside the city limits.

mmcfarland / MATT MCFARLAND 573-518-3616 

Officer Scott LaHay works to keep students and faculty safe at Bismarck Schools. 

“Daily basic operations consist of safety of the students and staff, public relations and educational programs,” said LaHay.

“I have not yet had the SRO training as I was hired right at the beginning of the school year and the courses are offered in the summer months (so the officer is not taken away from the school during session),” said LaHay.

File photo 

The St. Francois County Health Center has been selected as a 2018-19 Local Opioid Overdose Prevention and Response awardee and will be receiving up to $100,000 from the National Association of County and City Health Officials and the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

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Missouri court sets new rules for bail

Missouri courts have decided a policy change is needed in regards to how bail is set in the pre-trial phase of court cases.

After a person is charged with a crime, they go before a judge where a determination of bail is made.

Chief Justice Zel Fischer announced the new policies in his State of the Judiciary address saying, "Too many who are arrested cannot afford bail even for low-level sentences and remain in jail awaiting a hearing." He continued, "Though presumed innocent, they lose their jobs, cannot support their families and are more likely to re-offend."

The new rules, set to take effect the beginning of July, will require judges to consider non-monetary conditions when deciding the pre-trial fate of those charged with a crime. A monetary amount can still be set after a judge has first considered the non-monetary options. However, the monetary bail cannot exceed that which is needed to reasonably ensure public safety and that the defendant will appear back in court.

This change in bail policy comes after a year-long study conducted by experts in all fields of criminal justice and included input from court system professionals such as judges, prosecutors, public defenders and other legal workers.

Earlier this year, Gov. Mike Parson's expressed a desire for reforms rather than expansion to the growing correctional system population. In his State of the State address, Parson said, "As governor, I am not interested in building more prisons," ... a statement to which he received a bipartisan standing ovation. 

Rep. Mike Henderson, R-117th, said the changes are not earth-shattering policy change, but are a good measure to ensure Missouri citizens' rights are being upheld.

Henderson also said he believes this will benefit Missouri both socially and economically, and that the judiciary system got some things right with this one.

Sen. Gary Romine called the new changes a “common sense and rational approach.”