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Renee Bronaugh, Daily Journal 

North County Middle School Friendlinks Group collects nearly 700 food and hygiene items to be sent overseas to soldiers this holiday season as part of the Good Things From Home project and presents them to the Desloge VFW Auxiliary 2426 members.

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Gas price dips below $2

Gas prices are continuing to drop in the Parkland — and although some parts of the region are seeing bigger price decreases than others — it appears that fuel costs are going to continue moving downward for at least the immediate future.

While the price for regular unleaded at most Farmington gas stations spans between $2.10 and $2.19 a gallon, it’s available at stations in Bonne Terre, Fredericktown and Potosi for under $2 a gallon. As of Thursday afternoon, the lowest cost for a gallon of unleaded in the area was $1.86 a gallon at the Country Mart store in Fredericktown.

Throughout the area, however, prices have dropped a good 20 cents over the past couple of weeks, making it a lot more fun experience filling up the gas tank than it was just a month ago.

Statewide, gasoline prices in Missouri have fallen 9 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.17 a gallon as of Thursday, according to a daily survey of 3,940 stations in the state. This compares with the national average that has fallen 7.8 cents per gallon versus last week to $2.53 a gallon, according to the same survey.

Looking at average gasoline prices over the past five years in the state, it’s obvious that the cost has ranged widely over the time period with gas going for $3 a gallon in 2013; $2.52 in 2014; $1.84 in 2015; $1.88 in 2016; and $2.27 in 2017.

Including the change locally during the past week, prices this week are approximately 9.9 cents per gallon lower than a year ago and are 37.7 cents per gallon lower than just one month ago. Meanwhile, the national average has dropped 29.4 cents per gallon during the last month and is 3.4 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.

Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy petroleum analyst, said, "The $1.99 club has seen its membership swell in the last week with the number of states with stations priced at that level or lower spiking to 18 with Texas, New York, Missouri, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Michigan, Virginia, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee and Illinois all have at least one station at $1.99 or less. The good news is it won't end there.

"Oil prices have seen another weekly rout, with WTI crude oil shedding over $6 per barrel — or some 14 percent — to close the week at a mere $50 per barrel. While many may be a skeptic of the White House taking some of the credit, the Trump Administration's reluctance to punish Saudi Arabia for its role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is likely leading Saudi Arabia to push against large cuts in crude oil production, fearing potential fallout from Trump. In the week ahead, motorists in most states will likely see further drops, saving the country $125 million a day versus prices in early October."

Bee venom patent a first step

If you’re wondering what the buzz is you’ve been hearing around the Parkland, it’s the news that after three years of waiting, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has notified Divine Api-Logics LLC, the maker of Harold’s Famous Bee Cream products, that its utility patent application has finally been approved.

Partners Harold Gallaher and Amanda Hutchings’ utility patent application was titled “Apitherapy Method and Composition,” and according to the pair, covers a matrix system for the transdermal delivery of Apitoxin, or honey bee venom.

According to Hutchings and Gallaher, approval of the patent will give the company freedom to grow its control product lines — Harold’s Famous and The Hive Skin Care Company — as well as eventually expand into the over-the-counter drug market. The patent also grants Divine Api-Logics LLC 20 years of broad legal protections for the pair’s ideas from the initial date of their application, Nov. 18, 2015.

“We actually started research back in early 2013,” Hutchings said. “We’re just thrilled that after years of hard work, research and development our patent was finally granted. It just goes to show that hard work and dedication does actually pay off. With this patent, we are able to start exploring some really exciting ideas for current and future products.

“This was really a very innovative idea that Harold had initially. He came to me and said, ‘I really think there’s some power in this ingredient and I think that we need to tell the world about it.’ I think it’s underutilized. It’s part of the beehive that we really don’t discuss because it’s so hard to get that ingredient from the bee.

“Basically, every ingredient of the hive is good for you and those ingredients are utilized, but bee venom itself really has not been used in the past because it was very difficult to obtain. Some formulations would kill the bee in the process, so we were really not interested in that with the declining bee population.”

Gallaher came up with an idea of creating a transdermal matrix system that could be used for the topical use of bee venom where specific areas of need could be targeted. Calling it “revolutionary,” Hutchings explained that nothing like it had ever been done before.

“There are topical products that just sit on top of the skin, but nothing that really goes deeper into the tissue — and that’s what we’ve done,” she said. “For the last 16 years or so, I’ve been working in the pharmaceutical world. Pharmaceutical compounding is my passion. I love hospice compounding. That’s where I was doing most of my work.”

“Just offering the transdermal method itself was really fascinating to me and that’s why I think Harold latched on. He saw that I had that unique talent and interest, so he thought, ‘Well, let’s combine the two and see what we can come up with.’ So, in the hospice world, we take raw ingredients and we can manipulate those into a transdermal dosage for patients who can’t swallow, or whatever the situation might be.

“We kind of used that same general chemistry idea to make this happen, but what we’re doing is really considered ‘green chemistry.’ We use natural compounds to manipulate other natural compounds instead of synthetic compounds. And so, this is really a rapidly developing process that you’re seeing in front of us. All along, we have known that Harold’s Famous Bee Cream was just a placeholder for something much larger.”

Hutchings explained that the expanding sales of Harold’s Famous Bee Cream products has allowed for extended research into new fields.

“It is wonderful to hear from people who find that our products offer them a better quality of life,” she said. “It’s also wonderful to be leading this type of innovation while maintaining environmental responsibility and bringing awareness to the declining honey bee population. We knew the full scale of what it could do and what the power of bee venom could do, so we’ve been working on a lot of other products.

Now that all is well with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Hutchings and Gallaher admit that waiting for the patent to be approved was sometimes difficult as the pair feared others might steal and use their idea before it was legally protected.

“Unfortunately, we've had a few instances of attempts to copy our work,” Hutchings said. “These things happen quite often with pending patents. Someone sees a new, innovative idea or concept and attempts to copy it hoping the patent will not be approved. They sometimes throw large amounts of money and resources at marketing, so it will appear that they are the innovator, hiding the fact that they are riding the coat tails of those who put in the hard work."

The company had one situation where its box, label and marketing materials were copied almost word for word while other attempts have been more subtle.

“To be quite honest, it's pretty frustrating. I've actually contacted my senator about this very topic. Currently, in respect to the misappropriation or illicit use of trade secrets, the only recourse Missouri business owners have within our state statutes is to file a civil suit or to request a federal investigation. The federal government does consider these acts criminal, however federal investigations take tremendous resources and time."

Through all of this, Hutchings learned that civil litigation is performed privately behind the closed doors of the courts and are not subject to the state’s Sunshine Law.

"This does nothing but empower these dishonest parties, allowing them to continue their behavior under the cloak of anonymity — which only enables them to seek out more victims," she said. "In my opinion, the current process does not do enough to protect innovators from this type of behavior and I've made it my goal to bring more awareness to this issue.”

Divine Api-Logics LLC has a corporate office in Farmington and a distribution center and research facility in Ste. Genevieve.

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Get ready for Jingle Bell Run

The Desloge Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Jingle Bell 5k Run/1 Mile Walk returns to the Parkland for its seventh year Dec. 15, but early registration is already underway.

The race begins at 9 a.m., with same-day registration begins at 7:30 a.m.

Since its inception the annual run/walk has become one of the most popular local events of the Christmas season with anywhere from 60 to 100 people — many dressed in a wide array of holiday attire — taking part each year.

According to chamber Executive Director Paige Faircloth, the race starts and ends at Desloge City Hall, which is located at 300 N. Lincoln St. Those wanting to register or needing more information can call the chamber office at 573-431-3006 or register on the website at

The fee is only $20 if you preregister online by Sunday and that guarantees a free T-shirt and goodie bag on the day of the race. Beginning Monday and continuing through race day, the registration fee is $25 and includes a T-shirt if still available. Registration for runners 14 and under is $15.

Faircloth added that there is timing provided for the event which is important for the people who do a lot of 5k runs. There will be awards presented to the top three runners in each of the age categories, as well as the best overall male and female.

"Then there’s the prize given for the best holiday attire which is always a lot of fun," she said. "Last year, as usual, there were some really creative costumes.”

Faircloth is expecting another great turnout for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk and emphasized that everyone in the community is invited to take part.

“We’re loving having families, groups and individuals of all ages participate in the Jingle Bell Run/Walk,” she said. "It's always a lot of fun and really helps build Christmas spirit. It's been such a big success in the past and we know that it will be one again this year."

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Taking up the 'tiny house' issue

While "living large" is still a thing for those looking to impress family, friends or neighbors, a movement toward downsizing and eliminating a mortgage in favor of "tiny house" living continues to grow and spread across the nation and beyond. 

As is always the case, new trends eventually find their way down to the local level. More and more communities are having to take a look at existing building and land use codes and how they apply, or do not apply, to smaller structures or modified trailers used for a primary residence. 

Different areas which require consideration include fire codes, setback requirements on lots, utility connections, any existing ordinances prohibiting mobile homes in designated areas, and more. 

The Leadwood Board of Alderpersons took up the tiny house and trailer issue for a second time during its regular monthly meeting on Monday evening. Mayor Dennis Parks, who had raised the question about the growing trend initially during a previous meeting, presented the board with a rough draft of guidelines governing tiny houses and trailers as homes and how the community leadership might address it.

Specifics of that proposal are not public record yet since the issue was not voted on but only discussed briefly. More details should be available following the presentation of a formal policy or ordinance for a vote.

As for the tiny house movement, according to website, "Simply put, the trend toward tiny houses has become a social movement. People are choosing to downsize the space they live in, simplify, and live with less.

"People are embracing the tiny life philosophy and the freedom that accompanies the tiny house lifestyle. The tiny house movement is about more than simply living in a small space (although, a small house is certainly part of it) ... The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house definition is a home with square footage is between 100 and 400 square feet.

"Most tiny houses are independent structures — some are parked on land with other buildings or a larger home. Other tiny houses are parked on their own lot. Some tiny houses are designed and built by the owner themselves, while others are purchased, adapted from trailers, or built from a tiny house kit."

In other action, the board voted to give an across-the-board wage increase of $1 an hour to all city employees. The city has about a dozen employees including police, city hall, utility, street and parks workers. 

And a reminder was given that Dec. 11 is the first day for anyone looking to run for mayor or alderperson to get his or her name on the ballot. Three positions are up for vote in April - the office of mayor and two alderperson seats, all two-year terms. Parks currently serves as mayor, while the two seats up for election are currently held by John Vickers and Charlie Lewis.

The board will meet next on Dec. 17.