Newton County prosecutors have told the family of James Dodson, Neosho, and his granddaughter, Jessica Mann, who were killed July 31, that the drunk driver who killed them may receive as little as 18 months in prison.
Missouri Southern State University's newspaper The Chart broke that story this week as it covered the testimony presented by Mike and Amy Mann at a Missouri State Senate hearing for a bill sponsored by Senator Gary Nodler, Joplin, which would increase the penalty of involuntary manslaughter when drunk driving is involved.
Currently, the maximum sentence that can be given to Edward Meerwald, 50, Noel, if he is convicted, is seven years in prison. Nodler's bill would make the crime a Class A felony if the driver has a blood alcohol content of 0.12, one-and-one-half times the legal limit.
Television stations will be allowed to cover Meerwald's hearings and his Feb. 23 trial, according to a decision issued by Judge Joe Schoeberl Friday. Meerwald's attorneys had filed a motion asking that the electronic media be excluded.
Meerwald's attorney did win one battle. His client will be allowed to dress in street clothes in any hearing prior to the trial, rather than in the orange county jumpsuit.
Changes in management and direction have greatly improved the prospects of O'Sullivan Industries.
That was the message million-dollar CEO Bob Parker hit hard in a news release covering the company's performance during the second fiscal quarter, which ended Dec. 31.
In the news release, a copy of which was filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, Parker said, "Organizational changes and a focused strategic plan are beginning to manifest themselves in the marketplace." Hmm, well, you can't beat that.
Net sales of $66.2 million were reported for the second quarter, up 1.5 percent from the first. That's definitely good news.
The news release notes that cash flow for the second quarter was $6.9 million, compared to a negative $1.2 million in the first quarter. Things are sounding better all the time.
Rick Walters, executive vice president and CFO, (and another member, along with Parker and Michael Orr, of the Newell Rubbermaid expatriates who run O'Sullivan) said, "By focusing on working capital improvements, especially on inventory efficiency and production control, we were able to generate a quarterly positive cash flow of $6.9 million while meeting all our current interest obligations. Continuing to emphasize balance sheet improvements and a company-wide focus on cash management should provide adequate funds to meet continuing cash needs and give us the financial stability for future growth."
I am sure those positive words give O'Sullivan workers and their families and the city of Lamar a sigh of relief, coming after all of the controversy that has enveloped the company since its board of directors brought in the Atlanta triumvirate and cut its ties with the Lamar people who made the company a furniture giant in the first place.
Unfortunately, that is not all that is included in the news release. It probably would be if there weren't federal requirements that you present a complete picture to potential investors. So after all of the positive statements, buried deep in the news release was a truer picture of the situation facing O'Sullivan Industries.
Despite the removal of those Lamar officials, who the board apparently thought were holding the company back, O'Sullivan had a net loss for the second quarter of $12.1 million, compared to a net loss of $5. 4 million during the previous quarter. Net loss for the first half of fiscal 2005 was $20.6 million compared to $12.7 million the previous year.
The decline, the news release said, "was due primarily to our lower operating income."
The news release adds, "As expected, the focused extension on reducing working capital, especially inventory levels, resulted in an operating loss of $3.2 million for fiscal 2005's second quarter"
No need to worry, however. "This gross profit impact was in-line with company plans and reflects the successful execution of an inventory reduction of almost $10 million in the quarter."
I can't wait to read what company officials have to say when O'Sullivan actually begins making money...if that happens.
And that may be awhile, according to Bob Parker's comments at the end of the news release. Things aren't going to get better anytime soon, he indicates, but don't worry, that's all part of the plan. "Financial performance for the balance of fiscal '05 will continue to be a challenge compared to the prior year results. We anticipate a reduction of net sales in the mid single-digit range and lower earnings due to the impact of high material costs, unfavorable manufacturing absorption as we reduce inventory, and a higher mix of promotionally priced products."
Though the point of view from O'Sullivan Industries' new corporate headquarters in Atlanta suburb Roswell are rosy, things had very different feel in Lamar this weekend as today's Joplin Globe reported the arrest of Gary Blankenship, Neosho, an O'Sullivan official, on 10 sex charges in connection with another of Diamond Police officer Jim Murray's internet stings.
Blankenship, 55, faces one count of enticing a child, one count of promoting obscene material to a minor, and eight counts of possession of child pornography, according to the Globe.
Editor & Publisher, a newspaper industry magazine, reported this week that the sale of Liberty Group Publishing may be off. In the well-researched article, writer Mark Fitzgerald gives credit to a reporter from Crain's Chicago Business for being the first to report on Liberty's obtaining $330 million of loans from Wells Fargo. Fitzgerald deserves credit for making sure it is known that another reporter first uncovered the information. Unfortunately for him, that information came out in The Turner Report more than a week before Crain's picked up on it. Both of us obtained the information by researching filings with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. I wrote Mr. Fitzgerald, not because I was upset about that...he had no way of knowing that a Southwest Missouri blogger had first printed that information...but just to let him know that bloggers are out here gathering information and breaking news stories. Mr. Fitzgerald quickly and graciously responded to my message, which again, was not meant as any criticism. His article was well-researched.
The Chicago Sun-Times picked up on another item recently featured in Crain's Chicago Business, writing today that Vornado may be ready to make a run at derailing the Sears-K-Mart deal.
The Sun-Times article featured the added information that problems with the stock prices of both Sears and K-Mart may open the door for Vornado.
Nexstar Broadcasting COO Duane Lammers continues to win friends and influence people.
Today's Baltimore Sun reports that Nexstar will not allow any of the cable companies that carry his FOX stations to air a high-definition telecast of the Super Bowl.
This would include the newly-christened KSFX, formerly KDEB, Channel 27, in Springfield.
"If they think we're going to give them our channels for free and then they can charge $10 or $15 a month for digital cable, then they can drop dead," the eloquent Lammers told the Sun.
"The issue at heart is that broadcasters are trying to insist that they are compensated for something they get from the government for free," Keith Cordoza, a spokesman for Time Warner Cable, told the Sun.
Nexstar and the Dish Network have reached an agreement to bolster the broadcasting company's position in its fight with Cox Communications over carrying Nexstar's stations in Abilene and Sweetwater, Texas. Satellite customers had not received the stations prior to the deal.
The Sky Reporter News, a satellite industry publication, carried that information Friday.
A 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, meeting will be held in the Nevada/Vernon County Community Center, to discuss the results of a recently completed petition audit, according to a news release from State Auditor Claire McCaskill.
As reported in the Sept. 8, 2004, Turner Report, the audit has already uncovered criminal activity.
An initial audit report indicated receipts totaling $39,701 were collected between January 2002 and April 2004, but were never deposited. Auditors said "the city does not track payments for various types of tax revenues to ensure all payments are properly received and recorded in the city's accounting records."As a result, cigarette and franchise taxes totaling $24,445 received by check were deposited into the city's bank account but were not recorded in the city's accounting records. These checks were substituted into the city's deposits and recorded cash receipts were not deposited, and (were) apparently misappropriated."An additional $15,256 was apparently stolen from the city's pool and golf course, the audit said.