Sneak peek, 9-19, Choctaw

Deane Hartsell of Herculaneum has been on a journey of discovery regarding her Native American roots. 

■ Sales tax revenues in Jefferson County, which for the last few years have been increasing at a pace best called “slow but steady,” are starting to level off. September payments to the county from the Missouri Department of Revenue indicate that for the year so far, sales tax revenue is up just 0.52 percent over the same period last year. The state generally distributes sales tax money about five or six weeks after it is collected, so the figures released in early September reflect purchases through mid-July, when the county generally receives a bump in taxes from fireworks sales. In the past, the county was seeing much larger increases from one year to the next, like a 6.51 percent increase in 2014 and 5.57 percent in 2015. See Steve Taylor’s Page 1 story.

■ A promise made to her dying mother set Deane Hartsell of Festus on the road to discovering what she feels is her true identity. Hartsell, 64, grew up knowing she had Native American blood, but it wasn’t until after the death of her mother in 2007 that she was named to the Choctaw Nation and became involved with tribal activities. “All my life my mom talked about her grandfather being a full-blooded Choctaw,” Hartsell said. “She talked about how her grandmother passed on all this native folklore. When my mom was sick and in dialysis, we talked for hours about it.” Hartsell’s mother, Shirley Bang Walker, knew her family was from Mississippi, but not much else. “She insisted all her family was gone,” Hartsell said. “She said, ‘When I die, that’ll be the end of it,’ but I promised her I would find out (about our heritage).”

See Laura Marlow’s Page 1 story.

■ The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has received 38 applications to operate medical marijuana facilities in Jefferson County. On Sept. 11, the DHSS released a list of companies and proposed locations from the 2,272 statewide applications it has received for medical marijuana facilities. Most of those applications were received by the 4:30 p.m. Aug. 19 deadline for state licenses, but 109 of the applicants on the list received a waiver because they missed the deadline because of technical difficulties. The majority of businesses seeking a state license to operate in Jefferson County are for dispensaries, with 25 of those sites proposed. Six applications are for cultivation facilities, five applications are for manufacturing facilities, one is for a testing laband one is for a transportation facility, according to the DHSS. See Tony Krausz’s story.

■ Sherwood Elementary School’s past and present intermingled Sept. 13. More than 400 people showed up that day for a three-hour-long open house at the school, 1769 Missouri State Road, in Arnold, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Principal Jessica Meeks said. The school, which opened in 1969, is part of the Fox C-6 School District. Meeks said a lot of former students attended the open house. “Even kids who had recently graduated from high school came back,” Meeks said. “It was a good mix of past families and parents with a lot of our new and current families, too.” See Tony Krausz’s story.

■ The Festus Tourism Commission awarded $259,150, mostly to repeat recipients, in its latest round of grants. “About 90 percent of it was people who already had a history with us,” said Staci Templeton, the commission chairwoman. The other commission members are Melody Yesberg, Rhonda Gerstner, Rick Fischer and Earl Cook. The largest grant, $50,000, will go to fund the 2020 WinterFest, scheduled for Dec. 5, 2020. See Kevin Carbery’s story.

■ Dogs and cats living together! Read the Editorial section to see what that’s about.

■ Lots of volleyball coverage in the Sept. 19 sports section. Sports editor Russell Korando’s column is about Herculaneum resident Dan Picarella, 71, who is still playing hockey for

the St. Louis Storm in the Hockey North America League. The minimum age to play in the league is 20. There isn’t a maximum age, but Picarella is usually the oldest skater on the ice.

*** Please help us honor First Responders. The Leader will publish a special magazine on Oct. 31 and you are invited to participate. See the Page 1 story.