Friday, December 02, 2016

Joplin R-8 Board extends contract of emergency management consultants

Crunch time has arrived for the Joplin R-8 School District as it tries to convince FEMA to approve the reimbursement of millions of dollars in "errors and omissions" from the district's building projects.

In closed session Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to extend the contract of the Witt O'Brien firm, an emergency management consultant which has worked with the district since the tornado through December 31, 2017.

The vote was closed because it concerned "legal actions involving the district," according to the minutes.

The first rejection of the "errors and omissions" request came during the July 26 board meeting, the same time it was first noted that FEMA had twice rejected requests for reimbursement for work done on East Middle School.

The district's budget and its balances have been based on the money CFO Paul Barr has indicated month after month would be headed this way.

"Errors and omissions" is a phrase that includes items that were not originally in the plans district officials submitted to FEMA, including what Barr termed in a 2014 board meeting as "might-as-well spending," which he defined as spending that takes place because the district wanted to do it at some point and it "might as well" do it now.

Barr's reference was to items that had been added at Joplin High School, including extra tennis courts, artificial turf and lighting for all fields and practice fields, and a track at the high school, all items that had not been included in the original plans.

In other closed session actions, the board approved the hiring of Melinda Moss as superintendent and approved the resignation of Kellie Blagg.

Barr told the board that no bids were received for the Washington building at 1112 E. 2nd Street.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Federal grand jury indicts Neosho man on drug charge

A federal grand jury indictment of a Neosho man was unsealed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

According to the indictment, Jacob Aaron Beckham, 31, was in possession of more than 50 grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute on May 5 in Newton County.

A detention hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, December 6, in Springfield.

Agenda posted for Monday Joplin City Council meeting

December 5, 2016
6:00 P.M., Council Chambers
Call To Order
Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America
Roll Call
Boards And Commissions Plaque Presentation For Recognition And Appreciation Of Service For Outgoing Volunteer Board Members Who Have Completed Their Terms During 2016.
Finalization Of Consent Agenda
Reports And Communications
Citizen Requests And Petitions
Public Hearings
AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2004-256, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, November 15, 2004, by removing from District R-1 and including in District C-1-PD property as described below and located 2915 East 17th Street in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri. 
AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2004-256, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, November 15, 2004, by removing from District R-1 and including in District C-1 property as described below and located 2005 South Byers Avenue in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.
AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2004-256, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, November 15, 2004, by designating the property a Historic Landmark and include in a Historic Preservation Overlay District property as described below and located 220 North Pearl Avenue in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.
AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2004-256, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, November 15, 2004, by designating the property a Historic Landmark and include in a Historic Preservation Overlay District property as described below and located 721 North Sergeant Avenue in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.
AN ORDINANCE approving the voluntary annexation by the City of Joplin of property located Approximately 110 acres lying west of Central City Road and South of 20th Street, Jasper County, Missouri.
AN ORDINANCE approving the voluntary annexation by the City of Joplin of property located 1.6 miles west of the intersection of 20th Street and Central City Road, Jasper County, Missouri.
AN ORDINANCE approving the voluntary annexation by the City of Joplin of property located 1.5 miles west of the intersection of 20th Street and Central City Road, Jasper County, Missouri.
AN ORDINANCE approving the voluntary annexation by the City of Joplin of property located 1983 South State Line Road, Jasper County, Missouri.
Consent Agenda
Minutes Of The November 21, 2016 Joplin City Council Meeting
 AN ORDINANCE approving a plan for an industrial development project consisting of the acquisition, construction, improvement and equipping of a frozen foods manufacturing facility; authorizing the city of Joplin, Missouri to issue its taxable industrial development revenue bonds in a principal amount not to exceed $44,250,000 to finance the costs of such project; authorizing and approving certain documents; and authorizing certain other actions in connection with the issuance of the bonds.
AN ORDINANCE approval of License Agreement by and between the City of Joplin and Alpha Air Center, LLC to conduct an Airshow at the Joplin Regional Airport.
AN ORDINANCE adopting the 2016 City of Joplin Historic Preservation Plan Update.
Ordinances - Emergency
AN ORDINANCE approving a purchase order to Armor Equipment in the amount of One Hundred Eighty Three Thousand, Eight Hundred and Four and no/100 Dollars ($183,804.00) in the City of Joplin, Missouri; providing how the cost shall be made and levied, and containing an emergency clause;
AN ORDINANCE approving the contract with Bennett Inc. in the amount of Two Hundred Forty-Seven Thousand Nine Hundred Sixty-Five and no/100 Dollars ($247,965.00) for the Ditch Improvements on Euclid Avenue from Rolla to Odessa Avenues in the City of Joplin, Missouri; and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE approving the contract with Ozark Nursery of Joplin in the amount of Twenty-Eight Thousand Nine Hundred Eighty and no/100 Dollars ($28,980.00) for Tree Planting on East 15th Street in the City of Joplin, Missouri; and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE approving an Agreement with Burns & McDonnell Engineering Co, Inc. in the not to exceed amount of One Hundred Fifty-One Thousand Four Hundred DOLLARS and 00/100 ($151,400.00) for Professional Engineering Consulting Services for the Operational Assessment of the Filmore Bridge & Tin Cup Lift Stations project and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE approving the City of Joplin to execute Amendment No. 8 to the Professional Services Agreement with Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP to provide implementation and administrative activities, not to exceed Four Hundred Nineteen Thousand Dollars ($419,000.00) and authorizing the Director of Planning, Development and Neighborhood Services to execute said Agreement; and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE approving the City of Joplin to execute Work Authorization Number 6 to the Master Services Agreement for Professional Administrative Consulting Services with Deloitte & Touche LLP to provide implementation and administrative activities, not to exceed Two Million, One Hundred Sixty Two Thousand Dollars ($2,162,000.00) and authorizing the City Manager or his designee the Director of Planning, Development and Neighborhood Services to execute said Agreement; and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE adopting and establishing the pay rates for the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year for certain Unclassified Council Employees; and containing an emergency clause.
Ordinances - First Reading
AN ORDINANCE approving an Agreement by and between the City of Joplin, Missouri, and
Heartland Pet Food Manufacturing, Inc.; and, authorizing the City Manager or his designee the Director of Planning, Development, and Neighborhood Services to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin, Missouri. 
AN ORDINANCE Approval of the job description of Assistant Wastewater Superintendent for the City of Joplin.
Ordinances - Second Reading And Third Reading
Unfinished Business
New Business
Closed Session
Vote to go into closed session, which shall pertain to leasing, purchasing or sale of real  estate by a public governmental body where public knowledge of the transaction might adversely affect the legal consideration therefore; and which shall pertain to the hiring, firing, disciplining, or promotion of an employee or particular employees of a governmental body involving personal information; more specifically for the purpose of evaluating certain Council employees; as set forth in Section 610.021(2) (3) RSMo, as amended, 2015. This meeting, record, and vote to be closed to the extent provided by law. The City Council shall adjourn at the end of the session. 

5:41, KC Star book, Silver Lining top Amazon Joplin Tornado rankings

When my book signing takes place 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Changing Hands Book Shoppe in Joplin, two of the books I will be signing were ranked among the top three non-fiction books about the Joplin Tornado on the Amazon charts as of Wednesday morning.

5:41; Stories of the Joplin Tornado, which I wrote with Carthage Press Managing Editor John Hacker, was at the top of the list, while Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption, and the Joplin Tornado was third.

Those two books and the second-ranked book, the Kansas City Star's Joplin 5:41, were the only Joplin Tornado non-fiction books to crack the top million.

The best selling book about the tornado, as it has been for months, is the fictional I Survived the Joplin Tornado by Lauren Tarshis.


1. 5:41: Randy Turner and John Hacker 162,740
2. Joplin 5:41: Kansas City Star 761,133
3. Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud, Randy Turner 983,163
4. 32 Minutes in May, Joplin Globe 1,005,266
5. Lily: A True Story of Courage and the Joplin Tornado 1,714,085
6. When the Sirens Were Silent, Mike Smith 1,920,713
7. Miracle of the Human Spirit, Mark Rohr 2,246,847
8. Life After the Storm,   Fleitman 2,583,400
9. Hindsight: Lessons Learned from the Joplin Tornado Zac Rantz and Stephen Kleinsmith 2,609,207
10. Singing Over Me, Danielle Stammer 2,665,610
11. Using Social Media in Disaster Recovery, David Burton, Genevieve Williams, Rebecca Williams 3,212,089
12. Spirit of Hope, Randy Turner and John Hacker 3,341,453
13. Tales of the Soul: Joplin May 22 L. E. Stark
14. Joplin Tornado Survival Stories, Emily O'Keefe 3,734,085
15. 5/22: Stories of Survival, Stories of Faith, Scott Hettinger 3,989,087
16. Scars from the Tornado, Randy Turner 4,095,002
17. Joplin Tornado House of Hope, Tim Bartow 5,721,669
18. Joplin MO Tornado of May 22, 2011, David Prevatt and William Coulbourne 5,721,669
19. Mayday in Joplin, Donald Clugston 8,181,290


1. I Survived the Joplin Tornado, Lauren Tarshis 2,714
2. Simple Pleasures, Kenna White 1,127,639
3. Tornado Warning: The Extraordinary Women of Joplin, Tamara Hart Heiner 2,588,133
4. Shatterproof, Katrina Hoover 2,852,922
5. When the Storm Passes, Julie Jett 2,925,407
6. Out of the Wind, D. Ed Hoggatt 4,110,843
7. 20th and Rangeline, Joplin MO, Thomas Meisinger 6,009,940


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Moss contract forbids Huff-like speaking tours

The double dipping speaking tours of the C. J Huff era will not be repeated with newly hired Joplin R-8 Superintendent Melinda Moss.

Moss' contract stipulates that being superintendent is a full time job and should be treated as such:

The superintendent agrees to devote his or her full time, skill, labor, and attention to serving as a superintendent in the district during the term of this contract, and will not engage in any pursuit that interferes with the proper discharge of his or her administrative duties.

The superintendent may not undertake consultation work, speaking engagements, writing, teaching a college or university course, lecturing, or other professional duties and obligations without prior approval from the Board. The Board will grant approval so long as such other work would not, in the Board's opinion, interfere in a material and/or substantial way with the superintendent's obligations set forth in this contract.

While the board would likely grant approval within reason, the contract should serve to prevent a repeat of C. J. Huff's "How I Saved Joplin" speaking tour, which took Huff away from Joplin for weeks at a time, with most of them taking place during the work week. Huff was paid for some of the speeches, with the Washington Speakers Bureau indicating he charged $8,000 plus travel expenses for a speech, while others were to promote Bright Futures USA, which was not a Joplin R-8 organization.

From the September 10, 2014 Turner Report:

For the first time board members are checking to see if these trips are being taken on vacation or off time or if they are being done at times when Huff and Vann are supposed to be working for the taxpayers.

Information has been provided to state auditors that claims Vann has created two calendars, one for the public and the media and the other to help Huff keep track of his various outside speaking engagements and activities that are taking place to aid the expansion of Bright Futures USA.

That separation also seems to be designed to keep Board of Education members blissfully unaware of the extent of non-school business, seemingly designed to build C. J. Huff's brand name, conducted on the taxpayers' dime.

A partial list of C. J. Huff's 2014 activities is printed below:

Thursday, Jan. 23- Wisconsin Association of School Boards

Thursday, Feb. 20- Columbia- An Evening With C. J. Huff- Council of PTAs

Tuesday, June 3- Bright Futures USA training session for Hazelwood Bright Futures

Monday,July 14, -Wednesday, July 16- National School Public Relations Association, Baltimore, Maryland. (panel discussion)

Thursday, July 17- Bright Futures USA presentation in Beaufort County, North Carolina

Tuesday, July 22 Tenth Annual Arkansas Safe Schools Conference, North Little Rock

Monday, August 11- Bright Futures USA morning speech in Pea Ridge, Arkansas

Friday, September 5- Mid-morning speech at Kansas City Rotary Convention


Thursday, September 25, Friday, September 26- Speeches in Chicago, Illinois

Monday, October 13, Tuesday, October 14- Bright Futures USA Conference, Missouri Southern State University, Joplin

Tuesday,November 18- Saskatchewan School Boards Association

And that was just a partial list.

The Moss contract calls for the following:

-$180,000 a year salary, with increases for the 2018-2019 school year and the 2019-2020 school year equal to the percentage raise received by teachers.

-Insurance coverage, sick leave, personal leave, and holidays will be the same as the benefits for other professional employees in the district.

-a $450 a month transportation allowance

-$100 a month mobile data/telephone allowance

-10 days paid vacation this year and 20 days thereafter

-Moss must live within the district, though she has six months to relocate following her July 1 starting date.

(Photo: Melinda Moss addresses the board and the audience shortly after her introduction as the new Joplin R-8 superintendent tonight.)

Joplin R-8 official release on hiring of Melinda Moss

(From Joplin Schools)

The Joplin Board of Education is pleased to announce that they have voted unanimously at the Board of Education meeting on Nov. 29, 2016, to hire Dr. Melinda Moss as the next Superintendent of Joplin Schools.

Dr. Moss will begin her new post on at the end of the school year, as Joplin’s new Superintendent. She currently holds the position of Superintendent of Schools for Harrison School District, Harrison, Arkansas. Dr. Moss has been with the Harrison School District since 2007 and has been their Superintendent since 2010. She has experience as a superintendent, assistant superintendent, building administrator, teacher, and counselor. Dr. Moss received her Doctorate from Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri and her Master’s Degree from Southwest Missouri State in Springfield, Missouri. She has a BSBA in Finance and Banking from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR.

The hiring of Dr. Moss follows a search by the district that included input from the community, administrators, teachers, students, and staff. The initial step of the process was a community survey and input from focus groups. Utilizing the results of the survey, the Board identified the next Superintendent’s qualities and characteristics. The School Board, with the assistance of a national search firm, Ray and Associates, reviewed applications, supporting documentation and videos, and conducted hours of interviews. Extensive background and reference checks were also completed during the hiring process.

Contract terms for Dr. Moss include a three year contract with a base salary of $180,000. This is a competitive contract commensurate with the duties and responsibilities, as well as the expectations of this Board and community. Board

President Jeff Koch stated, “Dr. Moss was the unanimous choice of the Board and we are pleased to welcome Dr. Moss to Joplin Schools and our community as our next superintendent. We are excited for the future and know our schools and students will be in great hands.“

The Board wishes to thank the members of the community for their valuable input. A lot of insight was gathered from the community surveys and focus groups. Hiring a Superintendent is one of the most important jobs placed upon the Board of Education. Partnering with the community was vital to the process for selecting our next Superintendent.

Harrison Superintendent Melinda Moss to lead Joplin R-8

In a 7-0 vote taken in a closed session before tonight's regular meeting, the Joplin R-8 Board of Education hired Harrison, Arkansas Superintendent Melinda Moss as superintendent.

Moss accepted a three-year contract, which calls for her to make $180,000 the first year and at least the same salary for the following two years.

The contract stipulates that Moss will receive increases equal to the percentage of increases given to full-time teachers during the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years.

Moss will officially take the reins on July 1, but she is hopeful that she will be working in Joplin well before that.

"It depends on my current district," Moss said. The arrangements are likely to be discussed Wednesday during a special meeting of the Harrison Board of Education.

Beginning earlier, she said, would "give (Interim Superintendent) Dr. (Norm) Ridder and I time to work on the transition."

Moss praised the groundwork that has been laid by the R-8 Board and Ridder in approving a strategic plan that covers what she says are the three common characteristics of a successful district- "children are safe, children are learning, and the district is fiscally responsible."

Moss says her first step in getting to know the school district and the community is a simple one.

"I'm going to do a lot of listening. Dr. Ridder has sown the seeds and we're really ready to take off."

Moss has been superintendent at Harrison since 2007. The job was a homecoming for the veteran educator who was attended Harrison schools from her seventh grade year through high school graduation.

During her nine and a half years at Harrison, she has helped establish a reputation for academic excellence, including consistently high test scores, a track record that appealed to the R-8 Board as it works toward reversing a decade of consistently decreasing test scores that began with the arrival of C. J. Huff for the 2007-2008 school year.

Board member Debbie Fort praised the work done by Ray and Associates, the search firm that brought in 47 applicants, including Moss and the other finalist, former Bartlesville and Neosho superintendent Gary Quinn.

Ray and Associates, coincidentally, was the firm that conducted the search for the Lindbergh School District that lured former Superintendent Jim Simpson from Joplin.

(Photo: Melinda Moss is interviewed by KZRG's Joe Lancello.)

Graves: I need your input on tax reform

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

Voters sent a message to Washington and elected officials from across the country on November 8. They gave Republicans control of both Houses in Congress and the White House for the first time in a decade.

With that message comes a mandate, a mandate that we replace Obamacare, revitalize the economy, and continue working to shrink annual deficits. Something that goes with each of those principles, and one of the things I am most hopeful to accomplish with a Republican in the White House, is comprehensive tax reform.

Everyone in this country knows that our tax code is time consuming and complex. But small business owners and their employees feel the brunt of this confusion the most. As a farmer, I can’t even begin to count the hours my family spent on compliance. I wish we had that time back to work on the farm.

Our tax code was last reformed over three decades ago. Since then, so much about the way American businesses operate in the U.S. and across the world has changed. An outdated, complex tax code puts our job creators at a disadvantage and hurts the bottom line of every family in this country.

We need a tax code designed for the 21st century - not the 1980s. That’s why tax reform that closes loopholes for special interests, eliminates unfair deductions for specific industries, and removes the IRS’ ability to operate on purely political reasons will be one of my top focuses in the next Congress.

But it’s more than just promises and talking points - a revitalized tax code means something for everyone in the United States. It means businesses can focus on prosperity - not compliance and red tape. It means individuals can complete their taxes alone every year without fear of an audit. And it means our GDP will grow when businesses make decisions based on economics instead of arbitrary guidelines set by the IRS.

But politics is one of the things that has held back tax reform - that’s why it’s so important that everyone is involved in this process, and that real tax reform is completed in the most responsible, fair and transparent manner possible. As such, I encourage you to submit all of your thoughts and ideas on tax reform to a new website I created for this purpose. Find the link for that site here.

Watch the Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting live at 7 p.m.

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