July 24, 2003

Memphis Marine Andy Miller Returns Home From Iraq War

Scotland County has a strong heritage of service in the nation's armed forces. One of the community's newest veterans, Andy Miller, returned to Memphis this week after serving in Iraq during the war to liberate the Middle East country.

Miller, a 1996 graduate of Scotland County R-I High School enlisted in the United States Marines right out of school. He went to boot camp in San Diego, CA, July 15, 1996. He completed his four-year enlistment at Camp Pendelton in San Diego.

Andy maintained his ties with the Corp enlisting in the reserves. He made the decision to return to serve his country following the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

Not long after joining the reserves his unit was activated in January of 2002 as part of the National Homeland Defense initiative. He was part of a quick-response unit that was trained to be sent into action against any terrorist activities with his unit maintaining a six-hour response time for any calls.

During his training Andy attended a number of Marine schools including sniper training. It was the later that ultimately earned his role in the war that was beginning to unfold in the Middle East.

After a little more than a year at Camp Pendelton serving in the national security role, Miller's reserve unit was attached to the 1st Marine Division that was headed to Kuwait.

"Basically we were attached to the division to serve as scout forces for various battalions," Miller said. "Essentially we were the eyes and ears for each battalion as we went out in small groups ahead of the main body to observe the enemy, determine size and strength of the opposition and to select targets for our strikes."

The move to the Middle East started in February of 2003 when the 1st Marine Division was sent to Kuwait. The forces began massing in an enormous staging area less than 30 miles from the Iraqi border.

"This place was huge, covering several miles as all of the Marines, Army and British forces were all coming together for a possible strike into Iraq," Miller said.

It was at this staging area that Andy was able to make contact with his younger brother, Robbie Miller, who had joined the Marines after graduating from SCR-I last year. Robbie was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, where Andy fortunately had a few friends from his service history. They were able to help Andy locate his brother and Andy traveled the more than two miles across the camp to meet up with Robbie.

Things rapidly changed after that one-day family reunion as the forces began to strike across the border as the war erupted in March. On March 21 Andy's unit crossed the border and the march was on for Baghdad.

"From that point on it was pretty much a race to Baghdad," Andy said "The Army was moving forward in the West with the British taking the east and the Marines, we were going right up the middle."

Miller said the advance was like a game of leapfrog as units would move forward and take a position and hold the spot while additional units moved on to take the next location. Of course Miller said once the forces began entering the various cities along the route it no longer was a game as the first opposition was encountered.

As the Marines pushed on towards the Iraqi capital the resistance became greater. Initially the battles were short and sweet with limited opposition. But by the time his unit arrived in Baghdad, Miller said the fire fights were lasting five or six hours as the Iraqi forces attempted to make their final stand.

His unit spent roughly two weeks in Baghdad. After taking a minister of defense site in the capital Andy and his unit were stationed on top of the high rise building to secure the area and maintain control of the surrounding region through their long-range weapon capabilities.

After leaving Baghdad Miller's group set up camp some 30 miles from the city. The reservists now became specialists changing from soldiers to humanitarians.

Because a number of his unit had law enforcement experience, Miller's group initially was charged with training locals to become officers in the new Iraqi police force. Other reservists with construction skills, plumbing or electronic backgrounds were pressed into service helping the local people restore basic services and utilities.

"That part of the mission was so impressive as we put our efforts into getting everything back into working order for the people whose lives had been interrupted by the war," Miller said.

Of course all the time Andy was lending a hand in the humanitarian effort he also had an ear out for news about brother Robbie. He regularly contacted friends and watched the Marines medical lists knowing that no news was good news.

Ultimately Andy's reserve unit was demobilized and they returned to the United States June 1st. The demobilization process took a few weeks before Andy was finally allowed to take leave and tend to his personal affairs, including a return trip to Memphis to visit his parents, Glen and Suzie Miller, family and friends. Andy had hoped to bring Robbie along for the trip but his younger brother is still overseas in Iraq after the Marines continued to push back the return date for many of the soldiers because of the continued fighting in Iraq.

Andy remains on active duty but he will be on leave from his unit until September 1st. That will mark the completion of his eighth year with the Marines, with the later four years being served as a reservist.

Miler says he plans to re-enlist with the reserves but hopes to be able to go back and finish college.

"I'll be heading back to San Diego and going back to college and hopefully they'll let me finish this time. The last three times I've been in school the Marines have kept pulling me back in." Miller joked.

Scotland County Nearly Shutout in Latest CRP Signup

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In May the results of the 49th annual Conservation Reserve Program enrollment results were announced with more than 800,000 acres nationwide accepted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help farmers offset the costs of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and strengthen wildlife habitat.

Historically, Scotland County landowners have been able to get all the ground they wanted, into the program. During the last signup period in 2015, Scotland County had a 100% acceptance rate with all 45 enrollments entered into the CRP program.

According to Bob Garino, Missouri State Statistician with the USDA – National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Scotland County had more than 28,000 acres in CRP in 2015. That number is expected to drop below 27,000 this year when the new contract period opens November 1.

That is because in 2016 just four of the 73 enrollment signups were accepted. But Scotland County was not alone. According to Allen Powell of the Missouri Farm Service Agency, Midwestern states averaged just 17-19% acceptance rates.

“Typically for most past signups, MO had a 90% plus acceptance rate for general signup, but the CRP ceiling has been coming down from 29 million to 24 since the last farm bill passed,” said Powell.

According to the USDA, this was one of the most selective sign-up periods in CRP’s 30-year history, with a record high Environmental Benefits Index cut-off and the lowest-percentage of applications accepted.

Powell indicated the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) score cutoff soared to 292 to earn enrollment, further reflecting how competitive the current sign-up period was, since previous cutoffs had been in the 230-250 range.

USDA officials say that means that the per-acre conservation benefits are being maximized and that acres enrolled address multiple conservation priorities simultaneously.

Farmers in Scotland County may not see it that way after 69 of the 73 applications for CRP in 2016 were denied by the USDA, leaving local farmers with just a 5.4% acceptance rate.

For local producers who wondered if the loss of a possible 30 extra points previously available to Scotland County as a Wildlife Protection Area, impacted the results, Powell offered some context.

“Producers didn’t automatically get those points when Scotland County was a WPA,” said Powell. “But we had one county whose producers did qualify for the 30 points for wildlife. They had 231 offers and only got one accepted.”

The squeeze has come threefold for local producers. A nationwide acreage limit was established for this program in the 2014 Farm Bill, capping the total number of acres that may be enrolled at 24 million for fiscal years 2017 and 2018. That is less than half the 45 million acre level first created in 1985 when the CRP program was created by the 1985 Food Security Act.

At the same time, USDA has experienced a record demand from farmers and ranchers interested in participating in the voluntary program. As of March 2016, 23.8 million acres were enrolled in CRP, with 1.7 million acres set to expire this fall.

Over three million acres have been offered for enrollment this year across the three main categories within CRP, with USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) receiving over 26,000 offers to enroll more than 1.8 million acres during the general enrollment period.

Then you factor in the rapidly expanding number of special categories, such as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and continuous CRP.

During this signup over 4,600 offers were made to enroll more than one million acres in the new CRP Grasslands program. Coming off a record-setting 2015 continuous enrollment of over 860,000 acres, more than 364,000 acres already have been accepted for 2016 in the CRP continuous enrollment, triple the pace of last year.

So, FSA accepted just 411,000 acres in general enrollment, the most competitive selection in the history of the program.

USDA selected offers by weighing environmental factors plus cost, including wildlife enhancement, water quality, soil erosion, enduring benefits, and air quality.

The results of the first-ever enrollment period for CRP Grasslands, FSA will also accept 101,000 acres in the program, providing participants with financial assistance for establishing approved grasses, trees and shrubs on pasture and rangeland that can continue to be grazed.  More than 70 percent of these acres are diverse native grasslands under threat of conversion, and more than 97 percent of the acres have a new, veteran or underserved farmer or rancher as a primary producer. FSA continues to accept CRP Grasslands offers and will conduct another ranking period later this year. Acres are ranked according to current and future use, new and underserved producer involvement, maximum grassland preservation, vegetative cover, pollinator habitat and various other environmental factors.

While the 49th sign-up period was the most competitive on record, experts are expecting much of the same next year.

That causes some concern for the local economy. In 2015 CRP generated a record high $2,877,203 of income for landowners in Scotland County.

That income level had remained fairly consistent, since 1985, with roughly $2.5 million a year coming into the county thru the CRP program.

The income level had remained fairly level despite already declining numbers of acres in the program. A record high 42,825 acres in Scotland County were in CRP in 2007. By 2014 that had dropped to 29,314 acres.

The overall revenue remained high as average rental raises rose from around $70 in 2010 to $98.15 in 2014.

Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect land and water on over 400 million acres nationwide.

But in the 49th CRP sign-up, Missouri offered 121,307 acres in 2,649 separate enrollments, with only 472 offers and 20,867 acres being accepted.

Missouri producers aren’t alone in feeling the squeeze on CRP acres.

Shortly after the current signup results were released, the South Dakota congressional delegation officially requested USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack reevaluate the selection process after the state saw similarly dismal success rates to Scotland County in the most recent signup.

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) complained that out of 727 South Dakota applications for more than 42,000 acres, only 101 acres were accepted by USDA.

“Drastically restricting the number of general CRP contract enrollment acres in our state removes the option for most expiring large landscape CRP contract acres from being reenrolled in CRP,” the delegation wrote. “And as a result, because they are denied the option to enroll in general CRP contracts, tens of thousands of acres of marginal land in expiring CRP contracts will be returned to crop production, resulting in higher costs to taxpayers due to increased commodity crop base acres and payments, and increased crop insurance subsidy and indemnity payments. In addition, South Dakota’s already shrinking grassland landscape will dwindle at an accelerated pace.”

NEMR Telecom Making Million Dollar Fiber Optics Upgrades in Scotland County

Spools of conduit and fiber optic cables are stockpiled east of Memphis for the ongoing system upgrade being installed by NEMR Telecom.

Spools of conduit and fiber optic cables are stockpiled east of Memphis for the ongoing system upgrade being installed by NEMR Telecom.

High speed broadband and internet services will be more readily available in Scotland County in the near future. NEMR Telecom is undertaking a multi-million dollar upgrade of old copper cables with new fiber optics to serve rural Scotland County.

“Copper cables have a limited capacity to carry high speed broadband and internet services,” said James Sherburne, CEO Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone. “Fiber optic cables have a nearly unlimited capacity to carry broadband and internet to feed the ever increasing needs of our membership now and into the future.  Fiber is the only transmission medium capable of carrying the massive amount of information and video streaming people will want and need in the future.”

Work crews with Push, Inc., a Wisconsin based cable installation firm, are currently busy across Scotland County replacing copper cables that have been serving rural customers for 25 years.

NEMR has been actively replacing its existing copper cable facilities throughout its 1,400 square mile territory since 2009.

“The City of Memphis was the first project completed in the 2009 timeframe,” said Sherburne. “This year we are replacing the copper cables with fiber optic cables in the Tobin Creek and Brock exchanges.

Next year the copper cables in the Arbela and Luray exchanges will be replaced with fiber optic cables.

“NEMR is committed to serving our entire 1,400 square mile service territory with the state of the art fiber facilities by the year 2020,” said Sherburne.

Customers likely will see little difference in service if they are currently purchasing low speed internet or only have one or two televisions connected to the phone company’s cable television service.

“If the customer is wanting to purchase much higher internet speeds such as 25 or 50 MB plus wants to purchase television for five or six TV’s from NEMR, that is where the difference happens,” said Sherburne. “The old copper facilities couldn’t provide it but the new fiber facilities could easily handle that and more.”

The Tobin Creek and Brock project, which began in March, will require the burying of around 240 miles of fiber. Next year, the Arbela and Brock exchanges will require an additional 200 miles of fiber be buried.

Sherburne said the multi-million dollar upgrades are expected to meet the technology needs of customers for the next quarter century or more. He added that the investments also will lower overall operating expenses through better efficiency and fewer repair requirements.

Once the lines are buried NEMR will use a combination of engineers from Finley Engineering out of LeMar and their own NEMR Telecom staff to inspect placements.

“Once sections of the project are completed, then NEMR staff complete the process of cutting over our customers from the copper to the new fiber facilities,” explained Sherburne.

Some of those cutovers are already completed with the company hoping to complete the entire exchange by November.

Scotland County Observes Flag Day

Flags are shown here on the Scotland County Courthouse lawn in honor of Flag Day, celebrated June 14th.  Additionally, the U.S. flag and Missouri flag are shown flying at half-staff, honoring the victims of the attack in Orlando, Florida. President Obama submitted the Presidential Proclamation as a mark of respect for the victims who died as a result of the act of hatred and terror on Sunday, June 12, 2016 in Orlando.  Flags were ordered to fly at half-staff at the White House, all public buildings and grounds, all military posts and naval stations and all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, June 16, 2016.

Flags are shown here on the Scotland County Courthouse lawn in honor of Flag Day, celebrated June 14th. Additionally, the U.S. flag and Missouri flag are shown flying at half-staff, honoring the victims of the attack in Orlando, Florida. President Obama submitted the Presidential Proclamation as a mark of respect for the victims who died as a result of the act of hatred and terror on Sunday, June 12, 2016 in Orlando. Flags were ordered to fly at half-staff at the White House, all public buildings and grounds, all military posts and naval stations and all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, June 16, 2016.

Flags adorned the Scotland County Courthouse lawn on Tuesday, June 14th in observance of Flag Day.  It is believed, in 1885, BJ Cigrand, a school teacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as ‘Flag Birthday’.  In a number of magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as ‘Flag Birthday’, or ‘Flag Day’.

Three decades later, inspired by other state and local celebrations, Flag Day – the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 – was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916.  While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

Blunt Votes to Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Terrorists

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) released the following statement after voting in favor of the SHIELD Act, which would prevent terrorists from purchasing firearms and enhance law enforcement’s ability to prevent future attacks, while protecting Americans’ Constitutional rights.

“We face more threats coming from more directions than ever before, and keeping Americans safe is our top priority,” Blunt said. “The SHIELD Act would keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, and enhance law enforcement’s ability to take them into custody to prevent an attack. The bill also allows for a reasonable appeals process to protect the rights of law-abiding individuals.”

The Senate failed to adopt the SHIELD Act, which was offered as an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. Democrats blocked the amendment by a vote of 53 to 47.

Blunt continued, “The recent attack in Orlando underscores the danger we face in every community across this country. We all agree that we have to prevent terrorists from purchasing and possessing weapons to carry out attacks on our soil. I urge Democrats to reconsider their opposition and work with us to advance solutions that will protect Americans without compromising their Constitutional rights.”

Blunt also voted for a separate amendment today, offered by Senator Chuck Grassley (Iowa), that would reauthorize and improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, incentivize states to submit relevant mental health records to NICS, and require law enforcement to be notified if an individual is either currently being investigated for terrorism and attempts to acquire a firearm, or has been in the past five years. Democrats rejected that measure by a vote of 53 to 47.

Blunt has cosponsored Senator John Cornyn’s (Texas) Mental Health and Safe Communities Act. The bill would fix the existing FBI background firearm check system without expanding it, improve crisis response and prevention, and increase the use of treatment-based alternatives for mentally-ill offenders.

Blunt has also introduced the Expand Excellence In Mental Health Act, which would increase access to certified community behavioral health clinics. Under the measure, the 24 states receiving mental health planning grants through the Excellence in Mental Health Act, which was signed into law in 2014, would be able to expand access to behavioral health services.

Scotland County Hospital to Host Farmers Market             

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Scotland County Hospital was recently approached by local producers to host a Farmers Market on Hospital property.  Because the mission of Scotland County Hospital is to improve the health of our communities, with services close to home, there was no hesitation to accept the offer.   Starting June 23rd and every Thursday afternoon until fall, the Farmers Market will be set up at Memphis Medical Services (Parking Lot B – Watkins Street) from 2 pm-6 pm, near the Library Conference Center, and is open to the public (watch for signs).  In addition to healthy fruits & vegetables, there will be locally grown meats, eggs, homemade pizza crusts, jams, jellies and homemade baked goods.

The Hospital’s hope is that this new venue for the farmers market will increase the likelihood that patients, visitors & staff will eat nutritious fresh foods.  Foods sold locally are able to ripen in the field and be picked the day of the market, so fruits & veggies achieve peak ripeness on the vine or tree, developing full flavor and nutrient content.   Additionally, food produced locally travels a shorter distance from farm to plate, decreasing energy used and air pollution generated from transport.

Hospital-based farmers markets are not uncommon.  Several Missouri hospitals & clinics, as well as healthcare facilities nation-wide, have been hosting farmers markets for years.  Hospital-based farmers markets are one way for hospitals & clinics to help realize a number of health goals related to patients, staff and their community.  For example, Allen Memorial Hospital in Waterloo, IA, has operated a seasonal farmers market since 1999 to increase their staff & community’s access to fresh produce.  Hosting the farmers market on-site is a way for Scotland County Hospital & Clinics to demonstrate their recognition that local food production plays a key role in the health and well being of the communities served.  Watch the Hospital’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ScotlandCountyHospital) for updates on weekly produce for sale at the market.

Patients, be prepared, at your next visit, your doctor may prescribe: 1 bundle of carrots, 2 eggplants and 3 cucumbers to lower your cholesterol!

Mario Manzini, Illusionist, to Perform at Scotland County Fair

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The Scotland County Fair has organized a week of entertainment for this year’s event, including a Queen Contest, Illusionist, Rodeo, Musical Entertainment including Rhonda Vincent, a Truck and Tractor Pull, Car Races, Baby Show, Mud Boggs and the ever-popular, Demolition Derby!

Mario Manzini, Illusionist, Mentalist and Escapologist, is scheduled Monday evening, July 11th, immediately following the Queen Contest.

Manzini, with his 25 plus years of performing, is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  He uses audience participation and lots of comedy to keep guests involved and entertained throughout the show.

Manzini’s resume is extensive, with performances throughout the USA, Canada and other countries. As an Escapologist, his main show is “A Tribute to Houdini” where he recreates all of the thrilling escapes of the legendary Harry Houdini.  Using total audience participation, he invites volunteers to come up and put him into the many different devices that he attempts to escape from!

Manzini has won numerous awards including the “Guiness World Champion Record Holder” and “Best Entertainer of 2014 Columbia, MO”.  He is a long-time member of Society of American Magicians and International Brotherhood of Magicians.

The SCR-1 Fair Board invites everyone out Monday evening, July 11th,  to enjoy both the Scotland County Fair Queen Contest, starting at 7:00 p.m., and Mario Manzini.

Enlow, Smith-Roberts Graduate From Truman State University 

Truman State University hosted spring commencement ceremonies May 7 for more than 1,000 students.

Local students earning their degrees included Kelsey Kay Enlow and Loren E. Smith-Roberts, both of Memphis. Smith-Roberts was  master’s degree recipient.

Founded in 1867, Truman is Missouri’s public liberal arts and sciences university. Truman has the highest graduation rate among the state’s public colleges and universities. U.S. News & World Report has rated Truman as the No. 1 public university in the Midwest region for 19 consecutive years. Consumers Digest rated Truman as the No. 1 value in the nation among public colleges and universities.

Dana Glasscock Presents Program to SC Genealogical Society

The Scotland County Genealogical Society held their monthly meeting June 13, 2016 with ten members, one new member and a guest present.  Darlene Johnston called the meeting to order.  She asked for the secretary report which was given by Terry Arnold.  The treasurer’s report was given by Rhonda Davis and both reports were approved.

There wasn’t any old business to discuss.

Under new business, a letter had been received asking about any information on a cemetery named Ft. Donnellson.  There wasn’t any information at this society about a Ft. Donnellson cemetery in our county.  It was asked if anyone has heard of this cemetery, the society would appreciate knowing about it.

Marlene Cowell found out that we did not need to apply for a new sales tax each year.  What we had in place was good forever.

Since there wasn’t anything else to report at this time, President Darlene Johnston closed the meeting.

At this time we had a very interesting and informing program given by guest, Dana Glasscok, the County Recorder.  All of the information that she shared can be seen in her office at the Scotland County Courthouse.  She not only records marriage licenses, but also records documents for public notice for title companies and banks.  The first Deed Book has a recording dating to August 25, 1836.  The deed had been recorded in Marion County and then re-recorded in Scotland County records.  They also have deeds in their books from prior recordings in Lewis and Clark Counties.

Dana talked about land patents-exclusive land grants by the United States.  An 1855 Act of Congress granted these to those who had served in the War of 1812 or to their widows.  She also explained Chattel Mortgages and where the word chattel came from.  It is the Medieval Latin word capital, meaning property or stock.  This word was brought to England when the Normans invaded England hence the word chattel and cattle.  In law, chattel is any movable article of personal property, including cattle.

Dana also handles Warranty Deeds, Quick Claim Deeds, Trustee’s Deeds, Correction Deeds, Deeds of Trust, Release Deeds, POA, Assignments of Deed of Trusts, Easements, Restrictive Covenants, Request for Notice Foreclosure, Agreements of Tenants in Common, Boundary Wall Agreements and Beneficiary Deeds, just to mention a few.

Survey records include Field Notes Scotland County Survey certified July 25, 1866, Plat Books dating in 1858 showing the owner’s name and also showing swamp land and Plat Book 1898 showing roads, waterways, owners, schools, churches, post office and more.

This was a very interesting and informational program.  Thank you, Dana.

Grace Brown served very delicious refreshments. Thank you, Grace.

The Genealogical Society would like to invite anyone that is interested in doing family research to come to a meeting.  Their building is located across from the Memphis Fire Station.  Monthly meetings are on the second Monday of each month at 1:30 p.m.  There are several members that can give guidance on how to begin research.

Submitted by Terry Arnold

Rhonda Vincent and The Rage to Perform at Scotland County Fair

Rhonda Vincent and The Rage will take the stage July 13th at the Scotland County Fair as the Queen of Bluegrass celebrates her birthday with fans in Memphis.

Rhonda Vincent and The Rage will take the stage July 13th at the Scotland County Fair as the Queen of Bluegrass celebrates her birthday with fans in Memphis.

Later this summer music fans will get a special opportunity during the Scotland County Fair, helping bluegrass music star Rhonda Vincent celebrate her birthday.

On Wednesday, July 13th, Rhonda Vincent and The Rage will be in concert at the fair. Becky Reeves will open the night before the birthday girl takes the stage.

Vincent, who was crowned by the Wall Street Journal as the Queen of Bluegrass, will be coming to Memphis for the show that will feature the most award-winning group in bluegrass history.

It won’t be her first trip to the small northeast Missouri town. Having grown up in nearby Greentop, Vincent made plenty of visits to Memphis, which was home to her aunt.

“She lived right next to the swimming pool, so we always loved coming to Memphis for a visit,” said Vincent. “It’s always nice to perform close to home.”

The July 13th visit will require a bit more travel than the old family visits. Instead of coming to Memphis from Greentop, Vincent will be traveling all the way from New Jersey, where she and The Rage will be performing at the Cape May Convention Center on July 11th.

She might say it’s nice to be home and sleep in her own bed, except that probably isn’t going to happen, as the group will need to hit the road in order to make it to Nashville, TN for the July 14th Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman Auditorium.

“It is going to be a very unique experience,” she said during a phone interview done while she was on the road in Arizona en route to several June shows in California. “We’re going to be back and forth across half of the United States in just four days. We are on the go a lot, but it is very unusual for us to travel this far, especially in the middle of the week. But it is going to be fun.”

After finishing up in California, the group will return to Nashville to play at the Opry before making stops in West Virginia and Kentucky.

But during the last week of June, Vincent gets to return to her roots, to take part in the 30th annual Sally Mountain Park Bluegrass Festival, a five day event held near Queen City.

The event is the namesake of her family’s band, the  Sally Mountain Show, which gave her, her start in music.

Today Rhonda sings with the Rage and together they have garnered more than 90 awards, including the Song of the Year and Entertainer of the Year.. Vincent was named the Female Vocalist of the Year seven consecutive years by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA).

Along with those accolades has come plenty of press, including features in People Magazine, USA Today and the New York Times. Rhonda even performed with Dolly Parton on the David Letterman Show and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

Despite her fame, Vincent has continued to call Greentop home.

But with her latest release, Only Me, hitting #1 on the Bluegrass charts and earning a Grammy nomination, Rhonda Vincent and The Rage are in constant demand. The Scotland County fair concert will be one of more than 130 headline appearances for the music group in 2016.

Vincent said “Only Me” is a unique mixture of bluegrass and county music, with six songs of each style.

“I love singing both,” said Vincent. “So this was really fun to put together a demonstration of both country music and bluegrass music, side by side.”

She explained the main difference between the two music varieties is instrumentation.

“Bluegrass is mostly acoustic music, with no drums and an up-right bass,” she said. “I love it for its authenticity. Country music is more plugged in, with amplification, drums and an electric guitar. They’re different, but I love to sing them both.”

Like with most of their concerts, Rhonda Vincent and The Rage will be performing bluegrass music for the listeners’ enjoyment on July 13th in Memphis.

Perhaps her fans will be able to return the favor and perform an acoustic version of Happy Birthday to help cap off Vincent’s big night in Memphis.

Mark Twain Chorale International to Host Local Concert in preparation for 10th International Tour

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The Mark Twain Chorale International is preparing for its tenth international tour to Italy’s South and will be performing Sunday, June 26, at 3:00 p.m. at the historic St. Joseph Catholic Church in Edina.   The concert is free and open to the public, and all music lovers are encouraged to attend.

The Chorale is made up of 24 singers from Missouri and Iowa. The group performs primarily American music including early American hymn tune arrangements, spirituals, gospel, jazz, folk music, and show tune arrangements as well as traditional choral arrangements. The group is under the musical direction of Dr. Dan O’Donnell and accompanists Connie Walker from Monroe City and Marsha Crowley from Shelbina.

The MTCI will be singing mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and performing concerts at the Abbey of Montecassino and Cathedral of San Filippo and Giacomo in Sorrento. The group will also tour the Vatican, Pompeii, Capri and the Amalfi Coast and will perform locally in those areas.

Local singers from Memphis include Sheila Berkowitz, Jeff and Lynnette Dyer, Joan Hinds, and Anna Lynn Kirkpatrick.  Singers from Knox County include Lisa Blake, Brent Karhoff, and Jo Anne Layman. Chuck Braxton is from Kahoka and Carol Mathieson is from Canton.  Other members, who have previously performed with the Chorale, are Dale Findlay (Jefferson City), and Vicki Robertson (Keosauqua, IA).

Twelve singers including Sharon O’Donnell are from the St. Louis area and are members of the Missouri Choral Society for which Dan O’Donnell is the Associate Director.

Tiffany Trump-Humbert and Rolf Humbert of Trump Travel in Bentonville, Arkansas, are organizing the 2016 tour. MTCI’s previous tours included Vienna, Austria in 1997, Salzburg, Austria in 1999, Italy in 2001, Ireland in 2003, Germany and Switzerland in 2005, Normandy, France, Belgium and the Netherlands in 2007, Vienna, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary in 2009, England, Scotland, and Wales in 2011, and Ireland and Northern Ireland in 2014.

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