Thursday, June 30, 2011

Faith leaders present letters at Rep. Akin's office

Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo. wasn't there when faith leaders came to his office to deliver a letter of protest about Akin's comment indicating that liberals were anti-God.

Richard tops Senate Republicans in lobbyists' gifts for May

Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, received more lobbyists' gifts than any Republican senator during the final month of the legislative session, according to documents posted moments ago on the Missouri Ethics Commission website.

Richard received $473.10 in gifts, trailing only Democrats Shalonn Curls of St. Louis, who left everyone in the dust with $887.16, and Tim Green, Florissant, who received $598.21.

Richard's total included a $179.53 meal from lobbyist Chris Liese, representing Missouri Finance Institue, on May 4, and a $162.25 meal from Liese, this time representing the Missouri Association of Insurance Agents, on May 12.

For the year, Richard has received $1,917.37 worth of lobbyists' gifts.

The Turner Report Hall of Shame for the first five months of 2011 will be printed later.

Ron Richard: A big thank you from Joplin

(From Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin)

July 4th is a special day to my family and our community. We have always celebrated our nation’s independence with family and friends. Hamburgers and homemade ice cream are on our menu. Everyone brings a lawn chair, cold drinks, sparklers and night fireworks.

This year, on July 4th, we will once again gather our family together to honor our nation and give thanks for our freedom. But in Joplin, we will hold our families and friends closer than we ever have as we also celebrate and give thanks for the survivors of our town’s devastating tornado of May 22nd. We will bow our heads in remembrance of the 158 people who died as a result of this terrible tragedy.

As the sun rose the day after the tornado, the magnitude of the damage brought us all to our knees as we saw our homes, businesses, schools and churches in rubble. Damages to Joplin are approaching $3 billion. Our schools have damages totaling over $150 million, 7,500 homes have been destroyed and 5,000 jobs have been affected. Our task to rebuild is almost overwhelming. The clean-up progress and the rebuilding process are well on their way.

As a citizen of Joplin and Missouri State Senator for the 32nd District, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has helped us during this difficult time. We are all indebted to the volunteers here and across the country who have worked tirelessly to help us. We are grateful for all the financial assistance from around the world. Children have raised money selling lemonade and thousands of church groups have come in to help. Individual volunteers and organizations from communities have touched our hearts with their unselfish acts of kindness.

This disaster has impacted hundreds of thousands of individuals — not only in the Joplin area, but across Missouri and its neighboring states — and many are continuing to reach out and provide the help and support so many people need. Most recently, I was appointed as the chair of the Senate Interim Committee on Natural Disaster Recovery. In this capacity, I will work with my fellow senators to examine the state’s response to natural disasters, specifically relating to how our state responds in the areas of emergency, fiscal responsibility and insurance. I am also dedicated to making sure the committee focuses on job creation, and how we can work to get those in areas affected by disasters back to work. Natural disasters throughout the state have impacted many communities, and we want to ensure that the state is doing all it can to help with response and recovery efforts.

As my family gathers together this 4th of July, we will proudly fly the United States of America flag and remember those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice. We will also celebrate and give thanks for all the help and encouragement you are giving us.

God bless Joplin and God bless America.

Speaker Tilley rakes in $175,000 in oversized contributions

The last day of the quarter was a good one for Speaker of the House Steve Tilley.

Tilley, who is preparing a run for lieutenant governor next year, received $175,000 in oversized contributions- $100,000 from Missouri Leadership Committee, Farmington; and the other $75,000 from retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield.

Steelman: We need a balanced budget amendment

(In her second last-minute fundraising plea today, former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, a Republican candidate for the U. S. Senate seat currently held by Claire McCaskill, rips into McCaskill.)

While the value of our homes are falling and the cost of gas and food are rising, Senator Claire McCaskill and her bosses Harry Reid and President Obama want to raise your taxes to pay for more government spending. UNBELIEVABLE!!!

As an economist, I can tell you that the spending they are addicted to and the debt they have saddled our nation with already represent a crippling amount of economic overhead. Our economy is in the ditch because we're spending money we don't have and and can never repay. What we've seen in the last few years is a complete failure of the Keynesian economic model: We can't spend our way out of a recession.

Everyone outside of Washington recognizes that now is the time to break the cycle of borrowing and spending that threaten to leave this country in worse shape than Greece. Instead of raising taxes as the Democrats are demanding here is what we need to do: Cut. Cap. Balance.

Cut: Make immediate spending reductions in both discretionary and mandatory programs to cut the deficit in half by next year.

Cap: Federal spending has historically been at 18% of GDP: we need to cap it there, with automatic spending cuts if the cap is exceeded.

Balance: We need a Balanced Budget Amendment.

Help me take this message to Washington by contributing $25 to my campaign for U.S. Senate today at before this quarterly fundraising report is due. A $25 donation TODAY will go directly to unseating big spender Senator Claire McCaskill!

Thank you for your help!!

Separated by a torn city, stuck inside Wal-Mart

Semi filled with school materials headed for Joplin

Legislators tour Joplin tornado area

City of Joplin: Dusty conditions warrant self-monitoring, masks

(From the City of Joplin)

Summer is here and brings warmer, dryer weather. This, combined with activity to remove debris from the May 22 tornado, can result in some very dusty conditions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been monitoring the air in Joplin to find out if it contains asbestos fibers or particulate matter at levels that could pose health threats. EPA commonly performs this mission after disasters of this type.

EPA is monitoring the air in and around the tornado’s impact zone because debris collection, demolition and other cleanup activities have the potential to release asbestos fibers and increase the amount of particulate matter, or dust, in the air.

So far, asbestos has not been found in any of EPA’s air sampling. Asbestos exposure may become a potential health concern when asbestos fibers are inhaled over a long period. EPA will continue to monitor the air in Joplin for asbestos, and the public will be informed if asbestos is detected in future sampling.

Exposure to excessive levels of particulate matter can aggravate or worsen many health conditions. People with heart or lung diseases are particularly sensitive, and may experience health problems at lower levels of exposure to particulate material than the general population. So far, particulate matter levels detected by the EPA in Joplin’s air samples have generally remained lower than levels that would indicate health concerns for most people.

Health officials advise residents to be aware of their health conditions during this time. “Basically, we recommend that sensitive people with breathing difficulties not work in or around impacted areas when there are dusty and windy conditions, and should consider staying indoors when these conditions exist at their residences,” said Dan Pekarek, City Health Director. “These individuals may want to consider performing outdoor activities earlier in the day or later in the evening when dusty conditions are less likely.”

Locally dusty conditions are possible where any work is being done inside the impacted area. All people who work in the tornado impacted area should wear at least an N-95 mask as a precaution to protect themselves from particulate matter in the air. An N-100, P-100 or R-100 mask will also offer some protection against asbestos. Closely follow the instructions for wearing the respirator you choose, because if it is worn incorrectly it may provide little or no protection.

The time for term limits for teachers is now

In my latest Huffington Post blog, I express my view that it is time for teachers to have term limits:

It took me a long time to realize that my dozen years in the classroom had completed my conversion from the wide-eyed 43-year-old innocent I was when I stepped in front of my first group of middle school students to the decaying fossil, a symbol of the erosion of public schools, that I am today.

I don't know whether it should be set at eight years, or six, or maybe even four, but of one thing I am thoroughly convinced -- the time for teacher term limits is now.

Tenure, heaven forbid, the last thing this nation needs is to foist teachers upon unsuspecting children for decades then allow them to receive golden parachutes when they finally decide to call it a day.

Perhaps it was Teach for America that convinced me how absurd the current system is. What a novel concept -- six weeks of rigorous training and young, eager twenty-somethings, bathed in idealism, with the idea that they can make a difference in children's lives, find themselves in a classroom.

Of course that has to be a better system than having someone study for years to take a low-paying job (in comparison to other professionals). The old-timers also entered the teaching profession because they wanted to make a difference in children's lives, but look what it got them.

State Park Youth Corps assists with Joplin tornado cleanup

(From the Missouri Department of Natural Resources)

Members of the State Parks Youth Corps from Roaring River State Park near Cassville have been assisting this week in another type of park: Cunningham Park, a municipal park in Joplin that was heavily damaged by the May 22 tornado.

The State Parks Youth Corps, or SPYC, was created in 2010 by Gov. Jay Nixon as a jobs program for youth with the focus on assisting in Missouri state parks. Several hundred young people, ages 17-21, are working through the program in Missouri’s 85 state parks and historic sites.

In the aftermath of the devastating Joplin tornado, the Governor mobilized numerous state resources to help the area recover and rebuild. As a part of Missouri State Parks' effort to assist, SPYC members from Roaring River State Park have been helping at Cunningham Park. Beginning on Monday, June 27, the SPYC helped with cleanup at the city park by raking the area and picking up debris left by the tornado. The debris was put in bags and placed on the curb for eventual pickup.

The assistance from SPYC workers at Cunningham Park is one part of an overall effort to assist Joplin area parks. Missouri State Parks is working with Springfield-Greene County Park Board, the Missouri Park and Recreation Association and others to help rebuild municipal parks in Joplin. In addition to helping clean up the parks, the effort will include assisting with planning for rebuilding the parks and anything else necessary for the effort to succeed.

"We realize the value of parks and how important it is to have a place to relax and enjoy nature," said Bill Bryan, Missouri State Parks director, a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. "If we can assist the city of Joplin to rebuild one of these islands of nature and solitude, we will provide whatever help we can," Bryan said.

Today and Friday, the SPYC members will return to Roaring River State Park to help prepare the park for guests arriving for the Fourth of July weekend. SPYC crews will continue to assist in Joplin area parks in the future.

The effort to assist at Cunningham Park is just one part of Missouri State Parks' effort to assist the Joplin area parks. Beginning this weekend, donation boxes will be located in all Missouri state parks and historic sites. All donations collected will be used to help purchase and plant trees in Joplin area parks.

Another effort involves Missouri State Parks' participation in the Odwalla Plant-a-Tree program. The program allows people across the nation to vote where they want trees planted. Odwalla has committed $100,000 to the campaign and each vote will be equal to $1 that can be used for trees. This year, Missouri State Parks will donate the trees they receive to help Joplin area parks.

To vote to donate trees to the Joplin area parks, go to website and click on the Odwalla Plant-a-Tree program link and follow the process. If you enter the six-character code printed inside the Missouri state park system's new Welcome Kit, Odwalla will donate an extra dollar per vote. Voting will continue through Aug. 31.

"We are committed to helping the Joplin area recover and rebuild from this tornado, and assisting in the cleanup and providing trees are two ways we can help them move forward," Bryan said.

For information on Missouri state parks and to vote in the Odwalla Plant-a-Tree program, visit

Adam Wainwright talks about visit to tornado-ravaged Joplin

In the accompanying video, St. Louis Cardinals' injured ace Adam Wainwright talks about his recent visit to Joplin:

McCaskill: I need your help now

(It's the final day of the quarter and like all other candidates Sen.Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. is putting out a final call for contributions.)

This is it.

Any contributions we receive before midnight tonight will count towards my next public financial report.

In just hours, with your help, we’ll be able to show our opponents that we’ve received contributions from more than 1,000 people.

Together, we’ll prove that it will take more than Karl Rove and his cronies dumping anonymous money into radio ads to discourage people like me who want to save Medicare.

Help us reach our 1,000-contributor goal before tonight's midnight deadline by contributing $5 now.

We've already received contributions from 788 individuals. If we can get to 1,000, our strong report will send a message to our opponents and the media that we’re ready to compete.

Even if you've never made a contribution before, your support will be a big help to us as we work to reach our goal in the next few hours. Please make a contribution of $5 or more before midnight tonight.

We're so close to our goal, but time is running out. I need your help now.

Steelman: We have to stop this madness

With less than 24 hours remaining before the end of the quarter, former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman issued a last call for donors this morning:

I am running for the U.S. Senate against Senator Claire McCaskill because, like you, I am worried about the future of our country and whether our kids will have the same opportunities that we had. Senator McCaskill is President Obama’s closest ally. Like all liberals, she believes that more spending and bigger government are the solutions to every problem facing our country.

She voted for every one of the failed economic policies that has resulted in 9.1 % unemployment, higher gas and food prices, and a stalled economic recovery. McCaskill voted for the bailout, the failed stimulus, cash for clunkers, more regulations and Obamacare.

Now McCaskill says we have to raise taxes and the debt ceiling so government can spend even more. WE HAVE TO STOP THIS MADNESS!

Today is the last day of the quarter. This is an important deadline because it is a tough fight to defeat President Obama’s closest ally, Senator McCaskill. I need your help TODAY to defeat McCaskill! I need 1000 friends to contribute $100 each to raise $10,000 by midnight tonight. That will send a strong message to McCaskill to STOP THE MADNESS. I would greatly appreciate your help. I am working as hard as I can to defeat Senator McCaskill and her liberal ideas that are taking away our freedoms and driving our economy into the ditch. But I can’t do it without you.

Thank you for your support. It is Our Freedom. Our Fight!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blunt: I support the Balanced Budget Amendment

Joplin leaders announce recovery planning process

(From the City of Joplin)

Local officials announce the establishment of a planning framework and process to develop a recovery roadmap following the May 22, 2011 tornado. Community input will be a key component as officials work with citizen stakeholders to guide community recovery. The process will integrate a multi-disciplinary team of professionals and volunteers supporting recovery planning, comprehensive planning and economic development strategies.

Disasters create unique challenges and necessitate innovative and creative solutions to large, complex issues. “Working together, we can make the best of this situation. The incredible community spirit that we saw for the response will be our strength in recovery,” said Rob O’Brian, President, Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.

While final details of the recovery planning process are still being refined, representatives from Joplin, Duquesne, and Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce will visit Greensburg, Kansas to discuss long-term recovery experiences with residents and local officials that have dealt with post-disaster redevelopment, to consider if some of the strategies employed there can be successfully applied in Joplin.

“We see this as an opportunity to bring citizens, community leaders, professionals and volunteers together to utilize opportunities that result from the tragedy of a disaster,” said Troy Bolander, Planning and Community Development Manager for the City of Joplin. “We will make the Joplin area stronger, more resilient to future economic and natural events, and a more attractive place to live,”

Public involvement plays a critical role in shaping the future of a community and this process allows citizen ideas and comments to become the foundation of future decision-making. Citizen participation will help the community articulate the best way to apply federal, state, non-profit and private sector resources, which will have long-term positive impact on recovery. The public engagement process is designed to establish a systematic approach to challenging and complex issues.

“More details will be forthcoming on public meetings to get citizens involved,” said Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr. “It is very important to hear from our residents. In past planning sessions, our citizens have stepped up and voiced their ideas. We want that same effort again, but it the significance of it is magnified as we rebuild Joplin bigger and better for our community.”

Citizens are encouraged to listen to news media outlets for announcements of upcoming meetings that will begin in mid-July.

Former President Clinton announces jobs for Joplin

At a Chicago jobs summit today, former President Bill Clinton announced that jobs are coming to Joplin:

During a Clinton Global Initiative conference in Chicago, the Democrat announced that the Macon, Mo.-based outsourcing firm Onshore Technology Services plans to create 1,000 jobs in rural Missouri over the next five years with a focus on Joplin. The company trains people, including those who are underemployed or have lost manufacturing jobs, for new careers in information technology.

Clinton praised Onshore for its focus on rural America and for keeping information technology jobs, which are routinely outsourced to other countries, in the United States.

“This is a model for all of you who care about this part of our country which has consistently suffered higher unemployment and lower income gains over the last 20 or 30 years. I ask you all to keep this in mind,” he said.

Donation boxes at state parks to help plant trees in Joplin parks

(From the Missouri Department of Natural Resources)

When you visit Missouri state parks and historic sites for the Fourth of July weekend, you can do more than just have fun - you can assist your neighbors in the Joplin area with their recovery and rebuilding effort.

Donation boxes will be available in all Missouri state parks and historic sites beginning Saturday, July 2. All donations will be used to help purchase and plant trees in the Joplin area parks.

"We believe the Missouri state park system belongs to the people of this state. This is one way we can provide assistance to the people and give back to those who need us," said Bill Bryan, Missouri State Parks director, a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

The donation boxes are one part of a larger effort to assist in replacing the hundreds of trees destroyed by the recent tornado. Missouri State Parks is currently participating in the Odwalla Plant-a-Tree Program, which allows people across the nation to vote where they want trees planted. Odwalla has committed $100,000 to the campaign and each vote will be equal to $1 that can be used for trees. This year, Missouri State Parks will be donating the trees they receive to help Joplin area parks.

To vote to donate trees to the Joplin area parks, go to mostate website and click on the Odwalla Plant-a-Tree program link. It will take you through the process to vote for Missouri state parks. If you enter the six-character code printed inside the Missouri state park system's new Welcome Kit, Odwalla will donate an extra dollar per vote. Voting will continue through Aug. 31, 2011.

"As more people vote, the number of trees available to the Joplin area will increase. We encourage you to have your friends vote as well," Bryan said.

In addition to helping replace trees, Missouri State Parks is assisting the Joplin area residents by waiving all camping fees in three state parks for those displaced by the tornado in Joplin. Camping fees will be waived at Table Rock State Park near Branson, Stockton State Park near Stockton, and Roaring River State Park near Cassville. The waiver applies to all Missouri residents in the state-declared disaster counties of Jasper and Newton counties. The waiver will apply for 30 days on available campsites on a first-come, first-served basis. People requesting a fee waiver need to provide documentation from a governmental or charitable organization certifying that they have been displaced by storm damage in one of the state-declared counties.

"As you celebrate the Fourth of July weekend with your friends and family, take a moment to remember those who need your assistance. You can do so by simply making a donation in a donation box or by voting online for Missouri state parks in the Odwalla Plant-a-Tree program," Bryan said

Akin won't meet with clergymen

A hectic schedule and lack of advance notice will prevent Rep. Todd Akin, R-MO from meeting with clergymen who are delivering a letter to him today protesting his characterization of liberals as being anti-God.

The following news release was issued moments ago by Akin's office:

"Our office learned of the intention by various pastors to deliver a letter via media reports late yesterday. Unfortunately we had no request from any organization or individuals for a meeting today made to the office of Congressman Todd Akin."

The news release was in reference to an announcement Tuesday from Faith in Public Life, which is reprinted below:

Tomorrow, clergy from Congressman Todd Akin’s district near St. Louis, MO, will deliver a statement to Rep. Akin, calling on him to apologize for his attack on liberal and progressive people of faith and reminding him that “such insulting pronouncements degrade our nation’s political dialogue and are unworthy of a public servant who claims to represent the interests of all of his constituents.”

Last week, in a webcast hosted by Religious Right organization Family Research Council, Akin said “…At the heart of liberalism, really, is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God.”

Clergy including Rev. Kevin Cameron, Senior Pastor of Parkway United Church of Christ in St. Louis; Rev. Jeffrey A. Whitman, Conference Minister for the Missouri Mid-South Conference (United Church of Christ); Rev. Dale Bartels, Senior Pastor of St. John’s United Church of Christ in Chesterfield, MO; and Rev. Krista Taves, Minister of Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel in Ellisville, MO, will deliver the statement tomorrow, Wednesday, June 29 at 11:00 a.m. CDT to Rep. Akin’s St. Louis district office (301 Sovereign Ct., Ste. 201, Ballwin, MO 63011).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

KODE signs long-term agreement to remain ABC affiliate

Nexstar Broadcasting, owner of KSNF and operator of Mission Broadcasting's KODE in Joplin, issued the following news release today:

Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc. /quotes/zigman/88285/quotes/nls/nxst NXST +2.37% announced today that it has entered into a long-term agreement with the ABC Television Network for nine of its owned or operated stations. As part of the agreement, Nexstar also announced that WFXW-TV in Terre Haute, Indiana will become that market's ABC affiliate, launching as WAWV-TV on September 1, 2011. WFXW-TV's FOX network affiliation expired in June 2010 and the station continued operating as a FOX affiliate under the previous contractual terms.

Commenting on the agreement, Nexstar Broadcasting Group President and CEO, Perry A. Sook said, "We are delighted to extend, on a long-term basis, our affiliation agreements with ABC. ABC has a solid line up of primetime programming including viewer favorites such as Modern Family, Dancing with the Stars, and Grey's Anatomy; critically-acclaimed news and information series including 20/20 and Nightline; anticipated new series coming this Fall including Pan Am and Charlie's Angels; and high profile sports programming like Saturday Night Football. With our stations also producing high quality, original, local news and other exclusive local programming, we are delivering great entertainment and information to viewers and an excellent platform for marketing solutions for local and national advertisers. We are equally delighted to re-christen WFXW as WAWV-TV which stands for 'ABC for the Wabash Valley.' WAWV's ABC affiliation enables Nexstar to continue to serve the Terre Haute community and the Wabash Valley with compelling network programming as well as local news, lifestyle, sports and weather programming. Our affiliation with ABC will also dramatically increase the amount of HD programming that our local viewers will have access to on a daily basis."

John Rouse, senior vice president, Affiliate Relations for the ABC Television Network said, "We are very pleased to extend our affiliation with Nexstar in nine key markets, and to once again have an ABC affiliated station in Terre Haute. Nexstar has a proven track record for providing local viewers with outstanding programming and community service. Their strong local news presence in Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley will help strengthen ABC's footprint in the market."

The Nexstar owned ABC affiliated stations include KMID in Odessa-Midland, Texas; KSVI in Billings, Montana; WDHN in Dothan, Alabama; WJET in Erie, Pennsylvania; and KQTV in St. Joseph, Missouri. In addition to WFXW, the stations to which Nexstar provides services to include KAMC in Lubbock, Texas; WTVO in Rockford, Illinois; WUTR in Utica, New York; and KODE in Joplin, Missouri. The previous affiliation agreement for seven of the stations ended in December 2010 and the stations continued operating as ABC affiliates through short-term extensions while two of the stations' affiliation agreements expire in December 2012.

Graveside services Thursday for Joplin soldier killed in Afghanistan

(The following obituary information is taken from the Parker Mortuary website.)

Staff Sgt. Edward Fred Dixon III, age 37, of the United States Army was born Jan. 26, 1974, in Joplin, Mo., and passed away on June 18, 2011, in the Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan. He succumbed to injuries suffered while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Dixon enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1992, and later transferred over to the United States Army. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment and the 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Baumholder, Germany.

He is survived by his wife, Jana Dixon and their two children, Oliver Dixon, age 8 and Brianna Dixon, age 7; and his son, Justin Dixon, age 17 from a previous marriage.

He is the son of Edward Fred Dixon Jr. and Monica Annette Dixon and the brother of Carla Dawn Gilstrap. An older sister, Misty Dawn preceded him in death in 1973.

Graveside services will be Thursday, June 30, at 1 p.m. in Mount Hope Cemetery with full military honors.

The family request that in place of flowers, donations be made to the USO in care of

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Parker Mortuary.

Mother tells tornado story and adjusting to new rental home

Kansas basketball,football players team to help Joplin cleanup effort

City: Citizens have options to have names removed from nuisance list

(From the City of Joplin)

The City of Joplin is continuing to work with citizens regarding debris removal after the May 22 tornado devastated one-third of the city. Many residents had already cleared their lots by doing the work themselves or using volunteers or contractors to remove the loose debris. Some lots still have existing rubble piles, and the City Council passed a nuisance abatement procedure to address the 663 properties that were identified as still needing debris removed as of Friday, June 24. These addresses were listed in a Public Notice in the June 28 edition of The Joplin Globe.

Property owners can have their addresses removed from this list by completing one of the following options:

1.If your property gets cleared of loose debris by July 13th, citizens should call 417-624-0820, ext. 539 and notify the City of this action. After site verification, City officials will remove the address from this nuisance list, and there will be no special assessment against your property.

2.If you are waiting on volunteers to clear your property, and they cannot clear your property by July 13th, please sign the Right-of-Entry form. Right-of-Entry forms are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Public Works department, located on the 4th floor of Joplin City Hall, 602 South Main.

3.If you have hired a contractor to clear your lot, and they will not be able to clear it by July 13th, you may provide the City with a copy of the contract. Please present this copy to the Public Works department on the 4th floor of Joplin City Hall, 602 South Main. Or you can fax this contract to Public Works at 417-625-4738. The deadline to have the lot cleared is July 31.

Cardinals Care, media outlets contribute $300,000 for Joplin kids

The Teams Unite for Joplin fundraiser, held while the Kansas City Royals were playing at St. Louis, raised more than $200,000 from Cardinals Care and an additional $100,000 from Fox Sports Midwest and KMOX Radio:

"This was a team effort all the way around, with everyone joining in to help Joplin," said Michael Hall, Vice President of Community Relations & Cardinals Care. "Tony La Russa, Whitey Herzog and Lou Brock deserve co-MVPs for each agreeing to double their contribution to help the kids of Joplin."

Each agreed to double their auction experience contributions as Cardinals Care was able to convince three under bidders to match the winning bids on three VIP experiences.

"It is also important to recognize our Winter Warm-Up hotel partner the Hyatt Regency St. Louis, as well as Kyle McClellan, Mike Matheny, Mike Shannon, John Rooney, Al Hrabosky, Dan McLaughlin and Rick Horton for generously supporting this important effort," Hall said.

For the first time, Cardinals Care also collected donations via text message with thousands of fans texting to support the effort.

FBI investigating criminal activities at Arlington National Cemetery

The Washington Post reports an FBI investigation has led to a grand jury probe into criminal activities involving the operation of Arlington National Cemetery:

The Justice Department’s investigation significantly escalates the level of scrutiny faced by the cemetery, and the probe joins several ongoing inquiries by Congress, which last year passed a law mandating that the cemetery verify that remains are properly accounted for at every one of its 330,000 graves. The law also requires the Government Accountability Office to look into the cemetery’s contract management procedures, and whether the Army-run cemetery should be turned over to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which oversees 131 national cemeteries.

In a report released last June, the Army inspector general found widespread problems at the cemetery: a dysfunctional management system; millions wasted on information technology contracts that produced useless results; misplaced and misidentified remains; and at least four cases in which crematory urns had been dug up and dumped in a dirt pile.

As a result, the cemetery’s top officials — Superintendent John C. Metzler Jr. and Deputy Superintendent Thurman Higginbotham — were forced out, though they remained eligible for full retirement benefits. The cemetery has been under new management for a year, but officials have continued to discover burial problems, including a mass grave that held eight sets of cremated remains.

One of the Congressional investigations into Arlington National Cemetery was spearheaded by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. In the accompanying video, Sen. McCaskill is shown giving the opening statement at the committee hearing:

Clergy members to ask Akin to apologize

(From Faith in Public Life)

Tomorrow, clergy from Congressman Todd Akin’s district near St. Louis, MO, will deliver a statement to Rep. Akin, calling on him to apologize for his attack on liberal and progressive people of faith and reminding him that “such insulting pronouncements degrade our nation’s political dialogue and are unworthy of a public servant who claims to represent the interests of all of his constituents.”

Last week, in a webcast hosted by Religious Right organization Family Research Council, Akin said “…At the heart of liberalism, really, is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God.”

Clergy including Rev. Kevin Cameron, Senior Pastor of Parkway United Church of Christ in St. Louis; Rev. Jeffrey A. Whitman, Conference Minister for the Missouri Mid-South Conference (United Church of Christ); Rev. Dale Bartels, Senior Pastor of St. John’s United Church of Christ in Chesterfield, MO; and Rev. Krista Taves, Minister of Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel in Ellisville, MO, will deliver the statement tomorrow, Wednesday, June 29 at 11:00 a.m. CDT to Rep. Akin’s St. Louis district office (301 Sovereign Ct., Ste. 201, Ballwin, MO 63011).

Missouri American Water contributes $60,000 in school supplies, donations for Joplin

From PR Newswire)

This week, Missouri American Water and its employees across the state completed the company’s “New Beginnings” program, which collected over $60,000 in school supplies and donations for Joplin.

“As the water service provider for Joplin, we reached out to help local organizations with whom we’ve had long-standing partnerships: the Joplin School District, the Economic Security Corporation (the local community action agency) and the Red Cross,” said Missouri American Water President Frank Kartmann.

All Missouri American Water operations, plus American Water’s National Water Quality Laboratory in Belleville, IL and Customer Service Centers in Alton, IL and Pensacola, FL donated an estimated $25,000 in school supplies that helped the Joplin School District start summer school on time. Missouri American Water employees also worked with many other organizations who donated supplies – from local Girl Scouts to Illinois Electric to Texas Instruments – to deliver them to Joplin.

Dr. C.J. Huff, Joplin School District Superintendent said, "When you have a local company support us in this manner, it’s just humbling and overwhelming.”

Employee and company financial donations to the Joplin School District and the Economic Security Corporation totaled about $21,000.

American Water, Missouri American Water’s parent company, set up a donation website for Joplin that has collected an additional $7,500 from employees across the company. American Water is also making a $10,000 contribution.

Cleanup of Joplin tornado area continues

Nieves encourages override of governor's veto on Voter ID bill

In his latest report, Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, urges the legislature to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of SB 3, the voter ID bill. Nieves noted that it passed both chambers by wide margins, as if that is an indication that a bill is a good one.

What he fails to mention is that this is another one of those bills designed to correct evils that do not exist. Plus, it wasted more time that was supposed to be devoted to bringing jobs to Missouri.

Oh, wait, I forgot. According to Nieves' party, it is Nixon's fault that unemployment is so high. Nieves' report is printed below:

Last Friday, June 17, the governor vetoed SB 3, a voter ID measure on which many lawmakers have worked dutifully. The bill would have been a simple, efficient way to target voter fraud in our state, and I am very disappointed about the governor’s decision to veto the legislation. It doesn’t make sense to me that numerous, everyday tasks require photo identification, such as checking out a library book or renting a movie, but voters don’t need to present a government-issued, photo ID to vote. The right to vote is one of our most important liberties and it should be honored — not diluted by imposters who have the ability to alter the outcome of issues that Missourians care about.

When the governor vetoed the legislation, he stated that the photo ID requirement would “disproportionately impact senior citizens and persons with disabilities, among others, who are qualified to vote and have been lawfully voting since becoming eligible to do so, but are less likely to have a driver’s license or government-issued photo ID.” In addition, the governor declared that the bill “imposes unnecessary burdens on senior citizens and persons with disabilities, for example, who do not have a government-issued photo ID, with no guarantee that, in the end, their vote will count.” I completely disagree with the governor’s statements regarding this legislation. Allow me to explain why:

•Senate Bill 3 would have enhanced the election process by cracking down on voter fraud.
•Citizens would not have to present a photo ID until Missouri voters approved the constitutional amendment (SJR 2) allowing it – the constitutional amendment will still be voted on no later than November 2012.By vetoing the enabling language in SB 3, voters will be asked to amend the constitution without any knowledge of how that amendment would be enacted through state law. Those without a photo ID would have been allowed to cast a provisional ballot as long as their signatures match those on file with the election authority. This would have applied to:
•Missourians born before 1941.
•Physically and mentally disabled Missourians.
•Individuals unable to pay for documents needed to obtain a photo ID.
•Citizens with religious beliefs against photo IDs.
•Missourians whose license had been confiscated after an arrest or summons.

The bill received a solid rating of approval from the Legislature — the measure passed in the Senate with a vote of 26-7 on Feb. 17, and received the House’s stamp of approval with a vote of 99-52 on May 4. Given this support, I am hoping that the Legislature will vote to override this veto when the Missouri General Assembly meets for veto session in September.

Missouri Supreme Court refuses to hear Carthage teacher's appeal

The Missouri Supreme Court today announced it would not hear the appeal of former Carthage R-9 Parents as Teachers Director Lynda Homa's lawsuit against the school district.

Ms. Homa sued for reinstatement after she was fired for her alleged involvement in parent-educator Laura Davenport's visit to a jailed Guatemalan woman.

Homa, who had been with the district for 20 years and supervised the Parents as Teachers program, was dismissed Aug. 27 after a long hearing before the school board. School officials said Ms. Davenport was trying to get the woman to give her child up for adoption.

Ms. Homa said she gave permission for the visit so the woman could receive forms that needed to be signed for the child to receive state services.

Akin "apology" to liberals: I am sorry you understood exactly what I was saying

Apparently, watching one politician after another suffer for not immediately taking back a controversial statement was not enough to educate Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo.

Akin, under fire after an interview in which he pretty much said that God is a conservative and all liberals are heathens finally issued one of those statements today, in which he indicated he was sorry because people did not like what he said.

The Akin news release is printed below:

Today, Congressman Akin released the following statement regarding his interview with Tony Perkins regarding NBC’s redaction of “under God” from its broadcast of the pledge of allegiance during the U.S. Open.

“People, who know me and my family, know that we take our faith and beliefs very seriously. As Christians, we would never question the sincerity of anyone’s personal relationship with God. My statement during my radio interview was directed at the political movement, Liberalism not at any specific individual. If my statement gave a different impression, I offer my apologies.

“My point was to object to the systematic assault that attempts to remove any reference to God from the public square.

“NBC’s recent action only highlighted the continuing battle for those of us who believe that removing references to God go contrary to the Judeo-Christian heritage our nation was founded on- the belief that our inalienable rights come from God himself, and the freedom to live our lives and worship as we see fit.”

Six Joplin sisters deal with loss after tornado

Flags ordered flown at half-staff Thursday to honor fallen soldier from Joplin

Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered flags be flown at half-staff statewide on June 30 to honor the bravery and sacrifice of Staff Sgt. Edward F. Dixon III, a fallen soldier from Joplin. In addition, flags in Jasper County are to be flown at half-staff July 5-10.

Dixon, a soldier stationed with the 4th Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Baumholder, Germany, was killed Saturday in Afghanistan in a vehicle accident.

Police caution residents about fraud activity related to tornado

(From the City of Joplin)

The Joplin Police Department would like to remind citizens to be aware of and report any instances of alleged fraudulent activity related to the May 22nd EF5 tornado. Fraudulent activity surrounding a national disaster may run the gamut , from insurance and contractor fraud to identity theft and public corruption. The following are just a few of the fraudulent acts we have recently seen, or expect to see.

Disaster Officials

Always request identification from anyone identifying themselves as a “disaster official” or “disaster worker.” Some con artists pose as government officials and claim that a “processing fee” must be paid to secure disaster relief payments or loans. Others have pretended to be safety inspectors who will tell you expensive or unnecessary repairs must be done immediately.

Contractor/Debris Removal Frauds

Property owners who are hiring contractors to clear debris should make sure to:

§ Use only licensed, bonded and insured contractors

§ Make the contractor provide their identification and City License

§ Get more than one bid, if possible, to get the best possible price;

§ Ask for written estimates and/or a written contract that clearly spells out the scope of the work to be performed and the price.

§ Never pay in cash

Identity Theft

A disaster can result in the loss of your credit cards, bank checks, social security card, and driver’s license. All of those documents contain personal and financial identifying information. To prevent someone from using these documents to open up fraudulent credit card accounts in your name, or otherwise steal your financial identify, it is important to report loss of any of those documents as follows:

· Checks and debit/credit cards – your financial institution and credit card issuers.

· Driver’s license –.Missouri Department of Revenue

· Social Security Card – Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.

· Passport – U.S. Passport Agency at 202-647-0518.

If your suspect your personal information may have been compromised with the May 22nd tornado (or for any other reason) , please take the time to contact one of the three credit bureaus about the loss of your documents. Ask that your account be flagged or monitored for unauthorized activity. You may be allowed to attach a statement that explains your documents were lost in a disaster. The numbers for the credit bureaus are:

· Trans Union 1-800-680-7289

· Experian (TRW) 1-888-397-3742

· Equifax 1-800-525-6285

If you suspect unauthorized use of any of your personal and financial identification documents, alert the above contacts, and immediately contact the Joplin Police Department to make a report.

Charitable Organizations

Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including the following:

· Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.

· Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.

· Beware of organizations with copy-cat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.

· To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.

· Do not be pressured into making contributions, as reputable charities do not use such tactics.

· Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

· Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by debit or credit card, or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.

Insurance Frauds

· Fake Insurance Claims

· Inflated Insurance Claims

People can report fraud, waste, abuse or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief efforts to the Joplin Police Department 417-623-3131 or through the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hot Line toll freeat 866-720-5721.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of fraud from a person or organization soliciting funds on behalf of storm victims should contact the FBI’s offices in Springfield at 417-882-3303 or in Kansas City at 816-512-8200.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Final performance in Joplin EMS auditorium before tornado shown

The accompanying video shows the performance of the JEMS (Joplin East Middle School) Show Choir given Friday, May 20. The auditorium was destroyed two days later.

Tornado doesn't keep Joplin group from Thailand mission

Not even a tornado could stop a Joplin group from going on a mission trip to Thailand:

When the EF-5 tornado hit Joplin on May 22, Paul and Dianne Eckels say it never occurred to them that they should cancel the church's ninth mission trip to Thailand, which was just weeks away. The mile-wide tornado ripped through six miles, or one-third, of the Missouri city, killing more than 150 people and destroying more than 8,000 homes and businesses.

"My first thought was, 'who's dead and who's alive,' on the mission team," Dianne recounts. "After I found out, I talked to Doug and Cheryl in Thailand to ask them to pray for our city and church members. They said they understood if we needed to cancel our mission trip.

"Honestly, it never occurred to me to not come -- never!" the team leader exclaims.

Others on the team echo the same sentiment. Only two of the original 16 could not make the trip, and then only because their passports were blown away in the storm when their house was destroyed. Replacements did not arrive in time for them to board the plane.

Most on this team are returning volunteers and understand the value of teams like theirs in villages normally resistant to the Gospel. Meshelle Thompson, a five-time volunteer, explains the American presence often helps give credibility to local Christians and opens doors for the Thais to share more about their faith. If the team had canceled, it could have caused a "black eye" for the Thai believers.

"I'm not about to let a tornado be the reason someone gets persecuted," says Thompson, a kindergarten teacher. "If anything, my family encouraged me 10 times more than normal to go on this trip. We just felt like it was something we needed to do, it's important to share the Gospel and not miss an opportunity."

Woman nearly loses son during C section after Joplin Tornado

Stand Up For Joplin logo contest announced

(From a news release)

Calling all artists and designers! Today is the kick off for the Yakov Presents, STAND UP FOR JOPLIN logo contest. The purpose of the contest is to design a logo for the STAND UP FOR JOPLIN comedy show and fundraiser in Joplin, MO.

The winning design will be the official logo for the televised STAND UP FOR JOPLIN comedy show and will be used for television, online media, print and possibly merchandise.

A $100.00 donation in the winner's name will be made to the Joplin Schools Tornado Relief Fund. We are calling on all designers, students or anyone who has creative flair to submit your work.

The contest is open only to individuals. The contest is not open to companies, educational institutions, organizations or to groups associated with such institutions and agencies.

Initial entries must be submitted by email to and Entries must be submitted as a JPG and a scalable vector graphic in EPS format. The email must include the name, age, postal address, phone number and email address of the entrant.

Flexibility is a key requirement, including the need to resize easily and be able to use the logo in black and white or color. The final version of the logo will need to be suitable for high quality printing.

No more than 3 entries may be submitted by any one entrant. The deadline for entries is midnight on July 6, Central Daylight Time.

The STAND UP FOR JOPLIN comedy show will take place on Tuesday, July 19 at 7:00 p.m. in the Taylor Performing Arts Center.

Family that lost everything in Joplin Tornado moves into new home

Pastor finds his mother, lost in Joplin tornado

An Indiana newspaper recounts the story of a pastor's search for his Alzheimer's-afflicted mother following the May 22 Joplin tornado:

"My first thought was ... for my mother, because she lived right next to the hospital," said Thomas, senior pastor at Woodland Heights Christian Church in Crawfordsville.

"I had no clue on earth what was going on. I could see the hospital on TV, but there was nothing around it."

That image set in motion a chain of events that led to Thomas driving 514 miles from Crawfordsville to Joplin to search for his mother, 82-year-old Alice Lindsey. Because he had no information about Lindsey's whereabouts, Thomas said he and his family feared the worst.

A victim of late-stage Alzheimer's, Lindsey cannot speak, see or walk, her son said. That led family members to fear she was particularly vulnerable to the tornado's destruction -- especially because Greenbriar, Lindsey's nursing home, was flattened in the storm.

Eventually, the family found out that Alice Lindsey survived the tornado and was sent to a nearby nursing facility. But for two days, Thomas and his family did not know whether their mother was alive or dead.

Omaha teachers give to Joplin

Omaha teachers are helping Joplin with Operation Back to School.

“I actually watched a lot of coverage about the Joplin tornado. I thought if this happened to me, I'd want someone to help,” said Jane Scoles, one of two Omaha Public Schools teachers behind Operation Back to School.

She and fellow Sunny Slope Elementary School teacher Chris Schnase decided to be the help.

Working with OPS and the Omaha Education Association, the two began the collection drive that will run through July 22.

Scoles and Schnase are working through the Adopt-a-School program of the Joplin-based nonprofit Bright Futures, which works hand-in-hand with Joplin Schools.

Smithfield Foods employees contribute to Joplin tornado relief effort

(From Smithfield Foods)

Employees at Smithfield Foods and its independent operating companies in Missouri and elsewhere are lending a helping hand to the campaign aiding victims of last month's devastating tornado that killed 155 Joplin residents.

Farmland Foods, Premium Standard Farms and Murphy-Brown in Missouri, along with the Smithfield Packing Company in Virginia, are donating food, supplies and household items, particularly items needed for food preparation, to residents who lost their homes during the May 22 storm, which destroyed much of the city. Employees also are helping in the massive cleanup operation.

"Our employees said they wanted to do something to help their neighbors in Joplin because we care about our entire Missouri family," said C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods. Farmland Foods, Premium Standard Farms and Murphy-Brown employees are working with local organizations to distribute the donated items.

Farmland Foods has teamed up with Walmart to provide 500 gift cards worth $50 each to Joplin families. Farmland also donated $15,000 to the American Red Cross to support its efforts in Joplin.

Murphy-Brown has provided two pallets of supplies to Joplin families, and the company's employees cooked 1,000 pork burgers donated by the Missouri Pork Producers Association to feed emergency personnel and volunteers. Murphy-Brown also has donated $1,500 to the American Red Cross, $1,500 to the Joplin Area YMCA for its Childcare Relief Fund and $2,000 for supplies and food for volunteer work groups. Employees will help with long-term volunteer work through opportunities presented by charitable organizations they are already involved with.

Premium Standard Farms donated pork to a local grassroots organization that sent volunteers to the area to cook for residents, and volunteers from the company are planning to support further cleanup efforts.

In addition, an entire truckload of meat products donated by Smithfield Packing arrived in Joplin on Friday, June 17.

Along with the donated household items and meat products, the Smithfield companies are coordinating an effort with the Joplin YMCA to provide free daycare service to tornado victims.

"This was a terrible tragedy, but with so many Missourians pitching in to help our friends and neighbors we're confident that Joplin will come back stronger than ever," Pope added.

Liverpool Legends perform at Branson Cares benefit for Joplin

More debris removed after Joplin tornado than after 9-11

U. S. Army Corps of Engineers removes debris from property

Neosho Daily News eliminates Monday paper

Anyone who didn't carefully read the briefs on page one of Sunday's Neosho Daily News will probably be wondering why their Monday paper is so late.

The newspaper announced it was eliminating its Monday edition, "effective immediately," and offered no reason why. No quotes were featured from the editor or publisher, only a reference to breaking news being available on the Daily News website.

The following notice was placed on the website seven hours ago:

The Monday edition of the Neosho Daily News will cease publication, effective June 27.

The Daily News will continue to publish Tuesday through Friday and on Sunday morning, and utilize its website to deliver news on Monday.
Though the move is not a surprising one, a more thorough explanation and a little more notice might have been nice.

Joplin family discusses surviving tornado at St. John's

SMB Joplin Tornado Relief Fund up to $55,000

(From Southwest Missouri Bank)

Immediately following the devastating tornado that swept through Joplin on May 22, Southwest Missouri Bank (SMB) opened an account to help the Joplin community. The Tornado Relief Fund was opened with a $10,000 initial deposit from SMB, and that amount has grown to nearly $55,000. With donations coming in from Joplin and across the country, all money donated is earmarked to go to the Red Cross, and will stay in Joplin.

With one disbursement already made to the Red Cross, and another scheduled for later this week, SMB Marketing Director Peggy Fuller has been excited by the support. “We are amazed and heartened by the generosity shown by the donors to our SMB Tornado Relief Fund.”

“The account is growing every day, and we have had several large contributions,” Fuller said. “The great majority of deposits are $10 and $20, and those donations are adding up quickly. And then there are random amounts, like we see deposits of $43.27 we think that must be children bringing in piggy banks and giving to our fund. We appreciate each and every donation.”

Donations to the account are currently being accepted at any SMB location, and donations from outside of the immediate area can be sent to Southwest Missouri Bank, ATTN: Tornado Relief Fund, 4000 E. 7th St., Joplin, MO 64801. Those interested in making online donations can go directly to the local Red Cross site at

“We plan to keep the fund open indefinitely. Our communities in Joplin and Duquesne have made a strong start in the rebuilding efforts, but they will need help for many months,” Fuller added. “As long as people are continuing to be generous in their donations to tornado relief, we will have the fund available for them to use.”

Graves: Small businesses have a lot of apprehension

Adopt an Eagle program provides backpacks for Joplin students

Bright Futures' initiative to provide backpacks for all Joplin students was featured today by NBC Action News in Kansas City:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Preliminary hearing set for Kansas City man who had Joplin School District computers after tornado

A June 30 preliminary hearing has been scheduled in Kansas City for Charles C. Rice, 41, who is charged with four counts of receiving stolen property after allegedly trying to get a computer service company to unlock four Joplin R-8 School District laptops missing after the May 22 tornado.

Rice is being held on $10,000 bond, and is being represented by a public defender, according to online court records.

The laptops were missing after the May 22 tornado. Rice said he bought the computers from another man and had not been in Joplin. He gave his phone to police so they could contact the man. The phone had pictures on it that had been taken in Joplin.

Family tells Joplin tornado survival story

Animal adopt-a-thon a success

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Richard appointed chairman of Senate Interim Committee on Natural Disaster Recovery

(From a news release)

Senator Ron Richard, R-Joplin, was recently appointed by Senate Leader Robert N. Mayer, R-Dexter, as chair of the Senate Interim Committee on Natural Disaster Recovery. The committee will focus on actions the Legislature should take to best assist Missouri residents and local governments as they recover and rebuild.

“As we have seen in Joplin and so many throughout the state have experienced in their own communities, the impact of a natural disaster is overwhelming and devastating,” said Sen. Richard. “This committee will work to make sure that the state is doing everything we can to assist these individuals, organizations, and local governments, and ensure that government is not getting in the way of recovery efforts.”

The Senate Interim Committee on Natural Disaster Recovery is comprised of three subcommittees that will focus on specific areas of response and recovery. Those subcommittees are: Emergency Response, Fiscal Response and Insurance Response. Each subcommittee will work with the appropriate administrative agencies in order to make preliminary reports to Sen. Richard before the annual veto session on Sept. 14. Senator Richard will also make sure the committee’s efforts focus on getting those who are unemployed back to work, both in affected areas and throughout the state.

“There are so many aspects to recovery and rebuilding efforts — from getting employees who aren’t currently receiving a paycheck back to work, to providing those without even the most basic necessities the things they need,” said Sen. Richard. “This committee will take a comprehensive approach to the issues facing so many communities in the state.”

Joplin Humane Society holds Adopt-A-Thon


KC Star: Experts challenge building design, codes after Joplin Tornado

A major investigative piece in today's Kansas City Star looks into the city of Joplin's building codes and design in the aftermath of the May 22 tornado:

But while all big-box stores are vulnerable to high winds, the Joplin Home Depot — even though it met local building codes — was especially at risk, according to engineers who study the destruction that tornadoes leave behind.

The Joplin Home Depot and many of the company’s other stores used a popular construction method called “tilt-up wall” that The Kansas City Star found can be deadly under certain conditions.

It’s a design used in thousands of warehouses, stores and schools across the country that some engineers believe has weak links that often fail — even in winds much less ferocious than those that hit Joplin on May 22.

Family who lost everything in Joplin Tornado profiled

Update for Joplin American Red Cross provided

Volunteer from Japan helping with Joplin tornado recovery


Friday, June 24, 2011

Branson Cares: Raising money for St. John's

This promo was posted tonight in advance of Sunday's Branson Cares telethon raising money for Joplin tornado relief:

Branson Cares telethon: Keeping the music alive in Joplin Schools

This video was posted in advance of the Branson Cares telethon for Joplin, scheduled for Sunday.

July 2 celebration planned in Cunningham Park for Joplin tornado volunteers

(From the City of Joplin)

As we mark the one-month anniversary of the Joplin tornado, 45,304 volunteers have come to Joplin to help with clean-up efforts; in all, registered volunteers have contributed over 207, 105 hours helping Joplin residents clean up and begin to rebuild from this disaster. To put that number in perspective, that’s over 23 years’ worth of work at a 24/7 pace in just these past four weeks.

To celebrate and commemorate this display of what we call the Miracle of the Human Spirit, we’re extending an invitation to everyone who reads this message…spend the weekend celebrating our nation’s birthday in Joplin, by rolling up your sleeves and lending a pair of hands to help us recover. We promise you’ll go home with a lifetime of experiences and memories that will make you feel proud to be an American.

At 6 p.m. on July 2nd all volunteers are invited to Joplin’s Cunningham Park, located at the intersection of 26th and Maiden Lane, in the shadow of St. John’s Mercy Hospital, for a free picnic meal and concert provided by Nashville recording artist Rich McCready ( Country singer Kaleb McIntire and internationally known Jah/Kings with Alexander Kofi are also scheduled to perform.

While the citizens of Joplin are extremely grateful for the assistance that has come in from all 50 states as well as internationally (Spain and Japan, among others), the work is far from over.

Many volunteers, giving many more hours, are still needed. To get involved, call 417-625-3543. Volunteer coordinators note that various jobs are available if you are unable to work in the neighborhoods moving debris.

Services scheduled Monday for Burnice Bresee, tornado victim

(The following information was taken from the Mason-Woodard Mortuary website.)

Burnice M. Bresee, age 91, of Joplin, Mo., passed away Wednesday, June 22, 2011, at McCune Brooks Hospital from complications with her health following the Joplin tornado.

She was born Dec. 14, 1919, in Springfield, Mo., to Edward A. and Mary (Everly) Alexander.

She was a homemaker. Burnice was a member of Christ Point Church in Joplin.

She married Willie Bresee Sr. on May 24, 1940, in Joplin. He preceded her in death on Nov. 10, 1980.

Survivors include two sons, Willie Bresee Jr. and wife, Pat, of Carl Junction, and Homer Bresee and wife, Merna, of Rockford, Ill.; four daughters, Norma Jean Enlow and husband, Charles, of Joplin, Bernice Irene Smith and husband, Gene, of Joplin, Margie Goetz and husband, Stanley, of Joplin, and Teresa Thomas and husband, Ben, of Seneca; one daughter-in-law, Marsha Bresee, of Joplin; one sister, Wilma Bresee, of Galena, Kan.; 18 grandchildren; 34 great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by one son, Bobby Bresee on April 24, 1991; one daughter, Donna Bresee on Jan. 25, 1998; four brothers; and two grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Monday, June 27, at the Mason-Woodard Chapel. Pastor Josh Pennington will officiate. Burial will be in Fairview Cemetery. Pallbearers will be John Kraft Jr., Jeff Enlow, Greg Enlow, Chuck Enlow, Mark Enlow and Jerod Thomas. The family will receive friends from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday at the mortuary.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Christ Point Church in care of the mortuary.

Arrangements are under the direction of Mason-Woodard Mortuary & Crematory.

Alice Cope, Neosho, dies from tornado-related injuries

(The following information is taken from the Clark Funeral Home website.)

Alice L. Hudson Cope, 79, Neosho, died Sunday, June 19, 2011, at Freeman West Hospital, after being in the Joplin, tornado on May 22. She was born June 2, 1932, in Cassville.

Alice had been a member of College Heights Christian Church in Joplin. She attended First Christian Church in Neosho before her long illness, and was active in their annual apple pie baking program. She loved Bible studies and participated in them at the church and at Graystone Apartments.

She was a fine seamstress and made beautifully appliqu├ęd dresses, drapes and stylish clothes. She was a voracious reader and enjoyed books on history and religion.

She graduated from Cassville High School and attended Southwest Missouri State College, now Missouri State University. After her children were grown, she returned to Springfield and completed a degree in archeology. She worked on an archeological dig in Israel.

Alice is survived by her son, Steve, and wife, Heather, Bella Vista, Ark.; her daughter, Judy Cope and husband, Gary Rasmussen, Woodcliff, N.J.; a sister, Dorothy Knoblauch, Joplin; three grandchildren, Stephanie Cope, Cara Cope and Alex Rasmussen; two great-grandchildren, Gavin James and Maddie Rose; and the father of her children, Stan Cope, and wife, Linda, Anacortes, Wash.

Burial will be at Oakwood Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Arrangements are under the direction of Clark Funeral Home, Neosho.

Two more deaths due to Joplin Tornado: fatality count stands at 158

(From the City of Joplin)

The City was notified today of two additional deaths due to injuries sustained during the May 22nd tornado. This brings the fatality total to 158.

The most recent deaths were Alice L. Cope and Burnice Bresee.

Mayor orders flags raised Monday

(From the City of Joplin)

By order of the Joplin, Missouri Mayor Michael R. Woolston, all flags on City facilities will be raised on Monday, June 27. The Mayor had ordered them lowered to half-staff on May 27th, in recognition of those who had lost their lives due to the May 22nd EF-5 tornado that passed through Joplin.

As City Manager Mark Rohr indicated during the moment of silence observation held May 29, which was one week after the tornado, the City of Joplin will hold a Memorial Service in the future at an appropriate time, when the necessary planning and involvement can occur with the survivors of this disaster.

City staff continues working on all aspects of the disaster recovery phase to help our citizens and appreciates their cooperation and assistance during these difficult times. Rohr encourages residents to listen for City information in the news media, as well review materials on the City’s website and Facebook pages, as they provide important material as we continue through this period.

Cleaver: It is time for the Afghan government to stand independently

As part of his weekly EC from DC newsletter, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo. says it is time to start nation building in the U. S. and not in Afghanistan.

I am pleased that we will begin to bring our troops home from Afghanistan next month and I applaud President Obama for taking a positive first step towards a responsible ending of the war. All of us are grateful for the sacrifices our troops have made over the past ten years and for the sacrifices they continue to make. I look forward to their safe return home.

We recognize that it is in our country’s best interest to ensure that the region remains stable. Their stability should not be at the expense of thousands of American lives and billions of dollars. It is time for the Afghan government to stand independently.

It is also time for us to focus on our nation’s greatest asset as President Obama mentioned; our people. It is time that we focus on nation building at home.

Hartzler: We will not tolerate any job-crushing taxes

In her weekly newsletter, Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler reiterates the GOP talking point that we have heard over and over again the last few months- we don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. Of course, that does not explain why people who are so pro-business don't try to do what every good business does- develop new revenue streams. Oh, well. Here's her newsletter:

The economy and unemployment took center stage again, this week, at the Capitol. House Republicans drew a line in the sand, making it clear that tax increases will not be a part of discussions regarding the debt limit. I have said over and over again that Washington does not have a revenue problem – it has a spending problem. We are simply spending too much money we don’t have and we must stop. House Speaker John Boehner said it best when he reiterated that job-crushing tax hikes are off the table in the debt limit talks.

The House took up the Jobs and Permitting Act to increase U.S. oil supply and deal with 28 straight months of national unemployment at or above eight percent and a failing “recovery” moving too slowly to create jobs for out-of-work Americans. This is part of a much larger plan to promote lower energy prices and higher job growth through increased production of American energy. The bill eliminates needless permitting delays off the coast of Alaska and elsewhere, opening access to energy and helping to create new jobs in the oil industry. It’s time to reduce prices at the pump by using the resources our country has been blessed with.

As this discussion was taking place in Congress, President Obama announced he is tapping into 30 million barrels of oil stored in the Strategic Oil Reserve. While his solution to high gas prices is to tap into the Strategic Reserve as he blocks the permitting of oil exploration, the House is moving forward with real solutions to allow more oil exploration and greater use of our own resources.

Observers of the economy got another cold jolt, this week, with the long-term budget analysis released by the Congressional Budget Office. That report warned our record-high debt will surpass our economy by year’s end. It also cautioned that if we remain on the path we’re on government spending will make up 33 percent of our economy by 2035 – compared to the 20 percent post-World War II average. This is terrible news for job creators and job seekers – not to mention future generations of Americans who will spend their lives paying off bills. It’s time to reverse course now!

We received a second jolt of bad news when the Labor Department informed us that initial claims for unemployment benefits increased by 9,000 in one week to 429,000. It is the second increase in three weeks and the 11th straight week that applications have been above 400,000. Let’s face it - no country can spend, tax, and borrow its way to prosperity and job creation. To create jobs and save our country from national bankruptcy we must stop spending money we don’t have.

The good news is we’ve got a plan. The 2012 budget passed by the House reins in runaway government spending, lowers job-crushing taxes, and shores-up Medicare so that it will avoid bankruptcy and will be available to future generations of Americans. It’s time for the Senate to join the House to change the trajectory and put America on a new course.

I introduced a bill, this week, to right a wrong that was brought to my attention at a recent town hall forum in Osceola. While military veterans guilty of capital crimes are prohibited from being buried in our national cemeteries, veterans convicted of sexual abuse of children are still entitled to these honors. I have introduced a bill to protect the sanctity of these final resting places by prohibiting sexual abusers from being allowed to rest among our military heroes in our country’s veterans and national cemeteries. The Hallowed Grounds Act will bar an individual who is classified as a Tier III sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act from a military burial. A Tier III sex offender is one whose offenses against a child might include the crimes of aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact. This bill is receiving widespread support and will ensure victims are not further victimized and that our national cemeteries are not desecrated by these perpetrators.

As the week came to an end the House sent a clear message regarding military operations in Libya by voting, overwhelmingly, to rebuke the President for his refusal to seek authorization from Congress for those military actions. Congress has a constitutional role to play in decisions involving the deployment of American forces and must not surrender that role to any administration.

Crossroads America ad, launching next week in Missouri, rips Obama over economy

Karl Rove's Crossroads group, which launched an attack against Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. this week, is aiming at a bigger target with an ad scheduled to launch next week in Missouri. The advertisement can be seen in the accompanying video. The news release is printed below.)

Today, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS), a conservative advocacy organization, announced a new $20 million issue advocacy initiative over the next two months to frame the national debate on jobs, the economy and the national debt in anticipation of congressional action on these issues.

In the first phase of the initiative, on Monday Crossroads GPS will launch a new national TV ad, “Shovel Ready,” which details the Obama Administration’s failure to improve the economy with its $830 billion stimulus legislation and other policies.

The spot’s $5 million television buy covers national cable news channels as well as local network affiliates in key states, including Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, and Virginia.

The new ad will start Monday and run for two weeks and can be viewed here, with a script here.

“President Obama may have inherited a recession, but his policies have made things worse for everyday Americans by running up the debt and causing economic uncertainty,” said Steven Law, president of Crossroads GPS. “Now Obama seems checked out of efforts to reduce America’s dangerous debt load, while his party is pushing massive tax increases and even more spending.”

Since President Obama took office in January 2009, the national debt has increased by 35%, gas prices have more than doubled, and unemployment is up more than 20%, with more than 2.5 million jobs lost since the passage of his stimulus bill. Obama and his advisors claimed unemployment would drop to 6.7% at this point with passage of the stimulus; instead unemployment actually increased to 9.1%.

With politicians in both parties debating how to close the deficit and create jobs, the new Crossroads GPS initiative, including the spot launched today, seeks to move the center of debate toward cutting spending and the national debt without raising taxes, and pursuing pro-growth policies that will promote job creation.

KOAM: Area school districts prepare for influx of Joplin students after tornado

City of Joplin news conference provides update on debris removal process

(From the City of Joplin)

The City of Joplin held a press conference today to update the citizens of Joplin on the progress of the work in the disaster recovery. Specific details were given on the debris removal process, including the recent nuisance abatement legislation passed by the Joplin City Council on June 23, 2011.

As a result of the devastating destruction from the May 22 tornado, the City has determined that rubble piles represent an immediate threat to the public’s health and safety and will be declared a nuisance. If lots still need debris removal, the property has not been cleared through the various means and an ROE form has not been received by the City.

Due to the number of properties cleaned up by other means by the residents and volunteers, the original estimate of 1,500 nuisances was high. After specific identification of residential properties that still require debris removal, the City has determined that 663 properties remain at this time.

“There are a host of health nuisances that are created because of these debris piles,” said Dan Pekarek, Health Director. “There are numerous pools of standing water created within them, which serves as a breeding ground for mosquitos. In addition, you have animals who may take shelter within the piles, including domestic animals that may not have been trapped after the tornado, rodents, feral cats or other wild animals.”

In addressing this public health issue of remaining rubble piles on private residential property, the City will publish a Public Notice in the paper on Tuesday, June 28 for Nuisance Abatement. The Notice will state only the address of the properties. No names will appear in the Notice.

The City is addressing several questions that have arisen from the announcement of the Public Nuisance abatement process. Below are several scenarios to help citizens understand more clearly the progression of cleaning up residential private property.

1.If your property is identified as a nuisance by the City, and it gets cleared of loose debris through other means by July 13th, citizens should call 417-624-0820, ext. 539 and notify the City of this action. After site verification, City officials will remove the address from this nuisance list, and there will be no special assessment against your property.

2.If you are waiting on volunteers to clear your property, and they cannot clear your property by July 13th, please sign the Right-of-Entry form.

3.If you have hired a contractor to clear your lot, and they will not be able to clear it by July 13th, you may provide the City with a copy of the contract. Please present this copy to the Public Works department on the 4th floor of Joplin City Hall, 602 South Main. Or you can fax this contract to Public Works at 417-625-4738. The deadline to have the lot cleared is July 31.

Below is the outline of the nuisance process that has been published in previous releases:

· Notice of each identified property will be published in the local newspaper on Tuesday, June 28. This allows for the seven-day period and gives notice to the property owners of the identified lots of an upcoming public hearing to be held by the City Council.

· The City Council will hold a public hearing after this seven-day period. The Public Hearing is tentatively set for July 6th. Any property owner of an identified nuisance will have the opportunity to participate in the public hearing by attending the council meeting and speaking during the public hearing.

· After the Public Hearing, if the City Council determines a nuisance exists, the Council will order the nuisance abated.

· Following this meeting, there will be an additional publication of the nuisance declarations in the local newspaper, allowing another seven-day notice period after the findings of the public hearing.

· On July 14th, the property nuisance will be turned over to FEMA for the cleanup of the property by the government-funded contractors.

If a private property is cleared of loose debris through this nuisance abatement process, the property owner will be responsible for the cleanup cost and a lien against the property through a special tax assessment will be issued. The assessment will be based on the lot size as established in the following 3-tier cost structure:

Lot Size Tax Assessment

Up to 10,000 square feet $1,500.00

10,001 square feet to ½-acre $2,500.00

½-acre and greater $4,000.00

During this time, property owners may still sign an ROE form until the end of the total fourteen day notice period. If an authorized ROE form is completed and returned to the City of Joplin prior to the end of the nuisance notification period, the rules and guidelines established for the ROE process will still apply. These rules and guidelines are explained in the ABCs of Tornado Debris Removal and Part 2-ABCs of Tornado Debris Removal. Copies of these documents are available on the city’s website at If your property is cleared of loose debris utilizing other resources after it is identified as a nuisance by the city and prior to the abatement, please contact the Public Works Department at (417) 624-0820 ext. 539.

The abatement of any remaining nuisances throughout the entire affected area will allow the cleanup to occur within the timeframe set in the EDR initiative by the President, as well as protect our citizens from safety and health hazards and encourage the recovery of our community. This is another step to allow our citizens to rebuild in a safe and desirable manner as quickly as possible.

Additionally, we recognize that many residents have questions regarding the demolition of residential structures, in order to allow them to rebuild in Joplin. The City has requested demolition assistance from FEMA and is awaiting an answer as certain details concerning the demolition process are being determined.

However, the loose debris must be removed prior to the demolition of residential structures, so this nuisance abatement process will continue regardless of owners’ demolition needs. The City will update the citizens as further information develops about the demolition process.

Heavy machinery, volunteers needed to help Joplin rebuild

Goodman: SB 108 will help housing market

(In his latest report, Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon, explains how SB 108, already signed by Gov. Jay Nixon, which prevents a provision requiring sprinkler systems in homes, will help the housing market.)

With the challenges posed by our current, worldwide economic downturn, legislators spent much of this session working to help improve the situation for Missourians. One economic strategy, promoted early by the Senate in Senate Bill 108, was to prevent potential problems in the housing market by protecting consumers from the undue costs of overregulation by the government.

No sector of the economy has been hit harder than housing. Foreclosures remain at record highs and demand for new housing remains at historic lows. These problems make it vital for policy makers to avoid encumbering the industry with new regulatory costs. Senate Bill 108 extended an existing provision in state law that was set to expire. The expiring provision protected Missourians from an overreaching mandate in the 2009 International Residential Code, which would require the installation of a sprinkler system in all newly constructed single-family homes. Obviously, the mandate is designed to protect people in their homes, but consumers in the marketplace should have the freedom to conduct the cost-benefit analysis of that safety provision on their own. The decision and its concurrent expense should not be imposed upon homebuyers by regulation. There is strong evidence that these types of fire suppression systems are no more effective in residential homes than fire alarms. Yet, the cost of these systems, typically 1-2 percent of the total cost of construction, would add a heavy burden to an already overwhelmed and struggling housing market. Back in 2009, legislators recognized the potential for this problem and we passed legislation requiring builders to offer consumers a choice to either install or decline the installation of a sprinkler system in the home. As part of the process of compromise, the legislation included a sunset date, after which it would expire. This year, we extended the sunset in SB 108, providing further relief to homebuyers and those who provide jobs in the housing industry.

With so many people still looking for work, government must guard against placing any further burden on an already struggling industry. State government should certainly work to increase public safety, but only in an objective, balanced manner that protects personal freedoms and avoids unnecessary burdens on the private marketplace. Governor Nixon has already signed SB 108 into law.

Hartzler bill would prevent sex offenders from being buried in national cemeteries

(This is the first I had heard of this problem, but Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler has introduced the Hallowed Grounds Act to keep sex offenders from being buried in our national cemeteries. The news release is printed below.)

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-4) has introduced a bill to deny sexual abusers their eligibility to rest among our military heroes in our country’s veterans and national cemeteries. The Hallowed Grounds Act would ensure that only the honorable are awarded with burial honors.

“I first learned of this situation during a recent town hall in Osceola when a constituent relayed a heart wrenching story of her sexual abuse at the hands of her father,” said Hartzler. “To add to her trauma, this man was a veteran who was buried in a national cemetery with full honors. This is unacceptable!”

“While veterans guilty of capital crimes have justly been denied burial in our national cemeteries, veterans guilty of sexual abuse of children are still entitled to these honors,” explained Hartzler. “Allowing these offenders to rest in fields of honor is an insult to America’s military heroes. Furthermore, it is an outrage to the victims and their families. It is my hope that no sexual abuse victim will suffer the pain of knowing an offender has been given the honor of a full military funeral.”

The Hallowed Grounds Act will prohibit an individual who is classified as a Tier III sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act from being buried at a veterans or national cemetery. A Tier III sex offender is one whose offenses against a child might include the crimes of aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact.