A river runs through it

  • By Kelly Wilson
  • 23 Feb, 2017

Next generation of cruise ships keeps Hannibal riverfront busy

It would be difficult to over-estimate the impact of the first commercial steamboat churning its way upstream past Hannibal around 1825; the few residents who would have seen this landmark event might have thought it a sign that their world was about to change forever. Even today, that sense of wonder exists for those who come to the riverfront to find a 3- to 5-story vessel docked at the western bank of the Mississippi, like a floating hotel.  

Just as the establishment of a national highway network and safer, faster, more comfortable cars and trucks enabled the population of cities to spread into suburbs and “exurbs,” the steamboats allowed the opening of the upper Mississippi to be more accessible to trade – leading to more jobs and settlements to the north of St. Louis. Before the use of steam engines, travel north of the Missouri River confluence would have been challenging, since the river depths are much shallower and it is prone to freezing over in winter.

A packet — or   transport — riverboat, eased trade between St. Louis and destinations north such as lead-mining giant Galena, Ill. Moses Bates, who was   pivotal in the founding of Hannibal and Galena, used Hannibal as a stopover point; it did not hurt that the region provided raw materials such as limestone, salt and other minerals to make it a profitable port. Packet boats were not restricted to supplies, rather they tended to carry just about anything necessary for life along and off the river – building materials, livestock, people, household goods, etc.

Steam power

Steamboats made the process of transport and settlement faster, which caused a growth spurt along the river. By the 1850s, accounts peg the number of ship dockings in Hannibal at greater than 1,000 annually. Railroad expansion would take some business away from the river, but not until well after the end of the Civil War. By the end of the 1800s, the rails would claim more of the passenger trade as fares would become more affordable, yet “excursion” boats remained an option into the mid-20th century.  

The decline of riverboat cruises along the upper Mississippi for years could not be pegged to just one factor: aging vessels too expensive to repair and economic recessions pushing down demand did not help the business, either. The resurgence of cruises that include Hannibal as an attraction began in 2012, and the forces behind this are a bit more clear. First, heritage tourism is booming. This tourism is based on a love of history more than simple amusement, such as traveling the Mississippi to understand the river itself as well as its role for settlers and traders. Second, Americans can enjoy the luxury of a cruise without having to obtain a passport.   In addition, themed cruises provide an experience not easily matched by other types of travel packages, featuring on-board historians, excursions at different stopovers and suites with views of the landscape.

Here come the cruisers

The American Queen Steamboat Co., whose namesake vessel is the largest steamboat ever built, began running routes in 2012. The American Queen — with a capacity of 435 people — stops six to eight times per year.

This year, the company is introducing a smaller ship named the Grand Duchess, claiming it is the first all-suite paddlewheeler built in the U.S., capable of accommodating 166 guests. The Grand Duchess is scheduled for five stops between late July and late August, with her sister ship visiting twice.  

American Cruise Lines initiated its St. Louis to St. Paul, Minn., routes almost simultaneously. Its Queen of the Mississippi boat, like the new version of the American Queen, was built specifically for use on the Mississippi River. The Queen of the Mississippi is designed to hold 150 passengers, and its brand-new counterpart, the America, can service 185 people. Together, the two are scheduled to make 17 stops from July through October; up from an average of 10 to 12 routes per season.  

A third player in the market will begin its cruises this year: the Louisiana-based French America Line will roll out its 150-capacity all-suite Louisiane ship at the end of June, scheduled to make eight stops through September. This raises the total of projected visits to 32 from 17 in 2016, though anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of scheduled stops may be canceled because of river conditions and other factors.

Nature of the river

The nature of the river north of St. Louis is often what dictates the number and timing of these 8- to 10-day cruises. Shallow depth, a network of 28 lock and dam systems, late season flooding and dredging issues can conspire to make the window for travel much shorter than that of the lower Mississippi, where cruises are possible year-round. Also, demand is higher for the warmer climate of the south, where companies have scheduled twice as many routes as those in the north. Finally, the cost of a cruise may limit the number of visitors: prices per person can range from $2,000 to up to $4,000 for a two-bed suite, and trips from New Orleans to St. Paul can exceed $9,000 for a fortnight.

Who takes these trips? While some tourists from overseas are attracted to the cruise packages, the majority of customers are U.S. citizens more than 50 years of age who are drawn to this type of travel as much as the destination. A 2015 survey of cruise ship travelers shows that roughly 40 percent have taken multiple cruises. The average income for those taking river cruises is more than $100,000 per year. In essence, the type of tourist coming by boat to Hannibal is distinct from the demographics of those who come by other means.

This economic impact of this is not easy to estimate. If the scheduling holds, more than 5,000 visitors will be brought here who may not otherwise have found their way here. Since many dockings are limited to 5 hours or less, spending is somewhat dampened.

The Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with feedback from passengers, has been able to influence the companies enough that at least one trip from each major liner has spent a full day here each of the last two years.  

The cruise market opens Hannibal to a type of tourist not available to every river town, and the publicity and advertising   offered by the companies costs the individual communities nothing.

What about Viking?

One notable omission from the cruise schedule is Viking. One of the biggest and highest quality cruise liner companies in the world, Viking had made headlines in the area in 2014 — though rumors were surfacing before then — that it would begin its own venture onto the Mississippi by 2016, planning 28 stops in Hannibal. Now, the company is hopeful that it can deploy up to six ships, two at a time, by 2018.

The delay is because of a law enacted in 1920 called the Jones Act that requires any ship used to transport people or goods between ports inside the U.S. to have been built in an American shipyard and be entirely American-owned.  

As of late 2016, Viking was still working on a shipyard and fulfilling the other requirements.

More communities are taking advantage of the increased traffic as a way of boosting tourism through the original social network: word of mouth that spreads when travelers head home. 

- By KEN MARKS

Sharron Daniel of Australia poses under the Mark Twain sign at the Hannibal docks. Photo by Michael Kipley

ARRIVALS

AMERICAN QUEEN

July

July 16: 9-day voyage, July 23 to July 31, starts in St. Louis with destination of Red Wing, Minn. Theme is Mark Twain.

July 31: 9-day voyage, July 29 to Aug. 6, starts in St. Louis with destination of Red Wing, Minn. Theme is Mark Twain.

August

Aug. 10: 16-day voyage, Aug. 5 to Aug. 20, starts in Minneapolis with destination of New Orleans. Theme is the Mighty Mississippi.

Aug. 20: 23-day voyage, Aug 13 to Sept. 4, starts in Minneapolis with destination of New Orleans. Theme is the Mighty Mississippi.

September

Sept. 23: 9-day voyage, Sept. 16 to Sept. 24, starts in Minneapolis with destination of Alton, Ill. Theme is Life on the Mississippi.

AMERICAN DUCHESS

July

July 30: 9-day voyage, July 23 to July 31, starts in Minneapolis with destination of St. Louis. Theme is Mark Twain.

August

Aug. 1:   9-day voyage, July 30 to Aug. 7, starts in St. Loius with destination of Red Wing, Minn. Theme is Life on the Mississippi.

Aug. 13: 9-day voyage, Aug. 6 to Aug. 14, starts in Minneapolis with destination of St. Louis. Theme is Life on the Mississippi.

Aug. 16: 9-day voyage, Aug. 13 to Aug. 21, starts in St. Louis with destination of Chicago. Theme is Architecture and the Arts.

Aug. 26: 9-day voyage, Aug. 20 to Aug. 28, starts in Chicago with destination of St. Louis. Theme is Chicago Blues.

QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI

August

Aug. 11: 7-day voyage, Aug. 5 to Aug. 12, starts in St. Paul, Minn., with destination of St. Louis.

Aug. 27: 7-day voyage, Aug. 26 to Sept. 2, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.

September

Sept. 8: 7-day voyage, Sept. 2 to Sept. 9, starts in St. Paul, Minn., with destination of St. Louis.

October

Oct. 8: 7-day voyage, Oct. 7 to Oct. 14, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.

AMERICA

August

Sept. 1: 7-day voyage, Aug. 26 to Sept. 2, starts in St. Paul, Minn., with destination of St. Louis.

September

Sept. 3: 7-day voyage, Sept. 2 to Sept. 9, starts in St. Louis with destination of. Paul, Minn.

Sept.15: 14-day voyage, Sept. 9 to Sept. 23, starts in St. Paul, Minn., with destination of New Orleans.

October

Oct. 4: 7-day voyage, Oct. 3 to Oct. 10, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.

Oct. 16: 7-day voyage, Oct. 10 to Oct. 17, starts in St. Paul, Minn., with destination of St. Louis.

Oct. 18: 7-day voyage, Oct. 17 to Oct. 24, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.

Oct. 30: 14-day voyage, Oct. 24 to Nov. 7, starts in St. Paul, Minn., with destination of New Orleans.

LOUISIANE

July

July 30: 8-day voyage, July 29 to Aug. 6, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.  

August

Aug. 27: 8-day voyage, Aug. 26 to Sept. 3, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.  

October

Oct. 8: 8-day voyage, Oct. 7 to Oct. 15, starts in St. Louis with destination of St. Paul, Minn.  

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UPCOMING EVENTS

Latest Headlines

By Kelly Wilson 26 Apr, 2017

The Historic Hannibal Marketing Council is pleased to present the annual Twain on Main Festival in historic downtown Hannibal. Taking place Memorial Day weekend, May 27 and 28, this fun-filled festival is packed with entertainment, food, spirits, arts, crafts and more. There is something for every age to enjoy at this celebration of Hannibal’s favorite son, Mark Twain.

Festival activities will take place along North Main Street from North Street to Broadway, as well as the side streets along North Main. You will find some of the best festival food with favorites like turkey legs, funnel cake and burgers fresh off the grill. If you are looking for local flavor, you also will find downtown Hannibal’s favorite eateries, each serving its own specialty like ribs, catfish and maid-rites.

If you enjoy sampling local beers and wines, you will want to stop by the Twain on Main Wine Garden at Hill and North Main streets. You can sit in the shade and sample local spirits while listening to live music.

This year’s festival will be the largest Twain on Main to date. Space has been allotted for nearly 200 vendors, and the expectation is that all spaces will be filled. You will find something to fit everyone’s taste and budget — clothing, arts and crafts, produce, leather goods and metal works.

As is the tradition with Twain on Main, there will be   three distinct areas of entertainment, each designed to celebrate a particular Twain novel — “The Prince and the Pauper,” “Roughing It” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”


‘The Prince and   the Pauper’

This book tells the story of a young prince in 16th century England who convinces a pauper boy to trade places with him. In keeping with this theme, you will find a large castle-shaped bouncy-house at the corner of Bird and North Main. You also will find music and dancing from the Renaissance era, sword play and costumed performers.  


‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’

Hannibal’s Tom & Becky Goodwill Ambassadors will be in the garden next to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home to play games from the past and run races with the youngest festival goers. You can test your abilities and find out how skillful you are at shooting marbles and how fast you can run while encased in a gunny sack.


‘Roughing It’  

When you reach the corner of Center Street and North Main, you will find yourself immersed in the Old West as we bring Twain’s Western novel to life. Twain will be there to share tales of his travel by stagecoach to Nevada and his adventures there. Of course, while you are caught up in his stories, you may find yourself dodging bullets as desperados shoot it out in the middle of the street. To complete our Old West theme, the Omeyocan Dance Company will perform native dance in full costume.

The weekend promises fun and entertainment. Besides the array of food, entertainment and vendor merchandise, you will also find museums, stores and specialty shops along Main Street. Many of the downtown pubs will offer live music Friday and Saturday evenings. 

By Kelly Wilson 26 Apr, 2017

New London Park Days is the annual two-day fun-filled and family-friendly festival built on small-town pride. For more than 30 years people have come together at the Ralls County Courthouse square and surrounding streets for Park Days to enjoy food and music and other entertainment and more.

This year’s event will be June 2 and 3.

Entertaining at the event includes the following:

• 2 to 3 p.m. Friday, Cory Combs.

• 3 to 4 p.m. Friday, Frate.

• 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Part Time Gypsies.

• 9 p.m. to midnight Friday, Steppin’ Back.

• 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Riverside.

• 9 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Catfish Willie.

Among the weekend’s traditions are the Miss New London Pageant, a full-scale carnival, arts and craft vendors, a parade, a baby contest, a classic car cruise and the annual Mr. Lovely Legs competition.

More information and a schedule of events are available at newlondonparkdays.org.

By Kelly Wilson 26 Apr, 2017

Relay For Life of Marion County will return to Hannibal on Friday, June 2.

The event has come of age, celebrating 21 continuous years of fundraising.

Relay For Life is the signature fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, and its events are community gatherings where teams and individuals set up booths and take turns walking or running a path.  

“I relay because people I care about — my family, my friends, my clients — have been affected by cancer,” said this year’s event leader Andy Straube. “I am a big believer in bringing our communities together to support the American Cancer Society. The ACS is second only to the United States government in funding much-needed cancer research.”

Relay For Life of Marion County works with sponsors such as the Hannibal Regional Hospital System and the James E. Cary Cancer Center, which sponsors a survivor dinner.  

Relay For Life of Marion County, with the theme “Cruising Through The Decades” will take place in Historic Downtown Hannibal. Entertainment, announcements and awards will use the Music Under The Stars stage, and a survivor reception will be at the Y-Men’s Pavilion. The walking track will be along the street, with luminaria bags in the center. During a ceremony at dusk, the bags will be lit in honor or in memory of those diagnosed with cancer, and the names of those people will be read. Registered survivors will receive a shirt, pin and other donated gifts, along with a dinner sponsored by the Cary Cancer Center.

“Honoring our survivors is key to Relay For Life,” said survivor lead Dana Blase. “Survivors that attend Relay often find it to be an empowering, emotional experience. It is a reunion with fellow survivors and a celebration of victory over cancer. Survivors’ attendance at Relay For Life is key because it serves as a testimony to others that there is life beyond a cancer diagnosis. Our survivors inspire us.”

In 2016, the Relay For Life of Marion County was recognized as one of the top 10 per capita fundraisers in the High Plains Division and nationwide.  

The Flower Children, led by Mark and Stephanie Bross, is a Ruby Fundraising Team and was recognized as a national 2016 Team of Excellence for it fundraising efforts. The Flower Children continually raises more than $60,000 annually.

“Our goal this year is $107,500, and we hope to exceed that goal. Only with the dedication and hard work of our teams and participants are we able to reach these goals. The American Cancer Society has pledged to double the amount of funding we put towards research by 2020, and RFL of Marion County is doing all they can to advance that goal,” Kathryn McDaniel, community manager, said.

More information is available by calling 217-740-1496, or visiting relayforlife.org/marioncomo.

By Kelly Wilson 26 Apr, 2017

Mississippi Mind Trap officially opened April 1 and is now booking the Clue Room Experience. This thoughtfully planned escape room is themed after the board game Clue. Owners Eddie and Tracy Lennox gathered a team to create a challenging and fun escape.

Become a pair of detectives for a date night or build an investigative team of up to eight people to gather clues and decipher codes to open boxes, crates, doors and gadgets.

Once the escape room door closes, the heat is on under a ticking clock to answer three questions about a murder:

• Where did it happen?  

• What weapon was used?  

• And, of course, who did it?

“You can request a hint if your team gets stuck,” Tracy Lennox said. “If you’ve never been to an escape room, there is a little more guidance.”

Even with hints offered, the uncertainty of a successful escape is all part of the fun, but participants are not trapped inside the room.  

“The door is locked, but you can get out,” Lennox said. “You can hit a button and leave anytime you want.”

The experience takes approximately 90 minutes, including a short video before entering and pictures at the end to declare you made it out — or not.  

The Lennoxes anticipate opening a two-room experience in June with an Area 51 theme. Participants will be challenged to gain the code from the first room to enter the second room and make their escape from there.

Escape room themes will change every several months, and they are not scary for children. Regular game play is recommended for ages 9 and older, but private bookings allow children of all ages to play.  

Online booking is now available at mississippimindtrap.com. 

By Kelly Wilson 26 Apr, 2017

Plans are well underway for the 22nd Annual Hannibal Cannibal, which will take place Saturday, July 1. For the fifth consecutive year, Advance Physical Therapy will serve as official sponsor. As in the past, there will be a 5/10/15k run, a 5k walk and a fun run for children ages 10 and younger. The race will begin at 7 a.m., with the fun run following the race at 9 a.m.  Those registering for the Cannibal will receive a performance T-shirt, cinch sack race bag and a custom finisher’s medal. Registration is open, and you may register online at hannibalcannibal.com. Forms also are available at the concierge desks at Hannibal Regional Hospital, Hannibal Regional Medical Group or the foundation’s offices.  Register before June 19 for just $25.

Each year the Hannibal Cannibal holds a contest to select both Cannibal and fun run logos. This year, local graphic designer Lynn Zielinski won both contests.  

Proceeds from the 2017 race will support the Cherish Campaign, which is raising money to assist with expanding Women’s Health Services at Hannibal Regional. The expansion of Women’s Health Services at Hannibal Regional is a crucial element in meeting all of the health needs of the region. Offering a full continuum of services and resources for all ages of women and their health needs is invaluable to growth and success in this area. 

More information is available at hannibalcannibal.com or 573-629-3577. To stay updated on the Cannibal, find us on Facebook under Hannibal Cannibal, on Twitter @CannibalRace and now on Instagram at Hannibal_cannibal_race.

By Kelly Wilson 26 Apr, 2017

S´╗┐kin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than all other cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon combined, with one in five Americans developing skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. There are three types of skin cancer to be aware of — basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.  

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer with more than 4 million cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Basal cell carcinoma is characterized by abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions that arise in the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest layer of the epidermis   — the outermost layer of the skin. They often look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps or scars and are usually caused by a combination of cumulative and intense, occasional sun exposure.  

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer with more than 1 million cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Squamous cell carcinoma is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising in the squamous cells, which compose most of the skin’s upper layers — the epidermis. They often look like scaly red patches, open sores, elevated growths with a central depression or warts; they may crust or bleed.

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer; one person dies of melanoma every 54 minutes, but it accounts for only 1 percent of skin cancer cases.  

Some risk factors for skin cancer include a lighter natural skin color, family history of skin cancer, history of indoor tanning, history of sunburns   — especially early in life — and skin that burns, freckles or reddens easily.

“If you have any of these risk factors, you should see a doctor for a skin cancer screening at least once a year,” Dr. Schuyler Metlis of Hannibal Regional Medical Group said. “Catching cancer early often allows for more treatment options, and if you have skin cancer, finding it early is the best way to make sure it can be treated with success.”

Through the month of June, Metlis will be offering free skin cancer screenings. Call 573-629-3500 to schedule an appointment. 

By Kelly Wilson 26 Apr, 2017

Hannibal Regional Foundation will hold its eighth annual Shoeless Joe’s Golf Classic on Wednesday, June 14. 

As in past years, the foundation will partner with the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame for the tournament. Golf teams will have the opportunity to play with a Missouri Sports Hall of Fame celebrity during the tournament.  

The foundation recently announced that Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network will be the Golf Classic official sponsor for this year’s event. Team registrations, as well as hole and banner sponsorships, are available.

Event proceeds benefit Hannibal Regional Foundation’s Cherish Campaign.

“This is such a fun event, and we are so appreciative of Wells Fargo and all those who sponsor and participate in this event. The support over the last seven years has been overwhelming, raising over $480,000 for Hannibal Regional,” said Wendy Harrington, president and CEO of Hannibal Regional Foundation. “We are looking forward to another great year.”

Hannibal Regional Foundation’s Cherish Campaign is raising money to assist with expanding Women’s Health Services at Hannibal Regional. The expansion of Women’s Health Services at Hannibal Regional is a crucial element in meeting all of the health needs of the region. Offering a full continuum of services and resources for all ages of women and their health needs is invaluable to growth and success in this area. 

For more information about the Shoeless Joe’s Celebrity Golf Classic or to register a team, contact Hannibal Regional Foundation at 573-629-3577, or visit hrhf.org. 

By Kelly Wilson 26 Apr, 2017

Hannibal Regional is excited to welcome Kristen Strasser, MD.

Strasser will be practicing hematology/oncology at Hannibal Regional Medical Group. Strasser earned both her undergraduate degree and her doctorate of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She also completed the hematology/oncology fellowship program that is offered through the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Strasser’s medical research studies have been published by Hospital Practice in 2014 and BMJ Case Report in 2015. 

As a physician, Strasser provides consultation and treatment for benign and malignant blood disorders as well as all cancers.

“I chose this profession because I have a passion for cancer patients, and I have a special interest in guiding patients and their families through the diagnosis and treatment of cancer,” Strasser said. “Patients may be interested in seeing me for a patient-centered approach and easy-going nature.”

As an oncologist, she is specially trained in diagnosing and treating cancer using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy.

“It is a privilege to join Hannibal Regional Medical Group, and I look forward to being able to help our community,” Strasser said. “I remain committed to furthering cancer research and working with local surgeons, physicians and cancer experts in our region.”

As part of Hannibal Regional, the Hannibal Regional Medical Group is a growing multi-specialty physician group that continues to expand primary and specialty care services to meet the health needs of Northeast Missouri residents. HRMG family and specialty physicians deliver a range of acute, chronic and preventive medical care services. In addition to diagnosing and treating illness, they also provide preventive care, including routine checkups, health-risk assessments, immunizations, screening tests and personalized counseling on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Hannibal Regional Medical Group has locations in Bowling Green, Canton, Hannibal, Louisiana, Monroe City and Shelbina, as well as an Express Care clinic and a Vision Institute in Hannibal. 

By Kelly Wilson 26 Apr, 2017

Hannibal residents have the opportunity to participate in the nation’s largest single-day food drive on Saturday, May 13.

Families may leave bags or boxes of non-perishable food outside their homes during the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger drive. Mail carriers will collect the donations on behalf of the Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri. All items collected will be donated to the Food Bank’s partner agencies in Ralls County and Marion County, including Salvation Army, Douglass Community Services, Loaves & Fishes and the Ralls County Food Pantry.

Most-needed items include canned meat, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, beans and boxed meal helpers. 

“Stamp Out Hunger makes it really easy to help your neighbors in need,” said Steve Yager, regional coordinator for the Food Bank. “Simply leave a box of goods near your mailbox — the mail carriers and our volunteers will do the rest.”

Special bags will be delivered in advance; however, any bag or box may be used. 

Additionally, monetary donations to the Food Bank will be accepted during the drive, and donors may allocate their gifts to the county of their choice. Because of its affiliation with Feeding America and the ability to secure bulk food at discounted prices, the Food Bank is able to secure $210 worth of groceries for every $10 donation.

Last year’s drive in Hannibal brought in 15,951 pounds of food and $2,445. 

By Kelly Wilson 26 Apr, 2017

Shine a Light on Autism, which promotes educational and recreational opportunities for children with autism, will host its Lighthouse Challenge Saturday, April 29. It’s a climb up the stairs to the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse, starting near the Tom and Huck statue at Main and North streets.

There are four participation categories:

• Competitive Challengers, $50, starts at 8 a.m.

• Lighthouse Challengers, $25, starts at 9 a.m.

• Kids Challengers, $10, starts at 9 a.m.

• Family Challenge, $60, starts at 9 a.m.  

The day includes a carnival for children with a bouncy-house, face painting, sensory stations, games and free refreshments.

Shine A Light On Autism is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Among its efforts have been helping the Hannibal School District start its first early intensive behavorial intervention classroom to serve children with autism and other disorders; purchasing 30 iPads for special needs children in seven schools in Ralls, Marion, Shelby and Pike counties; and donating $10,000 to assist the construction of three special needs playgrounds.

More information is available by calling 573-406-4059 or visiting shinealightonautism.org. 

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