Sunday, April 29, 2018

Should I be offended by this?

My first thought was that it had to be a joke.

A few minutes ago while checking my e-mail, I came across a message from Linked In that former Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff "would like to join your Linked In network."

Not surprisingly, I am going to pass on that.

Maybe I am just being petty but that is not going to happen and long time Turner Report readers can certainly understand why.

On the chance that it is not on the level, I will not go into detail about the reasons why it did not take me long to make that decision.

Do any of you have any thoughts on this?

Saturday, April 28, 2018

How the Turner Report/Inside Joplin finds the news, plus links to top posts for the week

I don't remember the date for sure, but at some point, probably in about 1997, I began to feel that technology was passing me by.

I had a group of reporters in their 20s working for me at the Carthage Press and all of them knew more about this new thing called the internet.

I didn't know anything about the internet.

When it was first installed in the newsroom, only two computers were set up for it- the one used by the City/Courthouse reporter Randee Kaiser, now our Jasper County sheriff, and the one by used our photographer Ron Graber.

It was much too busy each day for me to take time out of their work to teach me how to use the internet, so I watched how they connected to it (it was still in the dial-up stage) and one evening when everyone had gone home, I connected to the internet for the first time.

I was on there for hours, using Infoseek to find websites that might have news for Carthage Press readers.

The following day, I had three page one stories from my internet scavenger hunt. I don't remember what two of them were, but the third one was a decision made by the Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals concerning a Jasper County case.

I quickly found out that it was not that easy to come up with stories off the internet, Those were there because no one had been looking for them.

I had a good idea of the places to look for news because I had already been working in the newspaper business for two decades at that point.

The internet became a useful tool to augment our regular coverage.

In the 20 years since then, the amount of information that is available on the internet has increased a millionfold and it has made a one-man news outlet like the Turner Report/Inside Joplin.

Each day, I go through a series of internet beats and put the information on the blogs. My beats include government websites, Highway Patrol, police, sheriff's offices, school districts, YouTube and a few hundred e-mails that I receive each day from politicians and various news sources. I also receive notifications from a few dozen newspapers.

Among the e-mails I receive are updates from the funeral homes on deaths and services. There are also area funeral homes whose websites I check on a daily basis.

In addition to these methods of gathering news, I have a number of sources that I contact on a regular basis, I make trips to the Jasper County Circuit Clerk's office and I work on ideas and information that I receive from tips from readers.

I emphasize the internet this evening because nearly all of this information is available to my readers if they searched on their own but my job is to keep them from having to go to hundreds of websites to find information.

And because of my background and experience, I am often able to come across stories that have been missed or misplayed by area media outlets.

This type of service has become more and more useful in the past few years as Gatehouse Media's criminal abuse of local newspapers has turned a once vibrant six-day-a-week Carthage Press into a weekly and the Neosho Daily News into a misnamed twice weekly.

I haven't checked into the Carthage Press pricing, but I know my parents dropped the Neosho Daily after more than 60 years because the Daily went from five days to twice a week, but failed to lower its subscription prices.

The Turner Report/Inside Joplin also continues to provide the only free obituaries in the area and provides news, commentary and investigative reporting that is not available from any other news outlet.

If you want the Joplin Globe you can pay more than $200 a year or you can pay over $100 for the Daily or the Press.

You do not have to pay one cent for the Turner Report/Inside Joplin ... but it would be helpful if you would.

If you have not recently contributed or subscribed to Turner Report/Inside Joplin, please consider doing so at the PayPal buttons below or by sending the contribution of any amount to Randy Turner, 2306 E. 8th, Apt. G, Joplin, MO 64801.

Turner Book Sale Now Through Month of May

Copies of my four books on the Joplin Tornado are on sale now through May 31 at Changing Hands Book Shoppe and Always Buying Books in Joplin and Pat's Books in Carthage.

5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado, Spirit of Hope: The Year After the Joplin Tornado, and Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption and the Joplin Tornado, normally priced at $20 are on sale for $15.

Anyone buying one of those three books will get a free copy of Scars from the Tornado: One Year at Joplin East Middle School.

Anyone buying two of those books, will get a free copy of Scars, and a copy of any of my other books for $5.

Crowder Local Authors Symposium

It has been a long time, about 12 years since I have had a book signing at Neosho, but I will be at Crowder College this Wednesday, May 2, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Stop by and buy a book or a Turner Report t-shirt, bring me a news tip or just say hi.

I will have copies of all of my books available.

The local authors will give readings throughout the day. Mine is scheduled for 1:20 p.m.

Hope to see you there.

Top Turner Report/Inside Joplin Posts

The surprise number one post this week was on the Inside Joplin blog where the regular menu of arrests, accidents, dissolutions, marriage licenses and bankruptcies finished behind the awarding of an honorary degree to a Crowder vocational agriculture teacher.

The links to this week's top stories are printed below.

You can find the PayPal subscription and donation buttons below the links.

The Turner Report

1. Jasper fireman held without bond on child molestation, sodomy charges

2. Jim Cummins to replace Decker as Neosho superintendent

3. Carl Junction couple sues City of Joplin, police officer who allegedly ran red light

4. In jailhouse letter, accused Jayda Kyle killer says "I've never been a part of something so wrong and corrupt"

5. Joplin woman charged with DWI, leaving the scene of an accident, child endangerment following accident on I-44

6. After two decades, arrest made in murders of Ashley Freeman, Lauria Bible, Freeman's parents

7. Four more defendants sentenced in meth conspiracy that send Baird to prison

8. Joplin R-8 Board hires seven teachers, accepts 12 resignations

9. Greitens appoints Joplin neurosurgeon, term-limited Lamar representative to state boards

10. Josh Bard drops bid to remain on Joplin City Council

Inside Joplin

1. Crowder agriculture teacher receives honorary State FFA Degree

2. Galena motorcyclist killed in collision with SUV driven by Mark Rohr

3. Jasper County Sheriff's Office Arrests

4. Joplin Police Department Weekend Arrests

5. Citizen call leads to Joplin Police Department arrests for drugs, weapons, endangering the welfare of a child

6. Joplin Housing Authority receives $90,999 to provide permanent home for 25 homeless veterans

7. Joplin Police Department Arrests April 24-25

8. Joplin Police Department warns of possible scam

9. Joplin Police Department Arrests April 23-24

10. Joplin man seriously injured when car overturns on Black Cat Road

Inside Joplin Obituaries

1. Nichole Barker

2. Erin Whitekiller

3. Randy VanGilder

4. Sharon Smith

5. John Bach

6. Wayne Wendt

7. Timothy Stubblefield

8. Wilma Cantrell

9. Ritzy Stokesberry

10. Alan Bogle


If the information provided on the Turner Report/Inside Joplin blogs has value to you and you have not contributed or subscribed recently, please consider using one of the buttons below to do so. Thank you for your continued support.

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Nancy Hughes: A constant reminder

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

Several years ago I was asked by an elementary principal to observe Grant, a new student in the second grade at our school. The teacher was concerned that he might have some problems focusing in class and could fall behind. She wanted me, as school nurse, to do an observation of his behavior for a few minutes in the classroom.

What I found was a student who slithered over, around and under his desk, chatted with himself and other students and looked over at me and winked “Hey Nurse Nancy. How’s your day going?” – all while the instructor taught the math lesson.

I was sure he hadn’t heard a single instruction she had given and watched as she wrote a math problem on the board and gave instructions.

“Please write this problem down in your math journal,” she told her students, “and I will give you five minutes to see if you can figure out the answer.”

“Eighteen,” we heard a voice instantly say. Shocked, the teacher and I both turned to look at Grant. “What?” she said. Grant smiled. “The answer is eighteen.”

He was right! Even though it didn’t appear that he was listening at all, he actually was.

Today’s verse in Proverbs speaks to so many of us who are praying our children are listening as we share Jesus in a world that is continually preying on their hearts.

First, look at what the verse does NOT say. It does not say that if you raise your children to know the Lord, they will never turn from Him as they get older.

Nor does it say that children who have wandered will automatically turn back to the Lord as adults. We all have the ability to make choices in our lives.

But what it DOES say is beautiful to our ears: teach your child about the Lord. Share the words of Jesus over and over and explain what love and trust, mercy and forgiveness, grace and hope mean. Then, if your child wanders down a wrong path as he gets older, God’s Word will return to him again and again.

He will be reminded in his heart of the love Jesus has for him no matter where he is or what he is doing. In other words, “he will not turn from it” because he will remember what you have taught him.

What about you and your children? Have you ever felt like giving up because they seem to totally tune you out? Do you feel like you are losing the spiritual battle for their souls?

My encouragement to you is this: please don’t give up! Our hope is in Christ alone! What we have taught and shared about Jesus will not return empty.

Just like this little boy who appeared to have not heard a word about his math lesson, and yet he did, so it is for our children and God’s Word in their hearts.

Father, thank you for your encouragement to train my children to know you. May your words stay with them always. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up . . .


Have you ever felt almost hopeless because of a son or daughter who has turned from the Lord even after you have shared Jesus for years?


If you have small children, teach them wisdom from the Lord through songs, videos and books and especially from the Bible. Sing along or read along with them. Pray daily for them.

If you have older children, never miss an opportunity to give them a hug and pray over them before they leave for school or on a date. Leave Scripture love notes in their lunch boxes or backpacks or by text on their cell phones. Pray daily for them.

Power Verses

Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Isaiah 55:11 (NIV) “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV) “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Mark 9:24 (NIV) “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.’”

Psalm 71:14 (NIV) “But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.”

(Nancy Hughes will be at the Local Authors Symposium at Crowder College 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 2.)

Kim Frencken: Let's send kids and parents to responsibility school

I have a great idea. Instead of throwing education money on positive programs and hiring numerous babysitters, let's build a school. A responsibility school. A school for kids AND parents. And, instead of paying paraprofessionals babysitter wages, let's pay them what they are worth. And, who would go to this school, you ask?

That parent. You know the one. The ones who speaks in shades of blue. Their child is never wrong. Their child was making straight A's until they got you for a teacher. Their child hates school for the first time in their life. You pick on their child. You don't like their child. You have favorites. You really shouldn't be teaching. You intimidate children. That parent that finds something wrong with everything.

That child. The one who talks back, argues, and never does anything wrong. The one who bites, scratches, kicks, and screams. The one who is an expert at throwing tantrums. Drama queen. Chief manipulator. Class disruptor. The child that doesn't allow you to teach. The child that keeps everyone else from learning.

I think these parents need to take responsibility for their children. After all, they created them. Children are not born throwing temper tantrums because they didn't get their way. They learn to do this so that they will get their way. They imitate the adults in their lives. They learn to manipulate their parents who either don't have the skills or the time to parent. Let's put them in the same school and teach them together.

Teach these parents how to be parents. Show them what happens when they don't take parenting seriously. Let them see firsthand how difficult it is to teach a child who doesn't want to learn. Let them accept responsibility for their child's test scores, attendance, and behavior. Let these children discover that tantrums do not solve all of their problems. Manipulation doesn't work on everyone. Not everyone is moved by their tears and pleas.

That's what we'll do. Build them a school. Give parents the same expectations that teachers have and give children the expectation to succeed. What a difference that would make! And... I'll venture to guess that some attitudes towards teachers and schools will change. For the better.

(For more of Kim Frencken's writing and information about her educational products, check out her blog, Chocolate For the Teacher.)

Billy Long: No other president has had to deal with this type of gridlock

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

It’s been more than a year since President Trump was elected to office, yet only a little over 50 percent of his nominees have been confirmed by the Senate. If you compare that number to previous administrations, it’s nothing. Around this time during President Obama’s administration, 79 percent of his nominees had been confirmed. For President George W. Bush that number was 65 percent, President Clinton it was 66 percent and for President George H. W. Bush it was 74 percent. President Trump recently said that at the current pace it will only take nine years to confirm all of his nominees.

No other president has had to deal with this type of gridlock and dysfunction. Not only are nominees being stalled and held up in committees, Senate Democrats are taking it one step further and forcing unnecessary cloture votes, which require 30 hours of debate on the Senate floor. These unnecessary cloture votes include votes on nominees that have unanimous and overwhelming support from both sides, yet are still subject to the 30-hour debate. Using this tool as a weapon rather than what it was intended for, Senate Democrats have forced more cloture votes on President Trump’s nominees in his first year in office than the past four presidents first terms combined.

A recent example of this gridlock and dysfunction is my former colleague, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. More than a year ago, Pompeo was confirmed as Director of the C.I.A. by the Senate by a 66-32 vote. Fourteen Senate Democrats voted in favor of his confirmation. However, suddenly these same Democrats had a change of heart during his vetting to be Secretary of State. After weeks of silence from Senate Democrats, only three vocalized support for Pompeo. On April 23, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the confirmation of Pompeo. Every single Democrat voted against his confirmation, with the exception of one who voted present, rather than for or against. Finally, after several weeks of back-and-forth, on April 26, the Senate voted 57-42 to confirm Pompeo as Secretary of State.

Playing politics, especially in a situation like this, is dangerous for U.S. diplomacy. Recently, Sen. Lankford (R-OK) introduced S. Res. 355, which would limit post-cloture debate from 30 hours to eight hours for most nominees, with the exception of Cabinet, Circuit Court and Supreme Court nominees. Previously the Senate had adopted this during the 113th Congress as a standing rule, but S. Res. 355 would make it permanent.

Like I've said in the past, the American people deserve better. The American people elected President Trump and it’s time we give his nominees the respect they deserve.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Greitens appoints Joplin neurosurgeon, term-limited Lamar representative to state boards

(From Gov. Eric Greitens)

Gov. Eric Greitens appointed the following people to state boards and commissions:

Ronetta Burton, of Pattonsburg, was appointed as the Daviess County Clerk.

Burton is the Interim County Clerk for Daviess County.  She served as the Deputy County Clerk for Daviess County for five years.  Burton is a member of the Coffey Fire Protection District Board of Directors and the Daviess County Central Dispatch 911 Board.

Rep. Mike Kelley, of Lamar, was appointed to the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Rep. Mike Kelley represents Barton, Dade, part of Jasper, and part of Cedar Counties (District 127) in the Missouri House of Representatives.  Rep. Kelley is a member of the Barton County, Lockwood, and Greenfield chambers of commerce.  He is also a member of Rotary International and attends Oakton United Methodist Church.  Rep. Kelley serves as the Chair of the Special Committee on Tax Policy.

Bob MacDonald, of Poplar Bluff, was appointed to the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents.

MacDonald is the President and CEO of S. H. Smith & Company, Inc.  He previously served as Mayor and City Councilman for the City of Poplar Bluff.  MacDonald holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southeast Missouri State University.  He is a member of American Veterans Post #29, American Legion Post #153, the Society of Marketing Professional Services, and the Missouri Association of Municipal Utilities. 

Chassity Nevels, of Richmond, was appointed to the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board.

Nevels is a school resource officer and D.A.R.E instructor with the Richmond Police Department.  She holds an Associate of Arts degree in nursing from Moberly Area Community College.  Nevels received POST Class A Certification from the Law Enforcement Training Institute.

Dr. M. Ellen Nichols, of Joplin, was appointed to the State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts.

Dr. Nichols is a neurosurgeon at Freeman Health System in Joplin, Mo.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from the University of Kansas and a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Chicago.  Dr. Nichols is a member of the American Medical Association, the Missouri State Medical Association, and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. 

Janet Rogers, of Lathrop, was appointed to the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board.

Rogers is a Juvenile Officer and the Director of Juvenile Court for Clay County Family Court in Liberty, where she has worked for more than 20 years.  She holds a master’s degree in public affairs and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration from Park University.  Rogers serves on the Community Action Agency Board of Directors, the Friends of Clay County CASA Board of Directors, and the Transitions Family Visitation Board of Directors.

Casey Short, of Greenfield, was appointed as the student representative of the University of Central Missouri Board of Governors.

Short is a freshman majoring in criminal justice and minoring in forensic science.  She is a 2017 graduate of Greenfield R-IV High School.  Short is a member of the UCM Honors College, Lambda Alpha Epsilon, and UCM Young Americans for Freedom. 

John Stamm, of St. Louis, was appointed to the Missouri Community Service Commission.

Stamm is the Director of Global Philanthropy at JCI (Junior Chamber International).  He holds bachelor’s degrees in business administration and in philosophy from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  Stamm serves as Vice President of the St. Louis Area Mensa and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network. 

Greitens announces initiative to hire veterans at Missouri State Parks

(From Gov. Eric Greitens)

Today, Governor Greitens announced an initiative within the Department of Natural Resources aimed at recruiting and hiring more veterans at Missouri State Parks. Last summer, DNR began recruiting veterans to serve in the department. Now, that effort has been expanded by opening additional positions to veteran recruits including Park Ranger, Park/Historic Site Specialist and maintenance classifications. Additionally, the Department of Natural Resources is developing a new website devoted to veteran recruitment.

Today, Governor Greitens and Rep. Steve Lynch met with DNR staff and veteran recruits at a job fair at Fort Leonard Wood aimed at hiring more veterans to the Missouri State Parks system.

“Our veterans’ proven dedication to service makes them uniquely qualified to protect our public resources in Missouri State Parks,” saidGovernor Eric Greitens. “We’re grateful for their sacrifices and proud that this new initiative will help give opportunities to those who have sacrificed for us. It’s the right thing to do.”

“This initiative will provide new opportunities for veterans, and reflects Missouri’s commitment to those who have served for all of us,” saidRep. Steve Lynch (R-122). “It will have a positive impact on our parks system, and make a difference for veterans coming home.”

Cleaver: Farm Bill guts $20 billion from SNAP, will increase poverty in America

(From Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

This week I spoke on the House floor about the 2018 Farm Bill;

"Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by saying that there are a lot of things in this Farm Bill that I agree with and would like to be a partner in getting them passed. For the last 50 years, Democrats and Republicans have worked together to combine food and farming programs in a bipartisan effort.

However, when discussing the 2018 Farm Bill, which will come up for a vote very soon, I want to also shed light on some things that don’t quite add up. That aren’t what I would call common sense. In essence, this bill aims to restrict eligibility and reduce benefits for the nation’s most effective anti-hunger program: SNAP (formerly known as food stamps). Moreover, this proposed bill dumps a massive burden on state governments.

Therefore, although I intend to be an active partner in the final passage of this legislation, I cannot and will not support the 2018 Farm Bill until the necessary changes are made.

If enacted, this bill will deal damaging blows to the very heart of America by gutting nearly $20 billion from SNAP, resulting in higher levels of hunger, poverty, and critical health problems. I want to take a minute to remind my colleagues, and those who are watching at home, who these SNAP recipients are.

• In my home state of Missouri, SNAP reached 759,000 residents--more than 10% of the population. That’s 1 in 8 Missourians.

• SNAP kept 221,000 people out of poverty in Missouri, including 109,000 children.

We should be doing more to help these families, not throwing them to the wind. This bill will force people out of a program that was put in place to help them when they need a helping hand. To be a backstop in times of emergency. Just like farmers have a backstop with crop insurance or commodity programs.

It is there for them if there is a drought or if their fields are flooded. Have we really become so disconnected from the day to day realities individuals face that we cannot see the horrific burden this legislation will place on them?

Ladies and gentlemen, our fellow Americans depend on this program to feed their families. Yes, there is always room for improvement, but that does not signal us to put the brakes on things that are helping people in need.

These individuals are not idle or inactive people taking advantage of the government, but rather they are hardworking citizens trying to get back on their feet. They are recently unemployed fathers, attempting to care for their children.

They are overworked mothers, desperately trying to make ends meet. They are aging Americans, attempting to overcome the difficulties of growing old in a fast-paced and often times unforgiving work environment.

Most working-age adults on SNAP who can work, already do so. Unfortunately, low-paying jobs with unreliable hours and little to no benefits are all too common. Without basic benefits, having a sick child, a transportation snafu, or a scheduling conflict can often mean a worker loses their job.

Workers are more likely to participate in SNAP when they lose a job or their income is low, which explains why many aren’t working and why they may need SNAP. By raising the age requirement from 49 to 59, we are also guaranteeing that many aging Americans will be unable to receive these benefits. It is a sad fact that people over 50 have a harder time finding employment. If you take that away the ability to get food, you are basically taking away their survival.

This proposal runs contrary to the purpose of SNAP.

As Representatives of the United States of America, it is our responsibility to pass legislation that is proactive, not reactive. It is also our responsibility to understand the very real and human consequences that could take place if this legislation is passed as it currently stands.

Once again, let me remind you of the fact the SNAP program is the most effective way to combat food insecurity. Cutting the funding for this program simply just does not make sense. The fact that in the year 2018, there are still children and adults in American that go hungry is absolutely appalling. Therefore, it is our moral obligation to support programs such as SNAP by refusing to support this legislation until we make the changes necessary to insure the prosperous future for our people.

Thank you."

Jim Cummins to replace Decker as Neosho superintendent

Seneca R-7 Superintendent Jim Cummins will return to the Neosho R-5 School District July 1 when he takes over as superintendent.

Cummins was formerly an assistant superintendent in the Neosho district and has been at Seneca for the past four years.

R-5 staff members were informed by e-mail fo the decision, which was finalized today. The superintendent job became vacant when the board put Dan Decker on administrative leave April 16 following numerous problems with district finances.

Finances are the speciality of Cummins, who was vice president of finance at Crowder College before taking the Seneca position.

He has also held administrative positions at Diamond, where he was a principal for a year, Wheaton, where he was superintendent for three years and Neosho and Carl Junction where he served in assistant superintendent positions.

R-5 Board of Education President Stuart Puckett introduced Cummins to the administtrative staff this afternoon, including Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Becky Sears, who will continue to serve as interim superintendent.

Puckett issued the following statement this afternoon:
"The board believed that with as many large projects that are currently ongoing and late spring being a time of heavy decision making for the following year, it was in the best interest of the school district to move rapidly in selecting a new superintendent. Dr. Cummins possesses the experience, desire, and motivation to help us continue to move forward, and we are proud to welcome him to the team."
Previous Neosho R-5 Posts

Neosho Superintendent Dan Decker placed on leave, clears out his office

Under Douglas-Decker stewardship, 26-year-old P. R. director takes lead role in Neosho R-5 School District

Neosho R-5 Board President's response to allegations: I believe in the greatness of the Neosho community

Allegation that five-year-old Neosho boy inappropriately touched, threatened kindergarten classmate at center of possible legal action against school district

Neosho R-5 Board President: Central Office wasn't aware board had to approve change orders on Junior High building project

Carver Elementary principal's administrative leave, removal of Finance Department illustrate toxic atmosphere at Neosho R-5

Neosho Superintendent signed non-disparagement contract, agreed to $150,000 "donation" from architectural firm

Former Neosho R-5 accountant: Finance Department told to keep quiet about Junior High project funding errors

Neosho R-5 administrators say there are things they can't tell staff, but they will be transparent about it

Neosho Daily News on junior high investigation: We report news, not speculation or gossip

Neosho R-5 School Board President: There was no trickery with our lovely junior high

State investigators examining discrepancies, lack of transparency in Neosho Junior High building project

Reduced prices, specials offered on Joplin Tornado books from now through end of May

After the Joplin Tornado, as I was providing coverage for the Turner Report, I kept reading Facebook posts from those who had been in the tornado's path, telling harrowing stories of what had happened to them on May 22, 2011.

(Note: Those who want to skip the reading and get to the specials, you can find them at the bottom of this post in bold italic.)

At that point, I decided these stories needed to be collected in book form, but I wanted the book to not only be a collection of tornado stories, but also a source that could be used years from now when generations to come learn about the day that changed Joplin forever.

I called Carthage Press Managing Editor John Hacker who had worked for me while I was the editor of that newspaper, because I knew of his skills as a reporter and because we had talked earlier and I was aware he had been in Joplin shortly after the tornado and had taken photos.

That was the beginning of 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado.

Some of the people whose Facebook posts I had read agreed to share their stories and once people found out what we were doing, we started receiving more stories.

Those stories, combined with reporting and essays that Hacker and I wrote, texts of the speeches delivered by Rev. Aaron Brown, Gov. Jay Nixon and President Obama at the memorial service one week after the tornado and the first National Weather Service report on the storm were included in the book.

In the days and weeks following the tornado, I began publishing the obituaries of those who had been killed that day or died later from injuries they suffered. I made sure those obituaries were included in the book.

5:41 was published in late August 2011, but turned out to be just the beginning. I was not looking to do another tornado book, but Hacker told me people kept telling him we had to tell the story of Joplin's remarkable recovery. Reluctantly, I agreed, but soon I was totally into the project.

Spirit of Hope: The Year After the Joplin Tornado included even more tornado stories people had shared that were turned in too late to be in the first book, texts of every major speech made during that year, including those given by Obama and Nixon at the Joplin High School graduation, Rush Limbaugh on the Fourth of July and key speeches from City Manager Mark Rohr and Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff among others.

Hacker and I added some original reporting and essays and Hacker offered photographic coverage of nearly every major event between May 22, 2011 and the one-year anniversary.

I had finally agreed to do Spirit of Hope with the plan to use my share of the proceeds from the book to do yet another tornado-related project- a book written by the students of East Middle School, who lost their school (many of them lost their homes) and had to attend a warehouse school. As it turned out, there were not that many proceeds from Spirit of Hope, so I tried to prime the pump by taking a Google ad. When I determined after a few days the ad was not going to do me any good, I took steps to cancel it and thought I had. Unfortunately, I misread the instructions on what I was supposed to do and ended up owing Google more than $4,000.

By that time, it was too late to take back my promise that copies of the third book, Scars from the Tornado, which was about the East students, their tornado experiences and that first year in the warehouse school, would be provided free of charge to every student and staff member.

When the book was published in March 2013, I came up with a way to live up to the promise (though I am still trying to work down that initial debt). Free copies were provided to those whose writing was included in the book and everyone who wanted the book, whether they were students, staff members, people in the Joplin community, or anyone else could have a free e-book of Scars.

The fourth tornado book, Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption and the Joplin Tornado, was the first investigative look into the tornado, focusing on how City of Joplin officials and Joplin R-8 School District leaders dealt with the storm and its aftermath.

While the focus was on people like Rohr, Huff, Mayor Mike Woolston, Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce President Rob O'Brian and Texas con artist David Wallace of Wallace Bajjali, the stories of those who began to fight the wrongs they saw occurring as a result of actions by those leaders, people like former Irving Elementary Principal Debbie Fort, Joplin City Council members Bill Scearce and Ben Rosenberg, businessman David Humphreys and East Middle School teacher Kim Frencken, are also included.

With the seventh anniversary of the Joplin Tornado coming next month, I want to offer people an opportunity to collect any or all of these books.

From now through the end of May, Always Buying Books and Changing Hands Book Shoppe in Joplin and Pat's Books in Carthage will offer the following specials:

-Single copy prices of the books are reduced to $15 for 5:41, Spirit of Hope, and Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud. Scars from the Tornado costs $10.

-Anyone buying a copy of 5:41, Spirit of Hope, or Silver Lining for $15 will receive a free copy of Scars from the Tornado.

-Those who buy two of those three books, will receive Scars from the Tornado for free and can have their choice of either the other book or any of my non-tornado books for $5.

Joplin woman charged with DWI, leaving scene of an accident, child endangerment after crash on I-44

A Joplin woman whose blood alcohol content measured more than twice the legal limit was charged with driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child after a collision on I-44 east of County Road 190 9 p.m. March 26.

The Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney's office filed charges against Sara Ann Roy, 30, Thursday, according to court records.

In the probable cause statement, the driver of the other vehicle, Mark Lee, described what happened. "I was in the right lane and she was in the left lane and she just came over and hit me. Then she just took off like a rocket and didn't stop."

Lee followed the Roy vehicle, which did eventually have to stop due to a flat right front tire.

Roy, who had two children in her vehicle, had a different version of what happened.

"I was in this lane and they were in that lane and 'boom" they hit me."

Asked why she did not stop, Roy claimed she did, but she had to drive down the road to "find a place to pull over."

The probable cause statement indicates Roy had a strong odor of intoxicants, her eyes were bloodshot and watery and she almost fell down when she walked by her vehicle.

When the arresting officer asked her how much she had to drink, Roy responded, "What do you mean? I'm fine."

He repeated the question and she again answered, "I'm fine."

Roy failed field sobriety tests and had a blood alcohol content of .195, according to the probable cause statement.

Carl Junction couple sues City of Joplin, police officer who allegedly ran red light

A Carl Junction man who was injured in a collision with a Joplin police vehicle at 20th and Joplin June 14, 2016, filed a lawsuit against the city and the officer Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court.

In the petition, Andrew Girouard claims he was driving southbound on Joplin Avenue and had a green light at 20th and Joplin when JPD officer Jarod Tingley ran a red light and crashed into his vehicle.

Girouard suffered injuries to his head, neck, back, shoulder, right foot and shin and has feelings of helplessness, anxiety and depression, according to the petition.

Because of the injuries, Girouard says he has medical bills and is enduring pain and suffering.

Girouard claims the city and Tingley were guilty of negligence. Girouard and his wife Amber are also suing for loss of consortium.

The petition asks for damages exceeding $75,000 and requests a jury trial.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Four more defendants sentenced in meth conspiracy that sent Baird to prison

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

Four more defendants have been sentenced in federal court this week for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute more than $1 million worth of methamphetamine in southern Missouri and in the Kansas City, Mo., area.
Travis Lee Bethel, 46, of Urbana, Mo., was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays today to nine years and 10 months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Bethel to pay the government a money judgment of $1,060,070.
Jake Ian Nixon, 20, of Springfield, Mo., was sentenced on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, to eight years and four months in federal prison without parole ordered to pay the government a money judgment of $181,000. Two co-defendants, Tara L. Harken, 45, of Marion, Ill., and Kara Rene Baze, 25, of Springfield, were each sentenced on the same day to five years of probation and each ordered to pay the government a money judgment of $302,000.
On Aug. 11, 2017, Bethel pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from Jan. 1, 2014, to Nov. 17, 2016, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Co-defendant Kenneth Bryant Lake, 57, of Strafford, Mo., was the original head of the drug-trafficking organization, coordinating vehicle transport shipments of methamphetamine from a Mexican cartel source in Texas to Springfield. Conspirators in Springfield divided the methamphetamine for distribution to the Lebanon, Mo., and Kansas City, Mo., areas. Lake has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.
Co-defendant Michael Ryan Nevatt, 28, of Springfield, subsequently became the head of the organization. Nevatt was convicted at trial on April 6, 2018, of all seven counts contained in a Nov. 17, 2016, federal indictment.  Nevatt and other conspirators made regular trips, and sometimes travelled several times a week, to pick up multiple-pound supplies of methamphetamine. For example, Nevatt traveled to Texas regularly to pick up 10 pounds of methamphetamine and bring it back to Springfield. Nevatt would later return to Texas with approximately $100,000 in cash to pay for it. On one occasion, Nevatt met sources in Dallas, Texas, to purchase 40 pounds of methamphetamine. Mexican sources also delivered multiple-pound shipments of methamphetamine by truck or car to Springfield.
Bethel assisted Nevatt with distributing more than 50 kilograms of methamphetamine for Nevatt’s organization and with collecting drug proceeds for methamphetamine delivered. Bethel also provided Nevatt and others with salvage title vehicles. These vehicles were traded for methamphetamine and/or paid for with drug proceeds. Bethel also assisted Nevatt with repairs for vehicles, again paid for with methamphetamine or drug proceeds.
Nixon was arrested by Springfield police officers on July 15, 2015, for possession of approximately three ounces of methamphetamine and a .32-caliber handgun. Nixon had been purchasing quarter pound quantities of methamphetamine in Springfield every other day for $3,400. Nixon was arrested on three more occasions in 2016; at the time of each of those arrests, Nixon was in possession of methamphetamine and a firearm. He was arrested again on June 9, 2016, for possession of methamphetamine.
Nixon pleaded guilty on Aug. 8, 2017, to the drug-trafficking and money-laundering conspiracies and to possessing firearms in furtherance of drug-trafficking crimes.
Harken, who is Nevatt’s mother, and Baze, who is the mother of one of Nevatt’s children, both pleaded guilty to traveling across state lines in aid of a racketeering enterprise. Harken and Baze admitted that they facilitated the drug-trafficking and money-laundering conspiracies. Harken moved and stored property purchased with drug proceeds or used in Nevatt’s money-laundering and drug-tracking conspiracy, stored drug proceeds, and rented a storage unit used in the conspiracy. Baze stored drug proceeds and rented facilities, rooms and cars used in the conspiracy.
On Aug. 28, 2015, Baze and Lake were arrested during a search at a hotel room in Springfield. Officers recovered $102,787, a loaded handgun and a small amount of methamphetamine. Nevatt and co-defendant Jarub Ray Baird, 27, of Carthage, arrived in a black Corvette and after a brief chase were apprehended.
Bethel, Nixon, Harken and Baze are among 15 defendants who have been convicted in this case. Baird was sentenced on April 18, 2018, to 11 years and 10 months in federal prison without parole. Scott Bryan Sands, 53, of Springfield, was sentenced on April 12, 2018, to 10 years and 10 months in federal prison without parole. Aaron Randall Stull, 53, of Springfield, was sentenced on Feb. 8, 2018, to eight years in federal prison without parole.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Rhoades and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashleigh Ragner. It was investigated by the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, the Buchanan County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Central Oklahoma Metro Interdiction Team.

Farmington Republican: Why I voted to block State Board of Education appointment

(From Sen. Dave Romine, R-Farmington)

I remain firm in my resolve to block current appointees to the State Board of Education because I believe all five appointees demonstrated lack of independent thought and did not display sound judgement when they fired the commissioner without thoroughly considering the entire situation. 

Eddy Justice, who was presented to the Senate this week for confirmation, was instrumental in the orchestrated decision to fire the commissioner after several other appointees were removed from the Board due to their hesitation to take hasty action. 

My colleagues and I have repeatedly asked the governor to withdraw these five appointees and appoint a new set of qualified, independent candidates. His refusal to do so has left us no other recourse than to block these nominations. I will continue to hold this position.

The State Board of Education is responsible for overseeing our public school system and must be an independent body. The responsibility of this Board should not be taken lightly, which is why I remain steadfast in my commitment to block any appointee who has already demonstrated their unwillingness to operate in an independent, thoughtful manner.

Bard resignation, closed session on tap for special Joplin City Council meeting

Notice is hereby given that the City Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri will hold a special meeting on Friday, April 27, 2018, at 4:00 pm in the 5th Floor Council Chambers, 602 S. Main Street, for the following purpose:

1. Call to Order

2. Invocation

3. Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America

4. Reading of the Special Call

5. Roll Call

6. Resignation of Joshua Bard

7. Vote to go into Closed Session Vote to go into closed session, which shall pertain to legal action, causes of action, or litigation including a public governmental body and any confidential or privileged communications between a governmental body or itsrepresentatives and its attorneys pursuant to state law, as set forth in Section 610.021 (1) RSMo, as amended, 2016. This meeting, record, and vote to be closed. Council shall adjourn at the end of the session.

Graves: I look forward to being a voice for rural America as we take up the Farm Bill

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

Agriculture is the backbone of our economy in North Missouri. Farmers encounter numerous challenges as they work to feed the world. Yet time and again, they prove that they are up to the challenge. We owe it to our farmers to make sure that the policies we put in place work for them.

Over the last five years, the farm economy has declined 52 percent! Droughts, floods and countless other effects of the weather, along with other uncertainties are just some of the inherent risks of being in agriculture.

Every few years, Congress takes a look at the current state of agriculture and writes legislation that you might know as the Farm Bill. As a sixth generation farmer, I know that as times change, so do the needs of our farmers. We must strengthen what is working and get rid of what isn’t.

The key to any piece of farm legislation is making sure that the protections we put in place ensure that our farmers can continue to succeed in a livelihood that has never been more important but has never been so difficult. Crop insurance programs must be maintained and strengthened so we ensure that one bad year or natural disaster doesn’t wipe out the family farm. Additionally, farmers will have an opportunity to pick the crop insurance program that works best for them. And, dairy and livestock programs will also be maintained and strengthened giving our producers needed certainty.

While it’s critical that we protect our farmers, I believe that the most helpful thing we can do in Washington in most situations is to get out of the way. I consistently hear about burdensome regulations that do the exact opposite. It doesn’t make any sense to put programs in place to help farmers and then tie them up in red tape. We must take every opportunity to do away with onerous rules.

At the same time, we must make sure that farmers in North Missouri can operate in the 21st Century. Technology is changing and improving farming every day. The farmer in the field is just as dependent on high speed internet as the banker in the big city. Ensuring that farmers, along with the rest of North Missouri, have access to high-speed broadband is critical for success. Giving the US Department of Agriculture the tools to make that happen will greatly move our rural way of life forward.

Agriculture is constantly changing. As always, I look forward to being a voice for rural America as we take up the Farm Bill. Our farmers’ way of life and the world’s supply of food is depends on it.

Jasper fireman held without bond on child molestation, sodomy charges

A Jasper man is being held without bond in the Jasper County Jail after the Jasper Police Department arrested him Tuesday on felony child molestation and sodomy charges.

Jared Taffner, 30, chief engineer for the Jasper Fire Protection District, allegedly molested an underage girl, who told interviewers at the Children's Center that he had used his mouth and fingers on her and that he put her on the bed, "laid on top of her for about 25 seconds and was moving a lot," according to the probable cause statement.

The child described four incidents that had taken place within the last year, the probable cause statement said.

After the police read him his rights, Taffner acknowledged that they might find evidence indicating that he had been on the girl's bed.

Josh Bard drops bid to remain on Joplin City Council

Josh Bard's bid to remain on the Joplin City Council has come to an end.

Bard shared the following announcement with the Turner Report earlier today:

I truly appreciate and am humbled by the support of our community. I want everyone to know that I have already started the expungement process and will be running in the 2020 election for City Council. I will be doing all that I can over the next year and a half to help our Police and Fire Departments, as well as working to change the statutes that directly affect those that are trying to better themselves.
Bard's decision came one day after Judge Dean Dankelson issued an order requiring him to answer allegations that he cannot serve on City Council because of a 2006 drug conviction.

Bard's attorney, Wes Barnum, filed a motion to dismiss today in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Missouri Veterans Commission names executive director

(From the Missouri Veterans Commission)
Following a national search and extensive review, the Missouri Veterans Commission announced that Colonel Grace Link has been named executive director of the commission which serves 485,000 Veterans of the state through the selfless service of 1,750 employees in seven State Veterans Homes, five State Veterans Cemeteries, and its Veterans Services Program.
The Veterans Commission selected Link last evening in a specially called commission meeting that was conducted by conference call.
Link, a Missouri National Guard colonel with 31 years of service, was appointed as interim executive director of the Missouri Veterans Commission on December 13, 2017.
“As interim executive director, Colonel Link has tirelessly devoted herself to making sure Missouri’s heroes get the care they deserve and are treated with respect and dignity,” Tim Noonan, Missouri Veterans Commission Chairman said. “She has made some tough calls. Grace not only understands that caring for the over 1,300 Missouri Veterans in our homes is a sacred trust, she recognizes that we have to take care of the people who take care of our Veterans. She is driving new levels of transparency and open communications among all stakeholders that include the commissioners, Veterans, their families, Veterans Service Organizations, volunteers, and all 1,750 teammates. She is changing the culture not just at our homes, but throughout the entire organization. Our goal is to be the best state for Veterans in the nation.”
“After more than three decades in the National Guard and assignments that ranged from logistics to operations overseas and most recently Director of Staff for the Missouri Air National Guard, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was tasked with leading the Veterans Commission on an interim basis,” Link said. “Over the last four months, I have come to love MVC’s mission – the daily challenges, the committed employees, and most of all, the Veterans and their families!  I can think of no better way to continue my military career than to help ensure the men and women, with whom I served, get the attention and care they deserve. I feel really blessed and very excited to be able to serve our veterans!”   
Link is the first woman to serve as executive director of the Missouri Veterans Commission. She earned a B.S. degree in electronics engineering technology from Missouri Western State University and an M.S. degree in civil engineering from Oklahoma State University.

State auditor's report shows conflicts of interest between MODOT, Highway Patrol and a vendor

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released a report outlining a series of questionable communications and actions by state employees that demonstrated clear conflicts of interest in administering the state's weigh in motion contract. Concerns about the nature of the relationship between a vendor and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and Missouri State Highway Patrol were reported in the media last spring.

Missouri, which has the nation's seventh largest highway system, uses electronic weigh station technology to allow trucking companies to bypass traditional weigh stations and provide data to the state. For the past 15 years, this service has been provided by HELP Inc., a nonprofit that contracts to utilize public resources to do business within the state. Trucking companies pay HELP, Inc. a subscription fee to use the service.

"Public private partnerships can improve the ability of the state to meet the needs of citizens, but only if the state ensures fairness and transparency on behalf of taxpayers," Auditor Galloway said. "In this case, there are clear indications of close working relationships that led to preferential treatment and conflicts of interest. That is no way for the State of Missouri to conduct business."

In 2014, Drivewyze, a competitor to HELP, Inc., contracted with the state for a pilot program to provide a similar service. However, the Auditor's report found that state employees with clear conflicts of interest showed preferential treatment to the existing vendor.

Auditors reviewed a series of communications from employees from the Highway Patrol and MoDOT, several of whom also served on the board for HELP, Inc. The communications reveal close working relationships with the private entity that cast doubt on their independence and may have led to bias in their decision making.

For example, Missouri employees attempted to influence contracting decisions in Texas, Kansas and Minnesota by advocating for one vendor (HELP, Inc.) and steering states away from competitors. In one instance, a state employee attended a conference and discussed the intention to endorse the services of HELP, Inc.

Within less than a year after leaving state employment, three state employees were subsequently hired by or contracted with HELP, Inc. Two of these former employees had business-related communications with the state, including with former subordinates.

Missouri law requires former state employees to wait at least a year after leaving state employment before performing any paid service in which they would attempt to influence decisions of an agency where they had supervisory duties. Former state employees also are prohibited from performing any paid service regarding any decision in which they were directly concerned or personally participated while they were employed by the state.

There was a further lack of transparency in these relationships because three state employees failed to properly disclose expenses paid to them on their personal financial disclosures to the Missouri Ethics Commission. In two instances, the disclosures were later amended to include board membership and expenses paid by the nonprofit.

"This report outlines years of improper communications and actions that led to one vendor being unfairly favored over another," Auditor Galloway said. "Just as concerning, is the appearance that these allegations were not taken seriously by state officials until much later as our work was bringing the details to light."

In April 2017, Auditor Galloway launched an audit after news reports and discussions with law enforcement about the issue. Missouri State Highway Patrol announced in May that an internal review was conducted and that its employees would no longer serve on the board of HELP, Inc. Audit staff were informed the review did not include a written report, but resulted in records being provided to the Attorney General's Office. There was no documentation of changes to internal policies as a result of the review.

Not until November 2017 -- while audit work was ongoing -- did MoDOT launch an internal review. As a result, in January 2018 MoDOT provided additional communications to auditors that include information not originally disclosed. In February 2018, MoDOT officials provided information to the Auditor's Office on internal actions taken to discipline employees and an update to internal conflict of interest policies.

Auditor Galloway has turned over records and information uncovered through the course of the audit to state and federal law enforcement authorities. The complete audit report is available here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

McCaskill: Our government cannot take a hands-off approach to the pharmaceutical industry

(From Sen. Claire McCaskill)

I've met far too many Missourians who have lost a loved one to the opioid epidemic. I've sat with families and heard heartbreaking stories. I've talked to parents who have come home and been powerless to help an overdosing child.

But instead of making the life-saving drugs that reverse these overdoses more affordable and more accessible to Missouri families, pharmaceutical companies have raised prices.

One brand of the anti-overdose drug naloxone increased in price by six hundred percent in only 3 years.


I just can't believe that. So last week I demanded that senior government officials join me in aggressively fighting these high costs, but they couldn't even give me a reason for these unconscionable price increases. That's unacceptable.

There are too many lives at stake for these officials to do nothing. The last thing a parent in this situation should have to worry about is the cost of a drug that could save their child's life.

I'm not stopping here. If we're truly going to tackle the opioid epidemic, our government can't take a hands-off approach to the pharmaceutical industry. Missourians' lives are at stake. And I'm here to fight for them.

Hawley campaign video doesn't deliver what it promises- McCaskill talking about the f-----g Russians

I was never under the impression that Sen. Claire McCaskill did not occasionally use profane language, but when I saw that Attorney General Josh Hawley's Senate campaign team was touting a video that had McCaskill blaming Hillary Clinton's loss on the f-----g Russians, I had to check it out.

The 25-second YouTube video doesn't deliver what it promises. It has an overly portentous narrator telling us that McCaskill said that and a reporter heard it on election night.

It appears more like the act of a flailing campaign which can't find anything to use against McCaskill, so it plans to say Hillary Clinton's name over and over and expect Missourians, in a Pavlovian reflex action, to vote for Hawley.

The news release from the Hawley campaign and the video are below:

Election night 2016: the most powerful country in the world is celebrating their voices once again being heard and their new president being elected. Even those who didn’t vote for our president understood that it was the will of the American people.

Except for Senator Claire McCaskill. When the results came in, Senator McCaskill said, “it was the F****** Russians.

Senator McCaskill is so out of touch with her own state, she cannot fathom that the president we voted for could possibly have been elected through the will of the people. In her mind, if Hillary Clinton isn't president, then the results don't count.

We deserve a senator who understands our state better than they understand Washington D.C. I promise to be that senator, and I need your help getting there.

Please show your support by donating to Team Hawley before April is over, and help us reach our end of the month fundraising goals. Together, we will make our voices heard in D.C. once again.

For Missouri,

Josh Hawley

Cynthia Davis: Make no laws against guns- laws can't cure evil-hearted people

(Note: The author, former Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, is the host of an internet talk show.)

Shortly after the last school shooting in Florida, we watched public forums to discuss remedies for school violence. The wrath of the left-leaning, anti-second amendment activists came down hard on the N.R.A. (National Rifle Association). Curiously, the Gun Owners of America escaped the fury. When I asked Larry Pratt, the Executive Director about this, he said it's because they don't negotiate.

You'd think these anti-gun activists would be more interested in attacking the Gun Owners of America, but perhaps they were concerned that their target would be too broad. Just the name implies a broader base.

I hope we can all see the hypocrisy for what it is. Please eliminate "gun violence" and "assault weapons" from your vocabulary. These terms are intended to make political statements and distract from the issues. Guns don't commit acts of violence. People can do violent acts with guns, knives, bricks, vehicles, razor blades, plates, lamps, you name it...if there's maliciousness in the heart, anything can become a weapon.

Law abiding citizens can be trusted with guns. When there is a higher density of protection and a self-protective philosophy among the herd, it keeps the bad guys at bay. If any of us were in a room during a mass-shooting in progress, we would rather have an informed citizen save our lives than to wait for the police to arrive and hold a discussion of who should enter first.

Using tragedies to strip us of our Constitutionally protected rights needs to stop! When something horrible happens, due to the evil in someone's heart, that's not the time to manipulate the Country to the left. Before jumping on the "more laws" bandwagon, first ask yourself, "Did this tragedy happen because we didn't have enough laws?" If you discover that the horrible events happened because of evil-hearted people, more laws can't cure that.

Let's be intelligent enough to treat each tragedy as a calamity, a disaster, a catastrophe and not take advantage of the hurting to push for laws that will hurt even more innocent people.

Monday, April 23, 2018

After two decades, arrest made in murders of Ashley Freeman, Lauria Bible, Freeman's parents

For the first time today, Oklahoma law enforcement officials acknowledged what everyone had feared for nearly two decades.

Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible, missing since 1999, were murdered years ago, a few days after the murder of Freeman's parents, Danny and Kathy Freeman.

And two of the three men who allegedly committed the murder, Phillip (Phil) Welch II and David A. Pennington, died years ago and will never be tried for the crimes.

The third man, Ronnie Dean Busick, 65, Wichita, (pictured) has been charged with four counts of first degree murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of first degree arson.

He has being held in a Kansas jail.

Details of what happened December 30, 1999, were detailed during a press conference earlier today by Craig County District Attorney Matt Ballard, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Aungela Spurlock and Craig County Sheriff Heath Winfrey. Members of the Freeman and Bible families were briefed this morning.

The press conference and the probable cause statement outlined a horror story in which the Freemans were murdered and their house burned to the ground as Welch and Pennington were allegedly attempting to collect on a drug debt.

Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible were kidnapped, kept alive for an unspecified number of days and sexually assaulted, according to the probable cause statement.

"Those young ladies' final days were certainly horrific," Ballard said.

Though the answer to who committed the crimes appears to have been answered, one mystery remains.

"We believe there are people with knowledge of this crime who can assist in recovering the girls' bodies and bring some closure to the families."

Witnesses with knowledge of the murders have been available all along, but lived in fear of Welch's threats to kill them and put them in the pits at Picher just as he had done with the two teens, the probable cause statement indicated.

Numerous people had seen photographs of the two girls bound and on a quilt that was identified as belonging to Welch.

"All three made multiple statements to people about their crimes," Ballard said.

A witness referred to as WH in the probable cause statement said he believed the three men were involved in the murder and that Welch and Pennington had referred to the missing girls as "them two little bitches" and said if "they wouldn't have taken off running from one of their vehicles they would still be alive.

Another witness, AS, reported overhearing the three man talking about the murders when they were intoxicated and did not know she was listening. She said that Welch was the triggerman and the other two were accomplices. When the girls came out of the room unexpectedly, the three men did not know what to do with them and took them with them, she said.