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Brandon Zenner | News-Press NOW  

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman hauls in a catch Sunday at Missouri Western.

Tanner Cobb | News-Press NOW  

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes signs autographs for young fans during Chiefs training camp at Missouri Western on Sunday.

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Chiefs set new training camp attendance record Sunday

On possibly the final weekend practice of Kansas City Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph, the fans made it a memorable one.

More than 8,000 showed up to see the team practice Sunday, shattering a previous attendance record set on this year’s opening day of camp July 27. The mark is a record for a practice not held at Spratt Stadium.

The top four non-stadium crowds have all come from the two weekends of camp. The Chiefs welcomed in more than 15,000 fans last weekend and more than 16,000 poured into Missouri Western this weekend.

The 2019 attendance has already eclipsed all other years in St. Joseph, with exception of 2010.

Though the fans are showing out to welcome MVP Patrick Mahomes II and the three-time AFC West Champions to St. Joseph, Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said prior to camp it isn’t a certainty the team will return, as it now has the option to travel anywhere for the preseason.

“Our experience here has been tremendous across the last 10 years, and I’m not expecting anything different this year,” Hunt said on July 27.”

“The staff here does such a great job. The facilities really lay out well for us. Our head coach enjoys being here. But we’ll be in a position where we can listen to other opportunities.

Hunt continued, “I don’t know how that’s going to shake out because we have had such a great experience here, but we’re at the end of the 10-year commitment and it behooves us to listen to what kind of opportunities are out there.”

The Chiefs will conclude training camp on August 15.

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Calloway finding purpose in career after boxing

Former WBF world heavyweight champ and local boxing legend Rob Calloway had an illustrious 20-year boxing career that took him all over the world in 92 professional fights.

Today the champ is a physical therapist at the Wathena Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Kansas, reflecting on his boxing career as he helps put bodies back together instead of trying to tear them down as he did in his previous profession.

Physical therapy is what the 50-year-old Calloway went to school for before he started his boxing career in 1992. Getting an education first is the path he urges young boxers to take before they begin their fighting careers. One day they’ll be too old to fight but still will need to make money, Calloway said.

“I always say that boxing gave me everything I always wanted in life, but my education is going to allow me to keep everything,” Calloway said as he finished up with a therapy patient.

Calloway worked at a hospital in his teens. That’s where he got interested in physical therapy and eventually got a degree in it.

Calloway, a Louisville, Kentucky, native, grew up a Muhammad Ali fan. Ali also is a Louisville native.

Calloway grew up boxing family members but said he was never in an area where there was Golden Gloves amateur boxing until he moved to St. Joseph.

“When I came to play basketball here in Missouri, my wife’s dad said the Kansas City Golden Gloves are going on in a couple of weeks, and I said ‘I wanna do it, will you take me down there?’ And he said ‘Let’s go watch this year and next year we’ll compete,’” Calloway said.

Jerry Redmond, the father of Calloway’s wife, Robin, served as his trainer until his death in 2000. But he put his son-in-law on the path to a boxing career that included holding the World Boxing Council Continental American title, the WBA and IBF International titles and the World Boxing Foundation heavyweight championship.

He faced some of the most formidable opponents in his day, including Hasim Rahman, Shannon Briggs and James “Quick” Tillis. He became friends with many of his opponents, relationships that last today.

Calloway took the name “The All American Prize Fighter” after his adopted hometown of St. Joseph. That is also the title of his autobiography, which published two years ago. The book sells better in Australia than in the United States, Calloway said.

His popularity in Australia is a result of his World Heavyweight Championship win over Bob Mirovic in Australia on the Gold Coast in 2005.

The book, published by Amazing Things Press, tells of Calloway’s family and upbringing but also details the stories behind his 92 professional fights.

Calloway said his toughest fight was when he won the World Heavyweight Championship in Australia against Mirovic.

“It was very brutal. I broke his jaw, he broke my eye socket. It was a war, but it was also 2005 FOX Sports Fight of the Year,” Calloway said.

Jessika Eidson / Jessika Eidson | News-Press NOW  

Missouri Western State University President Matthew Wilson jokes with Steve Johnson, director of external affairs for the university, during Alumni Day at Chiefs training camp. Wilson, who started his term as president in July, said that he was not prepared for the magnitude of Chiefs training camp as he attended his first day of the event.

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Efforts underway to return, secure chemical tanks dislodged by flooding

The breakaway of numerous storage tanks, used to contain fuel or chemicals, has been one of the main effects of this year’s flooding.

The Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency all have teamed with local and area governments and businesses to remove the orphaned tanks since the flooding started.

Tonya Lohman, district maintenance and traffic engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation office in St. Joseph, said officials began finding tanks washed up on roadways in March. Several hundred of the tanks were discovered on Interstate 29 and surrounding roads in Holt and Atchison counties.

“We worked with DNR to have them bring in a contractor, and they removed the tanks” from both the highways and their right of way, Lohman said.

“That way, they’re safely removed to a location. “They can be bermed and then, in case there’s any leaks or any concerns, they’re all contained and are environmentally taken care of.”

The debris included large anhydrous ammonia tanks that at times lay across I-29. Attempts were made to return any salvageable tanks to their rightful owners. Tanks were stored at the MoDOT facility in Mound City, Missouri, and at the site of former truck scales in Watson, Missouri.

“We had to get them cleaned up,” Lohman said. “You don’t know what kind of materials are in them.”

Stephen McLane, an environmental scientist with the environmental emergency response program in the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said officials worked to determine the particular hazards with the tanks, whether the contents involved ammonia, fuels or agricultural materials.

“We do a field screening,” McLane said. “We have to take samples of that material.”

Fuel tanks have been taken to regional recycling centers, while efforts are pursued to determine ownership of propane and anhydrous tanks, he added.

Tanks of red dye diesel, which is used for farm tractors, were easily identified in both counties via their odor and color, McLane said. There has been no means of determining how far the tanks traveled, although it’s believed some originated from Iowa.

The tracking system used by both the DNR and the EPA found hundreds of tanks were loosed by the flood. The largest tank found had a 6,000 gallon capacity.

“To my knowledge, we didn’t come across any that were actively leaking,” McLane said. “We remove the contents. ... We’re talking small quantities.”

The state also worked with levee districts to secure dislodged tanks and to render them safe for farmers to retrieve. Liability for the tanks isn’t a legal matter, he said, since the accidents are being categorized as due to an act of nature.

Disposal of tank contents is done in line with all applicable government regulations.

McLane encouraged owners to label and properly secure their tanks in the future.

The EPA has also been working to locate and retrieve tanks in the river, the area of Big Lake, Missouri, and on private properties, said spokesman David Bryan. He said approximately 30,000 gallons of oil and hazardous materials have already been disposed of this year.

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Tax-free weekend boosts back-to-school sales

East Hills Shopping Center was brimming this weekend with families who hungrily hunted store aisles for the best in back-to-school bargains.

Sunday marked the finale to Missouri’s annual back-to-school sales tax holiday. This was the 16th season for the state’s program. The holiday allows customers to forgo paying Missouri’s sales tax on particular purchases, most notably those of school-related supplies, clothing and the like.

Payton Cook, an incoming Central High School freshman, was among those students joining with their parents for the shopping trips.

She counted new folders and books as among the major items on the list.

“I like looking for new shoes,” she said. “And new clothes....Because I overgrow everything.”

News-Press NOW also contacted several mall businesses Sunday afternoon to gauge the impact from back-to-school activity.

Crystal Bowers, human resources supervisor at J.C. Penney, said the level of shopping at the store over the weekend turned out to be roughly normal for what was expected and comparable to 2018.

“We’re really busy,” she said. “We’ve had good traffic this weekend.”

Bowers said Penney’s was open extended hours for the weekend, just like its cohorts in the mall. She labeled back-to-school clothes, jeans, uniforms, and shoes as the top selling items.

“Most operate with a list (and) know what they’re looking for,” she said. “We try to beef up on the uniforms” and other lines of clothing, she added.

The store did field online requests for orders and special colors. Shoppers also showed a preference for choosing the option of picking up items they had ordered through the business.

“I think we’re getting a bit more from out of town,” said Bowers, explaining that customers had been counted from Chillicothe and Trenton, along with Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa.

Nearby at Gordman’s, assistant manager Danielle Beadles said the picture was much the same.

“It’s been very busy,” she said. “It’s pretty much what we expected....We’re probably a little busier” than the same time last year, she continued.

Denim pants, shirts for young girls, active wear, and men’s jeans were among the go-to items of merchandise that shoppers snapped up on their journeys throughout the store. Beadles also said backpacks were popular.

Penny Kirkes, store manager at Dillard’s, said she and her crew observed more foot traffic Sunday than on Saturday. She said that signaled an increase in interest for back-to-school goods.

The children’s department in particular was perhaps the busiest part of the store this weekend, Kirkes said.