St. James News

MSHP releases annual bus inspection outcome

The Missouri State Highway Patrol released the results from their annual Motor Vehicle Inspection Division’s Bus Inspection Program for the 2017-2018 school year. The report showed an improvement over last year, with the St. James School District just missing earning the excellence award.

School board approves new budget

Superintendent Dr. Merlyn Johnson presented a proposed school budget for the upcoming fiscal year on Thursday night. The St. James Board of Education reviewed where the district stands financially before approving the presented budget.

School Board accepts resignation, plans for selection process

The St. James Board of Education accepted the resignation of board member Diana Rinehart on Thursday night, the second board resignation in June. Four names have already been accepted for consideration for the vacancies, which the board will begin interviewing next month.  

Portell speaks to Chamber members

Carey Portell was the guest speaker at the St. James Chamber of Commerce quarterly luncheon held at Sybill’s on Thursday, June 28. Portell spoke about lessons she has learned as an entrepreneur that other local businesses can use to forge relationships with their customers.

Portell, who was hit by a drunk driver seven years ago, told the group made up of business representatives, how she has learned about entrepreneurship during her time recovering. “Seven years ago, two of our daughters and I were hit by a drunk driver. We were heading into Cuba. It was a Wednesday around 6:30 in the evening. There were four vehicles involved. It was very major and a fatal car crash,” Portell told the group. She said it took her four years to be able to walk a short distance and she still uses a wheelchair throughout the day.

 “I get about 3,000 steps a day if I calculate them out correctly. If I use them too quickly my legs just stop working,” Portell said. She added she has tried three times, and failed, to work a traditional job outside of the home, but has found she can cattle farm on her family’s farm. “I just split (my steps) up throughout the day so I can be able to do something, but I started travelling nationally speaking about my recovery,” she said.   

Portell said one of the lessons she has learned, that can also be applied to businesses, is “how to be your true self.” She said she always felt that she could do that, but her injuries taught her how to be better. “I was always an introvert. I was exceptionally shy and when I say shy I mean, it’s like, even when I had a one-on-one conversation with someone, if you were looking at me too intently, I would have to say stop,” she said.   

This shyness caused her to not always give her opinions for fear of making someone else uncomfortable and not sharing everything she was thinking. “I always felt I had so much to give that I wasn’t showing people and I didn’t always feel fulfilled like I do now. So, how many of us start a conversation with ‘I’m sorry but?’ If I wanted to give my opinion, I always felt I should apologize first. Nobody else does that that I talk to, they just give it freely. That was something that I learned through my recovery,” Portell said.   

This openness, she said, is important for entrepreneurs as it helps make a connection with customers and others who businesses interact with. She shared a story about an instance at her son’s ballgame when she was dealing with a parent who was negative during most interactions with Portell. During one interaction, Portell said she finally shared her opinion with the parent, asking what was wrong that made her so negative. The parent, Portell explained, had been going through struggles and had read Portell’s blog, which shared some of the struggles of recovery. “During this time, I had not yet started speaking, but I was blogging. My first year of blogging was probably whenever my true self came out. It was very raw. It was the experiences I went through during my recovery and it was laying it all out there, good and bad,” Portell said.  

After talking with the parent, Portell realized she was seeing a different side of the person through this interaction and it showed her that everyone has a true self they sometimes hide. She also noticed her words she shared through the blog had an impact on others. “I never asked myself, what is she going through,” Portell said. “It was the first time in my life I kind of stepped back and said, ‘Somebody is listening. Somebody is noticing how I act during the day in any situation. That was a real eye opener to me.”   

From then on, she tried to make connections with people in a positive way, which she told the group is what business owners or those who act as faces of a business should also strive for. When customers or clients feel that connection, they will make an effort to return to the businesses where they have had positive interactions. “If they come in and have a negative experience with you, why in the world would they come back? Why don’t they find someone who makes them feel good when they walk in?” Portell said. She encouraged businesses to have a real conversation with everyone who enters the doors, forging those positive experiences which will keep people coming back because they feel they were treated fairly and others care.   

Portell ended by challenging business leaders to try to positively impact others by taking the time to have personal connections with everyone they meet. These personal connections will help drive people into local businesses.