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Some St. Joseph residents may give you a flippant response regarding the homeless in town, but if you speak to one of the agencies working to fix the underlying factors — they’ll likely tell you each situation is unique to the individual.
Mosaic Life Care is looking to invest between $800,000 and $900,000, annually to the Urban Mission Collaboration, which will take place at the Crossing Ministry Outreach.
The idea came to fruition after Mosaic performed a Community Health Needs Assessment, according to Pat Dillon, vice president of Advocacy and Government Relations at the hospital.
“A lot of people say, ‘Why do you spend money in that arena, you know? You’re a hospital.’” Dillon said. “It really is part of the mission, especially when you are a sole community hospital. It’s your burden to help take care of the population.”
Mosaic helped fund the Crossing last year with $150,000. Buchanan County and the city of St. Joseph contributed $20,000 each.
The new pilot program will take place over the next three years beginning in October.
“What we want to do is take those folks to the next step, whether it’s transitional housing with Pivotal Point (or) Community Action Partnership with their community health workers,” Dillon said.
Mosaic will be monitoring the progress, and so will CAP, according to Rachael Bittiker, Community Health Navigator with CAP.
“A lot of times there’s a stigma that’s built around the homeless population,” Bittiker said. “It’s not necessarily someone that isn’t working, or someone that has a drug addiction, or substance abuse addiction — it literally can be (a) family.”
The community health worker will identify issues and connect individuals with means to solve the problem.
“It’s not an easy job, you’re dealing with all different walks of life,” Bittiker said. “They use resources from all over, different agencies in the community.”
Pivotal Point possesses 19 temporary apartments where individuals typically stay for three months, and then the agency helps the person find safe, affordable housing.
If step one of the Urban Mission Collaboration is the person’s arrival to the emergency shelter, steps two and three are identifying the problem and putting a plan of action in place. Step four would be where Executive Director Melissa Frakes of Pivotal Point enters the equation.
“We’ve decided where they’re at — they are working,” Frakes said. “And now they come to us, and we take the next steps, and so that next step is safe, affordable housing after us.”
Dillon with Mosaic said the organized collaboration will be evaluated for its effectiveness at the end of the period. The St. Joseph City Council will be holding a 5 p.m. work session to discuss the program this coming Monday at City Hall.
“We are really all just one big medical bill away from being possibly in the same situation,” Frakes said. “I think by working together, we really are offering some hope in this community.”
The St. Joseph School District hosted a set of focus groups at emPowerU Wednesday with the hope of getting a more community-focused look at its master facilities plans.
About 100 total participants — varying from students and teachers to business owners and community members — were separated into various groups following an explanation of the master facilities plan by DLR, the company in charge of the overall study. Various cost-saving and efficiency-focused options for the district involve consolidating schools while shutting down others, and while none of those options are final, the district is hoping the community can help make the next move.
“I think that these discussions are very helpful, honestly,” said Bria Kirby, a senior at Central High School. “I thought it was very nice and open, and I’m glad that they asked us to come for our input as students. But yeah, I think it’s very helpful because we can talk through the plan and I like some of their designs, so yeah I think it was great.”
And while the talking points were generally the same, groups eventually highlighted different aspects of the community, businesses, population and school pride.
They also ranked their favorite options provided by DLR, whether it was a one- or two-high-school model, and took the time to discuss what they believed was most important to the community and the district as a whole.
For Lafayette senior Grace Richey, the benefits of these conversations were clear.
“We’re not going to be here when all of these remodels are done, so we’re doing this for the kids coming in and for the future of St. Joe,” she said. “As one of our friends said in the meetings, we need people from different incomes — the people who have to take the bus or the kids who have to walk to school. We need all of those people coming to these meetings.”
Jeff Leake, a teacher at Lafayette, said he appreciated that student perspective, because many adults in the community often look at the big picture, sometimes ignoring the more intimate knowledge of the buildings and facilities that those students can offer.
Moreover, he said the district’s next step in the process is clear: Listen.
“There’s a lot of people with a lot of strong opinions, backgrounds and biases — we all have them — so let’s listen to them all. Let’s educate. If someone has an idea or a question, let’s answer it,” Leake said. “Some of the ideas moving forward, it’s sometimes shocking to see those scenarios. … But there’s no doubt we need to make improvements and upgrades in our facilities.”
LINK Strategic Partners Managing Director Josh Lasky, who helped lead one of the groups, agreed that having the student perspective was especially helpful during the process.
While most other groups had one or two students, Lasky had four from two separate high schools.
“We’ve facilitated conversations like this all over the country, but the reality is that every community is different and has a unique set of preferences and needs,” Lasky said. “Hearing from the students was great, because they’re the ones who are actually living it every day. Getting their feedback on what they want to see in their school and other schools across the district was really valuable. They raised questions like, ‘What are the effects on athletics if we go from three high schools down to one? Is it going to be harder to get on those teams? But will I feel a greater sense of community now that I’m with more people and have access to more resources in a modernized building?’ There are lots of trade-offs, and they approached it in an incredibly mature way, and having their voice was really valuable in those conversations.”
He went on to say that DLR and LINK’s next step is to go through that feedback, process it and refine the concepts further. At the same time, he encouraged the school district to continue to be involved and proactive with the community.
“There’s a couple of real challenges here. Any time a community is dealing with the prospect of closing schools, there’s an emotional attachment to those schools, and it seems like they’re a failure. It’s not. Demographics change, populations shift over time,” Lasky said. “This conversation is about making sure the St. Joseph School District is the strongest district it can be.”
Following a trend of many dioceses around the country, Conception Abbey of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, released the names of eight priests and monks associated with the them who were accused of sexual assault.
Why is the abbey releasing names?
In a letter from Abbott Benedict Neenan that was posted to the abbey’s website on Monday, he named several men who were ordained through the abbey located in Conception, Missouri.
“In the past few years it’s become clear that for the sake of the victims of sexual abuse, it is helpful for them to know that the institution where these people who have abused them come from or belong to, they have recognized that this happened, they’ve admitted it and they’ve acknowledged who the people are,” Neenan told News-Press NOW in an interview Tuesday afternoon.
According to Neenan, two retired FBI agents went through 279 personnel files at the abbey, looking for what they deemed as credible allegations based on evidence.
Who are the accused men?
Seven of the eight men are dead, with only Fr. Isaac True, the former pastor of a Bethany, Missouri, parish who was at the center of a 2011 lawsuit, still alive.
“Because of its publicity and there was enough credibility, the diocese agreed (they were also parties to the suit) that we should settle,” Neenan said. “It wasn’t decided one way or the other; we settled the case, but there was enough credibility that he should be listed.”
The 2011 lawsuit was settled with a $125,000 agreement in 2014. According to Neenan, True is no longer serving in the ministry but is under supervision.
“He’s in a good situation where he was no contact with minors,” Neenan said.
How does the abbey handle accusations?
It was around the time that the lawsuit was filed that Conception Abbey created its Program of Protection, which is now overseen by Brother Jacob Kubajak. According to Kubajak, this programs is monitored by an independent company called Presidium, which looks at protection, response and supervision.
“They were just here in April of 2019 to review the records that I have and to see if I’m doing everything that their standards require,” Kubajak said. “They were here for two days, but it was a pretty intense two days for re-accreditation to verify that we are doing what we’re expected to do.”
According to Kubajak, under the abbey’s policies, any report of current abuse is reported to law enforcement and the proper government agencies like the Missouri Department of Social Services or Department of Health and Senior Services.
The exception to this is the seal of confession, created when a priest is hearing the confessions of someone in his congregation.
“A priest is absolutely prohibited from revealing, in words or in any manner for any reason, information acquired from a sacramental confession,” the abbey’s written policies state. “The sacramental seal of confession is inviolable. This confidentiality is recognized under Missouri law.
For allegations of past assaults, if reported to the abbey, Kubajak will ask the victim if they’d be willing to have their information shared with an independent investigator. If the victim is willing, the abbey’s lawyer will make contact with an independent investigator who the abbey has no authority over. At this point, the accused person will be suspended from ministry work as well.
“We are very deliberate, and it’s intentional,” Kubajak said. “We want to follow this out to the end, and if it is that the allegation is proved false, then I’m sure the monk who’s being accused wants everything to be reversed immediately. He knows that’s not going to happen immediately, that there has to still be a process that has to be gone through.”
A written report that determines whether or not the investigator believes the accusation to be credible is submitted to the abbey and the Abbey Review Board. The board will then decide on what needs to be done, and the Abbot will give the final say if he believes a member of the abbey should be removed from the ministry.
“They reviewed everything we ended up putting on our website on Monday, just to get their input to see if these allegations seem credible,” Kubajak said of the review board. “They weren’t the only ones. Obviously we had two trained, former FBI agents who also went through all the files from the last 70 years.”
The Program of Protection also has policies on background checks for those entering the abbey, ongoing education on creating safe environments, and even social media conduct.
“In general it’s deliberate; in general we do the best we can for screening purposes. Are we 100 percent perfect? I don’t think there is a 100 percent perfect system, but we really do strive to be. We try to document everything that we possibly can.”
By Ken Newton
Lucille Osborn grew up in Northwest Missouri before going to Washington to serve in the War Crimes Division of the Pentagon. She would later work two dozen years for the municipal government of Cameron, Missouri.
As with nearly everyone, life proved a mix of the unusual and the humdrum.
But there came that day, a camera pointed her way, when the city clerk shared a moment with Michael Douglas.
It happened right there at the intersection of Third and Chestnut streets, the future Oscar-winner climbing out of an orange Porsche 911T and seeking directions from Lucille, she in a summer dress and carrying a sack of groceries.
He pointed one direction. She motioned the opposite way.
For this modest interaction, Osborn, who died in 2010, got a modest check from a Hollywood production company.
Film preserves this, a movie called “Adam at 6 A.M.” Don’t look for it among the honored movies of 1970. The New York Times film critic wrote that it “sneers at Mid-America.”
In this case, though, it stands out for a couple of reasons. It came at the beginning of a distinguished career by Douglas, the son of Hollywood royalty. (Not every kid sees “Spartacus” sitting across the breakfast table.)
Beyond that, the eldest child of Kirk Douglas and a film crew came to Cameron 50 years ago to shoot scenes for “Adam at 6 A.M.”
Stan Hendrix, a 911 call taker who doubles as a researcher for the Cameron Historical Society, said he thought he could take a couple of days and look into this. It turned into a journey of more than six years.
“There are just hundreds of wonderful stories that bounce around regarding what happened,” he said.”It didn’t change the town, but it was a big event in our history and people are still proud to be able to say that Hollywood came to Cameron.”
The story of Cameron’s involvement in the movie suggests some serendipity. One of the screenwriters, Elinor Karpf, had been born in Kansas City and intended the movie to be set in Excelsior Springs.
Location scouts needed a country church, a small-town tavern, a new housing development, a drive-in theater and a downtown area for filming. Excelsior Springs checked all the boxes but one. The production people didn’t like the downtown, Hendrix said.
Karpf said she had an uncle who lived in Cameron, a community with a pleasant downtown. Why not look there?
“They basically came to Cameron because they liked the looks of downtown Cameron better than Excelsior Springs for the purposes of the film,” Hendrix said. Not only that, they change the town name in the movie to Cameron.
The narrative involves semantics professor Adam Gaines’ (Douglas) disillusion with his superficial life in California. Just as his spring semester ends, he learns of the death of a relative in Missouri, a woman he had never seen. Still, he jumps into his Porsche and drives more than 1,600 miles to the funeral.
There, he meets a woman (played by acting newcomer Lee Purcell) who seems the ideal small-town girl, complete with a knack for making apple pie. Adam decides to hang around, taking a summer job with a utility crew clearing timber and sleeping under the stars.
The movie had a good pedigree, brought to the screen by Steve McQueen’s production company.
Joe Don Baker chews up scenery as Harvey, a tree-cutting partner who yearns to be a TV repairman, this role three years before his huge success in “Walking Tall.” Louise Latham, who acted in Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg films, also had a supporting role.
Hendrix, who has lived in Cameron since 1970, moving there at age 10, revels in finding little nuggets of information that built upon the town’s rich history.
The “Adam at 6 A.M.” research added to this broader story. He drove up and down Interstate 35 to identify landscapes from the film. He went to the Salem Christian Union Church near Excelsior Springs, site of the movie’s funeral service. He talked to people who had been extras in the Cameron shots.
One of them, Michael Phillips, made it into the film at 5 months of age. He got paid for his work, even having to get a Social Security number (unusual for babies in those days) so taxes could be withheld.
In the Cameron Depot Museum, the family’s pay stubs can be found, each of the checks netting $11.68 from a $15 payment.
The researcher would learn, too, that the movie would not be universally well-received in Cameron. The reason: A California scene in the movie showed Adam’s previous girlfriend getting out of bed.
“There is a very brief shot of a bare breast,” Hendrix said. “On the West Coast, they probably thought there was nothing to it.” In Cameron, when the film opened in 1970, it did not go over so well.
Another tidbit. Nine years after the filming, Douglas and his wife, Diandra, had their first child. They named him Cameron.