Thursday, July 18, 2019

Another update provided on 10-year-old Troy Onstott's recovery

In her most recent Facebook update, published Wednesday night, Jill Onstott cites more steps forward for her 10-year-old son Troy as he recovers at Children's Mercy Hospital from a UTV accident and looks forward to the next day (today) when Troy gets to swim.

Day 15:

Just two weeks post accident, I find my sweet boy smiling in his sleep as I go to kiss him goodnight. Makes me wonder if he’s fishing somewhere on the bank of a pond or old creeky dock. I sure hope so.

Troy pushed through hump day eating Cheetos and drinking Gatorade. But let’s be real, he ate 2 Cheetos and took 2 sips of gatorade. I’d say that’s 1% better Troy boy!
We are looking forward to SWIMMING tomorrow! 

We have moved rooms 5 times now so my nightly routine has changed a bit. This week I started listening to music to clear my head when l first lay down. I just finished listening to:
“The Goodness of the Lord” - Travis Ryan
(Insert: I need my earbuds! TJ’s snoring just isn’t cutting it for me anymore 😉)

This song is so moving. Just take a minute and listen, close your eyes if possible, open your heart, and let Him in.

The Goodness of the Lord
It Never Fails Me
The Goodness of the Lord
It Overwhelms Me
The Goodness of the Lord
Is Always True

God- I see you, when I see that smile, I see YOU. It’s like you’re giving me a little wink saying, “Go to bed momma, rest. We’ll fight for him again tomorrow.” You never fail me Lord. I pray that Troy can find new strength in the pool tomorrow, and learn to trust his right side. I know I’m asking for so much, but I know you will heal him in your time. So until then, we’ll swim and be free for as long as they’ll let us. I pray for lots of smiles tomorrow as he will be doing something he loves. Thank you God, I’m so proud to be this boys momma.

FEMA to reconsider disaster assistance for Barton County, 20 other counties

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

Today, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) agreed to the state of Missouri’s request to consider expanding last week’s federal disaster declaration. FEMA agreed to reevaluate the request for inclusion of 21 counties that were denied federal assistance on July 9. FEMA agreed to do the following:

-Conduct new damage assessment with the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA)and local officials in counties where newly identified damaged homes have been found;

-Use ground teams to more fully assess areas that had previously been reviewed only by helicopter; and

-Reevaluate insurance levels and income levels as factors in the ability to recover in some of the affected counties.

The 21 counties are Adair, Barton, Callaway, Christian, Clark, Cooper, Dallas, Douglas, Gasconade, Grundy, Harrison, Hickory, Howard, Jefferson, Laclede, Lewis, Macon, Polk, Saline, St. Louis, and Ste. Genevieve. All 21 counties had been denied assistance in President Trump’s July 9 federal disaster declaration.

FEMA has also agreed to conduct joint damage assessments with SEMA and local officials in Cape Girardeau, Marion, Newton, and McDonald counties. These four counties have not previously been assessed.

FEMA said the damage assessments would begin on July 23.

Governor Mike Parson said he appreciated FEMA moving forward with the state’s requests, which were made on July 16.

“Missourians are still hurting and working hard to rebuild and get their lives back on track as a result of the flooding and severe storms that began impacting our state back in March,” Governor Parson said. “The residents of these 25 counties deserve prompt action based on a complete assessment of all the damage they’ve sustained and the circumstances affecting their efforts to recover.”

If approved, FEMA Individual Assistance would allow eligible residents to seek federal assistance for temporary housing, housing repairs, replacement of damaged belongings, vehicles, and other qualifying expenses as a result of the flooding and storms.

President Trump’s July 9 disaster declaration was for flooding and severe storms and made the federal Individual Assistance program available to eligible residents in Andrew, Atchison, Boone, Buchanan,Carroll, Chariton, Cole, Greene, Holt, Jackson, Jasper, Lafayette, Lincoln, Livingston, Miller, Osage,Pike, Platte, Pulaski, and St. Charles counties.

As of July 17, FEMA has approved more than 500 households for Individual Assistance grants and provided more than $2.3 million directly to the survivors to help with their recovery.

FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program has paid more than $18 million to Missouri policyholders for flood claims filed since March.

To register for FEMA assistance, go to or register by phone by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362). Telephone registration is available 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. (local time), seven days a week.

GateHouse Media set to buy company that owns Springfield News-Leader, USA Today

All signs point toward GateHouse Media, the company that has run the Carthage Press and dozens of other newspapers out of business will have the opportunity to work its magic on the Springfield News-Leader and USA Today.

The New York Post reports GateHouse, which owns more than 700 publications, including the Neosho Daily News, Pittsburg Morning Sun, Aurora Advertiser and The Big Nickel in this area and the Columbia Tribune and nearly two dozen newspapers in Missouri, is prepared to buy the larger Gannett company.

“There’s about a 75% chance it happens,” a source said. 
There are complicated issues that remain, including GateHouse’s assumption of Gannett’s pension liabilities, a source said. Software integration is potentially another headache. 
The source added that a deal was supposed to have been completed about two weeks ago.

GateHouse is owned by Fortress Investment, a hedge fund and has made a practice of buying newspapers, cutting their staffs to the bone (and even more), and leaving them shells of what they were or closing them altogether, as it did with the Carthage Press.

Parson signs executive order creating Flood Recovery Advisory Working Group

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

Today, Governor Mike Parson signed Executive Order 19-14, establishing Missouri’s Flood Recovery Advisory Working Group.

The group will provide input on the state’s short-, medium-, and long-term flood recovery priorities. It will also give feedback on the state’s current levee system with suggested changes to benefit Missouri and its citizens.

“Missouri has been plagued by record-level flooding this year. More than 80 levees have overtopped or breached, ” Governor Parson said. “The impact of flooding on our citizens and communities has been devastating, costing millions of dollars in property damage. This working group will play a key role in establishing Missouri’s path forward to rebuilding infrastructure, revitalizing damaged farm ground, and refocusing our flood-control priorities.”

Governor Parson’s Executive Order cites limited resources to assist with the ongoing efforts to clean up and rebuild the extensive levee damage.

“Coordination among stakeholders is critical in allocating funds strategically,” Governor Parson said. “We need their input as we consider the allocation of state resources and options for levee recovery and improvements.”

The working group will identify areas where attention is needed and provide input on priorities for allocation of state funding as Missouri recovers from this year’s flooding. In addition to addressing short-term repairs to levees, the group will also explore options to improve the conveyance of floodwater through Missouri’s major rivers.

Members of the Flood Recovery Advisory Working Group include the Departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Economic Development, Transportation, and the State Emergency Management Agency. Representatives from the Missouri Levee and Drainage District Association, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Corn Growers Association, and Missouri Soybean Association are members as well.

The Coalition to Protect the Missouri River, the Missouri and Associated Rivers Coalition, local government, and others will also be represented.

The Executive Order directs the working group to submit an initial report to the Governor with findings and suggestions by December 31, 2019, with a final report due May 31, 2020.

To view Executive Order 19-14, click here.

State audit: Parson billed taxpayers for mileage to attend Chiefs game, lobbyist paid for tickets

When Gov. Mike Parson was lieutenant governor, he billed Missouri taxpayers for mileage to attend a Kansas City Chiefs game, according to a closeout audit of his former office that was issued today by State Auditor Nicole Galloway.

Parson used his personal vehicle to drive from Jefferson City to Arrowhead Stadium December 16, 2017, and was reimbursed $111.

Parson's expense report did not specifically mention a Chiefs game, referring to the trip as attending "an event with Clark Hunt at Arrowhead Stadium."

Hunt is the Kansas City Chiefs chairman and CEO.

The Chiefs defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 30-13 that day.

The taxpayers paid for Parson's mileage, but it was a lobbyist for he Kansas City Chiefs who paid for Parson's game tickets, according to Missouri Ethics Commission documents.

Parson received two tickets, worth $500, to the game from Chiefs lobbyist Richard M. AuBuchon, the lobbyist report indicates.

The Chiefs game was just one of the questionable mileage reimbursements Parson claimed, according to the audit.

Parson also received a $57 reimbursement for round trip mileage from his home in Bolivar to Branson to attend the 50th anniversary celebration for Presley's Country Jubilee, $224 to "attend a performance by the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance Friday, November 10, 2017" and "$133 for round trip mileage from Jefferson City to Branson to attend the premier of a theatrical performance on Saturday, March 2, 2018."

The audit says Parson's office did not maintain any records stating the business purposes of those events, though a "former office official" said the lieutenant governor was invited to attend all of them.

In his response to the audit, Parson said his attendance at the Chiefs games and the two Branson events were part of his job of promoting tourism.

He was at Arrowhead Stadium to meet with Clark Hunt and local business leaders "in order to promote tourism," Parson wrote.

"The lieutenant governor had his own tickets as part of his personally owned season ticket package and attended the Kansas City Chiefs game held at Arrowhead Stadium subsequent to the aforementioned meeting."

Parson's response made no reference to the $500 gift from the Chiefs lobbyist.

The tourism response also covered the two Branson trips. About the Presleys' 50th anniversary celebration, Parson wrote, "The purpose of this travl was to recognize the Presley family for the work they do to support tourism in Missouri. In fact, the Lieutenant Governor presented a proclamation at this event..."

Parson said the other Branson trip noted by the auditor was to attend Billy Yates' opening night event to launch his Branson show.

"It should go without saying that Branson is one of the nation's top tourist destinations and an important part of Missouri's tourism industry. The aforementioned travel was directly related to the role of the Lieutenant Governor in promoting tourism in Missouri.

The report questioned Parson's use of his personal vehicle for the trips when "other travel options were more cost-effective."

The audit also questioned some of Parson's claims for reimbursement for travel from his Bolivar residence.

Of 83 trips that began and/or ended at his residence, the Lieutenant Governor received additional mileage reimbursements totaling $584 for 20 trips where the mileage to and/or from his residence was higher than the mileage to and/or from Jefferson City. The office maintained no documentation justifying the business necessity for reimbursing the additional mileage to and/or from the Lieutenant Governor's residence. 

The auditor's news release indicated the following concerns were found in Parson's operation of the lieutenant governor's office:

The Lieutenant Governor's office, which had five to six full-time employees during the audit period, purchased two vehicles in late 2017 and early 2018, at an approximate cost of $33,000. The report indicated the office did not prepare documentation justifying the purchase of the vehicles, and the need for the vehicles was questionable because they were infrequently used. The office also did not maintain complete usage logs for the vehicles, one of which was sold after June 1, 2018.

The audit found that payroll and timekeeping procedures were not adequate. In one case, an intern was paid $2,330 without timesheets to support the hours worked. The audit also found the office did not perform criminal background screenings on all employees, prepare employee job descriptions for some employees, or promptly remove state computer user accounts for terminated employees.

In addition, the Lieutenant Governor's office purchased several items through employee reimbursements, rather than the normal purchasing process or state-issued purchasing cards. In one instance, an employee was reimbursed $525 twice for the same item purchased. After audit staff discussed this issue with office personnel, the former employee reimbursed the state for the overpayment.

The complete audit can be found here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Federal grand jury indicts Diamond man on child pornography charges

A federal grand jury indicted a Diamond man today on charges of sending and receiving child pornography.

The indictment indicates Larry James Lyle, 69, a former Joplin resident, allegedly committed the crimes January 15 in Newton County.

Carthage R-9 Board accepts two teacher resignations, four teachers hired

(From the Carthage R-9 School District)

The Carthage R-9 Board of Education met in regular session on Monday, July 15, 2019, 6 pm, at the Early Childhood Center. Present were Board members Jeff Jones, Lee Elliff Pound, Niki Cloud, Tony Diggs, Elizabeth Streich, Bill Lasley, and Wayne Jones.

The Board approved the consent agenda for the purpose of approving the meeting agenda, minutes of previous meeting, payment of bills, monthly financial reports, Citizenship Policy, Avilla School District tuition rate, date for annual tax rate hearing, and a revised policy and regulation.

Gregg Wolf, Assistant Superintendent for Business, provided an evaluative report on Food Services. The total number of breakfasts served increased from 221,975 in 2017-18 to 227,892 in 2018-19 and the total lunches served increased from 417,778 in 2017-18 to 418,528 in 2018-19.

Breakfast participation in the high school almost doubled from the previous year with the implementation of the Breakfast After the Bell program contributing to the increase.

All food service personnel receive annual sanitation training and professional development opportunities.

Jeff Fries, Transportation Director, provided an evaluative report on Transportation. The district received its 17th consecutive Fleet Excellence Award from the Missouri State Highway Patrol for exemplary bus inspections earning a 94.7% inspection rating in 2019.

New flashing lights installed on the front and back of each bus have been very effective in alerting other drivers students are loading and unloading. Four minor accidents related to driver error were reviewed by the Safety Review Team in 2018-19. Additional training on distracted driving and driving/parking in parking lots will be provided to all bus drivers before the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.

Mrs. Elliff Pound provided an update on Carthage R-9 School Foundation activities. The Foundation is hosting the annual Tiger Pride Run being held at Haffner Stadium on Saturday, September 7th . Participants and corporate sponsors are being sought.

Revised policies were distributed for review. Final drafts will be considered for adoption at the August 19, 2019, regular meeting of the Board.

Dr. Baker updated the Board with the following items:

 Governor Parson signed a bill into law pushing back the earliest possible start date for public schools from 10 days before the first Monday in September to 14 days before the first Monday in September. This change will not take effect until the fall of 2020. August 24 is the earliest start date starting in 2020.

 New Teacher Academy will begin August 5, with 57 teachers scheduled to participate.

 The 2019-20 school year will begin August 15, 2019.

 In closed session, the Board approved the following personnel actions:

Resignations/Release from Contract 

Certified Staff (Release 2019-20 Contract) 

Samantha Kibel- Language Arts Junior High
Patricia Woods,-Special Education High School

Employment (effective for the 2019-20 school year) 

Certified Staff 

Chelsea Beaver- Math Junior High
Elizabeth Persons- EL Steadley
Sarah Weston- EL Junior High
Rachelle Schrader- Virtual Learning North Tech Center

Support Staff 

Krystal Golay- Secretary/Counselors High School
Lauren Hill- College & Career Case Mgr. (Part Time) North Tech Center
Samuel Hilton- Summer Maintenance
Dayzah Kelly- Paraprofessional Steadley
April Knell- Paraprofessional Steadley
Bridget Sparlin- Admin. Asst. Athletic Dir/A+ Coord. High School
Abigail Thomas- Testing Coord/Admin. Asst. (Part Time) North Tech Center
Aron Yeakey- Summer Maintenance Transfers/Reassignments
Carolyn Clayton- Paraprofessional Mark Twain (formerly Columbian Elementary)
Carmen Feliciano Administrative Asst. EL Directors (formerly Fairview-Secretary)
Michele Joyce Special Education Junior High (formerly CIC-Special Education
Jared Patrick Assistant Principal (2019-2020) High School (formerly Tech Center-Asst. Director) Assistant Principal (2020-2021) Junior High/Sixth Grade Center
Gage Tiller Assistant Director Tech Center (formerly Tech Center-Business)

Parson executive order creates task force to curb rising health care costs

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

Today, Governor Mike Parson signed Executive Order 19-13, creating the Missouri Health Insurance Innovation Task Force. The Governor’s action aims to curb rising healthcare premiums and increase access and competition in health insurance markets for all Missourians.

It is imperative that the State of Missouri develop comprehensive and innovative ways to transform the health insurance market in order to meet the needs of all citizens of our state.

“Missouri knows best when it comes to taking care of our citizens, not Washington, D.C.,” Governor Parson said. “Our health insurance market is not competitive, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ federal solution that addresses every issue of healthcare access and the rising cost of insurance premiums for Missourians.”

In March 2010, Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, resulting in a single federal government approach to health insurance market problems across the country. Since 2011, Missourians have been faced with health insurance coverage premiums that have nearly tripled on the individual market.

“The health and financial well-being of all Missourians is critically important to our state’s economy,” Governor Parson said. “Healthy citizens contribute to increased workplace productivity, which is essential to Missouri remaining competitive in national and global markets.”

The Task Force is challenged to develop concepts that will improve access to affordable insurance options and healthcare services within the state while reducing the state’s uninsured rates, with an emphasis on increasing access to healthcare in rural areas of the state. Currently, 101 counties in Missouri have only one insurance carrier offering health insurance plans in the individual market.

The Governor is focused on developing innovative concepts to empower consumer-driven healthcare and identify ways to incentivize health carriers to enter or expand service areas in Missouri, with an emphasis on increasing the number of health carriers actively marketing in rural areas of the state.

The purpose of the Missouri Health Insurance Innovation Task Force is to identify and develop concepts that will result in significant innovation in the Missouri health insurance market. These concepts may be used to develop an innovation waiver application under Section 1332 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (42 U.S.C. Section 18052), as amended.

No later than January 31, 2020, the Chair shall submit a report to the Governor specifying the Task Force’s recommended course or courses of action to obtain a Section 1332 waiver.

To view Executive Order 19-13, click here.

10-year-old Troy Onstott encounters obstacles in recovery process, works to overcome them

Ten-year-old Troy Onstott, son of T. J. and Jill Onstott, Lamar, has many obstacles to face as he recovers at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City following a UTV accident.

His mother continues to movingly tell the story in her latest Facebook post:

Today was far from easy. It was hard. And there were tears. 

I can’t imagine the pain and frustration when your body just won’t cooperate. Well...

“nothing worth having comes easy”

And Troyboy, your dad is right there with you every step of the way, holding your head up when it gets too heavy to carry alone. He does not miss a thing, not a single moment. Just reach out, he’s there buddy.

[And when life gets too heavy to carry alone, God is there every step of the way. He won’t miss a thing, not a single moment. All you have to do is reach out to him]

-Troy no longer needs a medical team, today he graduated to the Rehab floor! 

-He just learned to swallow yesterday. And today, he spoon fed himself applesauce. And then TJ and I cried.  Seriously, like babies. What is this kid doing to us? Crying over APPLESAUCE!!!  That’s just one step closer to removing that tube.

One of my best friends shared something with me tonight that was sent to her from a mom who went through something similar and this is something she read that helped her.

Prayer for Perseverance - 

I am tired.
Ironically, it is in my exhaustion that I find strength I did not know I had. When I am bent so far I think I will snap in two, I have no where else to turn but up. I see my God - the One who whispers
“Be strong & courageous for I am with you".
Joshua 1:9

He does not promise ease; however, He does promise life. And it is this chapter of my life that has changed me. With new eyes, I see the things that matter. And so - I push forward. I do the hard things. Even if I cannot count it all easy. I can count it all joy.

God - you know our hearts are wide open and you know our needs. I pray that Troy can find trust in his right side and the strength to use it. Please help his brain to find that new connection to take that next step. Thank you for the daily miracles you continue to show us and Lord thank you for staying with us every minute of the day. We love you!


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Turner signing Saturday at the Book Guy

I will be at The Book Guy, 708 E. 15th Street, Joplin 10 a.m. to 12 noon signing copies of my books (and hopefully, selling a few of them).

The signing is part of The Book Guy's gigantic two-day ninth anniversary sale.

The sale begins when the doors open 10 a.m. Friday and will start again at 9 a.m. Saturday.

You can buy any used book in the store and get another one free.

An outdoor tent will be set up in which you can fill up a bag with books for only $5.

I will have my most recent books, Lost Angels: The Murders of Rowan Ford and Doug Ringler and Newton County Memories, as well as the Joplin Tornado books, available.

I am having a $5 special on several of my books for anyone who has been one of my students, teaching colleagues, co-workers or who worked or has worked in the Joplin or Diamond school districts, or the parents of any of my former students.

The special also extends to anyone who has worked for me and with me during my newspaper years, anyone who played baseball with me, was coached by me or who played in a game I umpired.

The special will include the following books

--Let Teachers Teach

-Classroom Confidential

-No Child Left Alive

-Scars from the Tornado

-Small Town News

-Devil's Messenger

-Sports Talk Memories

-Newspaper Days

-The Turner Report

See you there.