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.

Happy Red Hatters Meet in Memphis

The Happy Red Hatters of Downing, MO had lunch at the Scotland County Nutrition Center in Memphis on August 10, 2017.

 The hostess was Carolyn Schmitter, Those present were Bette Herbert, Marilyn Blessing, Betty Anderson, Arlene Stice, Carolyn Schmitter, Margaret Mobley, Louise Newland, Rosalie Kinney, and Maudie Oliver.

 The September 7, 2017 meeting will be held at the Downing Appreciation Days Building.

SCR-I School Menus

Breakfast

Monday, August 21 – French Toast Sticks, Choice of Cereal, Toast/Jelly, Fruit Medley, Juice/Milk

Tuesday, August 22 – Donuts, Choice of Cereal, Toast/Jelly, Fruit Medley, Juice/Milk

Wednesday, August 23 – Bacon/Egg/Cheese Sandwich, Choice of Cereal, Toast/Jelly, Orange Half, Juice/Milk

Thursday, August 24 – Breakfast Burrito, Choice of Cereal, Toast/Jelly, Orange Wedge/Grapes, Juice/Milk

Lunch

Monday, August 21 – Hot Dog/Bun, Bar BQ Ribb/Bun, 5th/6th Grade Chef Salad, Potato Rounds, Pork and Beans, Mandarin Orange Slices, Fresh Fruit

Tuesday, August 22 – Cheeseburger/Bun, Tenderloin/Bun, 5th/6th Grade Taco Bar, Oven Ready Fries, Buttered Corn, Sliced Peaches, Fresh Fruit

Wednesday, August 23 – Pork Choppette, Chicken and Noodles, 5th/6th Grade Potato Bar, Whipped Potatoes/Gravy, California Blend Vegetables, Dinner Roll, Sliced Pears, Fresh Fruit

Thursday, August 24 – Spaghetti/Meat Sauce, Chicken Fajitas, Hamburger Bar, Green Beans, Garlic Bread, Sliced Peaches, Fresh Fruit

Local Students Graduate With Honors From MU

Kathryn Mary Howard of Memphis was among the 2017 spring graduates at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Howard graduated with Cum Laude honors with a Bachelor of Health Science degree.

Jeremy Wiggins of Kahoka graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, BSBA with an emphasis in management as well as an undergraduate certificate and multicultural studies certificate.

Avery Shultz Selected to Perform with National FFA Band at 2017 National Convention & Expo

Avery Shultz, a member of the Memphis FFA chapter in Memphis, Missouri will be on stage and in the spotlight Oct. 25-28 during the 2017 National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis.

Shultz, a sophomore and the daughter of Trent and Amy Shultz, has been selected to play flute in the National FFA Band.

Shultz submitted an audition tape and was selected to help bring full instrumental balance to the band from a pool of applicants nationwide.

The National FFA Band will perform several times during the national convention and expo.

Shultz will join fellow band members in Indianapolis for rehearsals three days before the convention and expo begins. Dow Agrosciences sponsors the National FFA Band.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 649,355 student members who belong to one of 7,859 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 225,891 alumni members in 1,934 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.

About National FFA Organization

The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 649,353 student members as part of 7,859 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is supported by 225,891 alumni members in 1,934 local FFA Alumni chapters throughout the U.S. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online at FFA.org and on Facebook, Twitter and the official National FFA Organization blog.

The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that recognize FFA member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agricultural education. Governed by a 19-member board of trustees composed of educators, business leaders, individual donors and FFA Alumni, the foundation is a separately registered nonprofit organization. About 82 percent of every dollar received by the foundation supports FFA members and agricultural education opportunities. For more, visit FFA.org/Give.

St. Louis Group Searches for Historic Civil War Battle Site

Members of the Gateway Metal Detecting Club of St. Louis display their first find of the day, what is believed to be a Union bullet, during a recent search in the Bible Grove area for the site of the Civil War Battle of Vassar Hill. Bible Grove resident Jordan Dunn (left) helped facilitate the recent outing.

More than 150 years ago the sounds of gunfire rang out across the hills and valleys of southern Scotland County as America’s Civil War found its way to rural northeast Missouri in the form of the Battle of Vassar Hill.

While the struggle isn’t found in most Civil War history books as the 28 confirmed casualties didn’t likely have much impact on the war’s outcome, it remains an interesting part of local history.

In an effort to help confirm some of the lore surrounding the fighting, members of the St. Louis Metal Detecting Club recently visited the Bible Grove area in search of artifacts that might help determine the actual battle sites.

Bible Grove resident Jordan Dunn, who took part in the search process, shared some of the history surrounding the county’s Civil War conflict.

“Fifteen miles south of Memphis, near the town of Bible Grove, there was a skirmish fought between Confederate and Union troops on July 18, 1862,” he said. “Confederate riders had set out from Memphis and rode south, where they would set up an ambush on the old Memphis-Kirksville road.”

Dunn, who is a history major at Truman State University in Kirksville, spent this summer doing an internship at the Missouri Civil War Museum in St. Louis.

Dunn said the battle began as the 125-man Confederate force dug into Vassar Hill, waiting for the 280 Union soldiers to cross the North Fabius River and fall into their attack.

History tells that with each series of volleys, the Confederate men would fall back to a new defensive position and wait for the Union commander to order another advance. For two hours this went on, the valley filling with smoke, men and horses being killed or wounded.

“Finally the Union commander ordered his men back, believing the Confederate force that he faced to be far superior in number than the reality,” said Dunn.

Union casualties numbered 23 in total with an additional 60 being wounded, compared to the five killed or wounded for the Confederate army.

But inconsistent reports and stories have left the actual location of the Battle of Vassar Hill up for debate.

“Because of the conflicting records there is a chance that the main location of the fighting has yet to be detected,” said Dunn.

Matt Brewer helped facilitate the operation, granting permission for the searchers to access the Brewer farm, while also sharing some of the many different versions of the history, which highlighted no fewer than three possible locations to focus the efforts upon.

Dunn and his family members, including his grandfather Keith, joined the club members, scouring over approximately 20 acres of land. They discovered two Union bullets and four other mini-balls, leading them to believe that more searching could lead to the discovery of where this battle took place over 150 years ago.

Memphis License Office Set to Reopen August 22nd Under New Management

After nearly four months without a local option for driver’s license renewals and motor vehicle registrations, Scotland County will be back in business starting next week.

The Office of Administration, in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Revenue, has awarded the management contract for the Memphis License Office to Kay Eggleston Bookkeeping and Tax.

The four-month downtime notwithstanding, the transition will be fairly simple for customers. The office will continue to be operated at 338 S. Clay Street, adjacent to the bookkeeping and tax office.

Eggleston stated the office would be open from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The first day of business will be Tuesday, August 22nd.

All license office contracts in Missouri are awarded through a competitive bid process through the Missouri Department of Revenue.

According to Michelle Gleba, the state agency’s director of communications, the bid process opened June 1 and ran through June 29 and was handled via the state’s eProcurement System website, where prospective bidders could learn of the availability and generate a bid for the job.

The office officially closed on April 27th. During the approximately four-month period it was not available, Scotland County residents were forced to travel to other area license offices to handle business, with the closest locations being Kahoka, Edina and Kirksville.

Gleba reported that in fiscal year 2016, more than 13,800 transactions were conducted at the Memphis office, generating $45,764 in contractor processing fees.       All local license offices are overseen by the Missouri Department of Revenue, but each is operated by an independent contractor

New Aviation Collection to Highlight Pheasant Airplane Display During 2017 Antique Fair

A new collection of aviation materials is now on display at the Wiggins Family Museum as part of the Pheasant Airplane display. Jack White’s Corner will officially be announced as part of the exhibit during the 2017 Antique Fair festivities next week.

New to the Pheasant Airplane exhibit this year is an extensive aviation collection donated by Jack White of Palmyra. White, who served in the United States Air Force with Scotland County resident Bob Hunolt, took an interest in the historic aircraft manufactured in Scotland County after attending the unveiling ceremony when the original plane was brought back to Memphis five years ago.

The exhibit features numerous books, magazines, and periodicals as well as two display cases of various model aircraft.

The Museum will be open Thursday and Friday during the Antique Fair from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Zelda Keith Memorial Quilt will also be on display at the museum as the raffle ticket drive draws to a conclusion. Tickets will be on sale for the raffle during the Antique Fair, with the drawing set to be held Saturday night, August 26th at the Antique Fair finale.

Seniors Creek, See Looking to Lead Lady Tigers to Elusive Playoff Berth

The Lady Tigers are hoping for plenty of celebrations like this one when they greeted Ashleigh Creek following one of her six home runs in 2016. SCR-I will look to Creek and fellow senior Stevi See (R to L) in helmets) to lead them in 2017.

An upset win over Canton in district semifinals a year ago boosted Scotland County’s softball team one step closer to the state playoffs. But the Lady Tigers fell to Knox County 2-0 in the title game, and the elusive district championship and berth in the state tourney once again  evaded SCR-I.

Will 2017 be the year? A pair of Lady Tigers seniors are hoping so. It will be the final shot for four year starter Ashleigh Creek who will toe the rubber for her final high school season, tossing to her battery mate and three-year starter Stevie See behind the plate.

The talented duo will be leaned upon heavily by coach Cory Shultz if the Lady Tigers hope to extend the season into the playoffs.

They have the talent to do it. Creek posted a miniscule 1.30 ERA a year ago, tossing 151 innings, allowing just 106 hits. She struck out 166 batters while walking 27.

She also handled the bat very well, posting a .346 batting average while bopping six home runs and driving in 29 runs.

See led Scotland County with a .350 batting average while hitting eight doubles and a home run and was second on the squad with 20 RBIs.

The duo will be backed by a completely new infield in 2017, as Shultz will have to replace three graduates who also filled a big part of the top of the lineup surrounding Creek and See. Gone are third baseman Chelsea Wood, first baseman Maddie Brassfield and shortstop Abi Feeney.

Feeney batted just .228 on the year but her bat came to life in the playoffs, when she went 3-4 in the upset win over Canton. Her glove will be the bigger loss, as she helped anchor the infield defense behind Creek.

Wood batted .306, overcoming a slow start to be one of the team’s more feared bats down the stretch. Brassfield  hit .214 on the year, hitting fifth behind Creek in the lineup.

In the preseason, Shultz has kept his lineups pretty fluid, moving a lot of players around on the diamond trying to determine his best defensive lineups.

Junior Khloe Hamlin looks poised to capture the starting shortstop role. Katie Feeney, who started at second base as a freshman, may move across the diamond to man the hot corner to replace Wood. She hit .308 in her debut season, and may take over for her sister in the leadoff spot in 2017.

Filling her spot at second base early on the preseason has been Julie Long, the team starting right fielder last year. Brassfield will be replaced by Madie Bondurant at first base.

Kaylyn Anders will return to handle the left field job alongside Abby Blessing who returns to start in center field. Anders batted .250 a year ago and will be counted on to replace some of the production in the middle of the order.

Freshman Kylee Stott is in the mix for the right field job along with Kaitlyn McMinn, Hailey Darcy and Morgan Blessing.

SCR-I went 14-11 a year ago, with a 4-4 mark in the Lewis and Clark Conference.

The Lady Tigers will open the season on Monday, August 21st, hosting Putnam County. Clark County will come to town on Thursday, August 24th.

VFW Auxiliary Holds August Meeting

Antique Days is coming up so break out those white pants. Those members marching in the parade will meet at the post at 9:30 on August 26th.

Due to the Labor Day holiday, the meeting in September will be moved to the 11th. Join us then at 6:30 at the post.

There will be no stagette this month, but get your appetites ready for details about the co-ed dinner in September.

Scotland County School Foundation

Dear Mr. Editor:

We are writing on behalf of the Scotland County School Foundation. During the past school year we were able to provide four students from Scotland County High School financial assistance to earn college credits through community colleges. This was accomplished through generous donations from local civic groups and individuals who were willing to invest in the future of students with financial need. Our committee has specific guidelines to award the scholarships. The requirements consider financial need through the free and reduced lunch eligibility, above average attendance, above average grades, and recommendations from faculty and community members.

This year we are again seeking donations to fund the dual credit program through the Scotland County School Foundation. The Foundation is a tax deductible 501c program that allows contributions to be earmarked for specific programs. We are hoping that any person or group will join us in contributing to the dual credit scholarship fund. We are not asking for specific amounts, but would be most appreciative of any donation.  If you could make a tax deductible donation, please send a check payable to “Scotland County School Foundation” in care of Ellen Aylward, 367 South Market Street, Memphis, Missouri   63555.

Any support will be highly appreciated by us and the students that receive the scholarships. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us by phone or talk to a Scotland County School Foundation member.

Respectfully,
Rhonda McBee and Julie Clapp

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