Monday, June 14, 2021

McDonald County confirms seven new COVID-19 cases


COVID-19 outbreak hits McDonald County R-1 summer school

(From the McDonald County R-1 School District)

Unfortunately there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in our Summer Journey Program. That means multiple students have been diagnosed with COVID-19 within this past week.

To help reduce any further spread of the disease, school buildings and school buses are being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

Furthermore, beginning Monday, June 14th, all individuals, students and staff alike, who have not been fully vaccinated for COVID -19 will once again be required to wear a mask until the outbreak subsides.

We will work closely with our local health department to monitor this outbreak and as always focus on the health and safety of our students and staff.

Joplin R-8 Board hires three teachers

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education hired three teachers during a closed session June 8.

Those hired were Sarah Clemens, Kaitlin Hall, and Julie Jasper.

The board also discussed legal issues.


State Board to revoke license of Purdy teacher who said student had cute elbows, sweated glitter and would be fun in bubble wrap

The Missouri State Board of Education is expected to revoke the license of a former Purdy High School band teacher who wrote an inappropriate letter to a student.

The action is listed on the agenda for the board's next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday in Jefferson City.

Dalton Breshears' time as a band teacher at Purdy High School was brief. He started in August 2018 and was out of the classroom by December after he wrote a female student a letter detailing 100 reasons why he believed she was "as special as your favorite candy," which was M&Ms.

Among the reasons:

Your laugh melts my heart and break (sic) every defense I have

Your smile is second to none and all I want to do is make you happy so I can see it more.

On a scale of 1 to 10 you're an 11.

What's even more wild than that is you're more beautiful on the inside than you are on the outside.

You always look amazing even after gym class, it's like you sweat glitter or something.

Every color you wear goes with your eyes.

Perfect nose, enough said.

You bring more joy into my life.

You're more fun than a ball pit filled with M&Ms. I mean honestly what can be more fun than that?

You have cute elbows. True story. Also I just made you smile. Bet?

When I'm feeling down just seeing you brightens my day.

You're more fun than bubble wrap.

Unless you were in bubble wrap.

Let's get some bubble wrap.

You know who you are and who you are not which is super sexy.

Breshears resigned in January 2019.

Carthage High School mourns loss of senior killed in traffic accident

(From Carthage High School)

Carthage High School is saddened to report that early Sunday morning (6-13-21) on his way home from work, CHS senior-to-be Victor Reyes, was involved in a car accident that took his life.

CHS is working through and implementing our crisis management plan.

Counselors have been on campus for students, faculty and staff and will continue to be here for as long as they are needed.

As we work our way through this tragedy, we ask that you please lift Victor's family and friends, as well as his teachers and classmates, up in your prayers.

Matt Huntley
Carthage High School

Greitens skips major Missouri GOP events to watch Arizona recount

By Jason Hancock

It was the year’s biggest gathering of Missouri Republicans, but the party’s putative frontrunner to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt was nowhere to be found.

Over the weekend, nearly everyone angling for the Senate seat flocked to the Missouri Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Days in Kansas City and a Missouri Cattlemen’s Association fundraiser at the state fairgrounds in Sedalia.

Noticeably absent was Eric Greitens, the disgraced former governor who according to public polls leads the still-growing field of GOP U.S. Senate hopefuls.

Greitens spent the weekend 1,200 miles away in Arizona, watching a so-called audit of the more than 2.1 million votes cast last year in Maricopa County.

“If they don’t have the ballots, they don’t have the victory,” Greitens has said repeatedly in interviews and on social media. “And what follows from that is that Arizona then needs to decertify their electors. That’s the direction that this is headed.”

Donald Trump lost to President Joe Biden in 2020.

But count Greitens among those clinging to baseless claims of widespread fraud and unwilling to accept the outcome. And in many ways, that’s what’s fueling his U.S. Senate campaign.

Largely shunned by his party’s establishment, which helped run him out of office in 2018, Greitens has adopted the grievances of the former president and made them his overarching campaign message.

To be sure, every candidate running or contemplating a run for Senate in Missouri is courting Trump and the voters who twice delivered him double-digit wins in the Show-Me State.


Attorney General Eric Schmitt joined unsuccessful lawsuits trying to overturn the 2020 election. Lawyer Mark McCloskey has adopted the pseudo-populist rhetoric of the Trump campaign. Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s campaign kickoff was an homage to the Trump presidency.

But since re-emerging on the Missouri political scene in early 2020, Greitens has crafted his public persona around the idea that he was the victim of a political witch hunt — and that he has been fully exonerated in the years since leaving office.

He has surrounded himself and his campaign almost exclusively with former Trump aides. And he confines media appearances mostly to pro-Trump, right-wing media, where he touts debunked election fraud conspiracies.

His continued popularity with the party’s base has GOP leaders worried he could win a primary and then lose the seat to a Democrat thanks to the litany of scandals that originally derailed his career — charges of violent sexual misconduct and blackmail; accusations that he stole from a veteran’s charity; claims of dark-money fueled corruption; and reports that the Navy refused his return to service until Vice President Mike Pence’s office intervened.

But while the other contenders touted their Trump bonafides to the party faithful in Missouri this weekend, Greitens was with the Trump bitter enders in Arizona.

For weeks, a private cybersecurity company from Florida with no experience in auditing elections has been re-counting the ballots in Arizona’s largest county at the behest of the state’s Republican senators.

The shambolic exercise has included inspecting ballots for traces of bamboo to determine if they were imported from Asia and reportedly scanning them with UV lights to look for secret watermarks.

Democratic and Republican critics alike — including the GOP-run county board of supervisors and the Republican who is the chief county election officer — dismiss the effort as a dangerous exploitation of grievances that fueled the Jan. 6 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol.

The county already conducted a hand count of ballots, led by a multiparty audit board, which found no discrepancies. The board of supervisors hired independent firms to perform a forensic audit of voting equipment that found no irregularities.

But this new “audit” has become a cause célèbre among the former president’s most ardent supporters, with many making the pilgrimage to Arizona to see it first hand.

Among them is Greitens, who declared on Sunday that “patriots are getting to the bottom of what happened with this election.”

Meanwhile in Missouri, Greitens’ absence at Lincoln Days didn’t go unnoticed.

Michael Hafner, a veteran GOP political operative who briefly worked for Greitens in 2015 and is now working for Hartzler, questioned the wisdom of Greitens’ decision.

“For someone who claims he is building a grassroots army to carry himself to a U.S. Senate victory,” Hafner said, “it’s quite an interesting tactic to snub the largest GOP grassroots event of 2021.”

Jason Hancock has been writing about Missouri since 2011, most recently as lead political reporter for The Kansas City Star. He has spent nearly two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, and has a track record of exposing government wrongdoing and holding elected officials accountable.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

God help us- Ed Emery's running for Congress

It did not take long after Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler announced she was running for U. S. Senate for the vultures to begin circling her Congressional seat.

The first vulture to land is former State Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar.

Emery made the following announcement Friday on his Facebook page:

It is not ambition that drives me but what I see as the clear abandonment at the federal level of Biblical principles, national heritage, common sense, and the values that have made America great. The contempt for the truth and the perversion of justice must not go on.

If, as a nation, we are to continue to enjoy the immeasurable blessings God has poured out from our country's earlies and miraculous beginnings there must be a return to those freedoms and eternal truths that have born us this far. 

With that as my vision I am to declaring my intention to run for the U.S. Congress – 4th District.

With a view first toward Heaven and a heart for my country and my family, I am committing to serving Missouri's 4th Congressional District if elected. V

ery soon we will provide information on how you can be involved in my campaign. In the meantime, if you'd like to be involved in the very first stages in any way, you may call or text me at (417) 540-1497.

Remembering Chad Elliot

 The wife of Zimmer Marketing marketing manager Chad Elliott, the long time host of KZRG's Morning News Watch announced this evening her husband has passed away, one day shy of their 14th wedding anniversary.

With the heaviest of heart, I have ever experienced in my life, I want to let our friends and family know the world lost an amazing man this morning.

Elliot was host of Morning News Watch from 2009 to 2018 and has worked for Zimmer Marketing for 27 years, but it was a decision Elliot made as programming director for Zimmer on May 22, 2011 that helped guide a stricken Joplin community through the tornado and its aftermath.

Elliot pulled the plug on all regular programming and all commercials on KZRG and the other Zimmer stations to provide tornado coverage around the clock.

Earlier, wearing one of his other hats, it was Elliott, along with Rob Meyer, who offered listeners their first first-hand accounts of the devastation that had been wrought by the tornado.

From a CNN report shortly after the tornado:

Immediately after Sunday’s killer tornado, Elliot said emergency crews drove to the station to provide information for broadcast. The station began telling people where to go for medical help. Or what number to dial for information about the missing. Or where they could buy gas or where there was still a Walmart standing.

Elliot said it reminded him of the family members of the victims of the September 11 attacks who held up photographs of their loved ones in hopes they were not under the rubble. Only, he said, there were no pictures in Joplin — just trembling voices.

One after another, the calls streamed in.

“We had people calling about family members who went to Walmart to pick up a few items, buy something for Sunday dinner and they just didn’t come home,” Elliot said.

The radio hosts tried to console and comfort even though they, too, had not been spared from tragedy. Elliot said seven of his 30 employees lost their homes. They still reported to work.

Parson signs bill establishing Second Amendment Preservation Act

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

Today, Governor Mike Parson signed HB 85 into law, establishing the Second Amendment Preservation Act in Missouri.

“Throughout my law enforcement career and now as Governor of the state of Missouri, I have and always will stand for the Constitution and our Second Amendment rights,” Governor Parson said. 

“This legislation today draws a line in the sand and demonstrates our commitment to reject any attempt by the federal government to circumvent the fundamental right Missourians have to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their property.”

HB 85 prohibits state and local cooperation with federal officials that attempt to enforce any laws, rules, orders, or actions that violate the Second Amendment rights of Missourians. These protections against federal overreach are triggered if federal officials attempt to violate the state or federal constitution.

Additionally, the bill is an acknowledgment that the right to keep and bear arms is fundamental and inalienable, and that the nation's federalist constitutional structure limits the federal government's authority over states.

Under HB 85, any person or entity who knowingly deprives Missouri citizens of their right to bear arms - as protected by state and federal constitutions - will be liable for redress and monetary damages of $50,000 per occurrence. Local law enforcement’s ability to assist federal officials in other instances remains unchanged under this legislation.

“HB 85 puts those in Washington D.C. on notice that here in Missouri we support responsible, law-abiding gun owners, and that we oppose government overreach and any unlawful efforts to limit our access to firearms,” Governor Parson said.

For more information on HB 85, click here.

Vicki Hartzler joins race for U. S. Senate seat

By Rudi Keller

Vicky Hartzler made her entry into the 2022 U.S. Senate race official Thursday, kicking off her campaign at a firearms store surrounded by supporters.

(Photo by Rudi Keller/Missouri Independent)  

One day before Republicans gather in Kansas City for their annual Lincoln Days meetings, Hartzler said her experience in Congress will make her the best candidate over the three men who are also seeking the nomination to replace U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.


Hartzler bragged that she, unlike the three men who have announced they will run, has actually worked with former President Donald Trump on the programs he embraced during his four years in office.

“I am one of only two members of Congress from Missouri to have voted for and supported the efforts of President Trump over 95 percent of the time,” Hartzler said.

Hartzler, who has represented Missouri’s 4th Congressional District since 2011, joins disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens, state Attorney General Eric Schmitt and St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey in the Republican race.

Unlike her three competitors, Hartzler chose to announce her candidacy with a public event in the district rather than an appearance on Fox News.

For the crowd of about 150 that gathered on Thursday, Hartzler struck the major points Republicans have used to attack Democrats and President Joe Biden since he took office in January.

“The socialist Democrats are endangering our security, bankrupting our nation, killing our jobs, fueling inflation, harming our children, defunding our police and rewriting our history,” Hartzler said. “They are destroying the country you and I love and they must be stopped.”

Hartzler is giving up what’s considered a safe GOP Congressional seat in 2022 for the uncertainty of the Senate primary. Supporters in the crowd said they think she can beat Greitens, Schmitt and McCloskey and anyone else who enters the race.

Jackie Langston, who drove up from Johnson County, wore her county’s Republican Women’s Club badge and said her entire group is behind Hartzler. Johnson County is in the 4th District.

“I think she sees a lot of the value in women and like us, supports more freedom,” Langston said.

Langston said she would be happy to vote for any of the current primary candidates in November 2022 because “I don’t see anyone running who is an extremist.”

Tom Mendenhall, a Republican from Columbia who said he’s attended several Republican National Conventions, said he backs Hartzler because he has gotten to know her while she has represented his city in Congress.

“I think she has done a good job and I don’t think she is an opportunist,” Mendenhall said. “She’s paid her dues.”

Hartzler has been a member of the House Armed Services Committee and promised she would back a strong military, work to restart construction on the southern border wall suspended by Biden and end “woke” indoctrination of soldiers and sailors.

“I have delivered in the U.S. House and that is what I will do in the Senate,” Hartzler said.

Hartzler began her political career in the Missouri House, where she held a seat representing Cass County from 1994 to 2000.


She played a prominent role in statewide politics for the first time in 2004, when she served as spokeswoman for the Coalition to Protect Marriage in Missouri, which successfully campaigned for a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, Hartzler was the only member of the Missouri congressional delegation to issue a public statement in support of Kim Davis, clerk of Rowan County, Ky., who refused to comply with several court orders directing her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Hartzler was elected to Congress as part of a Republican wave that swept the GOP into a House majority it did not relinquish until 2018. In that election, she defeated veteran U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, the last rural Democrat to represent Missouri in Congress.

Since her district was redrawn after the 2010 census, Hartzler has not received less than 65 percent of the vote in five re-election victories.

Hartzler and her husband, Lowell Hartzler, own farms and a farm implement business based in Cass County. During her first campaign for congress and since, environmental organizations and groups opposed to concentrated farming have highlighted the subsidy payments the farms have received from programs she voted for in the U.S. House.

Those subsidy payments shot up in 2018, 2019 and 2020, for a total of $232,570, according to federal data posted online by the Environmental Working Group. Subsidies shot up after Trump created the Market Facilitator Program to offset price declines caused by trade disputes with China and other nations.

“We found that rather than supporting small, struggling farmers, MFP money has overwhelmingly gone to farmers who are already wealthy, as well as to people who live in cities and other places far from the fields,” the Environmental Working Group stated on its webpage about the program.

Hartzler’s business interests have also been helped by pandemic loans created under relief bills she supported. Hartzler Farms received a Paycheck Protection Loan of $26,900 in 2020, and Heartland Tractor, the family implement business, received a loan of $451,200.

Questioned about the payments, Hartzler defended the policies that produced the subsidies.

“I am a farmer and people understand that is Missouri’s No. 1 industry,” Hartzler said. “It is vital we have safety net programs for farmers to stay viable so American consumers can have the lowest priced food in the world.”

The field in the Republican primary isn’t entirely set, with several other candidates considering joining Hartzler, Greitens, Schmitt and McCloskey in the race.

Rep. Jason Smith, R-Cape Girardeau, suggested Wednesday on Fox Business Channel that he will be endorsed by Trump when asked about a recent meeting in New York.

“President Trump will be very involved in the Missouri senate race and will make sure his person crosses the finish line,” Smith said. “I have no doubt that he is going to be with the right person, so we’ll see as time goes ahead.”

The likelihood of a bigger field does not deter her, Hartzler said.

“I am not so concerned about who else is in there,” she said.

She did take a swipe at the current field of opponents.

“Being in the U.S. Senate,” Hartzler said, “isn’t a learn-on-the-job experience.”

Rudi Keller covers the state budget, energy and the legislature. He’s spent 22 of his 30 years in journalism covering Missouri government and politics, most recently as the news editor of the Columbia Daily Tribune. Keller has won awards for spot news and investigative reporting.