Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New R-8 promotional video: Joplin High School- One Place, Countless Opportunities

From Joplin Schools

2014: The Joplin Globe's year of shame in review

In today's edition, the Joplin Globe featured an overview of the stories that led the news in 2014.

It is the same practice that most newspapers and media outlets follow during the last week of each year and gives the readers and viewers the opportunity to remember the stories that made the year so memorable.

Unfortunately, the Joplin Globe's list is more notable for the stories it does not include.

When it comes to coverage of the City of Joplin and the Joplin R-8 School District, the highlights were limited to the firing of City Manager Mark Rohr and the openings of new schools, accompanied, of course, by various and sundry ribbon cuttings.

City of Joplin

The Globe reminds readers of its court battle to obtain the Loraine Report, but fails to mention the important parts of that report that it did its best to play down and for the most part completely hide from its readers.

The newspaper continued to push the fiction that Mark Rohr's firing came out of the blue and was a matter entirely separate from what Tom Loraine was supposed to be investigating, when, in fact, it was the investigation into City Councilman Mike Woolston's dealings with master developer Wallace-Bajjali that led directly to Rohr.

The parts of the report that made it abundantly clear why Rohr was included in the report were never mentioned in the pages of the newspaper.The items were posted online, but only a few hundred people read the complete report. They assumed that since the Globe went to so much trouble and expense to get the contents of the Loraine Report opened to the public that it might actually dig into the report and tell its readers what the report was all about.

One of the main events in the year-end review was the April City Council election, in which council members Jack Golden and Trisha Raney, both of whom voted to fire Rohr, were defeated in their bids for re-election.

What was not mentioned is that the Globe spent weeks stirring up a local frenzy over the firing of Rohr and failed to publicize the parts of the Loraine Report that made it clear why the connections between Rohr, Woolston (who was re-elected by a wide margin) and Wallace-Bajjali are dangerous for the city.

Joplin R-8 School District

If you read the Joplin Globe's year-end review you might think that the only big news that happened in the district this year was the opening of four new schools. Undoubtedly, those were major events.

The new $121.5 million Joplin High School and Franklin Technology Center opened after the Labor Day holiday. Congested traffic proved to be the biggest glitch on the first days as hundreds of students and parents tried to figure out where to go.

I am curious as to how anyone can believe C. J. Huff any more when he tells us how much something cost.

I searched the May listings for a mention of CFO Paul Barr's statement that the district had added $8.5 million in "might-as-well" spending, spending that the Huff Administration and the R-8 Board of Education okayed because they "might as well" go ahead and do it so they wouldn't have to do it later.  There were no mentions of that, which is not surprising since the Globe never used those words nor even mentioned the extra spending in its coverage.

That eventually led to revelations that the district had another $8 to $12 million of that kind of spending and the news that the district had to borrow $45 million, none of which is mentioned in today's review.

Today's review does include a mention of the infamous "six-and-a-half-mile" ribbon, which was used for the grand opening of the new Joplin High School.

What wasn't mentioned- the nearly $100,000 the district is paying to replace seats in the new JHS gymnasium which were the wrong color, money that was not even included in the $45 million it borrowed. It was just more "might-as-well" spending.

Finally, one of the biggest election stories of 2014, one which played a huge role in events for the remainder of the year, was totally ignored.

While the Globe made a big deal of the defeat of City Council candidates who had voted to fire Mark Rohr, no mention was made of the election of Debbie Fort to the Joplin R-8 Board of Education, an election which has directly led to one discovery after another of how the C. J. Huff Administration and its enablers on the Board of Education have thrown away millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

Dr. Fort's election was accompanied by the defeat of Board President Jeff Flowers, which was also left unmentioned in today's review.

State audits of City, School District

Probably the most incredible omission from today's Joplin Globe review- there was absolutely no mention of the state audits of the City of Joplin and the Joplin R-8 School District.

These were not only major stories in 2014, but they should prove to be among the biggest stories of 2015, as well.

The biggest stories of 2014 were left unmentioned in today's Joplin Globe.

Of course, it is difficult to review those stories, when you never wrote about them in the first place.

Wintry mix expected Friday and Saturday in Joplin area

(From the National Weather Service)

335 PM CST WED DEC 31 2014










Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Light sleet, freezing rain expected in Joplin area Thursday night

(From the National Weather Service)










  NORTH OF I-44.

Video: KODE's coverage of death of Rich White

Former KODE Sports Anchor: Rich White commanded respect as newsroom leader

Former KODE sports anchor Russ Riesinger was kind enough to share some memories of his friend and former colleague Rich White, the long-time KODE news anchor who died Saturday.

I think of Rich White as the quintessential news anchor—a handsome guy with a great voice, but he also commanded respect as a newsroom leader. 

 Rich and Tony Debo had come to KODE a few months before I arrived in late summer of 1983 and the three of us became fast friends. 

 “Whitey” as we called him was the guy who we looked up to as a kind of big brother in the newsroom. I remember him being very serious about his job and his responsibilities as a journalist, but he also had a mischievous side that made him a lot of fun to be around. We were all young, broke, and far from home—so we all ended up hanging out together even when we weren’t at work.

 Rich, Tony, Evan Rosen, Marny Stanier, and I have remained good friends over the years getting together for several reunions. The last time I saw Rich was in September of 2013. MS is a terrible disease and he could barely speak and needed help getting around, but we still had a wonderful time together. His health took an even worse turn soon after that. I’m so sorry to see him go, but relieved that he no longer suffers.

 He was a great guy and a great friend. I will miss him.

(Photo- Front row- Russ Riesinger, Rich White, back row- Marny Stanier, Evan Rosen)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Roy Blunt discusses tourism during Carthage stop

A report from KSN News USA, LLC

Ferguson officer placed on leave after calling Michael Brown memorial "trash"

Sam Graves: Republican majority will pass sorely needed legislation

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

As we turn the page on 2014 and look ahead to 2015, I am hopeful that we can do so with a renewed sense of optimism and purpose.

We have many challenges ahead, but we have every reason to believe that we can be successful in overcoming those challenges. With a new congress we have a new voice ready to carry out the will of the people.

The economy has slowly improved, but growth is not strong enough. Unemployment remains too high, making the job search difficult for millions of Americans. Small businesses still report too many roadblocks to expanding their companies and creating new jobs.

2015 brings with it a new Republican majority and working partner in the U.S. Senate. I fully expect Congress to seize this opportunity to pass legislation that is sorely needed. Legislation aimed at simplifying our tax code, reining in wasteful spending, addressing energy costs, and unleashing the American economy which continues to be burdened by regulations.

Common sense solutions are needed to ease the squeeze on middle class Missourians and I am confident that in the new year and with a new congress that is exactly what we will have. I want to wish you a Happy New Year and my sincerest hopes that 2015 is good to both you and your family.

Nixon: We will continue to move Missouri forward

(From Gov. Jay Nixon)

As 2014 comes to a close, Missouri’s public schools have record funding, our colleges and universities lead the nation in holding down tuition increases, the state’s unemployment rate is at its lowest point in six years, and job creation is on the rise.

In a year of both opportunities and challenges, we succeeded in securing another tuition freeze for Missouri undergraduates, creating thousands of jobs at automotive manufacturers and suppliers, and continuing to expand access to mental health services.

Together, Missourians accomplished a great deal in 2014, but we’re not done yet. Over the next two years, I’m going to work even harder to build a future of greater opportunity and prosperity for families and businesses in our state.

I will lay out my agenda for 2015 in my State of the State Address in January but in the meantime, make sure to visit our website to learn more about what we achieved over the past year and follow me on Twitter for updates on what’s ahead.

Thank you for your support as we continue to move Missouri forward in the new year and beyond.

Wind chills in single digits Tuesday through Thursday, wintry mix possible at end of week

(From the National Weather Service)

1010 AM CST MON DEC 29 2014

1010 AM CST MON DEC 29 2014







Sunday, December 28, 2014

Remembering Rich White

She was the new girl in Joplin and her background was in sports, not hard news.

And now she was sitting across the anchor desk from an experienced veteran who had worked in a large market setting, someone whose long list of interview subjects had included President Bill Clinton, Muhammad Ali, Yoko Ono, Dan Quayle and Bill Bradley.

"I was scared to death of Rich White," Heather Turco said, remembering that time nearly two decades ago as if it were yesterday.

"I had interned on sports in Tulsa and Rich was my first co-anchor. He talked me through those first few months of uncertainty. I was intimidated by him at first, but I learned a lot from him," said Turco, who is an anchor at WBBH, NBC2 in Fort Myers, Florida.

Turco was one of several former colleagues of former KODE anchor Rich White, who died yesterday after a long battle with multiple sclerosis, who shared memories with the Turner Report.

White served two stints as KODE anchor, first coming to the station in 1983.

Evan Rosen, who made his name with some strong investigative reporting during that era, shared his memories.

A well-groomed guy with a thick helmet of dark brown hair and a broad smile opened the door to the editing room and extended his hand. "I'm Rich White." It was my first day reporting at KODE-TV in October of 1983. I had graduated from the University of Michigan the previous spring, and I had worked behind the scenes at WABC-TV in New York and at WXYZ-TV in Detroit while in school. Rich engaged me about the television business, told me about his background attending Kent State University and working as an intern at WKYC-TV in Cleveland. He also mentioned his goal of returning to the Cleveland television market as an anchor.

A couple of days later, Rich invited me to join him, sports anchor Tony Debo and sports anchor/reporter Russ Riesinger at his apartment for a gathering after the 10 o’clock news. Rich and Tony had met at Kent State. Out of school, Tony began reporting at KHBS-TV in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Tony recommended Rich for a job at the same station where the producer was Morris Emison. Within months, Rich was anchoring the evening newscasts in Fort Smith.

Early in 1983, KODE-TV hired Rich as main anchor. He put in a good word for Tony and Mo, and the troika headed to Joplin. Tony would be the sports director and anchor. Mo would have responsibility for the newsroom as the news director. That was a Rich White move: hire your buddy as your boss! A couple of months later, Tony and Mo hired Russ Riesinger as weekend sports anchor and weekday sports reporter.

In the other television stations where I had worked, the main anchor was a distant figure who might waive or smile at people in the corridor. I quickly realized that Rich was an entirely accessible guy who enjoyed camaraderie. And the Park Apartments on Campbell Parkway in Joplin became ground zero for this nightly bonding. Rich, Tony and Russ all lived at the Park. I lived on west 20th street in Iron Gates.

At twenty-five, Rich was our elder statesman and leader. Tony was twenty-four, and Russ and I were both twenty-two. Each night after work, we would gather in Rich’s living room for a newscast post mortem. Then our posse would head out to Joplin night spots including Beefmaster’s, Out of Character’s and the Red Lion. Rich, a creature of habit, would always order rum-and-coke.

I had discovered the Red Lion my first night in town. My impression was that the somewhat retro Red Lion reflected a distinct southwest Missouri culture. The Lion had a small stage and hosted nostalgia acts from the Motown era and classic rock bands. My colleagues informed me that the bar had a reputation for wild men and loose women. Rich and the others felt that the Lion might sully their reputations, and they avoided the place. I finally convinced them to check out the Lion.

One weekend night, Rich was dancing at the Lion when somebody stole his white Monte Carlo from the parking lot. When he arrived at work Monday afternoon, assignment editor Marilyn Babb smirked as she handed him a clip from the Joplin Globe with the details about the incident. Rich’s co-anchor Lisa Richardson rolled her eyes. Apparently, Rich’s otherwise stellar reputation had taken a slight hit. He later agreed that the fun and memories were worth it.

Former KODE sports anchor Steve Edgerley also remembers sharing good times with White in non-work situations:

Rich was a good friend, one who I enjoyed working with for about ten years. I have a lot of good memories of playing golf with Rich and Terry Weimer former Oklahoma State wide receiver) at Schifferdecker. I 'll miss Rich.

Golf was a much easier outside interest for Rich White than another one he tried during one of the annual Blast from the Past fundraising events.

The women dressed and performed as the Rolling Stones, Heather Turco recalled. For the men, it was something entirely different.

"Erik Schrader (former sports anchor and news director) dressed up as ABBA, with blond wigs and did "'Dancing Queen.' "

It was a sight those who were there that night will never forget.

During his time at KODE, White helped many young reporters, most of them working in their first news jobs, including former sports reporter Bruce Vonder Haar:

When I first arrived at KODE in 1994 as a weekend sports anchor, Rich was an established anchor leading our news team. Since my first day there he was very supportive to me and was always willing to offer any advice or suggestions.

Being a longtime news anchor in a small market like Joplin, Rich saw lot of young reporters right out of college come to KODE, he was hard on them at times but also fair and helped them become better at their jobs.

As I became established at KODE, Rich and I became good friends and although we always didn't agree on everything, I always respected his passion for delivering the news in a professional manner to the viewers.

During his time at KODE, Rich was fun to have around. You could talk to Rich about any number of topics. MS is obviously a terrible disease and I am glad that he doesn't t have to live with that anymore. My thoughts are with his family and especially his son Alec.

For most of the 1980s and 1990s, the Joplin market became used to three strong male anchors who remained year after year as the female anchors moved to different markets. The faces of local television were Rich White, Dowe Quick of KOAM, and Jim Jackson of KSNF. Jackson was saddened to hear of White's passing.

Even though I never worked with Rich, he was good competition for many years. He was always professional and cordial when I did have the pleasure to visit with him. He will be missed.

White's final departure from KODE was controversial, with charges of sexual harassment lodged against him. White talked about those accusations to the Turner Report in 2008.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1997. For anyone with MS, stress is one of your biggest enemies and TV news is STRESSFUL. My departure from KODE was quite public. Sexual Harassment was the reason given, but the truth of the matter was financial. KODE was in the middle of one of its many sales and dumping a big salary made the deal more attractive to potential buyers.

White said the accusations stemmed from a co-anchor who was wanting to get out of her contract to take another job.

After White's second stint at KODE ended, he worked with Evan Rosen at Impact Video, served as a narrator on videos and working with business executives to teach them how to work with the media.

Though it has been many years since Rich White anchored the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts for KODE, he always maintained an interest in Joplin and in the news business. I received numerous messages from him the past few years, sometimes offering useful background information on posts I had written, sometimes sharing a memory or two.

He contacted me a couple of days after the Joplin Tornado looking for any information about what had happened to the city he called home for nearly two decades.

And he always kept in touch with the reporters who worked with him at KODE, especially those who were with him during those early days, Evan Rosen remembered.

Early in 1984, KODE-TV hired Marny Stanier as a weekend weather anchor and reporter. (Marny Stanier was later an anchor at the Weather Channel.) Marny rented an apartment at, where else? The Park Apartments. She joined the posse as “one of the boys.” But she was really more like our sister. With Marny, our five-member group would convene at Rich’s apartment and then head out to Joplin night spots. After a few hours sleep, the banter continued mornings around the Park Apartments pool before we headed into work on the night shift.

Since those days, Rich, Russ, Tony, Marny and I have stayed close—and we’ve cherished the days and evenings we spent together in Joplin. Maybe it was our youth. Maybe it was the times. Maybe it was the place. But none of us ever experienced that kind of camaraderie in any other job or community. In time, we moved on to bigger markets and other opportunities. Rich left Joplin for a job at KOB-TV Albuquerque and later fulfilled his dream of anchoring in Cleveland at WEWS-TV. He then returned to KODE-TV. It wasn’t the same, he told us.

Our group has had numerous reunions. Rich anchored those reunions with creative humor and unbelievable grace even as his health deteriorated. The last reunion was at Marny’s home outside Atlanta in September of 2013. Rich had difficulty getting there and getting around. But he savored every moment and told us he wanted the reunion to last until Christmas.

(The video features Rich White, Heather (Teter) Turco, Erik Schrader, Kent Shutton, Jeff Welborn, and Bruce Vonder Haar from 1995)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

C. J. Huff named one of Small Town America's 100 Most Influential People

He cried on Joe Biden's shoulder, made small talk with Barack Obama, and now he is included on a list with former President Bill Clinton and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

Rural Leader Magazine has named Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff one of "Small Town America's 100 Most Influential People.".

According to the magazine, Huff, Clinton, Mrs. Carter, and 97 others were selected after they received "scores of nominations."

It should look good on Huff's resume.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Billy Long: American people ready for Congress to take action

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

I am looking forward to 2015 and the start of a new Congress. The American people want to see action and I look forward to the 114th Congress and getting to work.

Early next year both Chambers appear likely to send legislation to President Obama saying it is time to build the Keystone XL pipeline. We need jobs and energy security in our country and that is what the Keystone XL represents.

I am also hopeful the House and Senate can make meaningful efforts at reforming our nation’s broken tax code. Our current tax code is riddled with loopholes and is too complex. I will again be supporting the Fair Tax. I like the Fair Tax because it is a consumption based tax and treats everyone fairly. Whatever direction Congress takes, we need a simpler and fairer tax code.

In the 114th Congress both chambers will work to rein in the unelected bureaucrats who like to crank out rules and regulations with little to no thought on how the rules impact hardworking taxpayers. While we should all strive for strong environmental protections, some of the recent regulations coming out of the EPA run the very real risk of bankrupting towns, cities and municipalities across the country. We need to reform the regulatory process to ensure any new regulation does not hinder growth in our economy. I hope both chambers can pass a version of the REINS Act which would require Congressional approval for major regulations.

Immigration will be another issue that the new Congress will address. I have always held that a secure border means we have operational control over our borders, and this must be done before any other action is taken on immigration. Any reform effort without border security first will not fix the problem. Congress will also take action to rein in the president’s unilateral action on immigration.

Americans expect Congress to work for them, and I am excited about the opportunities the House and Senate will have in the 114th Congress to support efforts to get our nation’s economy growing and create jobs. It is exciting to think we can now have realistic expectations in the 114th Congress to actually pass bills out of the House and Senate and get them to the president’s desk to get our economy moving once again.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Attorney general files lawsuit against California telemarketing company

(From Attorney General Chris Koster)

Attorney General Chris Koster announced today that he filed a lawsuit against California-based First Pacific Marketing, LLC, and its owner, Lindsay W. Johnson, for violations of Missouri's No Call and Telemarketing Laws. According to Koster, First Pacific employed robocalls to sell home security systems to consumers registered on the state's No Call list, in violation of Missouri law. The automated sales calls claimed that the FBI had reported increased break-ins in the consumers’ neighborhoods to induce consumers into purchasing First Pacific's home security product. Consumers who pressed a number to be removed from the company's calling list often continued to receive unwanted calls. Missouri's Telemarketing law makes it unlawful for companies to continue making telemarketing calls to those who have asked for the calls to stop. Thirty-eight Missourians filed complaints with the Attorney General's Office about calls received from First Pacific.

Complaints about telemarketers selling home-security systems rank second among the thousands of complaints received by the Attorney General's No Call Unit each year. The Attorney General's lawsuit against First Pacific is the seventh lawsuit filed in 2014 against companies marketing home security systems by phone.

"Telemarketers resorting to false statements and scare tactics to sell security systems are among the highest source of complaints to my office each year," said Koster. "This company repeatedly harassed Missourians with unwanted robocalls, even after they asked for the calls to stop. We will continue to protect Missouri consumers and crack down on unscrupulous telemarketers."

As part of the suit filed against First Pacific in St. Louis County, Koster is asking the court to prohibit First Pacific from making any further solicitations to Missouri consumers, regardless of whether their phone numbers are listed on the No Call registry. Additionally, Koster is seeking penalties of up to $5,000 per violation of the No Call Law, up to $1,000 for each violation of the Telemarketing Law, and for recovery of the costs of the investigation and prosecution of the case.

Koster reminds Missourians they can register their telephone numbers with the Missouri No Call list at online or by calling 866-662-2551. Consumers who have registered for the No Call list and receive solicitation calls should file a complaint at 1-866-buzzoff (1-866-289-9633).

Nixon issues statement on officer-involved shooting near St. Louis

(From Gov. Jay Nixon)

Gov. Jay Nixon today issued the following statement regarding events last night in Berkeley, Missouri:

“The events in Berkeley are a reminder that law enforcement officers have a difficult, and often dangerous, job in protecting themselves and law-abiding citizens.”

Pay raise for state employees to go into effect Jan. 1

(From Gov. Jay Nixon)

A one-percent pay raise for Missouri state employees will go into effect Jan. 1, 2015. The pay raise was appropriated in the FY2015 budget to begin on Jan. 1, 2015, but had been restricted over budget concerns.

“The citizens of Missouri appreciate the hard work our dedicated state employees perform on their behalf – especially those who work around the clock, such as corrections officers, mental health workers, veterans’ home staff and Highway Patrol troopers,” Gov. Jay Nixon said. “I am pleased that we are now able to ensure that this pay raise goes into effect at the beginning of the new calendar year,”

In addition to the funding for the pay raise, Gov. Nixon also released $2 million in funding for Missouri tourism, which will be used to enhance the state’s tourism efforts and continue moving the state’s economy forward. With the release of this restriction, funding for tourism will have increased by more than $6.2 million for this fiscal year.

“With the wide variety of attractions Missouri offers to visitors from across the country and around the world, tourism continues to generate a tremendous amount of benefit to our state’s economy,” the Governor said. “This funding will help maintain tourism’s vital role in our economic engine.”

To ensure the state budget remains in balance, the Governor will restrict $1.8 million of the $4.2 million available for state Capitol repairs, and another $4 million from a facilities maintenance fund to be used for state building repairs and renovation. Those projects would instead be included in the Governor’s recently proposed bond issuance, which has been met with bi-partisan support from the General Assembly.

Surveillance video shows events leading to officer-involved shooting in St. Louis suburb

This just posted surveillance video shows the events leading up to an officer-involved shooting in the St. Louis suburb of Berkeley. The shooting is not shown in the video.

Vicky Hartzler's video Christmas message

Another police shooting reported in St. Louis suburb

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Year in review: Top 10 posts for January 2014

This has been a year of incredible growth for the Turner Report.

The blog, has steadily pulled in 5,000 readers a day with many more popping in on days when major news events have occurred or something unusual has caught the public's interest.

For those of you who have discovered the Turner Report later in the year, this post marks the beginning of a 2014 Year in Review, and a chance to catch up on some stories you have missed, some of which have a direct bearing on events and situations that are still occurring in Joplin and the surrounding area.

The posts are ranked by the number of unique visitors they received. Let's start at the bottom. I have also included a couple of extra posts.

Extra- The big money behind the Joplin Progress Committee- This was one of the first sources of information on the secretive committee that also includes much of the original CART group and Connect2Culture. This year, with no Joplin City Council races, the group is likely to spend money to elect school board members who can continue the district's current direction.

Extra- Today marks 20 years since the death of Sheila Mayfield-  This post marked the 20th anniversary of the death of Sheila Mayfield of Jasper, who was killed by two teens who threw a rock from an overpass on the Will Rogers Turnpike.

10. Remembering Michelle Edwards- The owner of Sweet Something Designs faced her death from cancer with courage and shared her battle with the public through her blog.

9. State: This is why Rowan Ford's killer must die- The state successfully made its case that Chris Collings, the man who raped and murdered nine-year-old Rowan Ford of Stella on November 2, 2007, should receive the death penalty. Of course, his efforts to escape that fate continue.

8. Teachers, leave that old stuff behind Teachers at East Middle School were told not to bring any of their old belongings to the new school included all of the items that had been donated to them after the tornado through Donors Choose and from others.

7. Documents: C. J. Huff, Tina Smith bury allegations of lawbreaking, insurance fraud against Mike Johnson- The documents in this post detail just how far C. J. Huff and Tina Smith were willing to go to protect Johnson, including ignoring strong evidence that he may have committed crimes.

6. The Whistleblower Letter I Wrote Three Weeks Before I Was Removed from the Classroom- Well before I was led out of East Middle School by a Joplin police officer, I had written this letter to a Joplin R-8 Board of Education member detailing problems in the school district and East.

5. Angie Besendorfer Files For Divorce- I received a lot of heat for printing this one, but at that point it appeared to me that this had a connection to the things that were going on in the Joplin R-8 School District and I still haven't seen anything to convince me that is not the case.

4. Besendorfer: Turner, you're harassing my family, buddy- This is the only time I have written about the efforts that have been made to intimidate me.

3. Lawsuit: C. J. Huff, Mike Johnson bully Joplin R-8 support staff, target union leaders- Court documents marked the beginning of shredding of the myth about the nice guy superintendent.

2. C. J. Huff ignored whistleblower letter about Mike Johnson- More documentation to show the type of people who have been allowed to run roughshod over the Joplin R-8 School District.

1. Lawsuit claims Besendorfer lied to get Royal Heights principal fired- In this post, the Turner Report broke the news that former Royal Heights Principal Larry Masters was suing Angie Besendorfer. The suit was later dropped, then refiled with C. J. Huff and former Assistant Superintendent Steve Doerr added as defendants.
The news source with a passion for truth and the ability to find it. Keep the Turner Report going strong in 2015.

Former Carl Junction student calls for justice

The following comment was left earlier today on the post detailing Carl Junction Junior High Principal Scott Sawyer's deposition in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of Luke Nugent.)

I knew Luke Nugent in 7th grade, when I still attended Carl Junction schools. I can easily see how he could be made an easy target of bullying or harassment. I always hated riding the 'shuttle buses' from the Jr. High to to elementary. I was surrounded by crude teens, teens that knew no tolerance or respect. I always drowned them out with headphones. The reason that I could see Luke as a target of theirs was that he was different. He stuck out. (For me, in an admirable way.) He was always making intelligent, quirky comments or jokes. He wore a belt that flashed his name across it. As for his sexual orientation; I heard him once say that he was bisexual during a DI convention while chatting with a girl from another region.

Now as for how I see his bullying at CJ almost certain- this boy was amazing. As I said, he was smart. He had friends. People who loved him. He laughed and joked, and he cared for the well being of others. He didn't just go off and kill himself for nothing. There had to have been something else.

Now, recalling the past, when I moved to CJ in 4th grade, I was bullied quite harshly. I was a new, strange girl in a small town. I was kicked from my chair, tripped when running, called an asshole. When I tried to speak to others about something I was told to shut up, often before I'd even uttered two words. My curiosity was laughed at. And nobody helped. It seemed that my hurt was invisible to everyone around me. It got better through the years, yet I knew that underneath the people who bullied me, that anger and bitterness was still there.

Former KSN reporter joins ABC News

T. J. Holmes, who began his broadcasting career at KSN in 1999 has signed a contract with ABC News and will serve as a co-anchor of America This Morning and World News Now.

Holmes spent five years as an anchor with CNN News and most recently was with BET.

Holmes' live coverage of events, including the May 22, 2011 Joplin Tornado was praised by ABC News President James Goldston in his memo announcing Holmes' new status:

I’m thrilled to announce that T.J. Holmes is officially joining America This Morning and World News Now as co-anchor. In addition to his anchor duties, he will also report across our all broadcast and digital platforms.

T.J. has impressed us all for the past few months with his vibrant storytelling, engaging style, and quick wit.

An award-winning journalist, he has reported from around the world on some of the most important stories of our day.

T.J. was live on the scene following the Virginia Tech campus shootings, the devastating tornados in Joplin, Missouri, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; and in 2009 covered the first presidential debate between then-Senators John McCain and Barack Obama. His contributions to the coverage of the oil spill and the Presidential campaigns garnered CNN two prestigious Peabody Awards.

In 2012, T.J. earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for his work as the host of BET’s late-night talk show “Don’t Sleep,” where he joined distinguished thought leaders and correspondents to discuss African American interests.

When not in front of a camera, you can find T.J. treating his wife and daughter to some of his mom’s famous southern cooking. Born and raised in Arkansas, he is a passionate Razorbacks fan. Since marrying his wife, who was born in Zaire, in 2010, he has committed countless hours to Africa-related organizations, and has dedicated himself to learning her native language, Kikongo.

A skilled broadcaster and a dynamic storyteller with the ability to report on a variety of different stories, I’m confident T.J. will be a strong asset to our team.

Please join me in congratulating him on his new role.


Holmes worked at KSN in 1999.

From his Wikipedia page:

Holmes started his television career at KSNF Channel 16 in JoplinMissouri. He drove to Joplin from the University of Arkansas campus to hand-deliver his resume and reel. He was hired on the spot. Holmes spent less than a year at KSN as a producer, assignment reporter, and weekend anchor.

Carl Junction principal: I don't recall being asked to clean butt

A bus ride to determine the extent of a bullying situation ended up with an apparent case of the principal being verbally bullied...and not doing anything about it.

A deposition filed earlier this month in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a junior high student who committed suicide in March 2013 features Carl Junction Junior High Principal Scott Sawyer, a former Joplin educator, detailing how he investigated after Luke Nugent's mother, Jessica Nugent, told him about her son being bullied on the school bus in November 2012. The call was made without the teen's knowledge.

Sawyer decided to ride the bus and see what was going on, sitting across from the teen. The principal said high school students on the bus told him the ride was "quieter than usual."

"I would not ride the bus with the Pollyanna assumption that my mere presence on the bus would be some sort of medicine against bad behavior forever, you know like some sort of vaccine that would eradicate polio."

Sawyer's testimony indicates his temporary vaccine did not keep him from being the target of verbal abuse from one of the high school students, a female, who had been accused of bullying the teen,

"I remember a student using the word 'butt' in front of me," Sawyer replied to a question from Jessica and Mika Nugent's lawyer about the incident. "I do not recall being asked to clean or eat butt."

After that response, Sawyer went on in depth about the incident:

This was said as a sort of attention grabber. 'Everybody look at me. I'm a little girl who said "butt" in front of a principal. It was more "I'm the naughty little girl getting attention. I used the word butt as opposed to "I'll show that principal. I'll call him this or I'll order him to do some obscene act related to butts.

It was an immature act from a young lady attempting to get attention, not directed at my authority, not directed to a cutdown to me.

The Nugents' lawyer asked Sawyer, "Do you remember at all what she said?"

"I remember the word 'butt" was in it. I don't remember exactly what she said."

Sawyer also recalled his swift reaction to the girl's obscene comment.

"I said her name and shook my head indicating you and I both know that that's immature and cut it out. And she did."

Sawyer said he followed up on the bus ride by frequently asking Luke Nugent how things were going on the bus. The teen never indicated anything was wrong, he said.

The lawyer also questioned Sawyer about his follow-up on the list of names of those who had been bullying the teen. Sawyer said he had not questioned the students and ":couldn't recall" if he had asked anyone else to.

The deposition also indicated that the seating arrangement on the bus was done, with the driver's permission, by one of those who was accused of the bullying.

Sawyer also answered a question about the use of homophobic slurs on the bus and elsewhere at the school.

It's been my experience, both teacher, you know, honestly, it's been my experience as student, adult, you know, child, adult, teacher, administrator, that sometimes the students use these words to cut each other down, but they're not referring to sexual orientation.

So, based on experience and based on what knowledge I had at the time, the way the word was being used struck me not as a homophobic slur, but a cutdown, the same as calling someone a jerk or worse.

In the deposition, the principal also disputed a Jasper County Sheriff's Department report that said he had told a deputy that he had told Jessica Nugent in the fall about a comment made by one of the high school students who told Luke Nugent to "go hang himself."

Sawyer said the deputy had made an error.

The principal also disputed the sheriff's department report that included comments from several students about the bullying.

Sawyer said those comments were made after word had been spreading through social media about Luke Nugent's death. Sawyer said he put more faith in the interviews done by the district's resource officer immediately after the suicide.

The Carl Junction R-1 School District announced last week that it was implementing an anti-bullying program, just one week after the Turner Report featured a post on court documents in which Superintendent Phil Cook said that he had stopped some of the district's anti-bullying efforts because he was concerned they might help the Nugents with their lawsuit.
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Preparing for bond issue, Neosho R-5 hires public relations director

Beware Neosho!

After failing twice to pass bond issues to build a new junior high school, the Neosho R-5 Board of Education has decided to put it on the ballot for a third time in April and to help it pass, it has decided to hire a full time public relations director.

My initial reaction after reading the Neosho Daily News article on the hiring is worry for the school district.

Of course, the district does not have to become all about the spin as the Joplin R-8 School District has become since it began adding layers of people who have little to do with education and everything to do with projecting the image, despite all evidence to the contrary, of a school district that has had one success after another.

Neosho's new p.r. director, Megan Spangler, is quoted on her battle plan:

Just making sure it's (information) out there and trying to utilize every possible vessel we have, and to get their good word out thee and to make sure that everyone that wants to be informed and even ones that don't want to be informed are informed, because that I think is your first matter of business.

I worry when we start spending more and more taxpayer money on trying to sell a positive image of school districts. The best way to do that is for school board members and administrators to listen to their constituents and not just those who are connected to the local power brokers.

When you develop that kind of relationship with the community, you don't need to hire someone to sell your image.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Accused killer of MSSU coach to stand trial next month

The trial of Jeffrey Bruner, 40, charged with first degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with the November 2, 2013, shooting death of Missouri Southern State University offensive line coach Derek Moore, is set for January 20 in Jasper County Circuit Court.

The trial is expected to last two days.

The murder of Derek Moore was detailed in a Joplin Police Department news release issued November 4, 2013:

On November 1, 2013 at approximately 9:50PM, officers with the Joplin Police Department responded to the Northstar 14 Movie Theatres for reports of shots fired. An officer with the Duquesne Police Department arrived on scene at approximately 9:51PM and the suspect was taken into custody at 9:52PM.
The victim was transported by EMS to a local hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries. It is believed at this time that this was not a random act. As of this time, we have not been made aware of any other injuries that were a result of the shooting.
An autopsy was completed on Mr. Moore in Kansas City on November 3, 2013. Results of the autopsy revealed that Mr. Moore died as a result of several gunshot wounds to his body.

It has been determined that the suspect in the shooting, Jeffery Bruner, was currently separated from his wife. Mr. Bruner confronted his estranged wife, as well as Mr. Moore in the parking lot of the movie theatre. Mr. Bruner then shot Mr. Moore. Mr. Moore fell to the ground and witnesses stated that Mr. Bruner fired more rounds after Mr. Moore was on the ground. Mr. Bruner then went to his vehicle where he placed his firearm. Witnesses in the area helped detain Mr. Bruner until law enforcement arrived and was able to take him into custody without incident.

Bond set at $100,000 for accused killer of Joplin man

Bond was set at $100,000, cash only, for one of two men charged with second degree murder in connection with the  September 5 death of  David McKibben, 71, Joplin. The decision was made during a December 15 hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court.

The next hearing for Kristopher Smith, 27, is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, December 29.

Anthony Carter, 21, has also been charged.

The probable cause statement reads as follows:

On September 5, 2014, the body of David McKibben was found at his home located at 201 N. Wall, Apt. 1,, Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri. The medical examiner has concluded that Mr. McKibben's death is a homicide.

The suspects, Kristopher Smith and Anthony Carter, have told at least two separate people that they went to the home of Mr. McKibben on or about September 4, 2014, or September 5, 2014 where they assaulted and maybe killed Mr. McKibben and stole items from his residence.

Former JHS teacher appears in court on sex charges

Former Joplin High School communication arts teacher Jessica Low, who faces rape, sodomy, and pornography charges, appeared in Jasper County Circuit Court this morning, but any action on her case has been postponed until a 9 a.m. February 2 hearing.

Low, 32, was arrested shortly after the school day ended at the 9-10 Center (the former Memorial Middle School) May 29. Low had taught at JHS for two years.

The probable cause statement can be found at this link.

CJ woman pleads guilty to abandoning dead Joplin Honky

A Carl Junction woman who did not seek help for a dying man because she thought she might get into trouble for using meth pleaded guilty this morning in Jasper County Circuit Court to a charge of abandoning a corpse.

Chelsie Berry, 25, told the Newton County Sheriff's Department that she had left the body of Dennis "Nathan" Meier, described by the department as a member of the Joplin Honkies gang on a driveway near Diamond. (Her statements can be found in the probable cause affidavit.)

ACLU; Kansas City School District violated protesting student's rights

(From American Civil Liberties Union Missouri)

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Kansas City School District, because the district violated a student’s First Amendment rights. The suit asks the court to stop punishing the student for participating in a protest.

When Governor Nixon began speaking during an assembly on Nov. 20 at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, 14 students stood and held their hands up in a sign of surrender. They were immediately ushered out of the auditorium, sent home and threatened with a 10-day suspension. This punishment was changed to a Saturday School detention.

“This student was exercising her constitutional rights by expressing the message that she stood in solidarity with other protesters across Missouri and the country after the death of Michael Brown,” explains Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “The school should be proud to have taught their students to be confident in their right to express themselves to the Governor.”

“School administrators cannot punish students for communications they think will bring negative attention to the school,” explained Sarah Rossi, the ACLU of Missouri’s director of advocacy and policy. “The First Amendment does not permit that.”

The ACLU of Missouri is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that defends and expands the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all Missourians guaranteed under the United States and Missouri Constitutions, through its litigation, legislative and public education programs. It is an affiliate of the national ACLU.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sorry Annie and Mike, it's bluejeans every Friday for Joplin teachers

Change is coming to Joplin R-8 school buildings when teachers and students return from Christmas break, despite the whining and protestations of Board of Education President Anne Sharp and board member Mike Landis.

Every Friday will be an Eagle Pride Day.

Translation for those who are not up to date with Joplin School District terminology- teachers can wear bluejeans on Friday.

The change was one that was fought for by board members Lynda Banwart, who recommended it at the November 25 board meeting and Debbie Fort, who noted in August that it would be much appreciated by staff and that it was something that was being done by her employer, Missouri Southern State University.

But the stodgy older faction of the board, those who have been on the board since before most of the current Joplin High School enrollment was born- Landis and Sharp, were staunchly opposed to the change.

"I will not vote for that," Landis blustered November 25. Landis noted that the Joplin School District was one of the largest employers in the city and teachers needed to show professionalism.

Both Landis and Sharp have noted the importance of such strict standards since Joplin wants to be the area's "employer of choice." Unmentioned is that with Sharp and Landis at the helm and blindly approving each decision made by the C. J. Huff Administration, the Joplin R-8 School District has become the area's largest exporter of teachers.

Prior to this change in district policy, teachers had been allowed to wear bluejeans once  a month, normally on the Friday nearest to payday on the 20th, which brought a heated exchange between Sharp and fellow board member Jim Kimbrough at the August board meeting.

Sharp bristled at the notion of teachers wearing bluejeans every Friday. "Our teachers are professionals and we all know they act differently when they aren't dressed professionally."

That logic appeared to stun Kimbrough, who said if that is the case "then why is it OK to do it one day a month?"

At the November meeting, Huff seemed to indicate that parents have a problem with teachers wearing bluejeans, though he did not make it clear what the problem was.

At that time, the board decided to approve the policy, which did not include anything about teachers wearing bluejeans and leave the enforcement and what will be allowed up to the board's Policy Committee. 

Whether being able to wear bluejeans will make a difference, it is too soon to tell, but as Banwart noted in November- if Joplin wants to be the employer of choice, little things like this could make a difference.
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Did Joplin R-8 Board pay $103,000 to take one test?

Lost in all of the controversy over the Joplin R-8 Board of Education's decision to pay $95,000 to get the right color of seats in the high school gymnasium, was another, even larger expenditure that was approved as part of the consent agenda.

With a bare minimum of discussion, the board approved spending $103,000 for keyboards for the iPads being used by eighth graders and at one of the elementary schools.

If the keyboards were being used to facilitate more in-depth writing assignments, that would be one thing.

C. J. Huff Administration officials acknowledged during the meeting Tuesday night that the money was being paid so the students could take the Common Core tests that will be given next spring (though, of course, the words Common Core were not used since they seem to think calling it "new standards" will fool us). With the status of Common Core in Missouri up in the air, the board may very well have paid out a six-figure sum to take a one-time only test.

An article earlier this week at Politico noted the efforts that are being made to fight Common Core testing in the Show-Me State.

The article reviews the recent restraining order Common Core opponents were able to get against the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which is providing the tests, which are scheduled to be given for the first time this year.

Since new Missouri standards are being written, there is no guarantee that there will ever be another Common Core test, or that whatever standards Missouri uses will require all testing to be done online.

Taking that into consideration, the Huff Administration could have opted for some minor inconvenience and conducted eighth grade testing on a different day, perhaps importing laptops that are being used in other schools for the testing.

Certainly there was no desperate need to pay $103,000 for keyboards for iPads, which were a questionable expenditure in the first place.

At a time when the district has just had to borrow $45 million to cover $8 million of might-as-well spending and $5 to $12 million of extras on the new buildings that to this point do not appear to have been approved by FEMA, it seems like it would have been a wise time to have delayed spending another $103,000.

To paraphrase the late Sen. Everett Dirksen, you spend $100,000 here and $100,000 there and pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

J. T. Taylor sentenced to 25 years for Joplin murder

Judge David Mouton sentenced Johnathan "J. T." Taylor, 21, Joplin, to 25 years in prison Friday on charges of murder and burglary in connection with the July 6, 2012, murder of Jacob A. Wages, 23, at Wages' home in the 1900 block of Pearl.

Wages surprised Taylor and two other men as they were burglarizing his residence. One of those men, Daniel Hartman, 19, Tulsa, Oklahoma, shot Wages and killed him, then the men continued taking items from the home.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Billy Long offers Christmas wishes

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you "Be of good cheer"
It's the most wonderful time of the year
-Andy Williams, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
This song by Andy Williams sums up how many of us feel about the Christmas season.  It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.  Our spirits seem lifted during this season as we all work to spread holiday cheer to those around us.  
Children eagerly anticipate this time of year because of the gifts they look forward to receiving.  During the Christmas season it is important for us to focus on the ultimate gift, the birth of Jesus Christ.  This gift is the reason we celebrate this special time of year.   
This time of the year many of us reflect on how we can be a better friend and neighbor to all.  The Christmas season gives us a great opportunity to spread love and well wishes to all those around us and to those who are less fortunate in our communities.
Let us also give thanks once again for our Armed Services.  Many men and women in uniform will not be able to celebrate this special time of year with their families because they are abroad protecting our freedom.
May the peace and joy of Christmas be with you and your families on Christmas day and throughout the New Year!

Tim Jones: People need, deserve answers from Nixon on Ferguson

(From Speaker of the House Tim Jones, R-Eureka)

As we continue to witness the heartbreaking and concerning images from Ferguson that have dominated national news in recent months, we have been reminded that our state has a significant leadership void that has made a difficult situation even worse. In a perfect world, our governor would have been active and engaged, and in communication with other public officials on all levels, in order to contain the destruction we saw in Ferguson. Instead he resorted to his typical tactics where he isolated himself and kept his decision making secret from those who were ready and willing to help.

One of the more disturbing facts that emerged from the riots was that the National Guard was sent to Ferguson to keep the peace, but then not authorized to take action on the first night when the majority of the damage was done. In fact, the mayor of Ferguson spent much of the evening trying to communicate with the governor to ask him to deploy the National Guard only to have his requests fall on deaf ears. I was personally in contact with the mayor and doing all I could to help him reach the chief executive, but our efforts were unsuccessful. It was this failure by our governor to work with local leaders in Ferguson that again raised serious questions about his ability to handle such a difficult situation.

Food Action Network rep to speak to SW MO Democrats

(From Southwest Missouri Democrats)

Southwest Missouri Democrats will host their Monthly Breakfast on Saturday, December 20th, at 9:30 a.m. We will gather in the Golden Corral meeting room on 2415 South Range Line Road, Joplin, MO 64804.

We are pleased to welcome Renee White from the Joplin Area Food Action Network as our guest speaker.

Joplin Area Food Action Network (JAFAN) promotes food equity and access in the Joplin area. Along with her work with JAFAN Renee is the new Executive Director for the Joplin Community Clinic. She was on the original Board of Directors for the clinic and served as the first volunteer social worker on site.

Turner e-books on sale for 50 percent off

As a Christmas special between now and December 24, I am selling three of my e-books at approximately 50 percent off.

Two of the books, my horror-mystery novel, The Devil's on Facebook, and my sports collection, The Best of Sports Talk, are only available as e-books.

The third selection is my first book from 2005, Small Town News.

All three books normally sell for $9.99. From now through December 24, they will be on sale for $4.99.

Amazon also has a function that allows them to be sent as gifts.

A breakdown on the three books:

Best of Sports Talk

Through the 1980s and 1990s, I wrote more than 1,000 Sports Talk columns. This collection features some of the best, covering multiple sports and athletes and stories from multiple area communities. The following stories are featured:

1. Football Coaches Don't Cry- Seneca Coach Alvin Elbert meets his eight-year-old pen-pal Abby Phipps of Lamar, the wheelchair-bound victim of a drunk driver.

2. A Bases-Loaded Walk- My tribute to the late Gary Shepherd, tells a story from my youth when the coach of my Little League team, Brad Letts, decided to walk the best player on the other team, his brother, Steve Letts, with the bases loaded. (Gary was the coach of Steve's team.)

3. She Will Always Be With Us- Webb City cheerleader Miranda Yocum (now Joplin City Council member Miranda Lewis) talks about the death of her aunt, Nancy Cruzan, whose right-to-die case went all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court.

4. Stacey and the Magic Free Throw- The story of how a non-existent free throw enabled the Mt. Vernon girls team to beat Carthage in double overtime, despite the best efforts of Stacey Brunnert.

5. Gary Embry's Memory Lives On- Rita Embry talks about her son, former Lamar High School and Missouri Southern football great Gary Embry, who was killed in a car accident.

6. Under Mom's Watch- Peggy Lucas watches as her daughter, Carthage senior Tysha Lucas, plays her final high school volleyball match.

7. The Days of Swine and Roses- The day Jasper County Youth Fair princess (and pig-scrambling expert), Christy Olson got the munchies and lost a friend.

8. Just Five Minutes- The real-life horror story of former Lamar coach Armando DeLaRosa, who committed suicide moments after murdering his wife.

9. The Love of Baseball- My interviews with the former KOM minor league players as they played in an oldtimers game 50 years later.

10. Past His Bedtime- Today, he's Webb City's basketball coach, but in this story Landon Cornish was six years old and had no use for girls whatsoever.

11. Remembering Harry Caray- My thoughts after the death of the broadcasting legend

12. This Is My Class, Too- Jamie Turner, a Carthage High School graduate, returns to watch her former classmates at Sarcoxie High School graduate.

13. Smiles at the End of their Rainbows- The first graders who he volunteered to help every day were the ones hit the hardest when Lamar swimmer Brandon Teel died suddenly from spinal meningitis.

14. Girls in the Big Gym- The column I wrote that put an end forever to having Carthage High School girls basketball games in the physical education building instead of the big gym.

15. Cruel Words- When she was in junior high, adults said Webb City volleyball and basketball player Kari Perry would never amount to anything. She tells the story of how she fought back with the help of her coach Sarah Gamble (now Carl Junction volleyball coach Sarah Wall).

16. Return of a Legend- Twenty-five years after leading Jasper to two straight undefeated football seasons, Bill McClintock returns to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

17. The Game Ball- Lamar's Jim Hillman presents the game ball to his grandfather, Tom O'Sullivan, at the dedication of the stadium named after O'Sullivan.

18. Carthage's King Carl- The story of New York Giants great Carl Hubbell and he how he struck out five future Hall-of-Famers in a row at the 1934 All-Star Game. (Hubbell was born near Carthage.)

19. First Kiss- When she was crowned Lamar High School Basketball Homecoming Queen, senior Leigh Hughes received her first kiss in front of 1,500 people. That was the hook Leigh's sister, Lindsay, used to get students to vote for Leigh. But there was another secret that no one knew at the time.

20. She Said Yes- The follow-up, two years later, to the previous story, as Leigh Hughes' boyfriend offers a surprise wedding proposal, and once again it was in front of 1,500 people.

21. Tiger Pride- Polite to referees, but downright mean while playing defense, Carthage junior Brandi Richardson receives the Tiger Pride award at the basketball banquet.

22. The Final 16 Seconds- The high school football career of Jasper senior Stacy Maggard comes to an end.

23. Waffling- This unusual column pairs the serves of Carthage junior varsity volleyball player Stephanie Greenwood with breakfast food.

24. Love and Haiti- While her Lamar teammates were playing in a brand new gym at the Aurora Tournament, Kelly Stahl teaches Haitian children how to play on a dirt court.

25. Beating the Odds- A Liberal barber survives brain surgery and holds off death for a few days longer to accept a special award for years of supporting the school's athletic teams.

26. Taking the Wrong Path- Carthage junior varsity basketball player Alicia Peters was great with the steals, but did not always take the ball in the right direction.

27. My Little Brother's Face- Lockwood High School reacts to the suicide of a freshman football player.

28. As Time Ran Out- Webb City guard Jennifer Lawrence takes one last shot at a district basketball championship.

29. Smelling the Silver- He played in one of the highest-scoring Cotton Bowl games in history, but more than four decades later, it is still the Silver Tiger game between Lamar and Nevada that ranks first in Pete Ihm's memory.

30. My Comeback- A first person account of my return to baseball, playing in the Granby Old Mining Town Days Oldtimers Game.

31. Family and Friends- When his house burned down, Lamar guard Michael Miller learned what was important.

32. A Shining Star- On the day when everyone thought she would be headed to the state volleyball championship, funeral services were held for Diamond senior Kelli Dorsey.

33. A New Home- After spending all of her life in the small town of Henderson, Nebraska, Andrea Friesen moves to the big city (Carthage) for her senior year.

34. The Power of Prayer- After an ACLU protest, the pre-game prayer over the loudspeaker at Lamar football games was stopped, but more than 100 people gathered in the end zone to pray.

35. Second Chance- He nearly died when a trash dumpster fell on him, but only a few years later, Carthage wide receiver Shaine Sundy received a scholarship to play football at MSSC.

The Devil's on Facebook

In this combination horror/mystery novel, a teenage girl communicates with her murdered father on Facebook and soon begins to realize that not only is her father's killer targeting her, but her father may be even more evil than the killer. (The Devil's on Facebook is an updated version of my 2006 novel Devil's Messenger.)

Small Town News

Small Town News is a fictionalized version of the events of October 31, 2001, when the Bank of Diamond was robbed and Diamond School Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith disappeared. The book is a combination mystery and satire on the media as they descend upon a small town.

The books can be ordered through the links below this post.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Reader's advice: Send this jackass down the road

Since I posted the reader comment about Debbie Fort, I thought it would also be a good idea to post this comment from another reader, originally sent to my post from last night about "10 Things That C. J. Huff and Anne Sharp Don't Want You to Know."

CJ Huff has just got to go.

I don't think the public or the schools can survive much longer. It would be best to not wait until April and make a new board do the deed of dismissing this overinflated puff of vanity.

Please, don't renew his contract in January. There is plenty of evidence that the district has failed under his lack of leadership, and he has already demonstrated that he will leave Joplin if something comes along that makes him look even bigger and better.

So, send this jackass down the road so we can get a fresh start. There truly is no time to spare.

(Photo: The one the reader wants to send down the road hugs his Bright Futures USA CEO Kim Vann.)

Reader: Debbie Fort is a bad board member and "many people" agree with me

A reader just left a comment on the post about Joplin resident Ryan Jackson's open letter to the members of the Joplin R-8 Board of Education.

In the comment, the reader attacks board member Debbie Fort, after beginning by offering faint praise. This certainly seems like another of the comments that a handful of C. J. Huff enthusiasts (at this point, I would say there couldn't be more than a handful) aimed at me after it became obvious that the Turner Report was having an impact.

As I have discovered over the course of the past year and a half, there are highly placed people in the Joplin community, and they are not elected officials, who believe that everything that takes place has to fit in with their vision and they were willing to destroy, or try to destroy anyone who stands in their way.

Although I agree with Debbie Fort's vote on this particular issue, make no mistake about her "good intentions" or her competence.

 She was the highest paid elementary principal in the district at one time and her building had the worst, or close to worst, test scores (reference DESE website).

 She ignored and violated policy, someone should ask about milk money cash and PTO checking account. Now she sets in a seat and condemns others in the district for test scores? 

She had the training, hence the title DR., and couldn't produce results. She is no savior people! And frankly, she wasn't even a good principal. Now you think she is going to be a good board member? 

Please! She has an agenda and I for one, and many more agree, that it is not to do what is best for kids. It appears to be about vengeance and revenge.
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First Mass held at new St. Mary's credit, goes to only one Master Developer

Another sign of Joplin's recovery after the May 22, 2011, tornado, and one that took place with the help of only one Almighty Master Developer. The report is from KOAM's Lisa Olliges