Stars are Aligned in Excelsior Springs

My Monday has made me feel like maybe the stars are aligned or something! I’ve had such an amazing start to my week!

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Morning ritual

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I love that she lets me braid her hair almost every time I ask.

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We were early enough to school that we had to wait five minutes for the bell! That never happens! We are almost always sprinting to be there!

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On the walk back to the house I couldn’t resist capturing these. It was super chilly this morning, we could even see our breath. Normally I’m freezing all the time, but this morning I felt fine. It was weird.

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Hey! Hey! Hey!!!

Got in to work to find a letter from the Missouri Parks Dept of Natural Resources awarding our school district with a $10,000 grant to build a new playground for our Early Childhood Center! The kiddos there will be getting a new swing set, play equipment, and slide! We even plan for a special rocking play equipment that is meant to help those children with autism and a therapy swing, for those kiddos too big for a toddler swing but still in need of extra support.

This would not have happened without the early childhood teachers requests for a better play area for their students. We also have to thank our school board, who committed to match the project with another $10,000 to fully equip the space for the students. It has been a pleasure working with the Missouri Parks Department, and I look forward to managing this project.

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Quick run over to Mackenzie’s school to copy 1,050 of these Boo Gram forms off so I can get them into the kiddos backpacks before next week. As a fundraiser students pay 25 cents to send their friend a blow pop covered to look like a ghost for Halloween.

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Surprise lunch with my brother and parents at Wabash BBQ! I just happened to see my brother driving down the street when I was leaving Lewis and he was meeting Mom and Dad! We talked about movies and what’s good on Netflix. It was fun!

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Finished counting out and delivering to the teachers all the boo grams! Phew!

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This afternoon there was a call to the fire department for an apartment at the high rise being on fire. Since it’s right around the corner Mack and I walked over to check it out.

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“Mackenzie…”
“What?”
“Stand over by the fountain and let me take your picture?”
“Why?”
“Just because.”

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She said the word for this challenge was “mysterious”. #inktober

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After dropping Mackenzie at play rehearsal and getting home, it was at this moment that I realized the vintage set of steak knives my aunt gave me yesterday were still in my purse. Oops. They’ve been with me all day!

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Looks like it’s time to harvest!

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My husband loves cacti

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I had about 45 min to kill before picking up Mackenzie to go to piano, so I brought Sketch out into the backyard for a bit. He chased a black cat out of the yard and was on the hunt after that.

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Looking up

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“Hey, Mackenzie!”
“What?”
“Have fun at piano! Love you!”

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When I got to the City Council meeting, I was just in time to hear the Mayor’s proclamation to John and Vera Brunke for the retirement in their 96th year of business here in Excelsior Springs with Brunke Hardware.

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The Mayor Brad Eales then presented the Excelsior Springs Business Women a proclamation deeming this week as Business Women’s Week here in Excelsior! 

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The proclamation the Mayor gave us for Business Women’s Week here in Excelsior Springs. We have an awesome Mayor, as you can see.

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I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the Solarium while in the Hall. It draws me to it. Can you see why?

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Look how the film around the lights matches the tiles on the outside of the building.

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Looking over the front lawn at Broadway below.

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The lights kicked on just as I was leaving the Hall

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This tree is just getting started. Soon she will be in a full vibrant color that will blow you away! 

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Have a nice week, everyone! Thanks for following along!

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To follow along in more of my daily adventures also visit ——>

A Day for Renovation

Such a Great Day!

Fall has Fallen Upon Excelsior Springs

Great Start to the Week

Fishing River Walk

A Day in the Life

Follow as I take you along, on a day in the life of Courtney Cole…

I love mornings on the boulevard, when the Sun is in the East and warms everything up with its radiating presence. This is what greets me while walking Mackenzie to school.

Meeting with a good friend at the Elms to discuss internship possibilities for our students at the Career Center. The Elms is a wonderful partner for our school district. We appreciate them being open to possibilities in giving students real world experience!

I obviously couldn’t get enough of this amazing fountain in front of the hotel. With the Sun behind it in the mornings, it’s beautiful.

My next stop was to Spirit Pack, where I got to see the last of the three orders I placed for Homecoming come off the line, ready for packaging.

Recently I organized t-shirt sales for Mackenzie’s elementary school, the alumni association, and the educational foundation.

Spirit Pack is a local shop that offers promotional materials to market your business or organization. It’s nice having them in town but they actually do business across the nation.

Quick stop at Aunt Molly’s to talk Budding Artists. Aunt Molly offers painting workshops to kiddos every Wednesday evening. She donates 20% of the proceeds back to our Educational Foundation! So grateful!

Couldn’t resist taking a pic of these cute Halloween creatures in Aunt Molly’s studio. So fun and she’s got a bunch of cute stuff right now for Fall.

I don’t know the names of any of the pictures of flowers that I take for you. I also don’t have a green thumb. In fact, I’m known in the plant community as the “plant killer.” I still appreciate their beauty and am drawn to want to photograph them. 😊

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'm a board member of SAFE Community, which is a local committee whose goal is to prevent drug addiction and destructive decisions in our kids. I took this to share with our local community.

I run a Facebook group for Excelsior and try to keep them updated on what's going on. Let me know if you want me to put you in. 🙂

Picked up the alumni t-shirts that are ready just in time for Homecoming tomorrow! Spent the afternoon sorting and selling shirts to alums who dropped in to get their orders.

Tomorrow we are having an alumni tailgate, before the Homecoming game. I’m going to be signing folks up for the alumni association. Anyone who donates $20 or more to the Foundation will be recognized as a founding member! This will provide us with seed money to get our association started. So exciting!

This evening we walked down to Wabash BBQ and met my parents for dinner. Couldn’t resist taking a photo of the hotel, though. My castle at the end of the street.

I had the Golden Spike chicken sandwich at Wabash and have determined it’s the best chicken sandwich in Excelsior, for sure.

Stables at the Elms. When my Aunt Molly was growing up, her job was at the stables, taking care of the horses. She had a horse that she rode everywhere she went and at night she would tie him up on the boulevard. She’s always loved animals so much.

He’s almost done with painting her room what he calls “The Royal Tenenbaums” pink. I agree and think he’s such a great dad. 💗

Thanks for following along! Still loving these mums!

5 Places to Volunteer in Excelsior Springs

Are you wanting to get involved and aren’t sure where to start here in Excelsior Springs? I get asked quite a bit how to get involved and who to contact. That’s why I’ve put together my Top 5 organizations that could use help consistently throughout they year in one blog post for you to reference! Thanks for your interest in getting involved! There can never be enough volunteers, it seems!

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Good Samaritan Center – Downtown – Contact: Martha Buckman, 816-630-2718
This organization helps those who are less fortunate.There’s a food pantry, thrift store, multiple deliveries throughout the week, landscaping, and office help needed daily.
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Excelsior Springs Museum and Archives – Downtown – Contact: Kathy Duncan, 816-630-0101
Giving tours, helping research, or setting up displays, the museum could use help throughout the week and on Saturdays.
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Downtown Excelsior Partnership – Hall of Waters – Contact: Lyndsey Baxter, 816-637-2811
The businesses of the downtown community came together to form a sales tax base to hire a director, provide funding for beautification, run the Visitor’s Center in the Hall of Waters, and allows downtown businesses to apply for facade grants. They also host events in the downtown every Second Friday and a festival or event each month of the year.
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Chamber of Commerce – Thompson Ave. – Contact: Tosha Jackson, 816-630-6161
The Chamber of Commerce hosts Waterfest, the city’s largest festival every third weekend in June. The committee meets monthly throughout the year to organize. The Chamber also owns the trolleys and could use volunteers to give tours.
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Excelsior Springs Educational Foundation – Downtown – Contact: Courtney Cole (me), 816-630-9200 x1110
The Educational Foundation works on behalf of the Excelsior Springs School District to support classroom projects that go above and beyond what is expected for our students. We are also working on establishing an alumni association. There are a number of opportunities throughout the year to get involved by helping with office work, fundraising dinner in December, and Alumni events during Homecoming.

 

Friday Walk Through Downtown Excelsior Springs

One of my favorite things to do is go on walks with my family in the evening through our downtown. I grew up in the downtown right on 10 Highway and have seen the dramatic changes that it has brought about in recent years.

Much of this is thanks to the businesses in the downtown coming together to form the Downtown Excelsior Partnership (DEP) that offers beautification, signage, and events each month in the downtown.

On every Second Friday of the month, you will find lots of fun things happening in each shop downtown in the evenings. Everyone extends their hours to 9:00pm and usually have live music, featured artists in studios, and sometimes a band in the pocket park during warmer seasons.

When I was growing up, almost all the business fronts were vacant. Now there are multiple restaurants, specialty popcorn, tattoo parlor, event venues, art studios, antique shops, a soap shop, clothing boutiques, fine jewelry store, and more!

If you’re interested in learning more about the downtown and for a full calendar of events throughout the year, click here to go to our community’s website visitexcelsior.com.

Liberal Libations 

Today’s adventure was finally getting a chance to tour my friend Stephen and his wife Janine’s Vineyards and Winery, Four Horses & a Dog. Located just off Salem Road in Excelsior Springs, the Stubbs have done a beautiful job at making the experience warm and inviting! 


Their goal is to provide an environment to come and feel relaxed. They’ve had their tasting room open since April and it has proven to be quite popular, even producing some regulars among the locals in the Excelsior Springs community. Tastings are $5, but if a bottle of wine is purchased, they are free! 


Co-owner Janine Stubbs explained the story of the name came from the fact that at the time, they had Four Horses and a Dog. The dog is what used to put the horses to sleep each night! They are featured on the winery’s labels, but in reality, the Vineyards now only have two horses. 


They also offer craft beers and hard ciders, all from other Missouri distributors. Often you will find Four Horses at local events and offering tastings in area restaurants.


Stephen took us on a tour of the vineyards and Peter Rabbit even made an appearance by stopping in to say hi! 


Stephen explained that harvest would occur about the middle of August, that it would depend entirely on the rain and sun amounts between now and then. There’s a way to measure when the right time is to harvest known as “brix.” Twenty-one Brix is what they prefer to wait for before beginning their harvest. 


Harvesting takes between 3-4 weeks. Stephen said when they started it only took a day and a half, but because of how much they’ve expanded in recent years, it takes much longer now. 

Luckily, they don’t have to do it alone! In fact, they have many volunteers who offer their time and energy to come in and help with the gathering efforts! Each of them receives a t-shirt and bottle of wine! 

Stephen explained too that there were many college students giving their time to help tend the Vineyards throughout the year. One student has been helping at their Vineyards since he was 12 and is now a sophomore in college at K-State! 


The distillery portion of the business is quite interesting as well! There’s a process that I don’t fully understand, but has to be collected and processed over time in order to properly give it the taste everyone expects in a good wine. They put their harvest in the bins and drain the wine until it’s two inches from the bottom and throw out what is known as “lees” or the junk you don’t want (stems, leaves, etc.). There’s a waiting timeframe and then you do it again, around four times to produce the wine they need to bottle and distribute. 

Missouri is known for its sweet red wines, but Four Horses produces more dry and white wines with their grapes. They’ve traveled to Vineyards in Italy and California, bringing back some of the wonderful things they saw. 

There’s a drink called “Luther’s Revenge” which has come to be named this because it is harvested with the grapes from the Lutheran Church, and is made for serving communion there! 

They have a rare Chancellor that is a dry selection with hints of berries and peppers that you will want to be sure to ask for! They also offer a sangria that they don’t sell to take home but instead uses it to hook and reel you in to come back again! 


A perfect outing for a fun group of friends! 


They have food buckets to purchase and enjoy with your wines! 


Their craft beers are from a brewery in Weston, Missouri and they have four different hard ciders from Crown Valley, Missouri. 

In the Path of Totality for the Solar Eclipse!

Here in Excelsior Springs, we are in the Path of Totality for the historic Solar Eclipse coming up on August 21st! To celebrate, we are having a Solar Eclipse Festival downtown on Sunday, August 20 and Monday, August 21! Fortunately, this happens to fall on the same weekend as our BBQ Festival that starts on Friday, so we will be have four days filled with fun going on in our downtown during this time. Click here for more information on the festival!

Our Excelsior Springs Post Office is excited about getting involved in the event and has ordered a special cancellation stamp to be made to coincide with our efforts. My husband, S. Jason Cole, did the design, which is featured below:

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Recently, we met with the Excelsior Springs Post Office, who has told us that the thermal effect stamps they just got in sold out in a heartbeat! They’ve ordered more and will have them available closer to the event date of August 20 and 21! They also plan to be at our festival and want to give it their support. They will have a booth there where they’ll be stamping the above image throughout that Monday!

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I had never been behind the counter of the post office, let alone into the post master’s office and sorting area! I took some pictures to document the occasion for you.

Here’s a work area where they sort all the mail into address order before loading into their postal bags. 


When I was in college I delivered all the mail for my residence hall. I can remember pulling the shelving unit away from the wall, loading all the mail, and then pushing it back against the wall, locking it. I always liked that job. 

Day in Downtown Excelsior Springs 

When friends come to visit we like to take them downtown and show off the things we love about living here. 


We started by dining downtown at Willow Spring Mercantile 


They have the largest selection of Missouri wines and you can enjoy your meal listening to live music in the wine cellar. 


Our friends the Bellis’s at Bliss gave us this cool Royal Grill sign from the old Royal Hotel! We were thrilled to have a piece of Excelsior’s history! Thanks Amy and Kurt! 


A trip downtown wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the coffee shop, The Mug! 


Showing off the Hall of Waters is a MUST! 


For more information on our little town, go to visitexcelsior.com 

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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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