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The final frontier | Students’ imaginations take flight
NASA, space highlighted during St. Paul Lutheran event

St. Paul Lutheran students got a closer glimpse of the final frontier Friday during the school’s special space-themed day.

The event was helmed by Ashley Kruse, a teacher at St. Paul Lutheran who participated in a NASA-focused event with the St. Joseph Museums last year. There, she took part in different space-centric experiments that could be performed in the comfort of her own classroom. She also learned how she could order actual NASA memorabilia, knowledge she utilized for Friday’s event.

The school set up six unique stations, from paper-rocket launching in the parking lot to presentations hosted by two previous NASA employees: Terry Wickham and Gale Bobzien.

“I think it’s so important for the kids to understand that there is such a wide world out there of opportunities — opportunities to work in different places and explore different things,” Kruse said. “My hope is that it creates a day that they’ll always remember for learning about different aspects of space and even some things here in our world.”

And those memorable moments seemed to be in abundance. Wickham, who worked with NASA on the Apollo 8 mission, related his experiences working in the organization’s computer complex in the ’60s and ’70s.

“I’m giving a presentation to the kids about my time and my experience from my job 50 years ago,” he said. “I’m talking to them about what the space program really is and where it all started.”

He talked about his job managing five separate computers that filled entire rooms, and how communication was key between different areas of the NASA complex.

Meanwhile, Gale Bobzien, a quality engineer at Kennedy Space Center, talked to the students about her time with NASA as well as the Orbital Sciences Corp. as a senior manager in flight assurance.

“It’s wonderful to get kids interested early, to get that enthusiasm, to create dreams for them. Space is certainly an area in which to do that,” Bobzien said.

Originally the only female quality engineer, she discussed the need to prove herself to fellow employees, but already was honored by the position to begin with.

“Early on, yes, it was quite different,” she explained. “I was the only female quality engineer that they had. I had to prove myself a bit … but it was an enjoyable and exciting career.”

Students played with gravity-defying toys, dropped marbles into flour and cocoa powder to see the rays that come out from craters, and, of course, launched a ton of rockets, some of which landed on the roof of the school building.

Kruse also was able to receive small, circular, see-through cases filled with resin and full of actual lunar samples.

“We had some things sent in from NASA from space,” Elizabeth Fite, a seventh-grader with St. Paul Lutheran, said. “It’s actually illegal to have those in a household, so it was really cool to be able to hold that.”

Kruse also received a heat-resistant tile from one of the spacecraft. You can heat them up as hot as you want and still reach in and touch them, she explained.

“It’s just an amazing world that God created for us to be in and learn about,” Kruse said.


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Troopers a heavy presence on roads this Labor Day

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is sending every available trooper out on Northwest Missouri’s roadways for an operation over this Labor Day weekend.

According to Sgt. Jake Angle, the event is one in a long line of Highway Patrol operations.

“Historically we conduct DWI saturations every month or almost every month,” Angle said. “When you look at our primary goal, which is traffic safety, they’re a key component.”

The patrol just finished an operation in conjunction with other police agencies in the region last Saturday. According to a press release from the St. Joseph Police Department, the agencies arrested a total of eight people for driving while intoxicated.

“One of the most effective things we’ve found are these saturations,” Angle said.

In addition to the eight arrests, Saturday’s operation also saw more than 60 citations issued.

For the Labor Day operation, nicknamed “Crash Awareness & Reduction Effort” the patrol will authorize troopers who aren’t on extended leave to work overtime. Angle said officers in Troop H, which covers Northwest Missouri, will try and saturate all of the troop’s roadways looking for DWIs and other moving violations.

Angle said C.A.R.E. is a statewide initiative, with each of the state’s troops participating. Friday, Aug. 30, and Monday Sept. 2, are expected to be two of the highest traffic travel days of the year in Missouri, according to Angle.

In addition to strict enforcement, Angle said troopers will be able to assist stranded motorists and provide other help.


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Blunt discusses broadband access in rural areas

SAVANNAH, Mo. — Sen. Roy Blunt visited United Fiber in Savannah, Missouri, on Friday afternoon to discuss broadband access in rural parts of the state.

United Fiber, a subsidiary of United Electric Cooperative, has been working to expand access to high-speed fiber internet service to rural areas. Similar efforts across the state received support when the Federal Communication Commission allocated $254,773,118 to expand broadband access in 2018.

“We’re moving forward rapidly,” Blunt said. “Two years ago, 51 to 54% of rural Missourians didn’t have access to broadband. Now that number is down to about a third.”

One challenge in getting more funding has been the mapping of areas with broadband access. If one person in a census block is reported to have broadband access, the FCC counts the entire block as served, which hinders the flow of funding, according to United Fiber CEO Jim Bagley.

“The senator has been working with the FCC and others to try to get the mapping systems in a more accurate manner, so some person in one area who has nothing isn’t counted by the FCC as full served,” Bagley said.

Blunt hopes better broadband access will stop young families from leaving areas by offering better work-from-home opportunities, online education and tele-health services.

“There are communities between 500 and 5,000, where people want to live, where community activities are still the focal point,” Blunt said. “Whether those communities are well served by broadband will probably determine whether the kinds of families that can bring economic vitality are able to live there.”

Bagley thinks farming is another area that could benefit from better broadband access.

“Farming is a lot more complicated than it used to be,” he said. “A lot of the farm equipment now is automated. The more we have connections to those devices, the more we can be efficient with planning all the components that make agriculture successful.”

To check if your area has access to broadband, visit unitedfiber.com.


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City increases judge salaries

A recent St. Joseph City Council vote means municipal judges will see a slight pay increase in order to comply with the City Charter.

The charter requires that the municipal judge be paid at least 75 percent of what state associate circuit court judges are paid.

Brian Myers, the councilman who sponsored the ordinance, said a small salary increase for those judges meant an increase was needed for local municipal court judges.

“Recently, the state of Missouri, who sets the associate circuit judge salaries, increased the associate circuit judges’ annual pay. So, by virtue of our charter, we had to pass an ordinance that would increase our municipal judges’ salaries,” Myers said.

The change means Municipal Court Judge John Boeh gets an increase of about $1,460 for a total salary of $106,230.

Boeh adjudicated 10,272 cases in 2018 and has handled more than 7,300 as of early August of this year.

More than 900 cases were not adjudicated last year due to defendants failing to appear in court.

Boeh also oversees three special dockets for code enforcement, homeless court and animal control.

Myers said he believes Boeh does an effective job as municipal judge.

“I think we have a fantastic municipal court system,” Myers said. “I’ve been in his court as a city employee several times and have seen how fair and how respectful he treats people in his courtroom.”

Boeh declined a formal interview on this subject, but he did say that most municipal judges work part time and are allowed to have a private practice. However, the City Charter prohibits St. Joseph’s full-time judge from doing so.

The ordinance also increased the hourly pay of substitute city judges to $51.07 per hour in order to comply with the state statute.


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Community gathering

Buchanan County Task Force hold opioid crisis remembrance event

at Civic Center Park.

Details on Page B1


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