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Donna Miller is shown with a student, Emilee Turner, from a few years ago, after she received an award for Character Council.

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A brief reprieve from cabin fever

With the past couple weeks full of snow and sleet and several more before that of cold temperatures, this past weekend was a welcomed chance to get outdoors and soak up some unseasonable warmth ... even if it was short lived.

Experts admit there's some truth to the perception that short days, cold temperatures that tend to keep a person indoors, and lack of sunshine combine to have a "mental effect" on humans. Just like Jack Torrence, Jack Nicholson's character in "The Shining", spending large amounts of time in isolation can really have an effect on people. 

Dan Bullock, St. Francois County Sheriff, said, “We see a rise in domestic violence any time the temperatures are extremely high or extremely low.

“Large amounts of snow and extended times of being unable to get away causes individuals’ patience to wear thin. Often time kids are out of school and everyone is thrown together. Tempers can tend to flare in these situations and domestic disputes increase as a result."

Washington County Sheriff Zach Jacobsen also reports an increase in domestic disturbances in the winter months. He notes it is especially higher around the holidays.

The good news is that with February being a short month, spring is now less than 50 days from arrival on March 20.

WebMD says that cabin fever (winter blues or winter malaise) is a condition that doesn’t get much respect, or formal attention, from some healthcare professionals.

Dr. Reshma Eugene, M.D., is a family practice physician who works for BJC at Parkland Health Center in Bonne Terre. Dr. Eugene just moved to the area in December and is originally from Toronto, Canada.

Dr. Eugene stated that “cabin fever” is really a misnomer and is not a true medical diagnoses. She explains that what people are usually referring to is actually called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, which is a true medical diagnoses.

“SAD affects about 5 percent of the U.S. population,” the physician explained. “It usually occurs in the fall and winter months and will improve during the spring and summer, but the worst part of the year for symptoms are usually January and February.”

Dr. Eugene said SAD is caused by changes in our circadian rhythm (biological clock) due to changes in the amount of daylight hours and other factors such as family history that may pre-dispose you to depression. It can affect women more than men, and usually starts between the ages of 18-30. 

Symptoms of SAD can be feeling sad or down, loss of interest in doing activities that were previously enjoyable, change in sleep pattern, increased appetite and craving more carbohydrates, difficulty concentrating, and sometimes even thoughts of suicide.

If individuals experience these symptoms they should talk to their doctor. Dr. Eugene says treatment for SAD can include light therapy, medication or cognitive behavioral therapy. 

The big question is can a person avoid catching ‘cabin fever’ or SAD? Dr. Eugene says that SAD is not really something that can be prevented.

While there is nothing to prevent SAD, there are some things that can be done to ease symptoms during winter months.

Dr. Eugene says self-care is always important including getting enough exercise, at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise for adults; eating a healthy diet including fruits, vegetables and whole grains; managing stress in healthy ways and spending as much time outdoors as possible. 

If someone is feeling severe depression or suicidal thoughts, they should go to the nearest emergency room or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Legion post reconstruction nears end

A little more than seven months after a fire at American Legion Post 416 in Farmington left the veterans service organization without a place to meet, reconstruction of the building's interior is almost complete and its first activity already placed on the calendar.

Post Adjutant Don Weiler has announced that the Le Pere-McCalester post will hold its first meeting at 7 p.m. this evening, the first at the post last summer's fire.

“We had a very destructive fire on the 15th of June of last year," Weiler said. "It wasn’t visible from the outside, but it completely destroyed the inside.”

Although the fire damage was mainly limited to the furnace room and some of the kitchen, smoke and water damage spread to the rest of the interior. Because of the extensive damage, a general contractor was brought in to do the work.

“We had a general contractor come in," Weiler said. "Sargent Construction Co. did the complete renovation of it. They tried to get all local people to replace the electrical, plumbing and heating and air conditioning."

The state fire marshal and fire investigator both determined the fire — deemed electrical in nature — began in the furnace room at the back of the building before spreading to the kitchen area.

As renovation of the building was taking place, the post held its meetings in VFW Hall Post 5896 on Karsch Boulevard.

“The VFW was very generous by letting us rent their meeting room,” Weiler said.

While the kitchen isn’t finished yet, the members are excited to be getting back to holding meetings and events in the building with its completely new interior.

“People will not recognize the hall, it’s very different,” he said.

Weiler is encouraging people to return to see the finished construction and get back involved with the many activities the post has to offer.

“[We] invite all the members to come back to the meetings, and also any prospective members come to a meeting and we’ll be glad to sign them up,” he said.

As far as other organizations affected by the fire, things should be returning back to normal for them as well.

“We sponsor a Scout troop here in Farmington — Troop 247 — and they were meeting at the hall, and I presume they will be coming back to the hall,” he said.

Since some of the facility isn’t yet complete, Friday evening dances at the renovated building will start March 1, from 6 to 9 p.m., with music by Country Classic, featuring Jack and Greg. Admission is $5.

Meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of the month.

Dinner meetings take place at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of the month.

The post is located at 1604 W. Columbia St. in Farmington, next to the VA Clinic.

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Kshe wanted on drug charges

A Washington County woman has been charged with delivery of a controlled substance stemming from an incident in 2018.

Kshe Dobbs, 32, of Mineral Point, has been charged with delivery of a controlled substance, two counts of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of marijuana.

According to the probable cause statement by the Potosi Police Department, an officer was called to Casey’s General Store in Potosi regarding a suspect having an active warrant.

The report states that when the officer arrived he waited for Dobbs to come out of the convenience store. After she exited the officer advised her that she had active warrants through Washington County.

According to the report, the officer requested permission to search the vehicle that Dobbs was in, and was advised by the driver that Dobbs had been sitting in the back seat behind the driver.

The report shows a black purse was in the seat where Dobbs had been sitting. The officer identified the purse to be Dobbs’ as he found a card inside that was issued to her. Under the purse, the officer found a white glasses case.

The report states that inside the glasses case was discovered a large plastic bag and two small plastic bags with a white crystal substance inside. One small baggie was also discovered with a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana.

In addition, a blue pipe with burnt residue and a small weigh scale was located in the glasses case. The officer took the items into possession as evidence. In addition, the officer seized three cell phones found in Dobbs’ purse.

The report also states that Dobbs had a large amount of cash, more than $500, on her at the time of the arrest.

Results from the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab showed the crystal substance tested positive for methamphetamine.

Dobbs currently has charges from 2017 for possession of controlled substance still pending disposition in the circuit court.

As of late last week there was an active warrant issued for Kshe Dobbs and she was being sought by authorities.

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WIC program solvent through March

The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC, remains in operation in Missouri. Missouri WIC has received funding to support normal program operations through at least March 31.

The St. Francois County Health Center WIC program will continue to hold appointments with participants and will provide the same level of services and benefits. In addition, the WIC state agency has notified local agencies and retailers that the program will allow all benefits issued to participants to be redeemed for the months printed on the WIC checks.

Some participants are on tri-monthly benefit issuance; therefore, during the month of March benefits will be issued to some participants for April, May, and June.

The partial government shutdown and lack of an approved federal budget for the USDA has interrupted the normal flow of funding and information from USDA to WIC state agencies. The WIC state agency is participating in regular calls with USDA to remain apprised of developments at the federal level.

USDA has been issuing funding needs surveys and is working diligently with individual state agencies to avoid interruptions to WIC benefits and services.

The state agency plans to issue a programmatic update by Feb. 28 regarding funding and further continuation of WIC program operations.

Pregnant women, new mothers, and families with children from birth through their fifth birthday can learn more about qualifying and enrolling in the Missouri WIC program by calling the St. Francois County Health Center WIC office at 573-431-1947.

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Six hurt in head-on crash

Two Fredericktown residents were among six injured in a Saturday morning collision involving two SUVs that took place on eastbound Highway 364 at U.S. 64 in St. Charles County.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the 9:45 a.m. accident occurred when an eastbound 2016 Acura MDX driven by Christopher L. Watson, 46, of Lake St. Louis, was hit head-on by a 2008 Ford Edge being driven westbound by Ann M. DeFrancesco, 64, in the eastbound lanes of Highway 364.

DeFrancesco and an occupant in her vehicle, Michael M. DeFrancesco, 77, of Fredericktown, were transported by ambulance to Mercy Hospital St. Louis where both were treated for moderate injuries.

Watson and three occupants in his vehicle — Emelia E. Bequette, 14, of O'Fallon; Kimberly A. Watson, 46, of Lake St. Louis; and Riley N. Watson, 13, of Lake St. Louis, were all transported by ambulance to SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital where all were treated for moderate injuries.

The patrol reports that both drivers and all occupants were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident. Both vehicles were totaled.