Thursday, June 30, 2005

AP hires new correspondent for southwest Missouri

Associated Press went a long way for its new correspondent for southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas.
According to an AP release, Marcus Kabel, chief correspondent for Reuters in Vienna, Austria, has been named to the post. He will be based in Springfield with a satellite office somewhere in northwest Arkansas, the release said. Part of his job will be to cover developments at Wal-Mart.
Kabel is originally from St. Louis.

Great Southern adds three banks

Springfield-based Great Southern Bancorp, Inc., will acquire three branches from People's Bank of the Ozarks, according to PR Newswire. Great Southern has branches in more than 30 Missouri communities, including Joplin and Neosho.
The three new banks are in Camdenton, Climax Springs, and Greenview. The deal will be complete at the end of business Aug. 5, according to the article.

Bragg killer's appeal rejected

The Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals Tuesday rejected another attempt by convicted triple-murderer Alis Ben Johns to have his conviction set aside. Johns, who murdered Wilma Bragg of Stark City in 1997, had filed for a writ of prohibition against the prosecuting attorney in Pulaski County, where his initial trial was held.
Johns had filed an application for a writ of prohibition two years ago, but it, too, was denied. His initial appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court was rejected on Dec. 5, 2000. Johns pleaded guilty in November 2000 in Newton County Circuit Court to Mrs. Bragg's murder.
In the 2000 appeal, Johns, who is on Missouri's Death Row, was trying to win a new trial after his murder conviction for the October 1, 1996, slaying of a former friend, Thomas Stewart. The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice William Ray Price, held that Johns was competent to stand trial.
"At a pretrial competency hearing, the court found the state's experts more credible and persuasive than the defense experts. Johns' low IQ scores did not render him incompetent. Evidence suggests that Johns could consult with his lawyer and understand the proceedings."
The court also rejected Johns' claim that a second change of venue should have been granted in the case. "Jury selection took place hundreds of miles from the trial almost two years after Johns' capture," the opinion said. "Although about 80 percent of the potential jurors were exposed to publicity, all who had fixed opinions were stricken and all Johns' jurors testified that they would be fair and impartial."
The court also disagreed with the major contention made by Johns' attorney during oral arguments...that he should have been allowed to introduce evidence of his victim's known penchant for violence, saying it was "properly excluded because Johns did not show he knew (of it)."
The decision by the initial trial judge to permit evidence of the six-month manhunt on which he led state authorities to be introduced was also backed by the Supreme Court. "Johns' attempt to flee shows his consciousness of guilt and the methodology of his flight, such as taking a hostage to evade capture, makes this evidence admissible," the opinion said. The court also disagreed with Johns' lawyer on numerous other points, saying:
-It was permissible to introduce Johns' previous conviction for second degree assault.
-The state's closing penalty phase arguments, stating a strong opinion that Johns should die, were permissible. In the dissenting opinion, Justice J. Wolff said he felt Johns should be granted a new trial because he was not allowed to present a self-defense theory, which would have relied on Stewart's tendency toward becoming violent when he had been drinking. Wolff also said Johns' lawyers should have been able to present evidence that Stewart chased Johns before Johns killed him.
The history of the case was laid out in the opinion. Johns began spending time with Stewart in the spring of 1996. They spent a considerable amount of time drinking together. On the night of Oct. 1, 1996, Johns accepted a ride from Stewart's girlfriend, Deborah Tedder. Stewart, who had been fighting with Ms. Tedder earlier in the day, followed in his truck and eventually confronted the two on rural Highway KK in Pulaski County. All three were drunk, according to the opinion.
The confrontation became violent and two of Ms. Tedder's car windows were shattered. Johns got out of the car, wielding a .22 caliber pistol. He shot Stewart seven times, killing him. At 10 p.m., Robert and Christina Deardeuff passed by while returning home from a family gathering. They saw Stewart's gray Chevrolet truck stopped in the northbound lane with a small white car near it. Deardeuff saw Stewart lying face down between the two vehicles. As they approached the second vehicle, Deardeuff slowed down and offered help. Johns said several times, according to the opinion, "Everything's all right. Just go on."
After the Deardeuffs left, Johns and Ms. Tedder took off. About an hour later, Kristine Brockes came upon Stewart's truck while heading home from her job at Fort Leonard Wood. She found Stewart's body lying face down and called the police. Police were unable to find the murder weapon, but did find seven .22 caliber shell casings, a pile of glass and two spots of blood where Ms. Tedder's car had been parked. Ms. Tedder was located the next morning, according to the opinion.
While she was being questioned, officers noticed the shattered windows on her car, blood on the fender and a bullet hole in the left rear quarter of the vehicle. Ms. Tedder told them that Johns might have been involved in Stewart's death. According to the opinion, Johns had been living on a small farm that was owned by Pearl Rose. When police arrived at the farm, they were too late. Johns was already on the run. He remained on the run for the next six months.
During this time, he committed two other murders. On Feb. 7, 1997, Ron Wilson returned to his home to find Johns standing on the front porch with a shotgun that he had just stolen from inside, according to the opinion.
After firing once into the ceiling and once at Wilson, Johns fled with Wilson's car, two guns, a hunting knife and a watch. On Feb. 26, 1997, he forcibly entered the home of Bud and Melinda Veverka and held the couple at gunpoint while he warmed himself by the stove. This robbery proved largely unsuccessful, the opinion said, as Johns was only able to steal two dollars, a wallet and some juice. Though no one was injured in the two robberies, "Johns' next victims were less fortunate."
On Feb. 28, 1997, police found Leonard Voyles lying dead in his Camden County home. He died from a single .22 caliber gunshot wound to the head. An inventory of his home revealed that Voyles' Ford Ranger truck and his .22 caliber rifle were missing. A shoe print was found that matched Johns' right boot.
"In addition," the opinion said, "law enforcement officers recovered Johns' fingerprints from Voyles' stolen truck, which was found on March 8, 1997. Three miles away from where the pickup was found, police found the body of Wilma Bragg, 57, Stark City, at her home on March 9, 1997.
The investigation revealed that Mrs. Bragg's killer shot her two times in the back of the head while she lay face down on her bed with her hands tied behind her back. DNA testing of a cigarette butt implicated Johns in the murder and impression analysis confirmed that the rifle stolen from Voyles' home was used to kill Bragg. Johns left with Mrs. Bragg's 1991 Toyota, which was later recovered with the rifle still inside.
"During the following weeks, Johns and his girlfriend, Beverly Guehrer, burglarized four additional homes. At each home, Johns left fingerprints or took property that was later found in his possession.
"On April 7, 1997, the crime spree came to an end when officers of the Missouri Water Patrol encountered Johns in a cabin while searching Cole Camp Creek in Benton County. As the officers approached the cabin, Johns threw open the door and emerged with Ms. Guehrer held in front of him as a human shield. With one arm around Ms. Guehrer's neck and the other aiming a rifle at her head, Johns said, 'I've got a hostage, I'll shoot her.' As Johns made a sudden movement to escape, Officer Eric Gottman shot him in the abdomen and placed him under arrest.
"Johns was taken to Bothwell Hospital in Sedalia," the opinion said. "On April 9, 1997, Deputy Robin Peppinger of the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department received permission from the medical staff to conduct an interview. Deputy Peppinger informed Johns of his Miranda rights and Johns confessed that on Oct. 1, 1996, he was with Tedder when a vehicular chase and confrontation occurred on Highway KK. He claimed that Stewart smashed the glass out of Ms. Tedder's car and assaulted her. Johns also claimed that he tried to intervene, but Stewart knocked him to the ground. Johns alleged that Stewart reached into his pocket, which prompted Johns to shoot him once in self-defense. Deputy Peppinger made an audiotape of the interview.'
"The State charged Johns with murder in the first degree and armed criminal action on May 22, 1997. In July, Johns informed Deputy John Ward of the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department that he wished to speak to him. Ward again informed Johns of his Miranda rights and asked whether Johns would like his attorneys present. Johns declined. In this interview, Johns claimed that he wanted to 'get it over with." He mused that the state penitentiary would be less restrictive than his current incarceration. Johns again confessed to the killing of Stewart, but he also claimed that Stewart had threatened to kill him.He gave police the location of the pistol used in the killing, though the weapon was never recovered due to an overgrowth of the grass in the area. Johns also confessed to the murders of Leonard Voyles and Wilma Bragg. He described in detail how he shot his victims in the head with a .22 caliber rifle that he had taken from the Voyles home. Finally, he described the location of the two vehicles that he had stolen from the victims."
The opinion continued, "As the date of the trial approached, the trial court heard evidence regarding Johns' mental competency. Johns presented the testimony of Dr. Robert A. Briggs, a neuropsychologist in private practice; Dr. Phillip J. Murphy, a clinical psychologist in private practice and Dr. Dorothy O. Lewis, a professor of psychology at New York University School of Medicine. The State offered the testimony of Dr. John Zimmerscheid, a staff psychiatrist at Fulton State Hospital. All of the expert witnesses agreed that Johns grew up in a troubled home. Johns' father was an alcoholic who had twice been institutionalized at Fulton State Hospital. He subjected the family to persistent abuse, and his wife eventually , shot him in self-defense. Johns' mother was also troubled, suffering from chronic depression and anxiety. As a child, Johns endured multiple head injuries and debilitation seizures. His I. Q. was below average and at times fell into the 'mentally retarded' classification. He never learned to read or write and began abusing alcohol at the age of 15," the opinion said.
"Johns continued to show memory lapses as an adult. He could not relate the date, his present location, his birth date, his age, or the current president of the United States. Johns also asserted that an Indian spirit helped him evade capture for six months by causing him to become invisible. Though the State's expert, Dr. Zimmerscheid, noted Johns' troubled history and sub-average intellect, he stated that Johns retained the basic reasoning and communication ability to understand the charges levied against him and to aid his attorneys in the preparation of his defense.
"In his interview with Dr. Zimmerscheid, Johns knew the meaning of the terms 'guilty' and 'not guilty'. He understood the roles of the prosecutor, defense counsel, judge and jury. During the interview, Johns indicated that he committed the crime and wanted to take responsibility for it. Dr. Zimmerscheid found no indications of depression, psychosis or hallucinations. He specifically noted that Johns was able to communicate appropriately and effectively. Though Johns showed only a 'borderline' intellect, Dr Zimmerscheid concluded that Johns was competent to stand trial."
"The defense experts disagreed," the opinion continued. "They concluded that Johns' history, combined with several neurological tests indicated that Johns was episodically psychotic, delusional and brain damaged. They reasoned that his learning deficiencies combined with his memory problems and delusions rendered him unable to appreciate the charges or reasonably aid his attorneys. After hearing the testimony, the trial court was persuaded by the opinion of the State's witness. The court found Johns competent to stand trial.
"To ensure a fair trial," the opinion continued, "the trial court determined that the jury should be summoned from outside of Pulaski County. Consequently, jury selection commenced on Jan. 11, 1999, in Adair County." The trial began on Jan. 16, 1999, "Johns appeared in orange pants and leg braces, which were placed on the outside of the pants at Johns' request." Evidence about Stewart's murder, the other two murders and the numerous robberies and burglaries was presented. The defense presented evidence of Johns' limited mental capacity.
The jury deliberated for six hours and found Johns guilty on both counts. It deliberated for three hours and twenty minutes before sentencing him to death during the penalty phase of the trial.

Not much news in Ruestman interview

For the first time today, I listened through the entire hour of The McCormack Files, John McCormack's radio program on KBTN Radio in Neosho. The guest was Rep. Marilyn Ruestman and I was hoping to hear her views on a number of issues.
I heard her say that stem cell research was going to be a controversial issue and she would study it. Other than that, McCormack and the callers really didn't ask her about much of anything important.
I waited in vain for a question about the ridiculous new requirements for people who want to renew their driver's licenses or obtain new ones. Did she agree with Governor Blunt's effusive praise of the Department of Revenue for how it has implemented these new regulations? I suppose we will never know. Not if we have to rely on John McCormack to ask the questions.
Of course, in the past there might have been some listener who posed the question, but there were only two or three callers (one person called twice).
Besides the driver's license requirements, there were no questions about education funding, no questions about the Moark expansion and how Ms. Ruestman felt about environmental issues, no questions about the trip to Hot Springs that she took, which was partially paid for by lobbyists, and no questions about her votes on any issues whatsoever.
Believe it or not, she was on the program for an entire hour.
Now that is public service programming.

ConAgra earnings decline

Associated Press reports that ConAgra, which has a plant in Carthage, had a 40 percent decline in its fourth-quarter earnings. Net income was $101.9 million, or 20 cents per share, compared to $169.3 million or 32 cents per share last year.

How mistakes are perpetuated

Back on the subject of getting things right.
I know the change of Jon's Pharmacy in Neosho to John's Pharmacy, which was made in The Joplin Globe's story yesterday on the allegedly drunk driver who ran into the funeral procession was a minor thing, but that minor mistake was compounded when the article was picked up by Associated Press.
This morning's Springfield News-Leader carried the story, complete with the John's Pharmacy reference. There is no telling how many other newspapers picked up on it. Most of them did not use the pharmacy name, but the story, because of the novelty of a drunk driver plowing into the funeral procession of someone who was killed by a drunk driver, was picked up by newspapers and broadcast affiliates throughout the United States.
Today, the misinformation might just be one letter in the name of a business. Tomorrow, it might be something that materially affects the meaning of a story.
And yes, to answer the response I am expecting before it arrives, I make plenty of mistakes. I work as hard as I can to try to cut down on them, but I am sure I will make more. But part of the role of this blog is to critique local media and that is what I am doing.
And now on to my mistakes. Earlier, in my first mention of the John's/Jon's situation, I said Jon's is owned by Jon Genisio of Neosho. That was a mistake on my part. Though the pharmacy still carries his name, a reader informs me that Jon's was sold a few years back to Gary Massey. I will remove that reference from my earlier post, but I will leave it on this one because when you make mistakes you need to own up to them.

DOR officials overwhelmed with response

If you need any more evidence that state officials and bureaucrats are out of touch with reality, it can be found in today's Springfield News-Leader.
Apparently, Missouri Department of Revenue officials were shocked when they discovered that people would be upset by the new hoops they are being forced to jump through just to renew their driver's licenses.
"We didn't think it would be as big an issue as it has become," Department of Revenue spokeswoman Maura Browning told the News-Leader. "What we've done in the last week is make the requirements easier to understand."
She got the first part right, but she's still clueless on the second. Apparently, one change the DOR has made involves women who have remarried. They no longer will be required to bring documentation to prove each of the name changes they have gone through. All they will have to bring, according to the News-Leader article, is a Social Security card or a Medicare card.
What this proves is that when people complain, things can get done. Well, they need to keep complaining. I don't think anyone minds the effort to make sure that driver's licenses are going to people who belong here legally, but doesn't the DNR have records? Can't these records be cross-referenced with records from other agencies, without people having to dig through all kinds of documents and waiting in long lines to get their licenses? Why do they collect all of this information on us if they are not going to use it responsibly. This would definitely be a responsible use of that information.
Missourians need to keep complaining until the DOR and Governor Blunt come up with a more reasonable solution to this problem. The first resort for government is always to require more paperwork. I don't necessarily have a problem with that...but it is the government workers who should be doing it, not the people who are paying their salaries. They could spend time before sending out renewal notices checking up on people, working with other agencies to verify any information they needed to have verified. If the agencies don't want to cooperate, then the governor, the state legislature, or heaven help us, the courts, should intervene.
Then, and only then, if a problem came up, the DOR could contact the person and take care of the problem.
When people apply for a license for the first time, there should already be enough information available on those people through various government sources. If there are questions, those could be checked out.
Government should exist to serve the people not create problems for them. I know it is a novel concept, but if there is any time it should be followed, this is the time.
Do not roll over and accept this because I guarantee you if we do, this will not be the end of it.

Missouri's teen drivers among worst

The National Safety Council has issued a ranking of the deadliest states in the country for teen-related driving fatalities. Missouri ranked eighth. The worst ranking went to the District of Columbia.

Who is Chuck Wells?

I read with interest The Lamar Democrat's story in its Wednesday edition about somebody named Chuck Wells, who suggests that Barton County Memorial Hospital come up with a five-year plan.
I probably should know this name, but nowhere in the article, which was written by Democrat editor, does it tell me who in the heck this Chuck Wells is and why the hospital board should be listening to him so intently.
And judging from the recommendations the man made, that knowledge would be helpful. The article indicates Wells thinks the board should consider moving the hospital because lenders prefer to loan money for relocation projects rather than rebuilding projects. Maybe so, but I sure would like to have more than this man's word for it before I consider any move away from a site that has served the county well since 1948.
I have a feeling the man probably is extremely knowledgeable, but readers have no way of knowing when the newspaper doesn't provide us with enough information for a thorough evaluation.
While we are talking about the Democrat, the newspaper's website has a message on its homepage "Webmaster on vacation, next digital news Mid-July." Hmm, that would have been about the time I would have expected the site to be updated.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Calling all copy editors

Today's Joplin Globe featured an article on the upcoming preliminary hearing of accused killer Jim Edward Ryan in Barton County Circuit Court in Lamar. In that story, the Globe kept referring to the victim, John Kullie, as John Cooley, and to his wife (Ryan's sister) as Becky Cooley, when she, of course, is Becky Kullie.
That's what happens when you don't ask for spelling on names and assume that a name is spelled in the common fashion. If the Globe reporter checked with to find out if John Cooley had a record, he would have found nothing. But checking for John Kullie's record is an entirely different matter. Though it may not have had any bearing on the case, the reporter would have discovered that John Kullie had several brushes with the law and had spent some time in prison. He had been before judges in Jasper and Newton counties.
He would have discovered that Rebecca Kullie was awaiting a June 16 hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court on felony marijuana possession charges. She was granted a continuance and now has a 1:30 p.m. July 13 hearing set before Judge Stephen Carlton.
I don't know if those little tidbits of information would have made any difference, but if you don't know how to spell the name, you are not going to come across them.
The story on the drunk driver who interrupted the funeral procession told how the driver went off the square and slammed into John's Pharmacy. No such place exists. However, Jon's Pharmacy does.
I will be the first to admit, it's a lot easier for me. When I make a mistake, I can get back on the internet and fix it. People who write for newspapers have no such luxuries.

Miss America Pageant to change

I thought about my former Newtonia neighbor Debra Miles a while ago when I read an article about changes that are being planned with the Miss America Pageant.
You would have never known it to see her on the street or at Gum's Store, or with her husband, Mitch, but Mrs. Miles, during her pre-marriage days in Kansas, under her maiden name of Debra Barnes, had been crowned Miss America. Mrs. Miles has never been one to put on airs.
The last time I talked with her was when she was living in Carthage (she may still be, I have been out of touch) and she agreed to speak at an assembly at Diamond Middle School.
Considering the changes that the Miss America Pageant is going through, I don't know if she would even want to have her name associated with it. Televised rating have been going down for the pageant for years, which some have speculated has to do with its wholesome atmosphere.
It will no longer be carried on network television and it will no longer be held in August. According to the Washington Post story I was just reading, it will on Country Music Television (CMT), which asked that it be moved to January. It will also no longer be a one-day televised event. The powers-that-be at the pageant and CMT plan to change it into just another reality series.
This would include taping all of the preliminaries, following around the contestants, probably trying to stir up conflict between them; something to spice things up. I doubt that it will ever turn into CMT's version of "The Bachelorette," but it sure isn't going to be the Miss America Pageant.

Blunt claims no expenditures

Registered lobbyist Andrew Blunt, brother of Governor Matt Blunt, and son of Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt, filed four no-expenditure reports, one for each month from January through April with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
That doesn't necessarily mean he wasn't lobbying, since I would imagine it is pretty easy for the governor's brother to get calls returned.
Expenditure forms for May have not been placed on the Ethics Commission's website yet.
Some were surprised that Blunt's March disclosure form did not show any gifts for legislators. State Democrats have filed a complaint with the Commission, claiming that Blunt should have filed a report covering the little vacation retreat taken by nine Republican legislators, including Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, and Speaker of the House Rod Jetton, to Hot Springs, Ark., during the House break that month.
As The Turner Report revealed last month Blunt added six clients to his lobbying list following his brother's election in November. Those added were: Ameren UE, St. Louis; Burlington Northern Railway, Springfield; Farmer Companies, Jefferson City; Health Management Systems, Odessa; Heritage Information Systems, Richmond, Va., and Missouri Automobile Dealers Association, Jefferson City.
A seventh, ACS Heritage Inc., Richmond, Va., a consulting company which makes it money by offering management and cost-cutting services to government programs, insurance companies and large employers, was added June 20, as was revealed in the June 23 Turner Report.
According to the company's website, "through a sophisticated suite of proprietary, web-enabled software applications, ACS-Heritage helps clients decrease costs and improve the quality of their prescription drug programs."
Also noted on the website, "ACS-Heritage was founded in 1980 and currently serves more than 14 Medicaid programs, several national commercial insurers, over a dozen Blue Cross Blue Shield licenses, and some of the largest employer groups in the country."
Organizations and special interests already on Blunt's client list were: Kraft Foods, Northfield, Ill., Miller Brewing Company, Milwaukee, Wis.; Missouri Hospital Association, Jefferson City; Phillip Morris, Richmond, Va., PSRI, Jefferson City; Southwestern Bell (SBC), Jefferson City; Systems & Methods, Carrolton, Ga.; and United Parcel Service, Leawood, Kan.

Blunt comments on Bush speech available

For anyone interested in reading Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt's reaction to President Bush's speech from last night, go to the following link:

Blunt promises vote on Social Security accounts

Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt is promising that President Bush's Social Security bill will be sent to the House floor in August or September...complete with the controversial private investment accounts.
An article in today's New York Times quotes Blunt and other Republican leaders who say they will push for passage of the president's plan, even though it has been greeted with little enthusiasm by the public.
"This is not too far too fast. ... This is a step we can take right now," Blunt is quoted as saying in an Associated Press article.
The plan calls for paying for the investment accounts through the temporary surplus in the system, plus borrowing more money and increasing the federal debt, according to the article.

Blunt signs immunization bill

Former Carthage City Councilwoman Lujene Clark's battle to ban vaccines containing more than a trace amount of mercury reached a successful conclusion today, for this state at least, when Missouri Governor Matt Blunt signed a bill, sponsored by Sen. Norma Champion, R-Springfield, banning such vaccines for pregnant women and for children under the age of three, beginning in April 2007.
According to Associated Press, the bill requires insurance companies to cover mercury-free vaccines at the same rate as those that contain mercury.
Mrs. Clark and her husband, emergency room physician Dr. Alan Clark, began the battle after their son was diagnosed with a form of autism which they believe was caused by mercury in vaccines.
An October 2004 Joplin Globe feature detailed how the Clarks have fought the battle against the mercury-laden vaccines, not only in Jefferson City, but in state capitals throughout the U. S., and in Washington, D. C.

Fortress buys controlling interest in care centers

Fortress Investment, a global firm that recently bought Liberty Group Publishing, announced the purchase of controlling interest in Alterra Healthcare Corporation, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal.
The article indicated Fortress plans to merge Alterra with Chicago-based Brookdale Living Communities, Inc. Brookdale has a few nursing homes in the St. Louis area. Alterra does not have any in Missouri, but has a number in Kansas and Oklahoma.
Oklahoma cites with with Alterra homes, most of them going under the Sterling name, include Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Ada, Bartlesville, Bethany, Broken Arrow, Claremore, Duncan, Durant, Edmond, Enid, Lawton, Midwest City, Norman, Owasso, Ponca City, Stillwater, and Weatherford.
Kansas communities served by Alterra include: Topeka, Wichita, Great Bend, Hays, Junction City, Salina, Tallgrass, Wellington, Abilene, Arkansas City, Derby, Dodge City, and Emporia.
In addition to the purchase of Liberty Group Publishing, which includes The Carthage Press, the Neosho Daily News, the Neosho Post, and The Big Nickel, Fortress was recently in the news for buying troubled pop star Michael Jackson's debt from Bank of America. The collateral for that debt includes the rights to Jackson's own music and a 50 percent share of the Beatles' publishing rights.

Jarden buys Holmes Group

Jarden Corporation, owner of the Sunbeam plant in Neosho, announced today it had bought The Holmes Group, Inc., a transaction valued at $625 million. The purchase was made with $420 million in cash and 4.1 million shares of Jarden common stock, according to the Jarden news release.
Holmes manufactures and distributes home environment and small kitchen electric appliances, with name brands including Crock Pot, Harmony, Holmes, Bionaire, Rival, Seal-a-Meal, and WhiteMountain. The transaction will close during the third quarter, the release said.
"Holmes has also developed its own state-of-the-art manufacturing, distribution and new product development facilities in China within the last five years, having had an active manufacturing presence in China for over fifteen years. Holmes has annual revenues of approximately $700 million," the news release said.

More about new driver's license requirements

Women who have been married two or three times (or more) and older residents could have particular problems (as well as the people who are waiting in line behind them) when they try to renew their driver's licenses.
The problem is explained well in this article from today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

A few comments on tonight's 6 p.m. news

Just a few notes on today's local TV newscasts:
-KSN's report showed Governor Matt Blunt signing the education bill at Webb City and telling the people there about how much money it would bring to Joplin. I enjoyed that.
-I like KOAM anchor Rhonda Justice's new hairstyle, but nevertheless, I will continue to wear my hair like KODE substitute anchor Alan Matthews.
-Matthews is certainly doing a bangup job filling in while the search for Jimmy Siedlecki's replacement continues. It would be a shame if he got passed over for some 25-year-old from Florida.
-Good reporting from all three stations on the ongoing search for the bodies of long missing Oklahoma teens Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible.
-KODE's Alan Cavanna was on the spot again for coverage of an Oklahoma man allegedly killing his brother.
-This last item has nothing to do with today's news, but is a criticism for an apparently major story, first broken by Joplin Globe reporter Roger McKinney June 25 that every other media outlet missed and which the Globe underplayed. McKinney's story had me from the lead which read:
GALENA, Kan. - A Galena police officer is no longer employed by the department after an incident where he reportedly shot and killed an injured dog three times without contacting the dog's owners.
What a story! It's bad enough that officer shot and killed the dog the first time without contacting its owner, but to do it a second and third time, that's grotesque. The man deserved to lose his job.
I thought cats were the only animals with more than one life.

Comments on Wooden death are interesting

If you get a chance, take some time to go to the Joplin Globe's website and read the comments concerning today's article on the investigation into eight-year-old foster child Braxton Wooden's death.
The one at the bottom was the one that interested me, and bothered me the most. It ripped the Globe for continuing to run articles on the case, saying that it happened June 2 and the Globe should let up on it.
This same kind of response came up a few weeks back when the Globe was writing about the situation involving the Joplin police officers and handcuffing the boy at the elementary school. The newspaper was accused, as usual in these cases, of sensationalizing it and blowing it up out of proportion.
Thank God not everyone is as close-minded as these people. If we just let the bad stories disappear, they would keep happening again and again. Without the light shed on the Wooden boy's death by the Globe and the local TV stations, this situation might have just blown over without Social Services and the foster parenting system coming under a much-needed closer examination.
We cannot just close our ears and shut our eyes when bad things happen. That is what the media's job is.
Should the media report only bad news? Of course not, but when it is there, that's when the media has to rise to the occasion. In the Braxton Wooden case, the Globe, KODE, KOAM, and KSNF have done their jobs well.

A little more about Lamar R-1 budget

I forgot to mention a little item that irritated me when I read it in Lamar Democrat reporter Chris Morrow's account of the June 21 Lamar R-1 Board of Education meeting.
Nothing wrong with Chris' article. It was the best reporting of a Lamar school board meeting I have seen in the Democrat in a long time.
Check out this paragraph:

"Overall, the budget allows for an eight percent increase, or $2,000, on the base salary for teachers raising it to $27,000. Non-certified staff will receive a five percent increase. The administrators were added into the pay scale at the 10th year master's degree level, which means that although they received a 6.7 percent increase, as a percentage, they received less of an increase than the teachers."

I am sure the Lamar teachers chuckled ruefully when they heard that one. Let me explain it in simple terms. If a teacher who is making $25,000 (a simple number for me to work with) receives an eight percent pay increase, then that teacher's salary goes up to $27,000 a year, or a $2,000 pay increase. On the other hand, if an administrator is making $60,000 a year, which is not uncommon for superintendents at smaller schools, and is given a 6.7 percent raise, that would bring the administrator's salary up to somewhere in the area of $64,000 a year. If you want to give the administrators that size of a pay increase, I don't have any problem with it, but please don't insult the intelligence of teachers and district patrons by making it sound as if the teachers are getting the better deal. They are getting a much appreciated $2,000 a year pay increase, but administrators who already make double what the teachers make in most instances, will also receive nearly double the pay increase.

Of course, some of the teachers are also coaches and will pick up a few more dollars, but that's taking us back to the last point of contention.

Kahl bound over for trial

Brandon Kahl, 25, Lamar, charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the June 7 death of two-year-old Alexander Cole, waived his preliminary hearing Tuesday in Barton County Circuit Court, and was bound over for trial.
Cole was the son of Kahl's live-in girlfriend. He is free on $15,000 bond. The bond includes the
stipulation that Kahl have no contact with anyone under the age of 17, and he must live with either his father, Terry Kahl, or his grandmother, Lucille Kahl.

Ryan preliminary hearing rescheduled

The preliminary hearing for accused killer Jim Edward Ryan has been rescheduled to 1 p.m. July 12 in Barton County Circuit Court. The hearing had originally been scheduled for June 28.
Ryan is charged with the May 25 beating death of John Kullie in Lamar Heights. Authorities say Ryan killed Kullie, his brother-in-law, with a tire jack. Ryan is charged with first degree murder and armed criminal action and is being held in the Barton County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond.

"Contempt of Court' Lindstedt files new motion

Martin Lindstedt, formerly of Granby, now spending at least 660 days in the Newton County Jail, thanks to 22 30-day contempt citations by Judge Kevin Selby, has taken the judge to task in a new motion filed today in Newton County Circuit Court.
Lindstedt, who was already in jail in lieu of $100,000 bond awaiting trial on a statutory sodomy charge, filed a motion "for this corrupt regime court judge to alter, amend, abolish and/or reconsider corrupt judgment to unlawfully assign Division III Newton County Juvenile Judge Kevin Lee Selby to hear prisoner's case."
Lindstedt, who must have missed school the day they talked about how to win friends and influence people, has a long history of filing frivolous lawsuits and unsuccessfully running for public office. Several attempts have been made to hold hearings in the present case, but each time they have been disrupted by Lindstedt.

Aug. 2 hearing set for Holman in Barton County

Accused double murderer Micah Holman, 32, Carthage, has an Aug. 2 hearing in Barton County Circuit Court on an unrelated felony stealing charge, according to court records.
Holman is charged with two counts of first degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action, and one count each of burglary and arson in Jasper County in connection with the June 4 murders of Marvin and Peggy Steverson of Carthage.

Pineville officer charged with DWI, assault

Suspended Pineville police officer Terry D. Bates was officially charged with driving while intoxicated and assault, both misdemeanors, today in McDonald County Circuit Court.
Bates, 35, has been under suspension since the June 12 incident in which he was stopped by a Missouri Highway Patrol trooper. His arraignment has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, July 25. News reports following Bates' arrest indicate he had a blood alcohol content more than twice the legal limit. Bates has also been charged with failure to drive on the right half of the roadway.
The reports said the assault was on a nine-year-old girl at a get-together in Noel. He allegedly grabbed the girl by the arm. Court records indicate an Anderson man filed a child protection order against Bates on June 13, though the temporary order was dismissed without prejudice June 27.

Sex offender registration challenged

Missouri's sex offender registry is under legal attack, according an Associated Press article.
Documents filed yesterday say the law is unfair because it makes all offenders register for life whether they are violent rapists or someone who committed a consensual act as a teenager.
In the documents, lawyers argue that the law is "overly broad and deprives people of their constitutionally protected due process and equal protection rights." The documents were filed in connection with an appeal of a Jan. 6 Jackson County decision, which upheld the sex offender registry.

Latest release shows Blunt is out of touch

On many occasions, I have read a politician's news release and I have strongly disagreed with whatever it is the politician is saying. The latest release by Governor Matt Blunt, however, has me downright angry.
Our governor is praising the new program which requires Missourians to have to provide all kinds of identification to prove that they are Missourians and that they are who they say they are.
Of course, the Department of Revenue officials have given it a snappy name, "Show Me Proof," but all it amounts to is another way of creating more of a need for the kind of bureaucracy that Governor Blunt is supposed to abhor.
"While protecting Missourians by cracking down on identity theft and fraud," the news release starts, "the Missouri Department of Revenue on July 1 will unveil "Show Me Proof," a new customer-friendly program that fine-tunes and simplifies the new lawful presence requirements to obtain or renew a driver license, nondriver license, or instruction permit."
Wait until you hear what Governor Blunt's idea of "customer-friendly" is.
The news release continues, "The program is designed to make it easier for customers and the department to meet their legal obligations and is consistent with Governor Matt Blunt's charge to agency directors to make state government more accessible and responsible to citizens."
Then the governor commends Director of Revenue Trish Vincent and her staff for the program, saying, "They have taken a confusing and difficult legal obligation and turned it into a straightforward program that has real benefits to Missourians."
After that nonsense, the governor, who I'm sure wrote every word of the news release (sarcasm alert), gets down to explaining "Show Me Proof." Here is the rest of the release:

Beginning July 1, customers will have to Show Me Proof and will be required to show proof of lawful presence, show proof of identity, and show proof of residency when the customer obtains a new license or permit or renews a license or permit for the first time after July 1.
“There are all kinds of reasons for the department to implement Show Me Proof, but most importantly, we are protecting the identities of Missourians,” said department director Trish Vincent. “Show Me Proof will help ensure that license holders are who they say they are.”
For more detailed information about the new identification requirements, including a guide to obtaining the required documentation, please visit the department’s web site at or call (573) 751-2730. On the department’s web site, click the “Show Me Proof” icon to go directly to the new requirements.

What this glib news release does not tell you is exactly how many items they want you to have when you apply for a new driver's license or for a renewal. In addition to an authentic birth certificate, you have to take some kind of utility bill or voter registration card to show that you live where you say you live, you have to provide a Social Security card to prove your identity, you have to have documents to prove a change of name if you have married, the list goes on and on. In fact, the section of the DOR site that shows how to get the proof you need is nine pages long. That should really simplify things.
The simple fact is there's nothing simple or customer friendly about these ridiculous new requirements. It is easy for Governor Blunt to say how simple the requirements are. When it comes time for him to get his driver's license, I can guarantee you he will not have to stand in line for two or three hours. And believe me, it is going to be a nightmare. In many locations in this state, you already have people who are brand new at working at license fee offices. Now you are going to have these people take the time to go through four or five documents for each person who comes in.
Why should a person who has lived in Missouri for 65 years have to prove citizenship? You can't tell me there was not an easier way to live up to federal and state requirements. This shows a lack of imagination, and even worse, a lack of consideration for Missourians.
And on top of that, our governor has the nerve to tell us that it's customer-friendly.
I would suggest contacting your state senator or state representative, but I am sure they are probably on the phone to the governor or writing him and saying, "Oh, yes, Governor Blunt, you are right, this is the most customer-friendly idea I have ever seen. Is there anything else we can kiss?"

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Former KODE reporter coaches candidates

During my web surfing tonight, I came across another familiar name from KODE's past. Former reporter Evan Rosen now works with candidates for public office, helping them to "communicate effectively for free media opportunities and speeches," according to a website called Rosen works for Impact Video Communications.
According to his bio, during his journalism days, Rosen interviewed Bill Clinton, John Glenn, Michael Dukakis, Dan Quayle, and Ralph Nader. In addition to KODE, he also worked at KICU in San Jose, WABC in New York, WXYZ in Detroit, WTOL in Toledo, and WCBN in Ann Arbor, Mich.

A blast from the past

I came across a neat little website for area media buffs a few moments ago.
Former KODE weekend anchor Steve Tommey has a page of photos from his time in Joplin, including his days working with the weekend team consisting of Tommey, Mary Ann Croce, Russ Riesinger, and Marny Stanier. And yes, that would be the same Marny Stanier who later went on to The Weather Channel (and who is now suing The Weather Channel in federal court for age and sex discrimination in connection with her firing).
You can find the site at:
Tommey is now commercial director/producer at WB 19 in Tulsa.

Globe reports foster parents' license revoked

Mark and Treva Gordon of Alba will no longer be able to care for foster children, according to the Jeff Lehr-written article in Wednesday morning's Joplin Globe.
The Department of Social Services found evidence of child neglect in connection with the death of Braxton Wooden, 8, a foster child who was in their care.

News of Moark controversy spreads across nation

The dispute over Moark's plans to expand its operation in Neosho has been featured on the pages and websites of many newspapers across the United States.
Among those who have carried the Associated Press story, based on Melissa DeLoach's article in today's Joplin Globe are: The Miami Herald, Fort Wayne, Indiana Journal-Gazette, Duluth, Minnesota News-Tribune, Fort Worth, Texas, Star-Telegram, Monterey County, Calif., Herald, and the Charlotte, N. C. Observer.

Hammons to expand Rogers hotel

John Q. Hammons Hotels LLC, Springfield, announced today it will expand the 248-room Embassy Suites in Rogers, by adding a 152-room tower, according to Arkansas Business. A company news release says that will make it "the largest all-suites property in Arkansas."
The project is expected to be completed in early 2006.
Hammons, of course, got his start in Newton County, growing up in Fairview.

Hance appears ready to plead guilty

Former Seneca police officer and McDonald County sheriff candidate Randy Hance is expected to plead guilty to weapons charges 8:30 a.m. Friday, July 15, in U. S. District Court in Springfield.
Hance is being held without bond after a federal judge determined he might harm his ex-wife, others, or himself.
Hance's attorney, Shawn Askinosie of Springfield, had indicated in earlier court filings that he was negotiating a plea agreement with the government.

Siedlecki/Gomer connection

I had never noticed it, but today's Omaha TV News at questions whether new WOWT morning anchor and former KODE anchor Jimmy Siedlecki and TV's Gomer Pyle, Jim Nabors, were separated at birth.

Vinita radio station sells

A businessman who owns numerous Grove interests, including the Cherokee Queen riverboats, bought KITO-AM and FM in Vinita for $900,000, according to Radio and Records.
This is the first radio station owned by Larry Steckline, owner of Mid America Ag Network, Inc., and an agribusiness reporter for more than three decades. Steckline's wife is former Kansas attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Carla Stovall.
The station was previously owned by DLB Broadcasting Corporation, headed by Dave Boyd, president.

News-Leader report on Medicaid problems top-notch

The Springfield News-Leader, in its Sunday edition, offered a thorough explanation of the effects the Medicaid cuts are going on to have on people and institutions throughout the Springfield area.
I would love to see that emulated by The Globe, the Daily, the Press, or maybe even some of the weeklies in the Joplin area.
Now is the time for newspapers (and it could also be done by broadcast media) to look into the burdens, if any, these cuts are going to place on social service agencies, hospitals, clinics, such institutions as Crosslines, The Salvation Army, Area Agency on Aging, etc., as well as the people themselves.
Will this turn out to be the savior of the state budget that Gov. Matt Blunt thinks it is, or will it turn out to be the economic nightmare that University of St. Louis researchers forecast several months ago? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in-between.
Whatever it is, the media needs to get on top of this story and stay on top of it.

Nodler, fellow senators ready to try again

In a column in the Sunday Kansas City Star, Otto Fajen, legislative director for the Missouri National Education Association, says Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, and his fellow state senators Charlie Shields and Matt Bartle, who favored legislation keeping judges from making decision concerning school finances are ready to try it again.
That decision, if Fajen is correct, is mostly likely caused by the decision of more than 250 school districts across the state, including many in this area, to continue a lawsuit claiming that they are not being adequately financed through the state's Foundation Formula.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Blunt vetoes Alzheimer's research, okays Amtrak

Many of the articles last week concerning Governor Matt Blunt's line-item vetoes on the budget noted that the legislature had restored some of the items Blunt said he wanted cut, so the governor simply vetoed those items.
That included $227,000 for Alzheimer's research. The governor and his aides said they didn't think that money was necessary since it was used primarily for seed money for efforts to get federal grants.
Apparently, the governor felt strongly about continuing to subsidize rail traffic in the state since he allowed the restored money for Amtrak service between Kansas City and St. Louis to escape a veto.

More on Lamar R-1 extra duty pay

After reading, the Saturday Lamar Democrat, I felt compelled to write a little more about the extra duty pay situation in the Lamar R-1 School District.
The article was written by Chris Morrow, who worked for me for a brief time in the 1990s at The Carthage Press. He writes, "Another point of contention regarded the increase of the coaching stipends. The budget called for increases for coaches and the band director. However, other extracurricular stipends for the sponsors of programs like VICA and DECA were not increased."
Morrow writes that R-1 Athletic Director Iver Johnson looked into how much pay coaches were receiving at other Big Eight Conference schools and the increases were needed to bring Lamar into line with those.
That was apparently enough to satisfy the four board members who voted in favor of the budget. What I did not read (and I guarantee you that if it had been mentioned, Chris would have written about it) was all the research the district did to find out how much people are getting paid to work with extracurricular academic programs (and I am not just talking about DECA and VICA, but a wide variety of other activities). It wasn't mentioned, because no one looked into it.
It wasn't mentioned, I am sure, because it never occurred to anybody to look into it.
Most likely, if it had been looked into, it would have been discovered that these people are being paid next to nothing. And that's a shame. What a wonderful opportunity to set a school district apart by stressing academics first.
Later in his article, Chris writes, "Board member Michelle Crockett questioned the salary of librarians and counselors. Before the revenue problems of the last few years, counselors and librarians had been on a 10-month pay schedule. However, they were dropped back to a nine-month schedule. This budget calls for librarians to receive an additional one week of pay for 2005-2006 and counselors to receive two. 'My concern is that it used to be that both had a month,' said Crockett, who went on to point out the disparity of the increases.' "
I must not know much about running a school district. My inclination would have to been to have returned the counselors and librarians to 10-month schedules and held the line on the stipend increase for coaches.
That's my answer, here was the one that the Democrat reports R-1 Superintendent Mike Resa giving Mrs. Crockett: "We are gradually adding things back. We are bringing it along slowly. That is the best answer I can give you."
I would be willing to bet that answer did not satisfy Mrs. Crockett or most of the patrons of the Lamar R-1 School District.

CFI workmen's comp award tossed out

An over-the-road truck driver for CFI who was awarded worker's compensation benefits after suffering a heart attack on the job will not receive them.
In a ruling handed down by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, today, the decision to give Lawrence Gardner benefits was overturned by the judges, who sent it back to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission with an order to deny the claim.
According to the ruling, Gardner was 45 when he began working for CFI in 1999. "Ordinarily, he pulled 53-foot vans and his only duty was to drive the truck. Once or twice each year, he had to secure his load by nailing boards beside pallets to keep the pallets from sliding on the wooden floor of the trailer."
The opinion continues, "On April 13, 2001, Gardner drove from Phoenix, Ariz., to El Paso, Texas, to pick up a load of coiled wire." After spending the night in El Paso, he drove to the business to pick up his load and blocked the load, using a claw hammer and nails to fasten two-by-fours to the trailer floor to secure the pallets.
He did that for about two hours, according to the opinion, when he began to feel "dizzy," and began having "pretty intense pains" in his shoulders and chest.
Gardner thought he had the flu, so he returned to the CFI terminal to rest, but the symptoms continued. He felt better the next day and left El Paso with the load. The symptoms soon returned and he went to an emergency room at a hospital in Van Horn, Texas. He was transferred to an El Paso hospital, where it was determined Gardner had suffered a heart attack.
"The record shows that before his heart attack, Gardner did not exercise, he was overweight (260 to 265 pounds for several years), he had high blood pressure history, and he had been a pack-a-day smoker since age 18.
After hearing the medical testimony, and examining Gardner's record, an administrative law judge ruled in favor of CFI, however, that ruling was overturned by the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, which ruled his strenuous activity during the loading was the "significant precipitating factor," and said the heart attack was "clearly job related."
In its ruling, the court said "we conclude from a review of the whole record that Commission's finding that Claimant's April 14-15 work related incidents were substantial factors in causing his myocardial infarction was not supported by competent and substantial evidence and were contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence."

Final KOM Reunion planned

Good news and bad news.
The good news is that the old KOM League will have another reunion, this one scheduled for Sept. 7-9, 2006, in Carthage. The bad news is, according to John Hall's latest KOM update, it will be the last one.
Hall said 50 rooms have been reserved at the Best Western Precious Moments Motel in Carthage. Part of the event will also be held at Carl Lewton Stadium. "For the last time," Hall wrote, "the KOM Leaguers will take the field and be introduced and then a tribute to all our 'fallen comrades' will follow. For any of you who ever loved a deceased former KOM Leaguer you will want to take in this time of honoring their memory."
In addition to members of the old KOM minor league baseball teams, who played in the 1940s and early 1950s (the KOM stands for Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri), Hall said he is extending a special invitation to "the former Joplin Miners and Baxter Springs Whiz Kids."
Hall has done a remarkable job of organizing previous reunions, including one which I had the pleasure of covering in the summer of 1998. That one featured an oldtimers' baseball game. Of course, the youngest of the KOM League players would now be at least in their early 70s.
Hall is also the author of the KOM League history, as well as the recent well-received biography of another former area minor league baseball player, Mickey Mantle, "Mickey Mantle: Before the Glory."

Vintage Stock expands to Nashville, other cities

Today's Nashville Business Journal has an article on Joplin-based Vintage Stock's plans to expand its second-hand empire to that city, plus other markets.
The article says the company is searching for sites for six stores in Middle Tennessee, as well as Memphis, Indianapolis, Dallas, San Antonio, and as mentioned earlier in The Turner Report, St. Louis.
The Staubach Co. of Dallas, formed by former Dallas Cowboy quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach, is conducting the site search for Vintage Stock, according to the article.
On an unrelated matter, I was wondering if any reader can tell me if Shannon Marti from Carthage is still working for Staubach Co. I lost track of her a few years back, but she was working for the company in Dallas at that time.

Meerwald claims he was misled

Hard-working Melissa DeLoach of the Globe, has stories on both the Moark situation and the appeal filed by convicted drunk driver Edward Meerwald in Tuesday's Globe.
In Ms. DeLoach's article on Meerwald, he claims he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the July 31, 2004, deaths of James Dodson, 68, Neosho, and Dodson's granddaughter, Jessica Mann, 8, Joplin, because he was told if he didn't, he would have armed criminal action charges filed against him.

Globe picks up on Joplin Independent scoop

After a five-day wait, the Joplin Globe will have an article in its Tuesday edition on the interest that the state of Oklahoma's secretary of the environment is showing concerning Moark's plans to expand in Neosho.
The Joplin Independent carried that story June 23, but hey, better late than never.

GAO Taser report holds interest

It probably won't be long before area law enforcement agencies start getting hit with lawsuits over the use of Tasers. In fact, Tasers are mentioned, albeit briefly in former Newton County Jail inmate Oscar Alvarez' lawsuit against county officials.
Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Congress' investigative arm issued a report on Tasers, examining their use at seven agencies. Some recommendations concerning policies for the use of these weapons are included in the report, which can be found at the GAO website at:

Walton heir dies in plane crash

ABC news is reporting that John Walton, son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, died in a small plane crash earlier today.

McLean trial set for July 25

Brandie McLean, Webb City, will go on trial for two counts of forgery July 25, according to Jasper County Circuit Court records.
Ms. McLean recently withdrew her guilty plea to the charges, as well as charges of endangering the welfare of a child, when she learned the guilty pleas could keep her from regaining custody of four of her five children. The children were taken away from her last year after the two-year-old was seen playing on the roof while Ms. McLean slept inside.
The fifth child, Braxton Wooden, 8, was shot to death while living in a foster home in Alba.

Witnesses lined up for Wyrick trial

It appears forensic evidence is the key to the case that will be presented against Joplin teen Travis Wyrick in his felony leaving the scene of an accident trial scheduled for Aug. 19 in Jasper County Circuit Court.
Among the items listed in discovery, which are designed to convince a jury that Wyrick was responsible for the hit-and-run death of Joplin High School senior Jamison Alexander are:
-Photographs of the Chevy Trailblazer
-Autopsy photographs
-Photographs of the accident scene
-Photographs of Mr. Alexander at the hospital
-The lab report
-The autopsy report.
Among the witnesses who have been endorsed for the trail are Jasper County Coroner Jerry Neil, crime lab expert Phillip Whittle, pathologist Ron Yoder, forensic analyst Ruthanna Hunter, and Dr. Keith Norton of Cox Medical Services, who conducted the autopsy.
An indigency hearing for Martin "Contempt of Court" Lindstedt has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, June 30, before Judge Kevin Selby in Newton County Circuit Court.
Lindstedt, who last week was sentenced to serve 660 days in jail for contempt of court, has not cooperated with court officials in any of the hearings held so far in his statutory sodomy case.
The perennial candidate for every office from U. S. Senator to sheriff to school board member, doesn't appear to want an attorney, and apparently attorneys don't want him either. Court records indicate the indigency hearing was scheduled after the public defender objected to being appointed to serve as Lindstedt's lawyer.
Docket Entry:

Former Freeman Neosho doctor to be deposed

A July 7 video deposition will be taken of former Freeman Neosho doctor William Bentz in connection with the malpractice suit filed by Wanda Duncan against Bentz, Dr. Jeffrey Wool, Neidra DePuy, Margaret Bond, Freeman Neosho, and Freeman Health System.
The Duncan case is one of a series of malpractice suits filed against the above-named defendants, in connection with allegations that Dr. Wool allegedly practiced medicine while under the influence of drugs.

Newton County officials deny everything

In their reply to Oscar Alvarez' amended lawsuit against county officials, filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, they denied nearly everything except that Ken Copeland is the sheriff and Ron Doerge used to be sheriff.
For the most part they either denied the allegations in Alvarez' complaint or said they didn't have enough knowledge one way or the other about them.
In his complaint, Alvarez claims former jailers Adam Babbitt and Shane Smith left his cell door unlocked and allowed other prisoners to enter his cell and beat him up.
In the response, county officials say that doing something like that would be a violation of county policy.

Hearing set for former Jasper councilman

A pre-trial conference is set for 1:30 p.m. July 28 in Newton County Circuit Court for former Jasper city councilman Nicky Crews, who is charged with possession of child pornography and possession of marijuana. Crews was arrested at a Newton Country truck stop Feb. 3.
Crews waived his formal arraignment June 23 and entered a not guilty plea.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Those darned press releases

I was just checking the ACLU's press release concerning the announcement this week that Webb City High School junior LaStaysha Myers is dropping her First Amendment lawsuit against R-7 school officials.
A portion of the news release reads, "After months of negotiation, Webb City High School recently informed Myers that it would no longer illegally censor her for wearing t-shirts bearing gay-supportive messages."
I am not privy to the exact words that Webb City school officials used, but I guarantee you not one of them ever said they had been illegally censoring Ms. Myers. I doubt if the word illegal came up even once (at least not from the school district's side).
School officials continue to maintain that they did nothing wrong. As I have written before, I am a bit conflicted. I would prefer that students not wear anything that has writing on it unless it is the school's name or nickname, but with fashions the way they are these days, unless you go to school uniforms that is never going to happen.
I am a still bit perplexed by Webb City school officials' claim that students were allowed to wear t-shirts with gay pride messages until they began creating problems. That claim was made during the Myers lawsuit, but I can't recall any mention in school officials' response in the initial lawsuit brought by Brad Mathewson saying that he had ever been allowed to wear shirts with gay pride messages.
Correct me if I am wrong (and someone always does), but this appeared to me to be a case of revisionist history designed to bolster the school district's legal position.

It's a lawsuit waiting to happen

It sounds plausible, but there is no truth to the rumor that Newton County Jail inmates are planning on suing Judge Kevin Selby for sentencing perennial candidate and loser Martin Lindstedt to 660 days in jail for contempt of court.
"It will lower the property values, that's for sure," rumors had one prisoner saying. The prisoners reportedly are content to have Lindstedt remain in solitary confinement, though they would prefer that he be in solitary confinement in Jasper County or McDonald County or anywhere but Newton County.
"It's people like him that give prisoners a bad name," an anonymous prisoner allegedly said. (You can't be too careful when you're writing a post like this.)
Residents of Granby, where Lindstedt was living before he changed his permanent address to the Newton County Jail, are reportedly raising funds for Judge Selby's reelection campaign, and are touting him for governor in 2008.

Where have all the good coaches gone?

I am sure Lamar R-1 Superintendent Mike Resa made some of his hard working teachers happy with his comments from today's Joplin Globe story.
The article, which concerned last Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, talked about a question asked by new board member Michelle Crockett, who wanted to know why extra duty pay for coaches was being increased, while the same thing was not being done for teachers who work with students involved in other extracurricular activities.
According to the article, Resa said he had "made the decision to raise the stipends for coaches so that the district could be competitive with other schools in recruiting coaches."
I doubt that if that answer satisfied Mrs. Crockett. It sure as heck didn't satisfy me.
Though I am probably running afoul of every sports fanatic in The Turner Report's readership, I stress emphatically: This is what is wrong with education today.
Don't get me wrong. I love school sports. I wrote more than 3,000 sports stories during my newspaper days, including more than 1,000 Sports Talk columns, but don't tell me that this is the kind of message that should be sent to teachers who pretty much donate their time to work with students in academic-oriented extracurricular activities.
In most cases, these teachers only receive a couple of hundred dollars, compared to the four-figure stipends received by coaches. I love it administrators say they would rather increase the extra-duty pay of coaches (who already receive more) than add a few dollars to teachers who handle Student Council or Math League or Academic Bowl, and then they wonder why the teachers don't love them for the fine human beings that they are.
Continuing on the same general subject, many people don't realize that a large number of teachers, especially those with less than five years of experience, do not get paid a cent for the extra duty work they do, especially at smaller schools. After five years, Missouri teachers become eligible for the state's Career Ladder program (if their schools are paying a portion of it, which many don't). At that point, quite a few school boards and administrators in this area are content to let the teachers get paid for working with students on extracurricular academic activities through that program, while they continue to make sure that athletics are fully funded through the regular school budget.

Friday Sentinel still has page-two cartoon

Apparently, Webb City Sentinel Publisher Bob Foos intends to continue the newspaper's long-time tradition of having a cartoon at the top of page two. I had wondered what would happen after the recent death of Nic Frising, whose work graced the Sentinel's pages for as long as I can remember.
Friday's edition featured cartoonist Curtis Smith's take on the ongoing Joplin Air Fest. I guarantee you Nic Frising would be pleased to see another cartoonist getting a chance. And though it would be unfair and unrealistic to expect another Nic Frising, I look forward to still being able to see as local cartoon in a weekly newspaper. It is one of the touches that continues to make the Sentinel one of the top weekly newspapers in southwest Missouri.

KSPR reporter takes Cincinnati position

Anna Townsend, most recently a reporter on KSPR, the ABC affiliate in Springfield, is the new host for the "Good Morning Cincinnati" program on WKRC, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Ms. Townsend, a 2001 University of Missouri graduate, was chosen from among seven finalists, the Enquirer said.

Vintage Stock to open 12 stores in St. Louis

The Friday St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Joplin-based Vintage Stock plans to open 12 stories in the St. Louis area by 2007, as part of a 22-store expansion.
The stores sell mostly used CDs, DVDs and video games, as well as books and comic books. The franchise began with the original Book Barn on Main in Joplin.
The article quotes some skeptics who question whether Vintage Stock can be successful at a time when some big-time outfits such as Blockbuster and GameStop are already offering discounted used products, but it noted that the success of the stores already operated by Vintage Stock proves that the concept can work.

Jarden CEO featured in Times interview

The quality of Sunbeam products has been what has kept the company and name viable, Jarden CEO Martin Franklin said in this weeks' Sunday New York Times interview. Jarden bought the Sunbeam line and the rest of American Household earlier this year.
That was the reason Sunbeam survived the controversial leadership of Al Dunlop, which led it into bankruptcy in the late 1990s.
"In Sunbeam’s case," Franklin said, "product quality never suffered, and the customer was always cared for. The road to recovery in this case rested with a strong balance sheet and stable ownership."
Sunbeam has a plant in Neosho.

Talks resume in Leggett company strike

An informal negotiating session was held Friday between Airo Die Casting and labor union negotiators as a strike of 300 workers continues at the Pittsburgh, Pa., plant, which is owned by Carthage-based Leggett & Platt. No agreements were reached, except to continue talks, according to an article in the Pittsburg Tribune-Review.
The workers went on strike June 12 after working without a contract for approximately four and a half months.
The two sides are hoping to meet early next week, the article said.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Meerwald asks for sentence to be set aside

The drunk driver who killed a Neosho man and his eight-year-old granddaughter, has filed a motion to set aside his seven-year prison sentence.
Despite the fact that he was the one who voluntarily pleaded guilty, Edward Meerwald, 51, formerly of Noel, now residing at the Jefferson City Correctional Center, filed a petition June 6 to have the verdict set aside, according to court records.
His attempt to get out of his prison sentence will be funded by the taxpayers. Anne R. Wells, Neosho, has been appointed to serve as a public defender for Meerwald, according to court records.
Meerwald pleaded guilty March 11 in McDonald County Circuit Court to two counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the deaths of James Dodson, 68, Neosho, and his granddaughter Jessica Mann, 8, Joplin.
Meerwald was drunk on July 30, 2004, when his car left Highway 86 and hit Mr. Dodson and Miss Mann as they were standing in Dodson's driveway.
The deaths led to a successful attempt by Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, to pass a bill increasing sentences for drunk drivers convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Trial date set for Blankenship

An Oct. 26 trial date has been set for alleged internet pervert Gary Reed Blankenship.
Newton County Circuit Court records indicate pre-trial conference is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sept. 6.
The former O'Sullivan Industries official is charged with eight counts of possession of child pornography, one count of promoting obscenity and one count of enticement of a child in connection with one of Diamond police officer Jim Murray's internet stings. Blankenship was arrested Jan. 27.

Lindstedt cited for contempt

Martin Lindstedt continued to waste the taxpayers' time and money during an appearance Thursday in Newton County Circuit Court.
The perennial candidate, who faces statutory sodomy charges, was given an opportunity to speak about the many motions he has filed with the court, but refused, so Judge Kevin Selby dismissed the motions.
Since Lindstedt has not yet found an attorney, Selby appointed a public defender for him. Naturally, Lindstedt refused, according to court records. Selby cited Lindstedt for contempt of court and sentenced him to 660 days in jail.
Lindstedt's preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. July 21.

Nightly News anchor begins blog

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, who began his television news career at KOAM, has started a blog on the MSNBC site. You can find it at:

Changes coming to Neosho Post

Changes are on the way at The Neosho Post.
The Post, which has mainly been a vehicle for recycling Neosho Daily News stories since Liberty Group Publishing bought it from publisher Jimmie Sexton, will have quite a bit more substance in the future.
Reports are that Kay and Russell Hiveley, whose works have contributed greatly to the success of the Daily in recent years, will play significant roles in the revamping of the weekly.
That should provide a welcome change for Neosho readers, as well as providing them with a reason to invest in the Post.

Oklahoma official concerned about Moark plan

The new media has broken another big story.
Mary Winn of The Joplin Independent today posted a letter written by Miles Tolbert, Secretary of the Environment for the state of Oklahoma to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
It seems Tolbert, after coming across Moark's expansion plans has serious concerns about the effect they may have on Elk River in Oklahoma. The letter was dated June 17.
Check out the letter at

Pierce City receives unwanted attention

The quest of a St. Louis man to have his grandfather's remains moved from a grave in Pierce City to Springfield has hit the national wires.
Earlier this month, I wrote about Charles Brown's discovery, while working on genealogy, that all of the African-Americans in Pierce City had been run out of town following the lynching of an African-American in 1901.
Brown's efforts to have his ancestor's remains moved and the problems he ran into with Pierce City officials were covered locally by the Springfield News-Leader and Monett Times, but a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story moved on the wires Tuesday, so more attention is likely to be paid to Pierce City.
If you recall, U. S. Rep. William "Lacy" Clay, D-St. Louis, has filed a bill asking that a commission be formed to explore the removal of African-Americans from a number of southwest Missouri towns, including Pierce City, Webb City, Aurora, and Cassville, and is asking that reparations be paid to the descendants of those who were mistreated during those instances, which took place between 1894 and 1901.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Judge adds to Perelman award

The judge handling the lawsuit brought by financier Ron Perelman against the Morgan Stanley investment firm added $130 million today to the $1.4 billion the jury already awarded him. Morgan Stanley has been given until July 1 to appeal the verdict.
A Florida jury ruled that the investment firm withheld information about the Sunbeam company's dire financial situation when Perelman paid a fortune to buy Sunbeam stocks in 1998. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Sunbeam, which has a plant in Neosho, filed for bankruptcy.
Forbes reports Morgan Stanley lawyers as saying they expect they will have the verdict overturned.

Blunt's brother adds new client

The massive reduction in Medicaid benefits is causing problems for thousands of Missourians, but at least one is poised to make money from it.
Missouri Ethics Commission documents indicate lobbyist Andrew Blunt, brother of Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, registered a new client Monday...ACS Heritage Inc., Richmond, Va., a consulting company which makes it money by offering management and cost-cutting services to government programs, insurance companies and large employers.
According to the company's website, "through a sophisticated suite of proprietary, web-enabled software applications, ACS-Heritage helps clients decrease costs and improve the quality of their prescription drug programs."
Also noted on the website, "ACS-Heritage was founded in 1980 and currently serves more than 14 Medicaid programs, several national commercial insurers, over a dozen Blue Cross Blue Shield licenses, and some of the largest employer groups in the country."
Any bets that this consulting company is going to be doing a lot of business and making a lot of money in Missouri?

Alvarez files amended complaint

Former prisoner Oscar Alvarez filed an amended complaint today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri against the Newton County Sheriff's Department and Sheriff Ken Copeland, once again alleging that two former jailers made sure his cell door was unlocked and allowed other prisoners to come in and beat him.
The details of Alvarez' new complaint can be found in the June 20 Turner Report.

1st Amendment lawsuit dismissed

LaStaysha Myers filed a notice of dismissal of her First Amendment lawsuit against the Webb City R-7 School District today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. No reason was given in court documents.
The case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning that is can be refiled.
Ms. Myers was one of a dozen Webb City High School students who were sent home after they refused to change gay pride t-shirts they wore to support their fellow student Brad Mathewson. Ms. Myers is not gay but wanted to show support for her friend.
She filed the lawsuit against Superintendent Ron Lankford, High School Principal Steven Gollhofer, and Assistant Principal Jeff Thornberry.
In court filings, school officials have indicated Ms. Myers and other students will be allowed to wear t-shirts with gay pride messages on them during the 2005-2006 school year.

Oklahoma rides receive regular inspections

Recent reports of deaths and injuries from amusement park rides have prompted reports on how inspections are conducted in states across the U. S.
Associated Press reports that Oklahoma is one state that takes inspections of fair and carnival rides seriously. "All amusement rides, from go-carts and rental inflatables to the roller coasters at Six Flags Inc.'s Frontier City, are inspected by the Oklahoma Department of Labor.
"Only two injuries were reported to the Department of Labor through May this year, both of them go-cart accidents at the Incredible Pizza Company in Tulsa."
For information on how Missouri treats amusement park rides, check out the June 14 Turner Report entry on an overlooked state audit.

Skelton demands clear plan for Iraq

Fourth District Congressman Ike Skelton, whose district includes Lamar, introduced a resolution in the House Wednesday calling for President Bush to develop a specific plan to improve the training of Iraqi security forces.
The demand came after the president said that no timetable for bringing American troops home could be established until the Iraqis are capable of handling security themselves.
This should not be seen as just another instance of a Democrat taking potshots at the president. Skelton is a member of the rapidly vanishing middle-of-the-road Democrat and has a strong pro-military background.
Skelton is the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

Flag burning amendment passes House

A constitutional amendment to ban flag burning moved one step closer to reality Wednesday when it passed the House by a 286-130 vote. Among those voting for the bill were the two area congressmen, Republican Roy Blunt and Democrat Ike Skelton, both of whom were among the bill's 186 co-sponsors.
An informal poll taken by the Associated Press indicates it will have a harder time clearing the Senate.

Comments on Matthews featured on blog entry

Check out yesterday's blog entries for some comments on the apparent tryout longtime morning show host Alan Matthews has been receiving for the vacant KODE 5, 6 and 10 anchor position.
While Matthews reads well and is extremely personable, his bio on the KODE website doesn't indicate much hard news background since his early days of covering city council and school board meetings for radio stations. That is not an insurmountable obstacle, but when both KSNF and KOAM have dual anchors with considerable hard news credibility (even with Live with Gary and Tiffany), it would seem to put KODE at a disadvantage, which is not good considering the recent string of strong newscasts the station has put together.
On the other hand, Matthews has paid his dues at KODE and definitely deserves consideration.
Alan Matthews and Malorie Maddox were both kind to me, Renee Jones, the other sponsor, and the members of the Diamond Middle School Student Council when we made an appearance on KODE's morning show four years ago.
At the time, the student council was sponsoring a book drive to help stock the shelves of the new middle school library. Under the leadership of President Sarah Simpson, who graduated from Diamond High School in May, the council collected more than 2,000 books, probably 1,000 of which are still on the shelves. Our drive was called "Help Us to Help Our Shelves."
Many of those books came after our appearance on KODE. During different segments, we were questioned by both of the hosts, and both were extremely professional and helpful to a bunch of nervous students.
Now for those of you who are looking for hidden motives behind the items I put on this blog, I should mention that I contacted KSNF, which at the time had the same duo, Gary Bandy and Tiffany Alaniz, who are doing my favorite 5 p.m. show now. I never heard back from their producer.
Aha, the conspiracy theorists are going. So that explains the things he writes about Gary and Tiffany's new program.
I should mention that I never heard back from the producer of KOAM's morning show either. And despite the courtesy and professionalism Ms. Maddox and Matthews showed me at KODE, I still usually watched Ms. Alaniz and Bandy (sorry, but I still believe the news person should receive top billing) each morning as I prepared for another day at school.

Was suspected serial killer's confession taped?

A reader posed an excellent question about the so-called confession that suspected serial killer Jeremy Jones made about the deaths of two Oklahoma girls and the subsequent disposal of their bodies.
Was the confession taped? If it was, then that pretty much strips away any news value from Jones' denial of the confession. However, it has been six days since he said he did not confess and no one has jumped forward to produce any evidence that he did.
I still question KSN's decision to run Tiffany Alaniz' interview with Jones over several nights. It doesn't appear that much is being added to the story each night...not enough at least to warrant spreading it out over multiple newscasts.
On the other hand, it is the type of local story that draws interest...and therefore who can blame KSN?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Another gift added to Hunter total

Apparently, Rep. Steve Hunter, the undisputed king among legislative gift recipients, erred in his earlier disclosure report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
The new total listed for Hunter for the months of January through May is $2,426.39, up $61.59 from the total printed in The Turner Report June 10. Since that time, Hunter has amended his report, seemingly to add $61.59 from Chris Liese, lobbying partner of former State Rep. Gary Burton, R-Joplin, for meal, food and beverage. Liese is listed on Ethics Commission records as a lobbyist for Isle of Capri Casinos, St. John's Regional Medical Center, and numerous other organizations and special interests. On the same day, Hunter accepted $53 from Craig Overfelt, lobbyist for the Missouri Bankers Association, for meals, food and beverage.
For some reason, lobbyists' disclosure forms for May have not yet been placed on the Ethics Commission website. As I have mentioned earlier, they must be reviewed by the representatives and senators first to make sure there are no mistakes.
Since May 1, Hunter has accepted $1,032.94 worth of gifts from lobbyists, according to Ethics Commission documents. If Hunter had accepted absolutely no gifts from lobbyists from January through April, he still would have ranked 20th out of the 163 representatives for amount of gifts claimed on the disclosure forms.
If you only count the gifts Hunter received from lobbyists in April and May, and leave out the first three months, the Joplin legislator would still rank seventh among the 163 representatives. In April, Hunter received $537.76, giving him a two-month total of $1,570.70.

Perspective needed in Wooden death

The responses to The Joplin Globe's article on Brandie McLean's outrage over the Jasper County prosecuting attorney's decision not to file charges against an Alba couple whose teenage son shot her son, Braxton Wooden, 8, to death are predictable and understandable.
While I'm certain that having their son taken away from them for the next few years for the fatal shooting of the eight-year-old during a game of cops and robbers, the simple fact is the gun should never have been where children had access to it.
The Division of Family Services also bears some responsibility. It appears the agency did not do a thorough check of these foster parents. And Ms. McLean and the readers are absolutely correct that this is far worse than the incident which prompted authorities to take away Ms. McLean's five children...when she fell asleep and her two-year-old ended up on the roof of her Webb City home.
That being said, today's Globe article neglects the mention of prior incidents in Ms. McLean's background that might have contributed to the decision to remove the children.
Ms. McLean had already pleaded guilty...not only to the endangering the welfare of a child charge that was filed against her as a result of the incident that led to the removal of her children...but also to two forgery charges. She has since withdrawn those guilty pleas and hired a lawyer, which she has every right to do. And two forgery charges does not make Ms. McLean a bad mother by any means.
But as the June 4 Turner Report mentioned, those are not the only brushes Ms. McLean has had with the law. First, take into consideration the Globe's own reporting on the removal of Ms. McLean's children. "Police found McLean and a 16-year-old female friend asleep in the living room of the home. McLean had acknowledged that the situation was dangerous for her son. But she said she had been put on the antipsychotic drug, Seroquel, by a doctor about a week before the incident to treat her depression and stress, and that the drug made her sleepy all the time."
The endangerment charge and the forgery charges came only two years after Ms. McLean pleaded guilty in Jasper County Circuit Court to a charge of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia. She was sentenced to one year in the county jail, the sentence was suspended, and she was placed on unsupervised probation for one year, according to court records.
The June 4 Turner Report also noted that she has had a problem with showing up for scheduled court hearings. Court records indicate she failed to appear five times for hearings on the forgery charges.
On April 7, 2004, Braxton Wooden's father, Braxton Wooden Sr., 29, Joplin, convicted felon with a long record, was charged with domestic assault after being arrested by the Webb City Police Department. On that same day, Ms. McLean filed for a protection order against him. She was granted a temporary restraining order, but when the time came for the hearing for a full order of protection, Ms. McLean did not show up. Wooden was sentenced to three years in prison for the assault and is currently at the Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron.
Ms. McLean was also picked up by Joplin police officers at 3:30 a.m. Monday morning for driving while revoked. While none of these actions excuses anything that happened when Braxton Wooden was living with the foster parents, they do indicate that the little boy had the deck stacked against him from the start.
Should the heat be turned up on public officials for how they handle this case? Absolutely. Should we feel sympathy for a woman who will never see her child again? Of course, we should. I can't even imagine what she must be going through.
But please do not play up the sympathy angle to the point where we forget what actually happened in this case. The Division of Family Services may have made mistakes in this case, but the decision to remove Braxton Wooden and his siblings from Ms. McLean's custody, whether you agree with it or not, was justifiable.

Former KODE anchor returns to home area

Former KODE anchor Amy Anderson is right back in the action in her new position as a reporter at KCTV 5 in Kansas City.
Ms. Anderson was on the scene this morning shortly after a fire broke out at the Isle of Capri casino. The sprinkler system put out the fire and no one was injured.
Ms. Anderson, who grew up in Overland Park, returned to the Kansas City area after a stint at a station in Orlando, Fla., where she had the opportunity to cover the hotly-contested presidential election of 2000.

Graham Packaging buys KCK facility

Graham Packaging, which bought the Tetra Pak business in Joplin earlier this year, continued its growth with the purchase of Consolidated Container Company's Kansas City, Kan., plant, according to today's Kansas City Business Journal.
Company officials told the Journal that all 68 employees have been transferred to Graham Packaging and that existing production levels will be maintained and may be expanded. It was good news for employees since the plant originally had been scheduled to close at the end of last month.
Graham Packaging officials told the Journal they will use the facility to supply containers for Procter & Gamble.

Judge won't throw out charges against Black

Former Hollinger International CEO Conrad Black and his associate David Radler will have to stand trial on securities fraud charges after a federal judge refused to toss them last week.
Today's Chicago Sun-Times reports that the judge ruled the lawsuit can continue. Hollinger International at one time owned hundreds of newspapers in the U. S., including the Sun-Times, The Carthage Press, and the Neosho Daily News.
SEC investigators claim Black and Radler bilked Hollinger out of millions of dollars.


Fourteen years for Mornin' Mail

It sure doesn't seem like it has been that long, but H. J. Johnson's daily newsletter, The Mornin' Mail, a Carthage fixture, is beginning its 14th year, according to today's edition:
"Don’t know if ya noticed," he writes, "but as of this week we’re beginnin’ the fourteenth year as the Mornin’ Mail. Some folks think we’ve been around for ever, but we started puttin’ the Mail out on the street on June 18, 1992. We are in fact the only newspaper to be actually printed in Carthage at this time."
I am still not certain I would call it a newspaper, though the definition of a newspaper seems more fluid these days than it did when I was in that business, but it has provided strong coverage of Carthage city government for 14 years.

Maddox newscast pulls in ratings

Omaha TV News reports that former KODE news anchor Malorie Maddox's morning show topped the latest Nielsen ratings.
I would love to see the May Nielsen ratings for the Joplin market. I am sure that numbers for KODE and KSNF have not been falling since that is what Nexstar Broadcasting CEO Perry Sook has been claiming at every meeting of potential investors.
I wonder why that matters to him since his stations do not buy the Nielsen service any more.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Death sought for man arrested by Neosho police

Benton County, Ark., prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Timothy Glenn Howell, who is charged with killing Elvin Ramirez Sept. 4, 2004, by stabbing him in the heart. Howell and his son, Timothy McChristian, are both charged with the murder, according to today's Benton County Dail Record.
The two were captured by the Neosho Police Department just hours after the murder, the article said.
Prosecutors say there are two reasons why the death penalty is being sought: the depravity of the crime and the fact that Howell has been convicted of murder before.

DynoNobel shipment closes interstate in Ohio

A driver transporting dynamite for DynoNobel closed eastbound lanes of I-70 in Madison County, Ohio, for more than 10 hours when he fell asleep and his truck hauling 38 pounds of dynamite flipped over this morning, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
The newspaper said Kenneth R. Fontenot, 43, Noel, was eastbound approaching the ramps to Route 56 when the accident occurred at about 3:30 a.m.
Central Township Fire Chief Bill Conway told the Dispatch a half-dozen homes were evacuated as a precaution. A hazardous materials cleanup crew, complete with protective suits, unloaded the cargo, the newspaper said.
Fontenot was treated for minor injuries, as was an unnamed passenger. A truck from Tri-State in Joplin picked up the load later in the morning and took it to its destination: mining companies in New York and Pennsylvania, according to the article.

Hard times hit Enesco

The transfer of Precious Moments from Enesco to Precious Moments, Inc., has not staved off the financial problems faced by Enesco, according to an article today from Associated Press.
The company is eliminating an unspecified number of jobs, including that of its chief operating officer, the article said. COO Jeffrey S. Smith will stay on through July 15 to help with the transfer of Precious Moments.

Class action suit filed against ConAgra

A class action suit filed in U. S. District Court in Nebraska claims ConAgra Foods overstated its financial projections for fiscal year 2005, making misleading statements regarding company business, according to MarketWatch.
The lawsuit also alleges ConAgra officials did not carry out "necessary internal controls" to reach its financial projections, Marketwatch said.

Big decisions for Globe

I am eager to see the Wednesday morning Globe to see how the editors handled placement of several major news stories.
During one news cycle, the following things happened:
-President Bush indicated that he is willing to compromise on his Social Security plan.
-A top-ranking military official has said that the U. S. and the insurgents are "at a stalemate" in Iraq.
-A former KKK official was found guilty of manslaughter in connection with the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers...murders that spurred the passage of landmark civil rights legislation.
The Globe's website indicates that the top local story is going to be Brandie McLean's dissatisfaction with the Jasper County prosecuting attorney's decision not to press charges against the Alba foster parents whose natural son shot her son, Braxton Wooden, to death. That story, obviously, is going to get major play.
I just wonder how the Globe editors will handle the feel-good tabloid story about the young scout who was found alive in Utah after a lengthy search. I would play that story with a little plug above the banner and let the really important national and international stories get the space they deserve on page one.
Remember that the stories a newspaper puts on page one are an indication of what the newspaper's editors think is important.

What is the plan for KODE?

I didn't see the 6 or 10 p.m. newscasts today, but I noticed that for a second day in a row, Alan Matthews has shared anchor duties with Tara Brown on the 5 p.m. news.
Is Matthews being showcased for the top job, or is he just lightening the load on Ms. Brown?
Anyone with information, please drop me a line or add a reply.

Carthage felon's appeal rejected

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals today rejected Douglas Gollhofer's attempt to have his 10-year sentence reduced.
Gollhofer, 33, Carthage, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He admitted that he possessed four firearms on Jan. 26, 2003, in Jasper County, including a .308 caliber Winchester rifle with ammunition; a .22 caliber Remington rifle; a 12 gauge Magtech shotgun, and a 12 gauge Harrington and Richardson shotgun.
Under federal law, it is illegal for a felon to possess firearms or ammunition. Gollhofer has a long record of convictions, primarily in Jasper and Barton counties, on charges including burglary, assault, and resisting arrest. He also has numerous drunk driving citations.
The case against Gollhofer was investigated by the Carthage Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Gollhofer's sole argument was that his sentence was too strict and that guidelines were followed that should not have been, according to recent court rulings. The appellate court said that the court still had it within its discretion to give Gollhofer the 10-year sentence.

Area woman charged with theft

A woman who allegedly used an education voucher to pay off her mortgage has been charged with theft in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
Kerry D. Smith, 42, allegedly was given an Americorps Voucher and Payment to be used to pay an education loan "when in truth and fact, and as the defendant well knew at the time," the award was to be used to repay a mortgage loan," a violation of federal law.
The crime allegedly took place on July 12 to July 13, 2004, according to court documents.

Not as much publicity as Michael Jackson

With the undue attention that was paid to the recently-concluded Michael Jackson trial, it is easy to forget that thousands of child molestation cases are filed across the United States each day.
Because of the nature of these cases and the necessity of having children testify against adults with no other witnesses to the crime, many child molesters are never brought to justice.
One who was was William E. Ernst, Branson, who will continue serving his seven-year prison sentence after the Missouri Supreme Court Tuesday decided not to hear his appeal.
Ernst had already been rejected by the Southern District Court of Appeals.
On the face of it, there are some similarities between the case brought by Taney County authorities against Ernst and the one brought in California against Jackson. In both cases, prosecutors were allowed to call witnesses who talked about an older man inviting children to share his bed. Both cases also had the accused plying the children with alcohol.
The judge's decision to allow the testimony of the other children was cited by Ernst, 69, in his original appeal. Ernst's case was a bench trial, meaning that the judge made the final decision on Ernst's fate.
According to the appeal file, Ernst was 66 when he became friends with an 11-year-old girl referred to as L. F. Her mother was struggling to raise four kids on her own and owned a restaurant near where Ernst lived, according to the court file.
L. F. worked for her mother as a waitress and talked with Ernst from time to time. Ernst bought clothes and toys for the family and often had L. F. and her siblings stay with him overnight, the court file said.
At some point in 2001, when L. F. was 14, Ernst started telling her that "she needed to sleep with him because God wanted her to do so that she could be an angel in heaven and wouldn't make God mad." He also began giving her alcohol during that period.
"On Jan. 31, 2002, when L. F. was 15 years old, Ernst took her to the mall buy a dress for an upcoming school dance. In (his) truck on the way home from the mall, (he) told her that she needed to have sexual intercourse with him 'to get it done and over with, that this was a good time and and just stop waiting around to do it.
When they returned to Ernst's place, he had sex with her and afterward, the girl said, she felt "numb" and "disgusted. As they were lying in the bed, Ernst said, "God's proud of you."
After that, each time L. F. saw Ernst at the restaurant, he told her not to tell anyone about what had happened. Later, he asked her if she would have sex with him, "but not for God.' She refused, according to the court file.
On April 16, 2002, L. F. told her mother what had happened. After that, Ernst was arrested and, charged with statutory rape in the second degree, and after the bench trial two years later, Ernst was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison.
During the trial, one of L. F.'s young cousins was called as a witness. She told of an incident in which Ernst asked her to come to bed with him. He didn't try anything, the cousin said, but he made her feel extremely uncomfortable and eventually, she left his bed and returned to the couch where she had been sleeping. The judge allowed the testimony to show that Ernst had made a habit of inviting children into his bed.