Photo Gallery | St. Joseph-Ogden football rolls to 28-0 win over Pontiac

Brady Buss celebrates in the end zone
Senior Brady Buss prepares to leap into the air after scoring on TD pass from Evan Ingram to shoulder bump a member of the student section wearing his jersey number. Buss had a trio of catches for 82 yards against the visiting Indians.
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Homing in like a Tomohawk cruise missile, Bryson Helfrich lays into Pontiac quarterback Cameron Gillette for a sack. At the conclusion of this season, the Spartan football program can expect big things on defense from the sophomore for two more seasons.
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Keaton Nolan heads for the end zone after taking a handoff from quarterback Evan Ingram during the Spartans' first home game of the season. For a second consecutive meeting the St. Joseph-Ogden football team posted a shutout against the Indians posting a 28-0 victory. Improving to 1-1 on the season, SJO travels to Charleston on Thursday to take on the Trojans in a non-conference contest.
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Ethan Vanliew slaps hands as he races down the tunnel during pre-game introductions. Later in his role as kicker, the junior delivered 215 yards on five kickoffs and punted for 39 yards on two attempts. On defense, Vanliew tallied five tackles, one for a loss, in the first home game of the season.
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

St. Joseph-Ogden High School student fans cheer after big play in the first half. The student fan section was moved from the bleachers to the east end zone. The new seating location made for a much more exciting and memorable high school game experience.
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

SJO's Isaiah Moore sheds a Pontiac defensive player. Moore, a junior, finished 48 yards rushing on offense and was credited with one solo tackle and two assists.
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Spartans Alex Funk, Hayden Brazelton and Keaton Nolan tie up Pontiac's Aaron Adcock during first quarter play. The St. Joseph-Ogden defense held the Indians to just seven first downs in the 28-0 shutout.
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

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Filling time productively key to reducing loneliness

Photo: Cottonbro/Pexels
Family Features - Even before COVID-19 limited social contact with friends, family and colleagues, many adults experienced loneliness and depression due to limited contact with others. A national survey in 2018 by Cigna discovered loneliness levels have reached an all-time high, with nearly half of 20,000 U.S. adults reported they sometimes or always felt alone.

With shelter-in-place mandates in place around the country, the pandemic forced many more people into even greater levels of isolation. Between stay-at-home orders or wanting to avoid coming down with COVID, Americans over the age of 50 spent a lot more time alone. And that isn't a good thing.

Despite the physical implications of a global pandemic, research shows the mental health stakes are high, too.

Wikipedia says, "Social isolation is a state of complete or near-complete lack of contact between an individual and society. It differs from loneliness, which reflects temporary and involuntary lack of contact with other humans in the world."

In another nationwide survey, commissioned by Barclays, it found that half of Americans over the age of 50 said the isolation from their friends and family has been more challenging than concerns over health risks they may face.

Social isolation has provided plenty of time for Americans to reflect on their priorities. The majority of Americans surveyed (90%) have re-evaluated their post age-50 goals and put spending more time with family at the top of their lists. In fact, the most common first thing 50-plus Americans will do once COVID-19 is over is to see and spend time with their families (41%).

"While restrictions are beginning to ease, many older adults are still isolated from friends and family, and that takes a toll on their mental well-being" said Lisa Marsh Ryerson, president of the AARP Foundation. "We must do all we can to help older adults, who have suffered greatly during COVID-19, strengthen the social connections that are so essential to their ability to lead longer, healthier lives."

For example, AARP Foundation's Connect2Affect platform equips older adults with the tools they need to stay physically and mentally healthy and connected to their communities. The AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays is helping fund the foundation's work to increase social connection with donations based on new accounts and eligible purchases, up to $1 million annually.

A little creativity and a commitment to filling time productively can help reduce the strain of being alone until it's safer to resume social activities.

Use technology to connect with loved ones. Video chats and traditional phone calls can help you feel connected even when you can't be together in person. While a drop-in call can be fun, consider arranging regular visits with kids and grandkids. If you schedule calls throughout the week, you'll have something regular to look forward to and can benefit from a check-in that affirms everyone is healthy and safe.

Make time for physical activity. Staying closer to home may mean you're not getting the exercise you once did, but it's important for your health to stay active. Regularly using your muscles helps keep your body strong, and even light physical activity a few times each week can help keep your cardiovascular system fit for better heart health. Regular exercise can also provide a range of positive mental health outcomes, including reduced stress, anxiety and depression, and improved memory.

Volunteer in your community or consider virtual volunteering. Helping others is a way to release feel-good endorphins for yourself. While your limited social calendar may afford you some extra time, inquire with local nonprofits about how you can contribute to their causes. Especially as funding for charitable organizations has dropped, volunteers are still essential to most nonprofit organizations, whether the help comes in person or virtually. Even from a distance, you may be able to help with tasks like making calls to donors, assisting with mailings or planning fundraising campaigns.

Learn a new hobby or skill. Another way to fill your free time, and reap some positive energy, is to explore a new hobby or skill. The personal satisfaction of learning and focusing your mental energy on something that interests you can help offset the disappointment of being away from those you love.

Find more resources that support older adults at

A matter of trust; why skepticism with COVID runs high in rural areas

by Sarah Jane Tribble
Photo:Clark Young/Unsplash
At 70, Linda Findley has long been active in her small town of Fort Scott, Kansas, which sits more than an hour away from any major city.

Findley, whose husband died in an accident just after the local hospital closed, helps with the Elks and fundraising, and — like many people in this part of the country — doesn’t think covid-19 is that dangerous.

"I don't even know what I think about it," Findley said recently. "I don't know if I trust the testing because it's so messed up or … I've had nieces and nephews, that’ve had it. I've lost good friends to it, or supposedly it's to that."

Findley said she just isn't sure that every case reported as the coronavirus really is the virus: "Everything seems to be coronavirus. I mean, it's just … no matter what somebody has, it's coronavirus. I don’t know whether it is or isn’t."

Fort Scott is one of nearly 140 rural communities that have lost a hospital in the past decade. Mercy Hospital Fort Scott closed in December 2018.

Even though critically ill patients now must travel to hospitals farther away, Fort Scott residents haven't seen that as a pandemic-related problem. Rather, not having a hospital doesn’t really come up when people here talk about covid.

Dave Martin, the former city manager, is pretty sure he caught covid at work last August.

"You know, when I got it, I was in good health and it did take me a while to recover," Martin said. "I do remember waking up one of my bad nights and thinking, when I was running a temperature and not feeling very well. And I’m thinking, 'Oh, wow, this could kill me.'"

But Martin also thought that any number of unpredictable events could end a person’s life. "So it didn’t really stick with me," he said.

After recovering, the 62-year-old Martin went ahead with his retirement. He took his wife to Disney World and then they hiked Yellowstone National Park.

That casual attitude toward the dangers of covid worries health care leaders in Fort Scott. Jason Wesco helps lead the regional health center that took over primary care services when the hospital closed. One clinic occupies part of the same building that used to be Mercy Hospital.

Wesco said his family is careful about wearing masks and not gathering in groups, and he believes they are in the minority in the area.

"I think most people just keep going. They have maybe modified a little bit. Maybe they put on a mask in public," Wesco said. "I think life here has changed a lot less than it’s changed in D.C. And I think we’re seeing the impact of that, right?"

The pandemic hit the area hard in the fall, peaking in late December.

One in 11 people in Bourbon County, where Fort Scott is the largest community, has been infected by covid, according to national analysis.

Two dozen of the county's 14,000 residents have died of covid. And most people know someone who had the virus and survived — but residents just seem tired of talking about it.

Community volunteer Findley said she won’t get a vaccine.

"How did they come up with a vaccine that quickly? And how do they even know for sure it’s even working?" Findley wondered.

The three vaccines approved by federal regulators in the U.S. are being given out to millions, and their efficacy has been shown through massive clinical trials in the U.S. and globally.

But Findley's skepticism is fairly common in southeastern Kansas and across rural America. Nationwide, a smaller share of rural residents say they will definitely get a covid shot compared with their more urban counterparts. More than a third, 35%, of those who live outside big-city borders said they would probably not or definitely not get vaccinated, compared with about a quarter of suburban and urban residents, according to a poll by KFF. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll found that 47% of Trump supporters said they would not get a vaccine; 75% of Bourbon County residents voted for Trump in 2020.

Factors such as age and occupation also play a role in attitudes toward the vaccines. And — as Findley and others in Fort Scott noted — rural Americans are more likely to think of getting a vaccine as a personal choice and believe the seriousness of covid is exaggerated in the news.

Findley said she believes that there is a very bad virus, but also that the media have brainwashed people. The news has "everybody running scared," she said. "I don’t know why they want to do that, but that’s what I feel like."

About 50% of rural residents say the seriousness of the coronavirus is generally exaggerated in the news, according to the KFF poll. And 62% see getting the vaccine as a personal choice — rather than a necessary social obligation.

Wesco, executive vice president of the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, said he has hope more area residents will begin to see the vaccines as necessary.

"There’s hesitancy," Wesco said, adding that he believes hesitancy is declining as vaccines become more abundant.

When residents are directly provided the opportunity to get a vaccine, they consider it more seriously, he said. And the more people they know who have gotten a vaccine, the more likely they will be to get a shot.

The Community Health Center, like other health centers nationwide, is receiving direct federal shipments of vaccines. Currently, the clinic has a waitlist and is giving out as many doses as it can get its hands on.

Sarah Jane Tribble is reporter and host of "Where It Hurts", a narrative podcast created by KHN and St. Louis Public Radio about the people of Fort Scott and how their health care transformed after the hospital closed. "Where It Hurts" is available wherever you get your podcasts.

Subscribe to KHN's free Morning Briefing.

Seniors honored at first home game of the season

Max Shonkwiler and his parents, Carly and Craig, pose for photos during senior night at last Friday's home football game against Pontiac. He and four other football seniors, along with the senior statisticans, band members and cheerleaders, were honored before kickoff. Shonkwiler, who did not play due to an injury, helped the Spartans to a 28-0 win from the sidelines. Below are photos of each of the seniors recognized during the ceremony.
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

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