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07 November 2011

Lant: Career Fair at MCHS, Veterans Day Ceremony Brings Crowd To Stella

I was honored last week by being asked to participate in the McDonald County High School Career Fair. The school had 80 or so tables set up in the Gymnasium with placards on them designating the businesses that were represented. I was very pleasantly surprised to see how many area businesses made the time and expenditure to talk to high school students about career opportunities. There were representatives there from every imaginable business in Newton and McDonald County and even a few from exotic places like Arkansas. You have to be amazed at how many businesses are wanting to encourage High School Students when all we hear on the news is "There are no jobs!" Sure there are, and lots of them. There are opportunities for work all around us. One thing that encourages me is that many of the Seniors and Juniors were spending time exploring the different trades. McDonald County has a significant percentage of students enrolled in vocational courses which I think is to be applauded. Don't misunderstand me, I still believe that a college education is a very valuable tool, but let's face it, not every student wants to attend college. If young men and women can be encouraged to start learning a trade, they will be very well equipped for the future. Every one of the building trades complain about being understaffed. If you find that hard to believe, try to find a carpenter, a brick mason, an electrician, a surveyor, etc. It's amazing how busy these people are. Crowder College offers some great vocational training in everything from nursing to auto body repair.

I got a real kick out of The National Guard table. They brought along some really cool backpacks that they were giving away to anyone who could do 70 pushups! Bill Reibold and I did 2 apiece but they wouldn't even give us a pencil. There were so many of those tough kids that did 70 that the Guard ran out of backpacks; so much for this being a soft generation, at least in Southwest Missouri.

Saturday, I had the pleasure of being in Stella for their Veterans Day Ceremonies. We started around 10:00 A.M. and it was a beautiful but quite cool morning. Duane Bowman was the Master of Ceremonies and believe it or not, he can still sing a little! Speaking of singing, The Star Spangled Banner was performed by Jeannie Merritt and I've never heard it done more beautifully. The Neosho ROTC, The Tri-Way Choir, The Westview and Wheaton School Bands, and The Crowder Choral Group all did a wonderful job. The Honoree this year was Ed Parker, 50 year member of the Masonic Lodge, and World War II Veteran. We presented him with Proclamations from The Missouri House and Senate and a lemon pie (His Favorite) which he guarded a lot closer than the resolutions. The U.S Flag was ceremoniously raised and a little later on there was a separate ceremony raising the MIA Flag. The parade was great with a Fire truck, Corvettes, Classic Cars and Trucks, Tractors, Shriners, Horses, and my personal favorite, The Patriot Guard. There was a fabulous Dune Buggy and Three Wheel Bike painted depicting MIA and Fallen Soldier themes and a couple of dozen great bikes. The Neosho VFW did a great job of organizing the patriotic ceremonies. I would have to say that most of the credit for such a great celebration goes to Chuck Dalbom and his great crew of volunteers.

You might wonder why I'm spending so much time talking about Stella. It's because a little town of 200 people can have such a great influence on so many people! Do we live in a wonderful part of the country or what?

Saturday evening we were at Crowder for the annual Newton County Republican Bean Feed. As usual, the Republican women did a great job of setting up the event and Chairman Nick Meyers had Billy Long as his keynote speaker. We were then to hear from U.S.Senate hopefuls, Todd Aiken, Sarah Steelman, and John Brunner. All three hope to be the candidate chosen to run against Claire McCaskill. Shane Schoeller, the Speaker pro-Tem from Springfield, and Senator Bill Stouffer were also there as candidates for Secretary of State to replace retiring Robin Carnahan. It was a fun evening with the inevitable silent auction where I bought two great cakes I didn't need (Jane and the grandkids made me do it!) Next week we have to travel back to Jeff City for a couple of days, but I think we'll have nice weather, at least I hope so. Until next week I am and remain, in your service.

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