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Academically minded

Sunday afternoon, St. Joseph Christian School said goodbye to 27 seniors during its graduation ceremony at Wyatt Park Baptist Church.

The ceremony highlighted the achievements of those in the class of 2019, something Secondary School Principal, Danny Maggart, said was not difficult to do.

“This class is so special in so many ways,” Maggart said. “The ACT composite averages 25; we had 21 percent of our kids that got a 31 or over and one student with a 34. So they’re just a very academically minded class, very strong and competitive.”

While many graduates had gone to school together for many years, like co-valedictorians Rachel Carlson and Jack Weil, the school also had a handful of foreign-exchange senior students that Maggart said had enriched the school during their time.

“This is probably the most foreign students that we had in our graduating class with four from South Korea and China,” Maggart said. “We’re really going to miss them; they really brought a lot to our school.”

Maggart said that with each student that was leaving St. Joseph Christian School, he hoped to see them become successful adults, but even more importantly, become faithful Christians.

“Success of these kids down the road is not, in our eyes, whether or not they’re making six figures of seven figures a year. It’s whether or not they’re actively involved in their local church and serving and following Christ. That’s how we like to measure success.”

US-Canada border transfers raise fear of delayed crossings

DERBY LINE, Vt. — Hundreds of border agents from across the U.S. are being temporarily transferred south ahead of the busy summer tourism season, worrying those along the northern border who rely on cross-border commerce — including U.S. innkeepers, shop owners and restaurateurs who fear their Canadian customers could be caught in backups at border crossings.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says 731 northern border agents from land, sea and airports are in the process of being sent to the U.S.-Mexico border, where they will help their southern counterparts handle the influx of families and unaccompanied children from Central America.

The move comes as businesses gear up for the summer season, when tens of thousands of Canadian tourists help buoy the economies of communities in border states and elsewhere deeper inside the United States. Since U.S.-Canada border security was ramped up shortly after the 9/11 attacks, local and state officials have worried heightened security could hurt trade and the free flow of people back and forth across the 5,525-mile border.

Garry Douglas of the North Country Chamber of Commerce in Plattsburgh, New York, said commerce with Canada is the “single greatest driving force” in the regional economy and it took years to get adequate staffing levels at the northern border, which around 400,000 people and $1.6 billion in goods cross daily.

In an email, he said he hadn’t seen any problems yet, but cautioned that peak travel season doesn’t begin until Canada’s Victoria Day holiday weekend, from May 18 through 20.

Last week, 13 bipartisan members of Congress from six northern border states wrote acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, voicing concerns the plans could hurt cross-border travel and commerce.

“The decision to deploy northern border CBP officers to the southern border makes it increasingly more difficult for the agency to meet their core mission requirements at the border which include effectively securing U.S. points of entry and safeguarding and streamlining lawful trade and travel,” said the May 3 letter , which was released Wednesday.

The letter was signed by four members of Congress from New York, four from Michigan, two from New Hampshire, and one each from Minnesota, Washington and North Dakota. On Thursday, Vermont’s Democratic U.S. Rep. Peter Welch sent an identical letter to McAleenan.

“Tourism is central to our economy in the Granite State and I have serious concerns about any disruption in the efficiency of operations at the Canadian border,” New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster said in an email interview. “Moving Customs and Border Protection personnel away from our northern border has the potential to impact U.S.-Canadian commerce and tourism just as we enter the busy summer months. I will work with my colleagues whose states and districts share a border with Canada to address this serious issue.”

Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine said they understand the need for additional resources at the southern border, but in a joint statement they said they’re monitoring to “ensure that the northern border remains safe and secure, and that crossings that facilitate jobs and vital economic activity are not negatively affected in Maine.” Collins is a Republican and King is an independent who caucuses with Democrats.

While CBP wouldn’t specify where the agents are coming from, they are being drawn from 328 ports of entry.

Vermont CBP Port Director Gregory Starr, speaking Wednesday after the ribbon-cutting for a new port of entry at Derby Line, said a number of his agents were heading south. He said those staying in Vermont would do their best to avoid backups.

“It’s an issue that we have to deal with,” Starr said. “We’re going to help out as much as we can and try to maintain our presence here as well.”

In Maine, the town of Old Orchard Beach relies heavily on Canadian tourists. Some hotels and motels fly both the U.S. and Canadian flags out front.

One of the owners of the waterfront Kebek 3 motel, Marc Bourassa, says 90% of his customers are Canadian, so he’s concerned about delays at the border. For the past couple of years, Canadian guests have reported to him that things have been running smoothly at the crossings. He doesn’t want to see the apple cart being upset.

“It doesn’t make sense to me that they they’d do something like that,” Bourassa said. “But there are lots of things that don’t make sense to me. I guess that’s life.”

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South End flood spawns home insurance questions

The onrush of floodwaters that threatened to swamp South End homeowners translated into a last-minute flurry of inquiries on the potential of writing insurance policies before the damage arrived.

Dana Oerman, Shelter Insurance agent at 6412 King Hill Ave., told News-Press NOW she had to inform those seeking to protect their homes just prior to the flood that their timing was unfortunately off, resulting in some disappointed and heartbroken reactions. That’s due to a provision of the National Flood Insurance Program that prevents coverage under its auspices from kicking in until 30 days from the purchase date, according to the consumer research think tank NerdWallet. The Federal Emergency Management Agency does have exceptions to the waiting period, such as those with private policies.

“My phone rang off the hook,” Oerman said. “I’ve seen more (inquiries) this go-around than in 2011.”

Those purchasing a home should check to determine if the previous owner had a flood claim and ensured that the repairs were completed prior to the transaction.

“Flood insurance goes by location, not who owns it,” Oerman added. “You could have problems filing a claim.”

Rick Bolton, Farmers Insurance agent at 303 Illinois Ave., also acknowledged a need to explain the 30-day waiting period on policy purchases to those who had heard of the threat of floods for the South End and became understandably nervous for safeguarding their property.

“We have not had any claims turned in,” said Bolton. “We probably had 10 people call us for flood quotes.

“We had the same situation (eight years ago,)” he added.

Like Oerman, Bolton recommended homeowners procure insurance if they reside in a high-risk zone susceptible to flooding. Yet some cheaper rates can be found for those in the Lake Contrary area, he said.

Preferred rates can range from $300 to $500 annually, Bolton said.

Both agents said the majority of basic home policies also cover damage inflicted by tornadoes or high winds, and counseled meetings with the agent to ensure the applicability.

Midwest states such as Missouri, located in the path of the famed Tornado Alley, are seeing increases in home coverage premiums, based on a recently-released report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners covering 2016. Missouri ranked seventh in the compilation, with a 76 percent increase since 2007.

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Gym supports local deputy battling cancer

This Memorial Day a local gym will be taking part in an annual workout that honors fallen heroes while helping fund the cancer treatments of a hero from the community.

BFit CrossFit is hosting the Memorial Day Murph, a workout consisting of 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats and two miles of running, all while wearing a 20-pound vest, a favorite workout of Michael Murphy.

“He was a Navy Seal, he was killed in action,” Brad Durham, owner of the gym explained. “If you’ve seen the movie “Lone Survivor,” that has him in it, and so the story of Murphy comes from that tour in Afghanistan. He loved this workout called Body Armor, and they changed the name of it to Murph to honor him. So every Memorial Day, that’s just what CrossFit gyms do; they do the workout of Murph.”

While CrossFitters around the country will be taking part in the grueling workout in remembrance of Murphy, those who attend BFit will be supporting Scott Vanover, a local deputy with the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office who was diagnosed with kidney cancer last summer.

Vanover, who worked for the St. Joseph Police Department for 26 years and has been with the sheriff’s office for four, said that throughout his fight with cancer, the community at BFit has gathered around him.

“The community is what really drives me here to BFit,” Vanover said. “That’s one of the main foundations of CrossFit: the person that finishes last gets the most support or the most cheering on.”

For the Murph this year, the $10 entrance fee, along with proceeds from T-shirts reading “B-Strong, Never Stop Fighting” and “Vanover 566,” the deputy’s badge number, will be donated to Vanover to help fund his treatments.

“I was very surprised, and more so I’m very humbled that they took time and effort out of their daily lives and especially out of their businesses to help somebody like me,” Vanover said.

Durham said he is looking forward to supporting Vanover this year, someone who he considers a real-life hero.

“He’s part of our community,” Durham said. “Why would we not want to come around him as a community and be just a support system for him if we still have a chance to be part of his life, because he is beating cancer right now, which is awesome.”

Vanover himself will be taking part in the Murph for the fifth time, though he expects he may be a bit slower after having one kidney removed and undergoing cancer treatments.

“If anybody wants to come down and join me in doing the workout, that would be awesome,” Vanover said. “I would love to have anybody who wanted to come down and join.”

The workout will begin at 9 a.m. Monday, May 27, at BFit CrossFit, located at 2202 Locust St., and the workout can be split amongst a team or modified. T-shirts are available for purchase at the gym and at Lean Kitchen Company.