At first, I thought the idea of the Neosho R-5 Board of Education holding two meetings Monday night to discuss a possible bond issue was an innovative one. Then after careful consideration, I realized that what I thought was two meetings was simply two media outlets with vastly different perspectives.
This morning's Joplin Globe indicated there is a group of people with strong concerns about any bond issue proposed by the current board and administration in the R-5 School District.
This evening's Neosho Daily News presented an outlook of the meeting that was a polar opposite. Everyone is pulling together to figure out a way to get a bond issue passed, which is greatly needed by the school district, and there is no dissension in the community.
Media outlets control what the public knows through their careful selection of which facts to use. The Globe emphasized a group of citizens who don't trust the current school leadership. The Daily took a non-critical approach that seemed a bit Pollyannaish.
The Globe needs to learn to even the scales with some positive coverage, while the Daily and other area small-town newspapers need to learn that the community needs a newspaper that is willing to explore all sides of an issue, even if some of those sides may be opposed to the powers that be. The power brokers in a town come and go over the space of a few years. If you win over the readers, you will have them forever.
The Daily and the local TV stations report that former Diamond High School principal Robert Blizzard pleaded guilty an indecent exposure charge in Oklahoma and was given a 10-year suspended sentence and placed on probation for 10 years. This is truly a sad, sad story.
A Carthage woman's killer will stay behind bars.
Leroy Norman, convicted of second degree murder in connection with the July 23, 2000, death of Lauren "Angel" Wallis, 24, was turned down Monday by the Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals in his bid for a new trial.
Norman's attorneys never claimed that he did not slit Mrs. Wallis's throat following a drunken party at a Carthage home. His appeal was based on alleged procedural errors by the judge.
According to court records, Ms. Wallis made what turned out to be a fatal mistake when she agreed to buy beer for 19-year-old Sandra Guzman, Carthage, and several of Ms. Guzman's underage friends. Miss Wallis then tried to hang around and party with the teenagers, which did not sit well with Ms. Guzman.
Ms. Guzman asked a partygoer named Andy Kelly to throw out Ms. Wallis, who was by that time intoxicated, according to court records. He took her outside and threw her in a dumpster, but she returned to the party.
The decision indicates that Ms. Guzman and Kelly got Norman to drive them to Springfield to get the illegal drug Ecstasy. Norman and Ms. Guzman rode in the cab while Kelly and Mrs. Wallis were in the truck bed.
Apparently, Kelly grew annoyed with Mrs. Wallis and asked Norman and Ms. Guzman if he could kill her. They pulled the truck over on TT Highway next to a low-water bridge near Republic. Court records indicate Kelly choked Mrs. Wallis. He repeatedly kicked her in the head. He then suggested they should just leave her there and let her find her own way home.
The court opinion says, "(Norman) then pulled out a knife and, as Guzman and Kelly both shouted, 'No,' slit (Mrs Wallis's) throat." Norman and Kelly threw the body over the side of the bridge and into the stream.
Norman, Kelly, and Ms. Guzman returned to Carthage. Norman and Kelly "bragged about the killing and Kelly suggested they go on a killing spree when they returned home," according to the opinion.
They stopped at a convenience store. When Norman and Ms. Guzman returned to the car, Kelly had vanished. Norman told Ms. Guzman he would "have to cut (Kelly's) throat, too."
Ms. Guzman reported the murder the next morning to the Carthage Police Department. Greene County Sheriff's deputies found Mrs. Wallis's body where Ms. Guzman said it would be. The autopsy showed it was the cutting of her throat which had killed her despite all of the damage that had been done to her by Kelly.
Kelly was arrested later that day, still wearing the same shirt he had been wearing the night before, according to the court opinion. Officers stopped Norman's car later that day, but he had loaned it to Demetrio Cortez to move some furniture.
Tests run on a knife found in the cab proved negative for the presence of blood, but three spots on a pair of shoes he had left in the truck matched Mrs. Wallis's DNA.