Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Moss contract forbids Huff-like speaking tours

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

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

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

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

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

From the September 10, 2014 Turner Report:

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

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

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

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

Thursday, Jan. 23- Wisconsin Association of School Boards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Tuesday,November 18- Saskatchewan School Boards Association

And that was just a partial list.

The Moss contract calls for the following:

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

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

-a $450 a month transportation allowance

-$100 a month mobile data/telephone allowance

-10 days paid vacation this year and 20 days thereafter

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

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

Joplin R-8 official release on hiring of Melinda Moss

(From Joplin Schools)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harrison Superintendent Melinda Moss to lead Joplin R-8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graves: I need your input on tax reform

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More holiday bargains available for Turner Report readers

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC LEGO Canada PetSmart Avon Avon Best Buy Co, Inc. Sam's Club Sam's Club Gift Guide

Monday, November 28, 2016

Former Globe editor: Trump election shows country needs good investigative journalism

The media has come in for a beating during the 2016 election and has been placed in a precarious position, but former Joplin Globe Editor Edgar Simpson sees reporters' trials and tribulations as an opportunity.

Simpson, now a professor at Central Michigan University, told the university's newspaper, Central Michigan Life, that Trump created problems for the media from the outset:

“The media would repeatedly cover Trump as if his positions were a real thing, then find (a source) that says Trump’s positions were not a real thing,” he said. “What it does is it leads the audience into thinking there is a legitimate debate. No, there never was a debate. Nobody ever thought Trump could physically move 11 million people or ban a religion, but yet the media made it seem that way.”

Since then, Trump has made a point of attacking the media and covering his administration creates problems for reporters, Simpson said.

Moving forward, Simpson said the media may struggle to maintain credibility during a Trump presidency, but will also have a great opportunity to serve a vital role as a watchdog.

“As much as journalism is in danger right now, it’s also a massive opportunity to prove, as it has several times in the past, that it is needed, it is essential and there is no way forward without good, penetrating, investigative journalism. That’s what this country needs right now.”

Jarub Baird held without bond on federal meth distribution, money laundering charges

A federal judge today ordered a Carthage man to be held without bond while awaiting trial on methamphetamine distribution and money laundering charges.

Jarub Baird, 27, was arrested last week after the unsealing of a federal grand jury indictment in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri in Kansas City against 15 people federal prosecutors allege participated in a multi-million dollar conspiracy to distribute $1,000 per ounce 90 percent pure meth.

The judge's decision to have Baird held without bond was issued following testimony from a DEA special agent.

The indictment indicates the meth operation took place between January 1, 2014, and November 17.

During his arraignment today, Baird pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Two other defendants, Aaron Randall Stull, 51, and Michelle Vanne Gray, 49, both of Springfield, also pleaded not guilty. Gray was released on her own recognizance, while Stull's bond was set at $10,000 unsecured surety, but the judge has to approve the cosignor and a bond hearing has to be held after arrangements have been made to set the conditions for Stull's release.

The arrest was not the first for Baird, who served prison time for involuntary manslaughter and
assault in connection with the December 8, 2006, accident in which Hannah Smallwood, 15, a Carthage High School student, was killed after Baird had been driving at a rate of speed estimated at 110 miles per hour.

Baird also pleaded guilty July 7, 2014, in Jasper County Circuit Court to driving while intoxicated.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Billy Long: Romney as secretary of state would be a betrayal

Shortly after Kellyanne Conway, a member of President-Elect Donald Trump's transition team and his campaign manager, came out against the possible naming of Mitt Romney as secretary of state, Seventh District Congressman Billy Long tweeted his agreement with her comments:

She's right it would be a betrayal of grassroots & us electeds' that we're all but spat upon for supporting (Donald Trump).

BIlly Long: I won't take time to mourn Fidel Castro

Seventh District Congressman Billy Long issued the following statement on the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro:

Announcement of new Joplin R-8 superintendent on tap for Tuesday

Unless a change is made in the preliminary agenda, those who are eagerly anticipating the announcement of a new superintendent for the Joplin R-8 School District will have to wait until the end of Tuesday's 7 p.m. Board of Education meeting at the Memorial Education Building.

The superintendent contract is the final item on the agenda that was posted Friday.

The board reportedly made its decision on which candidate it would offer the contract during a closed session Monday in the superintendent's conference room.

During the previous week, the board conducted interviews with the two finalists, Harrison, Arkansas Superintendent Mendy Moss and former Bartlesville, Oklahoma and Neosho Superintendent Gary Quinn.

Other items on tap for the board include approval of the listing of the Washington Education Center with a realtor, choosing a contractor for the Early Childhood Center construction, and a look at proposed Joplin High School course changes for the 2017-2018 school year.

A closed session is scheduled for 6 p.m.

The agenda is printed below:

A. Call to Order

1. Roll Call

B. Pledge of Allegiance

C. Approval of Agenda - Action

D. Reports

1. Board President's Report

a. Celebrations - Info. (Jeff Koch)

b. BOE Policy Committee Update - Info. (L. Banwart & J. Martucci)

c. BOE Data Analysis Committee Update - Info. (J. Koch, S. Dermott & L. Musser)

d. BOE Finance, Salary, and Benefits Committee - Info. (Dr. Fort & J. Martucci)

e. BOE Safety Committee - Info. (Dr. Fort & C. Sloan)

2. Superintendent's Data Report

a. Health and Dental Care Insurance Reports - Info. (Paul Barr)

b. Financial Statements - Info. (Paul Barr)

E. Public Comments Regarding Agenda Items

F. Consent Agenda - Action

1. Minutes - Action (Pat Waldo)

2. Personnel Recommendations - Action (Dr. Lankford)

3. Local Tax Effort (LTE) Billback to Department of Youth Services (DYS) - Action (Sandra Cantwell)

4. JHS Show Choir Costumes for the 2016-17 School Year - Action (Dr. Ridder)

5. Policy Update Second Reading - Action (Dr. Ridder)

a. Policy DH: Bonded Employees and Officers

G. Regular Agenda

1. Accounts Payable - Action (Paul Barr)

2. Budget Adjustments - Action (Paul Barr)

3. Approve Washington Education Center Listed for Sale with a Realtor - Action (Paul Barr)

4. FTC - Economic Development Administration (EDA) Grants- Action (Dr. Ridder)

a. Public Safety Program Equipment - Action (Dr. Ridder)

b. Advanced Manufacturing Technology Program Equipment - Action (Dr. Ridder)

c. Innovative Technologies Program Equipment - Action (Dr. Ridder)

5. Joplin Schools Early Childhood Bids - Action (Dr. Sachetta)

a. Approve General Contractor for Construction of Joplin Early Childhood Center - Action (Dr. Sachetta)

b. Hollis & Miller Architect Contract Expansion to Oversee Special Inspections - Action (Dr. Sachetta)

6. Renewal of Fortinet Web Filter and Firewall - Action (Dr. Sachetta)

7. SpedTrack - Action (Sandra Cantwell)

8. April 2017 School Board Election - Action (Dr. Ridder)

9. Policy Update First Reading - Action (Dr. Ridder)

a. Policy FEF: Construction Contracts Bidding and Awards

10. Joplin High School Course Changes for School Year 2017/18 - Action (Dr. Ridder)

11. Plus/Delta - Info. (Dr. Ridder)

a. Plus: What did we do well

b. Delta: Opportunities for Improvement

12. Superintendent Contract - Action (Jeff Koch)

H. Adjourn

Friday, November 25, 2016

Billy Long: 21st Century Cures Act would have positive impact on society

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

On May 22, 2015, I cosponsored a piece of legislation that I knew would have a huge impact not only on Missouri’s 7th Congressional District, but on medical research for many years to come by taking aim at the thousands of rare disease that still do not have cures. This bill is known as the 21st Century Cures Act.

This piece of legislation passed the House on July 10, 2015, with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The 21st Century Cures Act would have numerous positive impacts on society, some of those being: removing barriers that would allow an increase in research collaboration, identifying diseases earlier through more personalized medicine, modernizing clinical trials, increasing incentives for those who develop drugs for rare diseases and creating jobs at home. Finally, it would reduce the deficit by over $500 million.

This bill won’t just help those affected by diseases, but the American public as a whole. In the early 1950s polio was having a significant impact in America, infecting more than 20,000 people and killing 3,000 people in a single year. Soon after, a vaccine was found for polio that essentially eliminated the disease. Estimates have shown that the United States saved $800 billion since finding a cure.

That’s just one instance of a vaccine not only helping those infected by the disease, but those not affected as well.

This legislation didn’t come from Washington insiders, it came from talking with people all across the country and hearing stories from people who have had loved ones affected by rare diseases that still don’t have a cure. This bill would cut through all of the bureaucratic red tape and allow for real innovation.

21st Century Cures has the potential to have a significant impact on the United States and could save millions of lives.

My hope is that this bill will be taken up by the Senate, passed and on the president’s desk by the end of this session.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Joplin city manager provides weekly update

(City Manager Sam Anselm provided the following update to Joplin City Council members Friday.)

Good afternoon, everyone. Please see below for this week’s update.

Key Meetings 

Aside from the normal staff meeting and individual meetings with department heads, there were no key meetings with outside groups this week.


-Attached is the most recent update provided by Public Works. Worth mentioning, on Veterans Day, our streets crew performed a repair of the railroad crossing at the WestRock Plant while the business was shut down for the holiday. Typically the business operates 24/7, with trucks traversing the tracks constantly, but the crew was able to complete the repair in the same day.

-Parks and Public Works crews will soon begin the annual leaf collection program. The leaves are a bit stubborn and are still clinging to the branches in many areas, so we are talking about delaying the start of the program to ensure that crews do not have to go back over the same route multiple times. If and when a new start date is picked, we will make an announcement. (Note: The date has been announced and it is Monday, December 5.)

-The signs for the Gov. Warren E. Hearnes Memorial Highway will be delivered to MoDOT’s regional office around mid-December. CVB Director Tuttle is working on scheduling an unveiling ceremony. Once the date is selected, we will send you an invitation to attend.

-We made $64,729 at this year’s annual auction. I have asked staff in public works to explore the option of offering our vehicles and other equipment to the public via an online auction service, similar to what several other cities and the state do when they dispose of their surplus equipment. Generally speaking, those entities receive a higher value for items that are sold online, and I would hope we would see the same results if we implement the idea. This could affect our annual auction next year if we move forward.

Looking Ahead 

-As PW staff prepares to bid out the 2017 asphalt overlay project, there is about $330,000 left over in the 2016 program that went unspent. I have given staff the green light to include this extra funding in the bid amount, so that when the council bill for a contract comes to you for approval at a future council meeting, it will come with a budget amendment to include the additional amount.

Supreme Court will not hear Carthage child killer's appeal

The Missouri Supreme Court will not hear an appeal by Carthage child killer Eddie Salazar, who is serving a life sentence for murdering his two-year-old son.

The decision was included in a list of transfer decisions handed down today.

The Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals had rejected Salazar's motion for a new trial September 24 in a 2-1 decision. It was the second time a Salazar appeal had been rejected by that panel.

Salazar's attorney claimed his client was penalized when Judge Gayle Crane did not allow the public to attend jury selection for the trial, which was held March 12-14, 2012. Her decision was made because of the large number of prospective jurors that had to be called because of pretrial publicity did not leave any room for the public to attend.The subsequent trial was open to the public.

Salazar's lawyer also claimed that his previous attorney had offered ineffective counsel by not objecting to evidence that Salazar had served time in prison and had a gang tattoo.

The murder of Salazar's son, Eddie Salazar, Jr., is described in this passage from the Appellate Court decision:

On the evening of February 4, 2010, Salazar’s son, while in Salazar’s care, died from blunt force trauma to the head. Salazar then threw his son’s body into a nearby river. He staged cuts and scrapes on himself to make it appear as though he had been in a fight. Salazar then called authorities and claimed that two men had entered his home and kidnapped his son. After Salazar gave several contradictory versions of what happened, his son’s body was found in the river, and Salazar was charged by amended information as a prior offender for the class A felony of second-degree murder.

Remembering the Joplin native who told the nation of the death of a president

(The following post originally ran in the Turner Report in 2006, shortly after the death of Jud Dixon.)

"Get your Joplin Globe, five cents. Get your Joplin Globe five cents."

The job didn't pay much, but the country was in the midst of a depression, and every cent counted. Even more importantly for teenager Jud Dixon, it was his entry into the magical world of news.

That road took Jud from the Globe street sales to reporting jobs with the Globe and the Springfield Daily News to a seven-decade career in journalism that ended last month with his death at age 85 at his Dallas home.

Jud Dixon spent the last five decades of his life in the Dallas area, and it was there on Nov. 22, 1963, that the Joplin High School and Joplin Junior College graduate had a brush with history.

Jud was in charge of the United Press International (UPI) bureau in Dallas when he received word that President Kennedy had been assassinated during a political trip to the city. Within seconds, with the cool demeanor that characterized his entire reporting career, he sat behind his manual typewriter pounding out the story that no reporter ever wants to write, but at times like that, when people absolutely have to know what is going on, that’s when reporters must be at the top of their game.

"He was completely stone-faced, pouring it out of that typewriter," Jack Fallon, who was UPI’s Southwest Division editor at the time, told the Dallas Morning News. "Just by his presence, he kept everyone else around him calm."

Within moments, it was Jud Dixon’s version of the death of President John F. Kennedy that went out over the UPI wire to radio stations and television stations across the United States.

Though Jud Dixon’s coverage of that watershed moment in American history was what led his obituary, he perhaps did his greatest service to journalism and to the public after his retirement from UPI two decades ago.

Jud spent the next 18 years of his life as editor of the newsletter for the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas fighting for the public’s right to know.

When Jud retired for a second time, Freedom of Information director Tommy Thomason praised his years of service. "Jud’s a journalist’s journalist. His entire career has been committed to open government as the basis of solid reporting of the issues and events important to his readers."

Jud Dixon knew the importance of a free and unfettered press serving as the public’s representative. He knew that when the workings of government were open to the public that this country could survive anything from unpaved streets to official corruption to the death of a president.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Board expected to offer a superintendent contract after tonight's meeting

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education will continue discussions on the hiring of a superintendent in a closed meeting that was scheduled to begin a few moments in the superintendent's conference room at the Memorial Education Building.

The board interviewed Harrison, Arkansas superintendent Mendy Moss and former Bartlesville, Oklahoma and Neosho superintendent Gary Quinn.

The board is expected to decide tonight on which candidate will be offered a contract. The announcement of the new superintendent will be made at the 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 29, board meeting at the Memorial Education Building.

Daily Kos report: Will Billy Long be the one who takes down Claire McCaskill?

Is it possible that the Congressman from Las Vegas will become the senator from Las Vegas?

Daily Kos' look at the 2018 race for U. S. Senate notes the precarious position that incumbent Claire McCaskill will be in if she seeks re-election.

The state made a strong turn toward the Republican party earlier this month and that poses trouble for McCaskill, who may not have won a second term if she had not been able to push GOP voters toward Todd Akin four years ago.

The Republican establishment's choice candidate would be likely be Congresswoman Ann Wagner, according to the article, but two other possibilities noted were Seventh District Congressman Billy Long and Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler:

Other possibilities mentioned in a new Politico piece include Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long. Hartzler is a religious conservative in the Akin mold and an anti-gay jihadist. Long, meanwhile, is a classic tea partying outsider (before he came to Congress, he was an auctioneer), and he beat several established politicians in the GOP primary in 2010. He'd be the perfect person to try something like that again.

Graves: We must bring the VA into the 21st Century

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

This year I'm wrapping up my first term as a member of the House Armed Services Committee. In the committee I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a voice for our veterans, our military men and women, and all of their families.

It is the federal government’s top priority to take care of everyone who’s risked their lives to protect this country. But unfortunately, due to problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Committee has had to work to correct problems that never should have existed in the first place.

The VA Inspector General reported that mismanagement, neglect, and possible criminal activity at VA hospitals is “systemic” throughout the VA hospital system. Some of these issues have tragically caused some veterans to die while literally waiting for the care they needed.

Part of the House’s Better Way agenda is bringing the VA into the 21stcentury, increasing efficiency, changing priorities, and making sure we never hear of stories like these again. Working to reform the VA will be one of the top priorities of Congress with a new Republican administration in the White House.

And I’ve already begun that work. As you may know, the VA recently identified a need for over 26,000 new health care workers. At the same time, the VA says that nearly half of all post-9/11 veterans will face a period of unemployment. This is simply unacceptable, but I believe these are two problems we can address simultaneously. That is why I wrote and introduced the Improving Veterans Access to Quality Care Act.

My bill will give military healthcare workers priority to get jobs in the VA healthcare system, recruiting combat medics straight from active duty service into careers providing healthcare to veterans. As your representative, I will continue working to pass common sense policies like these that ensure veterans get the care they deserve while bringing the VA into the 21st century.

Greitens to law enforcement: We have your backs and we will fight for you

(From Governor-Elect Eric Greitens)

Two police officers in our state were shot yesterday. In Gladstone and in St. Louis, two families, and two departments, spent the night in worry and fear. These officers left their homes and stepped into the dark to protect us.

In the face of this violence, we must take action. We must stand up for those who stand guard for us. In the year ahead, my administration will push for the strictest possible punishments for anyone who assaults a police officer.

My administration will also work with the legislature to establish a “Blue Alert” system, similar to Amber and Silver Alerts, that would send out emergency notices to speed up the capture of anyone who shoots a police officer. Twenty-seven other states have such a system in place, and it is time Missouri do the same.

Today, Sheena and I ask that Missourians pause to remember the men and women who keep us safe. If you see an officer, thank them for the work they do and the risks they take. Consider donating or volunteering your time to a charity that supports police. Go for a ride-along and see what police officers see every single day. Above all, keep the two officers in Gladstone and St. Louis and their families in your hearts, thoughts, and prayers.

To those in law enforcement: We have your backs, and we’re going to fight for you.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Superintendent search tops Turner Report/Inside Joplin links for past week

The choice of a new superintendent for the Joplin R-8 School District was the top story this week for Turner Report readers as seven of the 10 most visited posts this week were either about the superintendent finalists or about efforts to remove the final remnants of the C. J. Huff Administration.

On Inside Joplin, four of the top 10 posts were lists of divorces from Jasper and Newton counties, thanks to last week's dissolutions running on Monday instead of Friday.

The Turner Report

1. Lawsuit alleges Joplin superintendent finalist interfered with police investigation of sex crime

2. Joplin R-8 Board continues to drain the swamp, Boyer out the door

3. Second Joplin R-8 finalist is one time Neosho superintendent

4. Federal grand jury indicts Joplin, Webb City, Neosho, Lamar residents for meth conspiracy

5. Reader: Just how many people does Turner have a vendetta against?

6. Former Harrison High band director sentenced to 15 years for sex with students

7. Joplni R-8 School District will hire a strong superintendent

8. Harrison, Arkansas administrator finalist for R-8 job

9. Former police officer files sex discrimination lawsuit against Lamar police chief, city

10. Missouri flags to be flown half-staff Saturday to honor fallen Kirksville soldier

Inside Joplin

1. Carthage Police wants to know who these men are

2. Here's another one the Carthage Police is hunting

(More top post links below the advertisement)


The Turner Report/Inside Joplin blogs offer news and commentary that you will not find with any other local media source. Please consider supporting my efforts with a subscription or contribution, either using the PayPal buttons below or if you would prefer not to use PayPal or a credit card, send a check made out to Randy Turner to 2306 E. 8th, Apt. G, Joplin, MO 64801. Thanks for your consideration.

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3. Jasper County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

4. Armed robbers hit Pinnacle Bank on 32nd

5. Jasper County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

6. Joplin Police searching for hit-and-run suspect

7. Jasper County Marriage Licenses

8. Can you help Carthage Police identify this man?

9. Newton County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

10. Newton County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

Inside Joplin Obituaries

1. Mike Richardson

2. Kenneth Steeves

3. Mary Riesenmy

4. Sylvia Vickers

5. Sharon Poindexter

6. David Shallenburger

7. Penny Graf

8. Tom Seay

9. Kenneth Hosp

10. Betty Crosby

Inside Springfield

1. Teen's body discovered in courtyard and Town and Campus Apartments

2. Trucker airlifted to Mercy, three injured in accident involving two semis

3. Greenfield man airlifted to Cox after falling off bluff at Stockton Lake

4. Springfield Police investigating apparent murder-suicide at 315 N. Park

5. Highway Patrol DWI Arrests November 13-14

6. Collision with deer kills Fair Grove driver

7. Greene County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

8. Springfield man pleads guilty to producing child photography

9. Republic man killed in one-vehicle accident

10. Guaranty Bank at 1510 E. Sunshine robbed

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Blunt addresses U. S. Senate priorities for 2017

Missouri Senate leadership discusses 2017 legislative priorities

Joplin R-8 Board continues draining the swamp: Boyer out the door

Another holdover from the C. J. Huff era is down for the count.

During a closed session Monday, the Joplin R-8 Board of Education approved the resignation of Director of Early Childhood Education Amanda Boyer.

The board also approved the separation agreement, which called for the following:

- Boyer will receive a total of $15,200.91. She will be paid $6,716.67 this month, covering the time she was on administrative leave and then receive $8,484.24 in December. According to the agreement, Boyer will not be able to count any of the money toward her retirement.

-The district will pay its share of Boyer's health insurance through December 31.

-The district will provide Boyer with a neutral verification of employment.

-Boyer waives the right to any future legal action against the district and cannot make disparaging comments about the district relating to her departure.

-The district will not seek to have her license revoked and will not "refer the matter to the attorney general's office or other agency for review or to commence revocation proceedings."

Boyer and former Executive Director of Student Services Mark Barlass were given the options of resigning or being fired in October after they were stripped of their duties following an internal investigation.

No details of that investigation have been released, but sources close to administration tell the Turner Report the dismissals were at least in part related to activities that were shared by Boyer and Barlass and which took place on the taxpayers' time.

Boyer had been in the district since 2011.

With the resignations of Boyer and Barlass, the recent resignation of former Chief Operations Officer Tina Smith, the reassignment and subsequent resignation of Curriculum Director Sarah Stevens, and the retirement of Buildings Project Manager Mike Johnson, the only remaining links to the upper administration of Huff's days are CFO Paul Barr, Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Jennifer Doshier, Communications Director Kelli Price, and former Executive Director of Secondary Instruction, now East Middle School Principal Jason Cravens.

The Turner Report/Inside Joplin blogs offer news and commentary that you will not find with any other local media source. Please consider supporting my efforts with a subscription or contribution, either using the PayPal buttons below or if you would prefer not to use PayPal or a credit card, send a check made out to Randy Turner to 2306 E. 8th, Apt. G, Joplin, MO 64801. Thanks for your consideration.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Missouri flags to be flown at half staff Saturday to honor fallen Kirksville soldier

(From Gov. Jay Nixon)

Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered that the U.S. and Missouri flags at state buildings in all 114 counties and the City of St. Louis be flown at half-staff on Saturday, Nov. 19, to honor the bravery and sacrifice of Sergeant First Class Matthew C. Lewellen. Sergeant First Class Lewellen, age 27, of Kirksville, was a member of the United States Army Special Forces (Green Beret) who died on Nov. 4 while serving his country in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Jafr, Jordan.

In addition, Gov. Nixon has ordered that the U.S. and Missouri flags at all state buildings in Adair County be flown at half-staff from Nov. 20 through Nov. 25. The funeral for Sergeant First Class Lewellen will be held on Nov. 19.

“We mourn the loss of this brave American soldier in defending our country and our freedoms,” Gov. Nixon said. “I ask that Missourians remember and honor the sacrifice of Sergeant First Class Lewellen when they see the lowered flags.”

Sergeant First Class Lewellen was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. His awards and decorations include the­­ Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal (2 awards), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon (2 awards), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge (Basic), Special Forces Tab, Combat and Special Skill Badge Basic Marksmanship Qualification Badge (Bar, Weapon: Rifle, (Inscription: Rifle), Expert), and the Overseas Service Bar (2 awards).

McCaskill: The fight against earmarks isn't over

drain the swamp(From Sen. Claire McCaskill)

Yesterday, just days after Donald Trump was elected with a promise to "drain the swamp," Republican leadership in the U.S. House held a closed-door meeting to try to bring back congressional earmarks.

Earmarks—provisions that send your tax dollars to Washington for politicians' pet projects—were temporarily banned in 2011 after I worked with colleagues in both parties to stop them. Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and I are still working today to pass our bipartisan Earmark Elimination Act, which would make that ban permanent.Read my message to House GOP on Medium

I've always opposed earmarks. I've never requested an earmark.

And I won't let us go backwards.

That's why I called on House Leadership and our Missouri delegation to reject yesterday's vote. And while I was glad to see Speaker Ryan step up at the last minute to stop the vote, that earmark ban was almost overturned. Behind closed doors. Without any public debate. This fight isn't over. The Speaker has promised to revisit the issue early next year but I can't for the life of me figure out why they thought it was a good idea to begin with.

Congress is a more accountable and transparent institution for having gotten rid of earmarks—and the U.S. House leadership's attempt yesterday to bring them back without public discussion or a vote is unacceptable.

I have made rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse a cornerstone of my work in the Senate, and I'm not giving up now.

Learn more about my fight to improve government accountability and transparency at mccaskill.senate.gov/spending.

Billy Long: I am committed to giving diabetes the attention it deserves

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

Recently I was saddened to learn a buddy of mine, who I competed against regularly in bass fishing tournaments several years ago, had to have his leg amputated due to diabetes which had been diagnosed in June of 2000. He hadn't realized he had cut his foot, which later became infected. When the infection continued to spread, despite steps taken to stop the spreading, his doctor had no choice but to amputate his leg.

As of 2012, the American Diabetes Association reported that 9.3 percent of Americans have diabetes, which is over 29 million people, and each year 1.4 million people will be diagnosed. According to the Center for Disease Control, that percentage is much higher for people in southwest Missouri. Only one of the 10 counties in Missouri's 7th Congressional District is below the national average.

November marks National Diabetes Awareness month and it's my hope that during this month I not only raise awareness, but I also make sure Congress does the same. Diabetes is a serious condition that can't be taken lightly.

Just recently, the Joplin Globe reported on a story about a man who had been dealing with diabetes for 16 years. He had a scratch on his ankle that didn't seem to be going away. As time passed, it only grew worse. Finally, he went to Mercy Hyperbaric and Wound Care in Joplin to see if they could do anything. After six weeks of hyperbaric treatments, his wound was completely gone. Without this treatment, the end result might have been much different, possibly requiring the amputation of his foot. Diabetes has a number of additional effects on the body that need to be monitored.

In August I had the opportunity to talk with members of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, an organization dedicated to funding type 1 diabetes research. Additionally, I spoke with constituents and their families who shared their stories about living with type 1 diabetes. The stories once again confirmed to me that fighting for this cause, whether it be type 1 or type 2 diabetes, is so important.

Diabetes still remains the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. According to the American Diabetes Association, as of 2013, the cost of diabetes in the United States reached $245 billion. If you break it down even further, those with diabetes end up paying 2.3 times more on medical expenditures than those who are not diagnosed with diabetes.

This condition deserves far more attention than just one month of bringing awareness to the issue. As a Congressman, I will continue to stay committed to holding both myself and my colleagues accountable to making sure this issue gets the attention it deserves. I will also continue to travel all across Missouri's 7th District listening to stories and finding out new ways I can help those affected by this condition.

Greitens launches transition website

(From Governor-Elect Eric Greitens)

Governor-elect Eric Greitens launched his transition website, govelect.mo.gov this morning and encouraged Missourians with a desire to serve their state to apply.

"What we have earned is something sacred: the privilege to serve,” Governor-elect Eric Greitens said. “We are looking for the best and the brightest to join our mission to create more jobs, higher pay, safer streets, and better schools for Missouri."

Governor-elect Eric Greitens has selected his former Campaign Manager and current Senior Advisor, Austin Chambers, to oversee the transition. Additional members of the transition team will be announced in the coming days.

Those interested in serving Missouri should submit their resume, cover letter, and contact information through the website.

Cleaver: Bannon appointment undermines Trump's call to be a president for all

(From Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

As we watch President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence begin their selection process of the next White House administration, one can only hope that the future cabinet is a representation of the interest and benefits of all Americans.

I must admit, I began to worry about that future the moment I heard President-elect Trump had appointed Stephen Bannon as White House Chief Strategist. Stephen Bannon’s ties to the White Nationalist movement have been noted and well documented. Bannon repeatedly pushed stories, while at the head of Breitbart News, that promoted anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racism. Reports also proclaim Bannon praised the alt-right as the “smarter version of old school racist skinheads.” Surely, this is not who Americans want as top advisor to the President.

I joined nearly 170 U.S. Representatives in writing a letter to President-elect Trump encouraging him to reconsider his appointment of Stephen Bannon. I strongly oppose this appointment as do many of my constituents in Missouri’s 5th District who called our office and voiced their disapproval. This appointment not only undermines Mr. Trump’s call to be the president for all, it sets an overall discriminatory tone for millions of Americans.

I hope President-elect Trump listens to the American people and is truly sincere about bridging the racial and ethnic divide that is currently brewing in America. No matter how rich, or how big of a media star, or how many people bow down to you, the manner in which you treat fellow human beings, in due course, defines who you really are.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Former Harrison High band director sentenced to 15 years for sex with students

A federal judge today sentenced the former Harrison High School band director to 15 years in prison for enticing a minor into having sex and 15 years for taking a minor across state lines to have sex. The sentences will run concurrently.

Kyle Smith, 28, Branson, resigned from his teaching position September 1, 2015, 11 days after school officials began looking into allegations that he had sex with students.

The Taney County Sheriff's Office arrested Smith in February since evidence indicated Smith had sex with a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl, both Harrison High School students, at his Branson home.

The Smith case was one of the more difficult occurrences for Superintendent Melinda Moss during her seven-year tenure at Harrison. A teacher in the school system came across information about Smith and an underage girl and contacted the state's Crimes Against Children unit and Moss.

When the police arrived at the high school campus the following day to investigate, the school district had brought in Little Rock lawyer Cody Kees and was conducting its own investigation. Both Smith and the girl denied that anything had happened.

Moss immediately removed Smith from classroom duties and he was never with students again, despite allegations that were made in a lawsuit filed in May by fired teacher Andrea Pandarvis.

Despite his removal from the classroom and later resignation, the Harrison Police made no arrests following their initial investigation. School officials continued conducting their own investigation and eventually Smith's victims told school officials what had happened in Branson and that led to Smith's arrest.

One of the victims provided Harrison detectives with a dress she had kept which had stains that matched Smith's DNA.

Smith was charged with sodomy and statutory rape in Taney County in February. A federal grand jury indicted Smith earlier this year, leading to today's sentence.

Agenda posted for Monday Joplin City Council meeting

November 21, 2016
6:00 P.M., Council Chambers
Call To Order
Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America
Roll Call
Chase The Chill Proclamation
Finalization Of Consent Agenda
Reports And Communications
Citizen Requests And Petitions
Public Hearings
Consent Agenda
Minutes Of The November 7, 2016 Joplin City Council Meeting
  1. 11-7 MINS-.PDF
Council Bill 2016-285
COUNCIL BILL NO. 2016-285 –AN ORDINANCE providing for the vacation of a 15-foot wide public utility easement located 20 feet south of 1365 Crest Drive in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.
AN ORDINANCE providing for the vacation of a public street right-of-way located 500 feet south of the intersection of Seventh Street and Northpark Lane, in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.
AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2004-256, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, November 15, 2004, by removing from District R-1 and including in District R-3-PD property as described below and located on Pearl Avenue from 26th Street to 27th Street in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.

AN ORDINANCE approving the voluntary annexation by the City of Joplin of property located 400 feet east of the intersection of 32nd Street and Schifferdecker Avenue in Newton County, Missouri.
AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2004-256, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, November 15, 2004, by removing from District R-1 and including in District C-3 property as described below and located 400 feet east of the intersection of 32nd Street and Schifferdecker Avenue in the City of Joplin, Newton County, Missouri.
AN ORDINANCE approving the Redevelopment Plans for properties  known as the 200 Block Commons located at 215 S. Wall Ave. and 212 S. Joplin Ave.; by Common Based, LLC (Jeff and Carolina Neal) in accordance with the Redevelopment Plans as approved by the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation, Inc.; approving and authorizing the abatement of ad valorem real estate taxes on the improvements to properties located at 215 S. Wall Ave. and 212 S. Joplin Ave, Joplin, Missouri; taxes on the improvements to the real property will be abated at the rate of one hundred percent (100%) for ten(10) years, commencing January 1, 2017 and fifty (50%) for the following fifteen (15) years, ending after December 31, 2041; authorizing the City Manager to execute all instruments approved herein and any other instruments necessary to effectuate the intent of the Council as described herein upon recommendation of the City Attorney.
AN ORDINANCE amending Section 42-35, Court costs and other fees, of Article II, Municipal Court, Division I, Generally, of Chapter 42, Courts, of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Joplin to implement certain fee changes; and setting a date when this Ordinance shall become effective.
A RESOLUTION authorizing the City Manager to submit a resolution of support and application to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, Blueprint for Safer Roadways Program Agreement.
Ordinances - Emergency
AN ORDINANCE approving the contract with Bennett Inc, in the amount of One Hundred Eight Thousand Four Hundred Ninety DOLLARS and 50/100 ($108,490.00) for the Schifferdecker Bridge over Turkey Creek Clearing & Grubbing Project in the City of Joplin, Missouri; and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE approving an agreement for Anderson Engineering Inc. not to exceed One Hundred Seventy Three Thousand and no/100 Dollars ($173,000.00) for Continuing Engineering Services Associated with the 20th Street Improvements from Connecticut Avenue to Range Line Road Project and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE approving an agreement for Anderson Engineering Inc. not to exceed Two Hundred Thousand Two Hundred Fifty and no/100 Dollars ($200,250.00) for Continuing Engineering Services Associated with the Street, Sidewalk, Curb & Gutter, and Storm Water Projects in the Recovery Area and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE approving the contract by and between the City of Joplin and Jordan Disposal for the demolition of the structure(s) and clearing of lot area located at 1111 W. 12TH ST. in the City of Joplin, Missouri, for the amount of Two Thousand Two Hundred Ninety-nine and 00/100 Dollars (2,299.00); providing how the cost thereof shall be paid; how the assessment thereof shall be made; and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE approving the contract by and between the City of Joplin and Jordan Disposal for the demolition of the structure(s) and clearing of lot area located at 2311 W. 3RD ST. in the City of Joplin, Missouri, for the amount of Two Thousand Six Hundred Forty-nine and 00/100 Dollars (2,649.00); providing how the cost thereof shall be paid; how the assessment thereof shall be made; and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE approving a Program Services Contract by and between the State of Missouri, Department of Health and Senior Services, and the City of Joplin, Missouri, for a term commencing October 1, 2016 and running through September 30, 2017, for the amount of up to Thirty Two Thousand, Eight Hundred Seventy-Five Dollars and Sixty Two Cents ($32,875.62), to enable the Health Department to provide maternal and child health services to residents of Joplin, authorizing the City Manager to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin, Missouri; and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE amending the Annual Budget of the City of Joplin for the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 as adopted by Ordinance 2016-177 on October 17, 2016, to adjust appropriations and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE approving a Contract for Technical Support by and between the City of Joplin, Missouri and Motorola, Inc., dealing with a switch upgrade, customer support, maintenance, and technical support for the City’s Motorola Digital Radio System with the cost for the FY 2016-17 Budget of One-Million, Eight-Thousand and Three-Hundred Seventeen Dollars ($1,008,317.00).  Beginning the FY 2017-18 Budget through FY 2022-23 Budget an annual cost of One Hundred Forty-Four Thousand, Two-Hundred Sixty-Six Dollars ($144,266.00); authorizing the City Manager to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin, Missouri; and containing an emergency clause.
Ordinances - First Reading
AN ORDINANCE Approval of License Agreement by and between the City of Joplin and Alpha Air Center, LLC to conduct an Airshow at the Joplin Regional Airport.
AN ORDINANCE adopting the 2016 City of Joplin Historic Preservation Plan Update.
Ordinances - Second Reading And Third Reading
Unfinished Business
New Business
Vote to go into closed session, which shall pertain to leasing, purchasing or sale of real estate by a public governmental body where public knowledge of the transaction might adversely affect the legal consideration therefore; and which shall pertain to the hiring, firing, disciplining, or promotion of an employee or particular employees of a governmental body involving personal information; more specifically for the purpose of evaluating certain Council employees; as set forth in Section 610.021(2) (3) RSMo, as amended, 2015. This meeting, record, and vote to be closed to the extent provided by law. The City Council shall adjourn at the end of the session.