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Chuck Gallaher 

"Romeo and Juliet" will be performed Feb. 14-16 at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.


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Helping others with autism

Elizabeth “Liz” Galt is a treasure to everyone who has ever had the joy of meeting this special young lady with a disability.

Diagnosed with autism as a small child, the 25-year-old Farmington resident has gone far beyond what doctors had thought she’d ever be able to accomplish. In addition to her involvement in a wide range of civic events and appointment by a former governor to a state board, Galt has begun another project she believes will make a major difference in the lives of children, youth and adults with autism.

It’s amazing to hear how much Galt has overcome to become an outstanding young adult.

“I was born in Dayton, Ohio, but I moved to Farmington when I was 6 years old,” she said. “I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. Whenever I was first diagnosed, they thought I had severe autism because I didn’t talk until I was 6, wasn’t potty trained until I was 8 and couldn’t make full sentences until I was 8.

“I had about 10 different types of therapy when I was a kid to help my autism. My mom was a special ed teacher so she worked with me nonstop. I graduated from Farmington High School in 2012. All my teachers and all my friends and family helped me to be the person I am today.”

And what an incredible person she is.

In October 2017, Galt was one of 30 women appointed by then-governor Eric Greitens to the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council. She is an in-demand speaker on autism at schools, colleges and conventions; and has worked with primary, secondary and higher education to provide inclusive learning for students with developmental disabilities. Additionally, Galt was recognized for a project she organized that raised funds for an inclusive playground facility through Parents Advocating Developmental Disabilities in Farmington.

Asked what she likes the most about public speaking, Galt said, “I like educating others about autism and helping them to understand that people with autism and disabilities are just like everybody else. I explain to them what sensory toys are. Just because I use sensory toys doesn’t mean I play with them. It’s a tool to help me in my everyday life — kind of like glasses are tools to help people see and hearing aids are tools to help people hear. They’re just tools to help people with disabilities in their everyday lives.”

While Galt is a very busy woman, she has recently taken on another way to help people with autism.

“I started my iPads For Autism business,” she said. “It’s a non-profit organization. I help kids and adults with non-verbal autism and non-verbal disabilities be able to communicate their wants and needs by using the Proloquo2Go app.

“It also helps them to be able to socialize and interact with their peers. Just because they don’t have a voice doesn’t mean they can’t understand people when they talk behind their backs. They can understand, but they can’t let it out. It’s kind of like being trapped in a duct tape maze. We have to pass the levels of a video game to find our voice.”

Galt said her newest project began several years ago when she raised $4,100 and used the money to purchase and then give away 11 iPads. This year she’s raised around $5,200, given away five iPads and, in her words, “working on number six.”

“I really want to help those with non-verbal autism and non-verbal disabilities have a voice to be heard all over the world,” she said. "That way they can be like everybody else. I’ve noticed a difference in the recipients’ ability to communicate. Their parents cry tears of happiness. I had one mother who sent me a message saying, ‘My daughter typed in ‘where’s my daddy at?’ It’s very cool about how they can actually make conversation using this app. It’s one of the best apps available for this kind of disability.”

So, how does Galt choose those who receive a free iPad loaded with the Proloquo2Go app?

“I have a business partner named Leslie Asher who helps me,” she said. “We ask their age, what their diagnosis is and where they’re from. We do them in-state and out-of-state. We Facetime them and do background checks to make sure they’re not scams or fakes. I’m very happy that I have a business partner because sometimes people with autism think, ‘Oh, we want to help everybody’ but we don’t recognize the dangers in the world.

“Leslie helps me keep track of all my receipts and phone calls and writes things down because we get calls and texts about it almost every day. I want to continue doing this the rest of my life because more and more people are getting diagnosed with autism. I really want this to be heard all over the world and educate people. That way children can have a voice and be able to communicate with them.”

All-in-all, Galt is proud of what she's accomplished, but knows it's also been made possible with the help of others.

"I have raised over $10,000 for people with disabilities and I drive and live on my own," she said. "Losing both my parents has helped me become a better and stronger person. It's also helped me to deal with my autism better.

"I want to thank my friends and family businesses for donating to my iPad For Autism business. If it weren't for them I don't know what I'd do.

Those wanting to help contribute to iPads For Autism program can message Galt on Facebook or make a donation through First State Community Bank in Farmington.


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Students honor teacher's legacy

Mary Hoehn touched the lives of many throughout her 37 years teaching art and 34 years coaching tennis at North County High School.

Her recent passing was a shock to the school community and beyond. 

To honor her legacy, current and former North County students, faculty and friends will hold an informal service in remembrance of the much-adored teacher and coach on Feb. 12 in the high school’s auditorium.

The service, which will run from 3 to 7 p.m., will allow those she influenced over the years to share stories, art works, photos and music. The remembrance will be held the same night as parent-teacher conferences for scheduling convenience to allow as many people as possible to attend. Visitors can stop in or participate anytime during the four-hour time.

Along with the various art works, there will be a video montage put together by UniTec Instructor Jason Loughary. The school's art club will also be working on a mural in the 800 hall of the school in Hoehn’s honor. Though the mural won't be completed for a few weeks, visitors who stop by the memorial event who knew Hoehn will have the opportunity to sign a section of wall which will be included in the mural when finished. 

Current and past students, friends and faculty who wish to share works of art are asked to drop pieces to be displayed off at the school’s main office or with teachers Eric Schonhardt or Sarah VanZee, who are helping put the memorial together. Others helping out in various ways include Eric Bryan, Jeff Cauley and Donna Byington, a very close friend of Hoehn.

All works submitted can be picked up after the service or the two following days. Any photos of Hoehn to be displayed can be emailed to ebryan@ncsd.k12.mo.us.


Matthew Morey, Daily Journal 

Jake’s Express Shop sustains some damage after a fire Monday night. 


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Convenience store damaged by fire

Firefighters were called to the scene of a convenience store fire Monday evening. 

According to reports, departments were dispatched to Jake’s Express Shop and Deli, located at 6104 Route Y outside Goose Creek. Bob Reeves, fire chief for Goose Creek, said the initial call was for smoke coming from Jake’s Express Shop and the call came in at about 8:54 p.m.

Firefighters from Big River/Bonne Terre, Goose Creek, Lake Timberline, De Soto, Desloge, Leadington and Farmington were dispatched. Crews were on the scene for nearly two hours.

According to Big River/Bonne Terre Fire Chief David Pratte, there wasn’t extensive damage and the building didn't appear to be a total loss.

Jake's Express Shop shares the same building as the Post Office, but the Post Office part of it is undamaged and still open to the public.

Nobody was inside at the time firefighters arrived. The cause of the fire is being investigated.


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Three wanted for check cashing scheme

Three individuals are being sought by Farmington Police Department for allegedly cashing fraudulent checks at a local check-cashing store.

Frederic Juniel, 44, of Columbia and Melvin Warrick, 41, of Columbia, have been charged with three counts of forgery. James Washington, 27, of Boonville, has been charged with two counts of forgery.

According to the probable cause statement, on Jan. 3, Farmington Police were dispatch to Cheap Smokes, located on Weber Road in Farmington for a report of individuals passing bad checks.

The court document states that on three different dates in December, the three subjects came into the store together and cashed checks that appeared to be from Johnson Tree Service and Landscaping out of Springfield.

According to the report, after the checks were cashed, the store employees called Regions Bank, the bank on which the checks were written, and discovered the account had been closed.

The document states that the first suspect, Juniel, cashed three checks on Dec. 23, Dec. 24, and Dec. 27 totaling $2,694.15. The second suspect, Warrick, cashed three checks, two on Dec. 23 and one on Dec. 27 totaling $2,012.62. The third suspect, Washington, cashed two checks on Dec. 23 totaling $1,225.10.

According to the report, criminal checks show that Washington has a warrant for probation violation and is a person of interest in a crime that occurred in O’Fallon. Warrick had no criminal history, but his driver’s license is revoked. Juniel has an active warrant for failure to appear on a prior possession charge.

The three suspects are currently wanted by authorities. The suspects’ bond has been set at $5,000 each.

Anyone with information on the location of these individuals is urged to contact Farmington Police Department at 573-756-6686 or the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department at 573-431-2777. Cheap Smokes is offering a reward of an undisclosed amount for information leading to the arrest of these men.