The past year has been filled with triumphs and tragedies, celebrations and concerns, development and debate across our community. As your community newspaper, the Daily Star-Journal has chronicled these local events and issues as they have unfolded. As 2019 comes to a close and 2020 gets underway, we are going to revisit some of the stories that played out during the past 12 months. This is the third of four installments in our “2019 Year in Review.”

Friday, Dec. 26, 2019: A look back at January to March;

Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019: A look back at April to June;

Friday, Jan. 3, 2020: A look back at July to September;

Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020: A look back at October to December.

Stories included in this year in review are listed by the month in which they appeared in the newspaper. All of the stories listed here, and many more, can be found in the DSJ’s online archive at and through the DSJ NOW app.


• The Johnson County Emergency Services Board announced the promotion of Kimberly Jennings to executive director for the Johnson County Central E-911 Dispatch.

• The Johnson County Community Health Services Board approved its FY 2019-2020 budget at its monthly meeting June 27. Total revenues for FYE20 were projected at $2,525,179. Total expenditures for FYE20 were projected at $2,493,703, leaving the contingency fund/projected net income at $31,476. This was a decrease from the past two years.

• Scott Holmberg replaced Jennifer English as the executive director of the Johnson County United Way.

• Johnson County Economic Development Corp. announced it had partnered with the Missouri Small Business Development Center at State Fair Community College as a volunteer business counseling location to provide services to area entrepreneurs and small businesses.

• Storms on July Fourth replaced fireworks in the sky. The Warrensburg Freedom Fest Spectacular called off its fireworks display due to the stormy weather. The city of Holden hosted its show, however. As much as 7.5 inches of rain were reported between July 3 and July 5. The heavy rainfall caused roadway flooding throughout the county. A portion of Highway AA, west of Kingsville, was washed out during the storm.

• The 2019 Johnson County Fair “Barn in the U.S.A.” got started on July 9 with the opening ceremonies and pageant. Miss Johnson County Wee Queen is Hadlee Marie Bell, Warrensburg. Little Miss Johnson County is Gwen Blackwell, Knob Noster. Miss Pre-Teen Johnson County is Maggie Todaro, Holden. Miss Teen Johnson County is Destiny Chastain, Holden. Miss Johnson County is Briana Hall, Leeton.

• Woods Supermarket closed its doors on July 14 and opened as a CASHSAVER on July 19.

• The Warrensburg Convention and Visitors Bureau moved its Visitor Center to a new location at 407A E. Russell, Suite 2. The move became effective July 1.

• The Warrensburg Schools Foundation celebrated its 25th anniversary on July 14. In the past 25 years, the foundation awarded $179,913 in Classroom Impact Grants, affecting 32,934 students; $96,715 in student scholarships; $28,981 in dual credit scholarships; and $11,500 in teacher and support staff scholarships.

• Vincent P. Rist, of Warrensburg, was sentenced Monday, July 15, in a home invasion case in which a woman was reported to be bound, gagged and set on fire on June 3, 2018. He was sentenced to 25 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections for felony first-degree assault; 10 years each for felony first-degree burglary and two felony counts of armed criminal action; 25 years for felony first-degree robbery; and 10 years each for felony armed criminal action and felony first-degree arson.

• The annual Partnering Among Communities for Kids provided school supplies to 351 children on July 20 at First Baptist Church, 1302 S. Maguire St.

• The Community Band performed its annual Courthouse Lawn Concert on July 15. Warrensburg Rotary provided free ice cream and water before the show.

• The Warrensburg Chamber Annual Awards and Social took place July 18 at Warrensburg Collision. Business of the Year, with less than 15 employees, was awarded to Old Drum Real Estate. Business of the Year, with more than 15 employees, was awarded to Twister Sports. Start Up Business of the Year was awarded to Photo Gym. Chamber Member of the Year was awarded to Jamie Brisbin. The Glazebrook Community Partner of the Year was awarded to the Johnson County Emergency Management Agency. Brisbin and Sharri Carter received certificates of achievement for having attended the most chamber events. Rick Squiric and J. W. Franklin Co. each received a certificate of achievement for most new members recruited. Outgoing Chamber of Commerce Board members Sharri Carter, Greg McCullough, Doug Spratley, Jeff Huffman and Susan Kraus were recognized before a new board chair and members were sworn in. Jeremy VanWey relinquished his position as chair of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, swearing in Greg Hall as the new chair of the board. Hall swore in new board members Melissa Frey, Suzy Latare, Jamie Brisbin and Jay Meldrem.

• Following an extensive search, the University of Central Missouri announced Susan Nelson Smedley of Baytown, Texas, would be joining UCM as vice president for integrated marketing and communications beginning Aug. 16.

• At the end of July, the Daily Star-Journal launched its mobile app and e-edition of the newspaper.

• The Johnson County United Way announced in July it would focus on Youth Success, a United Way Pillar, as it transitioned to its Community Impact Model.

• A backpack giveaway was hosted July 21 at the Verizon Wireless Store in Warrensburg. In total, 250 backpacks were handed out.

• A new K-9 officer — Neegan — joined the Warrensburg Police Department.

• Ashley Holmberg performed CPR on a child who was drowning at Nassif Aquatic Center. She was able to resuscitate the boy until paramedics arrived on scene.

• Valley Oaks Steak Co. announced its closure on Aug. 19.

• Joni Porter received the Clarence Bailey Award as Survival House celebrated more than 37 years of service.


• After more than 13 hours on scene, crews left Fairview Mills in Centerview early July 31 after responding to the report of a structure fire at 11:52 a.m. July 30. The Johnson County Fire Protection District responded to a report of at least two explosions and fire in the Fairview Mills production plant. After the fire was under control, JCFPD Chief Larry Jennings reported extensive overhaul was conducted as the fire had spread through internal and exterior duct work used in the transfer of the finely ground hay product produced at the facility.

• The 2019 Best of the ‘Burg celebration took place July 29 at Players Restaurant and Lounge, celebrating hundreds of winners in the Daily Star-Journal’s annual reader’s choice awards.

• After receiving a pair of resignation letters and a pair of nominations, the Johnson County Commissioners reappointed Scotty Walker, Holden, and Judy Wolter, Knob Noster, to the Trails Regional Library Board of Trustees.

• A lawsuit was filed in Jackson County Circuit Court as 141 neighboring homeowners came together to sue Valley Oaks Steak Co., alleging the company trespassed and created a nuisance.

• Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft visited Johnson County on July 30. He discussed the possibility of getting rid of Missouri’s presidential preference primary election. He also took part in a doughnut tasting contest. He deemed Yummy’s Donut Palace has the best doughnuts in Warrensburg.

• Roger Best hosted his first President’s Lawn Concert as president of the University of Central Missouri on July 29. This was the Warrensburg Community Band’s final performance of the season.

• A Warrensburg man was sentenced in federal court on Aug. 2 for his role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Stacy A. Lyman, 40, Warrensburg, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to 17 years and one month in federal prison without parole.

• As part of an annual back-to-school event, the Missouri Valley Community Action Agency brought together local organizations to provide school supplies and information about available resources to families in Warrensburg and across Johnson County on July 29 at the Elks Lodge, 822 E. Young Ave.

• Joshua Cymer of Warrensburg High School, Lucas Coulter of Chilhowee High School and Gus Cooper of Crest Ridge High School were among the 103 high school students from across Missouri who participated in the Missouri Electric Cooperative’s Cooperative Youth Conference and Leadership Experience program July 17 through 19 in Jefferson City.

• Sharell Middleton took first in the Warrensburg Budget Photo Contest with “Great Blue Heron Statue at Lion’s Lake.” Michael Toller took second place with the photo “Amtrak” and Chris Camara took third place with the photo “Lion’s Lake.”

• New officers were sworn in for the American Legion Matthews-Crawford Post 131 in July. Gary Grigsby swore in Gerald Seelinger as commander, Pete Zwally as vice commander, Maurice Haney as chaplain, Steve Del Vecchio as finance officer, Alex Slocum as historian and John Cohen as sergeant-at-arms July 24 at the Matthews-Crawford Post 131, 733 E. Young Ave.

• Emil “Batman” Conley and his family toured Whiteman Air Force Base on July 19, 2019, as part of the Pilot for a Day program. The program is a collaboration between members of Whiteman AFB and the staff of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

• The 2019 Sounds of Summer Concert took place Aug. 2 on Pine Street. Waters and Wyatt opened the night before Bluestem took the stage. The concert took place at the same time as the First Friday Art Walk. Warrensburg Main Street organized the event while Quarry City Savings and Loan sponsored the event.

• Access to Hawthorne Boulevard opened Aug. 7 during Phase IV of the roundabout project at Hawthorne Boulevard and Business Highway 13.

• Equity Bank donated $900 to the Warrensburg Police Department on July 31. Equity Bank donated $25 to Shop with a Cop for every new customer checking account opened March 25 to May 14 as part of the second annual Bank of Coffee campaign.

• Eligible voters in Johnson County voted “No” on the lone question in the county’s special election on Aug. 6. The special election was in regards to the Johnson County Fire Protection District No. 2. The ballot language read, “Shall the Johnson County Fire Protection District No. 2 of Johnson County, Missouri be authorized to increase its property tax levy in the amount of 25 cents per $100 assessed valuation to provide funds for support of the District?” Of the 373 voters, 64% (238) voted “No” while 36% (135) voted “Yes.” Of the 6,232 registered voters, 6% voted in the Aug. 6 special election.

• Warrensburg’s Bryan Lee was named the Care Connection for Aging Services’ 2019 Outstanding Older Adult. Jane Colster, Holden; Edna Tivis, Warrensburg; Gene and Donna Burden, Warrensburg; and Charlette Ammons, Warrensburg, were also nominated for the award.

• Warrensburg Police Department officers responded about 2 p.m. Aug. 3 to the report of a vehicle having driven through the storefront of Vapor Up. The WPD reports the driver stated the brakes went out on the vehicle and was unable to stop, driving through the glass and brick of the front of the building. The vehicle came to rest half inside the building. No injuries were reported.

• All-Starz Barbershop provided 119 school-aged youth with free haircuts at its annual Fresh 4 Success back-to-school event on Aug. 5. The event also provided food, shoes and school supplies to those in need.

• Following the Johnson County Citizens for Environmental Action meeting Aug. 6, RISE Executive Director Misty Miller spoke with the CEA and members of the public to explain why RISE would be ceasing all recycling services. Miller stated that due to operating costs and a shift in community services, RISE would stop accepting all recyclables effective Aug. 16 with plans to reassess the program in April of 2020.

• The Western Missouri Medical Center Auxiliary hosted its 10th annual Ice Cream Social and welcomed 383 attendees on Aug. 4. Members of the Auxiliary, WMMC Board of Trustees and staff volunteered to serve treats to raise funds to purchase a 39500 Series OAE Hearing Screener for pediatric patients at Building Blocks Pediatrics. The cost of the project was $3,829. This year’s Ice Cream Social, hosted in WMMC’s Courtyard Café, raised more than $3,600, as more donations came in after the event concluded.

• Johnson County Community Health Services, in partnership with Whiteman Air Force Base and Johnson County Emergency Management personnel, conducted a Strategic National Stockpile, or Medical Countermeasure Supply Exercise, in order to train and test procedures should an incident arise that would require use of the vaccines or other supplies.

• New faces replaced familiar friends at the 2019 Festival of Butterflies at Powell Gardens. The festival was unable to have the atlas moth at its 2019 event but did play host to eight new tropical butterflies. This was the first festival in which the newly remodeled native butterfly exhibit/habitat was complete.

• Plans to build a Casey’s General Store on Maguire Street brought residents in the 300 block of East Market Street and East Gay Street to the Aug. 5 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to voice their concerns. Two requests were submitted to the PZC to rezone the properties at 309 E. Market St. and 310 E. Gay St. from a single-family residential district and a one and two family residence district, respectively, to a general business district.

• Warrensburg Firefighter’s Union Local 3923 hosted its third annual Fishing with a Firefighter event from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 3, at Lions Lake in Warrensburg.

• The University of Central Missouri hosted its 2019 Celebrating UCM Athletics Auction on Aug. 9 at the Multipurpose Building. The event included a silent and live auction.

• A creek bridge now connects the front Miller Mausoleum property to the Miller Lake.

• The Johnson County Fire Protection District was the recipient of a $2,500 Community Investment Grant from local energy transportation company, Enbridge. Funds donated to the district went to support its efforts to purchase additional portable lighting to be used on emergency scenes throughout the coverage area. JCFPD information states additional on-scene lighting would aid fire personnel in avoiding many of the hazards often hidden due to poor visibility in darkened structures and other emergency situations.

• The 2019 Doggie Dive took place Aug. 15 at the Nassif Aquatic Center. Old Drum Reality sponsored the event.

• In August of 2019, the Old Drum & Friends Animal Shelter set up a new way to donate needed items: a wish list on Amazon.

• A set of storms hit eastern Johnson County (Knob Noster/Whiteman Air Force Base) Aug. 15 and 16 while a second set hit western Johnson County (Holden and Warrensburg) Aug. 17.

• Vicky Hartzler visited EnerSys in Warrensburg on Aug. 7. She weighed in on what legislators should do following the uptick in mass shootings in the country.

• The Downtown Electrical Upgrade project took place in August and September in Warrensburg.

• Awesome Blossoms received the Outstanding New Development Project award at the Missouri Main Street Conference.

• The Johnson County Fire Protection District hosted eight of the district’s junior firefighters for an all-day academy on Aug. 2 at the District Headquarters in Warrensburg.

• City Manager Harold Stewart announced the appointment of Robert Shaw as the new fire chief of the Warrensburg Fire Department.

• The UCM Marching Mules received an anonymous $50,000 donation to help the group reach its goal of purchasing new uniforms.

• Every year, bands and ensembles across Missouri submit their best performances for a chance to perform at the Missouri Music Educators Association State Convention. Led by Director of Bands Anthony Pursell, this was the first time the University of Central Missouri wind ensemble, consisting of graduate and undergraduate students, was selected to perform at the convention since 2014.

• The Holden School Foundation awarded more than $10,000 in Teacher Impact Grants to 10 teachers Aug. 7 for the 2019-20 school year.

• The Warrensburg Roundabout was completed on Aug. 28.

• The 12th annual Community Senior Festival brought in more than $13,000 and drew between 300 and 400 people.

• The Warrensburg School Board of Education unanimously voted to approve the 2019 Facility Plan at the Aug. 20 meeting. As stated in the overview of the plan, “Planning for the impact of economic and population changes ... as well as the straightforward need for modernization of facilities constitutes the basis for frequent revision of the district facility plan.” Superintendent Scott Patrick said that a facility plan is drafted about every five years “outlining five to 10 years of needs, not wants, needs, for our district moving forward.”

• The City Council voted to approve two ordinances to rezone two properties that are part of a plan to build a Casey’s General Store on Maguire Street.

• The Central Missouri Police Academy hosted its first-ever Recruitment Day on Aug. 24.

• Jerry and Heather Phoenix and the family, Centerview, were among the families honored during the 61st annual Farm Family Day on Aug. 12 at the Missouri State Fair. The Phoenix family was selected as the Johnson County Farm Family by the University of Missouri Extension in Johnson County and the local Farm Bureau. The family includes their sons Justin, Levi, Clayton and Wyatt.


• The 509th and 131st bomb wings at Whiteman Air Force Base received the 2018 Omaha Trophy for Strategic Bomber Operations for a historic second time in a row. No wing had won the trophy back-to-back like Whiteman did until now.

• Warrensburg High School sophomore Raegan Horn and Crest Ridge High School sophomore Brady VanWey of Warrensburg attended the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Leadership In Practice student forum. Horn and VanWey were among more than 110 youth selected as future leaders from schools across the state. Leadership in Practice was June 23 to 26 on the Westminster College campus in Fulton and is designed to provide young Missourians with the opportunity to learn how to be effective leaders in their schools and communities.

• The Warrensburg Daily Star-Journal welcomed staff writer Dustin Steinhoff at the end of August.

• Johnson County Election Supervisor Helen “Kay” Reser received the 2019 Rosemary Plitt Award during the annual Missouri Association of County Clerks and Election Authorities Conference on Aug. 29.

• Hank and Marilyn Hamann made a donation to the Johnson County Cancer Foundation on behalf of the Todd Hamann Memorial Foundation.

• On Aug. 7, members of the Warrensburg Main Street organization were surprised to find that the wooden chair that sat in their vestibule had, for some reason, been stolen. Amused by the peculiar circumstances, the organization members decided to create a collection of social media posts jokingly detailing the stolen chair’s “adventures” across Warrensburg. WMS used a similar chair to travel Warrensburg and took pictures of it at various iconic spots. The chair later returned home from its adventures and once again sat in front of the Main Street entrance.

• Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Shane Green met with county commissioners regarding his vehicle being wrecked during inclement weather in the winter and how county roads are treated. Green relayed his parked patrol car was struck and totaled last winter while he was responding to the report of a motor vehicle collision at Blackwater Bridge. Green raised concerns about the state of Blackwater Bridge on Missouri Highway 13 after snowfall or other inclement weather that requires roads to be plowed or be treated, asking the commissioners to consider pre-treating the road with salt, as the current standard is to put sand on the county roadways. After a couple meetings of discussion, commissioners decided Road Superintendent Gary Bell should determine if a road requires salt, rather than just sand. At a later meeting commissioners stated they would continue to look into the logistics of each road treatment option.

• After more than 31 years in the veterinarian profession, Lifetime Animal Center owner and veterinarian Dr. Chuck Barry received the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association Veterinarian of the Year award in January 2019.

• Multiple groups of volunteers took part in helping clean Warrensburg during Clean the Burg on Sept. 6 and Sept. 7. Clean the Burg was a new community event brought together by City of Warrensburg, Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce and Warrensburg Main Street as part of the Love What’s Local campaign.

• In a community that embraces the time-honored relationship between dogs and humans, evidenced by the famous Old Drum statue on the courthouse front lawn, cadets at the Central Missouri Police Academy took that relationship one step further. Cadets devoted a physical training session on Sept. 10 to working out with dogs housed at the Old Drum and Friends Animal Shelter.

• RISE Community Services hosted its fourth annual gala, A Night of Inspiration: A Star Is Born, on Sept. 14 at Knob Hill Barn 1892 as a celebration of the accomplishments the organization’s individuals have achieved throughout the year as well as a thank you to the event’s donors. Dinner and entertainment were provided to attendees, which included an auction, raffle prizes and guest speaker Sean Morrissey, a RISE vocational employee. Warrensburg Police Department Chief Rich Lockhart emceed the gala.

• More than 300 people enjoyed a city-wide family event on Sept. 6 in the parking lot of Hawthorne Plaza Shopping Center. This was the third year for the Back To School Outdoor Movie Night, which featured a showing of DreamWorks Animation’s production “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” on a full-size outdoor theater screen. The back-to-school celebration was free to attend, thanks to Quarry City Savings and Loan, who sponsored the event in full. The Warrensburg R-6 School District, the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce and RE/MAX United once again hosted the event. Big Brothers Big Sisters joined this year, providing freshly popped popcorn to all in attendance. Guests began arriving several hours before the movie began; setting up lawn chairs and arranging blankets to secure the perfect spot to enjoy the movie before heading over to partake in the free fun.

• Jim Pryde was named the 2019 Johnson County American Heart Association’s Heart Walk featured survivor.

• With his own development on the agenda, Planning and Zoning Commission member Jeff Terry abstained from voting during the Sept. 16 PZC meeting. The PZC voted to approve the final plat for Brentwood Plaza Lot Two, owned by Brentwood Plaza LLC. Brentwood Plaza LLC applied to have Lot Two, located at 800 N. Maguire St. and 210 and 208 E. Russell Avenue, developed as a shopping plaza.

• Hank and Marilyn Hamann made a donation to the Early Childhood Hunger Operation on behalf of the Todd Hamann Memorial Foundation.

• HCA Midwest Health Specialty Care — Warrensburg hosted its grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 19 at its recently established office at 510 Foster Lane.

• The Johnson County Farm Bureau recognized former DSJ reporter Sue Sterling at its annual meeting in September.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.