McDonald County residents who read this morning's Joplin Globe should be more than a little bit ticked off. Globe reporter John Hacker wrote the third in his series of articles on the recently completed state audit of the county.
The audit claimed that numerous county officials had received pay increases that were not authorized by the county's Salary Commission, which meets every two years.
That was not the case, county officials said. The commissioners did meet and did make the decision to increase salaries...only they didn't bother to let anyone know about it. Even worse, they didn't seem to even think that was a problem.
When decisions are made that have an impact on taxpayer money, no matter how minute they may be, they have to be documented, and they should be publicized. How else can the taxpayers know if their money is being wisely spent?
Of course, McDonald County officials insist there is no reason to give the money back.
That story was on page three of today's Globe. The article concerning the resignation of Daniel O'Sullivan, oldest son of O'Sullivan Industries founder Tom O'Sullivan, from that company's board of directors was the lead story in today's edition. (For those of you not familiar with how journalism works, a newspaper's lead story is either the one in the upper right hand corner of page one or one that is bannered all the way across the top of the page. This has to do with numerous studies that indicate the reader tends to look in that upper right hand corner first.)
This marks the second time this week that the Globe's top story has been one that was already published in The Turner Report. Monday's Turner Report featured articles on the O'Sullivan resignation and the allegations that were contained in the McDonald County audit. Tuesday's Globe led with the audit and today's edition led with the O'Sullivan resignation.
Glad to be of service.
On a sadder note, services for Rachel Blaser, 25, Lamar, who died Monday at Mt. Carmel Hospital in Pittsburg, will be held 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8, at Daniel Funeral Home in Lamar. Contributions can be made to the Rachel Blaser Memorial Fund for medical scholarships at Lamar Bank and Trust in care of Daniel Funeral Home. A story on Miss Blaser was featured yesterday in The Turner Report.
I'm starting a new experiment in journalism next week on the website I have established for my eighth grade communication arts class at South Middle School in Joplin, www.room210.com
This week, students have been signing up for the newly-formed Journalism Club. We are going to try to be the first middle school in the state to have a news website that is updated daily. Students will be writing not only about what goes on in the classroom, in clubs, and in athletics, but they will also be writing about things that have an effect on their lives, everything from Northpark Mall and community activities to the war in Iraq and the presidential election.
Approximately 55 students have signed up. They will learn how to write news articles and feature stories. Those articles will be featured on the Top News page of the website, then will be shifted a few months later to an archives page so we can not only maintain a history of what goes on at South and in the community, but we can also have a record of their work that they will be able to look back on with pride in years to come.
South Middle School's ZAP (Zeroes Aren't Permitted) program was featured in a story on the local FOX newscast after the Yankees-Twins playoff game Tuesday night.
This program stresses the importance of students meeting deadlines. If they miss a deadline, they receive a ZAP. If they miss three, they receive a ZAP referral and have to stay after school for an hour each day until their work is completed. The program has only been in operation for a few weeks, but it has already made a big difference. The number of unsatisfactory reports was down at mid-quarter and students appear to be making the effort to keep current with their assignments.
It has been hard to find any information about it in the media, but a January 2005 trial date has been scheduled for Kimberly Schlup, 40, Deerfield, who is accused of stealing more than $5,000, but less than $25,000 from Barton County Memorial Hospital, where she served as the chief financial officer.
Ms. Schlup's trial may not be held at that time. Court records indicate it is the third trial scheduled at that time, which means it won't occur then unless the other two are postponed for some reason.
Maybe it's just me, but you would think that information about a top official charged with stealing from a taxpayer-financed institution would be considered big news in a community the size of Lamar.
The court records are available in the Barton County circuit clerk's office and Jerry Moyer has always been gracious in helping people know what to look for and how to look for it. Perhaps the Democrat or the Globe should send someone up there.
Speaking of Jerry Moyer, you can pin the credit or the blame on him. Jerry is the one who showed me how to use court records shortly after I returned to Lamar to become managing editor of The Democrat. He was always patient with me, no matter how many stupid questions I asked. He may never see this, but thanks, Jerry.