Sunday, April 30, 2017

Lawsuit response: Alleged JHS stairwell rapist had no history of sexual misconduct

In a response to a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court by a former Joplin High School student who said she was raped, district officials admit they were told about the incident, but they are "without sufficient information at the current time to admit or deny the allegation."

The response also included a denial that the male student who allegedly raped the girl "had engaged in prior sexual misconduct involving female students."

The response, submitted by Joplin attorney Karl Blanchard, also included multiple notations that the district has "specific policies prohibiting harassment of any kind and has procedures in place for staff and students to report harassment."

The plaintiff, referred to as "Jane Doe" in her lawsuit, claims she was raped in a stairwell at Joplin High School and says district officials provided little help in dealing with the assault.

In the lawsuit, Jane Doe says she was told by the Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney's office that
nine incidents of sexual minconduct or assault had taken place in the Joplin R-8 School District since 2010.

District officials deny that allegation.

According to the petition, the assault took place February 24, 2016. Jane Doe's stepmother took her to Freeman Hospital for a sexual assault examination and reported the assault to the Joplin Police Department and to district officials.

The single count of the action charges the school district with "harassment and denial of public accommodations."

Jane Doe filed a charge of discrimination with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights on May 17, 2016. The Commission issued a right to sue notice.

Jane Doe's atrorney, Dan Curry of the Brown & Curry firm in Kansas City, is asking for compensatory damages, punitive damages, costs, and attorney fees.

MODOT Flooding Update: Allow extra travel time during Monday morning commute

(From MODOT)

MoDOT Flooding Update:
Drivers Should Allow Extra Travel Time During Their Monday Morning Commute
MoDOT, Southwest District – High water will cause delays and detours for drivers making their way to work or school on Monday morning, May 1, due to high water over area roadways, the Missouri Department of Transportation said.

I-44 remains closed east of Lebanon at Mile Marker 144 and in spots between Rolla and Waynesville west of Mile Marker 186. Interstate 44 traffic is being routed via Route 63 south from Rolla to Route 60 west to Springfield to Route 360 west to I-44 and vice versa. Drivers who need to travel across Missouri are highly encouraged to use Interstate 70 to avoid the closings on I-44. 
U.S. Route 60 between Springfield and Rogersville will remain reduced to one lane in each direction and moved to the eastbound side of the highway.  Flood waters have closed the westbound lanes. Route 60 will see increased traffic due to the issues on I-44 between Lebanon and Rolla.  This will increase the likelihood of delays on this stretch of Route 60. Drivers are urged to take turns merging into the open lanes of Route 60 and be prepared for long delays especially during morning and afternoon rush hours. 

Several state roads have reopened. However, many roads in southwest Missouri remain closed as MoDOT crews wait for water to recede. Crews will remove debris and then inspect for damage before opening the roads.  

Roads will be reopened just as soon as they are deemed to be safe for travel. 

In the meantime, drivers are urged to AVOID DRIVING AROUND BARRICADED ROADS until MoDOT crews open the road. The closings are a matter of public safety. 
MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map is being updated ‘round the clock and is the best source for the latest updates on road closings across Missouri and especially in southwest Missouri.

State treasurer activates disaster relief program for businesses, farms impacted by flooding

(From State Treasurer Eric Schmitt)

Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt today announced the activation of a disaster relief program for Missouri small businesses and farms impacted by flooding on April 29 and April 30.

The Harmed-area Emergency Loan Priority system, or HELP, authorizes 24-hour approval of support for low-interest loans obtained through participating lenders. HELP is administered through the Missouri Linked Deposit Program.

“Flood damage can be a significant financial setback for small businesses and farms, which are the backbone of Missouri’s economy," said Schmitt. "My team is working hard to ensure those impacted by this weekend’s flooding can affordably finance water removal, restoration, and reconstruction."

The Missouri Linked Deposit Program is managed by State Treasurer Eric Schmitt. Missouri-based small businesses with up to 99 employees are eligible to receive a loan through participating institutions with the support of the Missouri Linked Deposit Program.

About 115 lenders with 350 branches throughout Missouri participate in the Missouri Linked Deposit Program. An extensive list of participating lenders and program eligibility guidelines can be found online at

MODOT Flooding Update: Many Southwest Missouri roads remain closed

(From MODOT)

Many Roads in Southwest Missouri Remain CLOSED; Drivers Urged to Avoid Barricaded Roads

MoDOT, Southwest District – After historic flooding across many parts of southwest Missouri, Missouri Department of Transportation crews are monitoring flooded roads and waiting for high water to recede. The focus once water recedes will be on removing debris and assessing damage to roadways and bridges.

Drivers are urged to AVOID DRIVING AROUND BARRICADED ROADS until MoDOT can inspect and make necessary repairs. The closings are a matter of public safety.

As water recedes, some roadways may appear to be acceptable for travel. However, there could be unseen damage. MoDOT crews are traveling around the southwest Missouri area inspecting bridges, culverts and roadways looking for damage. Until MoDOT is sure roadways are safe for travel, they will remain closed.

In other areas, MoDOT crews will be clearing debris from low-water crossings and from roads where water has deposited debris. The work could take several hours to several days to complete.

Drivers should use caution and be patient as roads could be closed for several days or longer, depending on the severity of the damage.

Currently, several major roadways in southwest Missouri continue to be impacted by high water. Here is a listing of those impacts:
I-44 east of Lebanon: CLOSED at the Gasconade River at Mile Marker 144. Traffic is detoured. The closing will increase traffic on Route 60 east of Springfield. This will cause significant traffic delays.

Westbound Route 60 between Missouri Route 125 and Greene County Farm Road 213 between Springfield and Rogersville: Route 60 traffic is reduced to one lane in each direction and moved to the eastbound side of Route 60.

Route 60/65 interchange in southeast Springfield: The northbound-to-westbound ramp remains closed, but is expected to open sometime Sunday afternoon. The rest of the interchange is OPEN to traffic.

MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map is being updated ‘round the clock and is the best source for the latest updates on road closings across Missouri and especially in southwest Missouri.

Greitens activates National Guard to deal with flooding

(From Gov. Eric Greitens)

Today, Governor Greitens held a press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center, where he announced that the National Guard has been activated and warned of more flooding to come. The conference was live-streamed here:

Governor Greitens remarks transcribed:

"This weekend, families across Missouri have seen dangerous storms and flash flooding threaten their safety and their homes.

Earlier this week, when weather forecasts warned this might occur, I declared a state of emergency and directed our public safety team to develop a response plan.

Local first responders, the State Emergency Management Agency, Fire Mutual Aid, the Missouri National Guard, Missouri’s Task Force 1, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol, including their swift water rescue teams, stepped into action and deployed resources in the areas expected to be hardest hit.

As of 1500 today, these teams have conducted 111 evacuations and 136 rescue operations, saving the lives of hundreds of our fellow citizens.

Courageous, capable men and women have been operating in these dangerous conditions. Families trapped on the roofs of their homes due to rising water, drivers who lost control on flooded roads… lives have been saved by our first responders.

There have been two confirmed fatalities as a result of this storm. And we mourn those Missourians and pray for their families today.

This is serious. Stay safe. Stay off the road if you can. If you must drive, slow down and be alert. You might not see high water before it’s too late. Do not try to drive through high water. Turn around. Don’t drown.

If you’re at home, and it becomes clear that a flash flood is imminent, be prepared to move. Get to high ground. Climb to safety, and stay away from rising water.

As a final note, many people stay inside when it is raining, but then venture out once the rain stops. While the rain may have stopped in your area, floods and danger remain. 80% of casualties in situations like this come from people interacting with rushing water.

Please keep yourselves and your children safe.

If you or your family find yourself in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.

Hundreds of homes have been affected, and Red Cross shelters are active across the state.

Tonight and early tomorrow, we will remain focused on response and rescue operations. While at the same time, preparing for the next phase of this emergency; which will be flood-fighting.

We expect major new flooding, including but not limited to the Meramec, Gasconade, and Mississippi rivers. In many parts of Missouri, this will be a flood of historic proportions. For example, the Current river at Van Buren highest recorded flood was 29 Feet. We are anticipating 37 feet by Tuesday morning.

That’s why today I signed an executive order, activating the National Guard and ordering that they be prepared to move hundreds, perhaps thousands of troops to assist in flood-fighting operations across the state.

These floods may well be deep and destructive. We will keep you updated as we get more information.

Finally, while our focus is on response and rescue operations, we are also looking ahead to and actively planning for recovery operations.

Our team has been in touch with the White House throughout this disaster. They stand ready to bring relief if and when the threshold of a federal disaster declaration is reached.

Damage assessment teams, including local Emergency Management Directors and Civil Engineers, will be active, monitoring the damage and preparing to help families as we begin the recovery effort.

It’s important for everyone to recognize, again, that some of the flooding we are seeing in parts of Missouri has surpassed historic levels. There are certain places that have seen water levels several feet higher than any level in Missouri history. Some bridges and structures have already been washed out.

What this means is that, even as the waters recede, our top priority remains your safety. The Missouri Department of Transportation, Highway Patrol, and others will be actively monitoring and inspecting bridges and roads before they are reopened.

As I said, I’ve been exceptionally impressed by the courageous efforts of first responders and professionals from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, State Emergency Management Agency, Missouri Department of Transportation, Fire Mutual Aid, and Missouri National Guard.

The best thing you can do for the State of Missouri in the next 48 hours is make sure that you and your family remain safe so that first responders can continue their important work. We’re going to get through this together. "

JB's Piano Bar allegations, North teacher's resignation, Chris Baird rape charges among top Turner Report/Inside Joplin posts

It was a busy week for the Turner Report/Inside Joplin websites, with a combination, as usual, featuring information that cannot be found anywhere else and information that was found here first.

An example of the former is the information from Seventh District Congressman Billy Long's first quarter financial report showing that he had taken three more trips to Las Vegas.

The Turner Report was the first to reveal that felony charges involving unpaid sales taxes and fraud had been filed against Jon Buck, owner of JB's Piano Bar in Joplin.

This blog was also the first to report on the resignation of North Middle School reading teacher Amanda Schweitzer, who faces rape and kidnapping charges.

Check through the lists and see if you missed any of these top stories from this week. The links are below:

The Turner Report

1. Felony fraud, tax charges filed against JB's Piano Bar owner

2. Joplin R-8 Board accepts 15 resignations including Doshier and North teacher facing rape, kidnapping charges

3. Billy Long: No town hall meetings in seven years, four Vegas trips in three months

4. Probable cause: After rape, Baird told teen not to tell anyone since he was on parole and could get into trouble

5. Former EN superintendent announces retirement, fails to show at board meeting

6. State audit report finds disorganized records, missing money in Ferguson Municipal Court

7. Jason Weaver named principal at Jefferson Elementary

8. Frozen appetizer production plant to bring 220-240 jobs to Joplin

9. New report: High paying jobs available for workers without four-year degree

10. Ed Emery: Prescription drug bill is unreasonable search and seizure

Inside Joplin

1. Joplin Police searching for missing person

2. Rape charge filed against "John Doe" after East Newton student drugged, becomes pregnant

3. Missing Springfield woman found at Joplin medical facility

4. Barton County Sheriff's news includes violent prisoner, deputy runs into stop sign

5. Jasper man arrested for DWI after crashing into tree

6. Amber Alert issued for Oklahoma children, may be with meth-using mother

7. Joplin Police Department Weekend Arrests

8. Jasper County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

9. Joplin Police Department Arrests April 27-28

10. Joplin Police Department Arrests April 26-27

Inside Joplin Obituaries

1. Lloyd Gillman

2. Connie Allgood

3. Avery Borok

4. Eva Babcock

5. Mike Striegel

6. Sidney Allen

7. John Adams

8. Irene Ritter

9. Mary Von Paige

10. Don Selby

Inside Carthage

1. Sarcoxie woman charged with child endangerment, child removed after animal feces, rotting meat, flies found in home

2. Five-year-old Avilla girl airlifted to Mercy Springfield after accident near Carthage

3. Carthage Police: Do you know these suspects?

4. Christopher Baird charged with forcible rape, sodomy

5. Probable cause: Carthage man beat girlfriend, threatened to kill her with gun

6. Jasper County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

7. Carthage Police: We need your  help identifying these men

8. Jasper County Commission to discuss buds for Juvenile Justice Center

9. Agenda posted for Tuesday Carthage City Council meeting

10. Carthage Police: Be on the lookout for this child molestation suspect

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Flash flood warning remains in effect for Joplin area

Flash Flood Statement
National Weather Service Springfield MO
456 PM CDT SAT APR 29 2017

Cherokee KS-Crawford KS-Barton MO-Jasper MO-Dade MO-
456 PM CDT SAT APR 29 2017


At 456 PM CDT, Doppler radar indicated heavy rain across the warned
area. Up to three inches of rain has already fallen. Flash flooding
is expected to begin shortly.


A Flash Flood Warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring.
If you are in the warned area move to higher ground immediately.
Residents living along streams and creeks should take immediate
precautions to protect life and property.

Probable cause: After rape, Baird told teen not to tell anyone since he was on parole and could get in trouble

Christopher Baird, 25, Carthage, remains in Jasper County Jail on a $100,000 cash-only bond after being charged with the August 2016 forcible rape of a 16-year-old.

If he is able to post bond, online court records indicate, he will be under home arrest and have to wear an ankle monitor.

The alleged victim told the Carthage Police Department she had been lured to Baird's home under false pretenses, forcibly raped, then told to get out and not to tell anyone because he "was on parole and could get in a lot of trouble."

Online Jasper County Circuit Court records show Baird pleaded guilty April 3, 2015 to a misdemeanor charge of trespassing in the first degree and was sentenced to 30 days in the county jail.

Court records indicate the charges had been pleaded down, following an agreement worked out between Prosecuting Attorney Dean Dankelson's office and Baird's attorney, Brian Glades.

At that point, Judge Gayle Crane sentenced Baird to spend seven years in prison, but a deal was arranged for Baird to enter a long term drug treatment program. Though court records indicate Baird's program was supposed to last two years, he is shown completing the treatment on June 18, 2015, only three months after entering the program.

At the time of that plea, Baird was already on probation after pleading guilty in April 2012 to burglary following break-ins at Schrader's Excavating, Jim's Place, and Ultimate Formals.

Baird was still on probation at the time of the alleged rape, according to court records.

The circumstances that led to the charges are spelled out in the probable cause affidavit from Carthage Police officer Steve Norman:

On 4-24-2017, I attended a forensic interview at the Children's Center with 16-year-old female (initials). During the interview, (she) disclosed the following information:

In the latter part of August 2016, (she) had been introduced to Christopher Baird through her best friend, who was also a mutual friend while attending the Lamar Fair. (she) said Brad told her friend she was cute. Days following, he kept calling and asking her to hang out.

She stated a few days after the fair, Baird had contacted her by phone indicating the mutual friend was currently at his house and asking her to come over and "hang out" with them.

(She) said she went to Baird's home at 2036 Forest, Carthage, Jasper County, MO. Once there, Baird let her into the home and told her her friend was in the bedroom. (She) was able to describe the interior of the home. She said she went to the room and went to the last bedroom on the right. 

She asked Baird where her friend was and he told her not to worry about it and shut the door. (She) said Baird then pushed her down to the bed and on her back.

Once on the bed, Baird climbed on top of her and grabbed her by the hair and pulled it down by the base of her neck. 

The girl said that at that point Baird raped her.

After it was over, Baird told (her) to get her clothes on and leave. (She) said Baird told her not to tell anyone because he was on parole and he would get in a lot of trouble.

Bajjali appeals case to Missouri Supreme Court

Texas businessman and former Joplin master developer Costa Bajjali (left in accompanying photo) will take his case to the Missouri Supreme Court.

The motion to transfer the case to the state's top court was filed this week, following the Southern District Court of Appeals unanimous March 29 decision in favor of the City of Joplin.

Bajjali, the former partner of David Wallace in Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, will try to convince the justices that he was not given fair notice of a hearing in which Judge Gayle Crane awarded the City of Joplin $1,475,000, even though Bajjali was not present for the trial.

Bajjali is represented by Joplin attorney Bill Fleischaker.

The text of the Southern District Court of Appeals' opinion is printed below:


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.


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.


The trial court's judgment is affirmed.

Greitens declares state of emergency in response to flash flooding

(From Gov. Eric Greitens)

Yesterday, in anticipation of severe, dangerous rainstorms and flash flooding throughout the state of Missouri, Governor Greitens signed an executive order declaring a State of Emergency. Professionals from the State Emergency Management Agency, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri National Guard, and Missouri’s Task Force 1 Rescue Unit, have deployed resources on land, on water, and in the sky throughout Missouri to save lives and to protect property.

So far, there have been 93 evacuations and 33 rescues. All specialized rescue teams and swift water teams have been deployed, which include assets from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri Task Force 1, the Missouri Department of Conservation, and Fire Mutual Aid Resources. These highly trained teams are performing the majority of their rescue work in Regions D and G.

The National Weather Service has informed us that the bulk of the rain is yet to come. This evening we remain under a Flash Flood Warning.

Governor Greitens released the following statement, "Thank you to our first responders for their courageous and capable work to keep Missouri families safe and to protect property. Together, we took early action to prepare for this storm, and our pre-staged rescue teams are now executing operations across Missouri. Please stay safe and stay away from rising water.

For more information on what to do in a flash flood, please go to For information on road closures, please go here:

Our outstanding emergency operations team will be working through the night. Their top priority is your safety. We will continue to provide updates through the night."

Billy Long: We must be aggressive in curbing opioid epidemic

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

At my age of 61 I have lots of lifetime friends with children in their 20's. Three of those friends have lost children to opioid overdoses in the last three years. Very tragic, but unfortunately a sign of the times.

Between 1999 and 2015, 12,585 Missourians died from a drug-induced overdose. Since 2000, Greene County has had one of the highest drug-induced overdose rates in Missouri. However, it is important to recognize that the victims number more than simply the body count. The tragedies associated with this epidemic reverberate throughout families across the nation.

Last December President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law which included aid to help fight opioid abuse. In April the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ announced the first round of nationwide grants and awarded Missouri $10 million to address prevention, treatment and recovery services.

President Trump is making it a priority to address this epidemic, and I look forward to working with him on this front. Drug overdoses continues to be the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Each day these tragic events claim 91 American lives. In 2015, 20,101 of the overall overdoses (52,404) were tied to prescription pain medication. Even the most innocent among us are falling victim to this scourge. In Missouri alone, there has been a 538 percent increase in babies born addicted to opiates.

This must be stopped. Opioid addiction affects us all, and we cannot afford to turn a blind eye. From the local to the national level we must be aggressive in our efforts to curb this epidemic lest families continue to crumble in its wake.

As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Health Subcommittee, I have been involved in in the passage of landmark legislation, such as the 21st Century Cures Act and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. Each of these Acts target the ongoing crisis of opioid abuse, among other things, and each has been signed into law.

I will continue to work with my colleagues on legislation that will address this growing problem. No mother, father, brother or sister should be forced to confront such devastation alone. This is not about politics. This is about preserving humanity, and that is something we can all agree on.

Ed Emery offers thoughts on state budget

(From Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar)

The one Constitutional mandate for each legislative session is for legislators to pass an on-time and balanced budget. One question that should be asked about every budget is whether Missouri taxpayers can afford it. Shouldn’t taxpayers themselves be a high priority when deciding the application and extent of government spending? After all they will be obligated to pay whatever we appropriate. Should the constitution be considered? It is written to limit government’s reach; is there any better way to appraise government reach than how and where it spends tax dollars? A constituent comment comes to mind – he said to me: “the difference between Democrats and Republicans is who they give your money to.” I wish that did not seem so true.

The Senate perfected our version of the budget this week and will now conference with the House to resolve the differences with their budget recommendations. The biggest budgeting challenge we face every year is to find ways to best fund our public schools while maintaining control over the rapid growth in entitlement spending (essentially the redistribution of income). The ever-rising cost of Medicaid, for example, seems to demand every new tax dollar. Missouri’s constitution, however, prioritizes education. Except for paying our debt, tax dollars spent on education are given first priority and must be 25 percent of our general revenue. The proposed budget has education funding (HB2) at 34 percent and totals just under $6 billion. Combined with local tax dollars, Missourians will spend approximately $10,000 per K-12 student on average.

This year’s projected spending on entitlements, dominated by Medicaid, is just over 10.9 billion dollars including federal funds. That represents approximately 39 percent of the proposed budget. Clearly the two budget leviathans are entitlements and education, combining for around 73 percent of this year’s budget. The competition was never more vivid than when, during floor debate on education spending, an amendment narrowly passed that put an additional $45 million into education. Because that requires $45 million to be removed from one or more other budget items, the scrambling began. The senate and the house must now confer to determine what spending will be reduced.

Thank God for the Senate appropriation and House budget committee members and the committed and capable staffs who are willing to spend long hours finding savings, identifying efficiency improvements and calculating re-prioritized expenditures. Missouri’s newest budget currently stands at $27.8 billion, the largest in Missouri history and that is after paring back many of this year’s budget requests. Government spending is growing which means government is growing. Art Laffer’s observation in the above quote was validated by this year’s budget process: “…You [government] can never bail someone out of trouble without putting someone else into trouble.”

State Department of Public Safety responding to flash flooding

(From the Department of Public Safety)

Divisions of the Missouri Department of Public Safety have deployed personnel and equipment to respond to dangerous flash flooding that is forecast to potentially affect much of Missouri beginning Friday evening and continuing through Sunday evening.

DPS divisions that have resources committed to the effort to protect the safety of Missourians include the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri National Guard, the Division of Fire Safety and the State Emergency Management Agency. In addition, Missouri Task Force 1, housed at the Boone County Fire Protection District and whose assets include a swift water rescue team, has been deployed and staged in southern Missouri, which could see some of the highest rainfall totals. 

The State Emergency Operations Center is staffed and will work with local first responders and emergency managers to help coordinate response throughout the weekend.

There is also the potential for severe thunderstorms for parts of Missouri today through Sunday, with the main risks being hail and damaging winds. Missourians should follow their local forecast and be prepared to take protective actions. The Missouri StormAware website includes videos on flash flooding safety as well severe weather safety videos.

Missourians should understand these facts about flooding:

·         Flooding is the leading cause of weather-related fatalities in Missouri and the U.S.
·         More than half of those killed by flooding are in vehicles and drive into floodwaters.
·         Flash flooding is particularly dangerous at night or the early morning hours when motorists often cannot see they’re driving into floodwaters until it’s too late.
·         Less than a foot of moving water is enough to push a vehicle.
·         Low water crossings are among the most dangerous spots. Never attempt to cross one that is flooded.
Missourians should take these precautions in areas affected by flash flooding:

  • When a flash flood warning is issued for your area, or the moment you realize that a flash flood is imminent, act quickly to save yourself. Go to higher ground immediately.
·         Do not attempt to cross flowing streams on foot. Even six inches of flowing water can knock you off your feet.
·         Never let children play around high water, storm drains, or viaducts.
·         Never drive past a barricade closing flooded roads. They are there to protect you.
·         Never expect barriers to block off flooded low-water crossings, bridges or roads because flash flood waters often rise so quickly authorities do not have time to respond.
·         If your vehicle becomes stuck in rising water, get out quickly and move to higher ground because rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and sweep it away.
Additional information and videos about safety during flooding can be found here:

Roy Blunt: I will work with President Trump to reduce burdensome regulations

(From Sen. Roy Blunt)

When I travel across Missouri, I hear from families, farmers, and small business owners who tell me that one of the biggest barriers to job creation and economic growth is all the red tape that is coming from federal agencies in Washington.

That’s no surprise. The Obama administration handed down a record-breaking 600 major new regulations, imposing more than $700 billion in costs on our economy.

What Washington bureaucrats don’t seem to understand is that the costs associated with these regulations will ultimately be passed on to consumers, making it more difficult for hardworking families to make ends meet.

That’s why I’ve been especially encouraged to see President Trump taking significant steps to roll back many of the most onerous Obama-era regulations that were rushed through in the last days of the administration.

To date, Congress has passed and the president has signed 13 Congressional Review Act resolutions to repeal harmful executive branch regulations, saving an estimated $10 billion over a ten-year period in regulatory costs. When combined with other executive orders the president has signed, the total annual savings could be as much as $18.8 billion, according to the American Action Forum.

Many Missourians I’ve heard from are particularly relieved that the president has signed executive orders to begin dismantling two of the most burdensome Obama administration regulations: the WOTUS Rule and so-called Clean Power Plan.

Together, these rules would have slowed economic growth and driven up the cost on everything from groceries to utility bills, and piled red tape on the farmers and ranchers we’re depending on to drive growth in the agriculture industry.

President Trump and this Congress have an historic opportunity to rein in the excessive regulatory agenda that defined the previous administration. I look forward to continuing to work with President Trump on behalf of American families, farmers, and small businesses to reduce burdensome regulations, while increasing transparency and accountability in Washington.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Cleaver on first 100 days: My thoughts have ranged from disbelief to worry

(From Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

This week, I’ve been asked this questions multiple times, “What do you think about President Trump’s first 100 days in office?” I can tell you my thoughts have ranged from disbelief to worry.

This administration has done little to improve the lives of the American people and his budget proposals would put an end to programs that would help the most vulnerable.

In the first 100 days, there has not been a single job-creating bill and the U.S. economy is moving at an even slower pace, the slowest quarter in three years.

I am still waiting to see what the President has done to improve the lives of minorities in this country. His executive orders have not only isolated and insulted minorities but have also fostered an atmosphere of fear. The President’s travel ban targeting Muslims and immigrants from specific countries was discriminatory and immoral and has since been put on hold by the federal courts.

The business interests, both his and his family’s, greatly concerns me. The line between his business interests and what’s best for America could be easily crossed. Even his refusal to release his tax returns while proposing tax cuts should be questioned.

Millions of people will suffer if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, especially seniors and people with pre-existing health conditions, yet this administration is determined to repeal no matter the consequences.

Though I did agree with the President’s call for a military strike against Syria, Congress should have had an opportunity to discuss it beforehand. After all, that is the way the law was written.

These first 100 days have not been easy but I am hopeful that in the next 100 days my colleagues and I in Congress are able to put aside tribal politics and work together for the American people.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

New report: High paying jobs available for workers without four-year degree

(From the Missouri Community College Association)

A report released today by the Missouri Community College Association outlined three problems with Missouri’s workforce and highlighted several ongoing efforts to address these issues.

The report listed supply and demand gaps for key industries, the availability of middle-skill workers, and the availability of adequate soft skills as the top three gaps in the state’s workforce today. The report cited a number of different studies which analyzed both labor market data, job ads, and employer feedback.

“Employers have said for a while now that the availability of a skilled workforce is the number one challenge that they face,” Rob Dixon, Missouri Community College President and CEO said. “With this report, we wanted to dig deeper and find the specific skills that employers are having difficulty finding.”

According to research reviewed by the association, there is a gap between the number of jobs available and the number of job seekers in several key industries. Health care, business and sales and science and technology each had more than a 9 percent gap between the number of job ads posted in 2016 and the number of registered job seekers.

The second gap outlined in the report had to do with the number of workers qualified to fill jobs that require more than high school but less than a four-year degree. The research reviewed showed that these “middle-skill” jobs make up 53 percent of the labor market, but only 46 percent of Missourians are trained to this level.

Lastly, the report highlighted research demonstrating gaps in the availability of workers with basic soft skills, such as communication, work ethic and critical thinking. In one study that was referenced, more than 60 percent of employers reported difficulty finding workers with adequate soft skills.

The report comes as Missouri’s community colleges are launching several new initiatives, including the new Workforce Development Network, announced last month.

“We know that these gaps exist, and our colleges are working to address them,” Dixon said. “One of the biggest challenges that we face in implementing these solutions is raising awareness among the public.”

Dixon was optimistic that Missouri can close the gaps in the workforce, but referenced one major challenge.

“There are high paying jobs to be had for workers without a four-year degree,” Dixon said. “We need Missourians to understand that, and we need them to enroll at a community college.”

Heavy rainfall, threat for significant flooding for Joplin area beginning Friday night

Threat for a Significant Flooding Event Increasing for Friday
Night into the Weekend...

St. Clair-Hickory-Camden-Pulaski-Phelps-Barton-Cedar-Polk-Dallas-
Including the cities of Fort Scott, Pawnee Station, Chicopee,
Lone Oak, Pittsburg, Baxter Springs, Lowell, Riverton, Columbus,
Neutral, Sherwin, Stippville, Warsaw, Whitakerville, Cole Camp,
Crockerville, Mora, Edmonson, Lincoln, Versailles, Rocky Mount,
Stover, Laurie, Aurora Springs, Eldon, Lake Ozark, Vichy, NEVADA,
Tiffin, Appleton City, Johnson City, Weaubleau, Hermitage,
Quincy, Wheatland, Cross Timbers, Osage Beach, Camdenton,
Decaturville, Roach, Village of Four Seasons, Fort Leonard Wood,
Laquey, Waynesville, Northwye, Rolla, Kenoma, Lamar,
Cedar Springs, El Dorado Springs, Filley, Arnica,
Caplinger Mills, Stockton, Bolivar, Buffalo, Charity, Foose,
March, Plad, Windyville, Olive, Lynchburg, Lebanon, Plato, Roby,
Bendavis, Huggins, Lake Spring, Bangert, Darien, Gladden, Howes,
Jadwin, Salem, Joplin, Carthage, Greenfield, Lockwood, Meinert,
Springfield, Marshfield, Northview, Seymour, Rogersville, Dawson,
Graff, Mountain Grove, Duncan, Mansfield, Neosho, Aurora,
Mount Vernon, Marionville, Nixa, Christian Center, Ozark,
Selmore, Vanzant, Ava, Goodhope, Rome, Squires, Dogwood, Pomona,
Pottersville, Siloam Springs, South Fork, West Plains,
White Church, Teresita, Winona, Birch Tree, Montier, Anderson,
Noel, Goodman, South West City, Pineville, Rocky Comfort, Monett,
Madry, Cassville, Kimberling City, Crane, Elsey, Indian Point,
Silver Dollar City, Branson, Hollister, Kirbyville,
Edgewater Beach, Forsyth, Ozark Beach, Powersite, Wasola, Thayer,
Alton, Couch, Greer, Thomasville, and Wilderness
847 PM CDT Thu Apr 27 2017


The Flash Flood Watch continues for

* Portions of southeastern Kansas and Missouri, including the
  following areas, in southeast Kansas, Bourbon, Cherokee, and
  Crawford. In Missouri, Barry, Barton, Benton, Camden, Cedar,
  Christian, Dade, Dallas, Dent, Douglas, Greene, Hickory,
  Howell, Jasper, Laclede, Lawrence, Maries, McDonald, Miller,
  Morgan, Newton, Oregon, Ozark, Phelps, Polk, Pulaski, Shannon,
  St. Clair, Stone, Taney, Texas, Vernon, Webster, and Wright.

* From Friday evening through Sunday evening

* Periods of thunderstorms producing heavy rainfall will occur
  from Friday night through Sunday. Storm total rainfall amounts
  from 3 to 6 inches are expected, with localized amounts of 8
  inches or more likely. It is still unclear where the heaviest
  rainfall will occur...although at this time the most probable
  axis of highest precipitation amounts will be along and south
  of the interstate 44 corridor.

* With soils already saturated as well as creeks, streams, and
  rivers running high, the potential for widespread and
  significant flooding is becoming increasingly likely for
  portions of the Missouri Ozarks. Flooding of some creeks,
  rivers, and low water crossings could last for several days
  after the rain ends. Areas that don`t normally flood could flood
  in this event.

Some main stem rivers that will experience significant rises and
potential flooding include the Elk, Spring, James, Big Piney,
Gasconade, Jacks Fork, Current, Eleven Point, Osage, and


A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead
to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION.

You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action
should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.

Farmington Republican, former teacher on why fully funding Foundation Formula is so important

(From Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington)

Providing each child in Missouri with a quality education is one of our greatest responsibilities as lawmakers. For me, education is a passion that started years ago when I began my professional career as a high school teacher in the Branson and Farmington school districts. And although I haven’t taught for quite a long time now, the education of our young people has never been far from my mind.

Whether by serving as a past president and member of the Mineral Area College Board of Trustees, chairing the Senate Education Committee or working to expand career and technical education throughout the state, my goal as a senator and public servant has been to not only support education at all levels, but also to make it relevant to the business needs of our communities. Our future success as a state depends entirely on our ability to provide business and industry with a well-trained, highly qualified workforce. We can’t do that if we aren’t adequately educating our students from their very first days in the classroom to their last. This brings us to the issue of funding.

Back in 2005, the Missouri General Assembly passed a new K-12 education funding plan called the Foundation Formula, which uses a complex formula to determine the amount of funding each school district receives. The goal of the formula has always been to ensure every school district has enough funding to provide an adequate education for their students, regardless of where they live. To work the way it was intended, however, the formula needs to be fully funded — something we’ve never once managed to do in the 12 years since its inception. Underfunded, the formula has created a host of other issues the state has had to spend time and resources addressing.

In 2009, the legislature removed a cap within the formula because it was anticipated that lottery proceeds would increase going forward. Instead, we saw the gap between available funding and the amount needed to achieve full funding grow at an alarming rate to the point the entire formula was in jeopardy of collapsing. To save it, the Legislature passed a bipartisan measure last year to make full funding a possibility.

We made the decision that the formula was worth saving, and we did what we needed to do to fix it. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve run out of reasons not to take that last step of fully funding it. This is why, after years of debate and countless conversations that have gone nowhere, I offered an amendment Tuesday to fully fund the formula by adding $45 million in general revenue dollars back into the education budget bill: House Bill 2. With the support of colleagues from both sides of the aisle — ten Republicans and nine Democrats — I’m pleased to say the amendment passed. The money we voted to restore is the same amount originally passed by the House but later removed by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Where others have been critical of my decision to offer a budget amendment during floor debate, I say this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get away from politics and to stop merely talking about making education funding a priority. Amending HB 2 on the Senate floor wasn’t a decision I made lightly because I do respect the budget process and the hard work and long hours the budget committee devotes each and every session. However, the budget is a moving, fluid process, and we ultimately have the right as state senators to do what we believe is best. At the end of the day, education is a nonpartisan issue, which is why it speaks volumes there was an almost equal number of Republican and Democratic senators who believed this was the right thing to do for Missouri’s children, and now was the right time to do it.

As one fellow senator said, what happened Tuesday was truly a historic moment in the Missouri Senate. This week was first and foremost about the education of Missouri’s children, but it was also about finally putting a stake into the ground as to what education means to us as lawmakers. As I said during floor debate, there’s a reason the elementary and secondary education budget is included in HB 2 rather than further down the list. It is because education should and must always be one of our top priorities. Fully funding the formula is the right thing to do and is something that will benefit the state for years to come.

Now that the Senate has approved the budget bills, we’ll move to conference with the House to resolve any remaining differences. One important point: because both chambers are in agreement, the Foundation Formula funding provision is non-nonnegotiable and can’t be changed during conference. At this point, only the governor has the ability to alter the funding level, but we hope and trust that won’t happen.

Joplin City Council to vote on artificial turf for Joe Becker, Redden stadiums, tourism study

Monday, May 1, 2017
6:00 P.M., Council Chambers

Call To Order

Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America

Roll Call




Proclamation Recognizing Grant Landis In The City Of Joplin


Proclamation Recognizing National Public Works Week May 21 – May 27, 2017


Finalization Of Consent Agenda


Reports And Communications


Citizen Requests And Petitions


Public Hearings


Public Hearing Procedures



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-2 property as described below and located 2530 Picher Avenue 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-1-PD property as described below and located Southwest Corner of South Even Avenue and West 26th Place in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri


AN ORDINANCE providing for the vacation of 50’ public right-of-way easement located 27th Street between Cunningham Avenue and McCoy Avenue, 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 C-O-PD and including in District R-3 property as described below and located Southwest Corner of 27th Street and McCoy Avenue 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 C-1 property as described below and located Southeast Corner of 44th Street and Indiana Avenue in the City of Joplin, Newton County, Missouri.

Consent Agenda


Minutes Of The April 17, 2017 City Council Meeting



AN ORDINANCE establishing grands and accepting the Plat of CEDAR POINT SUBDIVISION PLAT located Southwest Corner of South Even Avenue and West 26th Place, in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri



Ordinances - Emergency



AN ORDINANCE authorizing and approving a Letter of Intent between the State of Missouri and the City of Joplin outlining the material terms and conditions for the proposed exchange of properties located at the corner of South Wall Avenue and West 8th Street in Joplin owned by the State of Missouri, and the City’s property in the 700 block of South Wall Avenue; authorizing the City Manager to execute said Letter of Intent on behalf of the City; and, containing an emergency clause.


AN ORDINANCE approving a Construction Agreement by and between Stiles Roofing Inc. and the City of Joplin, Missouri, for the amount of One Hundred Fifteen Thousand, One Hundred Eighteen Dollars and no Cents ($115,118.00), for Fluid Applied Roof Restoration at the Joplin City Health Department facility; and, 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.

Ordinances - First Reading



This Council Bill seeks permission for the City Manager to sign an agreement between the City of Joplin and Design Workshop of Aspen, Colorado for the development of an Independent Tourism Study of the Greater Joplin Tourism Region.


AN ORDINANCE authorizing the City of Joplin to enter into an agreement with Sprinturf, LLC for the purpose of installing synthetic turf at Joe Becker and Wendell Redden Baseball Stadiums for the not to exceed price of Four Hundred Sixty One Thousand Three Hundred Sixty Three and 00/100 Dollars ($461,363.00); 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; and, authorizing the City Manager to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin.

Ordinances - Second Reading And Third Reading


Unfinished Business


New Business


News From The PIO


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.