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


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


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


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


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.

‘The Green Book’ offered safety to African Americans traveling more than 70 years ago


Every old house has a story, but some have more chapters than others.

It’s a seemingly forgotten book that takes you across southeast Missouri uncovering little-known stories of the Heartland’s Black history.

Some incredible stories were uncovered in six months.

It starts with The Green Book.

A book first published in 1936 for African Americans traveling during Jim Crow laws.

Are the locations still here? Who are the people behind them?

It seemed like a simple trip, only three addresses to visit. However, none of them were there.

426 Short Oak – an empty lot.

And at 1800 North Alice – all you’ll find is a water tower.

As for Margarett Street – well…

“Never existed as far as we can tell,” said Poplar Bluff City Planner Dennis Avery.

When he was approached about the book and the location, he pulled out blueprints.

When asked if there had ever been a house there, he didn’t think so.

“No. It would have had to have been there prior to 1928 for it to have existed there,” said Avery.

It didn’t make sense, but Avery had another idea.

“I think that they are references for meeting points,” Avery said.

According to him, there was a place for travelers to stay.

“There is a house on Short 5th that was a black boarding home. We can’t find accurate records as to when that was in use for that purpose, but we do know that it existed,” Avery said.

Even though any connection to The Green Book seems to be gone, Avery said it’s an important part of Poplar Bluff, Missouri’s history.

“It’s a good thing to know that we didn’t just start doing the right thing a few years ago, we’ve been doing it for a long time,” he said.

An hour east of Poplar Bluff, in Charleston, Mo., there was more luck.

The Creole Café sat at the intersection of what is now Sy Williams Avenue and West Marshall Street.

Run by Helen Currin and her husband.

Helen’s son, Marshall, grew up in an apartment above the restaurant.

“Everyone came to the café on the weekends. It was a restaurant, it was a dance hall, it was a barbershop, it was a pool hall, and a hotel all combined. Just imagine about 300 people and dancing, and just having a good time,” Currin said.

Marshall said his mother’s door was always open.

“Everyone was welcome. Black, white, red, blue, green, you know, you was welcome. It was a spot where people knew they could come there and enjoy themselves, and not be hassled,” Currin said.

Helen Currin not only ran the café, but Marshall said she had a deeply positive impact on Charleston’s community, serving as the first black woman on the school board, and in 1970 the city honored her as Woman of the Year.

“It just gave her the recognition that she so deserved, and that was one way of the community showing that, and that being my mother, I felt really proud. It felt like I had got an award,” Currin said.

Helen was also an active member of the NAACP during a time that was uncertain, even for Marshall.

“We might get a phone call at two o’clock in the morning, you know, people threatening to come here and blow the place up.”

He said they were just idle threats and that it was mostly just intimidation, rather than action.

The Currin’s fought for civil rights in the ’60s. Marshall protested outside the now-closed McCutchen’s movie house.

“They didn’t allow blacks to sit downstairs, and we were demonstrating, boycotting, and we was arrested,” Currin said.

How old was he?

“About ten. I was arrested. I didn’t stay in jail long, but you know, it was the principal of the thing,” Currin said.

Looking back, Marshall said The Green Book puts a lot in perspective.

“I wasn’t aware of the book, but as you explained it, why this book was published, you know, to help travelers out, I could see our restaurant being in the book,” Currin said.

The restaurant closed in the 1970s when his parents retired, and the land was sold to make way for government housing, but the lot where Marshall grew up stays with him wherever he goes.

“Every time I see this I think about it, and it’s sad that it’s not here anymore, but I still have the memories. That’s something that I’ll always have,” Currin said.

Cape Girardeau, Mo. is the next stop on the journey, where history has a way of repeating itself.

The Green Book is long out of print, but for thirty years it gave traveling African-Americans safe places to stay, even here in Cape Girardeau.

“I think it’s important that Cape Girardeau have an awareness that we were in The Green Book. African-Americans could not buy gasoline here. There was a necessity for us to be in The Green Book, which tells us something about ourselves,” said Cape Girardeau Historian, Frank Nickell.

Three listings in The Green Book left little to go on.

Only a first initial and last name for each.

We wanted to know who these people were, and the stories behind the historical places we pass every day.

So, we cracked open the records at The Cape County Courthouse.

For two of the listings – the ones on Frederick and North streets – we had to dig a little deeper.

Two spots – now empty lots.

The house on Frederick Street – demolished, and on North Street only stone stairs remain.

“We’re sitting right here on the steps of one of the houses that was in The Green Book,” said Frank Nickell with The Kellerman Foundation.

Nickell was not surprised these two houses are gone.

“They’re very old and rundown, so that’s what we do. We tear them down, and I think that’s a great loss of history,” Nickell said.

Nickell learned about The Green Book years ago, and said he’s proud Cape Girardeau was a part of it during a time where the color of your skin could mean you were turned away.

“They couldn’t buy gasoline, they couldn’t stay all night unless they found someplace like 38 North Hanover,” Nickell said.

“I always knew there was something special about this house, ” Yvonne Cardwell Johnson said.

Johnson lives in the only standing ‘Green House’ in Southeast Missouri.

38 North Hanover in Cape Girardeau was built by William Martin in the 1930s – Johnson’s blood relative.

Both Yvonne, and her mother Louise, spent a lot of time there as children.

“As I got older I began to wonder – how were they able to afford a house like this,” said Louise Cardwell.

Louise said she would see people come and go, but never understood the importance of what her family was doing.

Until her long Doctor Nickell told her.

“She realized it when she saw that book. That’s why there were so many strangers in her house,” Nickell said.

“‘I knew it. I knew it was something special about this house,’ and I had always felt it. Ever since I was a little kid. I’d always felt that,” Johnson said.

Yvonne rented the house she knew as a girl, but was able to buy it shortly after.

“God made it possible for me to purchase the house. That was the real dream come true,” Johnson said.

“At 38 North Hanover the tradition was you were never turned away. I don’t think anyone’s turned away there now,” Nickell said.

“It’s always had an open door, and still has one, because sometimes the house is running over with grand kids, and great-grand kids, and friends,” Cardwell said.

Between the years that these women owned the home, it got a surprising upgrade – a painted green porch.

Yvonne said if she could talk to Martin today she would say thank you.

“I’m glad I’m related to you. You were about your father’s business, and I would ask them everything I could think of,” Johnson said.

Because while the other buildings are gone, their importance hasn’t faded.

“If we tear down all of our buildings we have nothing left but a shadow and a story,” Nickell said.

Buildings that were here in Cape – and across our nation.

“I would love to visit some of those places. I think our children should know this. I think young children, they should know what our ancestors had to go through,” Johnson said.

The other two homes left little to no local connection to current residents in Cape Girardeau, and were torn down years before this story was published.

Man rewarded for fending off alleged robber at Paducah, KY bank

PADUCAH, KY (KFVS) – Original Post

A man was rewarded on Friday, July 14 for his effort to fend off an alleged robber.

Regions Bank in Paducah, Kentucky gave Jason Sesock a $500 reward and a customized skateboard.

In June, Sesock stopped a robbery in its tracks when he came to the rescue using his skateboard.

Despite the recognition, Sesock said he was just in the right place at the right time.

“I appreciate the recognition but I still, the divine timing of it all, deserves more recognition and to be acknowledged more often,” he said.

A Tennessee man was charged with robbery in connection to the incident on Friday, June 30.

A 20-year-old woman was making a deposit at Regions Bank, located at 2921 Broadway, at around 10:30 p.m.

“At first I was just kind of awestruck, like, what am I seeing?” said Jason Sesock, 26, who stumbled on the attempted robbery.

“It seemed laughable at first,” Sesock said.

He said a man jumped out of the bushes with a plastic bag on his head.

“Then he started running at the lady who was parked getting ready to make a deposit,” Sesock said.

Paducah police reported the man threatened her with a piece of rebar, demanded her money and tried to hit her with the bar.

Sesock said he ran over to help.

The two fell to the ground and began struggling when Sesock, ran over from the sidewalk and hit the man with his skateboard.

“I just used my skateboard to hit his hands for him to drop the weapon, and then I pushed him off of her, and pushed him away from her car and then chased him off,” Sesock said.

Sesock hit the man’s arms and the victim grabbed the rebar and hit the suspect in the head, who then ran away

While Sesock knows he helped her out, he said she held her own.

“She handled it really well. He swung at her with a stick of rebar, and she managed to stop him and actually got ahold of it, and hit him with it before he grabbed her and took her to the ground,” Sesock said.

The woman sustained an injury to her wrist and was treated at the scene by Mercy Ambulance personnel.

Sesock was not injured.

Once it was over, Sesock said they were happy to be safe.

“At first we were just like – That was crazy! Like, I can’t believe that happened, and then we laughed about it for a little bit, and then I mean – she was just nothing but gratitude,” Sesock said.

The management of Regions Bank is grateful for Sesock’s actions as well.

“We truly appreciate Jason’s bravery. While we never want someone to feel as though they have to put themselves at risk, Jason saw someone who needed help, and he took quick and decisive action. For that, we are tremendously grateful.”

Sesock said he’s just happy he was walking by.

“I can’t take credit for – I was put here, like I said, by divine timing. The circumstances I still don’t understand, and I don’t think I ever will,” Sesock said.

Russell Zonca, 58, was arrested on July 7 after he was released from the hospital.

According to Paducah Police, Zonca told a detective that he and his wife came to the area about five or six weeks ago to go to the casino in Metropolis. He reportedly said they got into an argument and his wife left him there. He said he’d been living on the street ever since.

Remains of Lynn Messer laid to rest, death investigation still active


A Ste Genevieve County woman is laid to rest nearly three years after she went missing.

But, plenty of questions still surround the death of Lynn Messer.

“Thank you for the daily adventures of life, and for the adventures of a lifetime, as the love of my life.”

Kerry Messer reads the letter he wrote for his late wife Lynn’s burial earlier this week.

“We will still have a memorial funeral where we will focus on her service. Her life. Her love of the lord. I just don’t know when that’s going to be, Messer said.

The small private ceremony took place in Greene County, Arkansas where Kerry’s family is from.

Even though Lynn’s body is now at rest the investigation into her death is moving forward.

“We have a group of dedicated detectives that since day one when this case came out have been working this case, and we won’t stop until we determine what caused Lynn’s death,” said Major Jason Schott with The Ste. Genevieve Sheriff’s Department.

Major Schott says extensive testing on Lynn’s remains came up inconclusive.

“There’s a thousand unanswered questions still, and I don’t know that I could ever find closure without that,” Messer said.

KFVS asked Major Schott what he would say to someone who might think the case is dead, that there are no suspects, and no evidence at this point.

“There may be stuff that we’re currently looking at that we can’t talk about, because it is an active investigation. Our hope and our dream is to be able to determine what caused Lynn’s death, and to be able to give them some closure on that,” Major Schott said.

Something Messer says he is hoping for too.

“It would sure be nice to have some of those questions answered so the family could pull back together again,” Messer said.

Because while Lynn is now at peace – those she left behind are still hurting.

“Rest assured that our love cannot fade from the shredded heart of a proud husband,” Messer read from his letter.

Major Schott says Messer’s cause of death is still considered unknown, and no cause of death will be entered until the investigation is closed.