County growing? 🔵 Social media tip leads to carjacker arrest 🔵 Happy St. Louis Day


Is business and population growing in Jefferson County? County Executive Dennis Gannon seems to think so. During an interview on KJFF, Gannon said, “The county is booming right now.” He cited an article from the St. Louis Business Journal that talked about an increased amount of roof tops being installed. Gannon says that means people in the county “have the money to do it” and “they probably have a job.” He says that’s possitive. Sales tax numbers for the last two months are up 8.6 percent from this time last year.

EXTRA: Mr. Gannon will give his State of County Address on Monday morning (Feb. 17) at Festus High School. The event is sponsored by the Jefferson County Growth Association and will be aired live on 1400 KJFF around 8 o’clock.

Not filling out the census this year could cost us all. That’s the message of U-S Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri. Missouri lost a seat in the house after the 2010 census. Luetkemeyer says, “whenever you under county people in your city, your county, that hurts you when it comes for dollars to be divvied up for the different federal programs.” Missouri loses an estimated thirteen hundred dollars in federal monies for every adult and every child that is not counted, according to the Missouri Foundation for Health. U.S. Census Bureau will mail instructions to every Missouri household early next month.

A bill in the Missouri house has local government officials concerned about receiving their just due from fines collected in court. Recently, the municipal courts in the cities of DeSoto and Festus transferred all their cases to the Jefferson County Circuit Court and no longer will be holding court in their cities. Hillsboro will do the same this summer. House Bill 13-57 would rewrite the law concerning those fines. The new law would send court fines to the state school fund rather than back to the cities. The bill has been read a second time but no hearing has been scheduled as of this week.


The annual Mastodon Fair is coming back to Jefferson College next month. The annual fair is for local students to submit art and science projects that will be judged with the winners receiving scholarship monies. Registration is underway, just go to Mastodon Fair dot org. Deadline is Monday, March 2nd. The Mastodon Fair will be held at the Jefferson College Fieldhouse in Hillsboro the week of March 15th.

The Arnold Chamber of Commerce is hosting a basketball event later this month which will promote anti-bullying. Chair Jacqui Ortmann with the Chamber says the game between the Flight Squad and the Arnold Water Tower Trotters will be held on Saturday, February 29th at Fox High School starting at 6pm. Tickets are just $5 and can be purchased at the door.


Social media helped capture the woman who allegedly stabbed and carjacked a taxi driver in Jefferson County. 21-year old Ajla Zekan of St. Louis was arrested by St. Louis County Police last weekend. She is at the Jefferson County Jail with a 5 hundred thousand dollar cash-only bond.

A pair of juveniles escaped custody for about two hours Sunday afternoon from Jue-Vee in Hillsboro. Police say the public was not in danger but SWAT was on call just in case.

A scammer managed to get 800 dollars in gift cards from an elderly Arnold man. Police say the victim thought he was collecting a refund for a computer problem he bought. The scammer first told the 74-year-old man to buy a 4 hundred dollar Walmart gift card and call the man back with the gift card number. After following the instructions, he told to get a 4 hundred dollar Target gift card and call back with the information. Before the victim realized what was going on… the balances on both cards had been wiped out. Arnold Police have turned the investigation over to the FBI.


Happy St. Louis Day! The city of St. Louis was founded as a fur trading post at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers on February 15th, 1764.

Taxi cab driver stabbed • Horses banned from parks • (Medical) pot shops coming soon

Jeffco This Week 2020 V2.1

February 1st – February 8th, 2020

Cop Shop🚔

Police believe they have a suspect in the case where a taxi driver was stabbed in Jefferson County. They don’t have a name but they have a picture of a woman who Police say matches the description of a suspect who stabbed a taxi driver in the Imperial area. A cab driver picked up a female fare in St. Louis County late Tuesday night. She asked to be taken to an address in Imperial in Jefferson County. When got they got there, Police say she stabbed the male driver 10 to 12 times. The cabby was able to run away to call for help while she took off in the cab. Police now have the cab after it was left abandoned and are gathering evidence. The woman is still at large but photos were captured inside a grocery store just before the woman got into the taxi cab. Police are not sure what the driver was stabbed with but his wounds were not life threatening.

A bold burglar broke into a home while the owners were still inside in Arnold. It happened in a home on Red Aire Court where the homeowners heard a noise upstairs first thinking it was a cat. After learning someone was in their home they fled only later to return to find a window had been broken out and their TV and PlayStation had been stolen. Police have no suspects at this time.

The lawsuit against former Pevely Police Officer Wayne Casey, claiming he illegally detained a man from Texas and sized his cellphone, comes to an end with a $75,000 settlement. Matthew Rankin of Corpus Christi, Texas, sued in U.S. District Court in St. Louis back in June of last year, claiming that Officer Casey had aggressively taken his phone out of his hand and reportedly threatened him with arrest after Casey noticed Rankin had been filming him conduct a traffic stop on January 16th of 2019. In the settlement, Casey and the City of Pevely deny Rankin’s allegations. Casey was eventually fired from the police department back in May of last year after he was seen on video sitting at a desk in the departments booking area while another officer shoved and choked a person in custody. That officer, Robert Watson, pleaded guilty last month to a federal misdemeanor civil rights offense.


No more horses allowed in Jeffco parks. The Jefferson County Council passed an ordinance banning ATV’s, motorcycles, and horses from all county owned parks. However, horses are still permitted in Big River Saddle Club Park in Dittmer. The ban of horses also includes Pleasant Valley Nature Preserve in High Ridge. The County Council voted 4-3 in favor of bill 19-1042 during their monthly meeting back on January 27th. The ban of ATV’s, motorcycles, and horses at county parks will take full effect beginning in March.

A bill seeking to offer tax credits to adoption parents was heard in committee on Tuesday. The Adoption Tax Credit Act, sponsored by State Representative Mary Elizabeth Coleman of Arnold, would reform state statutes regarding child protection, foster care, and adoption moved through the legislative process. The bill would eliminate the requirement for adoption parents to pay for the legal fees for the birth parents, open all adoption records in cases of involuntarily termination of parental rights, and lower the time limit for willful abandonment to 60 days. The bill would also modify and refine goals and priorities for the Department of Social Services to ensure the safety of children, as well as increase the data collection, with several other stipulations.

Community News🤝

There are some leadership changes at Festus Manor Nursing. Longtime Administrator Sharon Greco has left Festus Manor and is moving to St. Joe Manor in Bonne Terre. Greco says after 35 years at Festus Manor, it was not an easy decision, however she likes the challenge of the change. Her replacement Jeanne Dirschuweit was promoted to Administrator. She had been the Assistant Administrator at Festus Manor for eight years.

Two medical pot shops are coming to Festus. City Administrator Greg Camp says they will be licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. Other than Festus, Jefferson County will be home to dispensaries in House Springs, Imperial, Hillsboro, Pevely.

The City of Pevely is doing the prep work for some street improvements slated to start this spring. City officials says they will first replace water main on Riverview, El Camino, and Alta Drive then lay the street on top. As money allows, they will add some storm water control curbing and inlet boxes. The work should begin in April.

Two local families were presented with gifts and a 5,000 dollar check, to help with medical expenses, during a basketball game at Jefferson High on Monday. Hoops for Hope was started by Bill and Andrea Hammock with the idea in mind to raise money through donations for families within the R-7 community who have someone going through an illness or cancer. The recipients, Matt Bates, along with his daughter Amanda, and Becky Huskey were recognized with a standing ovation during the 6th annual event.

Side Note📝

After hearing about Kirk Douglas passing away this week, it brought to mind three of my favorite movies of his. In War Wagon, Douglas plays a gunslinger named Lomax. He and John Wayne plan to rob a heavily fortified horse draw wagon in revenge. Seven Days in May is a political-thriller with Burt Lancaster where the military wants to take over the government after a nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia is signed. My absolute favorite is The Final Countdown. Douglas plays the commanding officer of an aircraft carrier that time warps to Pearl Harbor before the Japanese attacked in December of 1941. Sadly, it has nothing to do with the hit song by Europe.

Kirk Douglas was 103.

Two shootings, a fatal fire, and a local comic book store to close

Jeffco This Week 2020 V1.4

 January 26th – February 1st, 2020.

Cop Shop🚔

A minor was arrested after a shooting in Fenton. Deputies with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department arrested 17-year-old Gavin Ross in connection to a shooting at Borgetti’s Bar & Grill on Old Highway 141 in Fenton.  Investigators believe Ross helped orchestrate a plan to rob another individual during an arranged drug deal in the parking lot of the business plaza of Old Highway 141.  A 40-year-old woman was shot in the leg during the incident. She was treated at a local hospital and has since been released. Ross is being held at the Jefferson County Jail with no bond.

A man died in a fire at Bob’s Disposal Services in Imperial. Police say 51-year-old Ivan Johnson, an employee of Bob’s Disposal Services, perished in the fire. His remains were located and positively identified as part of the ongoing investigation of the case. The cause of the fire has still yet to be determined. Arson is not suspected.

Investigators suspect arson after a vehicle burst into flames at a business in DeSoto last weekend.  Grant Bissell with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office says there have been other car fires lately in Jefferson County but detectives don’t believe the cases are related.

Two guns stolen from a DeSoto Police vehicle have been recovered. The window of the squad car, parked outside an officer’s home, was smashed and a rifle and shotgun were taken. Police say there were three suspects in all.


The city of DeSoto is making road improvements. Sidewalk and lighting projects are slated for Rock Road this Spring and on Main Street from Valley to Skyline in 2021. Other sidewalks on Main Street, that are not ADA approved, could be improved upon sometime in 2022, if grant funding is secured.

The Highway 61-67 bridge in Herculaneum is scheduled to be replaced next year. With it being a state roadway, MODOT is paying for the replacement which will begin in the late winter or early spring of 2021. Herculaneum City Administrator Jim Kasten says MODOT is planning on replacing the bridge without shutting down the roadway.


The Jefferson County Health Department has been recognized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials, otherwise known as NACCHO, for its ability to plan for, respond to, and recover from public health emergencies.  The Health Department demonstrated these capabilities by meeting the comprehensive preparedness benchmarks required by Project Public Health Ready.  About 520 local health departments across the country that have been distinguished for excellence by the same standard.

Hillsboro R-3 Schools Superintendent Dr. Jon Issacson received the KJFF/J98 110 Percent Award during the annual awards and installation dinner by the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce.


All the Rage Comics and Games will be closing its doors at the end of March. The comic book shop on Festus Main Street has been in operation for seven years. Nearly every fixture in the store is going to be up for sale. They will be liquidating the entire store as well. This is the second business to announce it’s closing this year on Main Street in Festus. The other being Shelly’s Kindred Fare.


Get out your shorts and t-shirts!  The high for Sunday Feb. 2nd is expected to reach 68 degrees.  Get the seven day forecast from the National Weather Service here.

Side Note📝

Today is National Freedom Day.  President Lincoln signed the Amendment outlawing slavery on February 1, 1865.  This is fitting for me right now because I’m over 150 pages in on a book titled Freedom by William Safire.  I got my copy at Books Galore in Festus.  I highly recommend it.  Keep your dictionary handy.  Safire is a genius of the English language.

Jeffco This Week is written, produced, and voiced by Stuart McMillian.  All news is gathered by the KJFF newsroom.  Get more Jefferson County news on  Send newstips here.

Church signs

With the Blues in the playoffs, makeshift signs in support of the team have gone up all over St. Louis and across Missouri.  One church managed to get in a shameless plug for the Blues while mentioning Jesus.

Love’em or hate’em, church signs are a part of our culture in Missouri.  Festus is no exception.  I must admit while being a Baptist, I may notice church signs a little more than most.  Even so, I still believe everyone looks at them regardless of what denomination they are.  Some are simple while others maybe try a little too hard.

A few years ago, I noticed two churches on the same street in Festus had their interchangeable signs showing very similar messages.  So, what was a radio reporter to do?  Write up a story on it, naturally.  Here it is as it was November 2013.  Look for added commentary in parenthesis.

“Different Denominations, Same Message”

Church signs.  Sometimes used to invite the community to church events. Other times Bible verses are quoted to be an encouragement to those passing by.

But I’ll let you decide what it means when two different denominations less than a half mile from each other have the same message.

Near the railroad tracks on North Mill in Festus, the sign outside First Christian Church-Disciples of Christ says, “When life gets too hard to stand – kneel.”

And on the same stretch of road, the old Presbyterian Church, now New Testament Baptist Church, at the corner of North Mill and North 2nd street, has this message, “For long-standing problems – try kneeling.”

I discovered this – only by coincidence – when I was driving to a Wednesday night Bible Study that I attend south of Festus. (This comment was an attempt to give me some credibility to be able to talk about church signs. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a Christian. Life note: We moved our family to Crystal City in 2016. We also still meet in Festus for Bible Study.)

If you think about it, illuminated church messages are like the original church twitter feed. That made me wonder what other interesting church sign messages are out there in Google land. I found a site called (which is no longer in operation) that pictured a long list of clever sayings. Here were some of my favorites…

Church shopping? We’re open Sundays.

Sign broke. Come inside for the message on Sunday.

God wants full custody, not just weekend visits.

Cars are not the only thing recalled by their maker.

And the best one…

Without Jesus, there would be hell to pay.

What’s your favorite sign message?  Comment below or @ me on Twitter @chatwithstumac.  #churchsigns #church #signs

Festus Main gone viral

What does it take for a small business to get noticed these days? A good idea and a viral post. One might question whether pickles and ice cream go together but you can be the judge at Pine Mountain Country Mercantile and Coffee House in Festus with their new “Pickle Split.”

Kevin and Tiffany trying the Pickle Split at Pine Mountain Country Mercantile and Coffee House.

The idea exploded and went viral after the Today Show caught wind of it and featured it on their show. I personally have not had the chance to try it but the creators say no one has failed to finish one yet. The strange combination appears to be catching on everywhere. It’s possible Ellen got the idea for this bit from the Pine Mountain Country’s “Pickle Split.” Who knows!

gifs website

Then there’s Gloria – the new theme song for the St. Louis Blues Hockey Team. I don’t know… you may have heard the song before. The Vinty Beauty Bar on Festus Main Street made a tribute video to the Blues featuring Gloria. The video was a hit. It was played on FOX 2 News and had over 24,000+ views as of when I published this post. You can watch it on Facebook. It’s pretty great!

Festus Main is one of the last remaining double sided main streets in the state of Missouri. For that reason, keeping it alive is a top priority for local business owners.

Some could say the modern era of Festus Main started in 2014 when the Foster’s announced the opening of a brewery. Since then, a new group of folks started taking an interest in the importance of Main Street.

Now we have the Historic Tanglefoot Association working to revive the old part of town. We have local people willing to start their businesses here like The Corner Cup Micro Bakery.

The resurgence of Festus Main is a wonderful sight to see. Let’s continue to applaud the efforts of those who want to keep it going.

Bradford Pears found a way, now they are a problem

You know that pretty white-flowered tree that blooms every Spring in Jefferson County, Missouri?  It doesn’t belong here.

The Bradford Pear is everywhere.  It’s a pear-shaped tree that blooms during our Missouri spring but there’s a problem.  It’s not one of our kind.

[The Bradford Pear is not a native tree to Missouri or to the United States.  It was brought in from China.  It was brought in as sort of a landscapers dream or a landscapers alternate.]

That’s the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Foresty Regional Supervisor for St. Louis, Cathy Dejong.  One problem with the Bradford Pear is they are structurally weak.  They break off easy during storms.  But there’s a bigger problem.  Dejong says those that brought the tree in the US in the 1950s through the tree was sterile.  But just like in Jurassic Park…

[…life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously…]

Mr. Hammond and his gooney scientists made these dinosaurs with special DNA that would not be able to cross-pollinate, so to speak.  Well, guess what?  They did.

[–Well, there it is.  –There it is.  –You’re implying that a group composed entirely of female animals will breed?  –No, I’m simply saying: Life finds a way.]

According to Dejong, kind of the same thing happened with the Bradford Pear.

[After a certain period of time, many different cultivars were produced. These different cultivars, when planted in close proximity now cross-pollinate and they grow very quickly.]

So, how do we fix the problem?

[If you start to see they naturalize or if you’ve got common areas or wooded areas, the earlier you can get them out probably the better.  Pull them out if the soil is pretty moist.  There are other alternatives as far as killing them with herbicides either foliar spraying them or stump treating them.]

So, if we can learn anything from Bradford Pears or Jurassic Park, for that matter, Dejong says, “don’t plant invasive species.”

Native trees to Missouri include Red Buckeye, Serviceberry, and Pawpaw while the most common are Redbud, Dogwood, and Green Hawthorn.

This article was originally written and produced for KJFF Radio back on April 30th of 2014.

UPDATE:  April 9, 2019 – The Missouri Department of Conservation continues to encourage homeowners and landscapers to avoid planting Bradford pears this spring.  More here.