Taney County Treatment Court takes Holistic Approach to Recovery

By AL Vineyard for Drug Free Ozarks

When a person has a substance use disorder, nearly every aspect of their life, including relationships, mental and emotional health, job skills, education, lifestyle, and parenting are affected.

If the person has children, the impact is even greater.

Children raised by parents with substance use disorders are often not taught basic life skills other children their age learn and often experience trauma related to the substance use and its consequences.

In an effort to help individuals whose lives are affected the most by substance use disorders, Taney County Treatment Court, commonly called drug court, assesses each participant, providing an individual treatment plan that focuses on the specific needs of that person.

Judge Eric Eighmy has presided over the Taney County Treatment Court for the past two-and-a-half years of the treatment court’s 21 year history. He’s seen the success of Stone and Taney counties’ treatment court systems, crediting Stone County Treatment Court Judge, Alan Blankenship, for being one of the best treatment court judges in the state. When Eighmy was offered the position, he humbly accepted, wanting to continue the success of his predecessor while reducing recidivism rates in Taney County.

Sit in on a monthly drug court proceeding and it will quickly become apparent how much Eighmy cares for the participants.

He can be seen cheering them on, encouraging them, and even stepping away from the bench to shake the hand of participant Jamie Bain’s new spouse who joined the proceeding.

Treatment Court Probation Officer Kathy Jeter says participants’ families are encouraged to join drug court functions, including court dates. The program includes education and therapy for the families. She explained that substance use disorders affect the families and the recovery process should include them as well.

Serving with Eighmy are others who help address the specific needs of each participant. Included in this team is a prosecutor, assistant prosecutor, clerk, two treatment providers, a probation officer, the drug court coordinator, and a defense counsel to represent participants when a sanction is being imposed. Each team member has a specific role in the process, but when they all come together for court, they collectively become the participants’ cheerleaders.

Jacob Beall arrived to March’s drug court proceeding dressed in a suit, wanting to prove he’s serious about the program and taking control of his life. The month before he looked very different, having just experienced a reoccurrence of symptoms. He thought the team would have written him off, but when he showed up dressed in the suit, the entire courtroom cheered as he walked to the front.

Drug court participants are not dismissed from the program for drug use. Instead, the drug court team works with the participant to identify triggers and establish new healthy ways to deal with the situation.

Beall is grateful for the program.

“I would probably be dead without it,” he said.

In order for a person to recover, it is important to identify and change harmful thought patterns regarding behaviors typically associated with substance use disorders. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) are part of the treatment program addressing these thought and behavior patterns.

Jordan Tracy, drug court participant, credits the program for helping him make better decisions. Tracy is soft spoken with a genuine smile that exhibits the joy he has achieving 21 weeks free of heroin use.

The drug court treatment plan consists of five phases. The process typically takes approximately 18 to 24 months. The phases build on one another. Each phase has a set number of mandatory substance free days, community service hours, and additional requirements in order to “phase up.”

Phasing up is a celebratory occasion. 

Bain is in Phase 2 of the program, with six months of recovery time.

“As long as you fight it, it will be hard,” she said.

Today, it is apparent that she isn’t fighting the program, but rather, she is fighting for recovery with her husband by her side.

Margot Cole is two months shy of her two-year recovery date.

The drug court program has taught her a lot about her substance use disorder. Cole also credits the collaboration with sober-living houses, such as Standing by the Door, for helping her learn new and healthy life skills. Cole stays busy, working multiple jobs, keeping up with classes, appointments, community service work, and meetings required by the drug court program. Even with her busy schedule, she is never too busy to help a fellow participant, offering the few spare minutes that she has for emotional support.

Taney County Treatment Court creates a community, a bond between participants, teaching them healthy relationship habits and life skills.

In addition to learning healthy relational skills, participants who have children are offered parenting classes.

The drug court team works with participants to teach parenting skills and ensuring the home is fit for the parent and children. The team also works with the family court regarding custody matters.

Participants are required to attend two recovery meetings of their choice each week. It can be a Bible study, a spiritual meeting, Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, or Celebrate Recovery. During the pandemic, the meetings were held virtually, and the community is so strong that past graduates stayed connected to participants to encourage them through the difficult lockdown.

Once a participant has reached the final phase and completed all of the necessary requirements, the individual is eligible to graduate. Graduation is saved for the end of each drug court proceeding. Each team member stands to say a few words to the graduate. Family members are encouraged to join and speak. Graduates even invite the arresting officers, who gladly attends in full support of the changes the graduate has made.

Graduating does not exclude the graduate from future connections and resources. If a graduate needs to come back for MRT, they are encouraged to do so for no additional fees. They are invited to participate in court proceedings, meetings, and classes after graduation and are encouraged to continue with the social network and community the treatment court establishes.

Taney County Treatment Court works with people with the most intense substance use disorders who have been resistant to other treatment programs. This program uses a holistic approach, addressing every aspect of the participant’s life with evidence-based practices to change the lives of the participants, enhance the lives of their families, and reduce recidivism for the community.

The success is apparent in the numbers. Statewide, as of December 31, 2019, there were 22,221 graduates with approximately an 11% recidivism rate.

“Everybody impacts everybody,” said Jeter. “I love what I do. The joy comes from the participants’ success and them pouring into others.”

Drug Free Ozarks is part of the Stone & Taney Counties Substance Use Initiative, which is aimed at reducing and preventing substance use in Stone and Taney counties. It is a project of CoxHealth and funded through a Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant. To learn more about the Substance Use Initiative, visit drugfreeozarks.org or on Facebook at DrugFreeOzarks.

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Hollister has a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Little Free Library

Hollister has a place that encourages reading and helps build family bonds through the love of reading together. 

The grand opening and ribbon-cutting for the Little Free Library were originally scheduled for April 22, 2020, but due to COVID-19, it was canceled. While the Little Free Library has been open for more than a year, the ribbon-cutting celebration, sponsored by the Hollister Area Chamber of Commerce, took place on Tuesday, May 18 at the Chad Fuqua Memorial Park in Hollister. 

According to an email from Hollister R-V School District Communications Director Kim Connell, the Little Free Library is important for Hollister, because many families do not have funds to buy books or resources to get books. Another reason it is important is that families in Hollister may not have transportation to Taneyhills Library in Branson or the funds to purchase a library car.

“The Little Free Library was started after a discussion at a Parents as Teachers Community Advisory Committee meeting discussing the importance of early literacy and how access to books can be improved in our community,” said Lead Parent Educator for Hollister School Districts Parents as Teachers Traci Canote. 

Books create warm emotional bonds between adults and kids when they read books together. Books help kids develop basic language skills and profoundly expand their vocabulary, according to the email. 

According to the Little Free Library website, LFL is a nonprofit that builds community, inspires readers, and expands book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led little libraries. LFL’s goal is to address the growing literacy crisis around the world. 

Today in the United States, more than 30 million adults cannot read or write above a third-grade level. Studies have repeatedly shown that books in the hands of children have a meaningful impact on improving literacy. The more books in or near the home, the more likely a child will learn and love to read. But two out of three children living in poverty have no books to call their own, according to the website. 

According to the website, the LFL has done a lot to fight the literacy crisis around the world including:

More than 165 million books have been shared through registered Little Free Libraries, profoundly increasing book access for readers of all ages and backgrounds. Thousands of neighbors have connected for the first time, building stronger and friendlier communities. The Impact Library Program, which began in 2016, has provided more than 1,000 Little Free Libraries at no cost to communities where they’re needed most. 

 The Native American Initiative has provided little libraries full of books to native communities in partnership with tribal leaders and organizations. The Action Book Club, which launched in 2017, has inspired thousands of participants to read books, spread kindness, and work together to improve their communities. The LFL has been awarded Guidestar’s respected Platinum Seal of Transparency, as well as recognition from the Library of Congress, the National Book Foundation, Library Journal, the Women’s National Book Association, and more. The Hollister LFL is located at the Chad Fuqua Memorial Park next to city hall, according to the email. “The location of Chad Fuqua Memorial Park was decided upon due to its proximity to downtown residents,” said Canote. “We wanted a central location that is accessible to families regardless of transportation.”

According to the website, LFL are book-sharing boxes that play an essential role by providing access to books and encouraging a love of reading in areas where books are scarce. At the Little Free Library nonprofit, they work to fill book deserts and grant libraries to underserved communities through our Impact Library Program and other initiatives.

In Hollister, the idea of a book-sharing library makes it easy for people to not only get books to read but to donate to the LFL as well, according to Canote. “Anyone can donate books. When an individual visits the library they are invited to take a book, leave a book, or both,” said Canote. “Our Little Free Library was created with young children (in) mind, however, the donated books have expanded to include books for all ages.” The benefit of the Hollister LFL has already been felt by the community, according to Canote.

“The benefits of having books available to a community is huge,” said Canote. “Our primary goal is that children will enjoy books with their parents and grow to love reading. We know that an early love of reading promotes success in school which is one of our program goals.”

For more information visit littlefreelibrary.org/.

Western Taney County volunteer firefighter creates non-profit organization for families of fallen first responders

BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) – Cory Roebuck, a volunteer firefighter with the Western Taney County Fire Protection District, is helping the families of first responders killed in the line of duty.

A ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday at the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce launched the Taney County 100 Club. Roebuck said he nearly died eight years ago when he was left hanging from a tree while responding to flash flooding. While waiting to be rescued, he said he started thinking about what would his family do if he didn’t make it.

“When I was clinging to a tree in the middle of the night all I could think about was my family, who’s going to tell my wife, who’s going to raise my family?,” Cory Roebuck said.

He said from that point on it was so important to him that his family have a plan of action if a tragedy ever occurred.

”Not only for my family, but now for my brothers and sisters that are there every day sacrificing for our community and able to maintain their house and their livelihood in the event they should be catastrophically injured or killed,” Roebucks said.

Roebuck said the idea behind the 100 Club started in 1952 after a Detroit police officer was killed in the line of duty. He wanted to bring that same organization to Taney County after his near death experience.

”It was a local business person that felt compelled to mail a letter to 100 of their business friends and ask for funds, funds that would help the widow out,” Roebuck said.

He said in 1953 the group expanded and asked for $100 each year from members of the community so funds could be ready in a moments notice for the family of a fallen first responder.

”Sometimes as a first responder that is the wage earner and when they pass so do the funds,” Roebuck said.

Roxanne Amundsen whose husband was in law enforcement, said she thinks this organization can greatly impact families of first responders.

“My husband was a deputy here and also in emergency services for 20 years in Taney County and I can really relate to what that does to the wife and to the family,” Roxanne Amundsen said.

Amundsen said she never knew if her husband was going to make it back home when he left for work, so having an organization willing to help if tragedy strikes is reassuring.

”I look at every one of these first responders that are here today and think I would love to connect with their families and their wives and their children and say I know what you’re going through,” Amundsen said.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

Copyright 2021 KY3. All rights reserved.

Galena putting heart rate monitors to work in and out of the classroom – Devices funded by Skaggs Legacy Endowment Grant

When Galena School Nurse Julie Hagler requested a $4,000 Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant to purchase heart rate monitors in February 2020, she wanted to give students a tool to help self-regulate behavior.

Hagler was awarded the grant but the COVID-19 pandemic had already hit, causing teachers across the nation to take on double duty.

“Teachers are so overwhelmed with teaching seated and virtual students that finding the time for them to be trained on the curriculum (for the heart rate monitors) has been a challenge,” Hagler said.

In the meantime, Hagler has found another way to get familiar with the monitors and put them to use.

Galena’s track and cross country teams have been using the IHT Spirit Monitor System this spring. The heart rate monitors and software helps students track their progress, see when they can push themselves harder and even improve breathing techniques.

“I was able to take it to my doctor to figure out how I could make my breathing better,” said runner Maci Doak, a sophomore at Galena High School. “It helps me with my endurance and my speed and I can get more air in so I don’t tire so easily.”

“As a team, we’ve had some really good discussions about our heart rate and where it is at,” said track and cross country coach Shawna Sartin, who also is Galena’s director of special services.

Sartin said trialing the devices on older students has been great, but she is excited to see the monitors put into use in the regular classroom.

“Students identified by their teacher will participate in a series of introductory meetings to learn about the heart rate monitors and then be taught techniques to control emotions when they see their heart rate is elevated,” explained Hagler. “Students are very tech savvy and the monitors give an alert screen in green, yellow or red to indicate heart rate.”

The devices will help students recognize how their body feels when they are under stress. When they see they are under stress, they’ll be equipped to know techniques to self-regulate their emotions before their emotions get out of control, disrupting their learning and potentially the entire classroom.

“Students will start to be able to know what it feels like when their heart rate goes up and then know what they can do to control those emotions,” Sartin said.

At the end of each day, students will return the devices to a docking station. Data from the day is then uploaded and a report is sent to both the teacher and parents. 

The report will help parents and teachers start to see patterns and recognize potential triggers.

“We want to give students the tools they need to help self-regulate behavior without having to be removed from the classroom,” Hagler said. “Keeping students in the classroom, learning and teaching them these self-regulation techniques will benefit them not just now, but throughout their lifetime.”

Hagler said they plan to begin using the heart rate monitors in the regular classroom during the upcoming summer school session.

To learn more about Skaggs Legacy Endowment and grant opportunities, visit SkaggsFoundation.org.

Veterans group gives scholarships to local seniors

By AJ Meakins; ajmeakins@bransontrilakesnews.com

Four local seniors received $750 scholarships for their exceptional essays.

On Monday, April 26 the Branson Veterans of America Chapter 913 presented four scholarships with the William G. Groninger Scholarship for the essays on “What is a democracy and what is a republic? Which is the United States?”, according to Scholarship Committee Chairman Bob Sarver.

The 2021 recipients were: Emilee Rowe, a senior from School of the Ozarks, who plans to attend New Mexico Military Institute reporting July 30. She plans to go on the to the Air Force Academy to pursue her dream of being a flight surgeon.

Ashely Matthew, a senior from Forsyth High School, who is be attending the University of Arkansas to major in business and pre-law.

Joshua Strahan, a senior from Forsyth High School, who will be attending Missouri Valley with a football scholarship to major in abribusiness.

Ashley Nolan, a senior from Reeds Spring High School, who plans to go to Ozark Technical Community College to pursue a career in dental hygiene.

According to Sarver, the winners were selected from a large number of submissions. The scholarship involved two parts, the essay and then a personal interview with the committee.

“You don’t realize the tough time that this committee had on selecting the recipients,” said Sarver. “We had so many good ones this year.”

Each recipient read their essays and received their certificate of scholarship at the monthly meeting of the Branson Veterans of America 913 at Golden Corral in Branson.

“The essays are great and you can see that the recipients have been raised with great values, love of country, love of God and I think that is the thing that this organization is all about,” said Sarver at the meeting. “I want to thank the parents for the way they have led their kids, it is pretty phenomenal.”

The William G. Groninger Scholarship was founded in 2014, to honor Lt. Col. William G. Groninger. Groninger was a 20 year veteran of the Air Force who flew more than 100 missions over North Korea and flew the SR-71 over Russia and Cuba during the Cold War. He spend many years working to insure veterans were honored and appreciated. He served as President of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 913 from 2006 to 2010, according to Sarver.

Groninger received the Bridge Builders Award for his work building education between veterans and students, according to Sarver. He passed away in October 2011. He was posthumously named Member of the Year for the chapter in 2012.

“The Board of Directors wanted to honor him and the William G. Groninger Scholarship program was introduced,” said Saver.

For more information visit www.bransonveteransofamerica913.com.

Tomorrow’s Branson Focuses on Jobs for Students, Young Adults

April 23, 2021

A new initiative has been created by the Taney County Partnership called Tomorrow’s Branson, which aims to place local employment opportunities for students and young adults in one convenient place. Tomorrow’s Branson features a directory of local job openings that is updated regularly with employment opportunities that are specifically geared toward high school and college students and young adults. The directory can be accessed by following the link on the Facebook page for Tomorrow’s Branson at facebook.com/tomorrowsbranson.

Options Pregnancy Held Grand Opening for New Clinic in Forsyth

April 16, 2021

Options Pregnancy Clinic invited the public to the Grand Opening of their newest clinic location in Forsyth on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The new clinic is located at 10726 State Highway 76, about a mile and a half south of Highway 160.

The Grand Opening was held from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and included complimentary lunch and tours of the new facility. For more information, visit Options Pregnancy Clinic on Facebook @OptionsPregnancyClinic.

Reeds Spring School District Receives Major Donation to Youth Activities Program

The Reeds Spring Youth Activities Program received a major boost, thanks to the family of a former employee. The Brown family donated $13,000 to the program in memory of the late John Brown, who was a longtime principal and coach at Reeds Spring Schools. The Reeds Spring Youth Activities Program offers football, volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball, wrestling, running, and cheerleading to students who attend Reeds Spring Schools.

John Brown

Over $85,000 in Power Up Grants awarded to local teachers

Contact: Cassie Cunningham, CCC – Manager of Communications & Member Engagement
Office: 417-335-9231; Cell 417-849-1148
Email: ccunningham@whiteriver.org

Branson, Missouri – The White River Valley Electric Trust Board proudly awarded over $85,000 to be
dispersed throughout local schools to enhance the education of area students. Teachers located at
schools within White River Valley Electric Cooperative’s five-county service were eligible to apply for
monies through Power Up — the organization’s annual educational grant program.
“Projects that utilize funding from Power Up have a positive impact on classrooms in our communities,”
said Nathan Stearns, WRVEC Community Programs Coordinator. “We are proud to offer a grant program
that aids teachers in providing a well-rounded education to area students.”
To be considered, proposals need to promote higher learning and meet school standards. Teachers are
required to submit their plan, itemized list of supplies (not to exceed $750), and a letter of project
approval from the school district’s administrative office. Out of 184 applications, 135 were approved.
“This was our most competitive year to date,” said Stearns. “We would like to congratulate the winners
and hope that increased competition will drive innovation and student influence.”
Power Up educational grants are funded through Operation Round Up – the Trust’s primary funding
source for community-centric aid. Funds come from cooperative members who allow their bills to be
rounded-up to the next dollar. Since ORU began 28 years ago, more than $4 million has been returned
to the community.
View the full list of Power Up educational grant recipients at
https://www.whiteriver.org/community/operation-round-up/power-up/

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White River Valley Electric Cooperative is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative dedicated to ensuring our members receive safe and reliable service in their homes and businesses across five southwest Missouri counties including Ozark, Taney, Stone,
Christian and Douglas.

Dr. Sue Head Honored as a Community Strong Leader by Branson Bank

Congratulations to Dr. Sue Head, VP of Cultural Affairs and Dean of Character Education at College of the Ozarks for being recognized as a Community Strong leader by Branson Bank.

As an educator who believes in lifelong learning and placing character, patriotism, and faith above all else, I am grateful to serve alongside like-minded individuals on the Advisory Board of Directors team at Branson Bank.

Dr. Sue Head

Leadership – Influence – Impact

Area leaders sharing expertise while investing in the growth and resilience of our community.