Friday, March 31, 2017

Closed session minutes: 10 teachers leave Joplin R-8 district, one hired

The closed session minutes for Tuesday's Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting shows the resignation or non-renewal of 10 non-tenured teachers and the hiring of one teacher:

    1. 610.021 (3) Hiring, firing, disciplining or promoting of particular employees... - Action
      Recommendation: The administration recommends that the board approve the employment items as presented. 

      1. Non-Renewals and Resignations of Non-Tenured Teachers - Action (Dr. Lankford)

        Motion made to approve the list of non-renewals and resignations as presented. 
        Brandon Claar, Judith Clarkson, Gayola Dodson, Tiffany Furr, Christopher Hall, Kendra Hamilton, Marilyn Johnston, Amanda Mehrens, Jennifer Pence, Joy Stafford, Tiffany Trammell, Shela Ward, and Brenda Williams.
        Motion made by: Lori Musser

        Motion seconded by: Christopher Sloan


        Voting
        Unanimously Approved

      2. Certified Employments - Action (Dr. Lankford)

        Motion made to approve the certified employment as presented.
        Stacey Tracy
      3. Motion made by: Sharrock Dermott

        Motion seconded by: Christopher Sloan
        Voting
        Unanimously Approved

Former KOAM reporter moves to Kansas City market

Former KOAM reporter Rudy Harper has been hired at KCTV in Kansas City, where he will begin working the night shift Wednesday.

Harper began his career in the Joplin market before moving on to WALA in Mobile, Alabama.

It is a return home for Harper, who graduated from Park University.


Greitens appoints Illinois official to head Department of Labor

(From Gov. Eric Greitens)

Today, Governor Eric Greitens announced that Anna Hui, Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Labor, will become the new Director of the Missouri Department of Labor.

Hui also previously served as the Chief of Staff to Elaine Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and current U.S. Secretary of Transportation, during the Secretary's tenure at the Heritage Foundation. 

Governor Greitens released the following statement, “Anna Hui has proven herself to be a fearless change agent at the state and federal level. We are honored to have her join us to shake up Jefferson City and bring some much needed reforms to the Missouri Department of Labor.”

Agenda posted for Monday's Joplin City Council meeting




COUNCIL AGENDA
Monday, April 3, 2017
6:00 P.M., Council Chambers
1.

Call To Order

Invocation
Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America
2.

Roll Call

3.

Presentations

1.

Proclamation Proclaiming April As Fair Housing Month

2.

Proclamation For The Mayors’ Monarch Pledge

3.

Proclamation Naming April 4, 2017 As National Service Recognition Day

4.

Presentation Of The Missouri Outstanding City Clerk Award To City Clerk Barbara Hogelin. Presented By Maribeth Matney, Secretary Of The Missouri City Clerks And Finance Officers Association.

4.

Finalization Of Consent Agenda

5.

Reports And Communications

6.

Citizen Requests And Petitions

7.

Public Hearings

8.

Consent Agenda

1.

Minutes Of The March 20, 2017 Joplin City Council Meeting

Documents:
  1. 3-20 MINS.PDF
2.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-505

AN ORDINANCE amending Section 86-5, Fees at Schifferdecker Golf Course, of Article I, In General, of Chapter 86, Parks and Recreation, of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Joplin, by amending Section 86-5, Fees at Schifferdecker Golf Course, to implement certain fee language changes; and setting a date when this Ordinance shall become effective.
9.

Resolutions

10.

Ordinances - Emergency

1.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-121

AN ORDINANCE approving an agreement with Jacobs Engineering in the not to exceed amount of Three Hundred Forty Thousand Three Hundred Sixty and 00/100 ($340,360.00) for Construction Management for Street, Sidewalk, Curb & Gutter and Storm Water Projects in the Recovery Area authorizing the Director of Public Works to execute the same; and containing an emergency clause.
2.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-366

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 and located at 820 S, Picher in the City of Joplin, Missouri, for the amount of One Thousand Nine Hundred Twenty-Five and 00/100 Dollars (1,925.00); providing how the cost thereof shall be paid; how the assessment thereof shall be made; and containing an emergency clause.
3.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-507

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.
11.

Ordinances - First Reading

12.

Ordinances - Second Reading And Third Reading

13.

Unfinished Business

14.

New Business

1.

News From The PIO

2.

CLOSED SESSION

Vote to go into closed session, which shall pertain to leasing, purchasing or sale of real estate by a public governmental body where public knowledge of the transaction might adversely affect the legal consideration therefore as set forth in Section 610.021 (2) RSMo, as amended, 2016. 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. 

BIlly Long disagrees with Trump on cutting funding that helps Joplin Airport

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

Essential Air Service (EAS), administered by the Department of Transportation (DOT), is an important part of southwest Missouri. This program allows for smaller communities, like Joplin, to have a certain number of roundtrip flights each week at a lower rate.

The DOT recently reselected American Airlines to continue to provide EAS at the Joplin Regional Airport through Feb. 28, 2019.

Over the years, this program has attracted many individuals and businesses to southwest Missouri. Without this program, the Joplin airport would likely have no commercial air service.

Since its operations began, the EAS program at the Joplin airport has proven to be quite successful. With an increase in passenger traffic, American Airlines alone has more than quadrupled their passenger traffic, which has resulted in a significant decrease in subsidy. Under the new contract, depending on what type of aircraft is used, the annual subsidy will be either $395,899 or $839,513.

I understand a program like this might be perceived as not needed or useful, but when you live in rural areas, like those in southwest Missouri, programs like these can benefit individuals with limited resources that otherwise might not be able to fly.

Though the President’s proposed budget eliminates this program, a proposed budget is just that, a proposed budget. There will always be items in a budget that people agree and disagree on. Eliminating EAS funding just happens to be one of those things I disagree on.

I will continue to work on behalf of my constituents to ensure that this program is not eliminated from the budget. With Missouri’s 7th Congressional District being predominately rural, I understand the value of a program like this.

Video- Missouri Senate Week in Review

Probable cause statement: North Middle School teacher, 37, had sex with 13-year-old boy

North Middle School reading teacher Amanda Schweitzer took a 13-year-old male student to her home and had sex with him, according to a probable cause statement filed today in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Schweitzer, 37, was charged today with felony statutory rape in the first degree.

Bond has been set at $40,000 cash or surety and $10,000 cash. A condition of the bond is that Schweitzer is to have no contact with the victim or the victim's family, according to court records.

From the probable cause statement written by Joplin Police Department Cpl. Luke Stahl.

On 3/29/2017 at 2518 W. 29th Street,  Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri 64804, Amanda Schweitzer committed the crime of statutory rape in the first degree.

Schweitzer drove the victim, C. A. to her residence at 2518 W. 29th Street. Schweitzer led C. A. into a bedroom inside the residence and remover her and C. A.'s clothing. Schweitzer and C. A. then had sexual intercourse in the bedroom. 

Schweitzer was 37 years old and C. A. was 13 years old at the time of the sexual intercourse.

The police department and state child abuse investigators have also been investigating allegations that Schweitzer sent nude photos of herself to three students, age 14, 14, and 13, though that is not included in the charges filed against her today.

The Joplin R-8 School District has placed Schweitzer on administrative leave.

UPDATE: North Middle School teacher behind bars on statutory rape charge






One hundredth anniversary of U. S. entry into WWI to be commemorated in KC

(From Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

In a few days, the world’s spotlight will shine on Kansas City, Missouri as thousands will gather at the National World War I Museum and Memorial for a once-in-a-lifetime event, the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the United States entry into World War I.

This is expected to be the largest gathering of international and national dignitaries here in Kansas City since the opening of the historic Liberty Museum in 1926. At that time, 5 leaders of allied countries, united and stood for peace. Once again, now a century later, leaders of over 20 countries will gather on April 6, 2017 to recognize our Nation’s sacrifice and honor those who fought in the Great War.

It will be a real privilege to witness such an extraordinary gathering. We are now expecting nearly 4,000 people to join us, to share some of the readings, songs, and videos of WWI 100 years ago. As a tribute and a way of sharing their gratitude, the French Patrouille de France will fly over the National World War I Museum and Memorial at the ceremony. What a sight that will be!


Throughout my career as Mayor of Kansas City, myself and countless others rallied for the restoration and preservation of what was then, the Liberty Memorial and worked tirelessly in Congress to have the Liberty Memorial recognized as the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

I fought for the creation of the WWI Commission years ago because I know how important it is to honor our veterans of WWI - to never forget what they sacrificed for our country and other nations. I couldn’t be happier that the WWI Commission has decided to commemorate this historic event right here in the 5th District.

Springdale pimp sentenced to 6 years in prison for using Missouri teen for prostitution

(From the Department of Justice)

Antonio “TBoi” Nash, age 23, of Springdale was sentenced today to 70 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of Transporting Individual to Engage in Prostitution. The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.

According to court records, in January of 2015, officers with the Springdale Police Department encountered a 17-year-old female naked inside a hotel room with an adult male. During an interview with the officers, the minor explained that she had been recruited just before Christmas of 2014 through Facebook by a pimp named “Tboi,” who was later identified as Antonio Nash, to work as a prostitute. She stated that Tboi had picked her up from her residence in Missouri, driven her to Springdale, and introduced her to two other females who explained to her how to be an escort. She said he helped her to create an online advertisement on Backpage.com, and she started working for him. She explained that he would give her marijuana for payment and let her keep some of the money she made from the sexual encounters, but later he took all of the money she made. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), obtained a search warrant for Nash’s Facebook account, and the Facebook records corroborated the statements of the minor. On or about May 26, 2016, a search warrant was issued on Nash’s residence. At the time, Nash, after being advised of his rights, admitted to being in the business of facilitating sexual encounters for money and, specifically, to recruiting and transporting the 17-year-old female.

Nash was indicted by a federal grand jury in June, 2016 and pleaded guilty in October, 2016.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and Springdale Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Dustin Roberts prosecuted the case for the United States.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Report: North Middle School teacher placed on leave, allegedly sent nude photos to three students

The Joplin Globe is reporting that Joplin Police and state child abuse investigators are investigating allegations that a North Middle School teacher sent nude photos of herself to three students.

A source tells the Turner Report that the teacher was removed from a classroom Wednesday shortly after the arrival of Joplin Police officers and assistant superintendents Kerry Sachetta and Steve Gilbreth.

North Principal Matt Harding removed the teacher's computers from the classroom shortly thereafter.

The Globe account says the nude photos were allegedly sent to students age 14, 14, and 13.

At this point, no charges have been filed. HR Director Ron Lankford said the teacher had been placed on administrative leave.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Court of appeals upholds city of Joplin's $1.475 million judgment against Wallace-Bajjali

The Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals today upheld the City of Joplin's victory in its lawsuit against Wallace-Bajjali.

A three-judge panel unanimously rejected Costa Bajjali's attempt to throw out the $1,475,000 default judgment handed down at the trial level by Jasper County Circuit Court Judge Gayle Crane.

The trial was held without the defendants present. Bajjali claimed he had never been informed about the trial and had no opportunity to defend himself.

The text of the court's opinion is printed below:

AFFIRMED 

 Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, L.P. ("Wallace Bajjali") appeals from the trial court's denial of its Rule 74.05(d) motion to set aside a default judgment.

Wallace Bajjali argues the trial court erred in denying its motion to set aside the default judgment. Although framed as one point, Wallace Bajjali's argument has two prongs. 

First, Wallace Bajjali claims the trial court did not apply the correct legal standard because it did not mention Rule 74.05(d) in its judgment. 

Second, Wallace Bajjali argues the trial court did not apply the correct legal standard because "the evidence submitted to the trial court established good cause and a meritorious defense[.]" 

We disagree and affirm the trial court's judgment. 

Procedural Background 

 In 2015, the City of Joplin and the Joplin Redevelopment Corp., Inc. (collectively, "Joplin") filed a lawsuit against Wallace Bajjali, seeking relief under various legal theories based on allegations that Wallace Bajjali had stopped performance under two related contracts after receiving $1,475,000 from Joplin. 

A return of service was filed indicating that a copy of the summons and petition was delivered to Wallace Bajjali's registered agent, CT Corporation ("CT"). 

Because Wallace Bajjali had changed its address without informing CT, CT never forwarded the summons and petition to Wallace Bajjali. Nevertheless, the trial court thereafter entered a default judgment against Wallace Bajjali in the amount of $1,475,000. 

 On June 12, 2015, Wallace Bajjali filed a motion for new trial. Wallace Bajjali has, in this proceeding, filed a motion to strike Joplin's supplemental legal file and the transcript of the hearing regarding the motion for new trial. 

Wallace Bajjali argues those materials are not properly part of the record on appeal because a motion to set aside a default judgment is an independent action and the transcript and the documents in the supplemental legal file were never submitted to the trial court for consideration in connection with the motion to set aside the default judgment. 

This Court ordered the motion to strike taken with the case. Here, no live testimony was presented at the hearing regarding the motion to set aside the default judgment. However, both parties discussed various items of evidence. 

Wallace Bajjali relied on the affidavits and exhibits it submitted in support of the motion to set aside the default judgment. Joplin, in turn, suggested the trial court should consider the testimony Wallace Bajjali's managing partner gave in support of the motion for new trial and the conflicts between that testimony and the evidence submitted in support of the motion to set aside the default judgment. 

Wallace Bajjali did not object when Joplin's attorney suggested the trial court consider that evidence. Because Wallace Bajjali acquiesced in the procedure in the trial court, Wallace Bajjali is in no position to complain here. Wallace Bajjali's motion to strike is denied. 

Among other things, Wallace Bajjali claimed in the motion for new trial that service was improper because Wallace Bajjali had never actually received the summons and petition from CT. 

On August 28, 2015, the trial court entered a judgment denying Wallace Bajjali's motion for new trial ("the 2015 judgment"). The trial court found service was proper because it was made on Wallace Bajjali's registered agent. 

 On November 1, 2015, Wallace Bajjali filed a motion to set aside the default judgment under Rule 74.05(d). In the motion to set aside the default judgment, Wallace Bajjali pleaded it had good cause for failing to respond to Joplin's lawsuit because Wallace Bajjali never actually received the summons and petition from CT. 

On August 18, 2016, the trial court entered a judgment ("the 2016 judgment") denying the motion to set aside the default judgment. The 2016 judgment incorporated the 2015 judgment but made no further findings of fact or conclusions of law. Wallace Bajjali appeals. 

Discussion

 In its sole point relied on, Wallace Bajjali claims the trial court "failed to apply the correct legal standard and never determined the issues of good cause and a meritorious defense under Rule 74.05(d)" because (1) the trial court did not mention Rule 74.05(d) in its judgment and (2) "the evidence submitted to the trial court established good cause and a meritorious defense to the action[.]" 

These arguments fail because they ignore the application of Rule 73.01 and our standard of review. We first address Wallace Bajjali's assertion that the trial court failed to apply the correct legal standard because the trial court did not mention Rule 4 74.05(d) in its judgment. 

Rule 74.05(d) permits a trial court to set aside a default judgment "[u]pon motion stating facts constituting a meritorious defense and for good cause shown[.]" Brungard v. Risky's Inc., 240 S.W.3d 685, 686 (Mo. banc 2007) (quoting Rule 74.05(d)). 

Additionally, "Rule 74.05 does not require the trial court to state a reason for denying a motion to set aside a default judgment." Under such circumstances, parties who want to know how the trial court resolved various issues "have the ability to request written findings of fact."  However, "[w]here neither party in a court-tried case requests findings of fact and conclusions of law under Rule 73.01(c), the trial court's stated findings and conclusions for its judgment are gratuitous only." Moreover, "[a]ll fact issues upon which no specific findings are made shall be considered as having been found in accordance with the result reached."

And as for the application of the law, '[t]he trial court is presumed to know the law.'". Nowhere in the record are we able to find a request for findings pursuant to Rule 73.01. Thus, we rely on the presumption created by Rule 73.01(c) and the applicable case law to determine how the trial court resolved issues which it did not mention in its judgment. 

The trial court denied the motion to set aside the default judgment, so, in accordance with that result, the law presumes the trial court found Wallace Bajjali failed to meet its burden. 

 We next address Wallace Bajjali's argument that the trial court failed to apply the correct legal standard because the evidence showed good cause and a meritorious defense. This argument fails. The first reason the argument fails is that it is not preserved for appellate review. A challenge that the judgment was not supported by substantial evidence is distinct from a challenge alleging that the trial court failed to apply the correct legal principles. However, "[a] point relied on should contain only one issue, and parties should not group multiple contentions about different issues together into one point relied on." 

 Here, Wallace Bajjali, by including in its point relied on the language about what the evidence showed, attempts to package a not-supported-by-the-evidence challenge within the distinct challenge that the trial court failed to apply the correct legal standard. That approach renders the point multifarious. We may, however, in our discretion, review multifarious points ex gratia. 

In doing so here, we conclude Wallace Bajjali’s argument that its evidence established good cause and a meritorious defense is without merit because it is based on a false premise that the trial court was required to believe the evidence Wallace Bajjali presented.

The trial court is the finder of fact, and this Court is merely a court of review for trial court errors. "In reviewing questions of fact, the reviewing court will defer to the trial court's assessment of the evidence if any facts relevant to an issue are contested."[A] party can contest the evidence in many ways, such as by putting forth contrary evidence, cross examining a witness, challenging the credibility of a witness, pointing out inconsistencies in evidence, or arguing the meaning of the evidence." 

"Once contested, 'a trial court is free to disbelieve any, all, or none of th[e] evidence,' and 'the appellate court's role is not to re-evaluate testimony through its own perspective.'" Here, despite Wallace Bajjali's assertions to the contrary, the evidence was contested. 

At the hearing regarding the motion to set aside the default judgment, Joplin's attorney first suggested the trial court need not believe Wallace Bajjali's evidence and then argued about the meaning of the evidence Wallace Bajjali had presented. 

Because the evidence was contested, the trial court was not required to believe any of the evidence. Under those circumstances, the fact that the trial court did not believe the evidence does not show it failed to apply the correct legal standard. Wallace Bajjali has not demonstrated the trial court failed to apply the correct legal standard. Wallace Bajjali's sole point is denied.

 Decision 

 The trial court's judgment is affirmed. 

Grand jury indicts Missouri man for $12 million tax fraud, voter fraud, illegal reentry into U. S.

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

A federal grand jury sitting in St. Louis, Missouri, returned a superseding indictment today charging a St. Louis resident for his role in a sophisticated stolen identity refund fraud scheme and other federal offenses, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Carrie A. Costantin for the Eastern District of Missouri.

The superseding indictment charges Kevin Kunlay Williams aka Kunlay Sodipo, a Nigerian citizen, with mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, voter fraud, illegal reentry and being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to the indictment, Williams and others stole public school employees’ IDs from a payroll company and used them to electronically file more than 2000 fraudulent federal income tax returns seeking more than $12 million in refunds. He also allegedly stole several Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs) that he used to secure bank products allowing him to print refund checks and direct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to send refunds to prepaid debit cards. The indictment alleges that Williams had refund checks issued in the names of the stolen IDs, and blank check stock and debit cards sent to his residence.

The indictment further alleges that Williams previously entered the United States from Nigeria under the name Kunlay Sodipo, but was deported in 1995. According to the indictment, in 1999, Williams illegally returned to the United States from Nigeria using the last name Williams. In 2012, Williams allegedly registered to vote in federal, state and local elections by falsely claiming that he was a U.S. citizen and is alleged to have voted in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. On the day of his arrest in February, Williams is alleged to have been illegally in possession of a firearm.

If convicted, Williams faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each count of mail fraud, a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft, a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the illegal reentry, a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for each of the voter fraud counts, and a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the felon in possession of a firearm. The defendant also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and monetary penalties.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg and Acting U.S. Attorney Costantin commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service as well as the Dothan Alabama Police Department and Alexander City Alabama Police Department, who conducted the investigation, and Trial Attorneys Michael C. Boteler and Charles M. Edgar, Jr. of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting this case with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Eastern District of Missouri and Middle District of Alabama.

Lawsuit claims Joplin police officer shot man four times for no reason

A lawsuit filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri claims Joplin police officer Seth Lugenbell shot Jeffrey Hill (pictured) four times without cause while responding to a call at the Oxford Apartments November 30, 2015.

The Newton County Prosecuting attorney eventually charged Hill with assaulting a law enforcement officer and driving while intoxicated. His trial is scheduled for May 22 in McDonald County Circuit Court, where it is being held on a change of venue.

The petition paints a different portrait of what happened than the official news releases issued by the Joplin Police Department.

Lugenbell and Officer Brent Davis arrived at the Oxford Apartments, talked with some people and when Davis left the building, he saw the headlights of the 2003 Nissan Sentra driven by Hill turn on in the parking lot.
Officer Davis used his flashlight to illuminate the driver of the Nissan Sentra and identified who he believed to be Plaintiff. Plaintiff then backed out of the parking spot and began to operate his vehicle heading north and subsequently east, around both apartment buildings, in an attempt to leave the apartment complex parking lot. 

Officer Davis began running northeast back through the courtyard and, while doing so, informed Officer Lugenbell that he had seen Plaintiff. Both officers ran toward the direction in which they perceived Plaintiff’s vehicle would attempt to exit the parking lot. 

As Defendant Lugenbell ran toward Plaintiff’s vehicle he drew his Glock .40 caliber firearm.

Defendant Lugenbell saw the 2003 Nissan Sentra as it was attempting to exit the parking lot and stated: “Stop right there, stop or I’ll shoot,” and immediately began unloading his firearm at the driver, Plaintiff Jeffrey Hill. 

Defendant Lugenbell fired at Plaintiff Hill through the front of Plaintiff Hill’s vehicle, then through the passenger side of the vehicle, and continuing through the back of the vehicle as it was driving away. 

Defendant Lugenbell fired a total of approximately 11 rounds at Plaintiff Hill, at least 4 of which struck Plaintiff Hill’s body causing severe and permanent injuries. 

At no time did Plaintiff Hill pose an immediate threat to any person, including but not limited to Officer Lugenbell. Plaintiff Hill did not have a weapon and never used or threatened to use deadly force. 

Plaintiff Hill never operated his vehicle in a matter deliberately intended to strike any officer or citizen nor would any reasonable person have perceived that Plaintiff Hill was intending to use his vehicle to strike any officer or citizen. 

Officer Lugenbell’s use of deadly force was objectively unreasonable at the time it was used. It was objectively unreasonable for Officer Lugenbell to run toward the path of Plaintiff Hill’s vehicle. It was objectively unreasonable for Officer Lugenbell to fire his gun in a public, residential, and occupied area. It was objectively unreasonable for Officer Lugenbell to fire at a moving vehicle. It was objectively unreasonable for Officer Lugenbell to continue firing at the side and then the back of the vehicle as it was driving away from him. 

Officer Lugenbell’s actions as alleged herein constitute excessive and deadly force in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Officer Lugenbell’s actions and/or inactions as alleged herein amount to a violation of Plaintiff Hill’s Fourth Amendment, and clearly established, constitutional right against unreasonable seizure when he used excessive and lethal force by unreasonably shooting to kill Plaintiff Hill. 

As a direct and proximate result of the actions of Officer Lugenbell alleged herein Plaintiff Hill suffered multiple bullet wounds to his body, including but not limited to, gunshot wounds to the upper right chest, the upper right abdomen, right forearm and right biceps. 

As a direct and proximate cause of the gunshot wounds, and while still in the field, Plaintiff Hill lost consciousness, coded, and was intubated by emergency medical responders.

Upon arrival at the emergency room, Plaintiff Hill was pulseless and apneic. Emergency physicians immediately opened Plaintiff’s left chest and performed a resuscitative thoracotomy followed by a right-sided chest tube thoracostomy. Massive blood transfusion protocol was started. A left femoral central line was placed, a right femoral arterial line was placed and a left subclavian central line was placed. 

Thereafter, Plaintiff Hill was taken to the operating room where surgeons performed an exploratory laparotomy and repair of the left lower lung with placement of a left-sided chest tube. Subsequently, Plaintiff was moved to the ICU on a ventilator, sedated and with bilateral chest tubes. 

On December 2, 2015, and while still sedated, Plaintiff Hill was returned to the operating room where an orthopedic surgeon repaired his comminuted displaced right radial shaft fracture, which was caused by a gunshot wound to his right arm. 

On December 4, 2015, Plaintiff Hill underwent a fiberoptic bronchoscopy procedure and was found to have extensive thick blood secretions bilaterally that were then aspirated. 

On December 14, 2015 Plaintiff Hill underwent procedures to place a tracheostomy tube and percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube. A few days later Plaintiff Hill was intubated. He was noted to have a nonocclusive left subclavian and axillary deep vein thrombosis and was started on blood thinner. 

As a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Lugenbell’s actions as alleged herein, Plaintiff Hill has incurred medical expenses in excess of $279,757.00) and in an amount to be proven with more specificity at trial. 

As a direct and proximate result of Defendant Lugenbell’s action alleged herein, Plaintiff Hill has suffered extreme pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss pleasure of living, and loss of generalized personal functions and abilities and will continue to experience severe pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life in the future and will require continuing, substantial and appropriate medical care resulting in the need for a life-care plan, all of said damages can be proved with reasonable certainty at trial. 

As a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Lugenbell’s actions as alleged herein, Plaintiff Hill has lost the use of his right arm. 

As a direct and proximate result of Defendant Lugenbell’s actions as alleged herein, Plaintiff Hill has incurred, and will continue to incur in the future, permanent and severe pain and suffering, mental anguish, discomfort, and loss of enjoyment of life. 

Hill is asking for damages and punitive damages. Named as defendants, in addition to Lugenbell are the city of Joplin and the Joplin Police Department.

Hill is represented by Columbia attorney Matthew B. Woods and Joplin attorney Patrick Martucci.

A December 10, 2015 JPD news release noted that a Missouri Highway Patrol investigation had ruled the shooting justified:

Beginning today, December 10, 2015, Officer Seth Lugenbell and Officer Brett Davis are returned to active duty. The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) investigation yielded that Officer Lugenbell engaged Hill with his firearm as a result of Hill driving directly at Officer Lugenbell. Officer Davis did not deploy his firearm.

The MSHP investigation determined that the use of force used by Officer Lugenbell was justified. The MSHP will conduct an administrative review of their investigation. There will be a delay before the compilation and availability of the MSHP report.

The internal investigation, conducted by the Joplin Police Department’s Professional Standards Bureau, continues. However, preliminary results of this facet of the investigation yields no reason for the officers to remain on administrative leave and they can return to serving the community.

Hill's lawsuit was originally filed March 17 in Jasper County Circuit Court and was removed to federal court today.

Tornado watch issued for Joplin area

(From the National Weather Service)

TORNADO WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE FOR WT 99
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
350 PM CDT WED MAR 29 2017

TORNADO WATCH 99 IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1100 PM CDT FOR THE
 FOLLOWING LOCATIONS

MOC009-011-013-015-029-037-039-043-057-059-067-077-083-085-091-
095-097-101-105-109-119-131-141-145-153-159-167-169-185-209-213-
215-217-225-229-300400-
/O.NEW.KWNS.TO.A.0099.170329T2050Z-170330T0400Z/

MO
.    MISSOURI COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE

BARRY                BARTON              BATES
BENTON               CAMDEN              CASS
CEDAR                CHRISTIAN           DADE
DALLAS               DOUGLAS             GREENE
HENRY                HICKORY             HOWELL
JACKSON              JASPER              JOHNSON
LACLEDE              LAWRENCE            MCDONALD
MILLER               MORGAN              NEWTON
OZARK                PETTIS              POLK
PULASKI              ST. CLAIR           STONE
TANEY                TEXAS               VERNON
WEBSTER              WRIGHT

Gatehouse CEO makes $2.1 million, $2.2 if he loses his job

He runs a company that is swimming in debt, has never made a dime and continues to buy up and destroy community newspapers across the United States.

How much do you pay a man like that?

In a fair and just world, Gatehouse Media CEO Kirk Davis would be standing in the unemployment line with counselors suggesting he find himself another line of work.

Instead, Davis raked in $2,104,212 in 2015 according to a proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

It was Davis who pulled the trigger on the decision to order $27 million in cuts to his company, cuts which continued the process of dismantling more than 400 community newspapers across the United States, including 15 in Missouri.

The cuts resulted in the Carthage Press, long a proud daily newspaper, which had been twice weekly for the past couple of years to become a once-a-week publication.

The Neosho Daily News will no longer be printed daily next month as it goes to twice a week and the Miami News-Record has also been cut from five to two days a week.

These are just the latest in a long list of cuts, engineered by Davis, who was Gatehouse's chief operating officer before it emerged from bankruptcy under the auspices of the newly formed New Media, which is run by former Gatehouse CEO Mike Reed.

While the Gatehouse employees, many of whom have worked for their newspapers for years have been unceremoniously shown the door, receiving little in the way of severance pay, that will never happen to Davis.

The SEC filing shows that if he loses his job as a result of a change of control in the company, he will receive a pay package worth $2,204,496, including health insurance for a year.

It's a warped version of the American dream- become the worst at what you do and rise to the top. Lose your job and you do even better.

Meanwhile, community newspapers like the Carthage Press and the Neosho Daily News are left in the dust.

Indictment: Parsons woman embezzled $5 million plus from credit union

(From the Department of Justice)

A Parsons woman was indicted Tuesday on federal charges of embezzling more than $5 million from a credit union that was declared insolvent and liquidated, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.

Nita Rae Nirschl, 64, Parsons, Kan., is charged in an 81-count indictment including 22 counts of embezzlement, 37 counts of money laundering, 18 counts of interstate transportation of stolen property and four counts of attempting to evade taxes. The indictment alleges the crimes took place while Nirschl worked for the Parsons Pittsburg Credit Union based in Parsons.

Following an audit that found the credit union was insolvent, the credit union was placed in conservatorship and ultimately liquidated in March 2014. The audit revealed that from 2010 to December 2014 Nirschl embezzled more than $5 million from the credit union. The indictment alleges she deposited money stolen from the credit union into her personal accounts. She withdrew the funds as cash from ATMs at Harrah’s North Kansas City casino, the Buffalo Run casino in Miami, Okla., the Stables casino in Miami, Okla., the Downstream casino in Quapaw, Okla., Harrah’s News Orleans casino and Harrah’s Lake Tahoe casino.

Upon conviction, the crimes carry the following penalties:

Embezzlement by a credit union employee: Up to 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million on each count.

Money laundering: Up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.

Interstate transportation of stolen property: Up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.

Attempt to evade taxes: Up to five years and a fine up to $100,000.



The FBI and the Internal Revenue Service investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch is prosecuting.

Hawley: Repeal of Clean Power Plan is a victory for Missouri

(From Attorney General Josh Hawley)

Attorney General Josh Hawley today hailed the latest deregulation order from the Trump Administration as a major victory for Missouri. Trump's order, signed Tuesday, begins the repeal process for the so-called Clean Power Plan, a massive network of regulations issued by President Obama that would have driven energy prices up in Missouri by double digits. Missouri challenged the regulations in federal court as unconstitutional.

"This is a major win for the people of Missouri," Hawley said. "As we have long argued and as legal experts from across the political spectrum have recognized, these regulations are flatly unconstitutional. We fought these job-killing regulations in court and soon they will be gone. Relief is on the way for Missouri families."

Missouri was one of 27 states that challenged the Clean Power Plan in federal court. The US Supreme Court issued an injunction against the plan in February 2016.

Elevated tornado risk this afternoon, tonight for Joplin area

Hazardous Weather Outlook
National Weather Service Springfield MO
931 AM CDT Wed Mar 29 2017

KSZ073-097-101-MOZ055>058-066>071-077>083-088>098-101>106-301445-
Bourbon-Crawford-Cherokee-Benton-Morgan-Miller-Maries-Vernon-
St. Clair-Hickory-Camden-Pulaski-Phelps-Barton-Cedar-Polk-Dallas-
Laclede-Texas-Dent-Jasper-Dade-Greene-Webster-Wright-Newton-
Lawrence-Christian-Douglas-Howell-Shannon-McDonald-Barry-Stone-
Taney-Ozark-Oregon-
931 AM CDT Wed Mar 29 2017

This Hazardous Weather Outlook is for portions of the Missouri
Ozarks and extreme southeast Kansas.

.DAY ONE...Today and Tonight.

Weather hazards expected...

  Elevated Tornado Risk.
  Elevated Hail Risk.
  Elevated Thunderstorm Wind Damage Risk.
  Significant Lightning Risk.

DISCUSSION...

  A few thunderstorms will be possible this morning across the
  outlook area as a small band of showers and thunderstorms lifts
  northeast through the region. No severe weather is expected
  with this activity.

  By mid afternoon, strong to severe thunderstorms are expected
  to form across portions of eastern Kansas, western Missouri,
  and northern portions of Oklahoma and Arkansas. This activity
  will then affect the outlook area from mid afternoon into the
  late night hours. Large hail, potentially greater than the size
  of golf balls, wind gusts to 70 MPH, and a few tornadoes are
  all possible with this activity as it moves east through the
  area.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...Thursday through Tuesday.

  The potential for strong to severe storms will continue into
  Thursday especially across the eastern Ozarks. Large hail will
  be the primary severe weather risk Thursday.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

New Joplin R-8 superintendent takes the reins Monday

The last Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting featuring Norm Ridder as the top delivered on the promise he made when he first arrived two years ago- it clocked in at 57 minutes, just shy of the hour meeting that he had hoped for, but which somehow never materialized.

When the board meets 7 p.m. April 18 for the swearing-in of three newly-elected board members, it will be new Superintendent Melinda Moss who will be the top administrator.

Moss officially becomes superintendent Monday, April 3, but Ridder told the board she will be in Joplin Wednesday attending leadership meetings.

Moss will take over the office currently being used by Ridder, who will move a couple of doors down and continue to serve the district with the transition until his contract expires June 30.

Former Washington Education Center to serve as outreach center

During a closed session tonight, the Joplin R-8 Board of Education sold the old Washington Education Center to S.O.S. (Serving on the Streets) Ministries for $1.

The bid was the only one received for the facility. It was the second time Washington had gone through the bidding process.

S.O.S. co-founder Aaron Garcia (shown with his wife and co-founder Emily Garcia) said the building will be used an outreach center, providing such services as parenting classes, mentorships, and "emergency shelters for people on the streets."

The Garcias explained how their ministry started in an article posted July 20, 2015, on the Joplin Mo Life website:

Last winter we got the idea to go out and help the homeless by handing out sack lunches and hot cocoa out of the back of our car. We would pull up into alleys around the homeless “cul-de-sac” between the Salvation Army and Watered Gardens.

After months of service we knew that God was pulling us in this direction and He told us to find a central point to meet. We thought, “What park would be the best for a central point?”

Ewert park.

We then went to all the shelters and asked them what day they don’t serve food, and all of them told us Sundays for lunch. We knew then that we would serve the homeless and impoverished on Sundays at 2 PM at Ewert Park.

Twenty came. Then 30. Then 50, 75.

Now we are seeing up to 125 people show up every week.





Gatehouse's Pittsburg Morning Sun cuts: They will make us more robust

The situation with the Pittsburg Morning Sun is not quite as dire as with other Gatehouse Media newspapers in the area, but the con job from company officials is no less robust to use one of their favorite words.

While the Carthage Press has been trimmed from six editions to five to two, and will be published once a week beginning in April and the Neosho Daily News has gone from six to five to two, the Morning Sun is just in the baby stages of the Gatehouse genocide.

Not too long, the Pittsburg newspaper published every day of the week, then it was six times a week and after the last Saturday edition of the Morning Sun hits the streets April 8, its frequency will be five times a week.

Of course, in the view of the unnamed writer of the article explaining this to Morning Sun readers, this is the best of all possible worlds.

Saturday's paper was a lousy one anyway. Excuse me, make that "less robust than it could and should be."

Six days a week was also making it hard for the workers and their families, the article explains, though it doesn't mention that the problems undoubtedly came as a result of Gatehouse continuing to cut employees until there were not enough to put out six newspapers a week without difficulty.

But the company is on "firm financial footing," the article says.

Of course, it is.

 It doesn't have to pay off its loans for a few years and it has $200 million set aside to buy even more newspapers that Gatehouse officials can cut to the bone, then cut even further, until they are virtually unrecognizable.

But no, it's a good thing for the Morning Sun.

"This is a strategic move designed to ease the burden on our hard-working team members and to allow for a more robust (get the writer a thesaurus please) weekend edition with even more of the great hyperlocal content our readers have come to demand and expect from us."

Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey may be shutting down, but apparently the P. T. Barnums at Gatehouse Media think there's a sucker born every minute.

Complete video- Tonight's Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting

From Jet HD

Three storm chasers, including two from SW Missouri killed in Texas car crash

 Three storm chasers, including two from Southwest Missouri,  were among three people killed today in a two-vehicle crash five miles west of Spur, Texas.

A Texas Department of Public Safety news release said that a northbound black Suburban driven by Kelley Gene Williamson, 57, Cassville, ran a stop sign and struck a westbound black Jeep driven by Corbin Lee Jaeger, 25, Peoria, Arizona.

Williamson, Jaeger, and a passenger in Williamson's vehicle, Randall Delane Yarnall, 55, Cassville, were all killed.

All three were storm chasers, according to the report. The report indicates that the weather conditions played no part in the accident.

Williamson's final footage of storm activity in Texas today is in the top accompanying video.The bottom video includes footage of people driving in an ice storm in Joplin on December 27, 2014.



Creve Coeur Democrat outlines attacks against workers, teachers in legislature

In her weekly podcast, Sen. Jill Schlupp details bills that have passed or are being considered in the state legislature that are designed to attack unions and classroom teachers.

It is a long list and that type of legislation has been about the only thing that has made its way to Gov. Eric Greitens' desk thus far.

Blunt takes Senate Democrats to task on Gorsuch nomination

In the accompanying video, Sen. Roy Blunt criticizes Senate Democrats for their treatment of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Senate Democrats are threatening to filibuster the Gorsuch nomination, meaning it would take 60 votes to confirm him as the replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Cynthia Davis on health care vote: A tremendous victory for those who favor limited government

(From former Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, now an internet radio talk show host)

It looks like nearly everyone is happy! Now that the Obamacare replacement bill was removed from the House agenda, both sides of the political spectrum feel rescued from a bad bill. Democrats thought it would diminish Obamacare. Republicans thought it was too much like Obamacare. This is a classic example of how "governing from the middle" can be a total flop.

The fact that no vote was officially taken means the Republicans lacked the numbers for it to pass and they didn't want to humiliate themselves. However, we can still see how the members were likely to vote because The New York Times printed a whip list for us to examine.

If the government would get out of the healthcare industry, the prices would lower themselves. The bill Paul Ryan promoted failed to incorporate the reforms necessary for healthcare costs to deflate. It retained the main driver behind the price escalation---the insurance mandates.

The quickest way to reduce the cost of healthcare is to get the government out of it. When the Congress implements ideas that reduce the cost of healthcare, the cost of the insurance will reduce naturally.

I never was able to call Obamacare "The Affordable Care Act" because it would violate my conscience to promote a lie. Anything that did so much damage to our healthcare system by driving up prices of medical insurance, cannot honestly be called "affordable". Referring to it as the "Affordable Care Act" is not just a euphemism, it's a falsehood.

Obamacare was not designed with the people in mind. It was designed with the lobbyists in mind---the lobbyists for the insurance industries and the hospital industries. Those flaws continued to exist in the Ryan bill. As a result, the newly proposed bill regurgitated more of the same old ideas repackaged under the Republican banner.

Unfortunately, some of the Democrats are acting like they won just because the Republicans are taking more time to deliberate. They should not throw it up in people's faces like this is a win. The blame for the damage done to our healthcare industry belongs at the feet of the Democratic party.

It's likely that Obamacare will implode on its own. As costs continue to increase, more healthy people will save money by getting their healthcare needs met outside the insurance model. As the insurance pool becomes top-heavy with sick people, fewer insurance choices will be available. History will blame the Democratic party for their promotion of a failed Socialistic experiment.

Whatever the Republicans pass will ultimately be owned by them. That's why those who advertise themselves to be in favor of freedom must show a clear distinction between themselves and the Democrats. Thankfully, the lack of action shows the American people that a few Republicans won't just pass a bill because their party wrote it. Those who feel badly about the defeat of this bill didn't read it either. They were misled into thinking this would solve our problems and was a full repeal of Obamacare, which it was not!

The Republicans in the Freedom Caucus deserve credit for sparing our Country of a huge mistake. Were it not for them, the rank and file Republicans would have passed this. The members of the Freedom Caucus forced the other members to look at WHAT IS IN THE BILL and took the time to read it before they were willing to pass it. They also proved that they care more about doing what is right than pleasing the leadership of their caucus.

Those of us in favor of limited government just won a tremendous victory.

State audit of prescription drug benefits through Medicaid, CHIP programs announced

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway announced she is beginning a review of the state's oversight procedures for prescription drug benefits through Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

"As we continue to navigate the state's current budget crisis, we must remain vigilant to ensure tax dollars are managed wisely, and that means having safeguards in place to prevent abuse of the programs Missourians depend on," Auditor Galloway said. "My team will review the oversight procedures that exist to prevent and detect improper activities that waste taxpayer dollars and foster distrust of government."

An estimated $10 billion is expected to be spent on Medicaid in Missouri in 2017. Of that, prescription drugs account for nearly half a billion dollars per year in state and federal dollars after rebates are received from drug manufacturers.

This audit is in addition to the annual review of state compliance with federal guidelines regarding expenditures in the Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs, and will include a more extensive examination of prescription drug spending and oversight.

Individuals with information may contact the State Auditor's Whistleblower Hotline by calling 800-347-8597, by emailing moaudit@auditor.mo.gov, or by using the new online submission form at auditor.mo.gov/hotline. Callers may choose to remain anonymous.

Accused killer of two-year-old: I was too scared to call the hospital

They had to keep her talking.

No case affects a police officer like the death of a child and it did not take long for Carthage Police officers to realize that Emalata Hoeft did not die from natural causes.

For the next several hours after the discovery of the two-year-old's body on August 15, 2015,, the police had to skate the thin line between skilled interrogation of the suspects- the child's father Albert Steven O'Connor and O'Connor's girlfriend Tearra Olson- and violating their constitutional rights.

Officers separated the two and quickly determined that Olson had been with the child and O'Connor had not been at home. Emalata had thrown a tantrum and Olson was having a hard time dealing with it.

Olson told the officers that Emalata hit her head against a hard surface. It was that blow that killed her.

"So was she acting like she was sleeping?" Officer Steve Norman asked, following up with the question that should never have had to be asked.

"Did you guys think about taking her to the hospital?"

Apparently not.

'Did she aggravate you?" Norman asked.

"Sometimes."

The picture that interview, which was captured on Officer Norman's body camera, provides- is one of a neglected two-year-old who never had a chance.

O'Connor pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child and is serving seven years in prison.

Olson's trial on second degree murder and child abuse charges is scheduled for September 5 in Jasper County Circuit Court. The key evidence comes from the questioning of Olson that day- an interview that her attorney, public defender Norman Maples, hopes will be tossed during a hearing set for May 5.

Olson was changing her story as she spoke to the officers, acknowledging that she and O'Connor had left the two-year-old alone with just a sippy cup for as much as five hours at a time while they were working because they could not afford day care.

But it wasn't just when they were working. It had only been a few hours since they decided they were in the mood to eat some Sonic food, left Emalata at home while they drove to Sonic, ordered their food, returned- and never checked in to see if the child was all right.

In his motion, Maples says that at some point the police should have given Olson her Miranda warning.

Olson was clearly already a suspect, Maples said, noting that on the body camera footage, Norman says to another officer, "She just told me that they just leave her here by herself. They left her here by herself from 9:30 'til about 2:30. At some point, when we get her back to the station, we need to do Miranda, just when it feels right, don't shut her down."

The interviews at the O'Connor home lasted two hours and 51 minutes. She was given her Miranda rights after she was taken to the police station.

At one point, Norman asked Olson to go with him into the child's room. "Show me what happened."

She started to enter the room, then turned away. "I can't!. I can't!" she said and began crying. The officers did not force her to go into the room.

An officer asked, "Did you call the hospital?"

"I was too scared."

U. S. Supreme Court declines to review death penalty for PSU coed's murderer

(From Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt)

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to review the case of Gary Kleypas leaving his capital murder conviction and death sentence intact, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

The high court’s denial means Kleypas’ conviction and death sentence, which previously were affirmed by the Kansas Supreme Court, will stand on direct appeal. The case will next be returned to the Kansas courts for further proceedings under the Kansas death penalty statute. Although the U.S. Supreme Court’s action marks the end of Kleypas’ direct appeals, under both Kansas and federal law Kleypas has remaining options to seek further judicial review through collateral proceedings.

Kleypas was convicted in 1997 in Crawford County District Court of capital murder in connection with the 1996 murder of Pittsburg State University student Carrie Williams, 20. He was sentenced to death in 1998. The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed Kleypas’ conviction, but overturned his death sentence in 2001 and ordered a new sentencing hearing. In 2008, a second jury recommended a death sentence in the case. The Kansas Supreme Court upheld that death sentence in October 2016.

This is the second death penalty case to exhaust direct appeals since the Kansas Legislature reinstated the death penalty in 1994. The first was State v. John Robinson in October 2016. The Kansas Supreme Court also has affirmed the conviction and death sentence of Sidney Gleason after remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, although Gleason has an opportunity to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case for a second time.

Kleypas is one of 10 people under sentence of death in Kansas. The other death penalty cases that remain pending at various stages of direct appeals before the Kansas Supreme Court are: State v. Scott Cheever (Greenwood County); State v. Jonathan Carr (Sedgwick County); State v. Reginald Carr (Sedgwick County); State v. Justin Thurber (Cowley County); State v. Craig Kahler (Osage County); State v. Frazier Glenn Miller (Johnson County); and State v. Kyle Flack (Franklin County).

In an eleventh case, State v. Doug Belt (Sedgwick County), the defendant died in prison, but the Kansas Supreme Court in October 2016 declined to disturb the capital murder conviction and death sentence.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The death of the Neosho Daily News

All of the time I was growing up a weekday ritual was going to Gum Mercantile in the heart of downtown Newtonia every afternoon after school to await the arrival of the Neosho Daily News.

It was a ritual that was passed down from generation to generation. The older men sat around the wood stove in the back of the store, discussing politics and the weather, while the kids whose parents were at work would wait in front of the store and read through the comic books.

For years, it was a brown, four-door vehicle that appeared to have made it through both world wars that brought the paper sometime between 4 and 4:30, except on Wednesdays when it had grocery advertising inserts and arrived about a half hour to 45 minutes late.

The bundle of papers was handed to Vernie Browning, the postmaster, who put them in the boxes. I opened Box 45, removed the Daily, bought a Dr. Pepper and sat on the front sidewalk of the store reading it from cover to cover.

Though I was interested in the page one stories, my favorite parts of the paper were the sports pages, which had the last night baseball stories that you couldn't get in the morning Joplin Globe, the comics, especially Peanuts, and the Washington Merry Go Round column by investigative reporters Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson.

Great times, still as vivid in my mind as if they happened yesterday.

Gum Mercantile is just a memory, the building the only evidence of the social hub of generations past. Charles Schultz, the cartoonist who drew Peanuts, is no longer with us and the Washington Merry Go Round came to a halt long ago, the corruption continuing but with no Pearson or Anderson to bring it to light.

Next month, the Neosho Daily News, a fixture for generations in the yards and mailboxes of Newton County, will breathe its last.

The name will still exist but the definition of daily will be twisted like a pretzel so Gatehouse Media doesn't have to foot the bill to change its stationery.

If you believe Gatehouse Media's regional publisher Jamey Honeycutt, the company's decision to cut the Daily from five editions a week to two beginning next month is going to be greatest thing for Neosho since Dog N Suds opened.

"We had to determine what we do better than anyone and that was cover local news," Honeycutt said in a top-of-page-one story in Sunday's Neosho Daily News. He made it sound as if two newspapers were going to magically enable the Daily (it will still be called the Daily because it will be updated online) to increase its news output. That can't happen unless Gatehouse is willing to invest money in its product and that is something the company does not intend to do.

That's not the picture Honeycutt paints, however.

"When your print edition comes on Tuesday and the weekend, it will be a thick edition, focused exclusively on local news, sports, and advertising."

Later in that same paragraph, Honeycutt said he hopes this will make the Neosho Daily News appointment reading.

Certainly that will be true if your appointment is at a dentist's office and your only choices are the new thicker Neosho Daily News and a year-old copy of Ladies Home Journal.

The article continues, "No other news agency in the area focuses on Neosho and Newton County like the Daily News and the Daily News takes it's (sic) responsibility seriously."

No, it doesn't.

No one in the corporate offices of Gatehouse Media cares one bit about the people of Neosho or Newton County, any more than they care about the people of Carthage whose venerated newspaper is being cut to once-a-week publication, or the people of Miami, whose newspaper is also being cut to two editions per week.

Today's Daily is not the Daily that Anne and Ken Cope published and edited. It is not the Daily of Howard Bush, Harlan Stark, Bill Ball, or my old friend and baseball teammate Dean Keeling.

While good people still work at the Daily, Gatehouse Media, which continues to buy newspapers and then shred them until they are nearly non-existent, has no concept of community service, no idea of what newspapers are supposed to be.

Gatehouse banks on the idea that the community has a loyalty to its hometown newspaper, demanding that loyalty without ever showing any loyalty of its own.

Thankfully, former Daily Publisher Randy Cope is still alive, or he would be rolling in his grave.