‘Our flag flew’: 70 years later, heroes from Battle of Iwo Jima honored at Leavenworth ceremony

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Original Post

It’s been more than 70 years since the Battle of Iwo Jima, and on Friday in Leavenworth, people came out to thank those who laid their lives on the line.

“We don’t give up, and I’ve never given up in life, and the Marines taught me that a long time ago,” Iwo Jima veteran Jerry Ingram said.

He was just 15 years old when he lied about his age and went to war.

“I lied about my age then, and I haven’t quit lying since,” Ingram said. “No one could have imagined how the savage battle for Iwo Jima, how savage it would become after the first waves landed.”

Ingram remembers the difficult moments he faced on the island in the Pacific.

“Like any battle, its kill or be killed. War is not nice. There’s nothing nice about war at all,” Ingram said. “Every battle you never expected to survive, and the more battles I went through in the Pacific the less chances I thought I’d have of coming home.”

“The raising of the flag over Mount Suribachi on the 23rd of February would also become an iconic symbol for America, for their resolve, and it would come to epitomize the fighting spirit of the United States Marine,” keynote speaker Marine Corps Col. Steve Lewallen said.

Ingram wrote a poem to honor his friends he lost during battle:

“Our flag flew, our flag flew, on the hill called Mount Suribachi.

As we overcame the enemy we knew, we knew.

You’d see freedom become victorious, and it was – you see.”

At 90 years old, Ingram visits Leavenworth National Cemetery each year to honor his brothers and sisters lost years ago.

“The only time I cried in all the years I was in battle is when I walked over to the cemetery at Iwo Jima and saw those thousands and thousands of crosses,” Ingram said. “It’s very very emotional. You don’t forget, and as Americans we must never forget that our freedoms aren’t free. We had to sacrifice and pay the price for our liberty.”

George Westbrook, a 20 year Army veteran who came to recognize Ingram’s bravery, certainly hasn’t forgotten.

“Its an honor and a privilege to be able to stand up here with these people,” Westbrook said. “We call them brothers and sisters because that`s what they are. They’re brothers and sisters to us.”

More than anything, Ingram said, it’s important for people to remember what happened on Mount Suribachi for years to come.

“I think that’s the only reason I’m here,” he said. “I’m firmly convinced that God’s left me here so I can share my experience that with faith and belief in our country you can face anything.”

The battle of Iwo Jima went from Feb. 19 to March 26 in 1945. About 6,800 servicemen died, and nearly 25,000 were wounded. One in three in the battle were killed or wounded, and the Medal of Honor was awarded to 22 Marines and 5 Navy servicemen.

10-year-old Cape Girardeau boy pays it forward through non-profit ‘Granting Grace’

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) – Original Post

Paying it forward is something many people try to do once in a while, but one Cape Girardeau, Missouri boy is making it his daily goal.

“I never thought it would go this far,” 10-year-old Grant Skelton said.

Almost two years ago Grant’s grandparents gave him $75.

They told him to pay it forward, and he’s been doing it ever since.

“$17,000 is more than I could have asked for, and we want to raise that total.”

Granting Grace is an organization started by Skelton through the Grace United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

“Grant heard God’s voice encouraging him to do that is tremendous,” said Pastor Eric Schmidt.

Skelton has spent the last nearly two years raising money and creating care packages for those in need.

“When you help somebody, I feel like, that’s what God’s doing, and that I want to be more like God,” Skelton said.

Even Grant’s dad thought it would be a lofty goal.

“In the beginning, I kind of shrugged him off. Grant, you know, it’s complicated, and there’s a lot of stuff involved, and he wouldn’t drop it,” said Mike Skelton.

Skelton helped put together multiple fundraisers and hopes to reach $20,000 in donations by the end of 2017.

The money could go to helping someone with laundry to finding a safe place to sleep for the night.

“A lot of times the kids are the ones leading the way and teaching us, and he just doesn’t take no for an answer,” said Grant’s dad.

Skelton is hoping his example may inspire you to reach out and help.

“It’s just being able to become a better person, learning more about God, ’cause it’s what he does, and it just makes me feel really good,” Skelton said.

Grant’s next fundraiser will be at the Grace United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau on Aug. 27 at 3 p.m.

All proceeds will go to ‘Granting Grace.’

Cape Girardeau County adopts prescription drug monitoring program

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) – Original Post

Another Heartland county is stepping up to combat opioid abuse.

On August 14, Cape Girardeau County joined the list of Missouri counties, with their own drug monitoring programs.

In July, Governor Eric Grietens signed an executive order establishing a drug monitoring program for the state, the last to do so in the nation.

However, Cape Girardeau county commissioners wanted to make sure they were ready for the change.

The commission signed an ordinance joining St. Louis county’s system.

The program allows doctors across the county to track and monitor opioid prescriptions.

It is something commissioners believe will not only keep track of prescriptions, but help people who are struggling with addiction.

“Physicians, doctors, law enforcement, juvenile, hospitals, pharmacies realize that this is a problem and are willing to take proactive steps to try to combat this issue and give folks, you know the bottom line is getting folks help if they need it, and they are providing another tool so that can happen,” said Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy.

Some who attended the meeting were concerned about law enforcement using the database to obtain information.

However, it would only be available to police if they have a warrant to access any information.

The ordinance is in effect now, but it will take time to get the system up and running.

Cape Girardeau County joins ButlerScott, and Ste. Genevieve counties in adopting the monitoring program in The Heartland.

Family, Friends remember Charleston, MO homicide victim

CHARLESTON, MO (KFVS) – Original Post

Family and friends gather on Monday, July 17 to remember a man found shot in Whipple Park in Charleston, Missouri.

People gathered for at 5 p.m. at Charleston Middle School for a prayer vigil and balloon release.

According to Charleston Department of Public Safety Director Robert Hearnes, officers heard about an unresponsive man on July 13 at around 1:50 p.m. at the picnic shelter at Whipple Park.

When officers arrived, he said they found a man had been shot. The man was identified as 78-year-old Joe Anderson, of Charleston. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police are investigating his death as a homicide.

Whipple Park is located on Beasley Park Road near the intersections of MO 105 and I-57.

Anderson’s brother said he always had a smile on his face and will be dearly missed.

“This morning I woke up, and I was hoping that I was dreaming, and that I’d run up on him,” said Anderson’s brother Floyd Wade Sr.

Pastor Wade can’t believe his brother is gone.

Wade said his brother would go to Whipple Park often.

“He could find that peace, and just chill and relax and get his thoughts together,” Wade said.

When he got the call that his brother was killed, he said it was too much to take.

“Why? Why would anyone feel like they have to do that to him?” Wade said.

Anderson was a well-known and loved member of Charleston’s community and a crossing guard at the middle school.

“Sometimes all we had time to do was wave at each other. no matter what. He was there,” Wade said.

The superintendent of Charleston Schools, Dr. Tammy Lupardus, said the students fondly referred to the victim as “Mr. Joe.” he served as a maintenance man for years. After he retired, Mr. Joe returned to the school district as a school crossing guard because he loved the district and kids so much.

“Just a very beloved member of the community,” Lupardus said. “The first face that kids see every morning, you know, when they’re crossing the street coming to school. That friendly face, and always a wave, and a high-five, and a big smile.”

Dr. Lupardus said telling the children Mr. Joe will not be coming back next year will be hard.

“All of the students really look forward every seeing his smiling face, and knowing he was going to keep them safe,” Lupardus said.

Wade said he is praying for his brother’s killer.

“We’re hurt. We’ve suffered a loss, but we’re also sensitive enough, and compassionate enough to know that there’s something going on with them. They need help,” Wade said.

He hopes they will find it in their heart to come forward.

“One way or the other justice is going to be served. It could be peaceably, but to hide, and run, that’s just, there’s not enough places to hide or run,” Wade said.

Until that day, Wade said he will keep his brother’s memory with him wherever he goes.

“I’ll always look for him,” Wade said.

Mississippi County Coroner Terry Parker said Anderson is a respected member of the community. He called this a senseless crime.

Chief Hearnes said on Friday, July 14 they are following up on leads but don’t have a person of interest at this time.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Charleston DPS at 573-683-3737.

Mississippi County Detention Center gets security and facility upgrades

MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, MO (KFVS) – Original Post

Over the past few months there have been a lot of changes at The Mississippi County Sheriff’s Department, and over the next few months there will be a lot more.

Acting sheriff Branden Caid said he’s making department wide improvements to training and the jail.

“I’m trying my best, honestly, but it is a little bit – it’s new,” said Sheriff Caid

Brandon Caid never imagined he’d be acting Sheriff when he came to Mississippi County at the beginning of this year.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for a long time, but I’ve never dealt with a county jail. So, it’s a little more overwhelming than most people would believe,” Caid said.

However Sheriff Caid said, he’s working hard and making changes.

“We ask that everyone bear with us to when we implement these knew changes,” Caid said.

They include new security cameras, training for jail staff and a complete overhaul of their seven jail pods.

Captain Barry Morgan took a camera crew inside to get a better look.

The old pods have rotting ceilings, chipped paint and out of date cameras.

“The 360 cam that’s coming in is going to go right here in the center, and what that does – that 360 – it will cover every inch of concrete in this place,” Morgan said.

New cameras are coming inside, and outside the building.

Major repairs are still needed inside the living areas.

“We learned that there was some cell doors that weren’t functioning. It looks like they’ve been broke for some time. Exactly how long I don’t know,” Caid said.

However, the main doors to the pods are working just fine.

Morgan said he is glad to help get the jail up to date.

“It feels good doing these upgrades, yes it is stressful at some point, but it’s forward progress that we are making here at the sheriff’s office,” Morgan said.

Caid said he’s just trying to do his best – until his time is up.

“The people elected their sheriff here, the county has appointed me to fill in until whatever happens with his court cases are over, so I don’t have any undo desire to speed that process up, or to shorten that process. I’m simply going to do the best I can until whatever happens,” Caid said.

Morgan said total cost of upgrading the pods is almost $18,000, not including the cost of the cameras.

Inmates are being moved one pod at a time to make the renovations.

Van Buren R-1 School District begins flood repairs after delayed start date

VAN BUREN, MO (KFVS) – Original Post

Summer vacation is nearing its end, but some Heartland students will have an extended break.

The Spring Flood hammered Van Buren when the Current River reached record levels, and the school still hasn’t fully recovered from the damage the water left behind.

On June 28, a Facebook post made by Van Buren R-1 School District indicated that finalizing bids for the work to rebuild the school buildings were just taking too long.

It prompted a delayed start date of Tuesday, September 5.

“It was so unexpected,” said Lyn Reed, Superintendent of the Van Buren R-1 School District.

In April, water rose quickly flooding the small river town.

Reed said the elementary school, gym, FEMA room and cafeteria all had extensive damage.

“It was very had to walk out of the building, and leave all the things in the building that we had to leave behind,” Reed said.

This week Reed said contractors were able to start work after months of insurance negotiations with damage in the millions.

“We realize how fortunate we are that this work will be done, and we’ll come back into essentially new buildings inside,” Reed said.

There will be new walls, desks and pretty much everything you can think of.

The gym will have all new floors and bleachers, along with a new kitchen for the cafeteria.

“Out of this unfortunate tragedy – that is a benefit to the school, to the community,” Reed said.

Ladawnya and Joby Martin have two kids in Van Buren’s school district.

They said while September 5 is a late start, they understand why.

“I think it was probably a good choice to go ahead and move it back to try and start with some normalcy,” Ladawnya Martin said.

“To come back in and see it as a brand new structure. I think the kids will be really excited,” Joby Martin said.

Reed said she hopes they never have to deal with rising waters again, but if they do, the school is prepared.

“We’re not counting on it coming back up this far again. Of course, this has never happened, and hopefully it won’t ever happen again,” Reed said.

Before April’s spring flood, school was set to start on August 17.

MO Governor apologizes for foster care budget cuts, vows to fix it

FREDERICKTOWN, MO (KFVS) – Original Post

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens issued an apology to foster families across the state about funding cuts.

Several foster parents in southeast Missouri reached out to Heartland News about a letter they received from the state’s Department of Social Services. The letter said that they would be getting a 1.5 percent cut to their foster care maintenance funding.

“I was like, wow, huh, isn’t that interesting,” said foster parent Nicole Knobeloch.

The cuts were part of state-wide budget cuts by Greitens.

On Thursday, July 20, Governor Greitens wrote this post on his Facebook page:

Eric Greitens

The buck stops here. Too often in government and politics, when a mistake happens, people play games and make excuses. That’s not how I operated in the military, running a business, or running The Mission Continues. And that’s not how we’re going to run government.

I wrote a letter to every foster family in the state letting them know a mistake was made and we’re going to fix it. That letter is below.

***

Dear …,

The buck stops with me. A mistake was made, and we’re going to fix it.

Last week, you got a note from the Department of Social Services about a 1.5 percent reduction in funding to foster families. This was never our intention.

Our foster children are—in law and in spirit—Missouri’s children. Missouri should not take money from them and their families, not even in these tough budget times.

If you have a foster child, you could have seen a decrease of between $1 and almost $6 a week. That’s wrong, and we are going to fix it.

I support you. The First Lady supports you. Our team supports you.

My team went to work and found the money to make this right. I wanted you to hear this directly from me. When something goes wrong, we take responsibility and we fix it.

We will make this right, and we will keep fighting for you. Thank you.

Yours in service,

Governor Eric Greitens

Channa Massey and Nicole Knobeloch said they are worried this could become a trend.

“That’s what all foster parents, kinship placements, that’s what we’re afraid of – what’s going to decrease next?” Massey said.

According to Children’s Division, between 2015 and 2016 Madison County saw an increase of reported incidents by almost 15 percent.

“We figured it at a few dollars per month per child, and that doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but like I said before – what’s next? We already don’t receive enough to cover their basic needs,” Massey said.

In the past year, the women said they got a 3 percent increase to maintenance funding.

The money that goes to supplement out of pocket expenses, like food, gas, and household bills.

Governor Greitens is supporting foster children through legislation.

In June, he signed into law a Foster Care Bill of Rights, giving children more of a voice in their own cases.

It’s something the women appreciate but want to make sure he knows while it’s just money, it’s money the kids need.

“I know funding is hard, and you’ve got to take it from somewhere. The kids shouldn’t have to stand out because they don’t have parents. That’s not their fault,” Knobloch said.

“Don’t take it from our children. They should be getting more. They deserve more,” Massey said.