A1 A1
top story
New local radio station focuses on hits from ’80s and ’90s

When Eagle Radio DJ Gregg Lynn started more than 20 years ago, he recalls listeners wanting to be as far away from ‘80s music as possible.

“It was the least-popular music ... Nobody wanted to listen to it. It tested horribly. And now, all of a sudden, it’s high,” he said.

During the past two decades, people have warmed to the hits of Boston, Joan Jett, Prince and the late Eddie Money, enough to necessitate a local radio station, Joetown 107.5 (KESJ-FM), dedicated solely to playing the hits of the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Lynn said the idea of creating a retro station had been kicked around at Eagle Communications Radio Group, which also runs stations like the Top 40 K-JO 105.5 (KKJO-FM) and the Country music-based Q Country 92.7 FM (KSJQ-FM). A look at Kansas City radio station ratings, with classic rock station 101.1 The Fox (KCFX-FM) and classic hits 94.9 KCMO-FM, consistently topping the ratings charts, showed the format had traction.

“With this format, all of the ‘80s, a little bit of the ‘70s and ‘90s, it’s just taken off. I mean, people love it,” Lynn said.

So what brought about this change in the mindset? Lynn suspects it’s the connections the songs have to simpler times. Bumper ads on the station talk about how the songs “Make you feel like you’re back in high school” and “Cruising down the Belt Highway.”

“Because there was such a backlash against it, all of a sudden you couldn’t hear an ‘80s song anywhere for a long time,” Lynn said.

Even K-JO, which ran an adult contemporary format in the ‘90s and 2000s, shifted from playing soft rock songs to a more Top 40, hip-hop and pop-based format.

“All of a sudden, you noticed a lot of the styles coming, like ‘Stranger Things.’ It was like ‘Oh, people really do like the ‘80s still,’” Lynn said.

The station will cater to the biggest hits of the decades. So if audiences are expecting some deep cuts from Culture Club or Billy Idol, they’ll have to look elsewhere.

“It’s really focused on the best songs of the decade. You’re not going to hear a song where you’re like ‘Oh, I don’t like it’ or ‘I don’t know it,’” Lynn said.

To get the FM spot, Eagle Communication flipped its signal from the under-performing ESPN 1550 AM and re-purposed it for the new station using a signal translator. While it won’t have the long reach of its sister stations, it will cover all of St. Joseph and be more focused on the city’s happenings, broadcasting local news and high school sports games.

“It covers the city really well and that’s kind of what we’re hyper-focused on. The news (the station broadcasts), it’s all just news about St. Joe,” Lynn said.

The station kicked off with a concert by the ‘80s cover band Cherry Bomb on Sept. 14 at the St. Jo Frontier Casino. Lynn said while K-JO wouldn’t be able to bring the multi-million acts it plays, they’d like to bring some more retro acts to the area.

“We’re not going to get Katy Perry. But you’re going to get a bunch of these ‘80s groups that are still together and still out there doing it and then, of course, the tribute bands are huge,” Lynn said.

Eagle Communications has been pleased with the positive feedback the station has received so far, Lynn said. The hopes are for it grow even bigger and become a staple of the community.

“This is a little more of a mass-appeal station that’s going to have stuff everybody loves,” he said.

top story
School district discouraging vaping with increased discipline, education

St. Joseph school officials are working to combat an issue that has become a national concern with young people: vaping.

Vaping has been declared a national epidemic, and around 450 vaping-related illnesses have been reported so far in the United States, along with six deaths. Those stats relate to e-cigarettes that contain nicotine and THC, which is an element of marijuana. Vaping is something high school students can feel peer-pressured to take part in.

“It is a problem and it’s growing,” said Dr. Robert Sigrist, director of non-academic student services with the St. Joseph School District. “Part of it is that it has replaced cigarettes and the ability to conceal it, it is much easier to hide. We wish students would not engage in any of those behaviors.”

Because of the growing problem, the district has added a specific vaping rule this year that is more strict than just the use of tobacco.

Schools in the district acknowledge that there is a vaping problem within their walls and with their students in general. Middle schoolers are also in on the bad habit as well, although to a lesser degree.

“It is like anything else: Whatever high-schoolers are doing it will trickle down to middle schools,” Sigrist said. “We see some of that. It is not as extensive like high school students.”

One school in Alabama is removing doors off bathroom stalls to prevent students from vaping. Multiple schools are installing vape detectors to catch students in several areas of the school. The St. Joseph School District doesn’t plan on adding any of these types of rules because they potentially infringe on student rights.

“I have looked into the vape detectors. They are about $1,000 apiece. I don’t know if that is a feasible solution for us,” Sigrist said. “You have also seen removing of bathroom doors. I don’t see us ever moving to that. If I’m a student who does not participate in that behavior, then why would I lose my rights and have my privacy taken away because other people don’t follow guidelines?”

One way the school district is trying to combat students from vaping is educating them on the dangers that are known.

“Awareness is a great tool, not just through the nursing office but just in general,” Maria Burnham, coordinator of nursing services with the St. Joseph School District, said. “Right now the CDC is recommending that adults and teens don’t use e-cigarettes because they don’t know what is in them.”

Part of educating the students is educating the nurses. Since this is a new problem in the medical field, there has to be new information passed along to the nurses to look for signs.

“What I do is I share the information I get from the CDC or the Department of Health and Senior Services,” Burnham said.

The three high schools just added a new role, the safety supervisor positions. Vaping wasn’t a reason for the new additions, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t assist in keeping vaping students under control.

“Vaping was not a piece of that. It was more from a safety and security standpoint, but one piece of safety is making sure they aren’t taking place in any illegal activity,” Sigrist said.

White House says bin Laden son killed in U.S. operation

WASHINGTON — The White House announced Saturday that Hamza bin Laden , the son of the late al-Qaida leader who had become an increasingly prominent figure in the terrorist organization, was killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

A statement issued in President Donald Trump’s name gave no further details, such as when Hamza bin Laden was killed or how the United States had confirmed his death. Administration officials would provide no more information beyond the three-sentence statement from the White House.

American officials have said there are indications that the CIA, not the U.S. military, conducted the strike. The CIA declined comment on whether the agency was involved.

The White House statement said Hamza bin Laden’s death “not only deprives al-Qaida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group.” It said Osama bin Laden’s son “was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups.”

The U.S. officials had suspected this summer that Hamza bin Laden was dead, based on intelligence reports and the fact that he had not been heard from in some time. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Fox News Channel in a late August interview that it was “my understanding” that Hamza bin Laden was dead.

A U.S. official familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity about intelligence-gathering said bin laden was killed in the past 18 months. Confirming such a high-profile death can take a long time, said the official, who declined to say what led the U.S. to report bin Laden’s death with certainty.

The younger bin Laden had been viewed as an eventual heir to the leadership of al-Qaida, and the group’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, had praised him in a 2015 video that appeared on jihadi websites, calling him a “lion from the den of al-Qaida.” Bin Laden’s death leaves Zawahiri with the challenge of finding a different successor.

The U.S. government in February said it was offering $1 million for help tracking down Hamza bin Laden as part of the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program. The department’s notice said he was married to a daughter of Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, an al-Qaida leader and Egyptian charged for his role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. They were said to have two children, Osama and Khairiah, named after his parents.

He was named a “specially designated global terrorist” in January 2017, and he had released audio and video messages calling for attacks against the U.S. and its allies. To mark one 9/11 anniversary, al-Qaida superimposed a childhood photo of him over a photo of the World Trade Center.

Video released by the CIA in 2017 that was seized during the 2011 U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden showed Hamza bin Laden with a trimmed mustache but no beard at his wedding. Previous images have only shown him as a child.

Hamza bin Laden is believed to have been born in 1989, the year of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, where his father became known among the mujahedeen fighters. His father returned to Saudi Arabia and later fled to Sudan after criticizing the kingdom for allowing U.S. troops to deploy in the country during the 1991 Gulf War. He later fled Sudan for Afghanistan in 1996, where he declared war against the U.S.

As al-Qaida’s leader, Osama bin Laden oversaw attacks that included the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as the bombing of the USS Cole off Yemen. He and others plotted and executed the 2001 attacks against the United States that led to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. U.S. Navy SEALs killed the elder bin Laden in a raid on a house in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011.

This past March, Saudi Arabia announced that it had revoked the citizenship of Hamza bin Laden. The kingdom stripped Osama bin Laden’s citizenship in 1994 while he was living in exile in Sudan when Hamza bin Laden was just a child. It was unclear where Hamza bin Laden was at the time of the Saudi action.

Hamza bin Laden began appearing in militant videos and recordings in 2015 as an al-Qaida spokesman.

“If you think that your sinful crime that you committed in Abbottabad has passed without punishment, then you thought wrong,” he said in his first audio recording.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, a U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan sought to topple the Taliban, an ally of al-Qaida, and seize the elder bin Laden. He escaped and split from his family as he crossed into Pakistan. Hamza was 12 when he saw his father for the last time — receiving a parting gift of prayer beads.

“It was as if we pulled out our livers and left them there,” he wrote of the separation.

Hamza and his mother followed other al-Qaida members into Pakistan and then Iran, where other al-Qaida leaders hid them, according to experts and analysis of documents seized after U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Iran later put the al-Qaida members on its soil into custody. During this time, Hamza married.

In March 2010, Hamza and others left Iranian custody. He went to Pakistan’s Waziristan province, where he asked for weapons training, according to a letter to the elder bin Laden. His mother left for Abbottabad, joining her husband in his hideout. On May 2, 2011, the Navy SEAL team raided Abbottabad, killing Osama bin Laden and his son Khalid, as well as others. Saber and other wives living in the house were imprisoned. Hamza again disappeared.

In August 2015, a video emerged on jihadi websites of al-Zawahri introducing “a lion from the den of al-Qaida” — Hamza bin Laden. Since then, Hamza had been featured in al-Qaida messages, delivering speeches on everything from the war in Syria to Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip as president.

But he hadn’t been heard from since a message in March 2018, in which he threatened the rulers of Saudi Arabia.

City sees intense interest for marijuana licenses

Modern-day prospectors didn't spare any part of St. Joseph as they scoured the city for available buildings that could accommodate a medical marijuana business.

It's a frenzy that might be reminiscent of St. Joseph's Gold Rush days, but this time it's Missouri's new medical cannabis law that drives dreams of striking it rich.

"Everyone wants to get in on the ground floor," said Clint Thompson, St. Joseph's director of planning and community development. "There's been extreme interest. We've done no less than 50 zoning verification letters."

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services received 55 applications for medical marijuana businesses in Buchanan County. That includes proposals for 39 dispensaries, eight grow facilities and six manufacturing sites. No part of St. Joseph was excluded, with applications for proposed locations on King Hill Avenue, St. Joseph Avenue and Frederick Avenue.

There were 13 dispensaries proposed for the Belt Highway, as well as applications to develop manufacturing and cultivation operations for an industrial site at 402 Messanie St. and former grocery stores at 3734 Pear St. and 2300 Mitchell Ave. The city already approved a zoning change for the Mitchell Avenue site, but the state has not acted on any licensing requests.

Chris McHugh is heading a group that wants to develop a manufacturing, growing and dispensing operation under one roof at 402 Messanie St. That building is currently the site of Scot Young Research, a company that makes cleaning products.

"We saw an opportunity to create a business that we thought would be very profitable," said McHugh, a Kansas City attorney whose group is working to purchase the building. "That's the truth of it. The city of St. Joseph is very friendly to marijuana businesses. The square footage is relatively cheap."

There's just one hitch for McHugh and any other entrepreneur looking to get into the medical marijuana business. The state of Missouri can't possibly approve all of the applications.

The state recorded more than 2,100 medical marijuana facility applications, but officials only plan to approve a fifth of that number. Statewide, the department will grant licences to 10 laboratory facilities, 60 cultivation facilities, 88 manufacturing sites and 192 dispensaries. 

"There are not a whole lot of times when you get to be on the cusp of an emerging market," said Chris Johnson, who leads a group seeking to develop a cultivation and manufacturing facility at the former Apple Market building at 3734 Pear St. It's currently a furniture store, but Johnson is seeking to acquire that building and change the zoning classification. The city staff recommended against the zoning change.

Johnson, who is from Grain Valley, said some applicants are viewing the process as a lottery. They offer little more than an address and hopes for a viable business.

Others invest considerable money before wading into the tall weeds of the state's regulatory requirements. Johnson expects his group to spend up to $250,000 on attorneys, fees and preparation work. McHugh is anticipating a need for $3 million in working capital to launch a start-up business that no bank will touch. He brought in experts from states with legal marijuana, including a grower and a dispensary manager.

"All the money, all the financing, will come from private investors, private equity," he said. "The learning curve is beyond steep. As I say all the time, we're building the airplane as we fly it."

The state has suggested licenses could be awarded as soon as next month, but McHugh wouldn't be surprised to see it delayed until later in 2019. He wouldn't expect to see any medical cannabis available to qualifying patients until next summer at the earliest.

In other parts of Missouri, the state received applications for 51 dispensaries in Boone County, 81 in Greene County, 181 in Jackson County and 300 combined in St. Louis City and St. Louis County.

There were 12 marijuana license applications in Nodaway County, seven in DeKalb County, six in Livingston County, four each in Andrew and Clinton counties, three in Grundy County, two each in Daviess and Gentry counties and one in Harrison County.

Kristen Carver | News-Press NOW 

Northwest Missouri State quarterback Braden Wright rushes with the ball against Washburn on Saturday at Bearcat Stadium.