Saturday, November 30, 2019

Judge sets conditions for release of Carl Junction bus driver charged with statutory sodomy, sexual contact with a student

During a bond reduction hearing Wednesday in Jasper County Circuit Court, Judge Joseph Hensley issued guidelines for the release of former Carl Junction R-1 bus driver Dennis Frakes, 67, who is awaiting trial on felony statutory sodomy and sex with a student charges.

The conditions were stipulated after consulting with the victim and victim advocate who indicated they would be concerned if Frakes is released and remains in Jasper County, but would not be as concerned if he lived elsewhere.

Hensley said Frakes should not be released any earlier than Friday and could be released to his son, who lives in Lee's Summit.

Frakes will be required to wear an ankle monitor at all times and must not have contact with anyone younger than 18.

Hensley's ruling said Frakes can only come to Jasper County for scheduled court hearings or doctor visits, but the court must be notified of the doctor visits.

The most recent posting of a roster of Jasper County Jail inmates still lists Frakes, but that has not been updated since Friday.

The probable cause statement said Frakes admitted to fondling a high school girl multiple times in an off-campus setting. He also is accused of touching her genital area during a school band competition on the Missouri Southern State University campus March 27, 2015.

The girl was under age 17 at the time, according to the statement.

Two murders that shocked southwest Missouri- two children, two small towns changed forever. Lost Angels: The Murders of Rowan Ford and Doug Ringler is available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon.

Serial drunk driver who killed Joplin 8-year-old, Neosho man in 2004 sentenced to four years on DWI charge

Judge Joseph Schoeberl imposed the maximum sentence for Edward Meerwald November 22 in Newton County Circuit Court, placing the serial drunk driver behind bars for four years.

The sentence was imposed after Schoeberl overruled the motion by Meerwald's lawyer, public defender Charles G. Oppelt to suppress evidence obtained during his May 3 arrest in Joplin and Meerwald withdrew his not guilty plea.

The case had been scheduled for a December 12 trial in McDonald County, where it had been moved on a change of venue.

The drunk driving arrest occurred while Meerwald, 65, Noel, was awaiting trial on a McDonald County DWI charge.

An off-duty Joplin Police Department officer noticed Meerwald behaving erratically while he was at Hideout Harley Davidson and became concerned that Meerwald might drive when he left the business.
From the probable cause statement:

As Meerwald was leaving the store, he was stumbling and staggering as he walked toward the front door.

Upon opening the door, Meerwald almost fell onto the ground.

The officer informed me of the male and advised if he were to leave while operating a vehicle he needed to be stopped immediately.

I observed (Meerwald) driving his 2016 Chevrolet Colorado eastbound out of the parking lot. I initiated an investigative traffic stop on the vehicle and made contact with Meerwald. I observed a strong odor of intoxicants coming from his person and his eyes to be bloodshot/glassy.

Meerwald pleaded guilty to the McDonald County DWI November 14, under a plea bargain agreement that would ensure him of receiving a concurrent four-year sentence.

Judge Kevin Selby has the option of not accepting the plea bargain. Sentencing in that case is scheduled for 9 a.m. January 30.

Meerwald was the driver who was behind the wheel and driving impaired on July 30, 2004 on MO 86 when he ran off the road and killed Jessica Mann, 8, Joplin, and her grandfather, Jim Dodson, 69, Neosho.

The vehicle Meerwald was driving at a high rate of speed ran off Highway 86 and ran into the eight-year-old and her grandfather killing them.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and served time in prison.

Two murders that shocked southwest Missouri- two children, two small towns changed forever. Lost Angels: The Murders of Rowan Ford and Doug Ringler is available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon.

Video- Astronauts Janet Kavandi and Snoopy at Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

While it was nowhere near the thrill this area received when she made her first of three trips on the space shuttle in 1998, it was still great to see Carthage High School and Missouri Southern State University graduate Janet Kavandi spotlighted Thursday during the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.

Kavandi retired from NASA earlier this year after serving as director of the Glenn Research Center.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Billy Long: The failure of broadband mapping and how we can fix it

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

The federal government spends billions of dollars each year on rural broadband deployment, yet millions of Americans lack basic access to broadband services.

Unfortunately, rural communities are hit the hardest and only 65 percent of rural areas (compared to 97 percent of urban areas) have access to high-speed fixed service, in what has been described as the “digital divide.” 

To help bridge this gap, it is crucial federal broadband programs are using accurate data and up-to-date maps to target the areas that need the funding the most.

Two federal agencies, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), have roles in collecting and coordinating broadband data. 

In 2009, NTIA launched a State Broadband Initiative (SBI), which brought together states and non-profit organizations to better integrate broadband and information technology at the local level. Another aspect of this program was to better collect data on availability, speed and location of broadband services. 

Once collected, this information was imported into a map, known as the National Broadband Map. This provided consumers, policy makers and businesses more accurate information on what broadband services are available and where. However, data was last collected and published in 2014.

In 2018, the FCC built on NTIA’s efforts and released a new Fixed Broadband Deployment map. This updated map includes data collected by carriers, known as Form 477, which is required to be filed twice a year. 

Although the FCC took steps to ensure data on availability, speed and location is still collected, that data doesn’t always produce the most accurate results. What users found out is when they would enter their address to search for providers the results would include providers not in their area. This was because the data collected is as specific as census blocks, which means entering addresses yields results that can span across counties rather than just specific isolated areas.

It’s going to take a collaborative effort to collect accurate and granular broadband coverage data and create an updated National Broadband Map. The FCC is currently taking action to improve its broadband mapping efforts and has looked at proposals from several businesses and associations that have weighed in on the matter. 

Earlier this year, US Telecom launched a Broadband Mapping Initiative, beginning with a pilot program in Missouri and Virginia. The goal of this program is to help fill the gaps by creating a Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric through aggregating all locations in the state and identifying their geolocation, which will help identify areas with and without broadband access. After four months, the results were in and confirmed the concept not only works but can be implemented nationwide.

Congress is also doing its part. Recently, I joined my colleagues, Democrat Reps. Donald McEachin, Dave Loebsack and Republican Rep. Bob Latta to introduce H.R. 4229 – the Broadband DATA Act and H.R. 4227 – the MAPS Act.

The Broadband DATA Act will improve the accuracy of FCC broadband data maps by changing the way broadband data is collected and the MAPS Act will help hold broadband providers accountable by making it against the law to knowingly provide inaccurate data to the FCC. 

Last week the Energy and Commerce Committee advanced both bills unanimously and they now await full consideration before the House of Representatives and are expected to pass before the end of the year. I look forward to passing this legislation and working towards a more connected future.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Agenda posted for Monday Joplin City Council meeting

Monday, December 2, 2019
6:00 P.M., Council Chambers

Call To Order

Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America

Roll Call




Joplin High School Student Council President Faron Haase Will Present An Update To City Council On Joplin Schools Events.


Recognition Of City Board And Commission Members Who Have Completed Terms This Year.


NLC Service Line Program Presented By Ashley Shiwarksi, Director Of Business Development For Utility Partners, Inc.


Finalization Of Consent Agenda


Reports And Communications


Citizen Requests And Petitions

Newsmakers video- Interview with MSSU Board of Governors members Alison Hershewe, Bill Gipson

In the accompanying "Newsmakers" interview, Judy Stiles interviews Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors members Bill Gipson and Alison Hershewe.

Paul Richardson: No place for old noses

Gifts are often an act of futility, representing what the bearer has either invested in or simply made a rush decision to obtain in order to meet social conventions.

It was in 1982 and the good wife and I were living in the depths of Clark National Forest. We had obtained the position as caretakers on a property that was owned by a doctor in Saint Louis.

While there were certain tasks that were required it did come with a residence in one of the most scenic and remote places in the state. We had a close friend that had went through some personal trauma and the cancellation of a wedding who took solace in our location by tent camping on our front lawn for a good portion of the summer.

It was on my birthday that this friend gave me a gift that went beyond social convention. The gift was personal, thoughtful and represented the depths of our relationship. While simple in construction, it was deep in content. The construction consisted of a framed handmade document, nothing more, but the content had extensive implications.

Over the years and after a few various abodes, the location of the gift is unknown at the moment, but it is in the house somewhere. While the physical location of the document is out of sight, the content is still in my mind and soul. On my birthday in 1982 I was inducted into and given full privileges as a member of the Non-Existent Occidental Society of Exiles, i.e.: NOSE.

This was not a reflection of my physical attributes as everyone knows I have a freakishly small nose in relation to the rest of my being. My friend on the other hand had one of those honkers that would cause one to wonder, “Is that his nose or is he eating a ham’? No, this was a reflection on our relationship and the fact that he had stuck his nose in my business. I was in the midst of a very tumultuous period in my life. The consequences of his “sticking his nose in my business” affected me in every aspect of my being. It affected me physically, emotionally and eventually, spiritually.

Without going into every detail of the body of the text included in the gift, he did address the depths and meaning of our friendship. We continued that friendship into the years that followed. He originated from the Grand Island, Nebraska area, returning there later in 1982. We saw him on occasion over the following years as he married a gal that had a couple of aunts that resided in Carthage. We lost track and then in 2010 I was able to locate him in North Carolina.

NOSE members kindly request that you keep your nose out of our business, but we won’t necessarily keep ours out of yours! I think it is time to track my friend down once more and stick my nose in his business!

(Paul Richardson's column, The Horse I Rode In On, is published weekly in the Neosho Daily News, Seneca News-Dispatch and on the Turner Report.)


The people, places and events of Newton County in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s come to life in Newton County Memories available in paperback and e-book formats at Amazon.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Joplin city manager search delayed as three of the five finalists withdraw from consideration

(From the City of Joplin)

The Joplin City Council held a special meeting today to discuss the search for the City Manager position.

During the closed session, Council members decided to reopen the search for candidates to apply. After selecting the top five applicants for final interviews, the pool recently narrowed to two because one candidate accepted another position, and other two candidates withdrew stating ‘for personal reasons’.

“It was the Council’s intent to bring three or four candidates to Joplin for interviews,” said Mayor Gary Shaw. 

“We owe it to our citizens to bring a strong panel of applicants for the position, so we’ve decided to re-start the process and start fresh in 2020.”

City Council will ask Strategic Government Resources, Keller, Texas, the search firm initially hired by the group, to repost the City of Joplin’s proposal seeking a City Manager. There will be no additional fee for this continued search fee.

“It is our hope to have a first look of potential candidates in early 2020,” said Shaw.

Judge orders Joplin man held without bond on child pornography charges

A Joplin man will remain behind bars while awaiting trial on federal child pornography charges.

Following arguments this afternoon in U. S. District Court in Springfield, Judge David P. Rush ordered John Caleb Price, 31, held without bond.

In the detention motion, the assistant U. S. attorney said Price had images and videos of child pornography, some with infants and that Price admitted he had a sexual attraction for children.

A federal grand jury indictment against Price was unsealed November 21 and alleges he possessed and distributed child pornography between January 1, 2018 and June 25, 2019, in Jasper County.

Highway Patrol official: Upgraded system will enable Amber Alerts to reach the public faster

(From the Missouri State Highway Patrol)

Colonel Eric T. Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, announces the Patrol has launched an upgraded Missouri AMBER Alert system that streamlines the process to get alerts to the public faster. The new system includes wireless emergency alerts, automated social media alerts, and a public website,, which provides the latest information on AMBER Alerts active in Missouri at any time.

Under state law, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has responsibility for initiating AMBER Alerts when a missing child meets the criteria set forth in Section 210.1012 RSMo.

The new Patrol alert system directly utilizes FEMA's Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) to deliver AMBER Alert messages to cellular carriers, eliminating a step in the previous system, which first delivered alert messages to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for distribution.

Each AMBER Alert will include photos and descriptions of the missing child and suspect, if available. The new system’s automatic alert updates are designed to reduce the possibility that outdated information will continue to be shared on social media. This new system also will automatically update the Patrol's Facebook and GHQ Twitter accounts.

The MO Alerts website allows members of the media and public to subscribe to emailed AMBER Alerts. Subscribers receive immediate notification any time details contained within an active AMBER Alert are updated. Anyone interested may subscribe to MO Alerts by going to, selecting “Subscribe to MO Alerts” on the left side of the webpage, entering their email address, and clicking “Subscribe.” Subscribers will receive a verification email and must click on the link provided to complete the process.

Many factors affect the speed at which AMBER Alerts reach the public, including cellular phone carriers and broadcaster capabilities and protocol. It is the hope of the Missouri State Highway Patrol that the new system can help reduce the critical minutes between when an AMBER Alert is initiated and when the media and public are notified. Streamlining this process and continuously providing up-to-the-minute information increases the likelihood of successfully recovering the missing child.

The system has been fully tested internally and on FEMA's IPAWS test servers. The Patrol continually looks for ways to improve the overall alert notification process.

First signings scheduled for The Buck Starts Here: Harry S. Truman and the City of Lamar

The first official signing for my book, The Buck Starts Here: Harry S. Truman and the City of Lamar is scheduled for 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, December 5, at the Mary K. Finley Library in Lamar.

The book, which was published earlier this month, is the first book completely devoted to the story of the 33rd President of the United States and the small town where he was born on May 8, 1884.

The following week, I will be at Always Buying Books, Joplin, from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, December 14 for the first Joplin signing.

The books are available at the Lamar Democrat newspaper office, and Always Buying Books, Changing Hands Book Shoppe and The Book Guy in Joplin.

It is also available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon at the links below and can also be purchased from other online retail outlets.

Watch the Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting live

DNR approves $44,000 grant for Seneca to evaluate wastewater system

(From the Missouri Department of Natural Resources)

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has awarded a total of $216,000 in Small Community Engineering Assistance Program grants to five communities to evaluate their wastewater systems. The grant offers funding to qualifying small communities to help cover engineering costs for evaluating wastewater system improvements.

Receiving grant funding are the cities of Mendon ($32,000), New Florence ($50,000), Rockaway Beach ($40,000), Seneca ($44,000) and Wheaton ($50,000).

Each city will use the grants to identify improvements needed to reduce inflow and infiltration of stormwater into sewer collection pipes.

Mendon will also evaluate wastewater facility upgrades necessary to provide reliable treatment of wastewater. Engineering reports funded through the grant will be complete within the next two years.


“Every citizen and every community deserves clean water,” said Ed Galbraith, director of the department’s Division of Environmental Quality.

“These grants help communities identify improvements to protect our water while keeping utility rates affordable.”

The department is committed to assisting Missouri communities with water and wastewater infrastructure improvement projects. Through its Financial Assistance Center, the department provides funding opportunities for communities with water quality, wastewater and drinking water infrastructure needs.

For more information about wastewater and drinking water funding opportunities, visit

Judge denies bond reduction for former Webb City teacher charged with statutory sodomy

During a video arraignment Monday, Jasper County Circuit Court Judge John Nicholas denied a bond reduction request from former Webb City Junior High School teacher/coach Nicholas Popejoy, who is being held on a $100,000 cash-only bond after being charged with felony statutory sodomy.

Popejoy, 28, Arma, Kansas, pleaded not guilty and told Nicholas he intended to apply for a public defender. A bond hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. December 4 at the Jasper County Courthouse in Joplin before Judge Joseph Hensley.

A probable cause statement filed in Jasper County Circuit Court alleges Popejoy, who was in his sixth year in teaching in the R-7 School District, touched a boy's testicles under his clothing November 15 at the school.

He was placed on leave that day, resigned the following Monday and was arrested Friday when he returned to the school to pick up his belongings.

Agenda posted for tonight's Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education will meet 7 p.m. today at the Memorial Education Building.

A 6 p.m closed session will be held beforehand to discuss real estate and personnel

A. Call to Order
1. Roll Call
B. Pledge of Allegiance

C. Approval of Agenda - Action
D. Reports

1. Board President's Report
a. Celebrations - Info. (Sharrock Dermott)
b. BOE Policy Committee (B. Jordan and D. Gould)
2. Superintendent's Data Report
a. Health & Dental Plan Update - Info. (Dr. Lankford)
b. Financial Statements - Info. (Dr. Lankford)
c. Enrollment Report - Info. (Dr. Moss) 

E. Public Comments Regarding Agenda Action Items

F. Consent Agenda - Action

1. Minutes - Action (Pat Waldo)

2. Consent Contracts - Action (Dr. Moss)
a. Contract Between Crowder College and the Southwest Missouri Special Services Cooperative - Action (Sandra Cantwell)
b. Service Agreement Between Ellevation Education - Action (Sandra Cantwell) 

3. School Resource Officer Agreement - Action (Dr. Sachetta) 

4. Fuel Bid - Action (Dr. Sachetta) 

5. Policy Updates for Second Reading - Action (Dr. Moss)
a. Policy BCC: Appointed Board Officials - (Dr. Lankford)
b. Policy DH: Bonded Employees and Officers (Dr. Lankford)
c. Policy DI: Fiscal Accounting and Reporting/Accounting System (Dr. Lankford)
d. Policy EBBA: Illness and Injury Response and Prevention (Sandra Cantwell)
e. Policy JHC: Student Health Services and Requirements (Sandra Cantwell)
f. Policy KK: Visitors to District Property/Events (Sachetta/Mwangi) 

G. Regular Agenda

1. Accounts Payable - Action (Dr. Lankford) 

2. Eureka Math Summer Professional Development - Action (Sarah Mwangi) 

3. Flooring and Insulation Project at Royal Heights Elementary - Action (Dr. Sachetta) 

4. Approve Resolution for April 7, 2020 School Board Election - Action (Dr. Moss)

5. Policy Updates for First Reading - Action (Dr. Moss)
a. Policy EHBC: Data Governance and Security (Eric Pitcher)
b. Policy GBCB: Staff Conduct - Action (Justin Crawford)
c. Policy GBCBB: Protected Staff Communications - Action (Justin Crawford)
d. Policy GCL: Professional Staff Development Opportunities - Action (Justin Crawford) 

H. Plus/Deltas - Info. (Dr. Moss)

I. Adjourn - Action

Bond hearing today for Seneca man charged with beating wife, daring deputies to shoot him, infant son

A Seneca man charged with domestic assault, endangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest pleaded not guilty during a video arraignment Thursday in Newton County Circuit Court and will have a bond reduction hearing this morning.

Vincent Omega Fendelander, 31, is being held without bond in the Newton County Jail.

Newton County deputies rushed to Fendelander's home November 17 after receiving a 911 call from his wife who said he was drunk and had hit her in the face, threw her to the ground and choked her from behind, according to the probable cause statement.

Part of the physical abuse had occurred as they were driving home with their infant son in the vehicle, the wife said.

She called deputies after Fendelander left in "a drunken rage," taking the child with him.

She reported he was flinging the child around unsafely and then fled with the baby into the woods.

The situation grew even worse after that, according to the probable cause statement.

Deputies located Fendelander around an hour after the initial call in a wooded area about one mile from the house. The infant was under Fendelander's shirt and he was attempting to hide. It was about 40 degrees outside at this time.

Fendelander yelled at deputies and was uncooperative, saying, "Just shoot me," and he was trying to retreat further into the woods.

For the safety of the child, deputies grabbed Fendelander and ordered him to stop. He struggled, trying to pull away and escape. Once he couldn't pull away, he squared up as if about to fight and tried to muscle his arms away from deputies holding him. Deputies were forced to wrestle Fendelander to the ground to prevent his escape.

The child was eventually able to be pulled from under Fendelander's sweatshirt with no apparent injury other than a bump above his right ear. The child was checked my EMS staff and released to the mother.


Two children, two murders, two small Missouri communities that will never be the same. Lost Angels: The Murders of Rowan Ford and Doug Ringler is available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon and locally at Always Buying Books, Changing Hands Book Shoppe and The Book Guy in Joplin and Granby Auto Supply and Hardware.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Detention motion: Joplin man's computer had images, videos of infants being sexually abused

A Joplin man who was indicted by a federal grand jury last week on child pornography charges had
images and videos of children being sexually abused, according to a detention motion filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

According to the document, John Caleb Price, 31, also admitted he had a sexual attraction to children.

Price came to the attention of law enforcement officers after he posted child pornography images on Twitter and Tumblr.

From the motion:

The defendant confessed that he had deliberately downloaded depictions of child pornography from the Internet. The defendant also informed the investigators that he had communicated with at least one minor female via the Internet. 

Several devices seized during the execution of the search warrant were forensically examined. Hundreds of images and videos depicting children, as young as infants, being sexually abused were located. 

The evidence against the defendant is overwhelming. This Court is obligated to consider “the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the offense… involves a minor victim. Both the nature and circumstances of the offense, as well as the defendant’s admitted sexual attraction to children, strongly suggest that the defendant presents a clear danger to the community. 

The detention hearing will be held 1:45 p.m. Tuesday in Springfield before Judge David P. Rush.

The Buck Starts Here: Harry S. Truman and the City of Lamar, the first book to tell the story of the 33rd President of the United States and the city where he was born, is available now in paperback and e-book formats from at the links below or locally at the Lamar Democrat office in Lamar and The Book Guy, Always Buying Books and Changing Hands Book Shoppe in Joplin.

Probable cause: Webb City teacher touched boy's testicles under his clothing

A probable cause statement filed in Jasper County Circuit Court indicates Webb City Junior High School teacher Nicholas Popejoy touched a boy's testicles under his clothing November 15.

Popejoy, 28, Arma, Kansas, who faces a felony statutory sodomy charge, was placed on leave that day and the Webb City Police Department began its investigation.

Popejoy, who teaches math and science and is in his sixth year in the R-7 School District, was arrested Friday at the school when he stopped to pick up his belongings and is being held in the Jasper County Jail on a $100,000 cash-only bond.

Court records indicate Popejoy is being represented by Springfield attorney Teresa Lynn Grantham.

His arraignment was scheduled for 12:30 p.m. today in Jasper County Circuit Court. This post will be updated to reflect the results.


The Buck Starts Here: Harry S. Truman and the City of Lamar, the first book to tell the story of the 33rd President of the United States and the city where he was born is available now in paperback and e-book formats from at the links below or locally at the Lamar Democrat office in Lamar and Changing Hands Book Shoppe, The Book Guy and Always Buying Books in Joplin.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Police: Teacher/coach Nick Popejoy allegedly committed act of statutory sodomy at Webb City Junior High

Webb City Junior High School math and science teacher and coach Nicholas Popejoy is being held in the Webb
City Jail on a $100,000 cash-only bond after being arrested Friday on a statutory sodomy charge.

Popejoy, 28, Webb City, has been with the Webb City R-7 School District since 2014 and has been a junior high basketball and track coach and more recently freshman basketball coach.

Before he was hired at Webb City, Popejoy was a junior high track coach at USD 249 in Frontenac, Kansas from 2012 to 2014 and served as a youth tutor at the school while attending Pittsburg State University.

Outside of the district, Popejoy has coached the Southwest Missouri Vault Club and between July 28 and August 3, he accompanied five pole vaulters to Greensboro, North Carolina for an AAU Junior Olympics competition.

R-7 officials placed Popejoy on leave November 15 and was arrested at the school week later when he arrived to pick up his belongings, according to a report from Shannon Becker with Joplin News First and Four States Home Page.

In a news release issued today, the Webb City Police Department revealed that Popejoy's alleged crime occurred at the school:

On Friday, November 22, 2019 at about 17:00 hours Nicholas A. Popejoy (a 28-year old white male from Webb City) was arrested at 807 West First Street in Webb City for probable cause Child Molestation-3rd degree. 

 The arrest stems from an allegation of sexual misconduct that reportedly occurred on Friday, November 15, 2019 at 807 West First Street in Webb City.

We appreciate the public’s patience and cooperation as we diligently conduct our investigation into this incident. 

 The safety of our citizens, especially our children, is our utmost priority. We are asking that anyone with any additional information in this or any similar case please contact Detective Sergeant Joe Beckett with the Webb City Police Department (417 673-1911).

The accompanying video is from Joplin News First and the KSN/KODE You Tube page.

Kay Hively: The tale of the whale ring

With Christmas closing in on us, I start getting a few gifts together. I don’t give many, but I try to do or give other things.

As I grow older, I have come to get a thrill out of finding the “perfect” gift for those people I do remember with a present, Usually, the “perfect” is something that comes out of my house or is some kind of heritage piece.

One thing I may give this year is a ring. The ring is made of whale bone.

Many, many years ago a young man, named John, was madly in love with one of my aunts. John was in the Navy and while on a long deployment that took him away for several months, he spent part of his free time carving a ring for Lulu, the girl he loved.

Using one piece of whale bone, he fashioned the ring putting two hearts blended together. He carved a “J” on one heart and an “L” on the other.

I am sure the ring has no commercial value but it was worth a million dollars to John and his sweetheart.

John and Lulu were married on his return from sea. They lived in sunny California and had a great life. Lulu was a “bit” actress and John worked in a large foundry which made train wheels.
Although Lulu had a big diamond ring, she loved and kept the little whale bone ring. After a long marriage, both Lulu and John died. they never had children so when they were gone, someone packed in their things and sent them to my dad in Oklahoma.

Many interesting things came from California. When the dust settled I received the ring, which had remained perfect, except it had turned brown. The “J” and the “L” were still perfectly positioned on the two hearts.
As I looked through their photo albums and saw their lives, I have come to see their love for each other.

Their photos recorded their lives, their travels and their personalties. There are photos of Uncle John, a powerful-built man, lofting one of those train wheels over his head. He is said to be the only man in the factory, who could do that.

There are photos of Aunt Lulu with her beautiful flower garden at their home in Huntington Beach. There are pictures of their travels, including a memorable trip to see our family in Oklahoma.
Looking at the ring that John carved for Lulu I must determine who will get it.

But between, you and me, I may not be able to let go of it.

(Kay Hively is an author, historian and former editor, reporter and columnist for the Neosho Daily News and Neosho Post.)

Nancy Hughes: Can I come home?

“. . . and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Psalm 23:6 (NIV)

My youngest daughter always got invited to slumber parties while growing up. It almost seemed like she got an invitation every week. And she truly wanted to go and to stay overnight. There was always so much fun! There were endless bowls of popcorn and cans of soda and movies and giggling and serious conversations with her friends.

Sleep didn’t come until the early morning hours. And therein was the problem: she loved it all and couldn’t wait to go . . . until it came time to sleep. She always had to come home. Not our choice, but hers.

We knew that there would be a phone call about 1 or 2 a.m. and a sweet little voice would say “Mom, I’m not feeling well. Can I come home?” and we would quickly drive to her friend’s house and pick her up.

It wasn’t that she didn’t like her friends or that she didn’t enjoy herself at the parties. It was simply that, when it came time to rest for the night, she needed to be in her home, her bed, and with her family.

We talked with her to see if there was a fear of leaving us or another reason for her always needing to come home. She simply said “When it’s nighttime, I want to be with my family; I just want to be home.”

By definition, home means “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.” But it meant so much more than that to our daughter.

It was a place to rest, to relax and to know that, no matter what, her father would be there to watch over her and the rest of the family. She felt secure in knowing that when she went to sleep, she was safe in her home
Oh my friends, could I encourage you to never leave God’s home? I know that we live in a world that begs us to stay and enjoy what it has to offer: endless “slumber parties” with food and drink and laughter and conversations with friends.

And while those things themselves are not bad, there is a danger in thinking that this world is truly our home and what we have here will last forever. It . . . will . . . not. This world offers temporary residence while our Father offers a permanent residence within His will and in His home.

So I encourage each of you to please examine your hearts and if you realize that you are acting as if this world is your permanent residence, do what my daughter did: call home! Our Father is waiting for the call and longing to pull you back into the safety and security of His presence.

Can I come home? Absolutely.

Father, how thankful I am that you have a permanent home for me, with you. I praise you that I can call you when I am outside of your house and your will and you will pull me back into the safety of you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up. . .


Have you ever written down one week’s events or appointments in your life?

Were any of those events or appointments focused solely on the Lord?


Journal all of your activities for one week.

Do they reflect a person who views this world as a temporary or a permanent home?


Psalm 23:6 (NIV) “…and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Matthew 11:28 (NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Psalm 90:1 (NIV) “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.”

(For more of Nancy Hughes' writing, check out her blog, Encouragement from the War Room.)

Kim Frencken: Negative attitudes can dampen student enthusiasm

I've heard teachers complaining about their students lack of excitement. And in the same breath, they admit that they don't blame them. Has a colleague ever shared that her students just weren't that interested in ______? Or maybe it was you? Maybe your kids have been less than enthused about a subject in your class.

Did you ever think that maybe it was you? Our enthusiasm, or lack of it, rubs off on our kids. I've been guilty of conveying my personal feelings about a subject or topic, and I've let my feelings show without much effort in covering them up.

The truth is.... some subjects are more fun to teach than others. At least for me. I plowed through diagramming sentences. It brought back too many painful memories from my school days. I put on a determined face and drug my students through the mud of placing the parts of speech on the correct line.

Other teachers loved teaching sentence diagramming. They used colored markers and sentence strips. I still have boxes full of left over sentence strips and dried up markers. 

No matter how colorful I made it, the bottom line ... it was still boring to me. And because it was boring to me... That's right. It was boring to my students. I don't know who was happier, me or my students, when diagramming was finally (and not a minute too soon) deemed unnecessary.

In fact, writing in general has never been my thing. I spend lots of time second guessing myself and looking up rules- making sure I'm following them (or in the case of blogging- enjoying the freedom of not following them). 

Grading essays was sheer torture. I'm sure my students felt the same way writing them. I did try. Honest. I looked for ways that would make writing a narrative something that anyone would like to do. I tried every suggestion from experienced teachers. But the excitement was missing.

In retrospect, I realize that my lack of enthusiasm probably hurt a lot of my students. On the flip side, my enthusiasm probably engaged students that would rather sleep while the Civil War was fought. It all comes down to atmosphere. Remember the old saying, "If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy?" That goes for teachers too. If we are not excited about teaching, how can our students be excited about learning?
(For more of Kim Frencken's writing, check out her blog, Chocolate For the Teacher.)

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Jason Smith: All Trump did was tell Ukraine president he wanted him to do the right thing

(From Eighth District Congressman Jason Smith)

The Ukrainians got a call from President Trump.

The Ukrainians got a meeting with President Trump.

The Ukrainians got security assistance from President Trump.

What did the President get in return? Nothing. Case Closed.

In fact, just this week, in the latest update on the impeachment circus, we heard from the Left’s newest “star witness” who had actually spoken with the President about Ukraine.

And under oath what did this witness tell a panel of 22 Members of Congress and millions of Americans watching at home? That the President told him he wanted “NOTHING” from Ukraine and that he simply wanted the President of Ukraine to “do the right thing.” That should be game over; the President never forced Ukraine to do anything and Ukraine got the aid without doing anything! Can Congress finally get back to work now?

Unfortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her cronies in Congress will continue to drag this charade out, further stalling Congress and hurting the American people.

Anyone willing to look a few weeks ahead knows that any articles of impeachment against President Trump will fail woefully in the United States Senate.

Instead of admitting defeat, Pelosi is digging in and proving these investigations were never about the sanctity of our Republic or our government, but about her party’s chances in 2020.

Just this week she got caught directly tying the ongoing impeachment investigation to the upcoming elections.

Pelosi actually conducted political messaging polling to determine which accusation her voters thought sounded most impeachable. Can you believe this? Pelosi has resorted to using political polling to determine what the latest charge in their impeachment-at-all-costs strategy will be. While everyone has known that impeaching the President is a political exercise for them, it is still amazing that they’re not even bothering to hide it anymore.

Self-declared socialist, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC), openly admitted this week that impeachment “is about preventing a potentially disastrous outcome” of President Trump’s re-election. Not to be outdone by a radical freshman, Speaker Pelosi also acknowledged that it was a dangerous position to allow the voters to decide on President Trump. 

While I’m glad they’re finally being honest about their intentions, it’s still incredibly disturbing to hear the Speaker of the House say she does not trust the American people to choose the next President. 

This is exactly the kind of political games for personal gain our Founders feared the impeachment clause could be exploited for and warned us about when they were ratifying the Constitution. 

In Federalist No. 65, Alexander Hamilton explained that with impeachment, “there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.” These actions erode the people’s faith in government and destroy our ability to address even the most basic issues facing our country.

If you don’t believe me, just look at what happened this week. Speaker Pelosi has become so obsessed with impeachment that she is unable to manage fundamental aspects of her job. That’s why earlier this week she hastily threw together a short-term funding agreement and then forced Congress to accept it just as the clock was running out on government funding. 

We don’t even have a budget to base this funding off of. The House Budget Committee, on which I serve, is supposed to have a budget approved by April 15th, yet over 200 days later, Democrat Leadership continues to drag their feet.

If the Left continues to use this scorched earth policy for impeaching the President, they are going to leave the American people holding the bag for their own legislative misconduct. That’s the real crime here.

Webb City Junior High teacher/coach arrested on child molestation charge

A Webb City Junior High School teacher and coach was arrested 5 p.m. Friday on child molestation charges.

Neither the Webb City Police Department nor the Webb City R-7 School District named the teacher involved, but the Turner Report has confirmed the man arrested is an eighth grade science teacher who is in his sixth year with the district and who has coached basketball and track at the junior high and high school levels and supervised young athletes in AAU Junior Olympics activities during the summer.

The Webb City Police Department issued the following statement:

On Friday, November 15, 2019 at approximately 20:00 hours officers with the Webb City Police Department were dispatched to 621 North Madison Street in Webb City in reference to a report of sexual misconduct. 

 Officers met with Webb City School District administrators and immediately assisted them with measures to protect students along with initiating an investigation into the allegation. The incident reportedly had occurred earlier the same day at 807 West First Street in Webb City. 

As a result of our investigation, on Friday, November 22, 2019 at about 17:00 hours a 28-year old white male from Webb City was arrested for Child Molestation-3rd degree. 

 Probable cause paperwork has been forwarded to the Jasper County Prosecutor’s Office for their review. The name of the suspect will not be released pending the filing of a formal charge from the Jasper County Prosecutor’s Office.

We appreciate the public’s patience and cooperation as we diligently continue our investigation. The safety of our citizens, especially our children, is our utmost priority. We are asking that anyone with any additional information in this or any similar incident to contact Detective Sergeant Joe Beckett with the Webb City Police Department (417 673-1911). 

The Webb City R-7 School District released this statement:

On Friday, November 15, 2019, school officials were made aware of an allegation of inappropriate contact between a Junior High Teacher/Coach and a student. Subsequently the staff member was placed on leave and immediately relieved of all duties.

The appropriate authorities were notified and the District has been cooperating with the ongoing investigation. 

The importance of keeping our students safe cannot be overstated. Our staff members have passed all required background checks and receive training on how to positively interact with students. Failure to do so is a breach of trust with our students and parents and will not be tolerated by anyone.

The Board of Education and the District’s administrators and staff are committed to protecting our students and ensuring they have a safe learning environment and takes any allegations of misconduct seriously. 

We are committed to making all schools a place of learning, fun and ensuring all students are safe in the process.Due to the ongoing investigation, the District is not in a position to comment or share information.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Fifty-six years ago today

Class dismissed early 56 years ago today at Midway Elementary.

Word had spread quickly that President John F. Kennedy, the only president most of the second graders could remember, had been murdered.

As we headed to the bus a couple of hours earlier than usual, I remember the conversation. My classmates did not believe it. 

"You can't kill the president" one girl said.

"They killed Abraham Lincoln," I said, having just read a small paperback biography of the 16th president. I knew nothing of the assassinations of Garfield and McKinley.

That weekend my eyes were glued to the small black-and-white television in the living room. I watched as one man, Jack Ruby, murdered another one, presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, on live television- the first time that had ever happened. It was only on one network, but that was the network I happened to be watching.

The Kennedy assassination was the first time that television took over the coverage of an event and dominated the newspapers because of its immediacy. Now it is something we expect.

On the 30-year anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, Nov. 22, 1993, I combed through the third floor archives set up by Marvin VanGilder in the old Carthage Press building and wrote a story about what it was like in Carthage three decades earlier.

The Carthage Press account from the Nov. 23, 1963 issue began, "Carthage today was a city in shock, still unable to comprehend the brutality with which the nation's chief executive was removed from office and from life." 

"Carthaginians repeatedly remarked only, 'It's unbelievable...What a terrible thing! I didn't think it could happen in this country...What happens now?'

Flags on the courthouse lawn, over the post office, before Memorial Hall and elsewhere in the city dangled limply at half-staff, the article said.

"The city mourned the death of a president and mourned with equal fervor a demonstration of hate to awful to comprehend."

Former Joplin Globe reporter was first to tell the nation of President Kennedy's death

Each year, I reprint this column that I originally wrote for the short-lived Joplin Daily in 2006. John Hacker, who was the editor of that paper, asked me to write a weekly column.

My column in the first issue of the Daily in January 2006 was about the 15th anniversary of the death of Nancy Cruzan and was well received, but the powers that be at GateHouse Media told Hacker they did not want a column from me in every paper, but maybe something like once a month.

I figured if they did not want me in every paper, they didn't need to have me in any paper, so this column and another one I wrote were never published in that newspaper.

By the time 2007 rolled around, the newspaper wasn't around to publish anything.

This column was written shortly after the death of reporter Jud Dixon, who got his start at the Joplin Globe and whose claim to fame was that he was the first reporter, 56 years ago today to get the word of President John F. Kennedy's death to the public.

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

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

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

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

Jud was in charge of the United Press International (UPI) bureau in Dallas when he received word that President Kennedy had been assassinated during a political trip to the city.

Within seconds, with the cool demeanor that characterized his entire reporting career, he sat behind his manual typewriter pounding out the story that no reporter ever wants to write, but at times like that, when people absolutely have to know what is going on, that’s when reporters must be at the top of their game.

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

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

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

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

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

Jud Dixon knew the importance of a free and unfettered press serving as the public’s representative. He knew that when the workings of government were open to the public that this country could survive anything from unpaved streets to official corruption to the death of a president.
The Buck Starts Here: Harry S. Truman and the City of Lamar, the first-ever book about the 33rd President of the United States and the small southwest Missouri city where he was born is available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon.

Blunt-Klobuchar resolution recognizes November 23 as National Adoption Day

(From Senator Roy Blunt)

I serve as Senate co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption. For the fifth year in a row, my fellow co-chair, Senator Klobuchar, and I introduced and the Senate passed a resolution recognizing November 23 as National Adoption Day.

As an adoptive dad myself, I know just how much joy welcoming a child into your home can bring.

Earlier this week, I was proud to speak on the Senate floor about three Missouri families who have gone above and beyond in the adoption community. I also shared stories about several young Missourians who are in the foster care system right now and are eager to be adopted by a loving family.

Gabe is in 10th grade, loves to read, and hopes to one day join the military.

Ragan and Haylee are sisters who would love to have pets in their home.

Natalie loves to draw and write and enjoys going to school.

These kids all have different interests, talents, and aspirations, but what they all have in common is the need for a family to call their own.

There are more than 437,000 children in the foster care system across the U.S., and more than 125,000 of those are kids ready to be adopted.

I’ve worked in the Senate to make adoption more affordable, help ensure adoptive families have the support they need, and improve the intercountry adoption process.

National Adoption Day began in 2000, and since then, tens of thousands of children have been adopted. Tomorrow is a special day to raise awareness around the importance of adoption.

If you’ve considered adoption or would simply like to learn more, the Missouri Department of Social Services has helpful information available here:

As families prepare to come together around the Thanksgiving table next week, I hope you’ll take a moment to join me in recognizing the importance of helping every child find the safe, loving home they deserve.