Andy Ostmeyer

This Kansan may have to forfeit his dream of becoming an Honorary Hillbilly when I admit this, but I have never read “The Shepherd of the Hills.”

Written in 1907 by Harold Bell Wright, who had a lot of ties to our area, including pastoring churches in Pierce City and in Pittsburg, Kansas, his book became a publishing phenomenon. Several movies have been made, including one starring John Wayne, Harry Carey and Ward Bond.

Considering the number of times I’ve watched Wayne, Bond and Harry Carey Jr. in one of my favorite movies, “The Searchers,” I suppose I could have found time, but I just haven’t made the effort.

I did take my mom and dad and my children to the live performance in Branson during one visit there many years ago and assume it followed the novel, but that’s as close as I get to Wright’s work, which is one of a handful of things — along with the creation of Table Rock Lake, the arrival of the Herschend family and a profile on “60 Minutes” — that helped turned Branson into the phenomenon it has become.

I tell you this as my way of inviting your perspective on some things.

We are launching a number of new features at the paper this month, some of which are now in Globe orbit, and some of which are on the launchpad awaiting a countdown. The latter includes a “Your News” page, which will be for submitted content — photos and stories, news releases, ribbon cuttings and more. Please email these to Emily Younker, our managing editor, at

Another new feature is tied to the state’s bicentennial. The first ran Friday, our (Globe) staff picks of the top 10 places to visit as Missouri turns 200 years old.

There’s no right or wrong to this, of course, these are just favorites.

Next up, we want to encourage readers to submit a recommendation for their top 10 best books about Missouri.

Perhaps you think “Shepherd of the Hills” is worthy. Or “Winter’s Bone,” another book about a traumatized Ozarks family that was made into a movie.

My reading interests run toward nonfiction, and I have a few books of my own that I’ll recommend when we run that feature in the coming weeks. But I am hoping readers will recommend some good fiction about Missouri.

And, because I hear the same justifiable complaint too often from readers, we also have launched another feature, now running every Thursday: “5 Fun Things to do This Weekend.” The complaint from readers is that we may cover an event and run a story in the paper that they would have enjoyed going to, but either we neglected to inform them about it beforehand or they missed seeing it when the advance appeared in the paper or online.

My kids used to say — as I did way too often when I was young — “I’m bored.” But there’s so much to do and see in the region — and read — that I can’t imagine ever being bored again. Maybe it’s a consequence of growing older, but I’m feeling the opposite — too much to do and see and read and not enough time to get to it all.

Speaking of things to do, and things on the launchpad, high school football returns Friday, kicked off by one of the biggest games of the season: Joplin vs. Webb City.

Our Globe sports team — Jim Henry, Jared Porter and Derek Shore, joined by Trey Vaughan, one of our page designers — is starting a weekly podcast about high school games, with occasional talk about other sports news that crosses their radar. Look for a link Friday at, or watch your favorite podcast app.

By the way, the Globe’s 2021 Football Fanfare, our annual preview of teams, comes out Thursday.

I’ve grown addicted to listening to podcasts when I drive, when I’m cycling, or even sometimes when I’m doing the dishes or cleaning the house. (Yes, this editor gets regular assignments from his wife, including scrubbing showers and sinks, or you name it). Because we’re talking staff picks, I’ll mention a few: I’m a fan of Amateur Traveler, The Thomas Jefferson Hour, Fresh Air, Word on Fire podcasts by Bishop Robert Barron, and have been listening to “Presidential,” a series by The Washington Post on each of the men who became president.

I’ve been wondering what it is that makes a great president. And for that matter a lousy one. To that end, I’ve also been reading biographies of some of the presidents, including two I’ll tell you about when we run our feature on the top 10 best books about Missouri.

Andy Ostmeyer is the editor of The Joplin Globe. He can be reached at

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