Roundup: To Move Forward, We Take A Look Back At 2022

As the year 2022 draws to a close, we at the Enterprise flipped through the files of the big stories here in Benton County.
As the year began, Benton County Health Department administrator Linda Viebrock was named as Benton County's Person of the Year for 2021 by the Benton County Enterprise.    Viebrock has been with the BCHD since its inception in 1975.
Viebrock, who grew up in Cole Camp but moved to Warsaw 35 years ago, said that the BCHD started as a demonstration supported by the state with the purpose of keeping people healthy.   Then in 1975, the taxpayers of Benton County voted to establish the BCHD.
In January, just as Dr. Tony Berry finished up his tenure as the interim Warsaw R-IX Superintendent, Dr. Brent Depee moved into the same  position for the second semester of the school year.  Depee had recently retired as the Superintendent of Schools at School of the Osage when he received the call to take over the head job at Warsaw.
"Warsaw is a very special place to me," said Depee.  "I want to help out and give back to the community who gave so much to me."
Depee's goals for his time in Warsaw was to develop a balanced budget for the coming school year; to attract and hire good people for the next school year and to help Scott Gemes transition into the role of the Warsaw Superintendent of Schools.
On February 1, the Warsaw Chamber of Commerce held their annual State of the Chamber dinner at R*Bar.  Chamber members honored for their service to the Chamber included:  Chuck Allcorn, Jo Ann Lane, Kelly Asbury and Steve Kleihauser.
Well-known Warsaw restaurant owner Kevin LaPittus died suddenly in early February.  LaPittus along with his partner Stacey Salley Taylor founded the R*Bar in 2014.
LaPittus was active in civic affairs and had served as President of the Warsaw Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Lincoln Cardinals defeated Smithton 42 to 35 to take the championship trophy of the Kaysinger Conference Tournament in February.
Also in February, WHS senior Nora McMillin was crowned Courtwarming queen during the Warsaw/Eldorado matchup. Senior Gaven Cunningham was crowned king while Ashlyn Laue was crowned princess and Logan Schockmann was crowned prince.
Warsaw’s Nick Bagley (132), Donovan Campbell (113) and Hudson Karr (152) all advanced to the 92nd Boys MSHSAA Wrestling Championships held at the Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
Jackie and Shirley Stull, of Benton County, were  honored in February with recognition as owners of a Missouri Century Farm. bought by Shirley’s grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. James F. Hopkins, in 1919, for $6,000. 
Warsaw City Alderman, Terry Marshall died February 12 at his home in Warsaw.  Marshall spent much of his working career with fire departments and upon his retirement he moved to Warsaw and became a member of the Warsaw Fire Department.
In March, patients, friends and family of Dr. Donald Allcorn gathered to celebrate the retirement of Dr. Allcorn at the First Baptist Church in Lincoln.  Dr. Allcorn retired from his practice after a 37-year career as the only doctor in Lincoln and one of the very few in Benton County.
As the school year entered the final quarter of the year, new administrators were hired to fill positions for the 2022-23 school year in Benton County.  Cody Wright was hired to replace John Boise Middle School Principal Billy Daleske.  Nathan Parker was hired to take over Wright’s position as WHS assistant principal.  Andrea Curtis was hired to take the position of Cole Camp Elementary principal.  Jonathan Peterson was hired as the Cole Camp High School principal.  Lindsey Tinney was hired as the Cole Camp High School assistant principal.
Warsaw High School senior Rose Baker was honored as the “Hero of the Year” for 2022 at the Missouri Public Safety Communications Conference on March 15.
Baker received the award because of her heroic efforts to save her father’s life during a very stressful family outing.  The Baker family was enjoying a late summer outing on Truman Lake on their jon boat when Baker’s father Roy Baker became ill.
Because of his daughter’s actions, Roy Baker survived the ordeal and recovered in the hospital.
On March 30 the WHS school newspaper (The Wildcat) and the school yearbook (Ozark Echoes) brought home All-Missouri awards from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.  All-Missouri is the top state award for high school journalism staffs. 
Amanda Adler is the advisor of both The Wildcat and Ozark Echoes.
After a two-year hiatus due to Covid restrictions, the Benton County Museum Benefit dinner was held April 8 in St. Ann’s fellowship hall.  One hundred ninety people attended which is one of the largest crowds ever.
On March 15, Loren and Mary Burke lost their home due to a fire which started on their front porch.  The Burke's were alerted to the fire by two young men who had been passing by and saw the flames.  The home was a total loss.
The Lady Bluebirds from Cole Camp claimed the Kaysinger Conference  softball crown on April 9 by defeating the Lincoln Lady Cards 11 to 10.
Also in April, Ethan Mast, 36, of Lincoln pleaded guilty to killing his 4-year-old neighbor, Jessica Mast, who was covered in bruises and broken blisters, in a bizarre attempt to “remove a demon.”  The child was found dead on the floor in an upstairs bedroom of her family’s Benton County home just after 1 a.m. on December 20, 2020, according to probable cause statements in the case.
While Mast has not received his sentence according to Missouri law, second-degree murder is, in essence, a felony murder rule.  It allows prosecutors to allege murder where a defendant commits an underlying felony and, in connection with that underlying felony, a person dies.
Court records show during his appearance, Ethan waived his right to a preliminary hearing and signed a plea deal, the precise contours of which are still unknown. None of the other charges Ethan had been facing have been updated in his record.
Nee Nee’s Italian restaurant on Main Street added a new chef to its staff in April.  WHS graduate Trevor Fajen came home to bring his talents to the restaurant.  Fajen attended Ozark Technical College in Springfield to study culinary arts and graduated in 2018 with a certificate in culinary arts.  
After 48 years of dedication to the health and well-being of area farmers’ and pet owners’ animals, as of May 1, Dr. Don Anstaett retired.
Local residents filled the theatre at the Harry Truman Dam Visitor’s Center on May 5 to listen to the report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about plans for opening the Visitor’s Center and campgrounds around the Harry Truman Dam.
The Visitor’s Center had been closed to the public since the pandemic hit in 2020.  Local residents were invited to a meeting about the USACE’s plans for the various campgrounds, marinas and the visitor’s center.
Many of those in attendance were concerned that the Truman Visitor’s Center would be closed permanently since there were rumors that the government would not appropriate the necessary funds to operate the facility.  However, Bradley Wright, park manager, said that plans were to open the Visitor’s Center this summer on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM.
“We do not have the funding to maintain the Visitor’s Center full time,” said Wright.
May was a time of graduation for all three Benton County high schools.  Riley Warren and Matthew Kreisler were named as the valedictorian and salutatorian of Lincoln High School.  Alyssa Alcantara and Emma Johnson were honored as the valedictorian and salutatorian of Warsaw High School. 
Thirty-one seniors received their high school diploma from Lincoln High School.  Cole Camp held graduation ceremonies for thirty-seven seniors on May 13.   Eighty-five seniors received their diplomas on May 19 from Warsaw High School.  The Class of ’22 at WHS received nearly $1.4 million in scholarship money for their future education.
The Cole Camp High School Golf Bluebird golf team finished their season with a MSHSAA Class 1 state championship after shooting a 678 at the state tournament held at Rivercut Golf Course in Springfield in late May.  
WHS senior Jillian Guiot took first place in the girl’s javelin event at the MSHSAA State Track Championships.  On her first throw of the day, Guiot threw a 39.72m another personal best and new school record, which would prove to be the best throw by any competitor in Class 3. Guiot won the first individual championship for Warsaw in track and field since Kelli Newkirk was the state champion in the high jump in 1996, 26 years ago.
The 4x800m team of George Montez, Nate Banfield, Grant Chapman and Cameron Seevers won All-State honors for WHS with a sixth place finish at the Missouri State meet.
WHS softball players Taylor Howe and Brylee Brewster were selected to the Missouri Class 2 All-State softball team at the end of the season.  Lincoln High School players Jenna Vandaveer and Gracyn Eifert were named to the Class 1 Missouri All-State team.
Crowds lined Main Street of Warsaw on Saturday as the 55th Annual Warsaw Jubilee Days parade welcomed locals and out of towners alike to celebrate.
One of those welcoming everyone to Warsaw Jubilee Days was the Jubilee Days Queen Tatum Bohl.  Bohl was crowned on Thursday night at the Queen contest.  She also won the Talent award with her dance routine.
Jillian Guiot was the first runner up and the winner of the Interview Award.  Breanna Burris was second runner up and Most Photogenic
Callie Pearcy won Miss Congeniality and Best Dress.
Another one of those welcoming everyone to Jubilee Days was the Jubilee Days Princess Amelia Roberts.  Roberts was also the winner of the Interview Award and the Sash Award.
First runner up in the Princess contest was Riley Nevius.  Nevius was also the Talent winner and Most Photogenic.
Second runner up in the Princess contest was Cecilia Shinn.  Shinn also won Miss Congeniality.
The Best Dress award went to Brianna Fellers.
The Jr. Miss title went to Eibhlyn Lawson.  Lawson also won Best Dress and the Talent award.
First Runner up Jr. Miss was Hayden Southerland.  Southerland also won Miss Congeniality and was the sash winner.
Second runner up Jr. Miss was Lily Henderson.  Henderson was also Miss Photogenic.  Jessica Domer won the Top Interview award.
Little Miss Jubilee was Braylee Hatmaker.  First Runner-Up was Bailey Steenbergen.  Steenbergen was also the sash winner.  Second Runner-Up was Ella Anderson.
Little Miss Personality went to Addi Michealson.  Top Interview went to Gwen Boyd and the Costume Winner went to Gwen Boyd.
The Most Photogenic award went to Haven Hinkle as well as the Best Dress award.
Winners of the Jubilee Baby contest were Amelia Riley and Janson Cooner.
Longtime Warsaw Jubilee Days volunteer Paul Shinn was honored with the John Wiest award.
WHS baseball players Nick Bagley and Brady Slavens were selected for the Missouri Class 3 All-State Baseball team while Lincoln's Caden Smallwood was an Honorable Mention All-State selection in Class 2.
The Benton County 4-H FFA Youth Fair was held on June 23-June 25 in Lincoln.  Royalty crowned at the Fair included:  Queen Grace Koenke of the Lakecreek Lamplighters, Cole Camp and Princess Kelsey Viebrock, Lakecreek Lamplighters, Cole Camp.
Well-known Warsaw banker Mary Burke retired from Equity Bank on July 1.  Burke worked in the banking industry for 33 years and retired as the bank manager for the local Equity Bank.
Also in July, Warsaw High School graduate Scott Gemes took over as the Superintendent of School for the Warsaw R-9 District.
Fireworks at Drake Harbor on July 2 were cancelled due to the inability of the pyrotechnic company to be able to set off the displays.
City Administrator Randy Pogue said, “This will be the first year that the City of Warsaw has totally sponsored the fireworks and we are sorry that they will not occur on the July 4th weekend.  Instead of totally canceling the event, the City of Warsaw has contracted with another pyrotechnic company to still provide an opportunity for area residents and visitors to participate in the outdoor experience at Drake Harbor on Friday, August 5.  This will coincide with the annual Benton County BBQ Festival.”
The August 2 primary election brought out a record number of voters.  Benton County voters selected James Kjar for Associate Circuit Judge in the primary with 1985 votes.  Jeremiah Mosley had 732 and Cale Haddock 696.
For State Representative District 57 Republicans Rodger Reedy had 1934 votes while James White had 892.
When she is not out checking the cattle, Edwards resident Leslie Grace is busy at her computer turning out her latest thriller.  Grace, a seventh generation Benton Countian, recently published her first book “Flight Through the Darkness” on Amazon.
“Flight Through the Darkness” is a post-apocalyptic story following four young people faced with trying to survive when the lights go out, and the world they knew changes dramatically.
“I’ve heard that you should write about what you know so I decided to set the story in Missouri,” said Grace.
Grace is currently working on her second novel which will be a follow-up on the story of the young people who travel through Missouri to reach a safe destination in rather difficult times.
The famous Dairy Queen franchise is set to build a store in Warsaw.  Owners Jorge Guevara, his wife Meagan, his sister Patricia and her husband Jose, as well as his mother and father Carolina and Jorge Guevara, were in Warsaw in late July to turn the first shovel of dirt on their land located next to Casey’s at 103 Progress Drive in Warsaw.
“We had many people asking us to look at Warsaw as a possibility for our next Dairy Queen,” reported Jorge Guevara.  “We have a Dairy Queen in Sedalia and we were looking for the right spot for our next venture.”
The Guevara family also owns and operates the Dairy Queen in Sedalia as well as operating all the concessions at the grandstand at the Missouri State Fair.
Thousands of food enthusiasts flocked to Drake Harbor in August to enjoy the 4th Annual Smokin’ on the Harbor Barbecue contest hosted by Benton County Tourism and the City of Warsaw.  There were 25 teams in the master and backyard series with five to si people per team.  Kansas City Barbecue Society judges came from all over the Midwest to participate in the event.
Also in August Cathy and Dave Beyer announced the sale of Sterett Creek Marina, Campground and Motel to Beyonder Corporation.
One of the signs of fall is the annual Cole Camp Fair.  Celebrated for 106 years, members of the Cole Camp community came together once again for the annual fair with the theme of “Best of Show” on September 8 – 10.
Also in September, Lincoln’s Aldermen selected low bidder Ditzfield Container and Trash Service as the city’s solid waste disposal provider.  There were but two bids received, the other was Ozark Disposal.
On Friday, September 30, Jim Kjar was administered the Oath of Office for the position of Associate Circuit Judge for Benton County in the 27th Judicial Circuit.  He replaced Judge Mark B. Pilley who retired in September.
The Warsaw Wildcats defeated the ElDorado Springs Bulldog 40 to 6 at the WHS Homecoming game on September 30.
In October, award winning Charley’s Buffet located between Lincoln and Cole Camp closed their doors for good.  Proprietors Tracy Rupe and Launa Collins reported that the high cost of food as well as the difficulty finding workers led them to the decision to close the popular eatery.
The FBI arrested two men in Benton County on October 7, after an investigation into a planned attack on the Mexico-Texas border as well as Washington, D. C.  Bryan C. Perry, 37, of Clarksville, Tennessee and Jonathan S. O’Dell, 32, of Warsaw were arrested by the FBI and are currently being held in federal custody.
Law enforcement agents closed down a portion of U.S. 65 highway south of Warsaw on Friday as they approached the residence of Jonathan O’Dell at 34154 U. S. Highway 65, Warsaw.  When they identified themselves as the members of the FBI, shots were fired from a window of the O’Dell residence.  An estimated eight or nine rounds were fired from the residence.  FBI agents did not return fire according to the FBI’s affidavit.
Agents said Perry walked out of the house, as if to surrender, then turned back around, but agents were able to take him into custody.
Records from the FBI accuse Perry and O’Dell of posting videos on social media about shooting immigrants, and they accuse Perry of making threats against the government.  According to the FBI, Perry admitted to shooting at FBI agents when they executed a search warrant Friday morning.
Perry is charged with one count of transmitting a threat across state lines to injure another person, one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and one count of forcibly assaulting an FBI agent with a deadly weapon.
O’Dell is charged with one count of transmitting a threat across state lines to injure another person and one count of unlawfully possessing a firearm.
The much-anticipated new playground at Drake Harbor was officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on October 13.  The playground called Steamboat Landing pays tribute to the historical steamboats which docked at Warsaw during the 1800's.
Speakers at the ribbon cutting included City Administrator Randy Pogue who was instrumental in submitting a grant to the Missouri State Parks to build the $226,169 playground on Drake Harbor.
Children from Warsaw North Elementary School walked down the hill for the ribbon cutting to be among the first to use Steamboat Landing.  
New records were set in downtown Warsaw as thousands of visitors attended the 42nd Annual Heritage Days celebration on Drake Harbor and on the historic Kaysinger Bluff.
On Drake Harbor, Warsaw Chamber of Commerce director Mac Vorce reported record crowds.  “We added vendors to Main Street and we were able to host 300 vendors.  That is up 100 vendors from last year.”
Third of June business owner Jonna Arnett was ecstatic about the addition of vendors on Main Street.  “We doubled our sales at our Main Street store from last year,” said Arnett.  “Customers were stopping in the stores on Main Street instead of just going straight down to the Harbor.  We had our rolling store on the Harbor as well, but my Main Street store did the most business this year during Heritage Days.”
Golf carts helped visitors get down to the Harbor and back to their cars with little difficulty.
According to Kaysinger Bluff Pioneer Heritage Association Board president Dan Files, 5,000 wrist bands were sold to visitors riding the buses up to the Kaysinger Bluff area.
“Historic is the only way to describe Heritage Days ’22,” said Warsaw Chamber Director Mac Vorce.  “Our volunteers, city employees, store owners and local citizens came together and worked to make this a very special event.  Five vendors completely sold out of their inventory.  The bluegrass music playing on the Harbor along with the great weather made the weekend one to remember.”
In November Angler’s Port Marine in Warsaw was named a Top 100 Dealer in North America by Boating Industry.
Mac Vorce resigned as the Warsaw Area Chamber of Commerce director on November 30.
During the November Cole Camp City Board meeting, City Attorney Todd Smith advised the Board to enact a three percent marijuana sales tax, now that recreational sales of that product has been approved statewide.
During the special board meeting on December 1, the Warsaw R-IX School District hired Shannon Deckard to be the assistant superintendent for the 2023-24 school year.  Deckard is presently the North School principal.
Downtown Warsaw lost a historic business December 9 as Hawthorn Bank closed its downtown branch after serving their last customer at 1:00 PM.  Subway owner Shana DeJaynes was that final customer in the building which had been a part of the Osage Valley Bank for many years.
According to Market President Chuck Allcorn, there wasn’t enough business at the downtown location to justify keeping it open.
Cold weather and snow hit Benton County as the Christmas season approached. 
Also in December, Kim Pearcy, owner of Creative Palette, was selected as the new Warsaw Area Chamber of Commerce Director.  Pearcy replaces Mac Vorce who resigned in November to become the Sales Director at the Benton County Enterprise.
As we approach 2023, we at the Enterprise wish you a Happy New Year and ask you to keep reading The Benton County Enterprise, your local news source.