Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dankelson files felony charge against Prall, nothing against Ace Mohr

Probable cause statements have reportedly been received from the Joplin Police Department on multiple felony charges against Steven Prall, 25, Joplin, and Ace Mohr, 23, Carthage, in connection with an armed robbery Tuesday morning at 7th and Moffet, but at this point, Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney Dean Dankelson has filed only charge- and none against Mohr, according to online Jasper County Circuit Court records.

Prall was arrested on charges of robbery in the first degree, conspiracy to commit robbery, and possession of a controlled substance. Mohr was charged with robbery in the first degree, armed
criminal action, and possession of a controlled substance, according to a police department news release.

The charge filed today against Prall was a felony- delivery or manufacture of a controlled substance with intent.

The probable cause statement outlines the case against Prall:

Prall was stopped driving a vehicle during an investigation of an armed robbery. Prall was found to be in possession of a large amount of currency and a burnt marijuana cigarette.

Search of the vehicle Prall was driving revealed the following items under the driver's seat- a black Vaultz nylon zippered pouch that was unlocked. Inside the pouch was a baggie with 4.3 grams of a crystal substance that field tested positive for methamphetamine.

Also in the pouch was a notepad with dollar amounts in it, a ledger, a digital scale with crystal residue in it, a sunglasses bag with multiple small empty zip lock type plastic baggies inside.Also in the bag was a straight, glass methamphetamine pipe was a red straw and a blue ink pen.

Court records indicate this is the first time Prall was been charged with a felony. He has a careless and imprudent driving charge pending in Newton County.

If Dankelson files armed robbery charges against Mohr, it will be the third time he has done so. On the two previous occasions, a 2013 robbery of a customer at the Sonic Drive-In in Carthage and a 2015 robbery of a man at the Guest House Motel in Carthage.

Mohr currently faces seven felony charges in Jasper County Circuit Court, including drug possession and trafficking, involving heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Prosecutor drops earlier armed robbery charges against Carthage man

Spongebob plea fails- Neosho man sentenced to 8 years in prison

In the letters of recommendation for Jason Harper, 34, Neosho, he was described as a man with a heart of gold, someone who helped make bacon and watched Spongebob with children, and a sweet man.

A federal judge today sentenced that sweet man to more than eight years in prison for drug trafficking, illegal possession of a firearm, and probation violation.

A possession of methamphetamine charge and a charge of using a weapon while dealing drugs were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

Harper was sentenced to 45 months in prison to be served consecutively on the two remaining felony charges and 12 months and one day for the probation violation.

Harper's attorney submitted five letters of recommendation to the judge for his client, including two from Carthage women, one from a LaRussell woman, and one from a 14-year-old girl.

The teenager described someone different from the felon described by the government in its grand jury indictment and at his detention hearing.

When I was little, Jason helped me make bacon and watched Spongebob with us. I've known Jason since he was four. He's been there for me like forever. One time when I got mad, I ran outside without a jacket and without shoes. Jason came after me and gave me his jacket and gave me a piggy back ride home.

A Carthage woman wrote that Harper had been a babysitter for her three and four-year-old children "while I slept after working all night."

She added, "I introduced him to my mom and she adores him. And for that to happen, he has to be a good person, because she doesn't like many of my friends.

" The world needs more caring people like Jason."

The LaRussell woman offered the following assessment of Harper:

Jason is a strong-willed individual who always strives to do the right thing by others.  Some (of his) decisions weren't the best, (but) he always seems to learn from his mistakes and come out on top."

A Carthage grandmother wrote that Harper's biggest problem was his choice of friends:

He hangs out with old friends who always seem to get him in trouble. He has a heart of gold and would help anyone who needs anything.

The federal grand jury indictment came as a result of Harper's arrest, along with Alicia Ulloa of Arkansas July 29, 2015, at 34th and Main in Joplin.

During the arrest, which came as a result of a long-term investigation by the Jasper and Newton County sheriff's offices, the Joplin Police Department, and the Ozark Area Drug Task Force, authorities caught Harper and Ulloa with a quarter pound of methamphetamine, more than $20,000 in cash, and a stolen gun.

Earlier that month, the Newton County Sheriff's Office had arrested Harper and two others at a Joplin home and charged him with felony possession of a controlled substance.

Carthage businessman sentenced to 10 years on child porn charge

(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

A Carthage man was sentenced in federal court Tuesday for receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet.

Jerry Batchelor, 52, from Carthage, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 10 years in federal prison without parole. The court also sentenced Batchelor to supervised release for the rest of his life following incarceration.

On Jan. 11, 2016, Batchelor pleaded guilty to receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet. Batchelor utilized a peer-to-peer file-sharing network to obtain and trade images and videos of child pornography between Aug. 10, 2012, and April 4, 2014.

A search warrant was executed at Batchelor’s residence, on Howard Street in Carthage, on April 7, 2014. A desktop computer was seized, along with three portable hard drives, a thumb drive and an SD card. Images and videos of child pornography included prepubescent minors as young as approximately two years of age, and sado-masochistic images. Investigators also found videos taken by Batchelor, who secretly videotaped adults in the bathroom in his residence.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by Jasper County Sheriff’s Detective Tim Williams, who was assigned to the Southwest Missouri Cybercrimes Task Force, and the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force.

The original filing of charges against Batchelor, the former owner of Benchwarmers Neighborhood Restaurant and Sports Pub in Oronogo, was posted on the April 6, 2015 Turner Report:

The owner of a now-closed Oronogo, Mo., restaurant has been indicted by a federal grand jury for receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet.

Jerry Batchelor, 51, of Carthage, Mo., was charged in an indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo., on April 1, 2015. That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon Batchelor’s arrest and initial court appearance.

Batchelor was the owner of Benchwarmer’s Neighborhood Restaurant and Sports Pub in Oronogo. The federal indictment alleges that Batchelor received and distributed child pornography over the Internet between Aug. 10, 2012, and April 4, 2014.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Joplin R-8 to take bids on Irving Elementary property

During a closed session August 23, the Joplin R-8 Board of Education voted to sell the Irving Elementary property at 26th and Wall.

Bids will be opened in March 2017, with a minimum bid of $32,000.

The board also amended the contract of Mark Lynch, assistant director at Franklin Tech, to include adjusted job responsibilities and to align his salary with his doctorate degree.

Prosecutor dropped earlier armed robbery charges against Carthage man

The arrest today of a Carthage man for an armed robbery at 7th and Moffet marks the third time he has been arrested for that crime.

You won't find any record of that in Jasper County Circuit Court, however.

After the first two times Ace Nolan Mohr, 24, was arrested for armed robbery, Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney and soon to be judge Dean Dankelson dropped the charges.

Mohr and two other men were charged with an October 4, 2015, robbery of a man staying at the Guest House Motel in Carthage. Carthage Police alleged that Mohr held the man down on the bed at knife point, while the other two men searched for valuables.

Dankelson dropped the charges after the victim failed to show for a preliminary hearing, even though the prosecuting attorney had a sworn affidavit from a Carthage police officer saying that one of Mohr's accomplices admitted the three men had committed the crime.

Charges were also dropped on an earlier armed robbery. Carthage Police arrested Mohr after he allegedly opened the front passenger door of a car at the Sonic Drive-In on November 22, 2013, slid in beside the driver and robbed him at gunpoint.

Area court dockets are filled with charges against Mohr that have not been dropped,  most of them still pending, involving his alleged possession and trafficking in drugs, including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

At the same time Joplin Police say Mohr and Steven G. Prall, 25, Joplin, were robbing a man at 7th and Moffet, Mohr was awaiting trial on seven felony charges.

Webb City Police Arrest July 19

Webb City Police arrested Mohr July 19, at 1212 Madison after responding to a trespassing call.

"Just prior to putting handcuffs on him, I saw him reach into his right pocket and throw a small white object," Officer Alex Bickett wrote in the probable cause statement. "I heard it hit another object and roll across the ground."

The object turned out to be crystal meth, Bickett said. Another officer found marijuana in a container on Mohr's key chain, the statement indicates.

Jasper County Sheriff's Office Arrest April 27

The Jasper County Sheriff's Office had Mohr's home under surveillance April 27 when Carthage Police Detective Chad Allison and Jasper County Detective Ed Bailey saw a Dodge minivan pull into the driveway, according to Bailey's probable cause statement.

As we exited the vehicle and identified ourselves as police, Mohr exited the van and began to run around the front of (it). As Mohr moved, I saw him throw two syringes to the ground at the front of the van, along with his keys.

When asked if he had any other syringes, Mohr replied, "No, only those two."

During a search of Mohr's person after he was detained, Allison located a portion of a pill wrapped in foil paper in a package of cigarettes found in Mohr's right front pants pocket. When asked what it was, Mohr said, "It's a Dilaudid. Mohr admitted to using Dilaudid intravenously.

Mohr was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

Jasper County Sheriff's Office January 29, 2015

Mohr sold heroin at his Carthage home in front of a small child on January 29, 2015, according to a probable cause statement by Bailey.

The purchase was made by a "cooperating individual,"

"I request the identity of the cooperating individual remain confidential as revealing his/her identity could jeopardize his/her safety and destroy his/her usefulness in future investigations," Bailey wrote.

Carthage Police Department February 16, 2015

Carthage Police arrested Mohr for driving while intoxicated February 16, 2015, and then found drugs on him while he was being booked, according to the probable cause statement from Officer Justin Butler.

While handcuffed to a bench in the booking room, Mohr removed a plastic baggie containing 138 grams of cocaine from his right shoe. I seized the substance from his person.

While speaking to Mohr, I discovered a plastic baggie containing two grams of methamphetamine inside his mouth under his tongue. After discovering the meth, I removed Mohr's left sock and located two more plastic baggies containing 60 Alprazolan, schedule four pills and one unknown blue pill.

The probable cause statement noted that Mohr had been arrested September 22, 2013, for possession of a controlled substance, though no trace of that case appears to exist in court records.

Court dates

October 31 hearings are scheduled before Judge John Nicholas in Jasper County Circuit Court on the Webb City possession charge and the January 29, 2015 distributing heroin charge.

The next hearing on the three charges of distributing controlled substances filed in connection with the April 27 arrest and the December 30 possession charge are scheduled for September 19 before Judge David Dally.

Mohr has been able to post surety bonds for amounts as high as $20,000.

Court records indicate Mohr is represented by Joplin attorney Phil Glades.

Motorcyclist who injured Joplin policeman free after posting $5,000 cash bond

The man who injured Joplin Police Sgt. Rusty Rives by dragging him with his motorcycle is out of jail after posting a $5,000 cash bond, according to court records.

Paul Gilbert Haney, 19, Joplin, faces a felony charge of assault on a law enforcement officer. His arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. September 14 in Jasper County Circuit Court.

When Haney's run-in with police occurred, he was already out on $20,000 bond on felony drug charges stemming from an April 10 arrest by the Jasper County Sheriff's Department.

A hearing was held in that case Tuesday. Haney was not in court, but was represented by his attorney, Brian Glades. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. October 17 before Judge John Nicholas.

The JPD news release on Haney's latest arrest is printed below:

On Saturday, 08-27-2016 at approximately 1:00 AM, Sgt. Rusty Rives observed two motorcycles eastbound on 32nd St. from Wisconsin Avenue.

The motorcycles were going one-hundred and twenty-four miles per hour. (124 mph.) The two motorcyclists were recognized as subjects that officers had multiple interactions with, wherein they taunt the police in order to attempt to prompt a pursuit.

Later into the shift, Sgt. Rives again observed the motorcycles traveling north on Main St. from 32nd St. when Paul G. Haney drove into oncoming traffic at a southbound police unit.

Sgt. Rives waited on foot at 15th and Main St. Upon their return they were stopped at the light and Sgt. Rives, on foot, approached Haney.

Sgt. Rives attempted to take Haney into custody. Once Rives grabbed Haney’s hoody. He became entangled in it as Haney took off at a high rate of speed. Haney dragged Sgt. Rives several feet. As a result, Sgt. Rives’ shoulder was dislocated.

Sgt. Rives transported himself to the hospital where he was treated and released.

Multiple agencies, including Missouri State Highway Patrol, Jasper County Sheriff’s Office and Newton Country Sheriff’s Office assisted in locating Haney.

The Jasper County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges against Haney for Felony Assault on Law Enforcement and a warrant was issued with a $5,000 bond.

On Sunday, August 28, 2016, Haney was arrested by the Newton County Sheriff’s Office.

Substitute teacher charged with selling drugs to students

An Edmond, Oklahoma substitute teacher, who had been working in Edmond schools for the past decade, was arrested on two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allegedly attempting to sell drugs to students.

A report from Tulsa TV station KOTV indicates that Heather Lytle had more than drugs on her mind:

The current charges date back to April, when Lytle was inappropriately texting two male students through Snapchat about buying marijuana, according to case documents.

But police said that was just the beginning of the relationship Lytle had with the two students.

According to court records, investigators found several suggestive text messages where Lytle asked one of the students, "…which is the better feeling: having sex? or getting high?"

One of the students also reportedly told investigators, "at some point in the past she asked him about (her) kissing him. He told her it would be like kissing his mom."

Edmond Public Schools said Lytle isn't currently employed by EPS and won't be in the future.

Audit: Missouri colleges cap tuition fees, but jack up fees to make up for it

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

An audit released today by Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway finds the state's public universities are in compliance with a law designed to cap in-state undergraduate tuition increases, but they are increasing student fees to make up for a decrease in state funding. These fees are not defined or limited in statute, making college more expensive for many students and families.

"The purpose of the Higher Education Student Funding Act is to keep the cost of college affordable for Missouri students and families. It defeats the intent of the law when there is no cap or limit on certain fees," Auditor Galloway said. "The General Assembly should take action to address this issue, because while fees continue to rise, state funding per student has decreased."

The Missouri General Assembly established the Higher Education Student Funding Act in 2007, which limits the amount a public institution may increase certain required fees and in-state undergraduate tuition each year. The limit is based on how well the economy is performing, measured by the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Auditor Galloway recommended the General Assembly consider these additional fees when evaluating whether the Higher Education Student Funding Act is meeting its stated intent of limiting the cost of Missouri's publicinstitutions of higher education.

"Higher education has real and direct benefits to our state, both in its impact on our economy, and for individuals who want to better themselves through education," Auditor Galloway said. "Those benefits must be reflected in the priority we place on state funding for higher education. This is critical at a time when public colleges and universities across the state are making tough decisions on how to best use the resources available to them in order to continue the important mission of educating future generations."

In order to comply with the law, institutions must not raise in-state undergraduate tuition more than the increase in the CPI, unless they provide justification and receive a waiver from the Commissioner of Higher Education. These waivers were only provided once, in 2012, when cuts to state higher education funding led 11 of the 14 institutions to increase tuition above the CPI. Between 2009 and 2015, tuition rates rose, on average, about 1.6 percent per year. The CPI rose about 1.8 percent per year, which means the institutions followed the law, but supplemental fees continued to rise.

Although it has risen in the past two years, overall state funding for higher education decreased during the six years reviewed. State funding dropped $1500 per student during that same 6-year period, requiring institutions to find ways to limit costs and increase revenues from other sources. During that same time, supplemental fees increased 138 percent.

Part of the problem is a lack of clarity over the definition of "required fees." The law defines tuition as "tuition and required fees," but many institutions charge supplemental fees that are required only for certain courses. These supplemental fees get left out of the calculation. The audit recommends the Department of Higher Education clearly define the term "required fees" to reduce confusion over what should and should not be included in the calculation.

The Coordinating Board for Higher Education and the Commissioner of Higher Education are charged with reviewing tuition rates submitted by Missouri's 13 public 4-year institutions and the State Technical College of Missouri to ensure they are in compliance with the law. The 14 institutions included in the Higher Education Student Funding Act's tuition limits are Harris-Stowe State University, Lincoln University, Missouri Southern State University, Missouri State University, Missouri Western State University, Northwest Missouri State University, Southeast Missouri State University, State Technical College of Missouri, Truman State University, University of Central Missouri, University of Missouri - Columbia, University of Missouri - Kansas City, University of Missouri - St. Louis, and Missouri University of Science and Technology.

This is the second in a series of four higher education audits. An audit of the Department of Higher Education was released earlier this month. Audits of higher education performance funding and the University of Missouri System Administration are ongoing.

A complete copy of the report is available online here.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Newsmakers video: Charlie Davis previews legislative veto session

Reiboldt: Hostility increasing toward Christian beliefs, teachings

(From Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Seneca)

For various reasons, including political correctness, an increasing number of Christians in America today believe their religious freedoms are under attack. However, compared to some other places around the world, Americans have not experienced the same kinds, nor the severity of persecutions as Christians in the countries of Nigeria, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt or Syria. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, approximately, three-fourths of the world’s population lives in countries where there is no religious liberty or where there are major restrictions placed on religion.

Though Christians here in the U.S. aren’t victimized as are those elsewhere, there does seem to be an increased hostility and intolerance to basic Christian beliefs and teachings. For a large part, it has now become permissible in our society to mock or ridicule religion in general and Christianity in particular. Irreverence is seen daily in our liberal media, where much TV programming will somehow make jokes about Christian values. We have numerous cases in our nation where these values have come under attack. One such case that I am following with interest is the Joe Kennedy situation.

Mr. Kennedy is a former football coach at the Bremerton School in the state of Washington. He was first placed on leave, then the district chose not to renew his contract. He firmly believes his ultimate dismissal was because he prayed after each high school football game. Following the games he would go to the center of the field and “take a knee”and pray. Initially, Coach Kennedy prayed alone. Seeing his example, and having respect for their coach, players voluntarily asked to join him. Coach Kennedy’s after-game prayers were short and were never for the purpose of proselytizing young players. This is an example of one of his prayers: “Lord, I thank you for these kids and the blessing you have given me with them. We believe in the game, we believe in competition, and we can come into the game as rivals and leave as brothers.”

Prior to his dismissal, Coach Kennedy was instructed that he could only pray in a private area where he could not be seen by players, students, parents, or other patrons of the district. Furthermore, he was told that any conversations with students could not include religious expressions and “must remain entirely secular in nature.” Admittedly, the school district officials stated not a single person in the community had complained about Coach Kennedy’s post-game prayers. Consequently, Coach Kennedy continued this practice, reasoning that he was well within his constitutional rights for freedom of speech and religion.

Following his dismissal, Mr. Kennedy filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming his removal was due to religious discrimination. He is being represented by the group Liberty Institute. They claim the school’s actions violated Kennedy’s First Amendment rights and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, an act that forbids religious discrimination in the work place. Unfortunately, the Kennedy case is not an isolated incident but is only a small part of a much larger ongoing legal debate concerning one’s constitutional freedom to exercise his or her religious belief.

When getting down to the nuts and bolts of the religious discrimination issue, whether you are a cake-baker, a photographer, a florist, or a high school football coach, you may find you are one of many people across our nation, in effect, being told by the government that your religious liberty stops when you leave your house of worship. A growing number of Christians fear that government will require them to make a choice between obeying the laws of the land or following their religious faith. Consequently, this has put religious liberty on a collision course with some groups, such as the LBGT community, and why prior to 2015, twenty-one state governments enacted Religious Freedom Restoration Legislation concerning an individual’s free exercise of religion. After the historic 2014 Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby decision, in 2015 sixteen states proposed expanding religious freedom legislation, though only two states were successful in passing it. Others, including Missouri, filed similar legislation in 2016. Our state’s legislation failed to pass it out of a committee in the Missouri House.

Mr. Kennedy stated that he is only seeking the ability to go back and to help young men. For twenty years he served as a U.S. Marine who fought for and protected the Constitution. Now he wants that Constitution to protect him. He adds, “Our goal has always been to build our kids up and send the right message about what the sport is really about, which is making better men out of them.”

Since Mr. Kennedy’s removal from the football field and the school campus, it is reported that another assistant football coach has challenged the school district with a Buddhist chant near midfield following football games. So far the district has not issued any ruling.

Striving to be politically correct certainly can have its challenges.

Audit criticizes House, Senate dealings with lobbyists

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has released audits of the Missouri House and Senate legislative bodies. The audits were conducted as part of a series of regular reviews by the Auditor's Office, and identified issues related to open records, lobbyist contributions and personnel policies.

In both the House and Senate, unclear and incomplete open records policies have led to confusion over what is and is not open to the public. Both chambers claim Sunshine Law exemptions to legislators' official records and emails, but even for generally agreed open records, in many cases documents were not available or did not exist for audit staff to review. There were no records kept on meetings held by interim committees on topics related to Medicaid, the military and capital improvements. The same held true for House and Senate Joint Committees, where auditors found basic records missing for meetings on critical topics related to education and child abuse and neglect. In some cases, joint committees failed to even meet, or to submit final committee reports required by law.

The audit identified concerns related to personnel policies that were not included in either the House or the Senate handbooks, including the absence of a policy to provide whistleblower protections to employees from retaliation for reporting abuse of authority or violations of the law witnessed in the workplace. The audit also recommends the House and Senate fully comply with the Family Medical Leave Act, providing employees with leave to care for returning service members.

The audit also describes potential issues involving contributions from lobbyists that could result in the appearance, or existence, of a conflict of interest. In the House, an interim committee solicited contributions from lobbying firms to support a statewide education tour. Lobbyists also contributed to a Senate fund to pay for evening meals for senators and state employees who work for the Senate, when working late during the legislative session, despite the fact that senators already received a daily allowance of about $100. In addition, the bank account for this fund is held outside the state treasury, in violation of the Missouri Constitution.

Complete audits of both the House of Representatives and the Senate are available online here and here.

Impact of Joplin Tornado Info Facebook page still felt five years later

Writing Intern
Greene County Extension

Joplin recently marked the five-year anniversary of an EF5 tornado that left a wake of unimaginable destruction and devastation in the community. This five-year benchmark was a time for many to reflect on the losses that resulted from the disaster on May 22, 2011, but it also serves as a testament to the resiliency and persistence of the citizens of Joplin. Their fortitude and collaboration with countless volunteers and organizations has led to a massive rebuilding effort. While this unforeseen act of nature has indeed changed the Joplin and surrounding areas forever, it has also offered new insights into how resources and recovery efforts can be mobilized in the aftermath of a sudden catastrophe.

The monstrous tornado that struck Joplin rampaged its way through one of the most developed areas in the city, and at the worst part of its 38-minute duration was a mile wide with wind speeds of approximately 300 miles per hour. The consequences of this fierce act of weather were the loss of 161 lives, over 1,000 injured survivors and nearly 18,000 residents were displaced from their damaged or destroyed homes. In an instant, the people of Joplin went from bracing for a tornado to living in the aftermath of one of the worst tornados in U.S. history. But the best of human nature had a resounding answer to the worst of Mother Nature, as a swell of sympathy and compassion, gave way to a flood of first responders, volunteers and organizations that rapidly moved into the city to help those who were left to rebuild their lives.

University of Missouri Extension was proud to be a part the recovery effort from the very beginning. Many of the first responders that aided in rescue and recovery efforts in the critical hours following the tornado were trained through the MU Extension Fire and Rescue Training Institute (MU FRTI). Their extensive training and special skillset were vital in searching for survivors in the estimated three million cubic yards of residential debris generated by the disaster. As survivors were pulled from the rubble and tended to, a new kind of chaos ensued as families and friends separated in the storm struggled to navigate in their altered surroundings.

The birth of the Joplin Tornado Info Facebook Page (JTI), about two hours after the tornado hit, played a pivotal role in helping many survivors wade through the confusion. This social media page became a hub of valuable information for those seeking basic resources, like food, shelter and medical attention. David Burton, civic communication specialist with MU Extension, joined the project within the first 24 hours and worked in conjunction with the page's founders, mother-daughter team-Rebecca and Genevieve Williams.

Power outages made the Joplin Tornado Info page even more of a prized resource since those seeking help and information could access the site with their mobile devices. Shortly after the site was launched, it gained upwards of 56, 300 followers and had over 26 million viewed posts. This unique platform became an electronic bulletin board for the community where both individuals and organizations could interact by posting queries and answers. The page was also a great resource to those providing aid by offering a quick and efficient way to mobilize volunteers. Keeping the site updated with the most current and relevant information was a 24-hour job for the site's administrators. The project grew to include the City of Joplin, Joplin Schools, the Red Cross, all of the area's utility companies, Zimmer Radio group, KODE-TV, journalism students from area colleges, and the University of Missouri Extension.

This Facebook site was instrumental in uniting the community in its goal to survive, and as weeks and months unfolded it proved to be extremely important as the focus shifted from survival to recovery. For example, under the direction of Burton, MU Extension produced a video showing how to avoid injuries when performing recovery work, and soon after it was posted on the JTI page it was viewed over 23,800 times. In addition to videos like these, local MU Extension specialists also helped by identifying educational resources that could help disaster victims begin to put their lives back together. Information on how those affected could financially recover from the disaster was put together and distributed through a variety of media outlets. In a similar way, Jasper County's Community Organizations Active in Disasters (COAD) and their Long-Term Recovery Committee used several websites including the JTI Facebook page to disperse information to the public.

The effects of the tornado are still being felt today, but so are effects of the Joplin Tornado Info page. The social media page is still active and continues to shepherd the community by posting information about disaster recovery and other topics of local interest. The creation of this page is a remarkable touchstone that highlights the profound and potentially lifesaving applications of social media. The speed at which the page developed along with the massive user response set a precedent for how social media can be used in the wake of a disastrous event. Rebecca and Genevieve Williams along with David Burton penned a book to share what they learned about the process of setting up a social page for disaster response. The book, Using Social Media in Disaster Recovery, acts as a guide for anyone interested in learning how to use social media platforms for their community in both pre and post disaster scenarios.

The successes and benefits of the JTI page would not have been possible if not for caring individuals that donated their time. The same can be said for the larger effort to rebuild the city. One 2013 FEMA report estimated that more than 176,869 citizen volunteers from across the country provided more than 1.1 million hours of service by helping to clean up, repair and perform construction work. Labor of this monumental scale was badly needed and very much appreciated by the citizens of Joplin.

The tornado's destructive path tore through an area of the city that was heavily populated with homes and businesses, and the results were dramatic changes in the physical and economic landscape. With 18,000 residents initially displaced, 9,000 long-term, a good portion of Joplin's workforce was preoccupied with acquiring the most basic provisions. The city took a financial blow, as well, with an estimated $5 million dollars in lost revenue. As multiple agencies collaborated to organize the recovery effort, it became clear that a multifaceted approach was needed for the city to rebuild fully.
With the ever-present threat of tornados to the Midwest during the warmer months, the state of Missouri and Jasper County both had disaster protocols and recovery plans in place before the Joplin tornado. However, no one could have fathomed the likelihood or scope of destruction that an EF5 tornado would bring. Now, many agencies were cooperating on federal, state and local levels to identify and meet the needs of those in the recovery process.

MU Extension partnered with several key organizations. The Governor's Disaster Recovery Program was formed in 1993 in response to the Great Flood, and the MU Extension became a member the year it was founded. This enabled MU Extension to represent the state on a local level, while still using their programs, such as the Community Emergency Management Program (CEMP) and the Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Centers, to help victims. The Japer County Community Organizations Active in Disasters (COAD) was founded in 2003 with help from MU Extension and has remained an active member since. It was during COAD's Long-Term Recovery Committee meetings that many of these organizations came together to form a plan of action.

Janet LaFon and Ed Browning, both MU Extension specialists in Jasper County, collaborated closely with this committee and were present for daily meetings. LaFon worked with a subcommittee that focused on how to address needs that were not being met. LaFon turned to the national Extension system and their Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) for resources. This made it possible for Family Financial Toolkits from the Minnesota and North Dakota Extension Services to be distributed to the Red Cross, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri and Salvation Army case management centers. A community response meeting hosted by Governor Jay Nixon facilitated the setup of a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC), where financial toolkits and other information could be distributed on a larger scale to those who needed it most.

The idea behind the MARC was to have as many aid organizations (governmental or civilian) as possible gathered in one central location. For two weeks a collection of agencies set up booths on the south side of Joplin. Tornado survivors were transported to the MARC via shuttle from their temporary housing units provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The idea behind having the MARC was that individuals, families and business owners could take a one-stop shop approach to gathering aid and resources. Some of the agencies that participated included the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Missouri Southern State University Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC. The Joplin Chamber of Commerce partnered with MU Extension to open a Business Recovery Center (BRC) designed to deliver essential financial services to businesses impacted by the tornado. MU Extension faculty and staff from Missouri came to support the booth.

The type of assistance offed by the MARC, although badly needed, was only one part of the recovery equation. MU Extension specialists recognized that it could also help support the emotional recovery of survivors. Citizens were encouraged to voice their thoughts and opinions about how Joplin should rebuild during input sessions hosted by the Joplin Citizens Advisory Recovery Team (CART), and partially organized by an MU Extension regional community development specialist. Important data on safe rooms was gathered as it related to the rebuilding process and future protection from severe weather. This information was then shared with survivors, the media, and the Home Builders Association.

In November of 2011, an MU Extension human development specialist worked with a planning committee to create an awesome opportunity for the community to heal by presenting the Connect Protect 2 Conference. This two-day workshop offered educational classes on trauma and recovery for parents, professionals, educators, childcare workers, and caregivers. Nearly 300 Joplin families participated in this workshop and were given additional support from 4-H members and other volunteers by providing families with babysitting services, gift cards, and other supplies. In 2012 and 2013, MU Extension, along with some other organizations, continued to encourage the community's healing process by offering workshops that discussed financial responsibility, planning for the future, disaster preparedness, and home ownership.

The efforts made by MU Extension and other aid organizations are evident it the progress the Joplin community has made in the last five years. While the restoration process still continues, many homes, schools and businesses have been rebuilt. Perhaps one of the greatest symbols of revitalization is the completion of the new Mercy Hospital to replace the Hospital that was destroyed. With each repair made and building completed a touchstone is fashioned that represents Joplin's past, present, and future. MU Extension is not only proud to have played a role in Joplin's ability to thrive in the face of adversity, but also to be an everyday member of the community.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Greitens receives biggest campaign contribution in Missouri history- $2.5 million

On most normal days (for Missouri, at least) a candidate receiving a $265,000 contribution as Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Koster did today from the CHIPP Political Fund in St. Louis, would be on top of the world.

Unfortunately for Koster, that amount left him nearly $1 million behind his Republican opponent, former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens.

A 48-hour report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission shows Greitens received the largest campaign contribution in state history, $2.5 million from the Republican National Governors-Missouri, which received it earlier in the day from the Republican National Governors based in Washington, D.C.

Greitens broke his own record, set in July when a Super PAC called Seals for Truth gave his campaign $1.975 million.

Though it was by far the biggest contribution Greitens, or anyone else, received today, it was far from the only oversized paycheck to find its way into campaign bank accounts.

Greitens also received $15,000 from Dan Drury, Cape Girardeau, $5,001 from New York businessman Mark Gerson, $25,000 from the Missouri Chamber PAC, and $10,000 from Cameron Dunafon, Columbia.

In addition to the $265,000 from the CHIPP Political Fund, Koster picked up $50,000 from the Simmons Hanley Conroy, Edwardsville, Illinois.

Billy Long: Our law enforcement must be prepared to combat terrorism

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

Sadly, it has become far too common that American law enforcement officials are tasked with handling an active shooter situation. The deadly attacks in Dallas, San Bernardino, Orlando, Baton Rouge, Newtown, and elsewhere are all horrific examples of the devastation these situations are to our everyday life. Our law enforcement officials put their lives on the line to protect us, so Congress must act in every way possible to make sure that they are prepared for these threats.

Today, roughly 45 percent of police agencies in America – more than 8,000 – have undergone some form of active shooter training. In light of recent events, the value of preparing our emergency responders and training them for these situations is greater than before.

However, given that the threat is clearly increasing, the House passed legislation this month to help get every police organization in America up to speed. The “Protecting Our Lives by Initiating COPS Expansion Act of 2016 (the POLICE Act) will provide the Department of Justice with the tools they need and more flexibility in funding specialized response training with existing Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) grants. It will ensure our police professionals and other emergency responder team have proper preparedness for efficient response.

This training has been proven in the field. For Nidal Hasan’s 2009 attack on Fort Hood, it was two civilian officers who were trained at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) center in Texas became integral in stopping the bloodshed that day. The center’s curriculum is dynamic force-on-force, scenario-based training. It has been adopted by the FBI as the national standard for response, and has been provided to more than 40,000 police officers nationwide.

I am proud to have supported this bipartisan bill, which was signed into law by President Obama last month, because I know that it will make a true difference in law enforcement training and the more rapid diffusing of dangerous situations. Many law enforcement associations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, agreed by way of their full support and endorsement of the POLICE Act.

Unfortunately, terrorism is a very real danger that threatens all Americans and Department of Homeland Security experts and others believe that it is not a question of if, but when, radicals will attack again and where. We must be prepared to face this threat, and more training in our communities will save lives. I will continue doing all I can to support our law enforcement officials and emergency responders.

So you want to be a Joplin R-8 Director of Facilities

(An advertisement for a director of facilities was posted Wednesday on the Joplin R-8 School District website)

Position:                      Director of Facilities
Term:                           Full-Time/12 Month

Classification:             Classified

Location:                     Buildings, Grounds, and Transportation Office

Qualifications:             College diploma or equivalent technical training helpful but not
                                    Experience in construction trades with at least five years in a large scale maintenance supervisory position desired.  Also, experience in the fields of architecture and/or engineering a plus.
                                    Such alternatives to the above qualifications as the Board and Administration may find acceptable.

Supervisory:                Yes

Reports to:                  Assistant Superintendent of Operations

The Director of Facilities will work to perform supervisory and planning duties for Support Services areas of buildings, grounds, and maintenance.

General Expectations:
  • Supports the mission of Joplin Schools.
  • Supports the value of education.
  • Complies with the privacy rights of students.
  • Safeguards confidential and/or sensitive information.
  • Communicates effectively with all the members of the school district and community.
  • Provides excellence in customer service both internally and externally.
  • Reacts to change productively.
  • Keeps abreast of new information, innovative ideas and techniques.
  • Maintains accurate records and filing systems for accountability and audit purposes.
  • Ensures that all activities conform to district and state guidelines.
  • Ability to read, analyze, and interpret common scientific and technical journals.
  • Respond to common inquires or complaints from patrons, regulatory agencies, or members of the business community.
  • Effectively present information to top management, public groups, employee groups, and/or Board of Directors.
  • Be able to work with mathematical concepts as probability and statistical inference, and fundamentals of plane and solid geometry and trigonometry.
  • Apply concepts such as fractions, percentages, ratios, and proportions to practical situations.
  • Solve practical problems and deal with a variety of concrete and abstract variables in situations where only limited standardization exists.
  • Interpret a variety or instructions furnished in written, oral, diagram, or schedule form.
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with staff, and the community.
  • Perform duties with awareness of all district requirements and Board of Education Policies.

Essential Functions:
  • Develop and administer a District-wide buildings and grounds program, including program planning, implementation and evaluation.
  • Manages the planning process for building and maintaining facilities needed to deliver the program of instruction.
  • Oversee the cleaning and custodial services (and staff) of the buildings.
  • Oversee the handling of hazardous and other waste.
  • Supervise and inspect major projects of building repairs and remodeling, overseeing general contract work at the respective facilities
  • Work with architects and contractors on project problems.
  • Perform minor surveying, blueprint reading, line locations such as water, sewer, gas, telephone, electric, CATV, etc.
  • Manage employee bids on open positions
  • Be involved in the interview and hiring process for buildings and grounds positions
  • Annually update the Building Summaries Book.
  • Initiate bid requests and apply for state prevailing wage rates for projects.
  • Conduct inspections of each school district facility on a monthly basis.
  • Oversees the corrective and preventive maintenance programs for the District’s physical plants and the motor fleet.
  • Coordinates the procurement of contractors’ services for maintenance and construction projects funded by the budget
  • Supervise the development and the administration of Buildings and Grounds Programs.
  • Supervise, evaluate, and direct the work of all Buildings and Grounds supervisors.
  • Coordinates the District’s energy management system.
  • Interpret school rules and regulations.
  • Supervise the staffing of Buildings and Grounds personnel.
  • Direct the evaluation of Buildings and Grounds personnel and programs.
  • Relate Capital Project needs and Buildings and Grounds operating needs in the preparation of the budget.
  • Administer the department’s approved budget.
  • Oversees the inspection, maintenance, and repair of school buses and other vehicles owned by the District.
  • Play a significant leadership role in fostering professional growth and building of staff morale throughout the area of Buildings and Grounds.
  • On call at all times for security alarm callbacks.
  • Carry out all other duties as assigned.

Physical Demands
While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to walk and talk or hear. The employee frequently is required to stand or sit. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision and depth perception.

Regular and consistent attendance is an essential function of this position. 

The work conditions and environment described here are representative of those that an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions.

Conditions and Environment
The noise level in this position varies. When visiting a building or on a job site the noise level may be loud, in the office, quiet and at meetings, moderate.

Note:  The statements herein are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by employees, and are not to be construed as an exhaustive list of responsibilities, duties, and skills required of personnel so classified.  Furthermore, they do not establish a contract for employment and are subject to change at the discretion of the employer.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ridder: We need a graphic design class at Franklin Tech

If the recent controversy over whether the Joplin R-8 School District should hire a graphic design artist has had any positive result it may have come from a remark made by Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder during the Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

One of the questions that has been posed, both by board members and by readers of this blog is why couldn't at least some of the graphic design work be done by students.

As it turns out, Franklin Tech does not have a graphic design class, though Director of Communications Kelli Price told the board that students in the regular art classes have done some work for the district.

"We need to have graphic design as part of our program at Franklin Tech," Ridder said and board members appeared to agree that should be done.

Though it is unlikely anything can be done for this school year, it does sound like the idea of bringing someone in to Franklin Tech who can teach graphic design would have plenty of benefits for the district, including having a professional graphic designer on staff who can teach students a subject for which there is a demand in the workplace and also enabling them to learn the requirements for doing the kind of work that has been the subject of the discussions at the last two board meetings.

During the meeting Tuesday, the board agreed to hire Christina Williams, who worked for the district as a graphic designer before her position was eliminated during budget cuts, at a rate of $45 per hour, with a cap of $12,000.

Mercy McCune-Brooks administrator's driver's license hearing moved to Newton County

The decision on whether Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital Administrator Scott Watson will retain his driving privileges will be held in Newton County Circuit Court on a change of venue from Jasper County.

The hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 7, just nine days before the temporary stay that has allowed him to continue driving is scheduled to expire.

Watson's driving privileges were suspended after the Joplin Police Department arrested him 1:15 a. m. July 2 at the 9 mile marker on eastbound I-44 for driving while intoxicated. Online court records indicate Watson refused to take a breathalyzer test, a claim that is disputed by Watson's attorney Judd McPherson, Joplin, in his request for a stay to allow Watson to continue driving until the administrative hearing is held.

"Plaintiff was not properly under arrest and the said officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe that Plaintiff committed any offense."

The petition says Watson, who was Newton County prosecuting attorney for 14 years, "did not refuse to submit to any chemical test at the request of said officers," and "was not informed that his license may be revoked upon refusal to submit to a test.:

The officer "did not have reasonable grounds to believe plaintiff was driving a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition," according to the petition.

The outcome of the hearing will likely determine whether charges are filed against Watson. If so, the charge will likely be filed in Joplin Municipal Court, the Carthage Press reported.


Severe thunderstorm warning extended for southwestern Newton County

(From the National Weather Service)








  NEOSHO...                         SENECA...

Joplin City Council special meeting set for Monday

August 29, 2016 6:00 P.M., 
Council Chambers 

Notice is hereby given that the City Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri will hold a special meeting beginning at 6:00 pm on Monday, August 29, 2016, in the 5th Floor Council Chambers, 602 S. Main Street, for the purpose of items listed below.

 1. Call to Order

2. Reading of the Special Call

3. Roll Call

4. Public Hearing Public Hearing Procedures

    1.Public Hearing on the 2016 property tax rate.

5. Resolutions

    1.RESOLUTION NO. 2016-018-A RESOLUTION extending the Financial Oversight Committee for an additional term of three years.

 6. Ordinances – Emergency

    1. COUNCIL BILL NO. 2016-517-AN ORDINANCE levying taxes in the City of Joplin, Missouri for the year 2016 in the amount of Seventeen and Fifty-Eight Hundredths Cents ($0.1758) on One Hundred Dollars of valuation of all real property in said City, and levying taxes in the Joplin Public Library District for the year 2016 in the amount of Twenty-Five and Forty-Five Hundredths Cents ($0.2545) on One Hundred Dollars of valuation of all real property in said District, and containing an emergency clause.

    2.COUNCIL BILL NO. 2016-518 - AN ORDINANCE approving a partial assignment of the Northpark Crossing Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Agreement by and between the City of Joplin and North Park Crossing, LC, a Missouri limited liability company; authorizing the City Manager to execute said Agreement by and on behalf of the City of Joplin and containing an emergency clause.

7. New Business

1. Options for 15th Street improvements

8. Adjourn to Budget Work Session

    1.Council to discuss raises and other budget items.

Danforth endorses Greitens

(From the Greitens for Governor campaign)

Politics is, at its root, about how we help people. Somewhere along the way, politicians have forgotten this. They have turned politics into the worst kind of personality contest and brought a pettiness and ugliness to the public sphere.

The change begins with the politicians themselves—the men and women we elect to serve us and shape the direction of our state and country. They must be servants first, people who are focused on how we help our fellow citizens. They must be people of uncommon character, courage, and conviction.

That’s why I’m proud to endorse Eric Greitens for Governor. At a time when it’s easy to become cynical about public service, Eric Greitens has spent his life devoted to serving others. He has worked hand-in-hand and side-by-side with children in some of the world’s poorest and toughest places. He has served his country honorably as a United States Navy SEAL. And he built an organization that has improved the lives of his fellow veterans here at home. He has worked tirelessly to improve the life of his fellow man, and now he is stepping up to improve the future of our state.

Missouri has real needs—in education, jobs, and infrastructure—and I believe those challenges require leaders who have achieved results—leaders like Eric Greitens. I urge my fellow Missourians to vote for Eric Greitens this fall. It’s time to send a trusted public servant to Jefferson City.

Senator John C. Danforth

Severe thunderstorm warning issued for Jasper, Newton counties

(From the National Weather Service)

549 PM CDT THU AUG 25 2016








  JOPLIN...                         CARTHAGE...
  WEBB CITY...                      GALENA...
  GRANBY...                         CARTERVILLE...
  DUQUESNE...                       DUENWEG...
  DIAMOND...                        LOMA LINDA...
  AIRPORT DRIVE...                  LEAWOOD...
  SILVER CREEK...                   SHOAL CREEK DRIVE...
  SAGINAW...                        FIDELITY...
  REDINGS MILL...                   GRAND FALLS PLAZA...






Victim of Jasper High School aide's sexual assault, sues woman and her husband

The victim of a sexual assault that resulted in a seven-year prison sentence for a former Jasper High School teacher's aide is suing the woman for sexual assault and battery and her husband for negligence.

In the lawsuit, which was filed July 22 in Jasper County Circuit Court, Joplin attorney Scott Vorhees, representing the young man, who is referred to only as D. S. in the petition, Janice Rusk, 46, is described as a "manipulative" woman who lured the boy into a series of sexual encounters.

Under the guise of being a mentor, the lawsuit says, "(Rusk) deceived D. J.'s mother into believing that she would educate and care for her child while he was in school and after school activities.

"For a period of time, (Rusk) repeatedly sought opportunities to sexually molest D. S. by bribery, employing manipulative tactics, false professions of affection, forced vows of secrecy and silence, and other such methods to coerce the minor child into keeping her actions silent, despite the enormous harm she was inflicting on the child physically, emotionally ,and mentally."

The lawsuit says Rusk sexually assaulted, battered, and sodomized D. S. in various Jasper County locations, including on the tailgate of D. S.' pickup.

"D. S. did not have the physical or mental wherewithal to consent to our escape from her advances."

The petition also accuses Rusk's husband, Dan, of "general negligence," claiming he "knew or should have known that his wife was using marital funds to bribe children."

Rusk also had ample evidence of what his wife was doing, the petition says.

"Multiple warning signs of inappropriate behavior by (Janice Rusk) were evident both before and after November 2013, but Dan Rusk turned a blind eye to said signs, choosing instead to enable his wife's sexually inappropriate perversities by permitting her to be alone with D. S.  in her private vehicle. (He) did so despite on one or more occasions witnessing inappropriate conduct between (his wife) and minor boys and in a manner that should have caused him to rescue the children and to report his wife' to the children's parents and/or law enforcement."

The lawsuit also claims that Rusk's husband:

-Did not warn D. S.'s mother of (her) pedophilia

-Chose to ignore warning signs that (she) was not controlling her perversity and pedophilia

-Chose to be inattentive to the safety and well being of children when they were supposed to be in her care

-Chose to enable his wife's perversities rather than insisting that she receive mental health counseling and that she stay away from children, including D. S.

The petition asks for unspecified actual, compensatory, and punitive damages and asks for a jury trial.

The lawsuit was served on Janice Rusk at her present home, the women's prison in Vandalia. She was sentenced to seven years in prison on statutory rape and statutory sodomy charges, but was eligible for release after 120 days after going through a sex offender treatment program.

At the end of the 120-day period, Judge David Dally denied the early release.

Building and construction audit finds state inspections not being done

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has released an audit of the state agency responsible for building and construction oversight. The audit covered the Office of Administration's Division of Facilities Management, Design and Construction, which is responsible for the design, construction, renovation and repair of more than 150 state-owned offices and institutional facilities. The report found that, due to inadequate funding, necessary maintenance for state facilities had been delayed, and inspections on some buildings were not being completed as required by law.

"Regular inspections are necessary to identify and address issues before they become problematic, which minimizes upkeep costs and ensures buildings are safe," Auditor Galloway said. "The longer maintenance is delayed, the more expensive those updates become, and that costs taxpayers more in the long run."

Auditors found that, due to insufficient funding, state officials delayed repair needs, creating a backlog of deferred maintenance of nearly $600 million. The division also failed to prepare long-range plans for capital improvements for more than a decade. Some facilities had not received required inspections in years, although Missouri law mandates annual inspections for improvement planning and maintenance, as well as repair inspections at least once every four years.

The audit found some cases where the state did not comply with several requirements of Missouri's prevailing wage law, which sets the minimum required rate contractors must pay workers when their companies are hired for state construction and maintenance jobs.

Additional findings related to electronic data security and work order requirements. A complete copy of the report, which received an overall performance rating of "good," is online here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Graves: We can't negotiate with terrorists or their sponsors

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

Last month, reports surfaced that the Obama Administration paid a ransom of $400 million in exchange for the release of American hostages from Iran.

The administration claims this was not a ransom, but instead a repayment from a decades old weapons deal America had with Iran. They say the coincidence was just “bad timing.” I don’t buy it.

State Department spokesman John Kirby even confirmed the $400 million was withheld until the prisoners left Iran.

The world has grown increasingly unsafe under President Obama. Part of the reason why is this Administration’s belief that we can negotiate with hostile, unstable nations and known sponsors of terrorism.

Iran’s regime can be weakened, its threat neutralized, and the well-being of Israel protected through stricter sanctions and support of our military. But a deal that bribes Iran with hundreds of millions of dollars, and allows them to eventually become a nuclear power, is not the way to do that.

Preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb should take priority over everything in our foreign policy relations in the Middle East. As we move forward, we have to work to ensure the deal is altered to prevent Iran from ever becoming a nuclear power, and I will continue to push to do just that.

Last year, President Obama said that those of us who oppose his Iran deal are "crazies." What’s actually crazy is that our President trusts Iran with a nuclear weapon.

Reader: Joplin Globe a much better bargain than the Turner Report

For those who say, I don't give a fair shake to people who disagree with me, I thought I would print this reader comment I received earlier today in response to my post over the weekend in which I described changes that would be taking place on the Turner Report and the Inside Joplin blogs and offered some details of the book Carthage Press Managing Editor John Hacker and I are working on.

The reader is not at all impressed with the work I am doing.

In the post, I noted that you could pay approximately $200 a year to subscribe to the Joplin Globe or $30 a year to subscribe to the Turner Report/Inside Joplin.

So you can either pay $200 a year to have the articles and photographs of more than a dozen professional, objective journalists delivered to your doorstep daily, or you can pay $30 a year to read the slanted ramblings of an ex-teacher with an agenda and no regard for journalistic ethics. 

Put in that context, does it still sound like a bargain?

While I always hate to disagree with a reader, yes, it does.

I would love to receive comments on this one.

State Auditor: The citizens of South Greenfield deserve better

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway was in South Greenfield today to present the results of an audit of the village. The audit was initiated by village residents who petitioned the Auditor's Office for review. Auditor Galloway described accounting records that failed to accurately reflect village finances and a lack of formal guidelines for handling village utilities. Residents made utility payments at an unsecured drop box or left payments at the homes of village employees and trustees, increasing the risk of theft or misuse of funds. The audit also found South Greenfield lacked procedures to ensure trustee candidates were qualified to run for office. One current trustee appeared on an April ballot, although county tax rolls and voter registration records indicate he was not a resident or registered voter of the village.

"Citizens deserve to know there are checks and balances in place to protect taxpayer funds, and they should be confident that leaders are making thoughtful, strategic decisions on their behalf," Auditor Galloway said. "We found a number of instances in which officials made decisions that directly impacted citizens but weren't able to explain how or why they made those changes. The residents of South Greenfield deserve better, so our team made recommendations to increase accountability and oversight."

In addition to concerns about the handling of utility payments, auditors found that village trustees increased water and sewer rates without following required procedures. They were also unable to provide documentation to support the reason for increasing rates.

Auditors recommended increased oversight of village spending by the trustees, who did not always document their approval of village payments or transfers among village funds. Additionally, village ordinances were not updated or complete, and the village did not always comply with Missouri's Sunshine Law.

South Greenfield is located in Dade County in southwest Missouri and has approximately 100 residents. The audit received an overall performance rating of "fair," and can be found online at

Huff website features testimonials from Obama, Rob O'Brian, and Marilyn Monroe

The new C. J. Huff website, advertising his services as a speaker and an educational consultant, appears to be nearing completion.

The website includes testimonials from President Barack Obama, taken from his speech at the 2012 Joplin High School graduation, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who praises Huff's "toughness," Carl Junction Superintendent Phil Cook, who is proud to call Huff his friend, and Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rob O'Brian, who says, "I am proud to support this fine man in any endeavor."

Testimonials are also featured from a number of Springfield school officials, including former Weller Elementary Principal Marilyn Monroe (You really didn't think it was the same one, did you?), who was an assistant principal under Huff and praises him as her mentor.

The website also offers a downloadable speaker's packet and will soon feature complete speeches, soundbites, and samples.

Lamar Republican: I have no problem with legislators becoming lobbyists

Sen Ed Emery, R-Lamar, says he has no problem whatsoever with legislators going directly into lobbying immediately after they leave office.

Emery was the only member of the Missouri Senate to vote against the bill that goes into effect Sunday which requires legislators to wait six months after their term ends before they can become lobbyists.

“We’re basically telling someone they can’t take a job when they leave office,” Emery said. “I do support the idea that you cannot leave the legislature during the time of your term. We have an obligation to our constituents to serve them and I don’t believe you can quit the legislature and go to work until you have completely filled out your term. It’s improper to take and start a (lobbying) job if you are offered it while you are still a legislator.”
Emery said he understands the perception that legislators are being processed through the legislature to become lobbyists. However, he said he has no objection to a lawmaker taking a lobbying job after fulfilling the elected term.
“It’s hard to say no when you’re being offered a good-paying job and deciding what’s best for your family,” Emery said. “But I think if someone offers a legislator a job, that legislator has committed to serving their two years or four years and they have to serve out their entire time. The person offering the job has to acknowledge that they can’t work until they have fulfilled their obligation. It’s almost a contractual agreement with our constituents. But what someone does after they leave office is not my business anymore.”
Emery was the only member of the Missouri Senate to vote against the bill that goes into effect Sunday which requires legislators to wait six months after their term ends before they can become lobbyists.

Accused Lamar armed robber indicted on federal charge

A Lamar man who is awaiting trial in Barton County Circuit Court for the July 31 armed robbery of  Lamar resident, was indicted by the federal government today on a possession of firearm charge.

Lorenzo Hernandez, 26, was arrested by the Lamar Police Department and is being held in the Barton County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bond.

His arraignment on the armed robbery and armed criminal action charges is scheduled for 9 a.m. September 20.

Federal grand jury indicts Joplin man on weapons charges

A federal grand jury indicted Travis Dean Morris, 22, Joplin, on weapons charges today.

According to the indictment, Morris allegedly possessed a firearm illegally since he was a convicted felon.

Jasper County Circuit Court records show Morris pleaded guilty in 2013 to a felony assault charge and was given a suspended sentence after serving four months of shock incarceration.

He is currently awaiting trial in Jasper County Circuit Court on felony charges of burglary in the first degree and possession of a controlled substance.

Former Seneca banker to serve 8 months for embezzling, also stole from charity

By Chad Hayworth
Newton County News Editor

(Note: A longer version of this article appears in this week's Newton County News.)

A federal judge on Thursday, Aug. 18, sentenced a former Seneca banker to 8 months in prison for a scheme in which she stole nearly $38,000 using her customers' identities and from the charity her family is widely known for supporting.

Michelle D. Vanderpool, 37, pleaded guilty in February to one count of felony bank theft/embezzlement in connection with a $5,078 loan she obtained using the name and financial information of one her customers at People's Bank of Seneca in 2013.

During Thursday's hearing, held in the U.S. District Courthouse in Springfield, it was revealed publicly for the first time that Vanderpool also stole between $6,000 and $7,000 from the Seneca Food Pantry, where she was the nonprofit's treasurer.

In June 2013, People's Bank officials contacted federal investigators, including the FBI and the Office of Inspector General for the Federal Insurance Deposit Corp., advising that they had discovered Vanderpool was opening and approving loans in the names of bank clients without their knowledge or approval, court records show.

Once the loans were opened, Vanderpool transferred the money into her personal accounts, court records show.

Vanderpool was the assistant vice president and loan officer at People's Bank, a position she had been promoted to just six months prior.

The scheme was discovered after a bank customer approached bank officials with a document that showed a loan in her named had been paid in full, court records show.

Investigators determined that Vanderpool processed the loan documents in the customer's name and forged her signature.

That loan wasn't the only one Vanderpool opened, investigators found. As of Dec. 15, 2015, they found multiple loans opened by her in the same manner.

The money has since been repaid, court records show.

The government sought a sentence of 6 months in prison, followed by six months of house arrest and 5 years of supervised probation.

But Vanderpool's attorney, Erica Mynarich, argued that Vanderpool's true punishment occurs every day. Mynarich asked for a sentence that didn't include any prison time.

“She's going to pay forever, because she's going to live in little Seneca, Mo., the rest of her life,” Mynarich said. “There is an inherent penalty with the shame and embarrassment she brought on herself and her family.”

Once the thefts were discovered, Vanderpool was removed from the food pantry's board of directors. But that hasn't stopped her from fully participating in the annual Farmers Feeding Neighbors Hay Auction, a food pantry fundraiser put on each year by her family and other community members.

Vanderpool is listed as the contact for the event on the group's Facebook page and is listed as a contact and sponsor of the event — under her maiden name — on flyers for the 10th annual auction, set for Sept. 10.

For her part, Vanderpool told the court that she took the money to give her and her then-husband, Nick Vanderpool, some “room to breathe” as their farming operation outside Seneca struggled to stay afloat.

Vanderpool cashed out a 401k retirement account and borrowed money from her father, auctioneer Jim Graham, to repay what she stole.

U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark rejected the defense's argument, pointing out that in exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors didn't file an aggravated identity theft charge, which if proven has a mandatory two-year sentence that must be served in addition to any other prison time.

Vanderpool was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals at the conclusion of the hearing. When her prison sentence is complete, she will serve three years of supervised probation.