Saturday, December 15, 2018

Jason Smith: It's time for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to put American security over petty potitics

(From Eighth District Congressman Jason Smith)

American security is bigger than petty politics.

In a televised Oval Office meeting with President Trump this week, both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer admitted that the country needs stronger border security. So why are they fighting him on one-tenth of one-percent of government spending for border security?

Terrorists, drug smugglers, human traffickers, and criminal gang members don’t target their victims based on political party. 

The 10 terrorists per day prevented by the Department of Homeland Security from entering our country are a threat to all Americans. The two million pounds of narcotics seized by Customs and Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security this year alone wouldn’t have ended up on just Republican or Democratic streets.



The security of our country is something both sides used to be able to agree on. In 2006, then-Senators Obama, Hillary Clinton, and even Chuck Schumer voted for miles of border protection. 

In 2013 every Senate Democrat voted for ‘no fewer than 700 miles’ of border fencing. But in blind opposition to a President they’ve sworn to resist, the left is now refusing to properly secure our borders. They simply don’t believe in it anymore. If they did, they wouldn’t have advocated for eliminating the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) earlier this year.

President Obama had no problem working to give Iran – a state sponsor of terrorism – $150 billion in sanctions relief. Ridiculously, his administration sent the Iranian regime a $1.7 billion cash payment. And just to get other countries to come to a meeting about climate change, the previous administration committed to send $3 billion overseas. I haven’t heard a single person on the left outraged that American taxpayers pay $18.5 billion every year in Medicaid benefits to illegal immigrants. I haven’t heard any opposition to the fact that illegal immigrants cost our economy roughly $100 billion per year. But $5 billion to secure our border is all of a sudden a ridiculous ask?

If there is a government shutdown, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi will undoubtedly try and place the blame on President Trump. 



They will, of course, fail to mention that Chuck Schumer had no problem shutting down the government in January, prioritizing an unconstitutional immigration program over funding health insurance for the neediest American children. They’ll fail to mention that we have already funded 75% of the government through the end of the next fiscal year. The troops are funded, post offices will be open, and retirees will continue to receive their social security payments. That’s not to say there will be no consequences for a portion of our government shutting down. 

The vast majority of the men and women who work to keep our country safe at the border will be forced to work without pay during the holidays. The same goes for more than 40,000 federal law enforcement and correction officers who put their lives on the line to keep us safe.

The American people want border security. Hard working Americans are tired of seeing our laws disrespected and their tax dollars pay for people who don’t play by the same rules. It’s time for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to put American security over petty politics and properly fund border security.

Hawley: Obamacare ruled unconstitutional; now we can work to lower health care costs, protect those with pre-existing conditions

A federal court judge in Texas ruled Friday that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

The decision came in a case brought by Republican attorneys general, including Josh Hawley of Missouri, who tweeted the following comment after the decision was announced:

Tonight TX court has declared Obamacare individual mandate unconstitutional. Now it’s time for both parties to work together to lower healthcare costs, improve access to quality care for all, and protect those with preexisting conditions
Hawley's statement appears to be following a grand tradition established by others in the Republican Party of being in a rush to destroy the Affordable Care Act without having the slightest idea of what to put in its place.


In her statement on the court's decision, the woman who lost to Hawley in November, Sen. Claire McCaskill noted that Hawley won, but has no replacement for what will be lost if the Affordable Care Act is eliminated.

Marshall, Texas hires Mark Rohr as city manager

The Marshall, Texas City Commission voted 5-1 Thursday to hire former Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr as city manager.

Rohr will assume the $170,000 a year job next month, according to the Marshall News-Messenger. Mayor Larry Hurta explained to the newspaper why the commission selected Rohr:
We wanted a visionary, someone who can act and do but when it came down to it, this candidate really stood out. All of his tenure, in every city, everyone speaks of his work ethic — that he will be the first one there with boots on the ground and he will help the community grow.



The one commissioner who voted against Rohr, Doug Lewis, noted that Rohr was fired in Joplin and League City, Texas, and was in the middle of a lawsuit against League City officials.

***
Mark Rohr's role in the City of Joplin during the May 22, 2011 tornado and the recovery, as well as all the events leading to his dismissal by the Joplin City Council in 2014 are told in my book Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption and the Joplin Tornado, which is available at Amazon.com in both paperback and e-book formats.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Claire McCaskill delivers farewell speech on Senate floor

Senator Claire McCaskill, D-MO, who was defeated by Attorney General Josh Hawley in November, delivered her final speech on the Senate floor Thursday.

The accompanying video includes that farewell, as well as a more personal one from McCaskill to Missourians.





Public defender's office to Ace Mohr: We don't have the resources to defend you

The facts as laid out in Jasper County Circuit Court Wednesday are simple.

Ace Mohr, 25, Carthage, who is charged with armed robbery, assault, domestic assault and probation violations associated with all of those, at one time was defended by high-priced criminal attorneys.

A review shows that he no longer can afford those high-priced lawyers and he qualifies for a public defender.

And therein lies the catch.



Online court records indicate his case is a bit too much for an overloaded public defender system:

However, the Public Defender's office notified Defendant that they currently lack sufficient resources to represent the Defendan
t
Mohr was encouraged to hire a private lawyer - the kind the report says he cannot afford. Online court records indicate the Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney's office is seeking jail time for Mohr.



Faced with that problem, Judge Joseph Hensley continued the case, setting the next hearing for January 2.

Mohr is being held in the Jasper County Jail on no bond, according to the jail roster.

For his latest charges, Mohr allegedly beat a Carthage man with brass knuckles and stole his wallet, phone and watch on October 27.



At the time the Carthage Police Department arrested him, Mohr was already awaiting trial on a felony domestic assault charge.

At the time of all of the alleged crimes, Mohr was on probation after pleading guilty earlier this year to felony receiving stolen property and heroin trafficking charges.

Bond reduced for Joplin woman charged with two counts of felony child abuse

After denying bond for a Joplin woman charged with abusing her four-year-old child, Jasper County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Hensley changed his mind today.

Online court records indicate the bond for Haley Kaitlynn Simpson, 26, Joplin, was set at $3,000 cash only Friday, with the following conditions:

-Simpson is to have no contact with anyone under the age of 17

-She is not allowed to have alcohol


At the last update of the Jasper County Jail roster, Simpson was still behind bars.

A video arraignment was held Thursday with Simpson entering a not guilty plea.

The Joplin Police Department arrested Simpson on two counts of felony child abuse December 6 after receiving a call at a local hospital about an abused four-year-old.

The other person charged, Adam Duncan, 28, Joplin, was taken into custody Tuesday after a five-day hunt.

Duncan is also charged with two counts of felony child abuse.

Simpson's next hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. January 2.

Billy Long: Organizations like I Pour Life help children and young adults

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

In October, I had the privilege of lending my auctioneering skills for a charity event supporting at-risk youth in southwest Missouri.

I Pour Life, a local nonprofit in Springfield, Missouri, focuses on helping youth become self-sufficient, hosted this special night to raise funds for children and young adults currently in the foster care system, Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division and the judicial system.

During the event, I met one of I Pour Life’s youth, a young man who hopes to one day run for public office. 

Throughout the night I was able to talk with him about what he hopes to accomplish in the coming years. At the end of the event, I handed him my business card and told him that when he’s ready, he’s more than welcome to come and intern for me to gain valuable hands-on experience.



This young man is one of the more than 400,000 children in the foster care system in the U.S. According to the National Foster Youth Institute, nearly one in four children in the foster care system who age out (individuals who turn 18) don’t graduate high school or have the ability to pass their GED. 

While nearly 70 percent of these kids have a desire to attend college one day, unfortunately only 6 percent actually pursue higher education. These unfortunate statistics are one of many reasons why organizations like I Pour Life exist.

Zach, who came to I Pour Life in 2016, entered the foster care system at birth. After years of jumping from home to home and dealing with both physical and emotional abuse, Zach, like many children in the system, ended up homeless. 



After coming to I Pour Life things began to turn around. Not only has Zach secured housing, he has also taken on multiple jobs and purchased a car. Although he has accomplished a great deal, he understands there is still more work to be done as he continues to work toward self-sufficiency.

These stories aren’t uncommon for I Pour Life. Organizations like this can do what the government often can’t. Like Danny Thomas, founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital once said, “No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.” Truer words were never spoken, and I Pour Life, and organizations like it, are stooping down to help a lot of children and young adults at a pivotal point in their lives.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Greene County man, family responsible for illegally killing hundreds of deer

(From the Missouri Department of Conservation)

A Greene County man’s court sentencings in December in Barton and Lawrence Counties are the most recent events in what is one of Missouri’s largest conservation cases involving the illegal taking of deer.

On Dec. 13, David Berry Jr. of Brookline, received a 120-day sentence in Barton County Circuit Court for a felony firearms probation violation.

On Dec. 6, he received a one-year jail sentence in Lawrence County Associate Court after pleading guilty to taking wildlife illegally on Oct. 11. The 120-day sentence Berry Jr. received in Barton County Circuit Court will be served in addition to the one-year sentence he received in Lawrence County. 



These convictions were made with information obtained from Operation Game Thief, a hotline sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Berry Jr.’s convictions are the tip of a long list of illegal fish and game activity by him and other members of his family.

“It is unknown how many deer the main group of suspects has taken illegally over the past several years,” Lawrence County Conservation Agent Andy Barnes said. “It would be safe to say that several hundred deer were taken illegally.”

Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Don Trotter agreed.

“Conservation investigators estimated that the group was responsible for killing hundreds of deer over a three-year period,” he said. “The deer were trophy bucks taken illegally, mostly at night, for their heads, leaving the bodies of the deer to waste.”

What Barnes and Trotter were referring to were facts uncovered by several years of investigative work. On July 11, 2016, approximately 100 state, federal and Canadian wildlife officers simultaneously interviewed multiple suspects and other persons of interest in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Canada. Information gained from these and earlier interviews tied 14 Missouri residents to over 230 charges that occurred in 11 Missouri counties. Three suspects were tied to additional wildlife violations in Kansas, Nebraska and Canada. Two suspects were tied to Federal Lacey Act Wildlife violations that occurred in Kansas, Nebraska, and Canada.

As part of this effort, MDC agents concluded an 8½ month investigation by serving arrest warrants on David Berry, Jr., David Berry, Sr., currently residing in Springfield, and Kyle Berry, Everton, on Aug. 31, 2016. Other individuals in Missouri also received summonses to appear in court on charges stemming from this investigation. Charges were filed in Lawrence, Linn, Shannon, Dade, Greene, Putnam, Harrison, DeKalb, Barton, Vernon and Benton Counties. Most of the Missouri violations were related to the illegal taking of deer. Most of the deer were trophy-class animals. In many instances, only the heads and antlers were removed. More than 300 charges were filed on this group in state, federal and international jurisdictions.

Prior to the July, 2016 interviews, David Berry, Sr. and Eric Berry, 20, Everton, were convicted of taking gamefish by hand in Dade County. During the 2017 firearms deer season, while awaiting his court appearance for violations from the 2016 investigation, Eric Berry and an accomplice were caught spotlighting in Lawrence County.

To date, this group of poachers has paid $151,000 in bonds and $51,000 in fines and court costs and collectively served 33 days in jail. David Berry Sr. and David Berry Jr. had hunting, fishing and trapping privileges revoked for life by the Missouri Conservation Commission. Eric Berry and Kyle Berry had hunting and fishing privileges revoked for 18 years and 8 years respectively. Jerimiah Cline, Republic, who took wildlife illegally and assisted the Berrys, had hunting privileges revoked for five years.

Information received this fall through Operation Game Thief led to the arrests of David Berry Sr. and David Berry Jr. for violating terms of their probation. David Berry Sr. has posted bond and is awaiting a probation revocation.

People observing wildlife violations can report them through the Operation Game Thief Hotline, 1-800-392-1111 or call the local conservation agent.

Agenda provided for Monday Joplin City Council meeting

JOPLIN CITY COUNCIL AGENDA
Monday, December 17, 2018
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.

Clifford Wert To Give An Update On The Capital Campaign For The Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex And To Request An Extension Of Time For The Capital Campaign To June 1, 2019.

4.

Finalization Of Consent Agenda

5.

Reports And Communications

1.

Semi-Annual Report Of The Capital Improvement And Public Safety Sales Tax Oversight Committee, Presented By Ryan Jackson, Chairman

6.

Citizen Requests And Petitions

1.

Margey Upson Would Like To Address The City Council Regarding Quotes.


7.

Public Hearings

1.

PUBLIC HEARING PROCEDURES

2.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2018-026

AN ORDINANCE approving a plan for an industrial development project consisting of the acquisition and installation of manufacturing equipment, authorizing the city of Joplin, Missouri to issue its taxable industrial revenue bonds in a principal amount not to exceed $67,215,000.00 and approving certain related documents and actions.
Documents:
  1. CB2018-026.PDF
8.

Consent Agenda

1.

December 3, 2018 Informal Council Meeting Notes

2.

Minutes Of The December 3, 2018 City Council Meeting

3.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2018-273

AN ORDINANCE approving approximately 26 acres, located immediately south of I-44 at Exit 13 and west of Prigmore Avenue to include in District C-3 (Commercial District), Jasper County, Missouri.
Documents:
  1. CB2018-273.PDF
4.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2018-274

AN ORDINANCE approving approximately 26 acres, located immediately south of I-44 at Exit 13 and west of Prigmore Avenue to include in District C-3 (Commercial District), Jasper County, Missouri.
Documents:
  1. CB2018-274.PDF
9.

Resolutions

10.

Ordinances - Emergency

1.

COUNCIL BILL NO 2018-159

AN ORDINANCE approving a construction agreement with Emery Sapp & Sons Inc. for street resurfacing in the not to exceed amount Nine Hundred Ninety Thousand Two Hundred Forty-Seven and 16/100 Dollars, ($990,247.16) for the 2019 Resurfacing project and containing an emergency clause.
2.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2018-160

AN ORDINANCE approving a construction agreement with Vance Brothers Inc. for street resurfacing in the not to exceed amount Six Hundred Ninety-Three Thousand Seven Hundred Ninety-Six and 93/100 Dollars ($693,796.93) for the 2019 Microsurfacing Project and containing an emergency clause.
3.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2018-163

AN ORDINANCE approving a Purchase Order to be issued to Fabick Cat in the amount of One Hundred Ten Thousand Eight Hundred and no/100 Dollars ($110,800.00) for the purchase of a replacement backhoe as budgeted in the Annual Budget of the City of Joplin for the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 and containing an emergency clause.
4.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2018-161

AN ORDINANCE approving a construction agreement with Springfield Striping for Parking Lots and Trails Sealing 2019 in the not to exceed amount Forty-Nine Thousand Four Hundred Sixty-Two and 36/100 Dollars ($49,462.36) for the 2019 Parking Lots and Trails Sealing 2019 and containing an emergency clause.
5.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2018-164

AN ORDINANCE approving a Purchase Order to be issued to Tag Truck Enterprises of Missouri LLC in the amount of Three Hundred Ninety-Two Thousand Six Hundred Twenty-Seven and 74/100 Dollars ($392,627.74) for the purchase of a 2 dump trucks with snow plows as budgeted in the Annual Budget of the City of Joplin for the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 and containing an emergency clause.
6.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2018-524

AN ORDINANCE approving a request to appoint Tereasa Edwards to the Board of Directors of the Northpark Lane Community Improvement District; and containing an emergency clause.
11.

Ordinances - First Reading

1.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2018-027

AN ORDINANCE authorizing the City of Joplin to amend the Memorandum of Understanding and Agreement with Connect2Culture previously approved as Ordinance 2017-149 for the purpose of extending timeframes and authorizing the City Manager to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin.
2.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2018-275

AN ORDINANCE authorizing the City council to issue the abatement of ad valorem taxes to real property located in the Joplin Area Enhanced Enterprise Zone; generally described as located at 2205 S. Prigmore Rd. and owned by Crossroads Realty, LLC.
3.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2018-416

AN ORDINANCE approving an Agreement between the City of Joplin, Missouri, and Economic Security Corporation of Southwest Area that pertains to 2018 HOME funds; authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute same on behalf of the City. 
12.

Ordinances - Second Reading And Third Reading

1.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2018-026

AN ORDINANCE approving a plan for an industrial development project consisting of the acquisition and installation of manufacturing equipment, authorizing the city of Joplin, Missouri to issue its taxable industrial revenue bonds in a principal amount not to exceed $67,215,000.00 and approving certain related documents and actions.
Documents:
  1. CB2018-026.PDF
13.

Unfinished Business

14.

New Business

1.

News From Public Information Officer, Lynn Onstot

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

House passes 2018 Farm Bill

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-04) today made the following statement about the House’s passage of the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Report.

“Today’s passage of the 2018 Farm Bill conference report provides much needed certainty and flexibility for producers and consumers alike,” said Hartzler, who was chosen as a conferee on the final negotiated version of the bill. “This bill ensures consumers continue to enjoy the safest, most abundant food supply in the world by improving public/private risk management programs and supporting local, national and international efforts vital in protecting and promoting American agriculture. Significant investments in rural broadband, trade promotion, research and development, and conservation initiatives will positively impact rural America for years to come.



“While we did not achieve all that we wanted in the final version of the bill, this legislation is a positive step for farmers, ranchers, consumers and rural America. I am pleased to see many of my priorities reflected in the legislation, and I applaud Congress for acting so quickly to secure a comprehensive Farm Bill for those facing difficult times in farm country,” added Hartzler, who was unable to make the final vote due to the passing of her father back home in Missouri.

Specifically, the 2018 Farm Bill:

-Includes Hartzler language to increase minimum speed requirements for rural broadband and recognizes the importance of expanding rural broadband.

-Maintains crop insurance and improves insurance options for dairy producers, while also strengthening and providing flexibility for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs.

-Invests and streamlines conservation initiatives for farm families to continue to improve and protect our natural resources and includes language Rep. Hartzler authored to allow grazing on CRP lands.
Enhances integrity of the SNAP program by improving education and training programs at the state level, reducing monthly work requirement exemptions from 15 to 12 percent, eliminating the ability for participants to receive benefits in multiple states.

-Includes language Rep. Hartzler authored to increase private investment in rural broadband, modifying Rural Utilities Service (RUS) broadband programs to include loan guarantees in addition to existing direct loans.

-Prioritizes funding for opioid prevention, treatment and recovery facilities in rural communities.

-Promotes American exports by enhancing and permanently funding trade promotion programs necessary for producers to secure additional markets.

-Improves clarity and consistency for small meat processors by including Rep. Hartzler’s language requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to report on the effectiveness of existing regulations for small meat processors.

-Ensures agriculture is on the cutting edge of technology and innovation by investing over $600 million in funding for agriculture research, extension and education.

-Establishes new programs and funding to protect the health of our nation’s livestock while also creating a feral swine eradication pilot program.

-Improves assistance for specialty crops and reduces fraud in organic imports.

-Helps beginning farmers and ranchers establish themselves in agriculture and provides support for youth to get engaged in agricultural careers.

-Recognizes the hardship currently facing farm families by reestablishing the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network to help combat farmer suicides.

The President is expected to sign the 2018 Farm Bill into law next week.

Parson praises Blunt, Missouri federal delegation roles in securing I-49 funding

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

Five infrastructure improvement projects that increase safety, minimize congestion, support efficient freight movement, and promote economic development in Missouri are now possible as a result of more than $90 million in federal grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The grants were awarded through the department’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program, which is allocated for nationally and regionally significant projects.



The five projects selected by the USDOT in the competitive process are the following:
$25 million for the Buck O’Neil Bridge over the Missouri River in Kansas City
$25 million for the Bella Vista Bypass (I-49) in McDonald County
$19.8 million for the SEMO Port
$10.4 million for the City of Maryville’s South Main Corridor Improvement Project
$10+ million for the Sedalia Railroad Spur

“This is a great example of federal, state, and local partners working together for a better Missouri,” said Governor Mike Parson. “Some of these projects have been envisioned for more than 20 years, but they lacked the funding to make them a reality. We appreciate Missouri’s federal delegation, Senator Roy Blunt, and President Trump’s administration for their commitment to infrastructure, especially in rural Missouri. These infrastructure investments will play a major role in ensuring we have the framework for access and expansion in the future.”

Probable cause: Joplin couple accused of beating four-year-old child

Two Joplin residents are being held in the Jasper County Jail on no bond on multiple charges of felony child abuse in connection with the beating of a four-year-old child.

A 9 a.m. Thursday arraignment is scheduled in Jasper County Circuit Court for Haley Kaitlynn Simpson, 26, Joplin, who is charged with two counts of child abuse.

The Joplin Police Department arrested Simpson December 6 after receiving a call at a local hospital about an abused four-year-old.

The other person charged, Adam Duncan, 28, Joplin, was taken into custody Tuesday after a five-day hunt.

Duncan is also charged with two counts of felony child abuse.

Duncan's crimes are described in the probable cause statement, with the first instance allegedly taking place on or between May 6 and May 11.



While living with his girlfriend, Haley Simpson, Adam Duncan spanked Simpson's four-year-old son as punishment for failing to use the toilet.

During this time, Simpson and Duncan both spanked (the child) with a bare hand to (the child's) bare skin. (The child) suffered finger-shaped bruises to his buttocks and waistline from the spankings.

Further, on December 5, 2018, Adam Duncan committed the crime of abuse of a child. During this instance, Duncan physically struck (the child's) head with his hand multiple times causing serious bleeding to the right side of his head. (The child) also had serious bruising to the back of his hands and thighs caused by physical abuse.



Federal jury finds Neosho businessman not guilty on Joplin Tornado fraud charges

A federal jury found Neosho businessman Raul R. Gonzales not guilty of tornado fraud charges Friday in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

A grand jury indicted Gonzales in June 2016, claiming he was behind a $3 million disaster fraud scheme in which his company, Intelligent Investments, Inc., received a government contract designated for a service disabled veteran-owned small business that hired local workers to clean up debris following the May 22, 2011 tornado.

The Kansas City Star report on Gonzales' acquittal includes the following:

In court, Gonzales — represented by William Fleischaker of Joplin and Dennis Hartley of Colorado Springs — acknowledged that after the government cut the time of debris removal from six months down to just over four weeks, he was forced to rely more heavily on subcontractors to get the work done.



But his legal team presented evidence that Gonzales and Intelligent Investments had spent more than $318,000 on personnel costs. That personnel logged close to 12,000 man-hours removing debris in July and August 2011. Gonzales testified he believed his employees performed at least 40 percent of the contract.

The team also showed that the federal government, despite its accusation, had never audited Gonzales’ work to calculate who had done the work and what expenses had been incurred. The government ceased paying Gonzales after accusations of fraud arose.

“The government has paid for about half the contract,” meaning about $3 million, Fleischaker said. “They still owe him over $3.5 million. … I mean they ruined him. He is a strong guy. He is a Marine Corps veteran. I am expecting that he will get back. … It’s been close to three years. Obviously it is tough on anybody.”


The news release issued in 2016 by the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri described the charges against Gonzales:
Under the terms of a contract managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to remove tornado debris from public rights-of-way and residential property in the wake of the 2011 tornado, the prime contractor was required to be a service disabled veteran-owned small business. The contract also specified that at least 50 percent of the work must be done by employees residing in Jasper and Newton counties.

Gonzales owned and operated Intelligent Investments, Inc., in Joplin, which was registered with the Department of Veterans Affairs as a service disabled veteran-owned small business. Intelligent Investments was awarded a contract in June 2011 and received payments of approximately $3 million.

According to the federal indictment, a company outside the state of Missouri – identified in the indictment as Company A – recruited Intelligent Investments to bid on and obtain the contract as the primary contractor, because Company A did not qualify. The indictment alleges that Gonzales and Company A agreed that he would perform little, if any, work on the contract. Instead, Company A would perform virtually all the work on the contract using its own resources and subcontractors, which were not local. Gonzales and Company A allegedly agreed to split the net profits received from claims under the contract, with Company A to receive substantially more than half of the net profits.

The indictment charges Gonzales with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, three counts of making a false claim, three counts of disaster fraud and three counts of making and using a false document.

The accompanying video is from KSN/KODE.


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Joplin R-8 Board hires three teachers, 17 classified employees, accepts three teacher resignations


During a closed session December 4, the Joplin R-8 Board of Education hired three teachers and 17 classified employees and accepted the resignations of three certified employees.

Certified Employments- Shellie Munn, Kevin Thomure and Blair Wallace

Certified Resignations- Mary Vu and Grace White



Classified Employments- Karyn Blount, Danielle Clark, Christopher Clouse, Michelle Daugherty, Jonathon Fartash, Suzanne Ginsburg, Marti Goebel, Pamela Hale, Dustin Moehr Nathan Roberts, Michael Rule, Logan Shinkle, Tina Stone, Troy Tolles, Jake Vinoverski, Susan Wallace,and Noah Whitehead

Jimmy Dean sausage links recalled due to metal contamination

(From the U. S. Department of Agriculture)

CTI Foods LLC, an Owingsville, Ky. establishment, is recalling approximately 29,028 pounds of frozen, ready-to-eat (RTE) pork and poultry sausage links products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically pieces of metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The frozen, ready-to-eat sausage links items were produced and packaged on Aug. 4, 2018. The following products are subject to recall: [View Label (PDF Only)]
23.4-oz. pouches of “Jimmy Dean HEAT ’n SERVE Original SAUSAGE LINKS Made with Pork & Turkey” with a Use By date of Jan. 31, 19. The product bears case code A6382168, with a time stamp range of 11:58 through 01:49.



The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 19085” on the back of the product packaging. These items were shipped to an establishment in Tennessee where the product was further distributed to retail stores.

The problem was discovered on Dec. 10, 2018, when FSIS received notification that the establishment had received five consumer complaints of metal pieces in the RTE sausage links.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers with questions about the recall can contact the Jimmy Dean customer service line at (855) 382-3101. Members of the media with questions about the recall can contact Worth Sparkman, senior manager for communication, at (479) 290-6358.

Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.

Danforth among 44 former senators who urge Senate to defend our democracy when Mueller probe is completed

Former U. S. Senator John Danforth, R-Mo. is among 44 former senators, both Republican and Democrat, who signed their names to a letter printed in today's Washington Post urging the Senate to defend our democracy when special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian involvement in the 2016 election has concluded:

Among the points made in the letter:

We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld.



Among those signing the letter were Bill Bradley, D-N.J., Alan Simpson, R-Wyo, Tom Daschle, D-S.D., John Warner, R-Va., John Kerry, D-Mass., William Cohen, R-Maine, and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.

The letter concludes with the following:

Regardless of party affiliation, ideological leanings or geography, as former members of this great body, we urge current and future senators to be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest.

KSN owner among those seeking to buy Fox Sports regional networks

The New York Post is reporting that Nexstar Broadcasting, which owns KSNF and manages KODE in the Joplin area, is among the suitors for the 22 Fox Sports regional networks.

Disney is attempting to sell the networks to reduce anti-trust concerns about its multi-billion dollar merger with 21st Century Fox.

Nexstar, which recently bought Tribune Media to become the largest owner of television stations in the United States, is among the companies that want to buy all of the regional networks, according to the Post article.


The regional networks include Fox Sports Midwest-St. Louis and Fox Sports Midwest-Kansas City, which offer St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals baseball coverage, respectively.


Hartzler praises bill to enhance care for veterans

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

Today Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-04) praised the House’s passage of a bill that would improve transition assistance for veterans, bolster veteran health care, improve the GI Bill and enhance veterans’ burial benefits, among other things. The bill includes many provisions from stand-alone legislation the House passed earlier this year.

“I’m pleased to see common-sense reforms for our nation’s veterans move forward,” Hartzler said. “This legislation makes practical changes to strengthen the way we care for those who have served and those who still serve our country today. I look forward to the Senate moving quickly on this bill that would improve how we care for our veterans and service members.”



This bill, S. 2248, the Veterans Benefit and Transition Act of 2018, would make changes to several veteran and service member benefits. One provision ensures that students using their GI Bill benefits are not penalized if the Veterans Administration is late making payments to their school. In addition, the bill would allow service members who are deployed or relocated to cancel television and internet service contracts without incurring a penalty and authorize the VA through 2024 to allow the burial of spouses and dependents of veterans in national cemeteries.

The bill is expected to be voted on by the Senate before the year’s end and be sent to the President to become law.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Settlement reached in Sheena Eastburn lawsuit against McDonald County Sheriff's Office

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed by convicted murderer Sheena Eastburn against the McDonald County Sheriff's Office and the jailer who raped her in the McDonald County Jail.

In a document filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, attorney Katherine O'Dell, representing McDonald County, told the judge the case will be dismissed in the near future:

COMES NOW Defendant McDonald County (on behalf of itself and the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office), and advises the Court that all parties in the above-captioned matter have reached a settlement as to all parties and all claims.

The filing did not reveal any amounts for the settlement.

In the lawsuit, Eastburn, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1995 for the murder of her husband and was paroled in November 2017 after spending 25 years behind bars, claims jailer Terrie Zornes raped her and then the crime was covered up by Zornes' fellow workers at the Sheriff's Office.


In 2011, Zornes was charged with raping a teenage prisoner in 1994, but the charge was dropped when he pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old girl.

The petition says Zornes forced Eastburn, who was 17 at the time, to go into the property room, raped her, then destroyed evidence by tampering with the surveillance tapes.

Zornes raped Eastburn between December 1993 and February 1994, according to the lawsuit.

Eastburn told her mother about the attack, according to the petition, but when her mother took the information to Zornes' superiors, Eastburn's nightmare grew even worse.

The lawsuit alleged the following:

-Eastburn was placed in solitary confinement and not allowed to make calls or have visitors.

-At other times, drunk prisoners were placed in her cell instead of in the drunk tank.

-A pregnancy test was performed on her, then she was taken to a medical facility and forced to undergo a procedure that caused "significant bleeding from her vagina."

-After that, she was forced to take birth control pills.

-Death threats were leveled against her if she told anyone that Zornes had raped her. Sheriff's Office employees told her a number of ways that could make it look like her death was "justified," including making it appear that she committed suicide by hanging herself in her cell.

-Eastburn's family members were threatened.

Eventually, according to the lawsuit, Eastburn agreed not to say anything.

The six-count lawsuit accused the Sheriff's Office and Zornes of violation of due process, the sheriff's office of negligent supervision and training and Zornes was the sole defendant on counts of assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Still time to order Turner paperback books from Amazon as holiday gifts, six on sale for $9.99

I suppose it has been easy for people to tell I am promoting my books this morning.

Though these are not the signed copies I have been advertising (those are still available at this link), anyone needing a Christmas gift, can order my books through Amazon.com

Six of them- Let Teachers Teach, Classroom Confidential, Sports Talk Memories, No Child Left Alive, Devil's Messenger and Scars from the Tornado: One Year at Joplin East Middle School, are available for $9.99 from Amazon at the links below.


Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption and the Joplin Tornado is available for $19.99, while 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado, is available for $19.99 and Spirit of Hope: The Year After the Joplin Tornado and my latest book, Newton County Memories, are available for $14.99.