Bob Mitchell: Listening to conversations
There is a lot to be said about learning while listening to conversations around you. That's especially true if the talk might be between Kelly Williamson and Randy Yarnall when they get started about their adventures on assignment, or venturing into the world of Weather Channel work on TV.
Both of the Cassville residents have been gainfully employed in the community for a number of years. Williamson as an accomplished manufacturing jeweler for a number of years. He was also involved in the poultry industry, and his current storm chasing partner was once a deputy sheriff, and remains a cattleman and finance industry owner.
But their love for what has become either a hobby or source of income -- possibly both -- is obviously an important part of their day-to-day operations.
Their assignments for the Weather Channel -- or just their jaunts looking for weather conditions that prove newsworthy -- have taken them to all parts of the country in pursuit of weather that might be of interest to the TV industry. In some instances, there have been some scrapes with mother nature or people in various parts of the country that might have some resentment with their being on the site of a disaster.
In one instance, they found themselves in a neighborhood during coverage of hurricane damage when their cameras were rolling and possibly filming some illegal activities. They were confronted by the people involved, their exit out of the area was successful when they provided the people with some drinking water out of the supply they carried.
Access to areas where news coverage might be justified seems to be no problem, as their camera-equipped vehicle is plainly marked Weather Channel, which is readily recognized by law enforcement agencies who are usually first on the scene of a weather emergency. These agencies are usually highly accommodating when the crew arrives on disaster scenes.
Cooperation often includes information of areas to avoid, which might be or could possibly find the weather chasers getting close or inside areas that should have been avoided in the first place.
Being aware of weather patterns and watching for areas of possible storms helps in their routes chosen for assignment. For instance, last week's development of bad weather had the pair with their heads together, figuring a route to start in providing coverage of ice involvements, which could provide some broadcast coverage.
The pair had decided their best approach to coverage would be in a belt that extended northeast up the Interstate 44 corridor somewhere in the Rolla area. As it happened, their experience proved worthwhile as the storm area was concentrated, at least for the initial part, out of the Missouri-Arkansas line region.
Schools closed in the area well before the forecasts proved accurate. Since they are seldom provided credit line for their work, viewers might not ever realize if Kelly and Randy are responsible for the weather news they might receive.
That doesn't mean a future conversation won't have some of their coverage on a cell photo or an experience that will be worth having a second cup of coffee and soaking in an adventure.
Long lost news
Fifty years ago, one of the best news sources in Barry County was the activities of 4-H clubs that were scattered all over the county and provided some real experience for young people who chose to be active in about 21 organizations through the University of Missouri Extension Service. At about this time, there were some 350 members who were shepherded in their activities in later years by youth advisor Nancy England.
The climax of their year's activities in projects was a highly-anticipated 4-H Achievement Day, which was held annually in the American Legion Home during the final days of Cassville's Old Soldiers' and Settlers' Reunion.
4-H Club activities fell partially victim of extension involvement with regionalism and later Bingo operations filling the Legion Home auditorium. In recent years, absence of Reunion activities on the grounds in south Cassville would have eliminated a ready-made audience for the county-wide program.
One of the clubs we watched with interest was the Rough Rider Club, which featured horseback activities for their members. This program had some of the most interesting leaders, all of whom were horsemen in their own right. Included were Ed Ray, Evan Hutchens and Jim Stacy, who gave of their time and knowledge to even take their charges on trail rides and overnighters in several directions from Cassville.
Those were the days of residing on Sunset Heights, with several backyards fenced to pasture the animals.
Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.