Sunday, February 28, 2021

Jason Smith: Biden's bailout plan is a bust

Washington Democrats are charging full speed ahead on a hastily-crafted, nearly $2 trillion bailout package. Simply put: this is the wrong plan, at the wrong time, and for all the wrong reasons.

The goal wasn’t to put shots in people’s arms, nor was it to offer relief to working class Americans. Instead, their goal was to bail out their friends and special interest allies.

It is the wrong plan because this package directly harms America’s working class. 

By providing $510 billion to state and local governments who stayed locked down, the federal government is disproportionately rewarding the very states and Democrat governors who shuttered their economies, destroyed small businesses, and harmed our children by keeping them out of school.

It is the wrong plan because the bill spends $471 billion on policies that will reduce employment and destroy jobs. Just in our own district, sheltered workshops that allow so many great people with disabilities to have a job and a sense of community will be closed for good, leaving these individuals out in the cold. 

This bailout would also pay employees more not to work. Because this bill provides over $20,000 per year in extra unemployment benefits, someone can earn up to $37,000 a year in Missouri from unemployment. That’s higher than nearly 40 percent of the household incomes in southern Missouri.

It is the wrong plan because it will raise consumer prices and hurt those living on fixed incomes, especially the 31 million seniors who get half or more of their income from Social Security. This bill will force those seniors to have to decide between necessities like food and heating their homes or the medicines they need to stay healthy.

This is the wrong plan for America’s working class.

It also comes at the wrong time. Absent any further stimulus spending, the U.S. economy will return to a pre-pandemic level of real GDP growth by the middle of this year. Unemployment will also continue to steadily decline, and this year we are poised for the largest economic growth in more than 15 years – again, this year. Even liberal economists like former Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers agree this bill is too much.

It is the wrong time because if this bill gets enacted, Congress will have spent almost $6 trillion in stimulus. That is greater than the GDP of every nation on Earth except the U.S. and China. And of what Congress has already enacted over the past year, an estimated $1 trillion has not even been spent.

So now we know it is the wrong plan at the wrong time – but it is also for all the wrong reasons.

Let’s be real: less than 9 percent of the spending in this bill goes to crushing the COVID-19 virus and putting shots in people’s arms. The real reason for this bill is to send billions to bailout blue state governors and reward their harmful lockdown policies; billions for policies that satisfy the President’s political allies and their agenda. Even the billions they have put in here for schools, which they say are needed to reopen schools – less than 5% will be spent this fiscal year. And Democrats have been very clear that schools who receive this money will not be required to reopen.

I’ll say it again: this is the wrong plan at the wrong time for all the wrong reasons.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Missouri Republicans seek to reinstate voter ID requirement

By Rebecca Rivas

About 137,700 registered voters in Missouri did not have a state-issued identification in 2017, according to an analysis from the Secretary of State’s Office.

Another 140,000 voters had expired IDs, and 2,000 more voters had forfeited their driver’s licenses.

Under a bill passed Wednesday in the Missouri House, those registered voters would either have to get a government-issued photo ID or only be allowed to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day.

The provisional ballot would be counted only if the voter returns later that day with a photo ID or if election officials can verify their signature based on voter records.

The House voted 109-46 to send the bill to the Missouri Senate.

Proponents argue the measure is needed to prevent voter fraud and “illegal votes.”

“Missourians expect people to come to the polls and identify themselves with secure photo identification when they go to the polls,” said state Rep. John Simmons, a Franklin County Republican sponsoring this year’s voter ID legislation.

But voting-rights advocates say the law will negatively impact minorities, seniors, voters with disabilities and many others who struggle with the transportation and funds needed to get an ID.

That is particularly true in the midst of a deadly pandemic, said Denise Lieberman, director and general counsel of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition.

“Missouri lawmakers should focus on making voting more accessible rather than again continue to promulgate unnecessary, expensive and unconstitutional burdens on the right to vote in Missouri,” said Lieberman, who has been part of several legal teams that have sued the state over previous voter-ID legislation.

Currently voters may cast a ballot if they have a photo ID with their current address or if they have several other forms of identification, including a utility bill or voter registration card with their current address.

Missouri Republicans have been trying to enact a photo ID requirement to vote for the last 15 years. Legislation has passed several times, but it’s never been able to fully withstand legal challenges. 

This year’s bill is moving forward because a January 2020 Missouri Supreme Court ruling blocked a key provision in a previously enacted voter ID law. Simmons said the court decision “utterly and wholly gutted the intent and practicality of this statute.”

Today, 36 states have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

But Missouri was one of the first states to attempt enact a law where only a state- or federally-issued ID would be acceptable to vote in 2006. After being approved by lawmakers, the court deemed it unconstitutional because there was no evidence of voter fraud and it infringed on people’s right to vote.

So voter-ID proponents focused on changing the constitution itself.

In 2011, lawmakers placed a voter ID amendment on the ballot, but the measure was derailed by a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Missouri and Advancement Project.

In 2016, a photo ID amendment finally made it to the ballot and was approved by voters that allowed someone to cast a ballot without a state-approved photo ID only after signing an affidavit under the penalty of perjury.

However, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down the affidavit because it deemed it to be “misleading,” and therefore unconstitutional. In the same ruling, the court considered the state’s request to strike the non-photo ID options altogether – which is what Simmons’ bill would do – and concluded that it posed “constitutional concerns and could not have been adopted by this Court.”

During debate on the new measure this week in the House, both Republicans and Democrats raised concerns about the fact that the bill does not require the state to cover the costs for obtaining an ID.

In order to get a state-issued ID, people have to obtain a birth certificate. And that often can be a costly and lengthy process, said Rep. Shamed Dogan, a St. Louis County Republican.

“It’s something that courts view with suspicion,” he said, “that in order to vote, you have to get an ID and we’re not going to pay for it.”

Rebecca Rivas covers civil rights, criminal justice and immigration. She has been reporting in Missouri since 2001, most recently as senior reporter and video producer at the St. Louis American, the nation's leading African-American newspaper.

(Photo by Tessa Weinberg, Missouri Independent)

Joplin's 124th COVID-19 death is 42-year-old man

(From the Joplin Health Department)

The Joplin Health Department is sad to report the death of a Joplin resident with coronavirus being a significant condition contributing to the death. 

This announcement brings the total count to 124 deaths in Joplin. The resident was a 42-year-old male who was a resident of a long- term care facility.

City statistics are listed on the COVID-19 dashboard at . The dashboard is a collaborative project of the Joplin Health Department and University of Missouri Extension Office’s “All Things Missouri."

Billy Long: We need a plan to protect our nation from cyberattacks

It seems like every week or two there is a new story about personal information being stolen, corporate secrets taken and government agencies hacked. These threats are real, and we need to combat them. 

Over the years, nefarious actors have become relentless in their pursuit to hack U.S.-based companies, individuals, and the federal government. The scale and frequency of these attacks continue to grow at an alarming pace. 

Now more than ever, the federal government and the private sector need to work together to protect our nation’s cyberinfrastructure.

Cyberattacks can come from anywhere at any time. Nefarious actors can be a lone individual, a group of individuals, a terrorist organization, or a foreign government. The most recent cyberattack, dubbed 'Solar Winds', is a perfect example of why cybersecurity needs to be a top priority in this Congress and for the Biden Administration. 

The perpetrators of this attack, allegedly working with or for the Russian government, breached dozens of private companies and federal agencies. When all is said and done, this will likely be one of the most significant cyber breaches ever perpetrated against the federal government. Not to mention absolutely the most costly to taxpayers as systems will need to be destroyed and rebuilt across several different agencies and departments. 

The fact that Solar Winds was able to operate unabated for years is simply inexcusable and certainly not acceptable. This attack cannot be addressed by simply replacing software. These systems will need to be blown up at the hardware level and completely new systems will need to be developed and installed. Not an inexpensive undertaking across several federal agencies. 

Whether it is this attack by Russia, the Chinese stealing intellectual property, or hacking groups attacking websites or corporations, we need to come up with a comprehensive plan to protect our nation’s cyberinfrastructure.

A key to this is working hand in hand with the private sector. Congress needs to formulate a plan to facilitate public-private partnerships with cybersecurity firms and corporations. This will be key in ensuring that both public and private information technology infrastructure is secure from cyber threats. These public-private partnerships must also focus on securing the supply chain. 

President Trump made great strides in ensuring the supply chain is secure by removing Chinese telecommunications equipment and I hope that President Biden follows suit.

There is only so much the government can do though. A key part of making sure that your personal information is safe from hackers is to remain vigilant. Never give your personal information to someone over the phone, through email, or any other form of communication unless you absolutely trust them. Never use the same password across multiple platforms. 

If a company that has your personal information suffers a cyber-attack and your password is compromised, hackers can get into other accounts that you may have. Having a separate password across your online accounts will limit your exposure should your information be stolen in a cyber-attack.

Together, individuals, the federal government, and the private sector can work to prepare for and protect our nation from cyber-attacks. The federal government needs to take these cyber-attacks seriously. And in the category of 'too little too late' Congress needs to create a bipartisan, apolitical framework to protect our cyberinfrastructure, secure federal information technology infrastructure, and ensure that our intellectual property is protected. 

While running for President, President Biden stated he will not stand idly by in the face of cyberassaults on our nation. I hope that he will make good on his word and am looking forward to working with the President and my colleagues to come up with a plan to protect our nation from cyberattacks.

New MSSU football coach announces staff

(From MSSU Lions Athletic News)

Missouri Southern head football coach Atiba Bradley has announced the members of his coaching staff which includes several newcomers and some holdovers that were already at Missouri Southern.

Remaining on the staff for the Green and Gold are Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach Matt Rahl, Defensive Coordinator Joe Bettasso, Tight Ends Coach Sean McGrath, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Zach Shaw and Director of Operations, Rylee Hartwell.

New to the fold for the Lions are Offensive Coordinator Adam Austin, Defensive Line Coach Chance Alberswerth, Recruiting Coordinator and Wide Receivers Coach Colton Meyers, Running Backs Coach Reggie Mitchell, Defensive Backs Coach Mitch Leppke, Assistant Defensive Backs Coach Trey Porter and Assistant Defensive Line Coach Michael Gallo.

"I'm very excited about the coaches I have been able to assembled to help me mold, and lead our team," Bradley said. "They come with a variety of backgrounds and experiences that will serve as a great resource for our players. The commonality with this staff is the ability to coach, mentor, recruit at a very high level. I'm only as good as the people I surround myself with and I feel very confident in the group of coaches I'm working with me. We all share a vision and a common goal of winning a MIAA championship to Missouri Southern."

Below are each assistant coaches' name and title. You can click on their names to see a complete and full bio for each coach.

Matt Rahl - Associate Head Coach/Offensive Line
Adam Austin - Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
Joe Bettasso - Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
Sean McGrath - Tight Ends
Chance Alberserth - Defensive Line
Colton Meyers - Recruiting Coordinator/Wide Receivers
Reggie Mitchell - Running Backs
Mitch Leppke - Defensive Backs
Trey Porter - Assistant Defensive Backs
Michael Gallo - Assistant Defensive Line
Rylee Hartwell - Director of Operations

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Bret Ingle to serve as principal at West Central and Columbia

(From Joplin Schools)

Joplin Schools is pleased to announce Bret Ingle as the new head Principal for West Central and Columbia Elementary. For the last eight years, Ingle has served as the principal at West Central.

Ingle grew up in Northern California but has lived in Joplin most of his life. He has been with Joplin schools since 2003. Ingle taught upper elementary at Columbia Elementary for eight years before serving as assistant principal at North Middle School for two years.

Dr. Moss, Superintendent of Schools said, “Mr. Ingle has proven himself as a trusted and effective leader within Joplin Schools. His credibility will go far in establishing a newly united Dover Hill Elementary community of learners.”

Ingle has served on a number of committees for the district over the years and also has experience as the summer school director. He has also served on the Art Feeds Joplin board and is currently a board member for Bright Futures Joplin. 

Ingle said,“I feel extremely blessed to have been a part of Joplin schools and to have the opportunities that I’ve been given. I am looking forward to working with both buildings to preserve the histories and traditions of Columbia and West Central, as well as utilizing them to establish a new identity as Dover Hill Elementary.”

Bret Ingle has his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Missouri Southern, his master’s of science degree in educational leadership from Pittsburg State, and his education specialist in leadership degree from William Woods. His wife, Shannon is a former Joplin employee and his two daughters attend Jefferson Elementary.

Joplin senator's bill would establish Minutemen of the State; they supply their own guns

(From Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin)

Senators returned to Jefferson City and got right back to work deliberating bills and considering proposals this week. I presented Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 to members of the Senate Rules Committee on Monday, Feb. 22, a measure that asks the United States Congress to call a convention of states to amend the U.S. Constitution, giving states the authority to repeal a federal rule, regulation, statute, executive order or federal court ruling.

On Tuesday, I presented Senate Bill 369 to the Insurance and Banking Committee to modify a dated law and protect property owners and the valuation of their insured property. The legislation has broad support in the insurance community.

I also introduced Senate Bill 528 to establish the Minutemen of the State. Under this act, the governor may call “Minutemen” into service in defense of the state during a state of emergency with the consent of two-thirds of the General Assembly. Any Missouri resident who can lawfully own firearms may volunteer. Under the legislation, Minutemen supply their own firearms, ammunition and tactical gear. This equipment, required by the state, shall be considered property of the state for purposes of jurisdiction, and is not subjected to any tax, levy, fees, stamp or seizure, nor can it be subject to registration or tracking.

Roy Blunt: Get the kids back in school

Nearly a year ago, kitchen tables turned into classrooms as concerns about the coronavirus pandemic led to schools closing.

Educators quickly shifted to teaching lessons virtually and parents worked to keep their kids engaged and active.

Unfortunately, being away from friends, classmates, and daily routines for an extended period of time is hurting students. Prolonged remote learning is putting kids at risk of falling behind, failing classes, and suffering from mental health problems. For students with disabilities, minorities, and those in underserved areas, that risk is even greater.

Throughout his campaign, President Biden repeatedly said he would listen to scientists and health experts when it came to tackling the pandemic. 


Here’s what scientists are saying about getting kids back in their classrooms:

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, President Biden’s own CDC director, said earlier this month that there was “increasing data that schools can safely reopen” even if teachers haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said “I would back the CDC recommendations because that is really based on data … we need to try and get the children back to school.”

Dr. David Rosen, assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Washington University in St. Louis, said, “There is no situation in which schools can’t be open unless they have evidence of in-school transmission.”

But instead of “following the science” as he often said he would – President Biden is ignoring it.

Recently, I offered an amendment to the budget bill that would have incentivized school districts to get kids back into school after teachers have been vaccinated. Those vaccines are even a step beyond what the CDC says is necessary.

Every single Senate Democrat voted against it.

That vote made one thing very clear: this isn’t about safety, and it’s not about science; it’s pure politics, and kids are paying the price.

We need to put students first. We need to do what’s best for their education and well-being while taking steps to ensure their safety.

As a former high school history teacher and university president, I know that educators overcome challenges every day. Teachers want to help kids learn, and they know that won’t happen again until students are back at their desks. We must reopen schools now.

Agenda posted for Monday Joplin City Council meeting

6:00 P.M.

This meeting can be viewed live on KGCS-TV channel 21 and  regional cable television systems including Sparklight in Joplin; or livestream at

In compliance with social distancing, the number of guests in the Council Chambers is limited to 45.

Persons wishing to address the City Council regarding an item on the agenda should complete a Request to Address Council form and give it to the City Clerk prior to the start of the meeting.  When your name is called, approach the podium, and state your name clearly for the record.  If your request pertains to a Public Hearing item, you do not need to submit a request to. You will have five (5) minutes to speak.

PLEASE NOTE: No outside electronic devices are allowed to be used on City equipment. If you need to present a visual or have handouts, you must provide 12 copies of the material to the City Clerk.


Call To Order

Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America

Roll Call




Finalization Of Consent Agenda


Reports And Communications


Health Dept. Update/Discussion Of The Response And Recovery Plan.


News From The Public Information Office


Citizen Requests And Petitions


Sara Marker Requested To Speak On Treatment Of Customers By Main St. Pet Care.


Public Hearings


Public Hearing Procedures



AN ORDINANCE providing to vacate approximately 670’ of 75’-wide street right-of-way
between S. Connecticut Ave. and E. 15th St.


AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2004-256, passed by the Council of the City of
Joplin, Missouri, November 15, 2004, by removing from District M-1-PD and including in District R-1 property as described below and known as 4307 Swede Ln., City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.

Consent Agenda


Minutes Of The February 16, 2021 City Council Meeting



AN ORDINANCE authorizing the City of Joplin to enter into an agreement with Ace Pipe Cleaning, Inc., for the 2021-2023 Evaluation and Rehabilitation Toolbox for Wastewater Collection System Project; authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin.

  1. CB2021-112.PDF



Ordinances - Emergency



AN ORDINANCE approving an agreement with Waste Corporation of Missouri (WCA) to provide disposal services of bulky items, limbs/brush, and tires at a local transfer station by Joplin residents; and dealing generally with the payment for those services; and containing an emergency clause.



AN ORDINANCE approving an agreement with Joplin Industrial Electric Co. in the amount of Three Hundred Thousand, Six Hundred Ten and 00/100 Dollars ($300,610.00) for the purchase and installation of a generator; authorizing the City Manager to execute said agreement on behalf of the City; and containing an emergency clause.


COUNCIL BILL NO. 2021 – 351

AN ORDINANCE approving the contract by and between the City of Joplin and Clay Cole Trucking for the demolition of the structure(s) and clearing of lot area located at 1215 Iowa Ave. in the City of Joplin, Missouri, for Two Thousand Five Hundred and 00/100 Dollars ($2,500.00); providing how the cost thereof shall be paid; how the assessment thereof shall be made; and containing an emergency clause.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2021 – 352

AN ORDINANCE approving the contract by and between the City of Joplin and Clay Cole Trucking for the demolition of the structure(s) and clearing of lot area located at 1119 Jackson Ave. in the City of Joplin, Missouri, for Two Thousand Seven Hundred and 00/100 Dollars ($2,700.00); providing how the cost thereof shall be paid; how the assessment thereof shall be made; and containing an emergency clause.


AN ORDINANCE approving the job description for Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Coordinator and the placement of the position within the Salary Administration Plan for the City of Joplin; and, containing an emergency clause.

Ordinances - First Reading



AN ORDINANCE approving an Agreement with G & G Construction Company, Inc. in the amount of One Hundred Nine Thousand Four Hundred Sixty-Nine and 50/100 dollars ($109,469.50) for construction of the Senior Center-Meals on Wheels Zone Improvement Project, and authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin.


AN ORDINANCE approving an Agreement between the City of Joplin, Missouri, and Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission which will provide FHWA Metropolitan Planning Assistance and FTA Section 5303 assistance, hereafter known as Consolidated Planning Funds, from November 1, 2020, through October 31, 2021, in accordance with the rules of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) under 49 U.S.C. Section 5303 and 23 U.S. Code Sections 104(F) and 134 to conduct comprehensive and transportation planning programs, as the City of Joplin has been designated to conduct transportation planning programs for the Joplin Area Transportation Study Organization; authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute said Agreement for the City.

Ordinances - Second Reading And Third Reading


Unfinished Business


New Business


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 its representatives and its attorneys; and, to leasing, purchasing or sale of real estate by a public governmental body where public knowledge of the transaction might adversely affect the legal consideration; and, the hiring, firing, disciplining, or promotion of an employee or particular employees of a governmental body involving personal information; more specifically, for the purpose of evaluating certain Council employees; as set forth in Section 610.021(1)(2)(3) RSMo, as amended, 2020. This meeting, record, and vote to be closed to the extent provided by law. The City Council shall adjourn at the end of the session.

Teachers, grocery store workers eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine under state plan beginning March 15

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

During today's press briefing at the State Capitol, Governor Mike Parson announced that Phase 1B - Tier 3 of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Plan will be activated on Monday, March 15, 2021.

“Missouri has had a vaccine plan since October, and this has not changed. We have been very disciplined in following our plan,” Governor Parson said. 

“With vaccine supply steadily increasing, we believe we are in a good position to activate Phase 1B - Tier 3, which will make approximately 550,000 more Missourians eligible to receive a vaccine.”

Beginning March 15, Missourians in Phase 1B - Tier 3 will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.


This includes those who keep the essential functions of society running, including K-12 educators and school employees; child care providers; grocery store employees; and energy, food, agriculture, and other critical infrastructure workers, among others.

With the activation of Phase 1B - Tier 3, approximately 550,000 more Missourians will be eligible for the vaccine. For the full list of categories included in Phase 1B - Tier 3, click here. Missourians in Phase 1A and Phase 1B - Tier 1 and Tier 2 will also remain eligible.

Currently, the state estimates that there are approximately 800,000 Missourians who are eligible and interested in getting vaccinated. By March 15, the state expects this number to decrease to approximately 400,000.

Activating Phase 1B - Tier 3 on March 15 will help ensure that there is a steady population of people who are eligible and interested in receiving a vaccine. This will allow vaccinators across the state to continue vaccinating Missourians without delays due to those who are eligible but not seeking a vaccine. 

“While supply is still limited, we are expecting slow and steady increases, and activating Tier 3 on March 15 will allow us to continue making progress as supply expands,” Governor Parson said. “If vaccine supply continues to increase, and if we continue to make the progress we’ve been seeing, we believe that we will be ready to activate Phase 2 within 45 days of March 15.”

“For now, we ask that vaccinators work in their communities to plan for March 15. We want this to be a smooth process, and it will be up to vaccinators to start planning now so that Tier 3 populations are ready,” Governor Parson continued.

Also during today’s briefing, Governor Parson provided an update on COVID-19 data and vaccine progress. As of February 24, approximately 12 percent of Missouri’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. Over 350,000 Missourians have been fully vaccinated with both doses.

This week, Missouri was allotted more than 120,000 initial doses of the Modena and Pfizer vaccine for distribution across the state. Next week, Missouri has been allotted more than 128,500 initial doses. This allotment could increase if the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is expected to happen by the end of this week.

Once the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is granted an EUA, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) will consider the recommendations from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). After DHSS reviews that data and confirms the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, the appropriate standing order will be issued to ensure the vaccine can be immediately administered once shipments arrive in Missouri.

Additionally, more than 233,600 vaccine doses have been shipped to CVS and Walgreens through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership, and 38,990 doses have been shipped to Walmart, Healthmart, and Hy-Vee locations through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

The Federal Pharmacy Partnership with CVS and Walgreens will continue through April. More than 87,000 residents and 50,900 staff at long-term care facilities have accepted vaccinations through clinics held by CVS and Walgreens.

The federal government also recently announced a new Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program. The federal government will directly ship additional vaccines doses to partnering Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC).

FQHCs provide services to underserved and vulnerable communities, with two-thirds of their patients at or below the federal poverty line and 60 percent being racial and ethnic minorities. These doses from the federal government are in addition to the eight percent of the state’s vaccine allocation already being distributed to FQHCs in Missouri.

The state also continues to move forward with regional mass vaccination events. There have been 68 mass vaccination clinics completed across the state, and more than 66,500 Missourians have received an initial vaccine dose at one of these events.

Targeted teams in St. Louis and Kansas City have completed 24 vaccine clinics with more planned in the coming days and weeks. These teams serve vulnerable populations in communities with limited access to health care.

Missouri's seven-day PCR positivity rate has fallen to 6.1 percent, and the antigen (rapid) test rate has fallen to 5.2 percent. According to CDC data, Missouri now ranks second lowest in the nation for average daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 7 days.

“We have never wavered in our balanced approach to addressing this pandemic, and the data shows that we are winning the fight,” Governor Parson said. “We are excited about the direction we’re heading, and we will continue to take a balanced approach, fight COVID-19, and give every Missourian who wants a vaccine the opportunity to get one.”

Missourians are encouraged to visit to view the latest vaccine updates, find out when they are eligible for the vaccine, and locate available vaccinators in their area.

Jasper County reports five COVID-19 deaths

The Jasper County Health Department reported five COVID-19 deaths today, putting the total at 143.

The victims were two women in their 70s, a man in his 50s and a man in his 70s.

Ben Baker co-sponsors bill designating January 12 each year as Rush Limbaugh Day in Missouri

Rep. Ben Baker, R-Neosho, has signed on as a co-sponsor or House Bill 1200 which would declare January 12 each year as Rush Limbaugh Day in Missouri.

Limbaugh, a Cape Girardeau native, died last week from lung cancer.

The bill's sponsor is Rep. Hardy Billington, R-Poplar Bluff. As of today, Baker is one of 31 co-sponsors, all Republican, but is the only one from the southwest corner of the state.

From the bill:

Citizens of this state are encouraged to celebrate the day by participating in appropriate events and activities to remember the life of the famous Missourian and groundbreaking radio host.

Former Joplin Guaranty Bank branch manager pleads guilty to embezzling $158,000

The former manager of the Guaranty Bank branch in Joplin waived the reading of her indictment and pleaded guilty to embezzlement this morning in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

According to the indictment, Kendra E. Richardson, 44, stole $158,159.45 from her employers between June 9, 2018 and December 18, 2018.

The plea agreement indicates Richardson used her position as branch manager and control over the regular audits of the money in the vault to conceal the embezzling and used most of the stolen money for gambling.

Judge David P. Rush ordered a presentence investigation.

Richardson remains free on a personal recognizance bond.

Court records indicate the government issued a target letter July 1, 2020  informing Richardson she was the subject of a federal investigation. The indictment was unsealed this morning.

Joplin mask ordinance ends Sunday

(From the City of Joplin)

Joplin Mayor Ryan Stanley has announced that Ordinance No. 2020-176 will expire at the end of the day, February 28, 2021. This ordinance established the rule for citizens to wear faces masks in public. It went into effect prior to last year’s holiday season on November 20, 2020.

“The expiration of this ordinance lifts the requirement that citizens must wear masks in public or at businesses,” said Stanley. 

“Although the mandate has been removed, everyone is still encouraged to practice safe measures that we’ve been doing throughout this past year. Our community has continued to monitor and adjust their personal practices during the pandemic. We appreciate their diligence and support in taking these steps for the good of the community.”

The mask ordinance is a document independent of the City’s Response and Recovery Plan. Currently the City is in Phase 2 Step 4 of the plan. Exhibits in the recovery plan outline mask requirements for restaurants and personal service businesses such as salons and barber shops. 

The public is reminded that businesses may establish their own guidelines, or some may be directed by a federal agency or their corporation’s policies during the pandemic. This includes the Joplin Regional Airport and Joplin’s public transportation service with MAPS and Sunshine Lamp Trolley.

More information can be found in the City’s Response and Recovery Plan.

Shally Lundien, Mark LaTurner named Joplin High School assistant principals

(From Joplin Schools)

Joplin Schools is pleased to announce Shally Lundien and Mark LaTurner as Joplin High School Assistant Principals. 

For the last five years, Lundien has served as the Principal at Columbia Elementary. Before Columbia, Lundien served five years as the Assistant Principal under Dr. Gilbreth at South Middle School. 

LaTurner has served as a social studies teacher at Joplin High School for the last ten years. For the last four years, he has been the social studies department chair.

LaTurner grew up in Galena, Kansas, and has been an educator for the last fourteen years. His career began at W.W Samuell High School in the Dallas Independent School District in Dallas, Texas, where he taught U.S and world history before moving back to the Joplin area to continue teaching and be closer to family.

Lundien grew up in Carl Junction, Missouri, and has been in education for over 20 years. She started her professional career as the Head Softball Coach and Instructor at Pittsburg State University. 

After five years, she returned to the high school level to teach and coach. For the next ten years, Lundien taught science and coached at the high school and middle school levels. She taught high school science at Carl Junction and Seneca for four years. She continued her career at Carthage Junior High, teaching 7th-grade science for four years. In 2011, Lundien was hired as a principal for Joplin Schools.

Lundien said, “I am very excited to start this new adventure in my professional career. I am passionate about building relationships with students, staff, and families in our community. I feel my years of experience at various levels of education will provide great opportunities to help our high school students achieve their potential and plan for a successful future.” 

Dr. Moss, Superintendent of Schools said, “Both Shally and Mark have an excellent positive history of service to Joplin students. We are pleased that their proven work in Joplin Schools will continue in their new roles. ”

LaTurner said, “In my time at JHS, I have developed great relationships with the teachers and staff and I am excited to help serve the needs of our students here in a new capacity as assistant principal. I am absolutely thrilled and grateful to be continuing my career as a Joplin Eagle!”

LaTurner earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Pittsburg State University and has completed his master’s degree in educational administration from Missouri State University.

Lundien is a graduate of Carl Junction High School. She completed her Associates of Arts from Crowder College and Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Education from Missouri Southern State University. Lundien earned a Master of Science in Physical Education from Pittsburg State University, a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and a Specialist in Educational Leadership from Arkansas State University.