January 26, 2012

Group Seeking to Return One of Only Three Remaining Pheasant Airplanes to Birthplace



Dr. Harlo Donelson stands in front of a H-10 Pheasant biplane that is housed in New York. Efforts are underway to buy the plane and return it to Memphis, where it was originally manufactured.


More than 80 years ago, a group of area residents joined forces to help the community take flight, literally. Now, numerous community boosters with similar vision are making every effort to land a piece of this town's history back home for good.

In the late 1920's Memphis was home to the Pheasant Airplane Company. An untimely accident and a financial downturn that devastated the entire nation, made the venture short lived. Despite its brief tenure as the community's top manufacturer, the airplane builders put Memphis on the map.

On a recent trip to New York, a local dentist discovered that a big piece of this local history could be had for the right price.

Dr. Harlo Donelson took time out his Christmas trip to visit his son, to do some special sight-seeing. Doc had learned of a fully-functional Pheasant airplane, which was on display at the Bayport Aerodrome Museum.

"There are only three of these planes still in existence as far as anyone can tell," said Donelson. "One is in Wisconsin, one in Canada and this one in New York. Not only did I get to see her, but I got to touch her and boy is she a beauty."

As his words demonstrate, Donelson quickly fell in love with the plane. Anyone that knows Doc, knows he is not shy when it comes to promoting his community. Before he had departed the hangar, the plan had been hatched to return the plane to its birthplace.

"Somehow, some way, we are going to get that gal back to Memphis," Donelson stated.

Just weeks after returning to Memphis, the tales of the plane and its availability had led to the formation of a committee to make the dream come true.

Local pilot Fred Clapp is heading up the group that consists of numerous other flyers and community boosters.

The first task at hand will be raising the estimated $75,000 it will take to purchase the plane from owner Tim Dahlen of Vintage Aero Collection.

The plane was originally restored by Bill Schwenk of Southampton, NY. According to a November 22, 2007 article in the Southampton Press, the then 94-year-old sold the plane to Dahlen and his partner, Ed Katzen. As part of the transaction, Dahlen concluded the 77-year journey for the former owner, by taking Schwenk for a flight in the 1927 biplane.

Schwenk reportedly had purchased the plane back in 1930 from a Southampton junkyard for the price of $50. Over the years, the new owner worked to restore the plane, ultimately completing the task, but not before his age prevented him from flying it himself.

The news article indicated the plane had been owned by an East Hampton family, but following a crash, was sold to the junkyard, where it was reclaimed by Schwenk in 1930.

While it took nearly 80 years for the plane to change ownership for the third time in its life, local boosters are hoping the fourth transaction occurs much more rapidly.

At a January 14 meeting of interested parties, a steering committee was formed with Clapp, Fred Cordray, Jason Glass and Stan Myers charged with organizing a governing board and seeking 501c3 IRS status as a tax exempt entity.

A fund raising committee was also established with members Ronnie Brown, H Middleton, Peggy Brown and Laura Schenk. A checking account has been established for the group and donations are already pouring in.

Another key task for the group will be transportation and storage if the plane's purchase can be secured. Glass and Larry Wiggins were assigned the duty of identifying suitable temporary storage as well as determining requirements for a permanent display location.

The group will meet again on January 27 at the Scotland County Rotary Building at 6 p.m. New members and prospective donors are encouraged to attend.

Airplane Builder Plays Big, Albeit Brief, Part in Memphis History



A local pilot's teaching abilities at the outset of our nation's aeronautical era likely were at the root of one of the area's historical highlights.

In the 1920s, prospective flyers from across the nation were traveling to Memphis to study under the tutelage of pilot Lee R. Briggs, who opened a flight school in 1925. The pages of the Memphis Democrat and the Memphis Reveille, the region's two newspapers at that time, are filled with stories of reports of Briggs's exploits as a flyer and a teacher of the skill with students coming from as far away as Canada.

Once trained in the art of flying, the new pilots offered a captive market for airplane sales. Early on, the news stories indicate Briggs filled the needs by buying and selling the vehicles, but ultimately the idea was born to build a better plane right here in Memphis.

News broke in the June 6, 1927 edition of the Memphis Democrat of plans to form the Pheasant Airplane Corporation to build a new biplane designed by Orville Hickman of Lomax, IL.

The new business was housed in the garage of the Briggs & Son Ford dealership on the northeast corner of the Memphis square (the current Payne Funeral Chapel property).

The first model H-10 biplane "rolled off the assembly line" in August and pilot Harold Phillips was the first to take a Memphis-made plane airborne, as reported in the August 18, 1927 Memphis Reveille. Shortly after, well-known local pilot Leslie Smith, put the plane to a full test of stunts, "pronouncing the Pheasant as superior to any plane in its class."

A full-page ad in Aviation magazine resulted in hundreds of inquiries about the plane, and within months a number of contracts were arranged for salesmen to handle dealership rights in states across the Midwest.

By October 1927, the newspaper reported seven planes had been contracted for construction, and by November of that year the workforce at the plant had more than doubled to 25 employees, with projected output of a plane per week.

Tragedy struck the company in December, when founder Lee Briggs and a student, Otis Oliver, of Versailles, OH, were killed when they fell an estimated 1000 feet from a plane, that later crash landed.

A December 8, 1927 article in the Memphis Democrat indicated that Oliver was piloting the plane, and reportedly banked the plane too sharply, causing it to overturn and ejecting the two pilots.

Inspections by the U.S. Army and the Commerce Department ruled the accident was no fault of the plane, and manufacturing continued despite the resignation of Hickman. W. H. Raines was elected the new board president.

The company became bogged down awaiting official approval from the federal government's aviation department to certify and approve the planes design, which finally was received in April of 1928.

While waiting, in March of 1928, the company relocated to the O.O. North Building (the current Tri-State Used Furniture building) west of the southwest corner of the square.



Craftsmen work on wing assembly for a Pheasant H-10 bi-plane being constructed in Memphis. This photo was taken in the new workshop, located on the second floor of what is now the Tri-State Used Furniture Store.


Well known Wisconsin pilot, S. J. Wittman, arrived in Memphis in April and quickly became a champion of the Memphis-built planes. He became one of the company's leading salesman, as more than half a dozen Pheasants were flown home to Wisconsin buyers. Other planes were sold, including one that ultimately landed in Prince Alberta-Saskatoon, Canada.

Despite the solid sale numbers, the company fell into a capital crunch, and investors decided to offer the corporation for sale as opposed to extending further local investments. In July of 1928, a call was made for added stock sales to raise the capital investments from $10,000 to $40,000.

Meanwhile Wittman was gaining national notoriety for the Pheasant. He entered his plane in a trans-continental race from Long Island to Los Angeles, and finished ninth, despite featuring one of the race's smaller horse-powered motor.

Despite some limited initial success in reorganizing the company under local stockholders, the Pheasant Airplane Company was ultimately sold to T.W. Meiklejohn of Fondulac, Wisconsin, an associate of Wittman. The plant was relocated to Fondulac in May of 1929, but reportedly no planes were ever built there following the stock market crash later that year that took its toll on commerce across the nation and the Great Depression began.

Leo Brown of Memphis reported in documentation on file with the Scotland County Library, that a total of 37 Pheasant bi-planes were built in Memphis.

Similar history provided by former plant worker Herb Prather, seems to affirm those numbers, as his documented estimates were 30-36 planes built in Memphis. Correspondence from Wittman to Prather in April of 1980, did dispute the fact that no planes were built in Wisconsin, as the former test pilot, informed Prather that he believed three new ships were built in Wisconsin. Further investigation may have revealed that these were the new monoplane version, whose prototype was developed in Memphis.

Of the estimated three dozen H-10's built in Memphis, only three are believed to remain. One is on display at the EAA's Pioneer Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, near the site of the transplanted factory. The second is on display at the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon, Canada. The third, currently in New York, hopefully will be on display in Memphis in the not-too-distant future.

2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Cattle Show

 

Taylar Eggleston-Wood exhibited the Grand Champion Female of the 2016 Junior Cattle Show with her cow and calf entry. She is pictured with her sister Tasha and SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

Taylar Eggleston-Wood exhibited the Grand Champion Female of the 2016 Junior Cattle Show with her cow and calf entry. She is pictured with her sister Tasha and SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

 

Kassie Bulen took home the Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Rate of Gain trophies from the 2016 Junior Cattle Show. She is pictured with her grandfather George Bulen.

Kassie Bulen took home the Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Rate of Gain trophies from the 2016 Junior Cattle Show. She is pictured with her grandfather George Bulen.

 

Hannah Dunn exhibited the Reserve Champion Market Animal of the 2016 Junior Cattle Show. She also showed the Grand Champion Bull.

Hannah Dunn exhibited the Reserve Champion Market Animal of the 2016 Junior Cattle Show. She also showed the Grand Champion Bull.

 

The Class 1 Showmanship winner from the 2016 SC Fair Cattle Show was Jessica Huff.

The Class 1 Showmanship winner from the 2016 SC Fair Cattle Show was Jessica Huff.

 

The Grand Champion Market Animal of the 2016 SC Fair Junior Cattle Show was exhibited by Jared Dunn.

The Grand Champion Market Animal of the 2016 SC Fair Junior Cattle Show was exhibited by Jared Dunn.

 

Jillian Crane took home the Class II Showmanship Award from the 2016 Junior Cattle Show.

Jillian Crane took home the Class II Showmanship Award from the 2016 Junior Cattle Show.

 

Tasha Eggleston-Wood exhibited the Reserve Champion Bull of the 2016 SC Fair Junior Cattle Show.

Tasha Eggleston-Wood exhibited the Reserve Champion Bull of the 2016 SC Fair Junior Cattle Show.

 

The Dairy Showmanship Award went to Corbin Kirchner.

The Dairy Showmanship Award went to Corbin Kirchner.

 

Megan Kirchner showed the Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Dairy Females and the Grand Champion Dairy Steer during the 2016 Junior Cattle Show.

Megan Kirchner showed the Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Dairy Females and the Grand Champion Dairy Steer during the 2016 Junior Cattle Show.

 

The Reserve Champion Female of the 2016 Junior Cattle Show was exhibited by Will Montgomery.

The Reserve Champion Female of the 2016 Junior Cattle Show was exhibited by Will Montgomery.

 

2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show

Luke Triplett (assisted by Abby Blessing) showed the Grand Champion Pair of Market Lambs at the 2016 Junior Sheep Show.

Luke Triplett (assisted by Abby Blessing) showed the Grand Champion Pair of Market Lambs at the 2016 Junior Sheep Show.

 

Avery and Gabe Shultz showed the Reserve Champion Pair of Market Lambs at the 2016 Junior Sheep Show.

Avery and Gabe Shultz showed the Reserve Champion Pair of Market Lambs at the 2016 Junior Sheep Show.

 

The Grand Champion Market Lamb of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show was exhibited by Taylar Eggleston-Wood.

The Grand Champion Market Lamb of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show was exhibited by Taylar Eggleston-Wood.

 

The Grand Champion Ewe of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show was exhibited by Sadie Davis.

The Grand Champion Ewe of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show was exhibited by Sadie Davis.

 

Morgan Blessing earned the 2016 Junior Showmanship award for the Junior Sheep Show.

Morgan Blessing earned the 2016 Junior Showmanship award for the Junior Sheep Show.

 

Brianna Kraus showed the Reserve Champion Ram at the 2016 Scotland County Fair.

Brianna Kraus showed the Reserve Champion Ram at the 2016 Scotland County Fair.

 

Katie Miller exhibited the Champion Katahdin at the 2016 Sheep Show.

Katie Miller exhibited the Champion Katahdin at the 2016 Sheep Show.

 

Clara Davis showed the Grand Ram at the 2016 Scotland County Fair. She also received the Grand Champion Rate of Gain award for the show.

Clara Davis showed the Grand Ram at the 2016 Scotland County Fair. She also received the Grand Champion Rate of Gain award for the show.

 

Baleigh Phillips exhibited the Grand Champion Rate of Gain exhibit (two exhibitors tied for the top rate of gain) at the 2016 Junior Sheep Show.

Baleigh Phillips exhibited the Grand Champion Rate of Gain exhibit (two exhibitors tied for the top rate of gain) at the 2016 Junior Sheep Show.

 

The Reserve Champion Ewe of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show was exhibited by Abby Blessing.

The Reserve Champion Ewe of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show was exhibited by Abby Blessing.

 

Kaylyn Anders was named the Round Robin showmanship champion of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show. She also claimed the Senior Showmanship honor and exhibited the Reserve Champion Market Lamb. Kaylyn is pictured with 2016 SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

Kaylyn Anders was named the Round Robin showmanship champion of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show. She also claimed the Senior Showmanship honor and exhibited the Reserve Champion Market Lamb. Kaylyn is pictured with 2016 SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

2016 Scotland County Junior Goat Show

The Charles B. Green Memorial Award ($150 toward the purchase of a goat) at the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show went to Hailee Darcy. She is pictured with 2016 SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

The Charles B. Green Memorial Award ($150 toward the purchase of a goat) at the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show went to Hailee Darcy. She is pictured with 2016 SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

 

Anna Triplett was crowned the Round Robin showmanship champion at the 2016 Junior Goat Show. She is pictured with 2016 SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

Anna Triplett was crowned the Round Robin showmanship champion at the 2016 Junior Goat Show. She is pictured with 2016 SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

 

Beau Triplett earned the Junior Showmanship award at the 2016 Junior Goat Show. He also exhibited the Grand Champion Doe.

Beau Triplett earned the Junior Showmanship award at the 2016 Junior Goat Show. He also exhibited the Grand Champion Doe.

 

The Reserve Champion Rate of Gain Trophy for the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show went to Dane Blessing.

The Reserve Champion Rate of Gain Trophy for the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show went to Dane Blessing.

 

Hugh Baker showed the Grand Champion Buck at the 2016 Scotland County Fair. He also exhibited the Reserve Champion Wether and the Reserve Champion Doe.

Hugh Baker showed the Grand Champion Buck at the 2016 Scotland County Fair. He also exhibited the Reserve Champion Wether and the Reserve Champion Doe.

 

Jenna Blessing exhibited the Grand Champion Market Wether of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show.

Jenna Blessing exhibited the Grand Champion Market Wether of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show.

 

The Champion Rate of Gain Trophy for the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show went to Kara Mallett. She also showed the Reserve Champion Buck.

The Champion Rate of Gain Trophy for the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show went to Kara Mallett. She also showed the Reserve Champion Buck.

 

Nova Cline earned the Senior Showmanship award at the 2016 Junior Goat Show.

Nova Cline earned the Senior Showmanship award at the 2016 Junior Goat Show.

2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Dog Show

Carlee Smith and Bullet won the Beginner Novice 13 & Under division.

Carlee Smith and Bullet won the Beginner Novice 13 & Under division.

 

Tasha Eggleston-Wood earned the Overall Showmanship and Showmanship 14 & Over trophies as well as the Agility 14 & Over win at the 2016 Junior Dog Show. Clara Davis and Skippy won the pre-Novice 13 & Under division.

Tasha Eggleston-Wood earned the Overall Showmanship and Showmanship 14 & Over trophies as well as the Agility 14 & Over win at the 2016 Junior Dog Show. Clara Davis and Skippy won the pre-Novice 13 & Under division.

 

Clara Davis and Skippy won the Pre-Novice 13 & Under division.

Clara Davis and Skippy won the Pre-Novice 13 & Under division.

 

Anna Triplett and Mazy took top honors in the Canine Agility 13 & Under class at the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Dog Show. The duo also earned the Showmanship 13 & Under trophy.

Anna Triplett and Mazy took top honors in the Canine Agility 13 & Under class at the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Dog Show. The duo also earned the Showmanship 13 & Under trophy.

 

Erica Yarbrough and Buster took first place in the Pre-Novice 14 & Over class.

Erica Yarbrough and Buster took first place in the Pre-Novice 14 & Over class.

 

Taylar Eggleston-Wood and Dan won the Novice II 14 & Over category with a score of 185 out of 200.

Taylar Eggleston-Wood and Dan won the Novice II 14 & Over category with a score of 185 out of 200.

Sealing Operations Will Temporarily Close Route B

HANNIBAL – Weather permitting, August 1, MoDOT crews will temporarily close Scotland County Route B between the Iowa state line and U.S. 136 from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for sealing operations.

Please use alternate routes during this time.

Again, this work is weather dependent and could be delayed or rescheduled. 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.

August 2nd Election to Decide School Tax Levy, Two County Races

vote

The August 2nd primary election will decide a pair of Republican races for local offices and also will feature the return of a tax levy issue for the Scotland County R-I School District.

Local voters who take the Republican ballot in the open primary election, will decide the party’s nomination for County Assessor. Incumbent Jim Ward faces a challenge from Lisa Grubb for the party’s nomination for the position.

Residents in the western district of Scotland County will also have the chance to decide the Republican nominee for Western District Commissioner. Incumbent David Wiggins is being challenged by George Owings.

While the Democratic and Republican ballots feature a number of state races for U.S. Senator, Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer and Secretary of State, the lone other local issue to be decide is Proposition 1. The school district tax-levy question will appear on all ballots. Individuals not wishing to cast a Democratic, Republican, Libertarian or Constitutional Party may select a non-partisan ballot, which will only have the Proposition 1 question.

Proposition 1, if approved, would allow the Scotland County R-I School District to borrow $3.3 million to build an early childhood development center and make other upgrades at the high school and elementary school. The process would be funded by a $0.33 debt service levy increase.

Voters previously had turned down a $4 million tax levy question from the school district in April by a 628 to 505 margin and a $5 million tax levy proposal was shot down in November 2014.

This spring the Scotland County R-1 School Board of Education used results from more than 200 public survey responses to help fashion the current levy proposal. The board scaled back some of the original proposals after more than 20% of the survey respondents indicated they did not support particular points in the initial bond issue, particularly spending on extracurriculars such as a new all-weather track and new lights for the baseball, softball and football fields.

Many of those items were removed from the current tax levy proposal, helping to lower the total cost to $3.3 million and decrease the tax levy hike from $0.40 to the current proposed levy rate increase of $0.33.

Scotland County Senior Nutrition Center

MENU

Thursday, July 28 – Meatloaf, Mixed Vegetables, Cauliflower/Cheese Sauce, Bread, Peach Crisp

Friday, July 29 – Catfish Nuggets, Macaroni Salad, Baked Beans, Cornbread, Strawberry Shortcake

Monday, August 1 – Chicken Strips, Scalloped Cabbage, Buttered Corn, Bread, Apple Crisp

Tuesday, August 2 – Tenderloin/Bun, Onion Slice, Pasta Veggie Salad, Green Beans, Watermelon and Cantaloupe

Wednesday, Aug. 3 – Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes/Gravy, Spinach, Wheat Roll, Jell-O Fruit

Thursday, August 4 – Taco Salad, Lettuce, Beans/Chips, Tomatoes, Peas, Applesauce, Cookie

ACTIVITIES

Thursday, July 28 – Card Party at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 4 – Card Party at 5:00 p.m.

Heat Wave, Visitors, and a Sad Farewell

Althea hugging a duck. Photo by Ben.

Althea hugging a duck. Photo by Ben.

Howdy. Ben here, bringing y’all news from the storm-swept prairies, soggy draws, and humid homes of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. It certainly has been an eventful week here, though to be honest I haven’t had an uneventful one yet in my four years of time on farm. I’ll just stick with the formula y’all have come to expect and give you the weather report first.

We’ve spent the past week enduring a nasty heat wave here, with temps pushing towards a hundred degrees Fahrenheit, intense humidity, and still, stale, boggy air. The top eight inches or so of our swimming pond are unsettlingly warm, like broth. The fish might not bite under such conditions, but the crawdads are really nipping my toes these days during my daily cool downs at the old swimmin’ hole.

The sole motivation for completing my afternoon chores is the mere thought of our animals running low on fresh water. Come three in the afternoon, the barnyard is reminiscent of a ghost town, ducks and chickens peering from beneath the shade of cedars and sheds, the pigs nearly completely submerged in their wallows.

Other telltale signs that this is the height of summer include the whine and drone of cicadas, the emergence of partridge peas out in the field, and a sudden abundance of blackberries, perhaps the most I’ve ever seen since I’ve been here. In our kitchen co-op we’ve had enough for pie, wine, and consistent, daily snacking. Still, there’s more on the way. The paths are speckled with blackberry scat, perhaps belonging to possum or raccoon.

The only thing I’m more abundant in than berries is flies. It has been a banner fly year. I’m not sure if you’d call it a good fly year, or a bad fly year, but let’s just say there’s a fair few of ‘em. Appreciative as I am of all forms of biomass, I could stand to have fewer flies tickling my ankle hairs and landing on my baby during naps, but I’ll just remain thankful I’m not a goat on pasture, as they’re also seeming quite annoyed, stomping and shaking in the midday sun. Bring on the spiders, I say.

The mud daubers agree, as they busily take clay from our cob buckets and construct nests stuffed with paralyzed little orchard spiders, the living meals for their young. Such strange, fascinating things, these itty bitty critters do.

As of yesterday evening the sweaty, nasty, dense haze of summer moved out for now, pushed along by a swift, torrential storm, complete with corn-flattening winds. Here at Critter Kitchen, dinner was about to be served. In addition to our usual crew of diners, I was preparing a meal for about a dozen or so visitors. Dinner would be the usual fare, turnip fritters, collard greens, and pintos. Yum yum.

Keep in mind that our kitchen is outdoors, and has only one wall. Caleb hollered down from his tree house that a storm would be blowing in shortly, but being tired of this same old story (we’ve had many rains inexplicably navigate around us this year), I shrugged it off as I added yet more grease to my turnip cakes.

Then came the rumble and roar of thunder, a creaking of tree limbs, and intense, horizontal rain. The sorta rain that hurts. Five-gallon buckets, cloth diapers, feed sacks, tin cups, leaves and thorny little sticks all started whipping about. I might’ve seen a chicken set a flight record.

This is about the time all the visitors showed up. After a few moments of sorting out the sensible and unsensible desires of this crew, most folks headed to our root cellar on the count of three. It can fit a lot of people when there’s no food in there.

Eventually, the severe weather subsided, I checked on the toilet paper, the livestock, the rain gauge, and dinner, in that order, and after a few more moments spent picking up and drying off our plates, we had a swell time eating greasy turnip patties, joking and dripping wet.

While some folks have a preference for slightly more formalized get-to-know-you type activities and conversations, these are the kinds of bonding moments that I appreciate about our visitor sessions: sharing in the experience of the natural elements, be they as pleasant as the taste of wild berries, or rough as the late July heat followed by an intense gullywasher. Nobody, as far as I figure, makes it through Dancing Rabbit without at least a little mud on ‘em. You ought to come on and try it some time. The mud you have at home ain’t quite the same.

After a storm, especially a windstorm, a common sight in our village is helpers. A handful of folks will usually walk about, check on people, animals, tents, and homes for signs of damage, and help out if an outhouse needs propped up, or if some laundry needs to be found somewhere out there in a three-acre radius, or if some scattered chickens or goats need herded. I’d like to think of us as a community of helpful doers. No one can probably help me with my windblown tomatoes, or my wet toilet paper, though.

Sadly, I must announce that one of our helpful doers has passed into the next cycle of existence. Dennis Hoffarth, my neighbor and good friend, and a very helpful doer well before Dancing Rabbit was even an inkling of an idea, was laid to rest here one week ago.

Anyone who’s spent time with Dennis can tell you that he was a tireless worker for change, a dedicated builder of hope, and the sort of idea man who was willing to walk his talk. That is not to mention that he was a truly fun friend to work with, and funny as hell, too.

I can only attempt to memorialize Dennis from my own point of view, as I know his impact was felt in innumerable ways, by innumerable people. I will probably always think of him when I’m riding or tuning a bike, training my left hand to saw as well as my right, or hoisting an improbably large object into the air.

In my first year here at DR, I had the opportunity to work on the frame and foundation of Robinia, the home he built with his partner Sharon, and in that time I was introduced to concepts as mundane yet useful as shims and kerfs, and some greater, deeper ideas, about how to treat people and the planet with thoughtfulness and respect. I myself, and many others, will miss his wit, observations, and ideas. I aspire to be near as helpful a doer as he was.

For a person dedicated to cooperation, Dennis did things against the grain, at least when that was beneficial for all of us. One of his major pursuits in that department was practical, functional bicycling. Before it was cool for grown adults to ride around on bikes (ok, it’s always been cool, just not hip), Dennis was talking that talk, and walking it too.

Maybe peddling the pedal, would be the appropriate wordplay. He paved the way for whippersnappers like me to ride bikes safely and meaningfully. That’s why it seemed obvious that he ought to be brought to his final rest by bike. Supported by many friends, family, and neighbors, Dennis took his final ride last Monday morning, as well-secured cargo on our community bike trailer. Many helpful doers made preparations for the burial site and ceremony, and even more were on hand and available for the necessary help and support in Dennis’ final days. I lack the words for all y’all. Maybe just thanks, and I’m sorry, and love you.

An ecovillage, by definition, is meant to be a fully featured settlement. We have the occasional need of midwives, and yes, the occasional need of undertakers. A few hours after Dennis was laid to rest, our July visitor session began, and although we had let them know by email and phone what the community was going through, I am sure that many of them became more immediately aware that Dancing Rabbit was in a place of tenderness and mourning. I hope that they see it as a place of great caring, too.

Death sure can be scary, and it is coming for all of us at some point. What happens after that ain’t none of my business.  I’d like it to come for me in a place like this, where the experience can be shared and felt more equally, where we can be as present for the dying as we can be for the children growing up in the world that the dying have given us.

And Dennis wanted to give us a better world for growing up in. I cannot help but look at my own kids, one of them fierce, free, and occasionally sweet, the other one basically either sleeping, laughing, or crying, but typically drooling, and hope that all of us together are going to build the world that others have so thoughtfully dreamt up for us. Happy trails, neighbor.

* * *

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and educational nonprofit outside Rutledge, MO, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. We offer public tours of the village on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month, April-October; the next is Saturday, August 13th at 1 pm. Reservations not required. Tours are free, though donations to help us continue our educational and outreach efforts are gratefully accepted. For directions, call the office at 660-883-5511 or email us at dancingrabbit@ic.org. To find out more about us, you can also check out our website: www.dancingrabbit.org.

Area Families Stepping Up to Meet Needs of 57 Foster Children

Efforts of local families are meeting the needs of 57 area foster children in Scotland, Clark and Schuyler counties, but more foster parents are needed.

Efforts of local families are meeting the needs of 57 area foster children in Scotland, Clark and Schuyler counties, but more foster parents are needed.

In Clark, Schuyler, and Scotland Counties there are currently 57 children who are not able to live with their own family due to safety concerns.  Foster families provide a safe, comfortable and caring haven for these children during this traumatic time.  Staying connected to familiar and reassuring things, such as friends, school, and routine activities, helps lessen the stress and change a child must cope with in his or her young life.

“It is through the commitment of foster parents that children who have been abused or neglected are able to remain in their community in a safe and nurturing environment,” said Rachelle Curry, MSW, Circuit Manager.

Unfortunately, remaining in the community is not always an option if a foster family is not available when a child comes into care. Some children must go to a neighboring community, far from the community they know.

“We are always in need of more families who will open their hearts and homes to children in Clark, Schuyler, and Scotland counties,” said Curry. “Foster parents make children feel safe, nurtured, and loved, and they provide support for children and families during a challenging time in their lives.”

Anyone can apply to become a foster parent in Missouri, as long as they are 21 years old and willing to go through the training and assessment process.  That process includes background checks, health screenings, financial discussions and home assessments.

“You don’t have to be married or own your own home,”‘ said Curry. “As long as your housing and income are stable and meet licensure standards and there is room in your home and heart for more family members, you are likely to be approved.”

There are other ways to support children living in foster families in your community, and Curry said she and her staff will be happy to work with community members to explain how to donate items or personal time to support children in foster care.

To learn more about foster foster parenting or ways to get involved, visit http://www.MOheartgallery.org or call Laura Babington at 660-727-3393, ext 229, or 1-800-554-2222 for more information.

“The Missouri Children’s Division would like to thank everyone in Clark, Schuyler, and Scotland Counties for their generosity and support of foster families during our foster parent appreciation activities this year,” said Curry. “We have outstanding foster parents and it was a wonderful opportunity to recognize their dedication to helping children in foster care.”

Recently a local a pool party was held to demonstrate appreciation to foster parents and the children they are supporting. The following local businesses donated to help make it fun and memorable event: Casey’s General Store, Community Bank of Memphis, Exchange Bank of Kahoka, Memphis Pizza Hut, Scotland County Ministerial Alliance, Scotland County Pharmacy, People’s Bank of Wyaconda, Shelter Insurance – Tim Bertram, and Vigen Memorial Home of Kahoka.

Edina Woman Hurt in Crash Near Baring

An Edina woman was injured in a one-vehicle crash near Baring early on Monday morning. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Jessica L. Leckenby, 37, suffered moderate injuries in the crash that occurred at 6:35 a.m. on July 25th.

Leckenby was southbound on Highway 15, two miles south of Baring when the 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer she was driving went off the right side of the roadway and struck a ditch before overturning. Leckenby was flown from the scene by Air Evac helicopter to Northeast Regional Medical Center in Kirksville.

The Patrol was assisted at the scene by the Baring Fire Department, Knox County Fire and Rescue, and the Knox County Ambulance Service.

The vehicle sustained total damage and was removed from the scene by Lakeside Towing of Memphis.

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