Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Search for new Missouri commissioner of education begins today

(From the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education)

The State Board of Education outlined the application and nomination process for selecting the next commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education during its September board meeting.

The board will accept applications and nominations today, Sept. 19, through 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018.

For official application and nomination materials, please visit the following website:

For additional information regarding the selection process, potential applicants may contact the department at 573-751-3563 or

MIssouri unemployment rate remains at 18-year low

(From the Missouri Department of Economic Development)

Missouri’s unemployment rate edged down another tenth of a point to 3.3 percent in August, while nonfarm payroll employment in the state grew by 1,000 jobs. The monthly increase in private-sector employment was 2,700.

This is down 0.3 percent over the past year, and the last time the state’s unemployment rate was lower than 3.3 percent was in February 2000. Missouri’s rate has been lower than the comparable U.S. rate, currently 3.9 percent, for 40 consecutive months.

August nonfarm payroll employment in Missouri was 1,000 jobs higher than the revised July level. Jobs in the private sector increased by 2,700 over the month.

Industries with job growth included Professional and Business Services (+4,000), Financial Activities (+1,100), and Leisure and Hospitality (+1,100). These gains were partly offset by job decreases in Trade, Transportation and Utilities (-1,800); Manufacturing (-1,500); and Local Government (-1,600).

Over the past year, Missouri payroll employment has grown by 35,300 (+1.2 percent). Most industry groups experienced employment growth over that period. The largest increases were in Professional and Business Services (+13,700, 3.6 percent); Private Education and Health Services (+12,100, 2.6 percent); and Leisure and Hospitality (+6,300, 2.1 percent).

Ron Richard: Term limits are there for a reason

As he completes his final session in the State Senate, Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, speaks in the accompanying video about how fortunate he was to be able to spend 12 of his 16 years in the legislature in leadership positions.

The term-limited Richard also notes, "Term limits are there for a reason," adding that they provide new blood to the legislature.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Galena man sentenced to life in prison for multiple child sex crimes

(From Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt)

A Galena man was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility for parole for 25 years for multiple child sex crimes, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

Timothy Russell Frobish, 28, was found guilty by a Cherokee County jury in January 2015 of two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, one count of attempted rape, one count of criminal threat, three counts of endangering a child, one count of possession of a synthetic cannabinoid and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.

 Three of the counts are subject to Jessica’s Law, which carries a possible penalty of life with no parole eligibility for 25 years.

Judge Oliver Lynch today sentenced Frobish to life in prison to be served in the Kansas Department of Corrections. Frobish is also subject to lifetime post-release supervision and electronic monitoring. The crimes occurred in February 2013.

The case was investigated by the Galena Police Department and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Assistant Attorney General Lyndzie Carter of Schmidt’s office prosecuted the case.

Joplin Regional Airport receives $7.5 million grant to reconstruct taxiway

(From Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO)

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operation, Safety, and Security and a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, today announced that Joplin Regional Airport will be awarded a $7.5 million grant through the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

The grant will be used to reconstruct a taxiway.

“Reconstructing the taxiway will allow Joplin Regional Airport to keep up with increasing travel demand, which is great for local families and businesses,” said Blunt. “I’ve been proud to advocate for the Airport Improvement Program, which is especially important for our regional airports. I’ll continue supporting efforts to enhance passenger safety and strengthen our state’s air transportation network.”

“With the steady growth and success of our commercial service with American Airlines we have seen an impact on our airfield infrastructure,” said Joplin Regional Airport Manager Steve Stockam. “The larger commercial aircraft are great news for our customers but have taken a toll on the 25-year-old taxiway that supports our main runway. With the support of Senator Blunt, this Supplemental Funding Grant has provided a window of opportunity to address this deteriorating taxiway immediately. Reconstructing Taxiway D now will ensure we will have the infrastructure in place to support the continued growth of our commercial service as we look to add frequency and new service routes.”

The AIP program provides grant funding for infrastructure improvements at public-use airports.

For smaller airports, the grant covers a range of 90-95 percent of eligible costs.

The Blunt-backed Bipartisan Budget Act, which was signed into law in February, increased overall resources for infrastructure investments, including the AIP program.

Federal grand jury indicts Joplin man on drug trafficking, weapons charges

A federal grand jury indicted a Joplin man today on felony drug trafficking and weapons charges.

According to the indictment, James E. Davis, 43, possessed marijuana with intent to distribute, possessed firearms as a feature of a drug trafficking operation and was a convicted felon in possession of firearms.

The Joplin Police Department arrested Davis following a June 8 traffic stop, also confiscating six guns, including one with the serial number removed, 57 hydrocodone pills, scales, drug paraphernalia and just over a pound of marijuana.

At the time of his indictment, Davis was free on $20,000 bond while awaiting trial on the drug charges in Jasper County Circuit Court.

(Photo: Weapons and drugs confiscated by the Joplin Police Department when arresting James E. Davis following a June 8 traffic stop.)

Joplin City Finance Director: Why's everybody always picking on me?

During an impassioned speech at the Joplin City Council meeting Monday night, City Finance Director Leslie Haase set citizens straight about who has the most dangerous job in the city.

Haase, who pulls down an annual six-figure salary, explained why she is worth every penny.

While police officers have to deal with meth users, domestic violence encounters (sometimes involving meth users), horrific traffic accidents and situations that thankfully, most of us do not ever have to face, Leslie Haase for 20 years has confronted something far more frightening.


Haase tearfully told the Council of "rumors and inaccurate statements" that have "flourished in social media. Many have centered on me and my family."

The comments have come recently as discussions continue about the pay level for police officers and firefighters. Haase's encounter with the widow of a Joplin Police Department officer who was killed in the line of duty as the topic of a complaint sent to the City Council and City Manager Sam Anselm last week.

(Previous post: Claim in letter to Joplin City Council- Finance director tell's police officer's widow- Even your husband knew what he was coming to work for)

Haase explained a major problem she has in working for the city. "Unlike the private sector, people in the public sector always serve in the public eye."

That means that even when she is not at work, the public is still looking at her, she said, but that is all right with her.

"I willingly accept that responsibility."

That being said, Haase maintained that when a member of the public confronts her, she has the right to respond.

Then Haase followed a Joplin city officials tradition of the past few years and played the tornado card.

The city is being split apart when everyone was working together in the days and years after the May 22, 2011 natural disaster when the city had "positive notoriety."

Now that has changed, Haase said, but her approach to her job has not. "I have conducted myself with professionalism and integrity and honesty as is expected of all city employees and especially department directors.

"The same cannot be said for those comments directed at me personally."

Those who have criticized her are doing so with sinister intent, she indicated.

"It is apparent that these attacks on me and my family are calculated in nature to try to remove me from city service either voluntarily or involuntarily."

But those who are attacking her have underestimated her.

"Attempts to intimidate me will not work as I have done nothing wrong except to do my job as finance director to the best of my ability with the interests of the community at heart."

In her conclusion Haase said, "A wise woman recently told me there have to be easier jobs out there."

Perhaps she could become a police officer or a firefighter.

McCaskill praises governor, state legislature for expanding drug courts to battle opioid epidemic

(From Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-MO)

One thing is clear: the opioid epidemic has devastated too many Missouri families. But I'm not without hope.

I've seen firsthand how one addiction program changed lives and was successful in getting people the help they needed: when I was the Jackson County prosecutor in the 1990's, we implemented one of the country's very first drug courts, to redirect first-time non-violent drug offenders into supervised treatment programs -- because I know just how important it is to provide critical support like this to folks dealing with addiction.

Twenty five years later, I'm so excited that a new plan to expand access to drug courts throughout Missouri is finding champions across the political spectrum.

Drug courts focus on helping those who struggle with addiction get back on their feet -- offering Missourians who put in the effort a second chance.

From my days as Jackson County Prosecutor until now, we've seen the successes rehabilitation programs like this can bring to Missourian's lives and their communities.

And this isn't the only good news -- in 2012, we successfully launched a drug court for veterans in Jackson County, and just last month more than $1 million in new funding headed to drug courts across in Missouri.

I'm glad that these reforms have bipartisan support -- because that could mean access to drug courts for many more people across our state. And that's a huge win for Missouri.

I applaud the Governor and all those in the state legislature pushing to get this effort across the finish line to make drug courts more accessible to those who need them most.

We lose too many moms, brothers, kids, uncles and loved ones to addiction every year -- but I'm hopeful about the future because we're taking real steps to change that. But until that day comes, I promise to keep working hard to ensure Missourians across our state have access to the resources they need to fight this epidemic.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Jason Vieselmeyer hired as North Middle School assistant principal

During a closed session Thursday, the Joplin R-8 Board of Education hired Jason Vieselmeyer as assistant principal at North Middle School.

The district issued the following news release:

Serving Joplin Schools for seventeen years, Mr. Jason Vieselmeyer has a long history of dedication and commitment to the district and community. With an eleven-year tenure as the North physical education teacher, Vieselmeyer is ready to serve as assistant principal. 

Mr. Matt Harding, North Principal, stated, “Jason Vieselmeyer is a man of high integrity, character and has a great work ethic. His love for North Middle School students and staff was very evident through the interview process. Mr. Vieselmeyer has served the school district for many years, as a teacher and coach. He has held many leadership positions at North Middle School. His knowledge of North and his attention to detail will allow for a smooth transition to assistant principal for the students and staff."

Mr. Vieselmeyer began teaching in Joplin at Memorial Middle School and then to North Middle School to which he will now serve as assistant principal.

Vieselmeyer earned a bachelors degree in history education from Pittsburg State University and a masters degree in educational administration from William Woods University.

Vieselmeyer replaces Jason Riddle, who was named McKinley Elementary Principal August 28.

Riddle replaced Brian Olivera, whose sudden resignation was accepted during an August 28 closed board meeting.

Report shows more domestic violence victims could be helped if government red tape eliminated

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released a report on domestic violence shelter funding that found burdensome requirements in state law have meant an inefficient and uneven distribution of funding across Missouri.

The report found domestic violence victims are being turned away from shelters at a higher rate than the five neighboring states that provided information to the State Auditor's Office. In 2017, there were a reported 28,182 unmet requests for shelter and other services in Missouri.

“Victims of domestic violence shouldn’t be turned away because red tape is holding up shelter funding,” Auditor Galloway said. “Unfortunately, that’s happening in Missouri. A simplified and consolidated process – made possible by changes in the law – would cut down on the paperwork at the local level and make it easier to distribute funds to the shelters.”

To obtain funding collected by a city or county, domestic violence shelters must demonstrate to local officials that they meet a list of legal qualifications and also file an annual report with that local authority. Auditor Galloway said these requirements for information burden shelters, duplicating documentation already filed with the Department of Social Services and other state agencies in order to receive state and federal grant funding.

State law also does not require local authorities collecting domestic violence fees to actually distribute the funds or set a limit on the amount they can retain, in order to assure funds are being used to help Missourians in need. Auditor Galloway said there were 18 counties that did not distribute domestic violence fees in 2017; those counties had 2,679 domestic violence incidents reported last year. Lawmakers could require local authorities to distribute funds at least once a year.

There is no state agency charged with oversight of domestic violence shelter funding, so the Auditor’s Office compiled the information for the report by working with local governments and the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, a non-profit organization comprised of community-based domestic violence programs throughout the state.

The decentralized manner that Missouri uses in distributing domestic violence fees means that funds may not necessarily be utilized where there is a demand for services. The centralized model used by at least three surrounding states – Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee – allows fees to be more strategically distributed based on need, the Auditor said. A centralized registration and reporting system for shelters also would enable more consistent reporting and better oversight of domestic violence funds.

“The odds that survivors of domestic violence receive the help they need in Missouri should not depend on which counties they live,” Auditor Galloway said. “Lawmakers can streamline the process of getting money to the shelters. Let’s work together to help Missouri families.”

A copy of the report on domestic violence shelter funding is here.