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Talory Steeby | News-Press Now  

Bishop LeBlond senior Hank Lierz hits a chip shot out of the bunker during Monday’s MEC Tournament at the St. Joseph Country Club.

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‘But I was very skeptical for fear that it would ruin the business coming in’
Online food delivery services expanding locally

Third-party delivery services like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Postmate promise to bring anything from homestyle mashed potatoes to a Big Mac right to a customer’s door.

The industry is expected to continue to grow, according to a report by ARK Investments, and St. Joseph is no exception to the trend. Waitr launched on June 6 in St. Joseph, making it the newest delivery option in the city, joining DoorDash, Postmates, Uber Eats, Grubhub and the local delivery service Hometown Hookup.

While DoorDash lists the most participating area restaurants at 56 establishments, Waitr mostly partners with local, independent restaurants like Cafe Pony Espresso and Brioche French Bakery & Café.

Stephanie McGarry, owner of Crumbly Burger, made the decision to partner with Waitr despite initial hesitation.

“I knew that it was the way of the future,” McGarry said. “But I was very skeptical for fear that it would ruin the business coming in. Because people are all about convenience.”

McGarry said it’s too early to say how her customers are taking to the new delivery option, but working with the company has been going well so far. McGarry has turned down partnership offers from other delivery companies in the past, but Waitr’s online ordering system that lets customers pay ahead of pick-up and other perks changed her mind.

“(Waitr) gave us an iPad, so we have complete control over the order. And they pay their stuff online,” McGarry said. “And they’re only taking 15 percent from the business owners, as opposed to some others that were taking 40 to 35 to 25 percent.”

While Crumbly Burger is a contracted Waitr partner, DoorDash also delivers the diner’s food — even though McGarry didn’t know about it at first.

“We have never talked to them in person or been contacted by them,” McGarry said. “They just call in orders for people and then somebody comes and picks it up. And they have to wait because they have to pay for it here. With the Waitr app, they can just walk in the door. And when we see him, we can hand it to him.”

Another issue is Crumbly Burger’s menu on DoorDash. It’s neither complete nor is pricing accurate, according to McGarry.

“It seems like they’ve inflated our prices online,” she said.

Instead of $3.49 for a Crumbly Burger on Waitr and in store, DoorDash charges $6.29 for the same item. That’s almost as much as upgrading the store’s namesake burger to a meal at $6.49.

“What if people think that’s our regular pricing, which it is not? It’s just crazy,” McGarry said.

Oriental Restaurant manager Kevin Zhu had a similar experience with DoorDash. While he wasn’t informed about DoorDash adding Oriental Restaurant to its lineup, Zhu was glad for the additional business after a year-long remodel of its dining room forced Oriental to rely on take-out and delivery orders.

“They just started to call in their orders and people would pick them up,” Zhu said. “I think DoorDash is a really good system. And they’ve definitely helped us a lot.”

However, Oriental has experienced a similar pricing issue as Crumbly Burger.

“We have tried to update our menu with DoorDash, I’m not sure if it’s in the process of they haven’t been able to get to it yet,” Zhu said. “We’ve definitely been trying to get them to change the prices because I know it’s a little bit outdated on DoorDash.”

A request for comment was not returned by DoorDash.

Tyson “Frank” Wilson started making local food and grocery runs in the St. Joseph area in 2017. He has since grown Hometown Hookup to a 24/7 delivery company and has hired part-time drivers.

“I’ve always seen a lot of (Facebook) posts that say ‘Can somebody bring me this? I can’t get there’,” Wilson said. “And it’s like, ‘Yeah, I can get that for a fee.”

Hometown Hookup doesn’t partner with specific establishments. Instead, Wilson and his drivers go out and get whatever their clients need, including food, groceries and gas-station snacks.

“Basically, we go get anything. If you needed a TV remote control, we would go get that for you,” Wilson said.

Wilson and his drivers pay for orders under $20 upfront and charge customers once they complete the delivery. Otherwise, clients have to make a pick-up order and pay the establishment directly.

Wilson currently is working on developing an app to accept online payments and list menus. He said what Hometown Hookup may lack in technology, the company makes up for with community engagement. Drivers hand out free toys to customers’ children, and Wilson wants to make a push to cater to the elderly.

“A lot of the businesses around town have customers that are elderly and maybe used to frequent them that can’t now,” Wilson said. “I plan on going around all those nursing home and assisted-living facilities and hand them hard copies of a cheat sheet, which is just basically how to order and everything about it. They should be able to order without having to text.”

Trenton officer shot by inmate named, alleged shooter charged

A Trenton, Missouri, police officer who was injured in the line of duty has been named as Jasmine Diab of Moberly, Missouri, by the Moberly Police Department.

“The Moberly Police Department continues to pray for Officer Jasmine Diab, of the Trenton Police Department. Officer Diab was shot while transporting a prisoner yesterday and remains in intensive care. Officer Diab is the daughter of Esam and Lori Diab, of Moberly,” the department posted to its official Facebook page on Saturday morning.

Diab was shot in the abdomen at approximately 3:08 p.m. during a prisoner transport when a struggle over the officer’s gun ensued. The prisoner, Jamey A. Griffin, 38, sustained a gunshot wound to the hand.


Jamey Griffin

Griffin has been charged with first degree assault, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon by the Daviess County Prosecuting Attorney, according to a statement by the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop H.

Troop H also confirmed that Diab is in critical but stable condition.

Diab underwent surgery Friday night, according to Trenton mayor Linda Crooks.

“Our Trenton Police Officer is out of surgery. She is in critical but stable condition at this time. Prayer Warriors,” Crooks wrote in a public Facebook post at around 9:30 p.m. on Friday.

According to MSHP, the incident occurred when Griffin was being transported on U.S. Highway 69 to St. Joseph for a mental evaluation at Mosaic Life Care. The incident occurred at the city limit of Winston while the vehicle was in transit.

Missouri court records show 25 charges filed against Griffin starting in 1998, including driving under the influence, peace disturbance and at least three assault charges.

The most recent charges brought against Griffin include miscellaneous peace disturbance and assault dated May 16 and miscellaneous peace disturbance and resisting arrest dated May 5.

MSHP Sgt. Jake Angle said investigation into the circumstances of the incident continues.

Derek Zimmerman-Guyer | News-Press NOW  

Savannah junior pitcher Braden Berry follows through on a pitch during the Class 4 semifinal game versus Westminster Christian Academy on Thursday at CarShield Field in O’Fallon, Missouri.

Meter madness

Meter madness

Fines fill the coffers of maintaining its fund balance, but can it do more to improve facilities and Downtown’s slow renaissance?

Details on Page A4

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Amazon's new contracts could displace other e-commerce delivery

It takes only a few minutes for the white rental van to pull to a stop and a contract worker in a reflective vest to drop a package on the front porch.

The unmarked van slips away as quickly as it arrives, with no logo and no fuss. As far as market disruption goes, Amazon’s expansion into local package delivery service has seemed like more of a toe-dip than a belly-flop.

“Amazon delivering changes the dynamics a little bit as far as the shipping companies,” said Kim Blaylock, owner of the independent shipping business Goin’ Postal. “But you shouldn’t see a whole lot of difference. You’re still going to have a package delivered to your house whether you’re there or not.”

Still, Amazon, one of the world’s largest companies, is not known for tiptoeing on the turf of an established business. Just ask someone who used to work for a bookstore.

The e-retail giant has built up its logistics infrastructure over the years, including a new warehouse just outside Omaha, Nebraska, as part of an effort to control more deliveries on its own rather than relying on FedEX, UPS or the U.S. Postal Service.

At times, the discussion has turned to Amazon’s futuristic plans for using drones. For now, the company is relying on a lower-tech form of competition that resembles Uber more than “Star Wars.”

Amazon is hiring contract workers, many driving white rental vans, who handle last-mile, ground deliveries to homes and businesses. These contract workers have been noticed in St. Joseph for the last couple of weeks.

“We’ve been busy,” one worker said after making a delivery on Ashland Avenue. She didn’t give her name.

Blaylock operates an independent shipping and receiving business on Frederick Boulevard that acts as a drop-off spot for UPS, FedEx, DHL and the U.S. Postal Service. In recent weeks, he’s started to notice Amazon contract workers dropping off packages.

He said the biggest change for customers will be that packages will have to be tracked through Amazon.

“One thing that may change is you may see someone coming up to your neighbor’s sidewalk with a package,” he said. “The Amazon people don’t necessarily have any logos or anything on the truck that says Amazon. So there may be some questions there.”

He said other shipping companies are watching the developments closely and may be impacted more if Amazon starts handling its own returns.

FedEx said in a statement that there’s plenty of e-commerce business to go around. The company recently decided not to renew one of its contracts with Amazon as the two companies increase competition.

“There is significant demand and opportunity for growth in e-commerce, which is expected to grow from 50 million to 100 million packages a day in the U.S. by 2026,” FedEx said in the statement. “FedEx has already built out the network and capacity to serve thousands of retailers in the e-commerce space. We are excited about the future.”

For the U.S. Postal Service, competition from Amazon comes at a time when some in St. Joseph are asking if mail carriers even deliver every route every day. Stacy Hopwood, a communication specialist with the Postal Service, said this is the perception because first-class mail has plummeted due to electronic communication and other factors.

“Folks who used to get mail every day may go one or two days without getting any mail at all,” she said. “We deliver every route every day. There are no exceptions.”

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School district emphasizes alternative education options

The St. Joseph School District’s Board of Education is discussing putting more emphasis on its alternative schooling programs.

The alternative high school program has been with the district for a few years. It focuses on providing a more stable environment and class structure for at-risk high school students.

The classes, which take place at the Webster Learning Center, originally targeted a broad group, focusing on students with social anxiety and those who didn’t fit very well into the system.

Now, the alternative schooling program, which is currently targeting upcoming sophomore and junior students, is focusing almost exclusively on drop-out prevention.

“It’s really an opportunity for students and a way for us to provide more support for students who are showing that the support that is given to every student at a traditional high school just may not be enough for them,” Jon Salanky, the principal at Webster, said. “To go along with all of the counseling wrap-around services that we’re able to provide here that may not be available at their school residence, we can also earn more credits in a school year with the way we have our classes and course schedule set up. Students who are only able to learn seven credits at a high school during a regular school year can earn eight here at Webster.”

Credit-deficient students as well as those with lower attendance may be contacted about the opportunity to attend Webster, which Salanky describes as a more tight-knit school with smaller class sizes and fewer transitions from class to class. A commons area allows students to socialize between classes, creating a more comfortable, relaxed vibe.

Updates to the school’s gymnasium will include recreational activities like ping pong and billiards, as well as a lounge area.

“The gym is hopefully going to be the coolest thing about Webster next year. We are completely repurposing that and getting away from a traditional P.E. structure,” Salanky said.

Currently, he and the district are looking at establishing community partnerships to have students participate in community-based training. They’re also partnering with United Way to explore career readiness opportunities as well.

Throughout all of the high school programs at Webster, the school served approximately 60 students last year, and Salanky is hoping to add 100 more in the coming year.

He also emphasized the importance of viewing these programs as an opportunity as opposed to a punishment. With certified teachers experienced in alternative-schooling practices, he hopes students and parents recognize they’re there to get everyone back on track to graduate with their peers.

“What we were trying before wasn’t working, so now it’s time to try something new, with more support and more interventions for students,” Salanky said.