September 8, 2005

John Cook Completes Motorcycle Tour de Capitals

It took the Memphis motorcycle enthusiast approximately two years to travel by bike to 49 of the United States state capitals, lacking only a motorcycle boat to get to Hawaii.

Lance Armstrong has made the Tour de France famous. A bike tour of a different variety has gained a Memphis man some notoriety of his own.

Its not like John Cook needs his love of motorcycles to make him known in this community. John and his wife Maxine have owned and operated Cooks Mens Store, a well-known western apparel store for 40 years.

But those in the community that didnt encounter John in the store or via his various other community service projects such as Rotary, surely saw the man riding his motorcycle in the parades.

He wasnt showing off. John simply found the love of riding and is more than willing to take advantage of just about any excuse to fire up his ride and head down the road.

Cook blames his love of riding on the fact that he started so late in life. John was 40 years old before he owned his first ride.

I just finally got exposed to the sport then, he said. I had a pretty large group of friends who all had motorcycles at this time and they all kept coming by and trying to get me revved up.

So John finally took the plunge. But it was a relatively small leap, as he shelled out $50 bucks to buy a small size 50 motorcycle.

He rode that for a couple of weeks and was hooked. The industry reeled in their newest catch, as Cook began upgrading, moving up to a 100 c.c. engine, then on to a 125, a 175, a 350, a 550, a 1000, a 1100 and then his 1200 10th Anniversary American Gold Wing.

Its just like any other hobby, fishing, hunting, golfing Cook said. We all have our interests, and for me its definitely riding a motorcycle.

In 1974 he started touring on his 550 Honda, traveling with his brother Charles to Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado. They even traveled to the little known town of Sturgis, South Dakota where Cook joined with some 5,000 other motorcycle enthusiasts. Last year, the 63rd annual Sturgis rally drew nearly half a million bikers.

John enjoyed the sport so much he decided to share the fun with Maxine. Together the couple rode across the United States, Canada and even in Mexico.

The riding around all over our great country, thats simply the best, John said. We have seen some many different places thanks to riding, yet we are so thankful that we still live in the best part. Still, I love to ride.

Cook doesnt use the term love, loosely when he refers to riding his motorcycle. How else could one explain a man celebrating his 65th birthday by departing on a two-year quest to ride his bike to all of the state capitals in the United States?

The marathon began innocently enough back in 1998. On May 17, John departed from Memphis heading west. His first stop was Topeka, KS. He went on to Oklahoma City. Stop two on the 49 capital tour was made more memorable by his viewing of the bombed-out Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

While the site of the terrorist bombing dampened Cooks spirits some, he was reinvigorated by what he called the beautiful scenery on the road to Santa Fe, NM. Phoenix, AZ, was the next stop before John departed on one of the longest rides of his adventure, the 1,020 miles to Austin, TX.

That ride was hard on me, Cook said. It was kind of funny because it bugged me, until I finally told myself that it was a thousand miles, and I really didnt have to do it all in one day.

Between Texas and Louisianna, John experienced his first setback. He miscalculated on his fuel, and actually ran out of gasoline. Fortunately he was rescued by a passerby.

A nice young man stopped and brought me some gas, Cook said. We got to talking, and the fellow related what his father had told him, that anytime you go someplace new, you always learn something. Thats stuck with me on my trips.

Refueled, Cook pressed on to Baton Rouge and then turned north for the return trip, stopping in Little Rock, AR, before hitting Jefferson City, MO.

It was in his own state capital that Cook came across the book that became his guide on the quest. He was visiting with the folks in the souvenir shop, when one pointed out a book, The Capitals of the United States. John purchased a copy, which highlighted each states capital building. Now the book includes Johns own additions, as it has become somewhat of a scrapbook with photos taken by Cook at each of his stops.

On May 25, Johns 1500 Honda crossed the city limits of Memphis. In eight and a half days he had ridden 4,302 miles and visited nine state capitals on stage one of his tour.

After his visit to the southwest, John next mapped out the second leg of his journey, this time heading northeast.

On June 21, Cook departed from Memphis heading east. Springfield, IL was the first stop. Then it was on to Indianapolis, IN, followed by Columbus, OH. Cook made a pit stop in Brookville, PA, where he stayed at a friends home. He resumed the quest as he made it to Harrisburg before journeying into our nations capital, Washington, D.C.

That was definitely a challenge because of the road designs, Cook said. Its shaped like a wagon wheel with all kinds of one-way streets. But still I got to see all the national monuments and all of the history.

The history lesson continued as John made his way to Annapolis, MD, the site of the oldest state capital in the U.S., Dover, DE and Trenton, NJ, were two more stops as Cook said he found himself amazed that he was wandering among buildings with such history, like in Maryland, where George Washington had actually resigned his post as Commander and Chief of the Continental army back in 1783. He marveled at the four towers of marble and granite that comprised the Hartford, CT, capital building.

After hitting Providence, RI, and Boston, MA, John finally began to ride out of the urban sprawl of the east coast. He still couldnt avoid the crowds though, as his misfortunate timing placed him in Concord, New Hampshire at the same time as a big NASCAR race, making it impossible to find a hotel room.

John continued north and hit Augusta, ME, and then stopped at Montpelier Vermont.

This was the only one of the 49 state capitals that I didnt either walk around or ride around, Cook said. I couldnt, because the building is actually built into the side of a mountain.

From there the journey turned to Albany, NY, before John headed to Buffalo, NY, and got to see Niagara Falls. He continued through Canada on a straight line for Lansing, MI. He then turned back south and traveled through Chicago on the return to Memphis where he arrived July 3.

The East Coast was amazing with its history, its huge ports and giant ships, Cook said. The ocean and the mountains made it a very nice trip that I would have enjoyed much more without my mishap in Pennsylvania.

An accident in the Keystone state left Cook with broken ribs, making the last 3,000 miles of the ride a little uncomfortable.

Still he completed the 12-day trek, covering 3,967 miles and 15 more state capitals.

Leg three of the five-stage trip started August 2 when Cook again departed Memphis, this time heading north to Des Moines, IA. He learned a little about politics in the gold-domed capital building where an engraved sign reads Nothing is politically correct that is morally wrong.

The northern tour went on to Madison, WI, and St. Paul, MN. Bismark, ND, presented an enjoyable ride across the northern plains. Cook admired the capital building as he approached the city, noting it is the tallest of all state capitals, standing 19 stories tall.

Cook was able to admire the length of the Missouri River as he paralleled the massive body of water on his way to Pierre, SD. Of course, it was August, so John made a detour to Sturgis to check out the biker rally before heading on to Lincoln, NE.

Cook covered 2,402 miles on the five-day excursion and will tell you that the midwest ride is definitely his favorite.

Stage four was the most ambitious thus far. Cook took off April 19, 1999 and headed southeast for what would be more than 4,000 miles on his motorcycle.

Nashville, TN, was stop #1 followed by Atlanta, GA, and Montgomery, AL.

Cook got to view two state capitals in Tallahassee, as Florida not only has a new modern building but also maintains the original capital building, restored to its original condition.

A strong desire to see Key West sent Cook on a detour across Alligator Alley and down the states west coast to his farthest southern stop. He returned up the east coast and on to Savannah, GA and then Columbia, SC. Here Cook saw the brass markers that represented canon shells that had hit the building during the Civil War.

Raleigh, NC, and Richmond, VA, had Cook two more stops closer to his goal.

But the cyclist found his trip soured by a call from home. He received word that his mother had passed away. That cut short his visit with friends in Lynchburg, VA, as he jumped on his bike that evening and rode until he had to stop for sleep. He made it back through Charleston, WV and Frankfurt, KY, before getting back home May 26. He covered 4,158 miles in eight days.

But that proved to be nothing compared to the final leg of the quest. A week later, John and a friend, Jerry Speer, departed Memphis to hit the remaining spots in the northwest.

Cook questioned if he was not getting a little soft as the first day on the road the duo hit rain. It was not the only roadblock Mother Nature would provide.

They made it to Cheyenne, WY, but hit a huge windstorm that nearly blew them off course on the way to Boise, ID. It turned cold as they crossed the narrow mountain roads en route to Helena, MT.

They kept going north, crossing into Canada on the way to Alaska. They headed for Calgary, riding along the Columbia Ice Field.

They took a break at Pink Mountain and awoke from a nights sleep at a motel to 18 inches of snow. They were stalled for nearly three days by more than 20 inches of snow.

They made up for the layover with a hard day of riding.

When we pulled into the motel, I was cleaning bugs off my windshield and kept wondering why I was so tired, Then I looked at my watch and saw it was 10:30 p.m., but the sun was still up. Thats the first time Ive ever went to bed with the sun still up.

The two bikers finally made it to Juneau, AK, and then turned around and headed back to the good old USA.

It was kind of interesting as I was sitting there in Alaska to stop and think, just a month or so before that I had been all the way across the nation down in the Florida Keys, Cook said.

The next stop was Olympia, WA, before hitting Salem, OR, and Sacramento, CA. Carson City, NV, and Salt Lake City, UT, were stops 47 and 48 before the final destination of Denver, CO. was reached.

Twenty days later the two men returned home after covering more than 7,700 miles on their motorcycles.

I always get asked, which one is the prettiest, Cook said. Well, thats sort of like judging a queen contest, I mean you just cant pick one over another as they are all so amazing.

Regardless of all of his stops on the 59-day, 23,000 miles adventure, Cook never had any doubt what his favorite sight was.

I saw so many beautiful things on my trips, but none compares to getting that first look at home when you finally get back, he said.

With his obvious love for home, one might wonder why Cook undertook the massive trip.

It was a challenge- and I won, Cook said. As a kid, I always wished my horse could have wings so that I could ride every place. On the highway, I realized God had given me my Gold Wing very humbling.

Special Legislative Session to Remedy Issue of Abortion Sanctuary Cities

by Rep. Craig Redmon

This week the House of Representatives is in Jefferson City, answering Governor Greitens’ call for a special session in response to some troubling events of the past few months. In April, a federal judge struck down years of regulations put in place to ensure abortion clinics met a certain standard of health requirements in order to operate in Missouri. In combination with the Abortion Sanctuary City ordinance in St. Louis, it is clear that pro-life Missourians and pregnancy care centers are under attack by abortion advocates from across the state and nation.

In the face of these attacks on pro-life Missourians, Governor Greitens has called a second extraordinary session this summer so we, the General Assembly, can send legislation to his desk to curtail these efforts to undermine our state’s healthcare regulations and to protect the lives of the innocent unborn.

The timing of the judge’s ruling in late April, more than a month after the deadline for new bill submissions, makes this topic wholly worthy of a special session, due to the timing making a full response during the regular session impossible. This session also gives the legislature the opportunity to remedy the issue of Abortion Sanctuary Cities. The Missouri Constitution explicitly gives Governor Greitens the ability to call special sessions of the General Assembly for extraordinary topics. The wiping of abortion regulations and allowing abortion clinics that were closed after failing to meet minimum health and safety standards to resume operation is one such extraordinary topic that requires action.

I am proud to support the health of women. I am proud to stand with the Governor. I am proud to be pro-life.

Last week the Senate passed a bill that would nullify the Sanctuary City ordinance, allow Missouri’s attorney general to prosecute violations of abortion laws, and require annual inspections of abortion clinics. In addition, it creates a set of guidelines requiring certain standards to be met for an abortion clinic to operate. Now the bill moves to the House of Representatives. I was elected as a pro-life legislator to advocate on the side of life, and it is my desire to work with my fellow Representatives to strengthen and pass this legislation in a way to protect Missouri families.

Culvert Replacements Will Temporarily Close Several Routes in Scotland County

HANNIBAL – Weather permitting, MoDOT crews will perform culvert work the below routes in Scotland County.

Work will be done on Route M on June 27, with the road temporarily closed just north of Scotland County Route W for a culvert replacement. The road will be closed from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Scotland County Route V will be temporarily closed between 1 mile of Scotland County Route M and 2 miles of Route M for a culvert replacement on June 28th The road will be closed from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Work will be done on Scotland County Route D on June 29, with the road temporarily closed between 3 miles of Missouri Route 15 and 3.1 miles of Route 50 for a culvert replacement. The road will be closed from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Motorists will need to use alternate routes during these times.

Again, this work is weather dependent and could be rescheduled or delayed. For more information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK MoDOT (275-6636). All roadwork is posted on the traveler information map. You can also visit us online at www.modot.org/northeast.

Extension Expert Says Delayed Hay Harvest Calls for Testing

This year’s delayed hay harvest calls for hay testing.

University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist Anthony Ohmes says farmers benefit from routine hay testing.

Hay quality varies based on forage species, maturity, management, harvest conditions, and insect or disease damage. Guessing the quality of hay fed to livestock could result in lower profits, Ohmes says. Knowing the hay’s nutrient value can help livestock owners decide if animals need supplements.

Ohmes suggests that farmers sample each lot separately. A lot comes from the same field and forage makeup, and is grown and harvested under the same environmental conditions. “Every field and cutting will be different,” Ohmes says.

Use a 12- to 24-inch hay probe, he says. It should be 3/8 to 5/8 of an inch in diameter. Do not grab or hand pull samples. Samples collected that way do not provide uniform results and could lead to misleading values.

Sample multiple bales out of a hay lot. The lot should represent at least 10 percent, or at least 15 random bales.

The sampling method varies for each bale type. On large round bales, take samples on the curved side of the bale and remove the outer layer if moldy. Avoid sampling from the outside of the bale. On large square bales, take samples at a 45-degree angle on the side of the bale or 90-degree angle on the end of the bale. Sample small square bales through the center and end.

Keep each lot separate, Ohmes says. Mix samples in a bucket and fill a quart  plastic bag. Samples perish quickly, so send them to the lab on the same day as the sampling. If this is not possible, keep samples away from direct sunlight and store in a cool, dry place until sending. Freeze high-moisture samples (above 15 percent) such as baleage or silage if they cannot be sent right away.

Mark the sample by date, cutting, location and owner before shipping.

Some MU Extension centers lend probes at no cost. Find information on hay sampling at crops.missouri.edu/forage.

Hay tests cost about $20 each at certified labs throughout the state. You can find information on how to read results at extension.missouri.edu/aginfocus/forage-testing.aspx.

Rural Hospital are a Lifeline

by U.S. Congressman Sam Graves

Rural hospitals are a literal lifeline for tens of millions of people across this country. In communities that don’t have enough primary care doctors or health facilities, rural hospitals provide a critical, lifesaving service that otherwise would not be here for us.

Unfortunately, about 80 rural hospitals have closed since 2010. What’s worse, one third of all rural hospitals in the U.S. could close in the next few years. That’s 12 million Americans at risk of losing access to the closest emergency room. A devastating number, and something we can’t allow to continue in rural America.

Cuts to hospital payments have worsened the problem, and as populations decrease in rural communities, so-called “medical desserts” are popping up across rural America. It leaves people living on farms or in small towns dangerously vulnerable to medical emergency – particularly older Americans.

This week, I am joining with my colleague from Iowa, Dave Loebsack, to introduce the Save Rural Hospitals Act. This bipartisan bill looks to reverse the trend of rural hospital closures, in part by eliminating unrealistic federal regulations like the “96 hour rule,” which forces rural hospitals to move a patient within 96 hours in order to get reimbursed by Medicare.

The average rural hospital creates 195 jobs and generates $8.4 million in annual payroll. But more than that, these facilities make communities livable, ensuring a doctor isn’t far away when a medical emergency strikes.

This bill shines a light on the rural health crisis in Missouri and across the country. If we accept this reality – and neglect this much needed conversation – rural hospitals in Missouri will continue to close. This leaves thousands without access to health care, putting lives in jeopardy and affecting every family in Middle America. That’s simply not acceptable.

City Looking to Crack Down on Traffic Violations

Memphis residents are being reminded to monitor posted speed limits. Photo by Maddy Zahn.

With an increasing number of citizens voicing complaints regarding traffic concerns, the Memphis City Council recently agreed to move forward with an increased police presence while also encouraging a lower tolerance level for infractions.

Complaints have centered around speeding, stop sign adherence and non-traditional vehicle usage such as ATVs and golf carts.

“The City of Memphis has not written a lot of traffic tickets, but unfortunately that appears like it is going to have to change,” said Alderman Chris Feeney. “This isn’t about revenue, or being punitive, it is about public safety.”

Police Chief Bill Holland indicated officers have tried to use warnings and have allowed some leeway when dealing with speed enforcement.

Under the new council directive, that tolerance level will be reduced.

“In the past, we may have just flashed our lights at you, or offered a warning when a car was going a little too fast,” said Holland. “Now those cars going 30 in a 20 will likely be looking at a ticket.”

Holland stated the enforcement efforts have been ongoing, with officers performing additional traffic patrols. In an effort to enhance those efforts, a part-time officer has been added to the police force. Justin Allen from Clark County will be joining the MPD, and Holland indicated his initial responsibilities will focus on traffic control. The department has been shorthanded with the departure of officer Jason Ketchum, and Holland said efforts will continue to replace that full-time officer as well.

The council also has discussed the possibility of adding a radar camera system that could be deployed by the department in trouble areas to help deter speeding and produce data on traffic volume and speed habits of motorists.

“We are not turning a deaf ear to citizen complaints,” said Holland. “When we become aware of trouble spots, we increase our presence there, but it takes being in the right spot at exactly the right time to catch the people responsible for the complaints.”

Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit within the city limits is 25 mph. ATV’s, golf carts or utility vehicles are allowed on public streets only by special permit, available at city hall. They may only be driven by licensed drivers and are not to exceed 30 mph regardless if the posted speed limit is higher.

Holland noted that enforcement efforts are difficult with a small force, that typically only has one officer on duty, adding that police presence performing traffic patrol normally turns into a simple deterrent rather quickly as motorists become aware of the law enforcement presence and temporarily reduce speeds or choose alternate routes.

While automated traffic controls such as radar cameras and stop sign video surveillance are not particularly popular with the public, the city council expressed a willingness to at least consider such measures.

“I’m certain I have exceeded a posted speed limit at some time or other,” said Alderman Feeney. “In doing so I could be putting the public safety at risk. So I have a choice, I can either slow down and monitor my speed better, or I can risk paying a ticket.”

The council is hoping the community chooses the first option, but is anticipating it will take more of the later for the initiative to hit home and start to sink in for motorists.

Area Students Named to MU Dean’s List

Several area students were named to the University of Missouri spring semester 2017 dean’s list.

Kathryn Mary Howard of Memphis has been named to honor roll. Howard is a senior student.

Samantha Rachel Tobler, a senior, was named to the 2017 dean’s list for the spring semester.

Jaclyn Wiggins, a junior student in the arts and science school, was named to the honor roll as well.

More Than $988 Million in Unclaimed Property Waiting to be Returned  Statewide

JEFFERSON CITY – State Treasurer Eric Schmitt on June 15th announced the start of an annual effort to return Unclaimed Property to Missourians by publishing the names of owners in Missouri newspapers. Starting June 16, the names of more than 145,000 individuals, families, small businesses, and non-profits with Unclaimed Property will be printed in more than 100 publications across the state.

“Our team works hard every single day to financially empower Missourians by returning the money they are rightfully owed,” Schmitt said. “One in ten Missourians have Unclaimed Property, and this public awareness initiative is one of the many creative ways we work to get abandoned money back to its rightful owners. I encourage all Missourians to visit ShowMeMoney.com to see if they or someone they know has money waiting to be claimed free of charge.”

Missouri law requires these notices be published annually in order to list the names of individuals whose Unclaimed Property valued at $50 or more has been turned over to the State Treasurer’s Office in the past year.

Individuals, families, small businesses, and others can check to see if they have Unclaimed Property on ShowMeMoney.com. They can also sign up for email notifications when new assets come in matching their information and send notifications to family and friends to let them know about money being held in their name.

Treasurer Schmitt has returned more than $13.5 million to over 50,000 account holders since taking office in January. The average Unclaimed Property return is around $300.

Fireworks Season Will Run June 20th – July 10th in City of Memphis

As the Independence Day holiday approaches, the Memphis Police Department is reminding city residents of ordinances related to the discharge of fireworks in city limits.

Fireworks may be discharged from June 20 – July 10th from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. That coincides with the permitted sales period.

Fireworks are prohibited on public property, including parks and the municipal lakes. It is unlawful for any person to discharge any fireworks within the city limits of Memphis, except upon their own property or upon property whose owner has given his/her consent. It is also illegal to recklessly discharge fireworks in such a manner that the explosion of the same will be likely to endanger or cause injury or damage to any person or property within the city limits of Memphis.

Any person violating any of the provisions of the city’s fireworks ordinance shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine not exceeding $500 or by imprisonment in the City or County Jail not exceeding ninety 90 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment; provided, that in any case wherein the penalty for an offense is fixed by a Statute of the State, the statutory penalty, and no other, shall be imposed for such offense.

Memphis Man Facing Charges Following Motorcycle Crash

A Memphis man is facing numerous charges following a motorcycle crash on Route MM Tuesday evening.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the accident occurred at 7:30 p.m. on June 13th, a half mile south of the Highway 136  intersection, just south of Memphis.

Russell B Matthew, 34, was southbound on Route MM on a 1993 Suzuki 500 motorcycle when the vehicle ran off the right side of the roadway and overturned. Matthew sustained moderate injuries in the crash. He was transported via patrol car to Scotland County Hospital.

Matthew was ticketed for driving while intoxicated, no valid license, leaving the scene of an accident, child endangerment, failure to wear approved headgear and failure to drive on right half of the roadway.

The Patrol was assisted at the scene by the Memphis Police Department and the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office.

Large Hail Storm Pounds Scotland County

Chrissy Myers put the hail to the ruler test, topping out at two inches in diameter.

Some brief power outages and several downed tree limbs  were all that law enforcement had to report following Saturday’s severe weather that hit northeast Missouri, but the real damage reports started rolling in Monday at local insurance offices.

The National Weather Service reported “Severe thunderstorms tracked across eastern Iowa, northeast Missouri, and north central Illinois Saturday afternoon and evening. Large hail, torrential rain, and damaging winds up to 65 mph were reported.  Very large hail fell in Muscatine, IA and Antioch, MO, where golf ball and baseball size hail was reported respectively.”

The heavy rains and high winds did minimal damage in Scotland County, but hail ranging in size from golf ball to as big as baseballs, was reported, leading to hundreds of claims for hail damage to vehicles, homes and businesses.

Local insurance agents and auto body repair specialists indicated it is too early to offer a  solid estimate for storm damages, but several speculated that with anywhere from 300 to 500 damaged vehicles and a smaller number of hail damaged homes and businesses, the total could easily eclipse $1 million.

At approximately 7:15 p.m. Saturday evening, the frozen precipitation hit the City of Memphis. Trained storm spotters reported hail up to two-inches in diameter, with reports and photos of larger bundles of ice making their rounds via social media.

Kris Lister collected this assortment of hail stones at his Memphis residence on Mi-Lor Street.

The storm continued east, with similar damage reports out of Kahoka and Clark County around 7:45 p.m.

More than 2 inches of rain was reported during the storm, with the hail dissipating as the storm left Missouri, but still resulting in significant rainfall in southeast Iowa and eastern Illinois.

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