■ It’s taken the better part of a decade, but the Jefferson County Council finally enacted regulations against tall grass and overgrown weeds. The council voted 4-3 Dec. 9 to amend the county’s ordinances to include noxious weeds and tall grass in the list of public nuisances. The ordinance already covered 14 other issues, including trash, demolition debris, scrap metal, derelict vehicles, tires, appliances, broken furniture and dead animals. Noxious weeds, which are defined under state law, include kudzu, various thistles, Johnson grass and marijuana. Tall grass in the ordinance is defined as being 20 inches or higher. See Steve Taylor’s Page 1 story.
■ Ten years to the day after the death of his wife, Dava, Gary Doyen of De Soto began writing a book about their life together. His memoir, titled “I’m Sorry, It’s Pancreatic Cancer,”was published earlier this year. It is based largely on the four journals his wife filled with her thoughts and feelings over the course of her illness. “You think it is going to be sad, but it’s more about their love and how they lifted each other,” said Sarah Pearson, the youngest of their four daughters. “Don’t get me wrong, when I read it I was crying my eyes out. But it is just the most amazing love story – their strength, their loyalty for each other. It is very sweet.” See Laura Marlow’s Page 1 feature story.
■ Joe Willis, currently principal of Festus Middle School, has been named the new assistant superintendent of the Dunklin R-5 School District. His last day at Festus Middle School in the Festus R-6 School District is June 30 before taking over his new position July 1. “Mr. Willis is a knowledgeable, hard-working, positive leader that will make us better as a district,” said Clint Freeman, currently the Dunklin R-5 deputy superintendent. Freeman will take over as the district’s superintendent July 1 after Stan Stratton retires from the position the day before. The Dunklin Board of Education unanimously voted to hire Willis at its Dec. 9 meeting. Willis was chosen out of 19 applicants. See Kevin Carbery’s story.
■ About 225 diners had some tough choices to make at the seventh annual Leader Holiday Dinner, held Dec. 13 at the Viking Cafe on the JeffersonCollege campus in Hillsboro. But, for many diners, the sweet tooth won out, giving a De Soto home cook a repeat grand-prize win – although 20 years later. Joyce Shepherd, 72, was the winner of the first-ever Leader Holiday Recipe Contest, held in 1999. This year, she won the dessert category and then was voted Best in Show for her Sea-Salted Coffee Toffee Bars. Sponsored by Leader Publications and the Jefferson College Foundation, the dinner featured a six-course meal, entertainment by the Jefferson College Jazz Combo, food demonstrations by some of the college’s culinary arts students and door prizes. See Laura Marlow’s story.
■ The Arnold City Council has revoked the business licenses for Arnold Express Market, 542 Jeffco Blvd, and the Sky Lounge, 469 Jeffco Blvd. The city previously had suspended the licenses after the businesses were cited by Arnold Police for allegedly selling tobacco, vaping-related items or alcohol to minors. “Our police officers are enforcing the law that we created, and we need to support them,” Mayor Ron Counts said. “Selling any tobacco or alcoholic product to underage children is against the law. We should not be tolerating it. I am proud of our councilmen who revoked their business licenses. I think it was the right thing to do.” The council voted unanimously Dec. 12 to revoke the licenses following a hearing that allowed representatives from the two businesses to argue their cases for lifting the suspension of their business licenses. See Tony Krausz’s story.
■ People flocked to Kimmswick for the annual Old-Fashioned Christmas Festival and Cookie Walk, held Dec. 6-8, said Betteanne Smith, president of the Kimmswick Merchants Association. She estimated between 5,000 and 6,000 people participated in the event, which had businesses staying open late each of the three days. “It was probably our busiest ever,” said Smith, who has owned the Mississippi Mud Gallery and Gift Shop for 13 years. See Tony Krausz’s story.
■ Want to find out which local public servants made Santa’s Nice List? See Peggy Bess’ column in the Editorial section, where letters dwell, once again, on Trump.
■ Jason Gillman spent nine years as an assistant to Dan Johnson, and the two Hillsboro coaches won a lot of games and district championships together. On Dec. 13, they were on opposite benches for the first time when Gillman, now the head coach at Windsor, met Johnson and the Hawks in the semifinals of the 64th Gene Steighorst Tournament. Read Sports editor Russell Korando’s column to see what happened next.
*** It’s mellllting! Oh, yeah.