Category Archives: News Articles

prescription addiction: small towns not immune to rising opioid epidemic, Part 4

By Jacki Wood, written for the Nodaway News Leader, March 2016

Editor’s note: this is the last part in the series; the names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Nine days after law enforcement officers and Family Services visited Bethany’s home and issued a stern warning to her step-father about getting help, her family moved halfway across the country.

A new state, larger city and several hospitals to frequent, her step-father’s drug abuse only worsened.

Soon thereafter, Bethany was sent to live with her grandparents where it would be “safer for her to stay.”
“That was the healthiest and best thing that ever happened in my childhood,” she said.


For the 2016 legislative session, Missouri State Senator Holly Rehder proposed HB 1892, a prescription drug monitoring program, after similar bills she had proposed the last couple of years failed.

During a Senate Special Committee Meeting to highlight the opioid epidemic in January, Rehder told the personal story of her daughter’s drug addiction which began with prescription painkillers.

“I tell you this story to show that drug addiction is no respecter of persons,” she said. “It crosses all socioeconomic statuses. When you go into a high school and ask the kids, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ The answers are ‘a doctor,’ ‘a lawyer,’ ‘a business owner.’ None say, ‘I want to be an addict.’

“Yet addiction is the growing epidemic of our time.”


After Adrianna’s mom moved out and she cut ties with her, the effects of her mom’s prescription drug abuse continued to plague her.

“I struggled with depression,” she said. “My attitude toward everything became negative. And I still have trust and confidence issues.”

The one person that was supposed to teach her how to love and be loved was gone, she said.


In 2014, Missouri State Representative Steve Lynch helped pass legislation that allowed qualified first responders to use Naloxone, an antidote for heroin overdoses.

Lynch has filed three bills this legislative session to continue to fight opioid overdoses.

HB 1568 would allow pharmacists to dispense Naloxone to individuals.

“Massachusetts passed a similar law and saw opiate-related deaths cut nearly in half as a result,” Lynch said. “We have the opportunity to put a safe, non-addictive drug in the hands of folks who can use it to save lives.”

HB 1569 would provide immunity to those who seek medical attention for someone suffering from an overdose and HB 1570 would authorize a $5 fee for drug-related court cases to fund rehabilitation programs.


Emergency Department Nurse Manager Pat Giffin, RN, said SSM Health St. Francis uses Naloxone when an opioid overdose case comes to the hospital.

“The problem is getting so severe that another one of the Suggested Emergency Department Prescribing Practice Recommendations is that healthcare providers should encourage policies that allow providers to prescribe and dispense Naloxone to public health, law enforcement and families as an antidote for opioid overdoses,” she said. “We have the advantage of also having a physician who is specially trained so he can prescribe Suboxone to help those with addictions get off the opioids.”

Suboxone contains Naloxone as well as buprenorphine, a controlled substance to treat pain and addiction to narcotic pain relievers.

Another option for those dealing with opioid addiction is Methadone, a pain reliever used as part of drug addiction detox and maintenance. It is only available from certified pharmacies and there are several Methadone clinics across the state.


It’s been a year now since Adrianna’s mom moved out.

“I have been growing up on my own, teaching myself how to be an adult and I have missed out on so many things that I would have done with her,” she said. “She will never get this time back with me.”

Looking back, Adrianna is still struggling with how to deal with it all.

“My mom became a prescription drug abuser,” she said. “And it tore my family and my life apart.”


But there is hope.

Bethany has been there. She understands, at least to some extent, what Adrianna is going through.

“In all the books I have read over the years, for my own healing or to make sure my children never experience anything like I did, one thing stood out to me,” she said.

“A child who has at least one adult in their life – it only has to be one – who they have bonded with and who believes in them and adores them, they absolutely can heal and have a ‘normal’ life with healthy relationships.

“My advice would be to embrace that adult – that aunt, grandmother, teacher, coach or pastor who embraces them for who they are – and try to make a strong connection with them.”

prescription addiction: small towns not immune to rising opioid epidemic, Part 3

By Jacki Wood, written for the Nodaway News Leader, March 2016

Editor’s note: this is the third part in the series; the names have been changed to protect their privacy.

An estimated 1.9 million people abused or were addicted to prescription opioid pain medication in 2014.

Those findings from SAMHSA were highlighted March 15 when the CDC released new guidelines aimed to reduce the risk of opioid addiction.

The voluntary guidelines are based on emerging evidence for patients with chronic pain not related to cancer treatment, palliative or end-of-life care.

Among the recommendations are that doctors try pain relievers like ibuprofen before prescribing highly addictive painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.

Other recommendations include non-prescription treatments such as exercise therapy, tai chi, yoga, weight loss, psychological therapies, interventions to improve sleep and certain procedures.

“It has become increasingly clear that opioids carry substantial risk but only uncertain benefits,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, CDC director, said, “especially compared with other treatments for chronic pain.”


As Adrianna’s mom became more addicted to the pain meds prescribed by her doctors for her chronic illness, the worse things got at home.

She began seeing problems in her parents’ marriage and her mom finally moved out which surprisingly was a relief for Adrianna.

Her mom had been texting hateful, degrading messages and posting belittling statuses on social media about her. She eventually had to block her phone number and report and block her on social media sites.

“I wanted her out of my life,” she said. “It wasn’t my mom; it was a monster in my mom’s body.”


Pat Giffin, RN and emergency department nurse manager at SSM Health St. Francis Hospital, said people don’t intend to become addicted to opioids, they just want something to take away their pain.

“Opioid addiction can make people do things they never would have thought of doing before the addiction, just to get more of the drug,” she said.

The hospital is currently working with SSM Health’s legal department to develop a notice for the emergency department stating that the hospital will not prescribe narcotics unless there is an acute reason.

“Prescribing opioids to patients who do not need them for acute pain only results in addiction and more problems for the patient,” Giffin said. “Chronic pain issues need to be handled by one physician so that the usage can be monitored and controlled.”


That was the issue with Bethany’s step-father. His opioid use was not being carefully monitored or controlled by his doctors and the hospital.

And even though everyone around her seemed to know about it, she said, no one would talk.

Until someone finally did.

“Looking back now, as a mother of three, I am in shock that it took someone as long as it did to make the call,” she said.

After hearing that Bethany’s dad was slurring his words and saying really hateful things to her, a friend’s mom spoke up.

“It was humiliating, and at the same time, I felt like I was going to be in trouble for exposing our family secret,” she said.


Six organizations representing Missouri healthcare providers issued recommendations in December to reduce opioid painkiller misuse and abuse.

The Missouri Academy of Family Physicians, Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, Missouri College of Emergency Physicians, Missouri Dental Association, Missouri Hospital Association and Missouri State Medical Association jointly recommended that healthcare providers adopt the recommendations.

Many of the state’s emergency departments have existing systems, however, there has not been a consistent set of guidelines statewide for providers throughout the state.

Dr. Evan Schwarz, Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians and MD at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, said emergency physicians deal with opioid misuse and abuse on a daily basis.

“This is an important initial effort to address the problem of prescription drug abuse,” he said. “However, in the long run, it will require a multi-disciplinary, public-private approach to provide treatment, reduce abuse and its costs.”


Shortly after the call about her step-father’s behavior, law enforcement officers and a Family Services representative visited Bethany’s home.

They discussed what had been reported and her mom reassured them they were fine and that Bethany had exaggerated the situation.

“A pot of coffee later, they were driving away,” she said, feeling even more hopeless about the situation.

However, a follow-up visit came shortly thereafter, and with it, a stern warning that her step-father needed to get help.

Nine days later, they moved halfway across the country.

prescription addiction: small towns not immune to rising opioid epidemic, Part 2

By Jacki Wood, written for the Nodaway News Leader, March 2016

Editor’s note: this is the second part in the series; the names have been changed to protect their privacy.

“The opioid epidemic has been called the worst drug crisis in American history,” wrote Dan Nolan and Chris Amico in their Frontline special, “Chasing Heroin,” on February 23.

“Death rates now rival those of AIDS during the 1990s, and with overdoses from heroin and other opioids now killing more than 27,000 people a year, the crisis has led to urgent calls for action.”


After being diagnosed with the chronic illness, Adrianna’s mom received a prescription to deal with the pain and their way of life changed very quickly.

Gone were the days of shopping and getting their nails done together, doing makeovers, talking until two in the morning.

“I started noticing a real difference in her,” Adrianna said. “She would come home (from work) and go straight to bed.”

Barely 16, Adrianna wasn’t really sure what was happening.

“My mom was either yelling at me or ignoring me,” she said. “She would tell me she didn’t love me. And never did. She would tell me she never wanted to see me again.

“Then a couple of hours later, she would say she was sorry.”

And that was just the beginning.


Over the last 15 years, opioid deaths have jumped 369 percent while heroin deaths have risen 439 percent, the CDC reports.

Heroin use is growing in popularity as a direct result of prescription painkillers.

Ninety-four percent of people in treatment for opioid addiction said they started using heroin because it was far cheaper and easier to get than prescriptions painkillers.

Nolan and Amico wrote: “Over the course of more than a decade, it has grown into a problem destroying lives across the nation, regardless of age, race, wealth or location.

“Nearly 90 percent of the people who tried heroin for the first time in the past decade were white. And a growing number are middle-class or wealthy.”

The opioid epidemic is erasing the stereotypes of drug abuse. It’s soccer moms and CEOs and even grandmothers.

Last July, the CDC found “significant increases in heroin use were found in groups with historically low rates, including women and people with private insurance and higher incomes. The gaps between men and women, low and higher incomes and people with Medicaid and private insurance have narrowed.”


Emergency departments across the country are also feeling the effects of the growing problem.

Between 2005 and 2014, the rate of hospitalizations and emergency department visits from opioid overuse in Missouri has more than doubled, according to the Missouri Hospital Association.

Pat Giffin, RN and emergency department nurse manager at SSM Health St. Francis, said the hospital in Maryville is dealing with similar trends.

“We are seeing a lot of Norco (hydrocodone) use and abuse,” Giffin said. “It has substantially increased in the past couple of years.”


More than 20 years after her step-father’s car accident, where he was initially prescribed opioids for the pain, Bethany’s younger brother finally learned the truth about those emergency room visits from his childhood.

The 30-year-old youth pastor and father of four was astounded by the revelation.

“Do you realize I spent most of my childhood in an emergency room?” he said to her. “Mom had to drag me along to the ER when he had to get a shot for the ‘pain.’ All the soccer and baseball and basketball games missed…

“All because he was a drug seeker? It was preventable? It was all a lie?”

While Bethany was saddened by his disappointment, she was not surprised.

“Those physician-prescribed drugs ruled our life, and sadly, destroyed relationships and severed family ties,” she said.


Missouri is the only state in the nation, Giffin said, without a prescription drug monitoring program.

She said MHA issued a policy in November stating: “The absence of a prescription drug monitoring program through a registry system impedes the ability of physicians, pharmacists and hospitals to evaluate patients’ complete prescription and utilization profile.

“The use of a prescription drug monitoring program may be one effective strategy to help identify patients who may be seeking multiple providers and would benefit from opioid diversion.”


The chronic illness became too much for Adrianna’s mom to handle.

“It felt like she gave up on everything,” she said.

And that’s when she started abusing the medicine prescribed by her doctors.

“She held herself differently and sometimes I could barely understand what she was saying,” Adrianna said. “I tried to talk to her about it but she didn’t care about me or my opinion.”

With her dad working long hours – and not feeling like she could share her situation with her friends – Adrianna began to feel very alone.

“My life wasn’t supposed to end up like this,” she said.

prescription addiction: small towns not immune to rising opioid epidemic, Part 1

Drug Overdose Deaths

By Jacki Wood, written for the Nodaway News Leader, March 2016

Editor’s note: the names in this story have been changed to protect their privacy.


The grass had just started to turn green that March and Adrianna could hear a tractor in the pasture, preparing for spring planting, as she pulled into her driveway after track practice.

It was, by most accounts, a beautiful spring day in Northwest Missouri.

For Adrianna, though, that brightness and hope of spring quickly turned dark as she found her mom lying on the lawn.

“I remember shaking her to wake her up,” she said. “I wanted to scream for help, but I didn’t want to cause attention to the situation.”

Her pupils were dilated and she reeked of smoke as she laid there limp.

After months of prescription drug abuse, her mom barely weighed 90 pounds. Sixteen-year-old Adrianna managed to get her into the car and drive her to the hospital.

“I had been waiting for something big to happen for awhile,” Adrianna said, “so I wasn’t surprised.”

Still, it wasn’t how the small-town teenager perceived life a few months before.

She and her mom loved shopping and getting their nails done together, trying new recipes, doing makeovers, talking until two in the morning, laughing, watching movies.

“My mom was my best friend,” she said. “She was the person who I told everything to and did everything with.”


Forty-four people die from prescription drug overdoses every day in the United States, largely due to prescription painkillers called opioids, the US Department of Health and Human Services reports.

Hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin) are the most common ones involved.

Since 2000, the death rate from opioid drug overdoses has increased 200 percent.

Senator Claire McCaskill has been bringing the issue to the forefront in recent months.

“This has reached epidemic proportions in our state,” she said at a hearing held February 8 in Jefferson City.

Missouri ranks number one in the rate of prescription opioids sold among Midwestern states and is the only state in the country without a prescription drug monitoring program.



Bethany’s family went to church. Her mother was a teacher and she and her brother were on the honor roll. They said please and thank you, took their hats off when they entered buildings and wrote thank you notes.

On the outside, everything seemed normal. Charming, even.

But on the inside, there was a hidden addiction devastating their lives.

“Once in the privacy of our home, my step-father would be nothing short of cruel,” Bethany said, a Nodaway County resident who also grew up in the area during her teenage years.

Her step-father’s addiction to prescription pain medicine began in the late 1980s after he was in a car accident and was initially put on Demerol for pain.

“He kept returning for more, and when he couldn’t get his prescription filled, he’d go to the emergency room,” she said. “Since pain can’t be proven, the ER staff pretty much had their hands tied and he would leave with, at minimum, a shot of pain meds and usually a week’s supply of pills.”

Demerol, Morphine, Oxycodone, Percocet. Anything he could get a physician to prescribe for him.

“Unfortunately in a small town, where there were only a couple of doctors, it was easier to give him a prescription and send him on his way,” she said.


Opioids also include the illegal drug heroin.

Four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

From 2000 to 2013, the rate of heroin overdose deaths nearly quadrupled in the US.

And in a 2014 survey by JAMA, 94 percent of people in treatment for opioid addiction said they went from prescription painkillers to heroin because the prescriptions were “far more expensive and harder to obtain.”


Just a few months before, Adrianna would have described her family as normal. Her parents had good jobs and they were well-known and well-liked in the community.

And then her mom was diagnosed with a chronic illness and prescribed painkillers to help deal with the disease.

“She saw more than one doctor and was prescribed more than one pain medication,” Adrianna said.

It didn’t take long before she began to see changes in her mom.

“The disease, combined with the drug use, was taking control of her life at home as well as at work,” she said.


At a roundtable discussion on February 16 in St. Louis, McCaskill said: “We are drunk on pain medication in this country.

“There’s a reason that 49 states have implemented a prescription drug monitoring database — because the positives far outweigh the negatives.”

Last week, the Missouri House sent a prescription drug monitoring program bill to the Senate, where similar proposals have stalled in the past.


Bethany’s step-father’s addiction tragically led to verbal and sexual abuse in their home.

“Those physician-prescribed drugs ruled our life,” she said. “Everyone seemed to know — aunts, cousins, teachers, community members …

“But no one would talk.”

Hounds defeat Oak Grove to advance to semifinal game

By Jacki Wood, Nodaway News Leader, November 2013

And then there were four.

The Maryville Spoofhounds took one step closer to a return to the Dome on November 16.

The Hounds’ 42-20 win at Oak Grove in the state quarterfinal game makes them one of four teams left in the Class 3 playoffs.

But Head Coach Matt Webb isn’t letting his team get ahead of themselves.

“We talk about one day at a time,” Webb said. “Win the day.”

It’s been a phrase he’s used since the beginning of last year when the Hounds began the historic ride they are currently on – a 28-game winning streak.

And it’s the phrase he’ll continue to use as they head into this weekend’s semifinal game against 12-1 California, a rematch of last year’s semifinal game against the Pintos in which Maryville won 42-7.

“California is a great football team,” Webb said. “We feel like this was a great team we just beat and we know California is going to be just as good.”

Not only did Maryville beat a solid Oak Grove team Saturday, they also did it battling against the wind, which had gusts of 30-40 mph.

The Hounds started the game facing that wind but seemed undeterred by it. After a 53-yard run by junior Brody McMahon, senior quarterback Trent Nally scored on a one-yard keeper to go up 6-0 with 10:54 to go in the first.

Oak Grove responded with a touchdown of its own, but the Hounds blocked the PAT to keep it tied at 6-6 with 5:18 remaining.

On the next drive, Nally fumbled the snap and the Panthers took over at the Maryville 24-yard line. But Oak Grove wasn’t able to capitalize on the turnover and the quarter ended still tied, 6-6.

The Hounds used a big second quarter with the wind at their backs to tack on two touchdowns – a 42-yard pass from Nally to Payden Dawson and a two-yard run by McMahon. The defense also came up big, holding Oak Grove scoreless, to take a 22-6 lead into halftime.

“We were able to score twice with the wind in the second quarter,” Webb said. “And that was huge.”

Oak Grove scored first in the third quarter, but Maryville quickly responded with a 32-yard Nally-to-McMahon TD to make it 28-14 with 7:04 left in the third.

The Panthers and Hounds traded touchdowns once again. Oak Grove scored with 4:21 left to make it a 28-10 game. Then with just over a minute to go, Nally found the end zone from 13 yards out, and a two-point conversion by McMahon put Maryville up 36-20.

Maryville’s defense responded again in the fourth quarter. With 7:13 left in the game, the Hounds held Oak Grove on 4th and 13 to regain possession. The offense put together a long drive and Nally added his fifth score of the game. His one-yard rushing touchdown put the Hounds up 42-20 with 2:53 remaining, which would hold as the final score.

“That was two very good football teams, laying it on the line,” Webb said. “That’s what playoff football is. I’m just very proud of the character and effort of our young men.”

Nally was 5-6 passing for 137 yards and two TDs. He also had 11 rushes for 45 yards and three TDs.

McMahon carried the ball 17 times for 136 yards and one touchdown. Dakota Beemer had 10 rushes for 64 yards and Dawson added six rushes for 20 yards.

Adam Thompson had two receptions for 43 yards, Dawson had one catch for 42 yards and a touchdown, McMahon had one catch for 32 yards and a touchdown and Beemer had one reception for 20 yards.

Chris Dougan led the defense with 13.5 tackles. Nally and Elijah Green each had 9.5 tackles, followed by John Schenkel with 6.5 and Dawson and McMahon with five each. Dalton Pistole added 3.5 tackles, Adam Thompson had three, Jackson Morrison had 2.5 and Brendan Weybrew added two.

With the win, the Hounds advance to the state semifinal game at California on Saturday, November 23. Kickoff is set for 1:30 pm.

Marching for a cause: program to celebrate Maryville ladies band

One hundred years after Alma Nash signaled the downbeat and her band began to play, quieting the unruly crowds gathered at the Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington, DC, a group of Maryville High School young women will present a program to celebrate the achievement.

The Nodaway County Historical Society will host a Ladies Band Program at 2 pm, Sunday, March 3, at the museum, 110 North Walnut, Maryville.

The program will highlight the Missouri Ladies Military Band of Maryville who marched on March 3, 1913, the only all-women band to march and perform in the suffrage parade that day.

The event will feature 11 MHS students performing music as well as the opportunity to see a new exhibit at the museum on Nash.

Women’s Suffrage Parade

As the parade began in front of the Capitol Building on that day in early March, a crowd of heckling and resentful men refused to let the marchers move forward. The crowd, estimated at around 250,000, overwhelmed the police in the area.

That’s when Nash and her band began to play, quieting the crowd, and the parade moved ahead without incident.

Nash later told a Maryville reporter: “We did not have time to stop and think about the really important thing we did do when our band led the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. We were not right in the lead when the parade started; a number of women escorts, a number of walking officers of the National Equal Suffrage Association, with our band following, was the order when we first started.

“We had gone but a short distance when the crowd started closing up toward the line of the parade, and men blockaded a place in the street a short distance ahead. One of the suffrage officers came rushing back to us and told us to march on ahead and lead; that it would be necessary for the band to open the way proved true.

“We were not molested in the least, and although the march was slow on account of the crowds, no one offered to stand in our way down the avenue.

“These women were part of one of many remarkable stands for women’s suffrage.”

Ladies Band

Several years before the parade, in 1905, Nash opened the Maryville School of Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar. Five years later, she organized an all-ladies concert band and then transformed that band into the first all-ladies marching band.

During this time, as women were strongly petitioning for suffrage, the leaders of several women’s groups decided to organize a parade in Washington to call more attention to their cause. The parade on March 3 was to precede the inauguration of President-elect Woodrow Wilson the following day.

The Maryville band members jumped at the opportunity to join in the suffragette cause.

A new discovery

An old, worn picture has been in Joyce Holt’s possession for many years, although she didn’t realize its significance until recently.

“It’s been in my old album forever, but I didn’t know what it was,” the 87-year-old Maryville resident said. “It just said Alma Nash and the Maryville band.”

Then a couple of weeks ago, Holt ran into Melissa Middleswart, a longtime friend and volunteer at the museum who had been busy planning the Ladies Band Program. And while discussing the event, the conversation soon turned to the photo.

They began to wonder if Holt’s mother, Edith Davenport, had been a member of the band since she was in possession of the photo.

After doing some digging, it was discovered that Davenport was a member of the band and involved in the local suffragette cause. However, for some unknown reason, she did not make the trip to march with the women in Washington.

Edith Davenport

Holt knows very little about her mother, just stories her grandmother and others have told her, because she died a few weeks after giving birth to her.

Davenport was born on April 15, 1895, and grew up in Maryville. She was a country school teacher and was a part of Nash’s band in her late teenage years.

“I always knew she played the piano beautifully,” Holt said.

In addition to the photo of the band, Holt also has a postcard her mother sent to her grandmother on February 13, 1914, when she was 18 years old. She wrote that she would not be home that night as she was “debating women’s suffrage.”

“Grandma never talked about suffrage being a big deal,” Holt said. “But she was trying to eek out a living and raise five kids.”

But it was obviously of great importance to Davenport. Holt also has a photo of her mother standing on a rock that’s painted with the words “Votes for Women.”

Suffragette Cause

In the book “Suffrage Comes to the Women of Nodaway County, MO,” Martha Cooper wrote: “The Missouri Ladies Military Band of Maryville did not initially set out to be the nation’s first all-female suffragist marching band, but the young women were in the right place at the right moment to take this place in history.”

It would be seven more years after the Missouri Ladies Military Band marched in the Women’s Suffrage Parade that women were finally granted the right to vote.

One member of the band, Maye Shipps Corrough, on hearing the good news while at the Arkoe general store, said: “I got up on the counter and danced!”

Corrough’s trombone is on display at the museum and will be available for viewing following the Ladies Band Program on March 3. The event is free, but donations are welcome. Refreshments will also be served.

The museum reopens from its winter closing on March 5 with regular hours of 1 to 4 pm, Tuesday through Friday, or by appointment.

For more information about the program, call Middleswart at 660.582.8687.

Information for this article came from a 1966 Kansas City Star article, “Tribute to a Music Teacher: Her Ladies Band Helped Suffragette Cause,” a 1984 KC Star-Times article, “Woman played to beat the ban on vote,” “Suffrage comes to the women of Nodaway County, MO” by Martha Cooper, and the Missouri Women blog. Special thanks to Melissa Middleswart and Joyce Holt.

Prop B could add thousands to Nodaway County schools each year

“That they might have joy” column by Jacki Wood

I’m not one to get political here in this column. After all, the purpose of it is to have more joy. And I don’t usually associate politics with joy, especially during election season.

However, I cover school news here in Nodaway County, which does bring me a lot of joy, and I’ve been hearing a lot of information on Prop B at the school board meetings I cover. Specifically, how it will impact our local schools.

There are two sides to every story and I’m sure you’ve watched, read and heard both sides. The health and education people want you to vote yes for a variety of reasons. And the convenience store folks and those for no new taxes and smaller government want you to vote no for a variety of other reasons.

Here’s the issue…

The American Cancer Society brought the initiative forward to reduce smoking and improve healthcare in the state.

Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the US at 17¢ per pack, well below the national average of $1.49 per pack.

There are approximately 10,000 deaths each year in Missouri related to tobacco use. We also have the 11th highest smoking rate in the country and the eighth highest rate for lung cancer deaths. Additionally, more than 8,600 Missouri youth start smoking each year (Missouri Foundation for Health).

If passed…

Prop B would increase the current cigarette tax to 90¢ a pack, the roll-your-own tobacco products by 25 percent and other tobacco products like chewing tobacco by 15 percent.

The Missouri State Auditor’s office estimates an increase in state revenues of $283 to $423 billion every year. It would also create the Health and Education Trust Fund, with 50 percent going to support public schools, 30 percent to higher education and 20 percent for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

According to the Missouri Association of School Administrators, here’s how some of our Nodaway County schools would benefit each year if Prop B is passed:

West Nodaway: $36,000 to 55,000

South Nodaway: $28,767 to $42,998

North Nodaway: $35,604 to $53,217

Nodaway-Holt: $35,500 to $53,100

Maryville: $221,508 to $331,087

Funds can be used in the following ways: teacher recruitment, retention, salaries or professional development; school construction, renovation or leasing; technology enhancements, textbooks or instructional materials; school safety; or supplying additional funding for required state and federal programs.

It has also been projected that Northwest Missouri State University could receive nearly $3 million each year.

Opponents have expressed concern about how this money will be used, citing the ineffectiveness of the casino revenue for education.

However, safeguards not used in the past have been put into place with the law requiring all money to be treated as new funding, not used to replace existing money spent on education. It will also be audited annually.

I have several concerns about the issue. I generally want less government, not more. I’m not one hundred percent sure the wording will help keep the funding going to where it’s supposed to go. And I don’t think the increased taxes will cause more smokers to give it up.

But I do have hope that educating our youth will be beneficial. And I also know that our schools are hurting and desperately need this additional funding.

So, whatever you decide about the issue, please get out there and exercise your right to vote.

A jury of their peers: Service of 12 leaves lasting impact

“All rise,” the bailiff bellows, echoing throughout the dark and dated courtroom. “The court is now again in session.”

Members of the jury file in slowly and take their seats in the jury box.

Draped in a long, black robe, the judge asks everyone to please be seated.

The long, wooden benches creak as those in the audience try to get comfortable once again.

Lawyers shuffle papers and whisper with one another, comparing notes before the bantering begins.

“It’s inherently dramatic,” Nodaway County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rice said. “Sometimes you’ll work six months or over a year on a single case. And then you get 12 people who have never heard anything about it and they have to make a decision that impacts (a person’s) life. There are significant consequences.”

Right…to a jury trial

The jury system in the United States can be traced back to 12th Century England when King Henry II used a jury for their knowledge of a particular case. It evolved in the 15th century when Henry VI turned the jury into the trier of the evidence.

The colonists brought these ideals with them to America and the right to a jury trial was included in all 13 of the original states’ constitutions and in the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution.

The Missouri Constitution grants everyone the right to a trial by jury in both criminal and civil cases (see the adjacent box, Jury Service Glossary). With criminal cases, this right only applies to serious crimes, which carry a potential sentence of more than six months.

Right…here in Nodaway County

The Nodaway County Courthouse sits in the very center of Maryville on the downtown square and very nearly the center of the county.

Built in 1881, the red brick structure, trimmed in sandstone with a renovated cupola and clock tower, stands as a beacon of the county and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Once visitors make the climb up the large marble stairs to the second floor, they are advised to turn off cell phones and pagers and have no food or drink before entering either one of the Nodaway County Circuit Court courtrooms.

On this particular fall day, a civil case is being heard by Circuit Judge Roger Prokes and jurors have just returned from a lunch break.

Five men. Seven women. Ranging in age from their early 20s to their 70s. One alternate. A man in his 30s.

Yellow badges identify each juror with a number, not their names.

Some look around at the audience. Some grab notepads to resume notetaking. Some look out the windows to the world outside.

And then the case resumes once again.

Right…time for civic responsibility

Serving on a jury can be seen as a civic responsibility. For Thomas Jefferson, it was more important than all other civic duties including voting.

“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”

Today, the jury system continues to depend on the service of American citizens.

While a jury trial can be inconvenient for many, Rice believes it’s important for a community to have them.

“A jury trial is a lot of people putting in a lot of time and it’s inconvenient for a lot of folks,” Rice said. “But I think we do that, though, so people are kept accountable whenever they do wrong.”

Editor’s note: this is the first in a series about jury trials. In the coming weeks, we’ll explore the role of jurors, the trial process and more. Some information for this article came from the Missouri Bar Association,, and the Missouri Courts System,

Camper-turned-companion gives back to Camp Quality

The sounds of children laughing ring through the wooded campground on a steamy, summer afternoon.

Not an uncommon occurrence at a summer camp – kids laughing.

But it means something entirely different at Camp Farwesta near Stewartsville.

One week each June, the campground hosts Camp Quality Northwest Missouri, a local summer camp for kids with cancer.

This year, Camp Quality will mark its 27th year with a Superheroes theme from June 10 to 15.

A rare camper-turned-companion, Arianne Bredlow has grown up at Camp Quality, a place she calls her second home.

“Normally, some of the kids are very sick and feel down,” the 20-year-old Ravenwood resident said. “But seeing them be able to smile and laugh (at camp) is kind of an overwhelming experience. I think that’s just the neatest thing.”

It’s a week where they can forget about everything wrong with them, she said, and just be themselves.


Her camp experience 

Bredlow was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in her right eye when she was only seven months old. She had four operations within the first year of her life, and in one of those, doctors removed her right eye.

She had her last operation in January 1992 and was considered cancer free.

“I have an artificial eye now and that’s basically the only thing I have left of my cancer,” she said.

Her first Camp Quality experience came at the age of five, and after 13 years as a camper, Bredlow said she feels grateful for the camp where kids with cancer can be kids again.

“I got teased a lot and that was a place where everyone’s the same,” she said. “It created a second family for me.”

Her years at Camp Quality also changed her as a person.

“I’m more willing to go out and do things because they’ve said, ‘hey, you’re still a real person, don’t let this affect you, don’t let it bring you down, do what you feel you want to do,’” she said. “It’s helped me grow a lot.”

It can also take an emotional toll on both campers and companions.

“You develop different relationships,” she said. “And sometimes they don’t come back to camp. Sometimes the campers do pass away and that is very hard.”


Her volunteer efforts

Bredlow graduated from Camp Quality in 2008 and returned to camp two years later to volunteer as a companion.

“I kind of felt I owed it back to some child who has cancer,” she said, “because I was given so many opportunities and had so many different experiences that I wanted to give that to another kid.”

Camp Quality matches each camper with a volunteer companion. Throughout the entire week, the two spend nearly all of their time together. The companions assist campers with things like arts and crafts, fishing and horseback riding.

They also do other typical summer camp activities like flag raising, singing camp songs and having campfires. They participate in special events, dances and talent shows and are entertained by magicians and hypnotists.

In addition to companions, Camp Quality depends on other volunteers to help out during the week, like cooks, medical staff and the camp’s directors.

“It’s really neat to see how many volunteers give up their time and their jobs for a week,” she said.

The camp also relies on fundraising throughout the year. Many organizations from all over Northwest Missouri donate to the cause.

“Those fundraisers help pay for so many things,” Bredlow said.

Since she understands how important the camp is to the kids, she also helps out with raising money. She assists with the local radio-a-thons held each year, and earlier this spring, she participated in her first 5K which benefitted Camp Quality.

Bredlow will serve as a companion again this summer along with several other volunteers from the Nodaway County area. She said she plans to continue to volunteer and raise money for Camp Quality for as long as she is able.

“I can’t imagine my life without Camp Quality,” she said.

For more information on volunteering or to donate, visit or call 816.232.2267.

Eagles soar to ninth state softball championship

The Jefferson Eagles boys softball team discovered the road to the championship this year was much easier than winning the actual title.

After beating Grundy County 15-0 and Meadville 8-0, the Eagles advanced to the state championship game for the ninth time in the last 10 years.

They entered the October 1 game at Danner Park in Chillicothe with an undefeated 10-0 record facing the Tina-Avalon Dragons who stood at 12-3.

In what proved to be a pitcher’s duel through the first four innings between Jefferson’s Clayton Schieber and Tina’s Jedd Stark, the Eagles remained confidently patient throughout the game.

Jefferson Head Coach Tyler Pedersen said both pitchers were prepared and in championship form, which required his players to remain focused.

“I felt like our boys stayed prepared and we made the plays we needed to,” he said. “It is easy to become frustrated when you are facing a pitcher as good as Jedd Stark is. He had 15 strikeouts but I felt like our guys learned from each at-bat and came up with enough hits to get the job done.”

Those needed hits didn’t come until the top of the fifth inning. Tied at zero, their bats finally came alive when Catcher Zach Jermain knocked a triple into the outfield. After an intentional walk put Schieber on first, Third Baseman Blake Meyer smacked a ground-rule double which scored Jermain to make it a 1-0 game.

Consistent pitching by both teams kept the score at 1-0 through the end of six innings.

But in the seventh, the Eagles started to heat things up once again.

Jermain got on base with a single followed by Schieber, who on an error advanced to second and Jermain to third. Meyer was walked, and with bases loaded and two outs, Tina’s Stark came up big with another strikeout, ending the inning with the score still 1-0.

The scoreless top of the inning gave the Dragons one last chance.

With two outs and runners on first and second, Jefferson’s defense came up big again when a short infield hit was thrown out at first. The Eagles celebrated the 1-0 victory and their ninth boys state softball championship.

“This one is just as special as the very first,” Pedersen said. “I tell the boys all the time to never take it for granted. I am very proud of this team, because as inexperienced as we were coming into the season, the boys worked very hard and accomplished what they set out to do.”

While the game — and the tournament — was nothing short of a solid team effort, Schieber was a monster on the mound. In his last games as an Eagle, he had three complete shut-outs, allowing no runs on one hit, two walks and a total of 38 strikeouts.

Pedersen said he feels privileged to have had the chance to coach a player like him.

“Clayton is very talented, but to go with that, he is a great competitor and his work ethic is second to none,” he said, giving credit to his training during the off-season and help from his older brother, Logan, also an all-state pitcher, his parents and his teammates.

“(He) is the pitcher he is today by no accident,” Pedersen said. “He is an athlete who started out with some natural talent but worked very hard to become the best.”

For the tournament, Schieber had five hits, one run and five RBIs; Jermain had five hits, six runs and one RBI; Charles Miller had four hits, two runs and four RBIs; Tyler Schmitz had three hits, four runs and three RBIs; Sam Kelley had three hits, three runs and two RBIs; Alex Holtman had two hits, two runs and one RBI; Meyer had one hit, two runs and one RBI; Jordan McCrary had one hit, two runs and an RBI; and Jed Galbraith scored two runs.