Thursday, March 21, 2019

Joplin woman headed to prison after violating probation on disaster fraud charge

A Joplin woman who pleaded guilty to disaster fraud charges in federal court in 2013 is headed back to prison after violating her probation.

U. S. District Court Judge Douglas Harpool sentenced Amy Cherie Feagan, 34, to one year and one day in prison during an hour-long hearing this morning.

The online federal court records do not specify what her violation or violations were, but indicated she admitted to them.

Feagans was originally charged of defrauding FEMA after she claimed damages that took place at a residence she had already moved out of when the tornado hit Joplin May 22, 2011.

The crime was described in Feagans' plea agreement:

On June 3, 2011, the defendant AMY CHERIE FEAGAN (Feagan) contacted FEMA to report damage to her home and personal property, located at 2948D McClelland Blvd., Apt. D, in Joplin, and provided the information recorded on FEMA Form 009-0-1 (Application/Registration for Disaster Assistance). 

On June 3, 2011, Feagan met a FEMA inspector at the tornado-damaged apartment building. There, Feagan completed an inspection, claiming to the inspector 2948D McClelland Blvd., Apt. D was her primary residence and answering his questions regarding her “residence” there. 

At the conclusion of the inspection, Feagan signed FEMA Form 009-0-3 (Declaration and Release), certifying that if she intentionally made false statements or concealed information to obtain disaster assistance benefits she would be violating federal and state laws. 

On the basis of Feagan’s representation that 2948D McClelland Blvd., Apt. D was her primary residence, FEMA authorized payment in the amount of $11,764.63, to replace the contents of multiple rooms of her claimed residence as well as numerous household items for herself and her children. 

The funds were paid to Feagan by way of Treasury check. D. However, in truth and in fact, at the time of the disaster, Feagan did not reside at 2948D McClelland Blvd., Apt. D, in Joplin. She had previously resided at that apartment, but had moved some time earlier, and all of her belongings had been removed, and at the time of the Joplin tornado, 

Feagan resided in transitional housing in Springfield, Missouri, following her release from incarceration. 

A federal grand jury indicted Feagan, also known as Amy Lawrence, in December 2012.

The two books that tell the story of the Joplin Tornado and the city's remarkable recovery- 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado and Spirit of Hope: The Year After the Joplin Tornado by veteran reporters Randy Turner and John Hacker, including accounts of the tornado written by those who lived through it and the complete obituaries of those whose lives were taken May 22, 2011.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Former lieutenant governor Bill Phelps dead at 84

Missouri's first full-time lieutenant governor, Bill Phelps, died Tuesday at age 84 in Houston, Texas, according to a posting on the Ferry Funeral Home website. Phelps was a former Nevada resident.

Phelps served as lieutenant governor from 1972 to 1980.

Before his tenure as lieutenant governor, Phelps served 12 years in the Missouri House of Representatives, representing the Kansas City area.

After his second term as lieutenant governor, Phelps stepped out of the political arena for 16 years, returning in 1996 to win the Republican nomination for Fourth District Congress.

He lost to incumbent Democrat Ike Skelton in the general election.

More recently, Phelps has served as a spokesman for Americans for Fair Tax, a group that wants to replace the income tax with a sales tax.
Obituary and service information will be announced later by Ferry Funeral Home.

Bond reduction hearing set for Carthage man on two statutory sodomy charges

An April 15 bond reduction hearing has been scheduled in Jasper County Circuit Court for a Carthage man charged with two counts of statutory sodomy.

Jerad Cyler Adams, 35, has been held on a $50,000 cash-only bond since his arrest in June.

According to the probable cause statement, on one of the counts Adams allegedly walked in on an underage girl showering, made her bend over, shaved part of her body, then would not allow her to put her clothes on after she got out of the shower. all of the while using his cell phone to record a video.

After obtaining the images, the probable cause statement said, "he went to his bedroom and locked the door."

Flags to be flown at half-staff in Missouri Thursday to honor soldier killed in Kuwait

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

Governor Mike Parson today ordered that the U.S. and Missouri flags at government buildings statewide be lowered to half-staff on Thursday, March 21, to honor Army Reserve Specialist Jackson D. Johnson, of Hillsboro, Missouri. Johnson will be buried at Jefferson Barracks on March 21.

Specialist Johnson was a Transportation Management Coordinator in the 657th Transportation Company (Movement Control Team), 419th Transportation Battalion, 649th Regional Support Group, 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command. He was killed in-the-line-of-duty when the vehicle he was in collided with another vehicle in northern Kuwait on March 5.

“Specialist Johnson decided at an early age that he wanted to defend the United States and was courageously serving far from home to protect our nation,” Governor Parson said. “We are grateful for Specialist Johnson’s service and pray for his family and friends as they mourn his loss.”

To review the proclamation, click the below link:

Strong redevelopment efforts enable City of Joplin to close Recovery TIF

(From the City of Joplin)

Redevelopment efforts following the 2011 disaster have been strong and will help close the Recovery TIF (Tax Increment Financing) created in 2013 to stimulate Joplin’s rebuilding.

A TIF District was set as part of Joplin’s redevelopment plan, following the EF-5 tornado that devastated nearly one third of the city on May 22, 2011. The “Recovery TIF”, as City and community officials referred to it, was approved to help rebuild and recover in a planned manner. To achieve this goal, the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation (JRC) issued TIF bonds in 2013 for two separate purposes. The bond proceeds were used to

1) purchase additional property for planned development, and;

2) provide the local match for the Economic Development Authority (EDA) grant that was used to build the new Joplin Public Library and provide infrastructure at 32nd Street and Central City Road.

The two types of projects resulted in two separate bond issues as follows:

Series “A”- Issued as taxable series for additional land purchase, which netted approximately $12.2 million in cash proceeds

Series “B”- Issued as tax exempt series for the local match for the Economic Development Administration Grant, which netted approximately $5.7 million in cash proceeds.

During a recent update on the bonds issued for the Recovery TIF, Haase noted that the Series “A” bonds will be paid off with April 2019’s payment and anticipates the Series “B” bonds will be paid in full by October 2020, if the collections remain strong as they have been these past six years. Original closing date for the Recovery TIF was set for 2033.

Boundaries of the proposed Joplin Recovery Redevelopment Area were drawn to constitute the portion of the city most impacted by the tornado and the downtown area. It consists of approximately 6,142 parcels and contains approximately 3,129 acres of land, including 784 acres of right-of-way. It is the largest TIF district in the state of Missouri. A link to the district area map is listed at the close of this article.

“Joplin was greatly impacted in 2011,” said Mayor Gary Shaw. “Following the disaster, we were looking to rebuild our community with our existing businesses as well as seeking opportunities for new developments in Joplin. The sheer size of the TIF area has helped, and the collections have been strong. This is wonderful news for our community,” said Mayor Gary Shaw. “After the redevelopment area has been dissolved and the TIF is closed, the increased tax collections will go directly to the various taxing jurisdictions.”

An estimated amount of $3.6 million will be dispersed among the jurisdictions including $1.6 million for Joplin Schools; $430,000 for Jasper County; $100,000 for Joplin Special Roads District, and $44,000 for Jasper County 911. The City of Joplin will receive an estimated $1.4 million with $600,000 of that amount going to the General Fund; and $220,00 of it to Public Safety. The remainder will be allocated to other tax funds as designated, including Transportation, Parks and Stormwater; and Capital Improvements. The Health Department, Parks and Recreation Department and Solid Waste Management will also receive property tax collections of approximately $27,000 each.

“The sales tax collections from this area far exceeded the projections when the TIF was formed,” said Haase. “This is a reflection of the successful recovery of our community following a disaster of this magnitude.”

TIF is a tool provided by state law that allows for funding part of a redevelopment project on land considered to be blighted or near-blighted by using a portion of the additional taxes created by a project to reimburse developers for that part of their project costs that are considered extraordinary because of location and local architectural and landscape requirements. The developer for the Recovery TIF is the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation (JRC), which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the City.

To view Recovery TIF area...

Ed Martin: Bitter Democrats' proposal to eliminate electoral college would render middle America irrelevant

(From Phyllis Schlafly Eagles)

Elizabeth Warren this week became the primary voice of support and first official candidate of 2020 to propose eliminating the Electoral College and moving to a National Popular Vote. This idea has long been discussed and continually rejected, because it would effectively eliminate the voice of nearly every state in the union. The Electoral College protects smaller states and ensures that every state's voters are heard.

"Senator Warren and all proponents of the National Popular Vote are essentially arguing in favor of silencing half of the voters in this nation," said Ed Martin, president of Phyllis Schlafly Eagles. 

"Don't be fooled when she says that we should eliminate the Electoral College because 'every vote matters.' The electoral college is the ONLY thing that protects the votes of the citizens of small and less-populated states. Phyllis Schlafly and many legal, constitutional, and electoral experts have long warned us that eliminating the Electoral College would essentially lead to presidential candidates campaigning only in New York and Southern California where they can find big donors and large population centers. 

"Moving to a National Popular Vote would ensure only one thing — that the voices of all voters in Middle America, Democrat and Republican alike, would be rendered unheard and irrelevant. We must not let the Democrats' bitterness over losing the 2016 election disenfranchise three-fourths of our states and their voters."

Ed Martin provided a lengthy and in-depth interview on this topic to VCY American Radio. A podcast of it can be found here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

First phase of restructuring of four state agencies completed

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

The major restructuring of four state agencies has moved to the next phase, signaling another step forward in Governor Mike Parson’s agenda to improve economic and workforce development in Missouri.

Monday marked the end of the 60-day period in which the legislature could vote to oppose the proposed changes announced by Governor Parson through a series of executive orders issued in January.

The next two phases of the restructuring occur on July 1, when the state’s fiscal year begins, and August 28, when the executive orders take effect. In the interim, the state agencies will continue working together to ensure that these vital services will continue without interruption.

“We greatly appreciate the support of the legislature throughout this process,” Governor Mike Parson said. “They’ve been engaged all along the way, and it’s an honor to work with these leaders as we set out to become Best in Midwest.

What is changing: 

-The Division of Workforce Development and Missouri Economic Research and Information Center will move to the Department of Higher Education to establish a single resource in state government for all postsecondary education options. 

-The Division of Energy will return to the Department of Natural Resources. 

-The Office of Public Councel and the Public Service Commission will join similarly structured Tier III regulatory agencies at the newly named Department of Commerce and Insurance. 

-The Missouri Arts Council will be elevated to the Office of the Lt. Governor. 

-The Department of Economic Development will shift to have staff based across Missouri in order to better meet the unique needs of each economic region and will form a new division that will specifically help businesses address workforce needs as they hire and train workers for large expansions.

The reorganization comes after months of research and the involvement of thousands of Missourians, the results of which were shared during the Governor’s Conference on Economic Development last fall.

The research delved into the complexity of Missouri’s economic development agency, finding that the Department of Economic Development has more employees and houses more functions than any of its Midwest peers. In addition, the research showed that other states outperform the agency in nearly every measure—including those pertaining to workforce development.

What state leaders are saying about the changes:

“I completely support the Governor’s and Director Dixon’s efforts to focus the Department of Economic Development. An important role of the Lt. Governor is to be a champion for tourism and the arts and these changes formalize this important function while allowing DED to focus exclusively on economic development,” Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe said. “This is a significant occasion, and I look forward to helping promote the importance of the arts throughout Missouri.”

“Transferring the Division of Energy back to the Department of Natural Resources will benefit the State of Missouri by expanding our Department’s ability to balance a healthy environment with a healthy economy," Carol Comer, Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources said. “We look forward to focusing our efforts on an affordable and reliable energy strategy for the State of Missouri.”

“When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority,” Rob Dixon, Department of Economic Development Director said. “We saw that in the data. We see it in our agency, and with the support of thousands of Missourians across our state, we’re doing something about it. This is a historic moment, and we’re excited to move forward with the transition, knowing we have the support of our partners and legislators across the state.”

“We’re happy to officially welcome the Public Service Commission and the Office of Public Counsel to our department,” DIFP Director Chlora Lindley-Myers said. “As we become the newly named Department of Commerce and Insurance, we’ll continue to work diligently to protect the consumers of our state and provide a level playing field for the industries we regulate.”

“This change gives Missourians a resource for the full range of postsecondary options – from apprenticeships to certificates to doctoral programs,”Commissioner of Higher Education Zora Mulligan said. “This is consistent with national trends toward recognizing the value of shorter-term, lower-cost programs, and through this bold move Governor Parson will be positioning Missouri as a thought leader in this area.”

Joplin Honkey sentenced to 30 years without parole on meth conspiracy charge

(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

A Joplin, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for leading a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Jasper County, Mo.

Donald B. Loomis, 36, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 30 years in federal prison without parole.

On Nov. 7, 2018, Loomis was found guilty at trial of participating in a conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine in Jasper County from March 1, 2015, to Sept. 24, 2016.

Law enforcement officers began investigating methamphetamine trafficking in the Joplin area in April 2015, focusing on a violent gang that identified themselves as the Joplin Honkeys. Loomis, a member of the Joplin Honkeys, was the leader of a drug-trafficking organization and supplied multiple pounds of methamphetamine per week to distribute to others in the Joplin area.

Loomis is the final defendant to be sentenced in this case. Co-defendants Alisha D. Courtney, 48, and Terrance E. Romero, 43, both of Webb City, Mo., pleaded guilty and were each sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without parole. Co-defendants Kelly C. Walker, 47, of Joplin, and Lisa M. Allison, 41, of Neosho, Mo., pleaded guilty and were each sentenced to five years in federal prison without parole.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Abram McGull, II, and Josephine L. Stockard. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team, the Joplin, Mo., Police Department, the Webb City, Mo., Police Department, the Newton County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Jasper County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Jasper County, Mo., Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the Newton County, Mo., Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Highway Patrol trooper named Missouri State Employee of Month after investigation of abused children

(From the Missouri State Highway Patrol)

A Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper has been named Missouri State Employee of the Month for March 2019 because of her relentless investigation after the discovery of two young girls walking along a highway in October 2018. Trooper Ashley Klempke’s investigation led to criminal charges against both parents, and the children being placed in protective custody.

Klempke, a road trooper with the Patrol’s Troop F in central Missouri, was eligible for the statewide honor because of her selection as Department of Public Safety Employee of the Month for February 2019.

In the early morning hours of October 2018, Klempke responded to a report of two young girls walking along a highway in Cole County. The girls were dressed only in pajamas and had no shoes. While other agencies were focused on returning the children to their parents and hesitant to investigate their allegations of long-term abuse, Klempke insisted on conducting a thorough investigation, including medical evaluations.

The medical evaluations supported the girls’ claims of severe abuse, as did forensic interviews, and a search warrant executed at their residence. As a result of Klempke’s effort, a total of six children were placed in protective custody and both parents were criminally charged.

Klempke carried out a very thorough investigation, including 16 interviews and the execution of multiple search warrants.

“From the very start, Trooper Klempke approached this not just as two children who had wandered away from home, but as a matter that needed to be fully investigated,” Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten said. “Trooper Klempke handled this case with perseverance, dedication and compassion, and her efforts made a difference.”

Klempke was appointed to the Missouri State Highway Patrol on July 1, 2011, as a member of the 94th Recruit Class. She currently serves the citizens of Troop F, Zone 2, Cole County. She is a native of Los Angeles. Prior to joining the Patrol, she worked as a corrections officer for the Missouri Department of Corrections. Trooper Klempke and her husband, Brandon, have five children.

Congratulations to Trooper Klempke for her outstanding work and the example she’s set for her co-workers throughout Missouri state government!

It's not raindrops that keep falling on Paul Richardson's head

(Paul Richardson's column, The Horse I Rode In On, appears regularly in the Neosho Daily News, Seneca News-Dispatch and the Turner Report.)

One of the positive aspects of riding on a single horse-powered horse or the steel horse with many horses-of-power, is the escape from confinement.

While being in the cabin compartment of the caged vehicle offers some amenities such as heat, a/c, shielding from the rain and more; exposure to the elements builds character. Character can be built in so many ways, but when you ride one must understand that everything out there is a threat to your very life. Some of these may not kill you but can certainly dent your dignity and will always build character.

My dear mother doesn’t like to park her car under power lines. This is not from a fear of induced voltage, but an aversion to bird droppings. She is very protective of her vehicle. This OCD leads to purchasing wiping cloths that are identical to the paint color in order to keep any cloth fuzz from showing up after post-drive wipe-down. You can only imagine what trauma bird droppings would develop.

So if you can relate to my dear mother’s angst, just imagine the fear that would grip you under the following conditions: 

Many years ago I recall riding in my unfettered environment without a care on my mind when I observed a large bird flying at a rather low altitude and on a course that would intersect my path. The bird was gaining altitude, I was riding forward, there were no apparent problems. When suddenly, I saw an unidentified “something” descending. 

What do you do? Do you speed up? Do you slow down? Do you swerve head-on into the car coming at you in the adjacent lane? A quick calculation indicated that the descending item would intersect my path at about the eye level coupled with my current rate of speed. My desire to not intersect with this item at any level resulted in me just closing my eyes and twisting the wick. Oh sorry, I forgot, not everyone is going to understand all the lingo. 

Well, let’s put it this way, I accelerated without hesitation and a lot! At the next scheduled stop, a review of my person and the bike did not reveal any nastiness, so I considered the decision a success.

That day a different outcome would have required a ride through an automatic car wash. Other encounters of the fowl nature have held a more sinister threat. 

We were headed north on Sunday morning last summer. The “we” in this story was myself, the good wife riding behind me and the rest of the crew in a full pack formation. Someone, probably Dr. Howard, was riding to my immediate right as I was in the high left position next to the centerline. At an unthreatening distance ahead, a flock of turkey buzzards were feeding on some road kill. 

As we approached, all the flock took flight. All except one bird. This bird waited until the last second, probably because he had staked a claim on the best possible part of the road kill. 

Upon takeoff the flight path was away from us but was precisely in the same direction and line. This bird wasn’t taking off like a jet liner. His speed was more like that of a very old twin engine prop driven plane. The main problem was that there was a significant differential between his air-speed and our ground speed. 

In addition, the bird wasn’t gaining altitude quickly. He was about eye-level height and we were looking at the south end of a northbound buzzard. The good wife had chosen to completely ignore the warning that I have posted on the back of my helmet for her to read and observe. That warning reads: Crying, whimpering, or screaming to slow down will not be tolerated and could result in the ejection of the passenger. 

It turns out that the possibility of colliding with anything seems to unhinge the good wife and her fear of hurting my feelings is no longer paramount. While the good wife is screaming, screaming something that I probably don’t want to remember, the rest of my crew is watching and backing off in case I should choose to clamp down on the binders. 

All the while I’m thinking, “Surely, this bird is going to get out of my way”. Just as it seems that time has expired and a decision must be made, the bird banks left to circle back around to the road kill. I don’t think a pass through the automatic car wash could have saved this one!

So, as you go to park in the downtown district, look up. Just don’t look up as you stand beneath the overhead wires. You might want to move down a space or two, or just plan your trip so your next stop is the automatic car wash!