2005 -- a Year in Review

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

It was a year to remember, a year to lay in preparations for the future, and a year to honor those who served the community in many ways, from the soldiers toiling in the war-torn Middle East, to those here at home, keeping Nevada a great place to live, both for today and for tomorrow. This is the second in a series of month-by-month recaps of 2005's news and newsmakers.


By Afton Bugg

Nevada Daily Mail

May was a month of celebration with all the graduations to enjoy. New organizations started scholarship programs, and the pages of the Nevada Daily Mail were filled with stories of carjacking, rainstorms, and of crime victims. Also there was talk of an all day pre-school to come, new council members, a health fair, and Emergency Services Week. There were voting decisions, a VFW remembrance of those who died in wars and the annual Scholar Bowl. A newspaper publisher retired.

Cecil Pritchett, president of Osage Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council, met with area residents to begin the process of forming a local county organization to work with the regional council.

One of the highlights of a 2005 scholarship project at Nevada High School was the donation of a certificate entitling the winner to a complementary night at the historic Savoy Hotel in Kansas City.

The Nevada Police Department was searching for two men in their late 20s who allegedly carjacked Shirley Brown, Nevada, and drove her to Metz before releasing her. The incident occurred at Fastrip North as Brown was leaving the store. According to a report from the Nevada Police Department, the incident began when a black man, armed with a pistol stepped in front of Brown's car.

A team of instructors from the University of Missouri Fire Rescue Training Institute came to town to help Nevada's firefighters prepare to face the problems inherent in dealing with highly flammable materials routinely trucked through the area.

Opportunities for education were discussed at St. Mary's Catholic School that plan to expand to younger students next year. The school plans to offer all-day preschool classes in conjunction with its regular school year.

Four students graduated from Calvary Christian School, formally putting an end to their days as high school students and marking the beginning of their futures as adults.

At Sheldon, Nevada, Bronaugh, Rich Hill Northeast Vernon County and Hume high schools, seniors came into the auditorium as students -- and left as graduates embarking on a journey into the future.

The council voted unanimously to appoint Jim Stacy to fill the seat that was vacated by the death of Mike Straight.

More than 225 people attended a Health Fair sponsored by Nevada Regional Medical Center and Nevada Medical Clinic. Local physicians and other health care providers, 47 in all, were on hand to provide screenings, consultations and educational materials.

The Vernon County Ambulance District observed the 32nd annual Emergency Services Week by placing 277 crosses along the intersection of Osage and Walnut, representing the 277 alcohol-related deaths in Missouri in 2003. Five of the crosses are larger and are painted blue to represent the five people who died in Vernon County.

Four companies that came to Nevada within the past few years brought with them high hopes of new jobs and a badly needed boost to the economy. Jobs netted weren't as numerous as the sometimes frustrated applicants, had hoped.

Business leaders reported that it will take time to bring plans for expansion and greater employment opportunity to fruition.

A one-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 54, about a half-mile west of Nevada, claimed the life of a 4-year-old Nevada boy. According to a report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Heidi Boyd, 24, of Nevada, was driving east in a 2003 Dodge Neon, when she swerved into the passing lane to avoid another vehicle. She lost control of the car, slid off the south side of the roadway and struck a culvert. She and her son, 4-year-old Jae Boyd, were ejected from the vehicle. Jae was pronounced dead at the scene. Heidi was airlifted to St. John's hospital in Joplin where she was listed in serious condition.

Under the direction of Missouri State Archives representative Linda Myers, Tri-County Genealogical Society had worked almost a year unfolding, cleaning and labeling Vernon County court records dating back to the 1800s.

Officers from the Nevada Police Department carried the Special Olympic torch down Austin Street one April morning.

Nevada Mayor Brian Leonard presented a proclamation to Barb Trude and Anna Watts, encouraging Nevadans to purchase the poppies made by American veterans which helps provide funding for veteran services. City officials got into the act moments later, dipping into their pockets to join the fun and the fund-raising effort.

The George Cardin Circus International stopped in Nevada to present two performances. Acts included trick riding, elephants, aerial acts-- and of course, clowns.

Voters in the special water district election decided to try out a new voting system in one of the precincts. Vernon County Clerk Tammi Beach said the company offered the use of the machine for a free trial.

About 100 area residents gathered on the Nevada Square during the annual Memorial Day ceremonies, to remember veterans who served the country during wartime.

By resolution, the Nevada City Council voted to approve the city's 2005-'06 development incentive schedule, delineating possible incentives that could be used to help spur new development in the area.

The VFW Post and Ladies Auxiliary No. 2175 placed a wreath on the memorial recognizing Vernon County soldiers who gave their lives in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War, which remains adorned with flags, flowers and plantings.

A fund-raising effort by Crowder College's Phi Theta Kappa honors society culminated in a drawing for donated prizes. About 40 people attended the event, which also featured refreshments provided by the fraternity. Funds raised benefitted the Heartland Behavioral Services therapeutic horsemanship program.

The 16th annual Scholars Bowl competition took place at the Nevada Middle School. The Eggheads were the undefeated champions.

After more than 50 years in the newspaper business, Carl Simpson, publisher of the Nevada Daily Mail and Herald, the Nevada News, and the Fort Scott Tribune, looked forward to his retirement. He officially turned over the post of publisher to his daughter, Julie Righter. At that time, Simpson was named publisher emeritus.


By Afton Bugg

Nevada Daily Mail

June was an eventful month with the Bushwhacker Days Sesquicentennial 150-year celebration under way.

In the news, a mini-bus converted into an recreational vehicle caught on fire, a local church celebrated 50 years, and an early warning system was installed in Harwood. Also in June, Flag Day was celebrated by the Nevada Elks Lodge, county workers began erecting street signs for the E-911 system, Nevada Eagles lodge donated to Children's Mercy, and funding for Vernon County Osage Plains Watershed was approved. The beef barn was rehabbed at the Vernon County fairgrounds, just in time for the Vernon County Youth Fair, which takes place in July of each year. Camp Clark hosted a summer camp, the Drug Task Force arrested three men, and a new grant was presented to the Nevada Police K-9 division.

Bushwhacker Days was one of June's highlights.

Official opening ceremonies of the annual celebration started off with a bang, as the Ozark Muzzleloaders fired a shotgun salute. The annual festival marked the official beginning of sesquicentennial activities celebrating Vernon County's 150-year history.

Hundreds turned out to watch the 2005 Sesquicentennial Bushwhacker Days Parade, featuring many historically-themed entries. Parade entrants vied for awards in five categories, as well as for the Best of Show trophy. Franklin Norman served as grand marshal of the parade. A float to celebrate past Bushwhacker royalty may be the last royalty float to appear in the parade, as Nevada may soon say goodbye to a long-standing tradition. No interest was shown this past year for participants or sponsors.

A 1984 Chevrolet mini-bus converted into an RV burst into flames while traveling westbound on US 54 Highway just east of Nevada. "The fire was started due to a ruptured fuel line," said Nevada Fire Captain Bill Thornton.

Workers finished installing a new Early Warning System in the village of Harwood, by mounting the three-tiered unit atop a pole in the city park. The new tornado siren, acquired with a USDA Rural Development Grant and municipal funds totaling almost $12,000, was just the beginning of changes taking place in the small community.

Flag Day was celebrated, by the nation and the Nevada Elks lodge, as it has been since Aug. 3, 1949, when President Harry S. Truman designated June 14 as National Flag Day to be observed across the country.

Jayhawker, Osage, Abolitionist, Pawhauska, and Rebel are just a few of the hundreds of names printed on reflective green signs that began sprouting on gray metal posts at all the road intersections in Vernon County for the new E-911 system.

A host of Eagles Aerie members wanted the community to know that the Eagles lodge is more than meets the eye. Members who put their time and effort where the need is -- particularly when it comes to raising money to benefit Children's Mercy Hospital are a large part of this organization.

Each year the group conducts an auction and benefit to raise money for the hospital, which provides thousands of dollars worth of uncompensated services to Vernon County children. As of this past June, they had donated more than $16,000 to Children's Mercy.

Students at Nevada Middle School got a chance to get some hands-on experience in designing and building cardboard boats that they then tested, by floating them in Walton Pool.

The mural commissioned to mark Vernon County's Sesquicentennial arrived and workers spent most of the time mounting the 18-by-8 foot, 850-pound, three-dimensional work. It arrived, in the back of a U-Haul truck, and was greeted with an air of much anticipation by members of the Nevada/Vernon County Chamber of Commerce, the mural committee, and city officials.

The project had been under consideration since November, and the final choice was made by balloting the city council, the Vernon County Arts Council and the mural committee earlier this year.

Everett O'Bryan's last day on a rural northeast Vernon County project brought an unexpected delight when O'Bryan found an arrowhead that may date to the archaic period, 8000 to 1000 B.C.

He found the arrowhead, quite by coincidence, while walking from the site where he'd been clearing away trees for the Church of Israel, in the Halley's Bluff area.

Lifelong Nevada resident and camera buff, Jon Emery, had one of seven photos he submitted to the Jones Soda Company accepted for use on one of the Seattle company's line of juice drink bottles. The company only accepts one percent of the hundreds of thousands of photos submitted. The photo accepted is of a red Corvette, a vehicle belonging to local teacher Peg Miller.

The Vernon County Youth Fair got underway, at the home of Ron and Sonja Terry, when 27 competitors stepped up to the firing line of the 2005 Vernon County 4-H Shooting Sports archery competition.

A six-year veteran of the Missouri Department of Conservation's Protection Division, Shawn Pennington, 35, transferred from Howell County to Vernon County.

For the third consecutive year, the 10th Brigade, Western Region, ROTC conducted JROTC summer camp at Camp Clark. A group of 425 high school JROTC cadets and their instructors and chaperones arrived at Camp Clark for a six-day leadership and teamwork development summer camp called Junior ROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge.

The beef barn at the Vernon County fairgrounds sported a brand new look for this year's 60th Annual Youth Fair.

A six-month investigation by the Southwest Missouri Major Case Squad Drug Task Force led to the arrest of three Sheldon residents on drug charges. Charged were Robert S. Emmerson, 59, Sheldon; George E. Phillips, 58, Sheldon; and Cheryl L. Short, 40, Sheldon. Bail for Emmerson was a total of $175,000, bail for Phillips was $150,000 and bail for Short was $100,000.

Nevada Mayor Brian Leonard, presented a certificate of appreciation to Jason Meisenheimer for his assistance in getting a $10,000 grant from the Finis M. Moss Charitable Trust to cover the cost of training the Nevada Police Department's new K-9 and Officer Mike Eador, Nevada Police Departments new K-9 handler, introduced Officer Gox, a 20-month-old German Shepherd, to the city council during a meeting.


By Silissa Swink

Nevada Daily Mail

The month of July was very hot and busy, with POW/MIA flags being stolen and heat indexes reaching record highs, with the heat producing large mushrooms and leading area residents to spend lots of time at the pool. Fireworks, apparently from a Fourth of July celebration, brought minor damage to a local historical bridge known as "Witch's Bridge" catching fire. The Vernon County Youth Fair went off without a hitch, and area farmers took up a new crop this year -- sunflowers.

Earl Ackley, Nevada Senior Center coordinator, opened the first anniversary ceremony at the Nevada Senior Center, thanking the past and present city council and the past and present parks boards for their support of the senior center.

POW, military flags disappeared from Evergreen Memorial Chapel. The flags were stolen from the row of flag poles on the north side of the chapel. The row of service flags included one each for the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force along with a POW/MIA flag. Stolen were the Air Force and POW flags, the westernmost flags in the row.

Carla Drake thought she was to be part of a program celebrating Special Olympics. Instead, three Special Olympians along with friends, family and teachers, helped the Nevada Rotary Club honor her with the Wayne Neal Service Above Self Award.

Smoldering fireworks damaged Witch's Bridge on July 5, causing a small fire that was quickly extinguished.

West Central Missouri Community Action Agency celebrated 40 years of building stronger communities by stabilizing families in crisis.

Summer heat and humidity spawned giant mushrooms; and Jackie Wood, Clay street, discovered a giant mushroom growing on a tree in her yard. Wood's mushroom weighed more than her dog, Angel, did.

Cottey College and Cox College of Nursing and Health Sciences in Springfield, Mo., announced an affiliation between the two institutions.

Jennifer Hancock of Leadership 4-H, was named 2005 Vernon County Youth Fair Queen.

A 2-year-old El Dorado Springs girl who went missing for a short time was is in good condition with no injuries and no evidence of molestation. A 5-year-old boy said he saw two men in a pickup take her. The search quickly got underway and the girl was found an hour and a half later by a Missouri Department of Conservation officer. The girl was sitting in the road when she was found.

Vernon County farmers begin to grow confectionary sunflowers -- those that are destined for the cheeks of professional baseball players and others who love the salty treat.

Health officials warned of dangerously high temperatures nearing 100 degrees and heat indexes topping 108 degrees that threatened the area.

An officer of the Nevada Police Department fatally shot a suspect during a stop in the parking lot of the Super 8 Motel, when the driver apparently attempted to run the officer down. Darren Eugene Wallace, 34, Joplin was pronounced dead upon arrival at Nevada Regional Medical Center. The officer's name was never released.

To commemorate the Quasquicentennial, or 125th anniversary, of the city of Hume, the Hume post office offered a special pictorial cancellation.

The special cancellation, designed by Margaret Sears, depicts the bandstand, which sits in the middle of the park, and the water tower.

Prairie Pride Inc. announced a positive feasibility study to build a combination 21 million-bushel per year soybean oil extraction and 30 million-gallon per year biodiesel production facility.

This facility is currently proposed to be located in the Eve area.

Children attended the McGennis Youth Camp. The McGennis Youth Camp is a short three-day camp designed for children 8-11 who might not otherwise be able to attend a summer camp. The camp is located north of Metz.


By Silissa Swink

Nevada Daily Mail

August brought some relief to the sweltering heat, but to area students it meant heading back to school. Locals were happy to find that Vernon County would be getting the E-911 system, as county workers began putting street signs up throughout the county. As the summer came to an end El Dorado Springs, Sheldon, Hume, Walker, and Bronaugh held local fairs.

An old Nevada friend came back for a 30-year high school reunion, all the way from Cyprus, and was greeted by friendly and familiar faces when he arrived. August was brought sadness with the passing of Robert Wheeler, who was given a funeral procession consisting of custom cars.

Also in August, local people were arrested on drug-related charges, and a Murphy's Family Ventures barn catches fire, burning to the ground. Hurricane Katrina rips through the south, causing nationwide concern that a gas shortage could be imminent, people raced to nearest gas stations hoping to get fuel before prices soared above $3 a gallon.

Vernon County Prosecuting Attorney Lynn Ewing III began the process of using digital files on computer instead of tall stacks of paper that are heavy and cumbersome.

A wide range of activities were available for people of all ages during National Night Out, a free community event held on the Square in Nevada.

Car enthusiasts offered a final salute to one of their own, as friends and family of the late Robert Wheeler, Milo, gave him a tribute Several people participated in his funeral procession in custom cars, with Wheeler's custom pickup leading the way. Wheeler was a graduate of Nevada High School and a lifelong mechanic and custom car enthusiast.

'Li'l Abner' was presented at the Fox Playhouse.

Hume celebrated its 125th anniversary as a crowd of hundreds turned out for the events at the Hume Fair, highlighted by several games, activities and a birthday party for the town. Attendees shared a special cake, looked back on memories and events of Hume's history and took part in a special ceremony.

A Schell City resident was killed in a one-vehicle crash in Northeast Vernon County. Andries Wolmarans, 23, the accident occurred on State Route M, two miles North of Schell City when the 1996 Jeep Wolmarans was driving ran off the road and overturned, ejecting the driver. Wolmarans was pronounced dead at the scene.

Vernon County was a little bit safer after the new classes of first responders and EMTs had received their certifications.

Governor Matt Blunt visited the Nevada Habilitation Center and praised the staff and administrators for their care of those Blunt termed "our most vulnerable citizens." Blunt toured the facility.

Along with the new school year, several programs began at the YMCA, from an after-school kids program to team sports to fitness programs of all sorts.

A barn full of hay on property owned by Murphy Family Ventures caught fire. Firefighting crews from Sheldon and Milo responded to the blaze, which destroyed the barn and all the hay inside.

Stacy Hancock, Nevada, was one of 20 architecture students from Drury University in Springfield, to help build the home as part of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

The Vernon County Historical Society made available a searchable index of its archived probate records from the early 1800s online.

Fairy circles' appeared -- a different type of mysterious circle popped up in Nevada and Vernon County. They're called fairy circles, or pixie rings; but Tinkerbell has nothing to do with them. According to Wikipedia.org, a fairy circle is a naturally occurring ring or arc of mushrooms that can grow to more than 10 meters in diameter.

U.S. Sen. Jim Talent met with local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and judges about a proposed bill aimed at fighting the production of methamphetamine. Known as the Combat Meth Act, the bill would place certain over-the-counter medicines containing psuedo-ephedrine behind the pharmacy counter and limit the sale of it to any individual at 7.5 grams per month and would require signatures and identification for purchases.

Fuel prices affected the school district transportation and other public service operations from the Vernon County Sheriff's office to Nevada Parks and Recreation Department. The Nevada R-5 school district paid $1.20 a gallon for diesel at the start of the last school year, and this year, the cost started out at $1.99 a gallon.

Congressman Ike Skelton, visited Precision Aero Services, a local business specializing in the repair of aircraft components.

The Vernon County Sheriff's Office, Nevada Police Department and the Southwest Missouri Major Case Squad Drug Task Force served three search warrants, which led to the arrest of area men on drug related charges. Joe K. McIntire, Nevada, was arrested on drug-related charges, and bond was set at $100,000. Another suspect, Bob True Beisly II, was charged with two counts alleging "distribution, delivery, manufacture, produce, or attempt to, or possess with intent to, distribute, deliver, manufacture or produce a controlled substance. Beisly's bond was set at $1 million. Vernon County Sheriff Ron Peckman said the searches and arrests were part of the culmination of a long-term investigation and the alleged illegal activity involves both marijuana and methamphetamines.

Customers flocked to area gas stations, after the news broke that Hurricane Katrina had struck the major Gulf ports in Biloxi, Miss., and New Orleans. Prices at most stations throughout Nevada rose to $2.57 per gallon for regular unleaded --peaking above the $3 mark at some stations throughout Missouri. Hurricane Katrina disrupted Gulf Coast petroleum output and rattled energy markets on, sending oil and natural gas prices soaring and setting the stage for a spike in the retail cost of gasoline.

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