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Weather batters region, causes damage

St. Joseph avoided the worst of the storms that ripped across the Midwest Friday night, avoiding what an expert said could’ve been “hurricane-like damage.”

The Lawrence, Kansas, area was not so lucky. According to reports, a tornado touched down in the area around 6 p.m. Tuesday. Tornado warnings also were issued for the Bonner Springs and Lone Star, Kansas, areas.

As the storm progressed, it missed St. Joseph on a southeastern path. According to National Weather Service reports, a large and dangerous tornado touched down on the western edge of Kansas City, Kansas, and headed toward the popular Legends Outlets entertainment and shopping area that includes the Kansas Speedway. There was no immediate word on the extent of damage.

The weather service later expanded the tornado warning to include the entire Kansas City area.

And even though St. Joseph escaped the brunt of the storms, the weather is still causing certain concerns for local homeowners.

According to Chuck Gardner, the owner of Expert Tree Service, similar storm systems have caused catastrophic damage in the area. He added that any tree damage will be made worse because the ground is already saturated. Because of the winter, his crew is already backed up still handling those calls.

A homeowner is responsible for a fallen tree if it’s on their property. According to Gardner, the city’s public works department will generally clear trees if they fell from city property.

Keven Schneider, the superintendent of streets with the city, said his crews are ready to assist.

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Somber morning | Overcast conditions reflect remembrance of those who have passed
Remembering the fallen

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Unpredictable weather couldn’t stop the annual Memorial Day Remembrance from honoring the area’s fallen soldiers.

Undeterred by the looming dark clouds, St. Joseph officials, the public and veterans gathered at the VFW 1668 on Monday to honor those who died in battle.

During and after the ceremony, guests told stories about their fellow comrades who saved their lives in both big and small ways.

“Memorial Day, for all of us, conjures up different images for different people. Those who have lost loved ones use this as a day of remembrance and take the time to reflect on those we have lost,” guest speaker Cpt. Michael Nellestein, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, said. “We remember them, cry for them and thus, honor their memory.”

In his speech, Nellestein honored Cpl. John Pennington of the U.S. Marine Corps, who served as a father figure to him when he was young.

Due to rain, Nellestein’s speech was moved indoors to the VFW hall. Earlier that morning, weather concerns moved the ceremony from the traditional location at Civic Center Park to the VFW.

For veterans at the ceremony, like the people in the Post 359 Honor Squad, which performed the 21-gun salute and taps, they each have their own way of honoring their fallen brothers and sisters.

Vietnam veteran John Minton makes a point to decorate the graves of veterans who have died, both those he knew and others that he never met.

“It’s a day of remembrance and that flag means as much to them as it does to me,” he said.

Leading the Honor Guard, retired Army Col. Kenneth Nash said the honor and privilege of gathering with fellow veterans on a weekly basis is never lost on him.

“We continue this on a weekly basis as we recognize veterans as they pass on, and today’s a special day where we recognize people that gave their lives for the greatness of our country,” he said.

The featured guests at the remembrance ceremony included the Buchanan Highlanders performing patriotic songs, Mayor Bill McMurray delivering the city’s proclamation, and Minton giving the Freedom Pledge.

While the weather caused the ceremony to move locations twice, Minton said he’s touched by the people who rolled with the changes to remember those who sacrificed their lives.

“They’re my true brothers and sisters. I love them. It is good to see them,” he said.

Coming from a military family, with his dad and uncle serving in World War II and a daughter serving in Korea, Nash said it means the world that people remember those who have fought and are currently serving.

“We’re proud of the fact that we have the opportunity and the privilege to serve,” he said.

Event focuses on women who served

EVEREST — Veterans gathered on Saturday to call attention to the history of the social cause of women in the armed forces: The great trials they had to overcome and still face, hardly just the enemy abroad.

Shannon Scott, adjutant of the American Legion Post No. 288 of Everest, Kansas, held the seminar Unsung Heroes: Women of the United States Military amid Memorial Day Weekend. Scott has been involved with the Legion for decades and has made it something of a lifelong mission to ensure the women who sacrificed for national service are never forgotten.

“What the men and women of the military have secured for us is freedom,” she said. “We aren’t forced, like some countries are, to stand and wave our little flags on command.”

Scott can personally speak to the very high price women serving in the military have been forced to pay at the same time they have consistently been in the line of fire abroad, even though the mainline combat arms of the U.S. armed services didn’t completely open until 2013. During her time in the US. Army, she suffered extensive sexual harassment and unfair treatment.

As one example of the trials women have had to overcome in the history of U.S. military service, Scott spoke of how during World War II, Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) frequently experienced discrimination and in some instances suffered injury and death at the hands of male colleagues who practiced reckless disregard for their safety and attempted to make things difficult for them in order to pressure them out of the service. Worse, the military considered WASPs to be technically civilians, and entitled to no injury or death benefits.

“I think it’s very important to remind people about this,” said Everest Mayor Alfred Kimmi. “When you think of veterans, I always think of men. But it’s very important to let them know that there were many women veterans as well, and they made an invaluable contribution to the war effort in service of our country.”

During the ceremony on Saturday, for their contributions toward advancing the cause of women in uniform, Post No. 288 honored:

First Lt. Mary Elizabeth Devereux, U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, who survived the Pearl Harbor attack and is one of the first women in the service known to have suffered from post traumatic stress disorder;

Hazel Steuart Fricky-Harrison, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reserve;

Lt. Rose Rieper Meier, U.S. Army Nurse, aka the “Angel of Bataan and Corregidor” for her heroism while a POW during World War II;

Yeoman 2nd Class Evelyn Jeanotte Ramirez, for U.S. Navy service in World War II;

Nora Statler, for service in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era;

Petty Officer Third Class Carlyn Lamme, U.S. Navy;

Sgt. Mary Lou Jamvold Nelson, U.S. Marine Corps;

and Major Penny L. Jamvold, currently serving in the Kansas Air National Guard after beginning her career in the enlisted U.S. Air Force.

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Hospital tax effort fails by just 29 votes

HIAWATHA — The final votes were tallied Tuesday morning and the outcome remains the same: a sales tax to benefit Hiawatha Community Hospital was defeated by a mere 29 votes.

The special election held Tuesday, May 21, allowed voters to cast their ballots on whether to approve a half-cent sales tax to benefit the Hiawatha Community Hospital. Of the estimated $700,000 expected to be raised annually over the 10 year period of the proposed tax, 20 percent was earmarked for healthcare in Horton.

This week’s numbers are different than unofficial vote tallies as released last Tuesday evening. This is due to 51 provisional ballots, which were considered at the Brown County Commission’s formal canvassing of the votes at Tuesday morning’s regular meeting. The commission took a recess from its regular meeting to convene into the canvassing session at 9 o’clock.

Provisional ballots occur when registered voters have a change in address, or there is an issue with name spelling, or for other reasons — such as failure to show photo ID at the polling booth. The ballots are placed in sealed envelopes and opened at the canvassing sessions.

Upon review, the commission dismissed 25 of the 51 ballots, most because the voter had registered after the April 30 deadline to do so. The County Clerk’s office had posted the voter registration deadline early on.

That left 26 provisional ballots to be counted and those were registered by the official electronic counter. With a deficit of 35 votes from last week’s special election, it was apparent once they started the count that the 26 provisional ballots were not going to be enough to make up that difference.

The county came in as 16 YES and 10 NO of the provisional ballots. This made the official total 1,126 No/1,097 YES, a difference of 29 votes.

The county clerk reported a total of 37.84 percent voter turn out. In preliminary vote counts — not counting the provisional ballots — the issue passed in all four wards of Hiawatha 532-270 but was defeated overwhelmingly in the three wards of the Community of Horton 184-78, even though 20 percent of the revenue from the proposed half-cent sales tax was pledged to healthcare there. This move to give Horton a portion of the proceeds came after the closure of the Horton Community Hospital this past spring.

In other county results, Hiawatha Township approved the sales tax 126-91, Padonia Township 43-21 Hamlin 20-15, Reserve 15-9, Irving Township 25-23 and Robinson 63-45 to approve. Against the measure was Morrill 77-20, Mission Township 115-65, Powhattan 76-21 and Walnut 111-43. all of these figures were prior to any provisional ballots, however the precinct totals are not official yet.

John Broberg, CEO at the hospital, was present at the meeting and anxiously awaited the final votes. Broberg also invited the commission to Tuesday’s Hiawatha Community Hospital Board of Director meeting.

Broberg’s comment after last week’s unofficial 35-vote defeat, was that he planned to approach the county again soon to explore other tax options that could benefit the hospital. There was not any discussion of other options at Tuesday’s meeting.

Chopper flies out ATV fall victim

A Sunday morning ATV incident in the Lancaster area saw a local teen transported to a Kansas City hospital.

Atchison County Sheriff Jack Laurie said Jacob Kenworthy, 20, of Atchison, and Nathan Myers, 18, of Lancaster, had been riding a 2000 Honda EX 4-wheeler in the 100 block of High Street in Lancaster, when Myers fell off the vehicle.

Laurie said neither Myers nor Kenworthy had been wearing helmets at the time of the incident, though Kenworthy didn’t suffer any injuries. A LifeNet medical helicopter took Myers to the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City for treatment of as-yet unspecified injuries.