Friday, April 26, 2019

Sarah Mwangi named Joplin R-8 assistant superintendent of learning services

(From Joplin Schools)

Joplin Schools is pleased to announce Ms. Sarah Mwangi as the new Assistant Superintendent of Learning Services.

(Note: Mwangi will take the place of Steve Gilbreath, who will replace Shane Hopper as Joplin High School principal.)

Dedicating over a decade of her career to Joplin Schools, Mwangi has a strong desire to continue the great work of educating Joplin students. She has a drive for success and passion to help all students reach their full potential. 

Mwangi is a champion of education for Joplin Schools. She will be transitioning to assistant superintendent from her current role as the Director of Educational Support and Human Resources.

Mwangi shared, “I’m humbled and honored to serve our community and district in this new role. There is no greater responsibility than ensuring we provide a quality education to our students. Joplin Schools is a remarkable district with amazing educators. 

"We are fortunate to provide many opportunities for our students and I look forward to growing this even more. A significant amount of curriculum work has been accomplished the past two years under Dr. Gilbreth’s leadership. 

"It will be my goal to continue the momentum, build capacity within our educators, and help provide the next structures needed to enrich and foster learning in each Joplin Schools classroom.”

“Ms. Mwangi has successfully proven herself as a classroom teacher, building principal and central office administrator. Joplin Schools has benefited from her past leadership and will continue to do so with her new role of service. I am certain that Sarah will collaboratively build upon the good work of Dr. Gilbreth in order to maximize the learning of every student,” stated Dr. Moss, superintendent.

Mwangi started her education career in the Kansas City Missouri School District, where she completed a unique residential internship program through Missouri Southern State University. She moved back to the Joplin area in 2008, where she taught at West Central Elementary and later served as an instructional coach for Jefferson Elementary and Emerson Elementary. 

In 2012, Mwangi became the principal of Columbia Elementary and four years later served as principal of Irving Elementary. This school year, Mwangi has served as the Director of Educational Support and Human Resources.

She received her bachelors of education from Missouri Southern State University and masters in educational administration from Missouri State University. Mwangi received her educational specialist degree from William Woods University and additionally is expected to complete her doctoral degree in 2020.

Mwangi will begin her new role on July 1, 2019.

Let Teachers Teach by Randy Turner is available in paperback and e-book formats at

Kay Johnson recipient of Joplin Schools Support Staff of the Year

(From Joplin Schools)

Congratulations to Kay Johnson - Joplin Schools 2019 Support Staff of the Year recipient! She was surprised with an all-school assembly on Monday, including her family who came to join in on the celebration!

Ms. Kay has been part of Joplin Schools for twenty-five years, serving as a library aide and secretary. She was nominated by peers for her welcoming smile, passion and caring personality for others. Some things mentioned about Kay were:

"I have watched Ms. Kay interact with everyone in the front office with respect and empathy. The way that her sweet unconditional loving personality can deescalate most is, in fact, one of her superpowers."

"Ms. Kay has been with Joplin Schools for nearly 25 years. Her knowledge of the history of our district amazes me. She adapts to new things and has seen many changes throughout her years. She always speaks of the past and present with pride and adoration for our district."

"Ms. Kay not only lives in the community, but she serves as our storm shelter volunteer, designs and edits the yearbook, serves on the PTO, etc. She goes above and beyond her job duty on a daily basis. Ms. Kay is part of our school community. She can be found reading with a student in the office, playing nurse, being a shoulder to cry on for students, and supporting the positive behavior awards students earn throughout the year. She's one of a kind and a true servant leader to our school, district and community."

Thank you for serving our students, district and community! Joplin Schools is better because of champions like yourself Ms. Kay! Congratulations on a well-deserved honor!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Parson announces outreach program for Missouri veterans

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

Governor Mike Parson recently began an outreach effort to retain veterans who leave military service in Missouri and attract those who separate from the military outside the state. Aligning with the Governor’s focus on workforce development, the outreach addresses the current and projected need for highly skilled and educated workers to fill some of Missouri’s most critical private sector jobs.

“Too often we lose veterans to other states,” Governor Parson said. “To keep more of our talented veterans here in Missouri and fill critical jobs in our communities, we must change the way we reach them.”

Approximately 7,000 Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, and Marines with connections to Missouri separate from the military each year, but the majority do not choose to live in the state.

To offer a more tailored service to these veterans, Governor Parson, who served in the U.S. Army, last week began sending personal letters to service members in the process of leaving the military at Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base, as well as new veterans separated from service outside Missouri. The letters encourage service members to connect with the state’s wide range of workforce services.

Unlike the current system that primarily requires veterans to visit a Missouri job center, this new strategy assigns a single point of contact within state government to provide personalized assistance in identifying available jobs, education, training opportunities, and other supportive services offered by the state.

The strategy also involves coordinating an effective case management and follow-up procedure for those who respond to the letters.

“We know those who are planning to leave the military are busy with their jobs and may not be able to visit one of our offices to access workforce programs. My goal is to make Missouri the best state in the nation for veterans to live and work by better connecting them with the great employment opportunities and resources we have available,” Governor Parson said.

Over the coming weeks, Governor Parson will continue to send letters and collaborate with the Office of the Missouri Military Advocate, Missouri Veterans Commission, and the Missouri Department of Economic Development Division of Workforce Development on the outreach effort.

Earlier today, Governor Parson keynoted the Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony at the Missouri State Capitol. The event was put on by the Missouri Veterans Commission in conjunction with the Missouri State Legislature.

“Missouri and our great nation owe a great debt to the brave men and women who served our country in the Armed forces during the Vietnam War, protecting our rights, freedoms, and our ideals,” Governor Parson said. “It was a tremendous honor to have the privilege of speaking to this distinguished group of Vietnam Veterans and discuss the importance of passing down to the next generation the values of duty, sacrifice, patriotism, and love of our country these heroes have shown to all of us.”

Bill White reviews appropriations process, legislative proposals

Don't drink the wine; it may explode

(From the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control)

The Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control is warning the public that six different types of bottled wine manufactured by the Eldon, Mo. winery Casa de Loco may pose a danger of exploding and should be immediately secured to prevent injury. The wine should not be consumed.

The Casa de Loco wine products that ATC is aware of that should be handled with care and secured are: Applesauced, Bellini Gold, Coming in Hot, Kona Lover Port, OCD, and Peachy Thoughts. 

Casa de Loco never submitted these wines to ATC for product brand registration, which includes review and product evaluation, as required by Missouri law. 

Photographs of some of the wines are available on the DPS flickr site: Bottle styles and labeling may vary.

The six known unregistered Casa de Loco wines have been distributed to retailers in the following Missouri locations that ATC is aware of:Camdenton, Glasgow, Keytesville, Lebanon, Newburg, Osage Beach, Salisbury, St. Joseph, St. Robert, Stoutland, Sunrise Beach, Warsaw,and Wright City. The wines may also have been distributed directly by Casa de Loco to consumers at events in other locations.

In addition to a bottle of Casa de Loco wine exploding after being confiscated by ATC, there have been several additional reported explosions of Casa de Loco wine bottles.

“We are continuing to investigate, however, it’s important that anyone who has these unregistered Casa de Loco products take immediate action to prevent injury,” ATC State Supervisor Dorothy Taylor said. “We ask that any consumer or retailer who has a bottle of the six affected Casa De Loco wines call our offices and report when and where they purchased the wine. The number to call is (573) 751-2964.”

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is also currently investigating Casa de Loco for potential health and sanitation violations at its Eldon manufacturing premises. DHSS recommends any consumer or retailer with bottles of the affected wine products contain the product and store it in a location where it will be more secure should it explode. DHSS further recommends that consumers who purchased the products should contact the retailer as to any recourse available.

ATC is conferring with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a section of the U.S. Department of the Treasury that regulates and collects taxes on alcoholic products. In addition, DHSS is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

ATC has contacted known retailers of Casa de Loco wines and suggested removing the unregistered products from their shelves. Casa de Loco has informed ATC that it will be removing the products from retailers.

The issue was discovered by ATC as a result of a routine inspection. After confiscating unregistered wine that was being distributed, a bottle exploded in an ATC evidence storage room. When ATC contacted retailers, it learned of additional explosions, as well as Casa de Loco wine bottles spontaneously breaking and leaking.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Parson asks President Trump for disaster declaration for flood-ravaged areas

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

Governor Mike Parson today requested that President Donald Trump approve a major disaster declaration for Missouri to provide federal assistance to a total of 13 counties in response to devastating flooding that began March 11. The Governor said he expects the request to be expanded to include additional counties once floodwaters recede and full damage assessments can be conducted.

“Working in strong coordination, our local, state, and federal assessment teams have documented widespread and devastating damage as a result of the flooding. It has now been well over a month after the flooding began, and some areas still can’t be accessed,” Governor Parson said. “I am confident federal assistance will be forthcoming, and I greatly appreciate all the work that’s already being done by our faith-based and volunteer responders to help communities recover. Our state team and all our partners are committed to ensuring Missouri families, businesses, and communities rebuild.”

Governor Parson said the joint Preliminary Damage Assessments, conducted by the State Emergency Management Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and local officials, had already estimated $25 million in damage to infrastructure and emergency response costs eligible for federal assistance.

Governor Parson is requesting Public Assistance for 13 Missouri counties, so local governments and qualifying nonprofit agencies may seek federal assistance for reimbursement of emergency response and recovery costs, including repair and replacement costs for damaged roads, bridges, and other public infrastructure. Those counties are Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Carroll, Chariton, Holt, Mississippi,New Madrid, Pemiscot, Perry, Platte, Ray, and Ste. Genevieve.

Governor Parson is requesting Individual Assistance for five Missouri counties, so eligible residents can seek federal assistance with temporary housing, housing repairs, replacement of damaged belongings, vehicles and other qualifying expenses as a result of the flooding. Those counties are Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan,Holt, and Platte.

The Governor is also requesting that the U.S. Small Business Administration assist businesses, homeowners, and renters in these counties with low-interest loans. Those affected by the flooding are encouraged to continue documenting losses by photographing damage and retaining all receipts.

On March 21, Governor Parson declared a state of emergency in response to worsening conditions along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers as a result of excessive rainfall, releases from upstream reservoirs, and snow melt. On March 29, the Governor signed an executive order giving the Department of Natural Resources discretionary authority to temporarily waive or suspend rules or regulations in support of flooding response and recovery. On April 3, Governor Parson, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA to identify regional solutions for recovery and levee repairs along the Missouri River. On Friday, the Governor will again meet with the Iowa and Nebraska Governors for a follow-up meeting with the Corps.

Three years ago this week, I said farewell to cheeseburgers

One of the things I have taken pride in over the years has been my work ethic, something I learned from my parents while growing up in Newtonia.

When I have a job, I show up every day.

During the first 26 1/2 years I was in he work force, taking me from the Newton County News in May 1977 to Joplin South Middle School in December 2003, I never missed a day of work.

I missed one day in December 2003 because of a medical emergency and three more April 11-13, 2013, more than nine years later when my pacemaker was implanted.

And then there was April 17-29, 2016, when a heart attack forced me to take a two-week vacation (of sorts).

My triple bypass surgery took place April 22, 2016, an anniversary that totally slipped my mind until I was doing some 1 to 3 a.m. reading today, still did not feel like sleeping and decided to see what was on television.

When i flipped past the Hallmark Channel, it was showing a rerun of the first episode of Cheers from 1982. It was being shown at the same time the Hallmark Channel has showed reruns of that program for years and I remember watching it every night I was at Freeman before and after my surgery.

That was when I realized the three-year anniversary had passed.

This morning, as I was looking back through past Turner Report posts, I noticed the one I wrote when I returned to action April 29, 2016. At that point, all I had written since April 17 had been one Facebook post explaining what happened and why I had not been updating the Turner Report/Inside Joplin blogs.

Many people responded to the Facebook post with supportive messages, but there were a considerable number who had no qualms about saying I had it coming and even a few went so far as to wish I had died.

I had totally forgotten that until I reread my April 29, 2016 post. I remembered the positive posts, but the negative ones had slipped my mind.

Still, I can't be absolutely sure, but if memory serves me correctly, I have not missed a day posting on at least one of the blogs since April 29, 2016 and I have managed to work in a few books during that time, as well.

But I also take occasional naps and exercise regularly.

I did not have to worry about quitting smoking, drinking or doing drugs, because I have never smoked, never did drugs and never cared for alcohol.

There were other things I did give up and I never thought I would say this, but I really don't miss the cheeseburgers, though I sure remember them fondly.

This is wrote April 29, 2016:

You do not get to recover if you never entered the battle.

That is one of the old chestnuts I have unearthed as I try to achieve some normalcy in the aftermath of my latest battle with health issues.

Those who have read my Facebook page have known that on the early morning of Monday, April 17, approximately 2:30 a.m., I checked myself into the Freeman Emergency Room, not knowing I was in the process of having a heart attack.

Truth be told, it may have been a second one. I had a similar pain for a short time the previous evening. It went away quickly, but after a year that has seen me go undergo four stents, I decided I would go to the emergency room at the next hint of chest discomfort.

A quick procedure was done to implant a balloon which would stay in while my body was being drained of a blood thinner I had taken following the stents. The balloon stayed in for the next week, leaving me on my back in the Freeman ICU.

The procedure, a triple heart bypass, was conducted during a five-hour period the evening of Friday, April 21. I was told it was a success and now the hard part would begin- doing the necessary work to bring myself back to regular, ordinary life, as it is.

I did my best during this past week to do what I was told, not complain, and work toward being released as soon as possible. The hard-working people at Freeman have done so much for me over the past year, that I will never find a way to repay them.

The last thing they needed was some 60-year-old whiner, realizing that his life had taken a change for the worse and dragging everyone down into the mud with him. I won't say that I did not complain, but if I did, I quickly apologized for it and tried to do better the next time.

When it was time for four a.m. x-rays, three-times-a-day physical therapy, or having to take a dozen pills at a time when I was on a restricted liquid diet. (I have a hard time swallowing pills without plenty of water). I went along with it.

Finally, on Thursday, my last physical therapy session, took me into an area of the hospital where I could walk up and down stairs. I went up the stairs once and back down, but it was a big thrill when I was told, "You're ready."

Thursday night and Friday, I moved into my new home for the next month or so, though it is a home with which I am familiar, having lived there from 1956 through 1977. My parents, in their 80s, are stuck with me until I am freed from doctors' restrictions on my driving and traveling.

With the help of Freeman Home Health, we are not having to do this alone. Miracles truly have taken place in medicine over the past few decades.

Of course, my parents are stuck with someone who has a beard that should make people wonder if the rumors of Merle Haggard's death were not exaggerated.

As the hours passed, I put off writing this post. I was not sure what I wanted to say. During a brief period of this enforced separation from blogging, I read some of the comments that had been left on the blog and on my Facebook pages.

One woman as much as said that she hoped I had another heart attack and died. Others who were upset about posts I had written earlier, had similar comments, most referring to me as an unfeeling person who writes whatever he wants to do just to damage people's lives.

Newton County Memories is available now in paperback and e-book formats from


I would say the people who feel inspired to share such comments on social media are the ones who do not care about damaging lives.

I don't plan on dwelling on what those people say. I prefer to think about and humbly say thank you to all of you who have given me your prayers, your kind wishes, and your thoughts about the work I do.

I don't plan on overdoing it, but the Turner Report, Inside Joplin, Inside Joplin Obituaries, and whatever other blogs I am working on, will continue, I will keep writing books, and I am hoping to have a couple of surprises to announce in the near future.

Thanks again to the best support staff a recovering open heart surgery patient could ever ask for.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

New review: No Child Left Alive "disgusting and an insult to anyone who cares about public education"

A new review was posted on Amazon earlier this month about my novel No Child Left Alive and the reviewer agreed with the assessment of two earlier reviewers, frequent Joplin Globe opinion page writers Geoff Caldwell and Anson Burlingame.

The new reviewer was succinct in his or her opinion of my book:

This book was disgusting and an insult to anyone who cares about public education. Vulgarity abounds with all the sex and drugs.

It has been a while since I have taken a look at the book, but I certainly dispute the reviewer's point. I don't remember there being any drugs in No Child Left Alive.

At least, it's obvious the reviewer read the book.

If you check out the Amazon reviews page, the people who reviewed No Child Left Alive either absolutely loved it or absolutely hated it. As longtime Turner Report readers are aware, this is the book that led to the end of my teaching career and it is available at bargain prices in both paperback and e-book formats on Amazon and locally at Always Buying Books and Changing Hands Book Shoppe in Joplin and Pat's Books in Carthage.

Hearing scheduled in felony DWI case of man who killed Joplin child, Neosho man

A pre-trial conference is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday in McDonald County Circuit Court for Edward Meerwald, 63, Noel, who faces a felony driving while intoxicated charge.

Meerwald served prison time after pleading guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter for hitting Jessica Mann, 7, Joplin, and her grandfather, Jim Dodson, 69, Neosho, with his vehicle and killing them on July 30, 2004.

Meerwald's DWI charge came as a result of a traffic stop June 17 south of Split Log Road and MO 59. According to the probable cause statement, Meerwald was clocked doing 77 miles per hour in a 60 mile per hour zone.

Meerwald told trooper Derek Carnagey he had been to Joplin and was driving to his daughter's home. Carnagey smelled alcohol on his breath and asked if he had been drinking. Meerwald said he had two beers.

"I informed him two beers would definitely not place him anywhere near the legal limit."

According to the statement, Meerwald voluntarily provided a breath sample on the trooper's portable tester. Despite his claim that he had only two beers, Meerwald said he would fail the test. The sample registered .177, more than twice the legal limit.

Because of the test and Meerwald's statements, Carnagey asked him to perform further tests.

"Meerwald claimed he had issues with both feet being previously broken, along with cellulitis in his legs causing swelling."
Carnagey placed Meerwald under arrest and took him to the Pineville Police Department for a chemical breath test.
The second test registered .121.

Ed Martin: There is no rational argument against adding citizenship question to census

(From Phyllis Schlafly Eagles)

The U.S. Supreme Court today will hear arguments in Department of Commerce v. New York, a high profile case stemming from 18 states' and several cities' opposition to the addition of a 2020 Census question about citizenship status.

This is a basic question to ask on the U.S. Census and Secretary Ross has been correct to fight for its addition.

"The left manufactures fear and minority suppression in nearly every situation and this case is no different," said Phyllis Schlafly Eagles President Ed Martin. 

"Asking about the respondents' citizenship status is an absolutely fundamental piece of information that must be on the Census. This survey determines congressional apportionment and electoral votes. It is logical and necessary to know the count and distribution of citizens apart from non-citizen legal residents. 

"Without that count, how will voting American citizens maintain the integrity and effectiveness of their voting rights?

"There's simply no rational argument against adding this question to the census. The only arguments are politically motivated attempts to strip U.S. citizens of their rights and privileges."

John and Andy Schlafly have written for Phyllis Schlafly Eagles at length on this topic. Read their full column on this issue here.