Saturday, April 21, 2018

Some thoughts on the Jayda Kyle murder, Billy Long, Eric Greitens and this week's top 10 posts for Turner Report/Inside Joplin

I have a hard time believing some of the comments I read both on the Turner Report and on my Facebook page.

You might think I am referring to the comments on posts concerning the Jayda Kyle murder case, but those I find understandable- in those, the readers are commenting on the murder of a three-year-old child. It is the type of crime that shakes us to our core and commenting on public forums, even when the comments are sometimes cruel and hurtful, provides readers with a partial antidote to the helpless feeling that comes over us when this kind of unimaginable act occurs.

I have seen some who comment that people need to keep their comments to themselves because this is none of their business.

And while I would prefer that the comments be toned down, please do not tell me that the Jayda Kyle murder is not our business. That heinous act, just like the murder of Jonathan Munoz-Bilbrey only a few days earlier, are everyone's business. When a child is taken from us in such a senseless fashion it affects all of us.

We wonder what kind of evil exists in our community, we all take a look at our own loved ones and it makes all of us wonder if we ever really know the person who lives next door.

Those comments are understandable.

What I have a hard time understanding are some of the comments that have been made on political stories.

The Eric Greitens charges

There is no witch hunt against our governor.

I am sick of these people to put a partisan spin on every story that comes along.

The Eric Greitens story is not a case of Democrat vs. Republican, it is a case of right versus wrong.

The Greitens sympathizers point to the prosecuting attorney who has filed charges against the governor in St. Louis and she certainly is a Democrat, but let us not forget that the House committee that released the damning report on Greitens behavior and said that his alleged victim was credible, was heavily Republican.

The attorney general who investigated the suspected misuse of Greitens' veterans charity The Mission Continues is a Republican.

The attacks on the woman Greitens allegedly blackmailed are way out of line. House members from both parties found her testimony credible and while Greitens is quick to say everyone is out to get him and is already warning people to watch out for more bad stuff to be revealed by his enemies (not a good sign), he never comes out and says that he would never do such a thing.

Apparently the only mission he wants to continue is to the White House.

Billy Long, Las Vegas and meals

Some of the same people who are backing Greitens and label anything Republican as a beacon of light have been criticizing my coverage of Seventh District Congressman Billy Long's financial campaign reports.

First, a clarification- I have never written that Billy Long is using taxpayer money to go to Vegas or to wolf down these meals. In each post, I clearly state that the people who contribute to his re-election campaign are the ones who are footing the bill.

I write these posts because they give us an insight into how Billy Long is representing us. Since he took office in January 2011, his donors have paid for him to take approximately two dozen trips to Vegas.

There is no indication that any of these trips are for campaign events or for educational purposes, both of which are allowed under federal law. He did hold a Weekend in Vegas campaign event a couple of years back, which was noted in the Turner Report, but the campaign report filed the next quarter did not show any contributions that were made to him during that time period.

Even more importantly, while he has made about two dozen trips to Las Vegas since he took office, he has yet to have even one town hall meeting.

Long did hold one telephone town hall meeting, which consisted or four pre-screened calls, addressed no issues and is an hour of my life I will never be able to get back.

One comment said everyone does this stuff and that I was wasting time writing this.

That is nonsense. Everyone does not do what Billy Long does.

I have looked at the campaign reports for Missouri's other members of Congress. They don't fly off to Vegas for regular junkets and charge it to their contributors. They charge meals, but most of tAhem appear to be for genuine campaign events.

I write about this because it is abnormal, it gives an insight into Billy Long's character and because somebody has to write about it.

Top Posts for This Week

What do these area news stories have in common?

-Jeff Koch leaves the Joplin R-8 Board of Education

-Jarub Baird is sentenced to 12 years in prison

-Attorney General Josh Hawley says there is enough evidence to charge Eric Greitens with felony computer tampering

These are all Turner Report posts that received thousands of views and in past weeks might have ranked number one, or at least in the top five of the weekly list. This week, none of those posts even made the top 10.

The Top 10 lists for the Turner Report, Inside Joplin and Inside Joplin Obituaries are printed below with links to each of the posts:

The Turner Report

1. In jailhouse letter, accused Jayda Kyle killer says "I've never been a part of anything so wrong and so corrupt"

2. Neosho Superintendent Dan Decker placed on leave, cleans out office

3. Request for speedy trial for accused Jayda Kyle killer withdrawn

4. Contributors foot the bill for Billy Long to take two more trips to Vegas, eat nearly $8,000 in meals

5. Joplin City Councilman after resignation: I am so very sorry I let you down

6. Joplin area Starbucks stores, stores nationwide to close May 29 for racial sensitivity training

7. Greitens indicted on second felony charge, charged with using veterans charity donor list to finance campaign

8. Rebecca Sears appointed acting supeintendent for Neosho R-5 School District

9. Settlement apparently reached in Exploration Station lawsuit

10. Neosho R-5 PR director offers no reason to News-Leader for Decker being placed on leave, but sends information about Goodman project

Inside Joplin

1. Galena man killed in crash at corner of Murphy Boulevard and Connecticut Avenue

2. Man arrested by Joplin Police says he found cocaine on the ground, which is fortunate because cocaine is his favorite drug

3. After chase, JPD arrests man who claimed to be federal agent, yelled for people to "kill the officers"

4. Joplin man killed in residential fire at 2902 McConnell

5. Jasper County Marriage Licenses April 2-17

6. Detective's work in removing child from potentially abusive situation earns him JPD Officer of the Month honors

7. Jasper County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

8. Joplin woman arrested for auto theft

9. Joplin Police Department Arrests April 16-18

10. Joplin Police Department Weekend Arrests


Inside Joplin Obituaries

1. Chance Jewell

2. Kai Williams

3. Ambra Magee

4 Mike Blood

5. Stephen Newcomer

6. Donnie McKeehan

7. Carol Ryan

8. Paul McCoy

9. Tony Greenwood

10. Mike Cole

***

The Turner Report/Inside Joplin continues to report news that is not available from other area media sources, but this is a one-man operation and it takes money, especially to provide in-depth, investigative reporting, as well as important news about our community, crime, courts, and to continue to provide free obituaries and not charge grieving families hundreds of dollars for something that was once considered news (and is still is at the Turner Report/Inside Joplin.)

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Turner, Hughes, local authors to appear at Crowder College symposium

I will be in Neosho Wednesday, May 2, for the second annual Crowder College Local Author Symposium. All of my books, including Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud, 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado, Classroom Confidential and No Child Left Alive, will be on sale at reduced prices and Turner Report t-shirts will also be available.

Nancy Hughes, Lamar, whose columns appear weekly on the Turner Report, will also be there and at this point, 19 authors have signed up.

While books will be available all day long, the writers will also give readings from their books. Mine is scheduled for 1:20 p.m., while Nancy's is scheduled for 11 a.m.

More information will be provided later.

The authors who have signed up thus far are listed below:

Jeremy Billingsley

Lea Carter

Steve Cottrell

Doug Dickey

Holly Farnworth (representing Allen Kent)

Martha Haut

Nancy E. Hughes

Lisa Livingston-Martin

BJ McCauley

Cynthia Middaugh

Rebekah A. Morris

Thomas S. Mulvaugh (pen name Paul Herd)

Ana Ramirez

Lee Ann Sontheimer-Murphy

Billie Holladay Skelley

Karen Spicer-Solven

Dan Trogdon

Randy Turner

Cathy Wolven


Nancy Hughes: Do you need a time out lesson?

“But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.”
Jonah 1:17 (NIV)


My kids hated time out when they were little and got into trouble. To be honest, I think it was as much for me as it was for them. Love my kids? Passionately with every ounce in my body. Protect them if someone tried to hurt them? Like a seven foot tall gorilla with a stun gun.

But when they could not handle a situation themselves without falling apart or attacking each other, a time out seemed like the perfect answer. They could sit down and I could calm down.

I remember a few of the many reasons for assigning a time out through the years: when my son attempted to sweep up his sister in the vacuum. And when my daughters tried to darken their bedroom by putting a blanket over a light bulb and caused a fire.

Almost every time they received a time out, it served as a punishment for not obeying our rules at home. But I also reminded them that this was a perfect opportunity to think about what they had done and what they could do differently the next time. There was always a lesson to learn in each time out.

Today’s Scripture in Jonah 1:17 talks about someone else who was in time out but he wasn’t sitting on a kitchen chair thinking about his choice. He was in the belly of a whale. And it wasn’t a mom who had put him there but God.

His name was Jonah. And he had been given a specific directive by God. “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:2) But Jonah did not want to obey. Perhaps he knew about their idol worship and cruelty to prisoners of war and didn’t want to go near the people who lived there. Or maybe he just didn’t trust God to take care of him.

No matter the reason, Jonah didn’t obey and God quickly gave him a time out to think about his poor choice – by allowing him to be swallowed by a whale.

Now, can I just say here that one gulp and I think I would have been a believer and confessed my disobedience to God? I’m sure I would have. And Jonah, from the whale guts, probably prayed immediately to God and repented, thanking Him for saving his life and vowing to do exactly what God had asked him to do in the first place, by preaching to the people of Nineveh.

However God, in His infinite wisdom, allowed Jonah to sit a bit longer in time out to learn an important lesson: when God says “go,” you go. Jonah needed to be obedient to God’s directing.

Jonah also needed to understand that in His mercy and forgiveness, the Lord had provided for him and answered his prayer to save his life.

In Jonah 2:10 we read that, after three days and three nights, God commanded the whale to spit Jonah out on dry land so that he could immediately do what he should have done in the first place: preach the message of God’s destruction to the people of Nineveh if they did not repent.

Have you ever experienced a time out from God? Perhaps you didn’t find yourself on a kitchen chair and hopefully not in the belly of a whale!

Maybe the Lord prompted you to write a note or visit an elderly neighbor or buy groceries for the person in line ahead of you but you ignored that nudge because you had not yet checked off everything on your to-do list. And then you found yourself fighting a cold and not able to leave your home to do anything on your list. Did your living room resemble a whale’s belly?

Or perhaps you drove past a neighbor with a flat tire on the side of the road because you knew someone else would stop and help and besides, you were late for an important meeting, only to find yourself minutes later stopped at a railroad crossing, waiting on a slow train. And waiting and waiting. Could your car in line possibly be God’s whale think tank for you?

My encouragement today is to listen to the Lord speaking to your heart and to obey. He is faithful to His children. But if needed, He will use a time out.

Father, I want to listen and obey but sometimes I’m like Jonah. Thank you for your mercy and forgiveness and patience. And for giving me another opportunity to do exactly as you direct. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up . . .

Reflect

Have you ever felt the Lord nudging you to do something but you chose to ignore the Spirit and make a totally different choice? Did you find yourself in a period of time out after that?

Application

Write on a note card “Is this from you, God?” and put it in your purse. When you feel a nudge to help someone, glance at the card and ask God that simple question. Follow His guidance.

Power Verses

Jonah 1:17 (NIV) “But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.”

Psalm 46:10 (NIV) “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 62:5 (NIV) “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.”

Proverbs 16:9 (NIV) “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

Psalm 32:8 (NIV) “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

(For more of Nancy Hughes' writing and information about her books, check out her blog, Encouragement from the War Room.)

Kim Frencken: E-Reader or book?

You can keep your E-Readers. Give me a book. I want to feel the weight in my hand. I want to turn the pages. I want to flip through to the end and take a sneak peak (yes, I'm one of those!). I want to put my finger on the print. Hear the crisp sound of paper turning.

I know there are those who disagree with me. Emphatically. They want digital or nothing. They want to download every title on their wishlist. Not me. I want to look at my book shelves and let my eyes gaze the titles before selecting my next adventure. I love being surrounded by my friends. There is a certain solace in the peace of a library.

Can you have too many books? NO. No way. Not at all. No such thing. Next best thing to a book??? A book catalog. Yep! A chance to drink in the pages and add to my library, pick out gifts, salivate. I'm like a kid in a candy store. And then the big day arrives. The box is delivered. My anticipation never wanes. It grows with each order. I open the box and imagine the look on the face of the recipient. Priceless.

Can you borrow a book? Ummm... did you notice the beautiful weather we're having? Can you borrow a book? How do I say no politely? I'd rather buy a copy for you than loan one of my 'kids' to you. To have my kids in your hands while you eat your late night snack or if you catch a cold. I can't even bear to think about it. I know you'll be careful, but accidents happen. Shudder. Just wait until I get my next catalog. Shipping only takes about five days.

(For more of Kim Frencken's writing and information about her educational products, check out her blog Chocolate For the Teacher.)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Neosho R-5 PR director offers no reason to News-Leader for Decker being placed on leave- but sends information about Goodman project

Maybe Meagan Spangler was trying to tip off the Springfield News-Leader as to why Neosho R-5 Superintendent Dan Decker was placed on paid administrative leave earlier this week or maybe it was just a mistake.

Spangler, the district's public relations director, followed the company line and stayed mum about the reasons for the change in Decker's status, but included some extra information for News-Leader education reporter Claudette Riley.
Asked to provide a statement regarding the superintendent's paid leave, Spangler also sent details concerning Goodman Elementary School. It was not immediately clear why.

The News-Leader then used information from the Neosho Daily News and Joplin Globe articles on the board meeting to explain that the $10.7 million Decker told the board earlier this month that the district would receive in insurance payment would cover most of the cost for the $11 million rebuilding of Goodman Elementary, turned out to be only $8.1 million.

Previous Neosho R-5 Posts

Rebecca Sears appointed Acting Superintendent for Neosho R-5 School District

Neosho R-5 Superintendent Dan Decker placed on administrative leave, cleans out office

Under Douglas-Decker stewardship, 26-year-old P. R. director takes lead role in Neosho R-5 School District

Neosho R-5 Board President's response to allegations: I believe in the greatness of the Neosho community

Allegation that five-year-old Neosho boy inappropriately touched, threatened kindergarten classmate at center of possible legal action against school district

Neosho R-5 Board President: Central Office wasn't aware board had to approve change orders on Junior High building project

Carver Elementary principal's administrative leave, removal of Finance Department illustrate toxic atmosphere at Neosho R-5

Neosho Superintendent signed non-disparagement contract, agreed to $150,000 "donation" from architectural firm

Former Neosho R-5 accountant: Finance Department told to keep quiet about Junior High project funding errors

Neosho R-5 administrators say there are things they can't tell staff, but they will be transparent about it

Neosho Daily News on junior high investigation: We report news, not speculation or gossip

Neosho R-5 School Board President: There was no trickery with our lovely junior high

State investigators examining discrepancies, lack of transparency in Neosho Junior High building project

Joplin City Council to discuss lodging tax, hear Use Tax Task Force presentation during Monday work session

Notice is hereby given that the City Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, will hold a work session beginning at 5:45 p.m. on Monday April 23, 2018, in the 5th Floor Council Chambers, 602 S. Main Street to discuss the following topics:

1. Use Tax Task Force Presentation

2. Discussion of the Lodging Tax

3. Any other business

Billy Long: I will do my best to combat human trafficking

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

A big tip of my hat to two of my colleagues, Rep. Ann Wagner (MO-2) and Rep. Mimi Walters (CA-45), who worked tirelessly for more than a year on H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, of which I was a proud cosponsor. On April 11, President Trump signed this landmark legislation into law and it made an immediate positive impact on the scourge of human trafficking. According to Memex, a program that tracks online sex ads, sex ads have gone down between 80 and 90 percent since the passage of H.R. 1865.

I recently wrote in my column about our efforts to combat human trafficking, specifically websites that promote sex trafficking online. Two weeks later, Congress took this powerful first step and passed H.R. 1865, which allows federal, state and local prosecutors to prosecute websites that allow its users to post content advertising sex trafficking.

According to the International Labor Organization, there may be as many as 4.8 million victims of sex trafficking in the world. Of those 4.8 million, more than 99 percent are women and more than 21 percent are children. In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Investigations teams opened 833 human trafficking cases. The results were encouraging, resulting in 1,602 arrests and 578 convictions.

Sex trafficking affects every part of the world. It’s something that moved seamlessly from the streets to living rooms via the Internet. Recently, the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing addressing sex trafficking online. After questioning the witnesses, the one request that remained consistent among them was the need to have the tools to break the commercial market so many young girls don’t run back to this life.

It’s rare that Congress passes a bill that is signed into law and then has an immediate positive impact, but that’s exactly what happened here. As a side benefit, other individual websites are also being proactive and looking closely at the content their platforms support. Both Craigslist and Reddit have taken steps to either pull content or remove sections of their sites to prevent this type of advertisement.

As this law continues to allow prosecutors at all levels to crackdown on these horrific practices, I will do my best to look for other ways for Congress to combat Human Trafficking.

Greitens indicted on second felony charge, charged with using veterans charity donor list to finance his campaign

The Circuit Attorney for the City of St. Louis filed a second felony charge against Gov. Eric Greitens this afternoon, charging with computer tampering.

Greitens allegedly illegally used the donor list for the veterans charity he founded, The Mission Continues, to raise millions for his 2016 campaign.

Greitens is already facing a felony invasion of privacy charge.

The latest charge comes following an investigation by the attorney general's office.

Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Tuesday that his investigators uncovered evidence indicating Greitens may have illegally used the donor list, but he said his office does not have the authority to prosecute the case and that he had turned over all information to the Circuit Attorney for the City of St. Louis City Attorney. The statute of limitations for prosecuting the offense is rapidly approaching, Hawley said, though he did not specify the deadline.

The information has also been shared with the House Committee investigating Greitens for possible impeachment charges.

Hawley said his office would cooperate with the City Attorney and the House Committee helping in any way it can.

The attorney general said his office is still investigating Greitens' dealjngs with The Mission Continues.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

So you want to be a Neosho High School head boys or girls basketball coach

The Neosho R-5 School District posted openings Wednesday for head coaches for the boys and girls high school basketball teams.

The advertisement is printed below:

Head Coach
Job Description

Settlement apparently reached in Exploration Station lawsuit

It appears a settlement has been reached in the lawsuit filed by an Oronogo couple against the owners of the Exploration Station Pre-School, 3132 E. 12th, Joplin.

Jasper County Circuit Court online records show a 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, settlement hearing in Judge David Mouton's courtroom.

According to the lawsuit, teachers at the facility resigned rather than sign a document to back the owner's version of what happened during the continuing punishment of Nick and Adrienne Weston's two-year-old child.

In their five-count petition, the Westons allege Exploration Station owners Charyl and Chad Copher and co-defendant Kayla Copher were responsible for false imprisonment of their son, who is referred to as J. W. , intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional address and negligence due to child endangerment and abuse.

The petition spells out what the Westons claim happened during the short time J. W. was at Exploration Station and how they came to learn about the extent of what had been done to their son:
(O)n or about July, 2017, Nick and Adrienne Weston, legal parents of J.W., engaged the services of Exploration Station Preschool and Childcare for the care of J.W. during the workday. J.W. was a typical two-year-old child that occasionally cried when his parents dropped him at the facility, but according to all written reports the child would be fussy at drop off or nap time, but would be “great” the remainder of the day.

Nick and Adrienne Weston were told by Charyl Copher and Kayla Copher that if a child became too upset, they would contact the parents to come to the facility and calm the child. Over time, the parents noticed that J.W. seemed more upset than usual at drop off and Nick Weston called the facility to discuss how to best address the issue.

Kayla Copher said she appreciated the parents' willingness to work with them, and felt that the child would adjust over time. On one occasion, when Adrienne Weston picked up the child she was informed by two teachers outside the classroom that J.W. was having a “breakdown.”

Upon entering the room, Ms. Weston noticed that Kayla Copher was frustrated with J.W., and she commented that the child seemed to get upset when the teacher in his classroom was switched out during the afternoon.

Again, the Westons discussed with the staff how to address the issue, and Ms. Weston began leaving work early to pick the child up prior to the teacher change in mid-afternoon.

On September 25, 2017 Adrienne Weston received a call from Charyl Copher that J.W. had a “bad fit” right before nap and hit his head and face on his cot, but they didn’t notice any injury until after his nap. There appeared to be some bruising and they were treating it with ice, but didn’t want her to be alarmed at pickup about his condition. Charyl went on to say she had never seen a child act so badly. This confused Ms. Weston, as the written reports on J.W. were always good other than fussy at drop off and nap time.

Ms. Weston arrived at the facility to pick up J.W., and was surprised at the severity of injuries to the face, head and neck of J.W. from hitting a nap cot, and was going to take the child to the doctor immediately. Cheryl, Kayla and the teachers did not have matching accounts of the incident.

She immediately requested a copy of the incident report from Ms. Copher to provide to the doctor. An incident report was reluctantly provided. En route to the doctor, J.W. was unusually clingy and lethargic, and kept complaining he was hungry. The doctor noted the abrasions and scratches, but felt that those would properly heal over time, and the bigger concern was the social aspect of what happened at the facility.

Ms. Weston made the decision to terminate services at Exploration Station, as she felt she was not given an accurate account of the incident with J.W. that resulted in such injuries.

On October 6, 2017, the Westons learned that Exploration Station was closing because all of the childcare teachers voluntarily terminated their employment with the facility.

On October 7, 2017, the Westons were invited to a private Facebook group by former teachers at the facility, and learned that J.W. was emotional and crying the morning of September 25, 2017 in the classroom. The teacher was working to soothe the child when Kayla Copher removed J.W. from his classroom. Kayla returned with him a short time later, and he began to cry. This took place three or four times in a short period of time. The last time the child was not returned to the classroom.

The classroom teacher stuck her head out the door of the classroom to look for J.W., and she could hear him screaming her name. She went toward the child and found he was being forced to lay on the lunchroom floor. The child attempted to get to his teacher, and Charyl and Kayla would not allow it.

The child was removed behind closed doors with Charyl and Kayla, so that no other staff members could witness their actions. The child was then locked in a dark room alone until he could calm down, and was not fed any lunch.

The child was returned to the classroom for nap time where he appeared so scared he would not even move on his cot, and it was at this time that the injuries were noted by the teacher.

Charyl Copher typed an untruthful statement regarding the incident, and told each staff member they were required to sign the statement, so they “would all have the same story in case the State comes in to investigate.”

The teachers/staff members all chose to voluntarily terminate their employment based on this incident, and the facility closed October 6, 2017.

(S)ince September 25, 2017 J.W. has suffered from severe separation anxiety if one or both the parents leave his presence, and suffers from fear of the dark at bedtime and night terrors which were not present prior to actions of the Defendants. The child is in need of psychological care and therapy as result of the Defendants’ actions.

Nick Weston and Adrienne Weston have suffered and continue to suffer emotional distress because of the injuries and suffering of their small child at the hands of Defendants.


The Westons, who are represented by the Tracey Martin Law Office, Joplin, were seeking at least $25,000 in actual damages, punitive damages and costs, according to the petition.