April 4, 2013

MDC, Federal Agents Snag Major Paddlefish Poaching Operation



Local conservation agents were among the officers involved in a huge operation that resulted in more than 100 citations and arrests following a two-year investigation into illegal taking and selling of paddlefish and paddlefish eggs. Photo courtesy of MDC

Known as the "Paddlefish Capital of the World," Warsaw, Missouri, is a favorite area for many of Missouri's approximately 16,000 sport paddlefish snaggers because of its location along the Osage River.

Agents with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), including Scotland County agent Gary Miller, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) discovered that the Warsaw area is also a favorite location for paddlefish poachers.

A cooperative undercover investigation by the two agencies recently resulted in more than 100 suspects from Missouri and eight other states being issued citations and/or arrest warrants for state and federal crimes related to paddlefish poaching.

Missouri's official state aquatic animal, paddlefish are an ancient species. Also called spoonbills, they can grow up to seven-feet long and weigh 160 pounds or more. Paddlefish are valued as a sport fish for both their size, and for eating. Paddlefish are also valued for their eggs, or roe, which are eaten as caviar.

The section of the Osage River running along Warsaw in Benton County is a paddlefish hot spot because it is blocked upstream by Truman Dam. When spawning paddlefish reach the dam, their route is blocked and their numbers increase dramatically. This dramatically increases sport anglers' chances of snagging the big fish with a random jerk on a fishing line equipped with large hooks.

This concentration of female paddlefish laden with eggs also makes Warsaw a prime location for paddlefish poachers to get the fish eggs for national and international illegal caviar markets.

"The national and international popularity of Missouri paddlefish eggs as a source of caviar has grown dramatically in recent years," said MDC Protection Chief Larry Yamnitz. "This is a result of European sources of caviar having declined from overfishing of the Caspian Sea's once plentiful and lucrative beluga sturgeon, another species of fish known for its caviar."

Caviar is a delicacy created by preserving fish roe in special salts. According to MDC, about 20 pounds of eggs or more can be harvested from a large, pregnant female paddlefish. Retail prices for paddlefish caviar vary. A current common retail price is about $35 per ounce.

"Caviar prices in illegal or black markets also vary," Yamnitz said. "A common black-market price is about $13 an ounce. Therefore, a single large female paddlefish with about 20 pounds of eggs is carrying about $4,000 worth of potential caviar for black market sales."

Over the course of March 13 and 14, approximately 85 conservation agents of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), 40 special agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USWFS), and wildlife officers from other states contacted more than 100 suspects in Missouri and eight other states to issue citations, execute arrest warrants, conduct interviews and gather additional information regarding a paddlefish-poaching investigation.

The effort included eight individuals indicted for federal crimes involving the illegal trafficking of paddlefish and their eggs for use as caviar. Other states involved were Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

The arrests and citations were the result of a multi-year joint undercover investigation by MDC conservation agents and special agents of the USFWS involving the illegal commercialization of Missouri paddlefish and their eggs for national and international caviar markets. The undercover investigation ran during the spring 2011 and spring 2012 paddlefish seasons, March 15 through April 30. It was based out of Warsaw, Missouri. Additional MDC conservation agents and federal agents supported the undercover operation.

"Sport anglers may only catch two paddlefish daily and the eggs may not be bought, sold or offered for sale," Yamnitz explained. "Extracted paddlefish eggs may not be possessed on waters of the state or adjacent banks and may not be transported. Paddlefish and their eggs may be commercially harvested only from the Mississippi River."

He added that through the undercover operation, agents were able to identify suspects engaged in wildlife violations involving the illegal purchase, resale and transport of paddlefish and their eggs, document other violations of the Missouri Wildlife Code in addition to the core investigation, and determine that paddlefish eggs harvested in Missouri were being illegally transported out of the state for redistribution.

Federal crimes tied to the poaching involve violations of the Lacey Act. The Act makes it a federal crime to poach game in one state with the purpose of selling the bounty in another state and prohibits the transportation of illegally captured or prohibited wildlife across state lines.

MDC and the USFWS worked with the Benton County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, the Benton County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Department of Justice on the investigation.

Identification of suspects in violation of state wildlife charges is pending legal filings. Copies of the federal indictments may be obtained from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas City.

The investigation began with tips from the public about illegal activities.

"Individuals from the Warsaw area first alerted us to potential paddlefish poaching in the area," said Yamnitz. "We are grateful to them, and encourage anyone spotting suspected illegal fishing or hunting activity to contact their local conservation agent, or call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111, 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous and rewards are available for information leading to arrests."

Paddlefish are highly valued by both sport anglers and commercial fishermen. Through Missouri Department of Conservation stocking efforts at three large reservoirs, Missouri offers some of the best paddlefish snagging fisheries in the U.S. The reservoirs are at Lake of the Ozarks and its tributaries, Harry S. Truman Reservoir and its tributaries, and Table Rock Lake and its tributaries, primarily the James River arm.

Without MDC's stocking of these fisheries, and other paddlefish management practices, paddlefish numbers would sharply decline in Missouri's reservoirs, reducing opportunities for sport snaggers.

In the past, paddlefish were naturally abundant in Missouri, but their numbers declined because of channelization, damming, impoundments and other river modifications. These modifications have greatly diminished the natural habitat paddlefish need to reproduce in the wild.

Today, paddlefish in Missouri must be stocked. The Missouri Department of Conservation stocks about 45,000 hatchery-produced 10-12-inch-long paddlefish fingerlings each year in Missouri's three main paddlefish locations: Table Rock Lake, Truman Lake and Lake of the Ozarks.

Paddlefish can grow to a length of about seven feet, weigh up to 160 pounds or more, and live 30 years or more. Females grow larger and heavier than males. It takes about 6-8 years for a paddlefish to reach legal harvest size (34-inches) in Missouri's large reservoirs. Female paddlefish reach sexual maturity at 8-10 years and spawn every 2-3 years. Male paddlefish reach sexual maturity at 4-5 years and spawn annually. The egg masses of female paddlefish can be up to 25 percent of their body weight, with a large female paddlefish carrying about 20 pounds of eggs, or roe.

Paddlefish live mostly in open waters of big rivers and were historically found in the Mississippi, Missouri and Osage rivers, along with other streams. Paddlefish spend most of the year dispersed throughout large reservoirs and rivers until warm spring rains increase flows and raise water temperatures, which prompts the big fish to swim upstream on their spawning run. Spawning runs occur in late spring at times of increased water flow. It is triggered by a combination of daylight, water temperature, and water flow.

For more information about paddlefish, visit www.mdc.mo.gov.

Eight Indicted for Trafficking of Paddlefish 'Caviar'



WASHINGTON -Eight individuals face federal charges stemming from a joint U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Missouri Department of Conservation investigation of interstate and international trafficking in paddlefish "caviar," the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri announced. Arkadiy Lvovskiy, Dmitri Elitchev, Artour Magdessian, Felix Baravik, Petr Babenko , Bogdan Nahapetyan, Fedor Pakhnyuk, and Andrew Praskovsky have been charged in four, separate indictments in the Western District of Missouri for acts that occurred in 2011 and 2012.

The American paddlefish (Polydon spathula), also called the Mississippi paddlefish or the "spoonbill," is a freshwater fish that is primarily found in the Mississippi River drainage system. Paddlefish eggs are marketed as caviar. Paddlefish were once common in waters throughout the Midwest. However, the global decline in other caviar sources, such as sturgeon, has led to an increased demand for paddlefish caviar. This increased demand has led to over-fishing of paddlefish, and consequent decline of the paddlefish population.

Missouri law prohibits the transportation of paddlefish eggs which have been removed or extracted from a paddlefish carcass. Missouri law also prohibits the sale or purchase, or offer of sale or purchase, of paddlefish eggs. There are also several restrictions on the purchase and possession of whole paddlefish in Missouri.

Among other things, the Lacey Act makes it unlawful for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase fish that were taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any State, or to attempt to do so. Such conduct constitutes a felony crime if the defendant knowingly engaged in conduct involving the purchase or sale, offer to purchase or sell, or intent to purchase or sell, fish with a market value in excess of $350, knowing that the fish were taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of, or in a manner unlawful under, a law or regulation of any State.

Arkadiy Lvovskiy, 51, of Aurora, Colorado, Dmitri Elitchev, 46, of Centennial, Colorado, Artour Magdessian, 46, of Lone Tree, Colorado, and Felix Baravik, 48, of Aurora, Colorado, were charged with conspiring with each other, and others, to violate the Lacey Act, and with trafficking in paddlefish and paddlefish eggs in violation of the Lacey Act. The indictment alleges that in the spring of 2011 and 2012, the defendants traveled to Warsaw,

Missouri, where they engaged in multiple, illegal purchases of paddlefish and processed the eggs from those paddlefish into caviar. After processing the paddlefish eggs into caviar, the defendants transported the caviar from Missouri to Colorado. The indictment further alleges that, during the interstate transportation, the defendants engaged in counter-surveillance efforts in order to avoid being detected.

Petr Babenko, 42, of Vineland, New Jersey, and Bogdan Nahapetyan, 33, of Lake Ozark, Missouri, were charged with conspiring with each other and other individuals to violate the Lacey Act, and with trafficking in paddlefish and paddlefish eggs in violation of the Lacey Act. The indictment alleges that between March and April 2012, the defendants traveled to Warsaw, Missouri, where they engaged in multiple, illegal purchases of paddlefish and processed the eggs from those paddlefish into caviar. After processing the paddlefish eggs into caviar, they transported the caviar from Missouri to New Jersey.

Fedor Pakhnyuk, 39, of Hinsdale, Illinois, is charged with two counts of trafficking in paddlefish and paddlefish eggs in violation of the Lacey Act. According to the indictment, in the spring of 2011 and 2012 Pakhnyuk traveled from Illinois to Missouri for the purpose of obtaining paddlefish eggs. The indictment alleges that Pakhnyuk procured paddlefish eggs by purchasing them, and by performing processing services for other persons in exchange for a share of the processed eggs. After processing the paddlefish eggs into caviar, Pakhnyuk transported the caviar from Missouri to Illinois. The indictment alleges that Pakhnyuk also attempted to form an enterprise with other individuals that would market processed paddlefish caviar at markets in Chicago, Illinois.

Andrew Praskovsky, 40, of Erie, Colorado, is charged with two counts of trafficking in paddlefish and paddlefish eggs in violation of the Lacey Act. According to the indictment, in March and April 2012, Praskovsky twice traveled to Warsaw, Missouri, for the purpose of purchasing paddlefish. After processing the paddlefish eggs into caviar, Pakhnyuk transported the caviar from Missouri to Kansas. The indictment alleges that, in April 2012, Praskovsky attempted to export some of the paddlefish eggs in checked luggage on an international flight departing from Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC. The paddlefish eggs were seized at Dulles, as paddlefish eggs may only be exported if they are accompanied by a valid permit issued by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service under the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

If convicted, the individual defendants face a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and a $250,000 fine per count, as well as forfeiture of any vehicles that were used during the commission of the crimes.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation, with assistance by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys James B. Nelson and Adam C. Cullman of the Department of Justice's Environmental Crimes Section and Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence E. Miller of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri.

An indictment is a formal accusation and is not proof of guilt. Defendants are presumed innocent until and unless they are found guilty.

Lady Tigers Drop Two of Three at Schuyler Tourney

 

Maddie Brassfield slides into second base.

Maddie Brassfield slides into second base.

After dropping two of three games at the Schuyler County Tournament on Saturday, the Scotland County softball program returned from Lancaster under the .500 mark on the season with a 7-8 record.

SCR-I got off to a  horrible start Saturday morning. After leaving the bases loaded in the top of the first, Knox County jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the frame, taking advantage of a pair of SCR-I errors as well as a home run.

Chelsea Wood singled and Stevi See walked with two outs in the third inning before Ashleigh Creek cracked a triple to trim the deficit to 5-2.

Another two-out rally in the sixth inning made the final score 5-3. Kaylyn Anders singled and scored when Abby Blessing reached on an error.

Creek pitched six innings, allowing just one earned run on seven hits and a walk while striking out five.

Wood went 2-3 with a walk and a run scored. Creek was 1-2 with two RBIs.

In game two, freshman Kaitlin McMinn got her first varsity pitching victory as SCR-I rallied for a 9-5 win over Brashear.

SCR-I fell behind 4-0 before Wood and See singled in the third and scored on a two-run hit by Creek.

The fifth inning put SCR-I over the top as Abi Feeney reached on an error and scored on a double by Wood. Creek added an RBI triple before Maddie Brassfield was hit by a pitch and scored on a base hit by Abby Blessing to make the score 6-5.

Creek took over in relief and notched the save with two scoreless innings of work.

Abby Blessing fires in a throw from center field.

Abby Blessing fires in a throw from center field.

SCR-I tacked on three more runs in sixth. Wood and See singled in front of a three-run homer by Creek to make the final score 9-5.

McMinn allowed two earned runs in four innings of work on four hits and three walks.

Creek struck out four in two innings of relief. She was 3-4 at the plate with six RBI and finished a single short of the cycle after hitting a double, triple and homer.

Wood was 3-4 and See went 2-4 as SCR-I finished with 10 hits after a slow start.

The consolation game slipped away from Scotland County as the host team broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning en route to the 5-4 win.

Schuyler County took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on an SCR-I error.

Abi Feeney singled and came in to score when Wood reached on an error to trim the deficit to 2-1.

Creek singled in the fourth inning and courtesy runner Hailey Darcy stole second base and came in to score when Anders reached on an error.

In the sixth, Creek smacked her second homer of the day to trim the lead to 5-3.

Katie Feeney squeezes a throw at first base on the bunt attempt.

Katie Feeney squeezes a throw at first base on the bunt attempt.

Julie Long reached on an error to start the seventh and pinch runner Khloe Hamlin stole second before scoring when Abi Feeney reached on an error. Wood doubled but SCR-I stranded the winning run at second base as the Rams held on for the 5-3 win.

Creek took the loss, despite not allowing an earned run. She held Schuyler County to five hits and three walks while striking out seven.

Lady Tigers Knock Off Novinger 15-1

abi-novinger

After a slow start Monday night, the Scotland County softball team came on strong late to close out Novinger 15-1 in five innings of play in Memphis.

Abi Feeney was hit by a pitch to lead off the game and stole second base. She scored on an RBI single to give SCR-I a 1-0 lead.

Stevi See reached on an error and scored on an RBI ground out by Creek in the third to extend the lead to 2-0.

Novinger trimmed the deficit to 2-1 in the top of the fourth inning when a walk  led to a run on a wild pitch.

But SCR-I closed the door on any rally with a huge fourth inning that saw the Lady Tigers send 17 batters to the plate en route to scoring 13 runs.

Abby Blessing and Katie Feeney had RBI singles to start the rally before Abi Feeney delivered an RBI triple. Chelsea Wood followed with a double  before Creek drove in another run with a two-bagger. See also contributed an RBI single during the onslaught.

Creek finished off the five-inning no-hitter with a one-two-three inning to record the victory. The junior allowed one run on no hits and three walks while striking out 11.

SCR-I improved to 8-8 on the season with the win.

Rams Outlast Lady Tigers 2-1 In Defensive Battle

Shortstop Abi Feeney makes a throw to first from her knees after one of her several nice defensive plays at Lancaster.

Shortstop Abi Feeney makes a throw to first from her knees after one of her several nice defensive plays at Lancaster.

Tuesday night saw an old-fashioned pitching duel in Lancaster backed up with plenty of defensive gems. Unfortunately for the Lady Tigers, Schuyler County was the last one standing in the 2-1 defeat.

Scotland County took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Abi Feeney led off with a walk. With two outs, she was able to score all the way from first base when Ashleigh Creek reached on an error on an errant throw from third base that got by the first baseman.

Schuyler County came right back in the bottom of the frame. The Rams led off the inning with a blooper that landed and died between the pitcher and home plate for an infield single. After a wild pitch and a sacrifice bunt, Megan Haley delivered an RBI ground out to knot the score at 1-0.

After that point, pitchers Ashleigh Creek and Dystine Priebe locked horns, putting up zeros on the scoreboard.

Ashleigh Creek fields a bunt and fires to Katie Feeney at first base to record the out.

Ashleigh Creek fields a bunt and fires to Katie Feeney at first base to record the out.

SCR-I managed a base runner each inning until the sixth, but was unable to advance anyone past first base. Julie Long singled in the second, but was stranded. Stevi See and Abby Blessing walked in the third and fourth innings before Abi Feeney got a base hit in the fifth, but Priebe worked out of the jams, in large part thanks to nine strikeouts.

Her defense helped out a bit, as center fielder Brooke Whitton made a fine running grab in deep center field to rob Creek of extra bases in the third and Haley made a nice catch to rob Chelsea Wood of a hit in the fifth.

Creek matched the zeroes, albeit with a little more effort, struggling a bit with wild pitches that had the Lady Rams with runners in scoring position every inning.

Priebe singled and moved to second on a wild pitch in the second inning. Abi Feeney ended the threat with a diving grab on a line between short and third base.

The senior shortstop made back-to-back put outs in the third to leave a runner at third base. Maddie Brassfield then made a defensive gem at first base to end the threat in the fourth.

Schuyler County finally broke through for the winning run in the fifth inning. A leadoff single followed by a passed ball and a wild pitch allowed the Rams to score on a sacrifice fly.

Long smacked a one-out single in the seventh, her second hit of the contest, but Priebe closed out the rally to secure the 2-1 win for Schuyler County.

Scotland County fell to 6-5 on the season and 4-3 in the Lewis & Clark Conference.

Creek pitched six innings and allowed two runs, one earned on five hits and no walks while striking out three.

Priebe held SCR-I to just three hits and three walks over seven innings, surrendering just the one unearned run.

Rutledge School Building Sold

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The Village of Rutledge sold the school to the Restoration Society for $1.00 on Tuesday, September 20th at 12:00 p.m.  Those at the closing were Society members L to R Lyle Otte, Reva Hustead, Charlene Montgomery, Gwen Ludwick, Bob Hunolt, Dorothy Hunolt, Elaine Forrester, Betty Lodewegan, Lynn McClamroch,  (Keith Zimmerman and Carol McCabe from the Village) and Leon Trueblood.

Grand Hall Singspiration in Memphis

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The Rabers, part of the By Grace Ministry, will be hosting a Grand Hall Singspiration in Memphis at the Grand Hall, across from the BP Station, 418 E. Grand, on Sunday, October 2nd at 7:15 p.m.  They are also hosting a Men of Valor men’s meeting on Monday, October 3rd at 7:15 p.m.  Everyone is welcome and admission is a free will offering.  For more information about the By Grace Ministry, visit www.bygraceministry.com.

Area Children Enjoy Games at Annual Rutledge Fall Festival

The annual Rutledge Fall Festival was held Saturday, September 17th and several area children enjoyed participating in various games.  Karl DeMarce emceed the games this year.

Balloon Toss winners in the six to eight division included Trevor and Evan Tague (1st), Kadence Burnett (2nd), and Craig Pflum and Cole Mazziotti and Nina Knepp (tied for 3rd).  In the nine and over division winners were Owen and Lucas Durflinger (1st), Hunter Holt and Aden Aldridge (2nd), and Aaron McDaniel and Hugh Baker (3rd).

Shoe Kick winners in the five and under division were Natalie Tague (1st), Travis Tague (2nd), and Ethan Pflum (3rd).  In the six to eight division winners were Evan Tague (1st), Cole Mazziotti (2nd), and Nina Knepp, Trevor Tague and Cole Pflum (3rd).  In the nine and over division winners were Owen Triplett (1st), Riley Small (2nd), and Lucas Durflinger (3rd).

Running Race winners in the five and under division were Landon Davis (1st), Kinze Mallett and Travis Tague (2nd), and Natalie Tague (3rd).  In the six to eight division winners were Kaden See (1st), Cole Mazziotti (2nd), and Evan Tague and Nina Knepp (3rd).  In the nine and over division winners were Owen Triplett (1st), Hunter Holt (2nd), and Lucas Durflinger (3rd).

Egg Race winners in the five and under girls’ division were Kenzie Mallett (1st), Nora Guthrie (2nd), and Natalie Tague (3rd).  In the boys’ division winners were Travis Tague (1st), James Guthrie (2nd), and Clay White (3rd).  In the six to eight girls’ division, winners were Natalie Howerton (1st), Kayla Pflum (2nd), and Tegan Mallett (3rd).  Boys’ division winners were Trevor Tague (1st), Kadence Burnett (2nd), and Craig Pflum (3rd).  In the nine and over division, winners were Braydon Tietjens (1st), Aden Aldridge (2nd), and Owen Triplett and Lucas Durflinger (3rd).

Afternoon games included a Kiddie Tractor Pull, Tug-of-War Race and the Shirley Chancellor Memorial Hot Cookie Race.

SCR-I School Menus

Breakfast

Thursday, Sept. 29 – Breakfast Burrito, Choice of Cereal, Toast/Jelly, Orange Wedge/Grapes, Juice/Milk

Friday, September 30 – Sausage/Gravy Biscuits, Choice of Cereal, Blueberry Muffin, Banana, Juice/Milk

Monday, October 3 – Waffles, Choice of Cereal, Cinnamon Biscuit, Apple Wedges, Juice/Milk

Tuesday, October 4 –Cinnamon Rolls, Choice of Cereal, Toast/Jelly, Orange Half, Juice/Milk

Wednesday, October 5 – Ham/Cheese/Croissant, Choice of Cereal, Toast/Jelly, Fruit Medley, Juice/Milk

Thursday, October 6 – Breakfast Burrito, Choice of Cereal, Toast/Jelly, Orange Wedge/Grapes, Juice/Milk

Lunch

Thursday, Sept. 29 – Spaghetti/Meat Sauce, Chicken Wrap, Hamburger Bar, Green Beans, Garlic Bread, Sliced Peaches, Fresh Fruit

Friday, September 30 – Sack Lunch Today – HOMECOMING

Monday, October 3 – Chicken Ala King/Biscuit, Juicy Burger/Bun, 5th/6th Grade Chef Salad, Onion Rings, Peas, Mandarin Orange Slices, Fresh Fruit

Tuesday, October 4 – Cheeseburger/Bun, Tenderloin/Bun, 5th/6th Grade Taco Bar, Oven Ready Fries, Tomato Slices and Pickles, Applesauce, Fresh Fruit

Wednesday, October 5 –Country Fried Steak, Chicken Alfredo, 5th/6th Grade Potato Bar, Whipped Potatoes/Gravy, Broccoli/Cheese Sauce, Dinner Roll, Sliced Pears

Thursday, October 6 – Beef ‘N’ Tator Bake, Chicken Wrap, Hamburger Bar, Green Beans, Dinner Roll, Pineapple Tidbits, Fresh Fruit

Scotland County Senior Nutrition Center

MENU

Thursday, Sept. 29 – BBQ or Plain Pork/Bun, French Fries, Cauliflower Blend Veggies, Mandarin Oranges, Cake

Friday, September 30 – Hot Beef Sandwich, Mashed Potatoes/Gravy, Coleslaw, Buttered Carrots, Pudding

Monday, October 3 – Juicy Burger/Bun, French Fries, Mixed Vegetables, Cottage Cheese, Peaches

Tuesday, October 4 – Roast Pork/Stuffing/Gravy, Sauerkraut, Green Beans, Slice Bread, Cake

Wednesday, October 5 – Chicken Strips, Mashed Potatoes/Gravy, Buttered Carrots, Hot Roll, Fruit Salad

Thursday, October 6 – Meatloaf, Macaroni Salad, Buttered Broccoli, Applesauce, Bread, Glazed Donut

ACTIVITIES

Thursday, Sept. 29 – Card Party at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 6 – Card Party at 5:00 p.m.

Special 100-Year Homecoming Services This Weekend at First Christian Church

The Memphis First Christian Church will be hosting Homecoming Services to celebrate the completion of the current church building (located on corner of Jones and Main Streets) which was completed in 1916.  The celebration will take place this weekend –  September 30- October 1-2, 2016.

Phillip Gore and Tim Hawkins former ministers of the Memphis First Christian Church will be the speakers for the Sunday, October 2, morning worship service, and former Memphis resident Terry Rush will speak at the closing service on Sunday afternoon.  Following the morning service, there will be a luncheon served.

There will also be services on Friday, September 30, beginning at 7:00 with a “Linger Longer” fellowship time after the service.  On Saturday, October 1, there will be a barbecue at 5:00 with services beginning at 6:30.

Special music for the services will be provided by the Gateway Singers and Paul Burton and Mercy’s Bridge Band, a country gospel group.  The Planning Committee for the Church Homecoming Celebration will share historical information about First Christian Church as part of the three special services.

Members of the community are cordially invited to attend all of the services and meals for the celebration.

Mayor Reckenberg Proclaims Constitution Week, Sept. 17 – 23, 2016 in Memphis

Memphis Mayor William Reckenberg was joined by members of the Jauflione Chapter of the NSDAR to sign a proclamation declaring Constitution Week in Memphis.

Memphis Mayor William Reckenberg was joined by members of the Jauflione Chapter of the NSDAR to sign a proclamation declaring Constitution Week in Memphis.

On Friday, September 23, 2016, Mayor William Reckenberg signed and issued a proclamation announcing September 17 through 23, 2016 to be Constitution Week in Memphis, and asks our citizens to reaffirm the ideals the Framers of the Constitution had in 1787.

The Proclamation reads as follows:

Whereas, September 17, 2016 marks the two hundred and twenty-ninth anniversary of the drafting of the Constitution of the United States of America by the Constitutional Convention; and

Whereas, it is fitting and proper to officially recognize this magnificent document and the anniversary of its creation; and

Whereas, it is fitting and proper to officially recognize the patriotic celebrations which will commemorate the occasion; and

Whereas, public law 915 guarantees the issuing of a proclamation each year by the President of the United States of America designation September 17 through 23 as Constitution Week;

NOW THEREFORE, I, William Reckenberg, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the City of Memphis in the County of Scotland do hereby proclaim September 17 through 23, 2016 as CONSTITUTION WEEK and ask our citizens to reaffirm the ideals the Framers of the Constitution had in 1787 by vigilantly protecting the freedoms guaranteed to us through this guardian of our liberties, remembering that lost rights may never be regained.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of Memphis to be affixed this twenty-third day of September in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen.

The United States Constitution stands as a testament to the tenacity of Americans throughout history to maintain their liberties and freedoms and to ensure those unalienable rights to every American.

In 1955 the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) petitioned the Federal Government to dedicate September 17-23 as Constitution Week.  Congress adopted the resolution and on August 2, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into Public Law 915.  DAR Chapters have been observing Constitution Week various ways since then.  The local Chapter, Jauflione, places a display in a store window to remind the public of the Constitution and its significance to our way of life.  The city Mayor also issues a proclamation declaring Constitution Week.  This is an annual reminder of the inalienable rights the Constitution affords all Americans.

The aims of the celebration are to:  (1) Emphasize citizen’s responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution, (2) Inform people that the Constitution is the basis for American’s great heritage and the foundation for our way of life and (3) To encourage the study of the historical events which led to the framing of the Constitution in September 1787.

Written in 1787, the Constitution was signed September 17th.  But it wasn’t until 1788 that it was ratified by the necessary nine states.

The Constitution is a living document, being amended 27 times.  Of the written national constitutions, the U.S. Constitution is the oldest and shortest.

Jauflione Chapter, NSDAR helps keep alive the memory of the men and women who secured the Nation’s independence, whose bravery and sacrifice made possible the liberties Americans enjoy today.

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