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Reaching for the stars

Pushing upward

Something keeps us yearning for space travel, despite all the reasons to stay grounded.

Details on Page A4

Apollo 11 astronauts reunite on 50th anniversary of moonshot

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins reunited Friday on the eve of the 50th anniversary of humanity’s first moon landing.

They gathered in the Oval Office with President Donald Trump, who got a rundown on his administration’s plans to get astronauts back on the moon by 2024 and then on to Mars in the 2030s.

“We’re bringing the glamour back” to the space program, Trump said.

Both sons of the late Neil Armstrong, the first man to step onto the moon on July 20, 1969, also attended, as well as first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

The moon versus Mars debate as astronauts’ next destination arose again Friday.

The president asked if astronauts could get to Mars without first going back to the moon.

Collins, 88, who circled the moon alone in the command module while Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the Eagle, told the president that he supports going directly to Mars and bypassing the moon.

“It seems to me Mars direct, who knows better than these people?” Trump noted.

Bridenstine, though, stressed the importance of the moon as a training ground and noted that because of the planetary alignment, launches to Mars can occur only every 26 months and even then the trip is seven months each way.

“What happens if you miss the timing? They’re in deep trouble? Trump asked. “You don’t want to be on that ship.”

Aldrin, meanwhile, said he’s disappointed with the state of human space exploration the past 10 or 15 years. “We were able to achieve so much early,” the 89-year-old said.

Aldrin, whose specialty was orbital rendezvous, doesn’t like NASA’s idea for a small space station around the moon, called the Gateway, from which to stage lunar landings and, eventually, Mars trips. He noted that the Apollo 11 command module and attached lunar module went straight into lunar orbit and even separated and redocked around the moon.

“We have the No. 1 rocket right now in the U.S. and we have the No. 1 spacecraft, and they cannot get into lunar orbit with significant maneuvering capability,” Aldrin pointed out.

Trump directed Bridenstine to listen to the “other side.”

Aldrin and Armstrong, who died in 2012, landed on the Sea of Tranquility at 4:17 p.m. on July 20, 1969. “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed,” Armstrong radioed.

Armstrong was the first to climb down the ladder, stepping onto the lunar surface at 10:56 p.m. His “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” is arguably the most famous space line of all time.

The vice president is commemorating today’s anniversary at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, visiting the launch pad where Apollo 11 blasted off.

Museums and towns across the country geared up for their own golden anniversary celebrations, including Wapakoneta, Ohio, Armstrong’s hometown that was serving up “cinnamoon pancakes” and “buckeye on the moon sundaes.” The U.S. Postal Service, meanwhile, issued its “1969: First Moon Landing” Forever stamps Friday at Kennedy.

NASA televised a two-hour show Friday afternoon remembering Apollo 11, but also looking forward to its future moon plans. At the end of the program, Bridenstine revealed the new logo for the moon program, called Artemis after the twin sister of Greek mythology’s Apollo.

Besides Wapakoneta and Kennedy, the program went live to Johnson Space Center in Houston, home to Mission Control; the U.S. Space and Rocket Center next door to Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama; and the National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

In Houston, Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham said the moon landings will be remembered hundreds of years from now and Armstrong, in particular, will go down in history.

“Here we are 50 years later, and I never in my life could have projected this amount of interest and association with what we were doing back then,” Cunningham said.

In Wapakoneta, former astronaut Don Thomas recalled how he invited fellow Ohioan Armstrong to one of his four space shuttle launches in the 1990s. Not only did Armstrong show up, Thomas said the moonwalker met with him the day before liftoff and promised to stick around as long as it took the shuttle to fly.

“It was the thrill of my life to have him there for the launch,” Thomas said.

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FEMA encourages citizens to seek additional help

Ten days following an emergency declaration from President Donald Trump, the Federal Emergency Management Agency arrived in Mound City, Missouri, to offer assistance to those who have been devastated by flooding in the Northwest Missouri area.

A disaster recovery center was created in the Mound City High School, where citizens could meet with FEMA representatives one-on-one to apply for federal assistance. Nikki Gaskins, FEMA’s media relations specialist, said that already, 71 households have been assisted.

“So far a total of $214,000 has been directly given to those households to help them do things like make simple home repairs, find temporary shelter as well as possibly some other critical needs that they may be in need of,” Gaskins said.

At the time, only those who were affected by flooding from April 29 and beyond were included in the federal declaration coming out of Washington, D.C., though many in Holt and Atchison counties began seeing flood damage in March. Angela Byrd, another media relations specialist at FEMA, said those who are unsure if they qualify and even have received a letter of ineligibility still should come to the disaster recovery center to see what their options are.

“We still want them to bring their letters with them so they can speak with a FEMA representative one-on-one,” Byrd said. “We prefer that they do come and get clarification, because it could mean there’s additional information needed.”

Also at the disaster recovery center were representatives of the Small Business Administration, which was offering low-interest loans to those who experienced flooding since March. Bill Koontz, the public information officer for the SBA, said that those who own a home, are renting or own a business can apply for a loan with 2.1% interest until Sept. 9.

“This is an opportunity that only lasts for a couple of months, so apply, find out what SBA can do. You’ve got no obligation and it’s a good way to go,” Koontz said. “These are your tax dollars at work; you’ve paid money into your taxes and this is the government saying, we want to help put this money into the community to rebuild.”

Though FEMA could not offer federal assistance to those who experienced flooding in March, Gaskins said the agency already had greatly helped those citizens through flood insurance.

“Individuals who were impacted by the March storms, they don’t have to wait for a designation,” Gaskins said. “Many of them did have flood insurance through FEMA, and we’ve already paid about $5.1 million in claims just through FEMA’s flood insurance program.”

Through insurance, small-interest loans and federal assistance, citizens of Missouri can begin the process of recovering. Gaskins encouraged citizens to look for help from multiple sources, and not rely solely on one agency.

“One of the things we really want to make clear is that any assistance that individuals receive through FEMA is generally going to be just supplemental,” Gaskins said. “It is not generally enough to make a person whole. It really takes the state, the local municipalities, the communities the nonprofits — all of us working collectively to help in the road to recovery.”

St. Partick parish Mexican Fiesta

Viva la fiesta

St. Patrick parish celebrates its 50th anniversary of annual Mexican Fiesta.

Details on Page B4

Mustangs baseball

Hot streak

St. Joseph Mustangs roll Sedalia Bombers for 14th straight consecutive win.

Details on Page C1

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Professor retires after more than 50 years at MWSU

After 52 years at Missouri Western, Dr. Thomas Rachow of the university’s biology department is retiring.

Growing up in Streator, Illinois, Rachow was the first in his family to graduate from college. He had no idea just how long he’d spend on a college campus over the course of his life.

And since then, he’s seen the campus change from having three buildings and a double-wide student center, to the university that it is today.

“I can remember how much the technology has changed. When I got here, we had a chalkboard and one overhead projector that you had to arrange to have in your class in case someone else wanted to use it,” he said, laughing. “But at this point, I think I’ve taught almost everything in our department over the years, except for microbiology.”

The biology professor has been with the Missouri Western since before it moved to its current campus off Mitchell Avenue. He has worked under all of its presidents, having been hired by Dr. M.O. Looney himself in 1968 after meeting him at a local job fair.

He remembers coming to St. Joseph for the first time that same year, having been stopped and searched for weapons at a roadblock on his way through Kansas City — Martin Luther King Jr. had just been assassinated.

He taught at Robidoux for a time and remembers having to take fruit flies home to prevent them dying from heat exposure in the unair-conditioned buildings.

He taught at Missouri Western before pursuing his Ph.D. shortly thereafter.

Rachow said his ability to adapt to technology has kept him current in his career, and is a big part of his extended stay at Missouri Western.

“In those later years, when new technology was added, (some of my colleagues) were saying, ‘I don’t like this. I don’t want to use this,’” he said. “But, for some reason, that’s not been me. Whenever there’s new technology, I’m usually the first to embrace it, and then I’m the one who teaches all these young kids how to use it.”

Teaching anatomy courses has been bolstered significantly by current computer programs and videos, he added.

Rachow also has had extensive travel opportunities because of Missouri Western, having taken multiple trips to places such as Jamaica, the Bahamas, Belize and other locations.

And aside from adapting to the changes in technology and leadership, Rachow said simply being happy with what he does has made all the difference in his professional life.

“I’ve listened to people say, ‘Well, in five more years, I can retire.’ They’re looking forward to retirement and they hate what they do. I’ve always loved what I do. I’m trying to think what I’m going to do now, because this is my life,” he said. “So I think I’ve stuck around because I really like what I do, and I really like the students.”

Rachow has been cleaning his office over the past few days, gifting some of his possessions to other professors while filling one of several trash bins outside of his office.

“Yeah, my wife told me not to bring 50 years’ worth of stuff home,” he laughed.

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Noyes Home hosts seventh annual block party

The Noyes Home hosted its seventh annual block party Friday, coinciding with its 125th anniversary.

The home is for children dealing with family crises. The block party is a way for the Noyes Home home to open its doors to the community.

Chelsea Howlett has been the executive director at the Noyes Home for the last eight years. She said most people think of it as an orphanage, which it is not.

“We have to educate the community so that they don’t believe that this is an orphanage, because our kids are not available for adoption. They all have families that we are working hard to reunify,” Howlett said.

The event is free and open to the public. There’s food, booths, face painting, games and a celebrity kickball tournament.

The tournament featured St. Joseph celebrities, like law enforcement, news reporters, business owners and community members, against Noyes Home staff and kids.

“Our definition of celebs is those that advocate for kids in our community,” Howlett said.

Howlett was worried that there wouldn’t be a strong showing due to the heat, but that was not the case. Hundreds of community members showed up, along with some Noyes Home residents’ family members attending as well.

People interested about learning more about the home were also given the opportunity to tour the building.

“Some of the kids even led the tours and they love to talk about all of the things we take for granted, like being able to have their own bed,” Howlett said.

The entire event is sponsored by community members helping advocate and fundraise for the Noyes Home. The event focused mostly on community advocacy, but all of the proceeds made at the event benefit the Noyes Home.