Seven Hills Art Camp

For the past four years our daughter, Mackenzie, has been attending the Seven Hills Art Camp that is held during the summer. For the first time, they expanded it to two weeks this summer. The theme for the first week was wings, with a focus on birds. Mackenzie’s favorite part was making bird kites! The camp was founded and taught by Roberta Hammer, family friend and local artist. Throughout the year, Roberta also hosts an art class weekly at the Good Samaritan Center and gives lessons on various art methods to the students of various ages.

This year, Roberta asked my husband, Jason, if he would co-teach the camps with her. He enjoyed getting to be a part of the experience in teaching the camp! Here’s a feature of some of their work together over the past two weeks:

They made a giant nest that was big enough for all of the campers to fit in!

These photos above were all taken by Dr. S. Jason Cole. :)

The second week of Art Camp was themed “Pollinators”

Jason taught all of the students how to make their own insects out of wire by bending and shaping it to look like their pollinator.

My husband Jason taught the students lessons in stop-motion animation. Here are some videos from the two weeks:



To see another feature on the Seven Hills Art Camp, click here! 

Save the Bees 

Did you know 16 ounces of honey requires 1,152 bees to travel 112,000 miles and visit 4.5 million flowers? 

A single colony of honeybees can pollinate 300 million flowers per day. There are up to 80,000 honeybees in a colony. A single bee colony can produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey annually. 

Each year a honeybee hive collects 66 pounds of pollen. A honeybee carries up to 35% of its body weight in pollen. A honeybee will visit 50 to 100 flowers per flight. That’s an average of 26,667 trips for 1 pound of honey! 

For more fun and interesting facts on honeybees, click here. 

In the meantime, save the bees! The MU Extension Council is offering a beekeeping program coming up soon! See below for details! 


mama fox

For such a long time Mackenzie has adored foxes. When she was small we got her a stuffed fox that you can tell is a favorite now because the fur is worn down. Within the last year we found a small one that looks just like it that then became her baby. The book that follows was inspired by her own little animals. Hope you enjoy!














Six-year-old Author/Illustrator Mackenzie Cole and her dad letting Mama Fox drink out of Mackenzie’s straw


Touring an Abandoned Missile Silo

We went on shoot back in January with Jason, who is working on a new project which focuses on sustainability. This man, Matthew Fulkerson, is taking an abandoned nuclear missile silo and rebuilding it into a home and environment that has everything that might be needed to survive if our governmental system were to collapse. He will be turning that silo into a training facility for others to come and learn self survival techniques.



This is what the missile base looks like from the outside today. There are two watch towers.


Walking in to the facility



On one side next to the bay, there is a shop. In recent years, this area has been used to build Ultralight Aircrafts.


What it looked like at the time. It was up and running by 1959 and shut down by 1965. Thirty million was used on the facility at the time. Nowadays that would be over $100 million. It was purchased for $40,000.


Standing in the missile bay talking about the bomb!



Crane used to move the missile into place.


Looking down into the flame exhaust port where the base of the missile would sit and then upon launch, the fire underneath would shoot down into this shaft and be exhausted out.

The bay where the missile was kept.

Found in the shop
16142546_1417157164963594_7998073066571700816_nHeading in to the living quarters section of the underground facility.

The launching device. No longer in operation, of course.

Artist’s rendition of the project

A peace sanctuary has now been set up where the control room was located.



Matthew Fulkerson explains the story of meeting and marrying his wife at the facility. Matthew is working on converting his own silo and establishing it as a training center for others to learn survival techniques. He is the subject of Jason’s documentary.

Family picture on top of the tower overlooking the property.

Limestone pillars arranged in a circle with evergreens circling the area and a fire pit in the middle for lunar and solstice celebrations.

Jason Cole…Iron Man

My husband Jason is a jack of all trades. I often refer to him as the Renaissance Man, because he likes projects and art of all kinds, and he seems to be good at everything. This past week he was asked to make a special gift for a father who runs in Ironman Triathlons. They wanted him to have it for inspiration in his work out room!

Here are some progress pictures from the making of the sign:

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Jason built this sign a little different than the others he’s been making, creating a light box for additional accent.

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Our dining room table often becomes a workbench, because we don’t have a workshop, yet.

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He even lets Mackenzie in on the fun. Notice that he’s carefully observing the whole time! (Serious about his work!)

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By cutting out the logo of the triathlons, He can create a lit effect from behind that really makes it pop!

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Putting the finishing touches along the edges. All of Jason’s work is hand painted.

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Touring the Ennovation Center business/food incubator

Yesterday I joined some of our city’s leaders on a tour of the Ennovation Center that is located in Independence, Missouri and serves as a business and food processing incubator for our region. There they’ve taken an old hospital and converted it into space that is leased out to business entrepreneurs, providing all the tools they need in order to succeed! Our city is looking at the concept in order to reimagine some of our older properties that have, over time, become blighted and unusable.


Xander Winkel, “Entrepreneurship Enabler”, as he calls himself, gave us a full tour of the Ennovation Center’s facility. Right away you could sense his energy and passion for the work that he does there. He explained to us that the center is run as a non-profit and has a 501(c)(3) status. It serves companies in the early stages of their business plans so that they don’t have to initially take on a lot of debt. This allows the business owner to try out their plan and see how it goes first. He explained that a majority do not go on, but now they’ve learned that it’s not for them without the debt that would otherwise be involved without the center.


Multiple kitchen spaces are located throughout the center and are leased hourly by those involved in the program. The incubator is for business use only,  and not open to the community. Those involved have to be able to show an economic return in the form of jobs or development in order to continue. Xander explained that along with the program is direct access to business consultants who work with each of the members of the program on their business plan and development as they grow.
This is a gluten free room that is separate from the other areas of the incubator. Mostly baking is done in this area. Syrup production for soda that has to be separated from the other areas for food production laws and this space allows for that.
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Cooler spaces with cages are available for lease as well. Xander assured us that most of those in the center play nice with their manners taught to them in kindergarten, and they share and don’t take others things. If they have that kind of behavior, they would be removed from the program, so they don’t see a lot of problems with the shared space experience.
The space is open 24/7 so that it works for the schedule of the entrepreneurs. Some work a regular job all day and then use their evenings and nights to come in and work on their business plan.
Training is offered on particular pieces of equipment throughout the facility. Most have cooking experience, not business experience. That’s why they have tools in place to work with them on turning their talent into something profitable.
Taking us then upstairs in the center, we were introduced to the business side of the incubator. Xander explained that in the business side, many service providers, non-profits, and technicians are the ones using the space mainly. Those that have been maybe working from home or a coffee shop and is looking for a more professional place to meet clients or have a space for production is a good fit for this program.
Entrepreneurs have access to a commercial copier and are charged separately. Phone and internet, as well as access to the business consultants are included with the lease.
Xander explained that they have to demonstrate that they’re starting a business and are committed to that. And they have to be somewhat coachable, as well as fit well with the other companies that are there. He said very few have had to be let go. Mainly they won’t be able to make a payment or know it won’t work.
I loved looking in to this workspace to see a playpen and toddler set up with their mom. This is exactly the flexibility that many women would need in order to see their business dream come true. Allowing an open space for people to work and have their needs met, while not taking a risk that might set them back decades if they were to fail or choose not to continue, is an investment into the future of our people. I’m grateful to live in a community that is open to thinking about ways that this could work for us. I’m honored to be included.

I Belong to a Secret Sisterhood Called PEO

I am proud to belong to Chapter CJ of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, which I have been a part of since I graduated in the year 2000. The group is made up of women who are invited to join after displaying qualities that are looked for in a sisterhood. Those qualities include justice, faith, truth, love and purity.


The Sisterhood is international and was founded in 1869. It is strongly committed to further women’s opportunities in education, with the main project for the sisterhood being the financial support for Cottey College (est. 1884).

Cottey is an independent, liberal arts and sciences college for women located in Nevada (pronounced Na-Vay-Duh), Missouri. There are an estimated 350 students each year and they rightfully pride themselves on their acceptance of so many international students each year. Typically around 25 countries are represented each year.

In addition to the support for Cottey, the P.E.O. Sisterhood also supports a number of different funding opportunities for women seeking education. After all, that is what the acronym stands for: Philanthropic Educational Organization. *wink*

For more information, please visit

My Mock Jury Experience

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A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from a random number in Texas. Normally I don’t pick up the phone, but I did this time. At first I thought it was a scam and was kind of direct with the woman on the other end of the phone. She explained that she couldn’t tell me who was paying for the focus group to be formed, but that I would receive $250 for participating. So of course I said, “Sign me up!”

When I got to the hotel I was asked to sign in. Then they ushered us to a room that was filled with pastries, coffee, and good company, as I visited with the other people selected to participate. Then there was a gentleman that came into the room and explained what we would be doing that day. At this point, we were sworn to secrecy regarding any of the details of the case that was being presented to us. Also, I plan to stick to that promise and won’t reveal any of what I know about an actual pending lawsuit here in our county.

Next we were taken to another room, where the plaintiff’s attorney spoke to us for over two hours laying out all the details of the case. The attorney used video clips of interviews with people, contracts that had been signed, and pictures of the subject to give us a better storyline and perception of the situation at hand. At times, he was very emotional and almost had me getting choked up.

After this we were given lunch and told not to discuss the case with any of the other participants. This was tough because at this point in time, I had already taken four pages of notes with questions that I wanted clarified before making a decision of who I felt was at fault.

When we were finished with lunch, we were ushered back to the attorney’s room where we then heard from the defendant’s attorney. Basically the other side of the story was offered, with some additional details and pivot points for those of us in the “mock jury” to consider. Another four pages of notes were written, but I would never have the opportunity to ask those questions, because after the defendant’s attorney spoke, the plaintiff’s attorney got back up and refuted each of the points that the defendant had made.

Now was the time for us to meet as a jury and decide on the case. There were 30 participants in all, which were split into two groups. In order to come to a consensus, we had to have at least 12 jurors agree. This was not an easy task for the group that I was put in. While being recorded, each of us were allowed 2 minutes to go around the room, sharing our thoughts, and finding points that we could all agree on. Often jurors would be interrupted, either with other jurors agreeing with the points that they were making, or asking questions for the juror to clarify what they meant. In the end, exactly 12 jurors came to consensus, while several were left feeling as though their voice didn’t matter.

This experience was eye-opening and gave me a better look into the decision making process that juried lawsuits go through when considering cases. The lawsuit that I learned of still may go to court, but as the moderator explained, the result of our decision that day could be what determines an outcome for this case and it won’t be brought to trial.

7 Interesting Facts About Excelsior Springs

Here are seven interesting facts about our history here in Excelsior Springs, through the Hall of Waters building:

Fact #1

At its height, the Hall of Waters was the most completely outfitted health resort in the state and possible the region. Waters of ten main springs were piped into the longest mineral water bar in the world.

Photo by Kevin Morgan,

Photo by Kevin Morgan,

Fact #2

There are more groupings of mineral water in Excelsior Springs than anywhere else in the world.

Fact #3

The interior and exterior decoration incorporates Art Deco and Depression Modern styling with motifs of Mayan Indian tradition relating to water and Water Gods.

Photo by Kevin Morgan,

Photo by Kevin Morgan,


Fact #4

At the height of its popularity, over 10,000 people a day visited the Hall of Waters.

Fact #5

One of the most outstanding exterior features of the building is the decorative boiler stack tower for the original coal fired boilers, rising about 63 feet above the main roof.

Photo by Kevin Morgan,

Photo by Kevin Morgan,


Fact #6

Known as the ‘Great Bathing Pool’ the swimming pool in the basement was filled with saline water from the White Sulphur Saline spring.

Fact #7

Siloam Spring was the first of the mineral waters discovered in Excelsior Springs. It is the only natural supply of ferro-manganese mineral water in the United States and one of only five known worldwide.

Special thanks to Sonya Morgan for her time in research and providing this information.

Click here for more information about our history or to plan your next visit!

Photo by Kevin Morgan,

Photo by Kevin Morgan,

Political threats are real, and I’ve heard it firsthand

With the tragedy that our country has just witnessed from the shooting at the baseball game in Virginia, it has reminded me of a letter I wrote that was published in the Kansas City Star from when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot while in her district speaking at an event at a grocery store. Thirteen were shot and nine were killed, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old child. Much of what I had to say then, I believe, is still pertinent to today.

This letter that I wrote originally ran in the January 12, 2011 edition of the Kansas City Star –

All over America, people spent last weekend in shock over the senseless murder of six people and the wounding of another 13 in Arizona. It was heartbreaking to read quotes from the family of victim 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green that said she was excited about the political process.

Unfortunately, the political process is ill.

In the last election cycle, when I ran for state representative, I received several threats of gun violence on the campaign trail. The most serious involved a municipal elected official in my area. On the day of the primary, I went to a polling location in my district where I stood and greeted individuals as they left the poll after voting. A municipal elected official heard me speaking with another individual about labor issues as he left the poll with his wife. He became very hostile with me and claimed that he would do whatever possible to see that I wasn’t elected after hearing my support for workers.

A police report on his side of the event states: “According to him they argued … until she asked if he was going to hit her. His reply was, ‘No, but can you outrun a nine millimeter?’”

To me, this was a threat and I was concerned enough to go to the police. But I didn’t draw attention to these incidents during the race. My point in sharing this story now is not to rehash the campaign. I want to offer a specific local example of violence in politics. We would like to think that the vitriol is only a part of the national political scene, however, it made its way to Johnson County, Mo.

I believe we have a responsibility to ourselves, Democrats to Republicans, conservatives to liberals, to respect our democracy and political process as well as each other. Our political environment has become more and more hostile. The unseen victims of the current chaos are all of us. Constructive debate is overshadowed by cheap slams and dishonest robo calls.

Not only does it cost us respect for our neighbors, it crowds out the reason needed to solve our collective problems and make coherent decisions about the future.

We can commit to civility. We can be an example of faith in the democracy that has guided us to being the greatest nation on earth. Just as the mother of the young girl who lost her life last weekend pleads, “I just want her memory to live on because she was a face of hope … a face of us coming together as a country to stop the violence and hatred and the evil words.”

Click here for more information, including the police report on this situation, thanks to the folks at ShowMeProgress. 

And click here for a follow up of what happened after the letter was published.