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Tennis court renovation on track for original completion date

A project to completely redo the Noyes Tennis Complex was expected to be finished ahead of schedule and as early as this month, but is now more likely to be completed at the planned October date.

The $1.3 million project consists of the demolition and rebuilding of the existing surfaces, fences and nets at the complex, as well as some sewer and drainage work.

In July, an additional $77,000 was approved by the City Council to also do improvements to the parking lot.

Assistant Director of Parks, Recreation and Civic Facilities for the City of St. Joseph Jeff Atkins said Herzog Contracting Corp. has completed the asphalt base for the courts, which have to sit for 30 days before the play surface can be added by a subcontractor.

He said that time will not be wasted as other work continues around the complex.

“During that 30-day period, though, the fencing contractor is on site and they’re installing all the fence posts and the perimeter fencing and then the divider fences,” Atkins said. “So, even though we’re waiting for the asphalt to cure, there’s still activity taking place.”

Once the asphalt is ready, Kansas City company McConnell & Associates will perform the work to install the tennis surfacing and paint. Atkins said another 15 to 20 days of curing will be needed before play can take place.

“There’s going to be days where it looks like nothing’s going on but we have to give those materials time to cure fully before we can use them, or that’ll really drastically affect their life,” Atkins said. “We’ve paid enough money for them, we want them to be nice for a long long time.”

The project, funded through the Capital Improvements Program fund, was at one point going ahead of schedule and the Parks Department believed it could be done by as early as mid-September.

Atkins said they now expect the courts to be finished by the middle of October.

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New career initiative coming to area schools

A new career initiative is coming to area schools thanks to a partnership between the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce and St. Joseph School District.

Edge Factor, a platform offering tools and video resources for students, teachers and employers, highlights industries and career paths in STEAM fields (science, technology, engineering, art, math).

A two-year subscription for middle and high school students and teachers in the St. Joseph, Savannah and Mid-Buchanan school districts as well as Bishop LeBlond High School is made possible by a $49,500 Heartland Foundation CollaborACTION grant.

Kristie Arthur, director of workforce development at the Chamber of Commerce, has been a fan of Edge Factor founder Jeremy Bout’s work for years.

“I’ve been following Jeremy and his team for a couple of years, trying to figure out we could afford to get them here,” Arthur said.

Chris Hubbuch, director of secondary education for the SJSD, hopes the platform, which relies heavily on visuals, will appeal to a younger generation.

“It really reaches our students where they’re at today as far as living within the realm of social media and directing their own exploration,” Hubbuch said. “Edge Factor can be used by instructors to integrate within their curriculum, but also by students to search on their own and identify some career pathways that are of interest.”

Edge Factor also will feature videos highlighting local employers including Mosaic and LifeLine Foods.

“(Employers) are hoping this helps them build their next generation of workforce,” Arthur said. “There’s lots of videos that feature different career pathways in manufacturing, STEAM skills, math, science, health care.”

For years the emphasis was on college for many students, according to Hubbuch. He hopes Edge Factor will change this.

“A lot of the program highlights the fact that our students can make a very good living in the skilled trades,” Hubbuch said. “College is a great option for some, but not necessarily for all.”

A live event on Sept. 24 from 9:45 to 11 a.m. at Civic Arena will kick off the initiative. Bout will speak to 2,000 students from 10 area schools.

To see the platform, visit

Tanner Cobb | News-Press NOW  

Maryville junior Morgan Stoeklein blocks a hit from Benton sophomore Alyia Stillman on Monday at Springer Gymnasium.

Help available for some students through '504 plan'

Children with a medical diagnosis that affects a major life function may find help within a 504 plan with the St. Joseph School District.

Schools can offer 504 plans, named for section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, that guarantee accommodations be put in place in order for a child to access the general curriculum with fewer obstacles. These accommodations can take different forms, depending on the child.

“A student who might get overwhelmed about completing multiple essay questions, there may be several ways they can approach it,” said Michele Thomason, the director of special programs for the St. Joseph School District. “One support may be them typing it into a computer. Or if it’s multiple questions that need to be handwritten, instead of putting a page of questions in front of a child, you could do one at a time so they don’t get overwhelmed.”

Children with sensory differences may use sound-canceling earmuffs to allow them to function in louder environments.

“We look at each child individually,” Thomason said. “Our goal is to always make sure that we’re providing the services a child needs to be successful in their very least-restrictive environment."

She said counseling sessions also can be part of a 504 plan, as the counselor can provide lessons, support, self-regulation and coping skills, though these services also are available for students regularly.

Parents and teachers can recommend 504 plans, which can follow the children through to 12th grade in the St. Joseph School District. However, differentiated instruction strategies and universal accommodations oftentimes are enough to support student success outside of a 504 plan.

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St. Joseph police officer charged with domestic assault

The Buchanan County Prosecutor’s Office filed a criminal charge of domestic assault against a St. Joseph police officer on Monday.

Ron T. Strader faces a class A misdemeanor charge of domestic assault in the fourth degree. A press release from the prosecutor’s office states that on Sunday at 12:40 p.m. officers responded to a private residence in reference to a domestic disturbance involving Strader.

“As soon as the incident was reported, supervisors were called in on Sunday afternoon to investigate the incident,” Buchanan County Prosecutor Ron Holliday said in a release, “I was in contact with the police supervisors Sunday evening as the investigation progressed. I would like to compliment the Police Department for the professional and transparent manner in which the investigation was conducted.

According to a probable cause state, witness statements indicate the victim was dragged by Strader, causing visible injuries to her nose, knees and elbows.

Strader has been relieved of all police authority pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings and internal investigation, according to a release from the prosecutor’s office.

Strader is a 17-year veteran of the department.