Liz Holliday

Communications Specialist
Archive for August, 2012

How you can help rebuild the Joplin mosque

This was reported on KOAM News, on August 7, 2012:

KOAM TV 7 Joplin and Pittsburg

JOPLIN, MO- The Joplin community proves once again that they can come together to lend a hand in the face of destruction. The aftermath of Monday’s mosque fire is no different.

Less than 48 hours after the Islamic Center of Joplin burned to the ground church members are already thinking of rebuilding.

“It was not just a mosque, it was a community center too,” says Faiqa Camran, a member of the Islamic Society of Joplin. “We had the Sunday School here for the kids. We had soccer games and cricket games, and kids, they play in the summer time.”

From pot lucks to interfaith dinners, the site served the Islamic community since 2007.

For the members it is still hard to believe it is gone.

“You think of how you’ll react when you see other stories, but when it happens to you’re actually in it, it is like time slows down, but any positive story and anyone reaching out really makes a difference,” says Hina Qidwai, another member of the Islamic Society of Joplin.

But reaching out is exactly what the local community is trying to do, from Facebook posts to anonymous donations.

Ashley Carter is organizing a wider fundraiser for the mosque from her dorm at Ozark Christian College in Joplin.

“It just kind of sky rocketed into this rally, this rally of just sort of promoting love within the community, of uniting each other,” Carter says.

The event called Neighbors will be held on August 25 at Landreth Park and will include live bands, food and promoting community togetherness.

“We’re going to be raising money for the community that was effected, as of their pressing needs is going to be going directly to them,” says Carter.

The rally isn’t the only way concerned citizens can help.

The Islamic Center of Joplin is now accepting donations to their Post Office Box in Joplin and also at the Commerce Bank on North Main in Joplin.

Child support cases on the rise; fewer people paying them

This story originally aired on August 6, 2012 on KOAM News

Oklahoma child support cases are on the rise in Ottawa County while actual child support payments are down.

The month of August marks a federal awareness month for child support and the Ottawa Child Support Center will hold events all month long to educate the public on the issue.

“My first ex has $10,000 in back child support and my other ex is coming up on $5,000 and it would be a lot more helpful if I could actually receive any of that,” says Brandy Schmitt.

Schmitt is a single mother of four working a part-time job to pay her bills, something that makes it more difficult when the fathers of her children refuse to pay their child support on time.

“I love my kids, I don’t even have any words for it and then for them not to even want to help financially, it’s ridiculous,” says Schmitt.

Schmitt is taking the men to court this week to get her money and justice.

“Have some consequence – I mean they’ve been going so long without paying their child support and helping me with their kids – something should happen,” Schmitt says. “I’m hoping that they have to pay.”

Schmitt isn’t alone. Around 140 cases involving back child support are scheduled at the Ottawa County courthouse this week.

Authorities say they are currently around 2,500 open cases in Ottawa County, and the Ottawa Child Support Center says the recent Blitz plant closure and Tracker factory layoffs in Miami will only worsen the problem.

“Looking over the last three years we’ve had a steady decrease in collections, I think based mainly on the economy, the fact that we’ve lost several jobs in the area that were the better paying jobs,” says Jammie Sartie of the Ottawa County Child Support Center.

Not not everyone is fighting the Child Support Enforcement Agency to pay their child support. Rhett Green is a mechanic and father of one, who says he’s happy to pay his child support and thinks others should as well.

“I just think it’s something you’re supposed to do,” Green says. “If you have a kid you’re supposed to take care of them. Take care of your kids people.”

Spreading the word about breastfeeding benefits

Originally reported on July 31st, 2012 for KOAM News.

Freeman Hospital receives a grant to help develop the Southwest Missouri Breastfeeding Coalition to educate women on the benefits of putting down the baby bottle.  The new coalition is a joint effort with Mercy Hospital and the City of Joplin, and hopes to raise breastfeeding rates over the next three years.

New mom Stephanie Nixon always felt that breastfeeding her son Dalton was the natural thing to do, but that didn’t stop her from looking at other options.

“I did some research and formula babies are more likely to be overweight, more likely to have long term health issues than breast fed babies and that just reinforced my decision that I wanted to breast feed anyway,” says Nixon.

Breastfeeding levels in Missouri are lower than the national average and that’s why Freeman thought it was important to have vital information available for moms-to-be.

“A lot of it is just education,” says Project Coordinator Cathy Brown.  “Breastfeeding isn’t seen as a norm.  A lot of women see it as an additional way to feed a child but not the normal way to feed a child.”

Breast milk awareness is becoming a national trend.  New York City’s mayor has even suggested putting formula under lock and key to prevent new mothers from using it.

But lactation specialist Dee Alejandro says that’s not necessary.

“Wince the nurses don’t give formula unless it’s ordered, or unless mom asks for it, I really don’t think there is a need to lock it up,” says Alejandro.

According to the hospital newborns should be solely breast feed for the first six months of life.

Breast Feeding Awareness month starts August 1.  Supporters across the nation will use the month to educate the public about the benefits of breast milk, even if takes some getting used to.

Growing problem of designer drugs

Originally reported on July 27, 2012 for KOAM News



GROVE, OKLAHOMA -Federal agents were breaking down doors this week to confiscate more than $36 million worth of synthetic drugs from 31 states.  An emergency room doctor in Grove, Oklahoma says two years ago he rarely saw synthetic drug cases in the emergency room.

Now, he sees them two to three times a week.”It’s becoming a bigger problem,” says Dr. F.C. Eaton of Integris Grove.  “We’re seeing an increase in the number of cases that seem to be coming through.”

Since there is no blood or urine test in the emergency room, doctors look for obvious symptoms in patients like hyper or erratic behavior.  But usually they must wait and hear it from the patient themselves.

“It’s generally a younger generation, they’re scared and you start quizzing them, and come to find out that’s what they’ve taken,” says Dr. Eaton.

The lack of an immediate test has not only caused problems for emergency room doctors, it’s also caused problems for law enforcement as well.  While drugs like marijuana or cocaine can be tested for immediately, synthetic drugs can not.

“Smells like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s usually a duck, but that’s not good enough for a core system, so we have it tested, and that takes time,” says Sgt. John Marrow of the Grove Police Department.

Grove police say the way to combat this problem is two fold:  education and getting it off of the shelf.

“Our administration has plans in the future of offering training of all emergency personal to help to recognize the symptoms of those people using so we’re better able to serve our citizens,” says Sgt. Marrow.

With task forces across the nation cracking down and educating the public on this drug officials say hopefully its harmful usage will soon be in decline.