Friday, May 28, 2021

Lamar R-1 District drops mask requirement for summer school

(From the Lamar R-1 School District)

The Lamar R-1 School District will move to lift the mask requirements for students, staff, and visitors effective for summer school (June 1 - 25, 2021). 

Any person is welcome to wear a mask or other PPE in the school building unless it inhibits the person’s ability to perform his or her job, inhibits a student’s ability to participate in the education process or is disruptive to the educational environment. 

Social distancing is encouraged when in the school building. Students, staff, and visitors should continue to monitor their symptoms and should not enter a district facility or attend events including outdoors if they are exhibiting symptoms. 

The district will continue to examine the effectiveness of our current practices as well as monitor CDC recommendations and procedures to keep students and staff safe.

Medicaid, critical race theory, election changes possible issues for special session

By Jason Hancock

A tax that funds $2 billion of Missouri’s Medicaid program.

A push to ban the teaching of critical race theory in public schools.

An effort to undermine changes to Kansas City’s police budget.

And a litany of bills seeking to overhaul how Missouri conducts its elections.


The calls from Missouri lawmakers for Gov. Mike Parson to reconvene the recently-adjourned legislature in special session are many and varied.

And while there is no doubt that lawmakers will be returning to Jefferson City this year, exactly what may end up on the agenda — and when they will gather — remains unclear.

“There’s a lot of people who’ve reached out for special sessions,” Parson said in a recent interview with KCMO radio this week, “and it’s too early to talk about those things like that.”

Yet the list of issues lawmakers hope to tackle before the 2022 session convenes next January seems to grow by the day.

Some things will absolutely require a special session, and topping that list is a tax on health care providers that makes up a huge chunk of the state’s Medicaid budget.

A fight in the Missouri Senate over birth control and abortion derailed the typically routine renewal of the tax for the first time in its 30 year existence.

Parson’s interim-Medicaid director said this week that if the tax isn’t extended before its Sept. 30 expiration date the “existence of the (Medicaid) program will be threatened by the end of the year.”

“I cannot overstate the impact,” said Kirk Mathews, interim director of the MoHealthNet program.

By all accounts, Parson stayed on the sidelines during the months-long legislative tussle over the tax, which is known as the federal reimbursement allowance, or FRA.

In fact, as lawmakers scrambled in the session’s final days to try to find a solution that would get a tax extension across the finish line, Parson wasn’t even in Jefferson City.

His public calendar, obtained through a request under Missouri’s Sunshine Law, shows he left the Capitol at noon the day before legislative adjournment for a pair of events in Morgan County.

After that, he appears to have been at his home in Bolivar until heading to a Saturday event in Springfield.

Parson’s hands-off approach on the issue chafed lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, who quietly grumbled that he could have intervened to try to get the tax extension done and avoid having to return for a potentially contentious special session.

That’s especially true now, as the fissures that doomed the tax extension during the regular session appear to have only grown in the weeks since adjournment.

“It would have been nice for him to have been helpful. There were certainly inflection points during the process where his involvement at the very least couldn’t have hurt,” said Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence. “Would his involvement have been the magic bullet that could have changed the outcome? I couldn’t say.”

Kelli Jones, the governor’s spokeswoman, did not respond to a request for comment.

Beyond FRA, lawmakers will also have to convene later this year to redraw congressional districts.

The work is typically done every 10 years during the regular legislative session. But the Census data needed to draw the boundaries was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and changes to the Census schedule by the Trump administration.

Lawmakers hope to complete the new maps before Missouri’s candidate filing period begins in February 2022. The chairman of the House Special Committee on Redistricting — Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial — made it clear to legislators that the committee’s work will stretch well into the fall.

Shaul is also among a group of Republicans hoping Parson will call a special session to focus on election bills.

Sitting atop his list of priorities would be re-establishing a photo ID requirement to vote — a provision that has repeatedly been struck down by Missouri courts — and a bill making it harder for citizens to change state law through the initiative petition process.

More recently, Republican lawmakers from the Kansas City area began calling for a special session in response to a City Council vote to give the city more control over its police budget.

The council, led by Mayor Quinton Lucas, voted to reduce the police department’s $240 million budget by $42 million. That would mean the city would be spending 20% of its general revenue on policing, the minimum percentage required by state law.

The $42 million would go into a fund aimed at finding innovative ways to combat the city’s violent crime.

Though they didn’t lay out specific legislative proposals to combat the city’s move, Reps. Chris Brown of Kansas City, Josh Hurlbert of Smithville, Sean Pouche of Kansas City and Doug Richey of Excelsior Springs wrote a letter to Parson asking for a special session because, “Kansas City is in crisis.”

The chairs of the Senate and House education committees are also asking for a special session, this one targeting critical race theory and the New York Times’ 1619 Project.

Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, and Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina, wrote in a letter to Parson that curricula that include these topics are “divisive and unnecessary.

Jason Hancock has been writing about Missouri since 2011, most recently as lead political reporter for The Kansas City Star. He has spent nearly two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, and has a track record of exposing government wrongdoing and holding elected officials accountable.

Billy Long: We need an infrastructure bill, not a repackaged Green New Deal

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

You destroyed your tire on a pothole, you drove an extra hour out of your way because a bridge was out, your kid’s school bus was unable to pick them up because it could not navigate the crumbling infrastructure in rural America safely. 

Don’t worry, be happy because President Biden and his team are from the government and are here to help. And, just like Underdog 'they are here to save the day!' 

How you say? Biden's team introduced a $2.25 trillion “infrastructure” package. That would be like you going to Wendy's and ordering a double hamburger with cheese and telling them to hold the hamburger and the cheese. That's right a 'nothing burger' - "Where's the beef?" 

$2.25 trillion sounds like more than enough for the task; highways, byways, roads, bridges, waterways, locks and dams across America will all be modernized thanks to this generous investment.

And, if you believe that I have a bridge to sell you. When taking a closer look at the bill it doesn't take a PhD from M.I.T. to figure out it should have been titled the 'Infrastructure-free Package." Out of the $2.25 trillion the administration is proposing, only $90-$100 billion, or the equivalent of 5% of this bill, is spent on road infrastructure projects. This bill contains even less money for waterways and other traditional infrastructure items like bridges, locks and dams.

The Biden Administration attempted a similar tactic when they passed their COVID-19 relief package, also known as the American Rescue Plan. They marketed it as a massive bill to fight the spread of COVID-19, but the bill itself devoted less than 10% of its funds to actual COVID-19 related health spending. 

In a similar fashion, this bill is being marketed as an infrastructure plan, but the reality is the spending provisions in the bill show that it isn’t.

So what exactly is the purpose of this bill you ask? Democratic Socialist Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez put it best, “As much as I think some parts of the [democratic] party try to avoid saying Green New Deal… 

Ultimately, the framework I think has been adopted.” She is referring to the framework set forth in this infrastructure bill which focuses on Socialist Green New Deal priorities. 

Half of the bill is devoted to reducing CO2 emissions; be it through spending, subsidies, regulation, tax credits, etc. President Biden’s Green New Deal priorities in this so-called “infrastructure” bill include $50 billion for the National Science Foundation, $35 billion for general climate research, $174 billion to increase the sale of electric vehicles, $20 billion to advance racial equity and environmental justice, the list of broad non-infrastructure items goes on.

What Congressional Democrats and President Biden are doing with this bill is trying to sell us a pig, and by calling it a swan - but from all of the pork in it everyone knows it's a pig that would win a 'Grand Champion Ribbon' at any State Fair. 

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have heard constituents telling me the roads and bridges they use are deteriorating, yet this bill devotes more money to electric car subsidies than it does to fixing roads and bridges. 

Senate Republicans recently released their own infrastructure proposal with one quarter the price tag, yet it included three times the amount of money for actual items that fall under the definition of infrastructure . It also includes money for public transit, rail, drinking water infrastructure, ports and waterways, and airports. These are the items we can all agree constitute actual infrastructure needs.

America is in desperate need of a real infrastructure bill, not a repackaged Green New Deal which is actually a progressive wish list. I will continue to advocate for a true infrastructure bill where the sole focus is repairing and modernizing our nation’s infrastructure. Guess what, the Democrat’s bait and switch doesn't fly with Missouri's 7th District and I cannot support this legislation as proposed.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Carthage R-9 recognizes retirees

(From the Carthage R-9 School District)

Congratulations to our Carthage R-9 2021 retirees! We appreciate your years of service to the District. Enjoy your retirement!

Audit shows Missouri ranks 49th in school funding from state resources

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released a report that examined funding trends in K-12 education in the state. The report found Missouri ranks near the bottom for the portion of classroom funding that comes from state sources and the formula calculating per-student funding has not kept up with inflation.

"The state is not stepping up to meet the needs of students in Missouri, shifting the burden and leaving Missourians paying higher property taxes to support their schools," Auditor Galloway said. 

"The opportunity for a quality education is key to ensuring economic growth. My report details the facts that can spur change at the state level so we no longer rank at the bottom when it comes to supporting schools."

The report looked at the portion of school funding that comes from state sources. In Missouri, state funding accounts for about 32% of per-student funding. That places Missouri at 49th nationally for percentage of school resources coming from state funding. As a result, schools rely heavily on local sources like property taxes to fund schools.

The issue of Missourians carrying a greater tax burden at the local level was first discussed by Auditor Galloway in a report released in February 2018 that examined the state's annual budgeting process. That report found 68 percent of local school districts had seen an increase in reliance on local funding over the past 10 years.

The report also looked at funding provided through the State Adequacy Target (SAT), the mechanism used to determine whether the state has met its obligation to fund schools. This funding has not kept up with inflation.

The report looked at 10 years of data and found that from 2013-2017, the state did not meet its per-student funding obligation, a number that is based on average operating expenditures of the 25 top-performing school districts. 

Changes were made to the formula to cap growth and limit increases. While these changes have resulted in the formula being fully funded, the current formula to calculate the amount distributed has not kept up with inflation.

The complete audit report is available here.

Springfield-Greene County Health Department encouraging young people to get COVID-19 vaccinations

(From the Springfield-Greene County Health Department)

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is encouraging young people to make receiving the COVID-19 vaccine a priority. 

Currently, more than 36% of Greene County residents are fully vaccinated, but that rate is only 17% for residents between the ages of 21 and 30. 

This compares to a vaccination rate of over 70% for 71 to 80 year olds. Younger people are also experiencing the highest rates of disease. At 25%, 21 to 30 year olds accounted for the largest portion of all cases in the two week period ending May 24.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, younger Americans were more likely to have a “wait and see” mentality when it comes to their readiness to get vaccinated. As more people get vaccinated and we begin stepping away from mandated COVID-19 prevention strategies, those who have not been vaccinated will carry the burden of this disease. Younger people may be less likely to be affected by severe illness, but they are not immune from the long term health effects COVID-19 can cause.

The Health Department is working hard to make the COVID-19 vaccine easily accessible for everyone, including the younger residents of our community. 

Those still needing a vaccine can visit or call our COVID-19 Call Center at 417-874-1211 to see a list of opportunities open to both appointments and walk-ins. Individuals may save time by registering for clinics in advance at Those who pre-register should bring their ID and Vaccine Navigator patient identification number with them to the event.

Beginning today, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department plans to distribute bi-weekly news releases to provide the community an overview of COVID-19 data over the last two weeks.

Number of Greene County residents fully vaccinated (as of May 26)

87,609 Greene County residents have been fully vaccinated* (or 36.68%)

This is a 5% increase over the previous two week reporting period

Cases by vaccination status

90% of positive cases since January have received neither their first nor second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

7% have received one dose

3% of cases are fully vaccinated

Fully vaccinated rates by age group

81 and over: 66.67%

71-80: 70.15%

61-70: 58.07%

51-60: 40.58%

41-50: 33.32%

31-40: 27.66%

21-30: 17.36%

11-20: 7.54%

For the reporting period from May 10-24, 2021:

COVID-19 deaths

Two deaths (man in his 60s, woman in her 80s)

Number of new COVID-19 cases

314 cases

7-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases

26.57 (up from 18 two weeks ago)


31 hospitalizations

9 are Greene County residents

The most common known exposure source in the last two weeks was household spread, accounting for 61% of all cases where an exposure source was identified.

Additional information, including daily updates, can be found on the Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard at


Springfield mayor withdraws civil emergency proclamation following repeal of mask ordinance

(From the City of Springfield)

Mayor Ken McClure will withdraw the Sixth Proclamation of Civil Emergency effective at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, May 27 to coincide with the 12:01 a.m. Friday, May 28 effective date for the repeal of the ordinance containing the City’s COVID-19 regulations.

“I am very proud of our community and grateful that there no longer appears to exist a state of civil emergency,” he said. “We would not be at this point had it not been for our community’s brave, innovative and critical work in the battle against COVID-19. It has not been easy. Thank you.”

At the May 18 City Council meeting in which the council unanimously voted to end the regulations, Springfield-Greene County Health Department Acting Director Katie Towns said health officials supported repealing the ordinance because it is effective after the conclusion of the public schools’ semester at the end of May, as the COVID-19 case count is declining and the public has now had ample opportunity to get vaccinated against the disease.

COVID-19 is becoming an endemic disease for communities across the world – it is and will be a regular part of the community and will continue to affect individuals, particularly those who are unvaccinated. In these scenarios, both the health care and public health systems have ongoing capacity to respond in these situations, she said.

“At the height of cases and hospitalizations, public policy was necessary to protect the health of all individuals in our community. Masking, physical distancing and other restrictions were instituted to prevent spread and reduce the devastating impact of the disease. The ordinance served its two primary purposes – to protect our health care system from being overwhelmed and protect our community’s most vulnerable,” Towns said.

Mark Cannon appointed interim Joplin fire chief

(From the City of Joplin)

Joplin City Manager Nick Edwards announces his appointment of Mark Cannon as the Interim Fire Chief. The current Fire Chief Jim Furgerson will retire from the City of Joplin on June 4, 2021. Cannon will begin serving in the Interim position on June 4, 2021.

Cannon has been with the Joplin Fire Department for six years. He joined the City as the Chief of Training, after serving 20 years with the fire department in Kansas City, Mo.


“Chief Cannon is a respected leader in the Fire Department and has a range of qualifications and experience well suited to help lead the Fire Department in an interim role. I want to thank Chief Cannon for serving as an interim Fire Chief. As an interim Chief, this means he will often need to wear “two hats” with one being Interim Fire Chief and the other being his current role as the Fire Training/Special Operations Chief. Mark has a passion for the fire department and will serve in the dual roles without a drop off in service.,” said Edwards. “He brings strong skills to help manage day to day operations and will be an asset to the department as we continue working on several ongoing projects in the department.”

Currently, the Fire Department is conducting a resource assessment and is in the initial stages of adding a seventh station that was approved by voters in 2016 with the Public Safety Sales Tax.

Furgerson will work with Interim Chief Cannon to ensure continuity within the department until a permanent fire chief is hired. Edwards noted that a search process will begin soon to find the permanent replacement and next Fire Chief.

Sam Graves: Biden administration offering more empty promises for farmers

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

Farming is a family business. It always has been. Most farmers have been working cattle, working the land, and feeding the world from the time they could walk. They’ve lived their entire lives working endless hours to live their dream, carry on the family farm, and hopefully pass it along to their children in better shape than when they inherited it. The President’s death tax proposal threatens to upend all of that.

The death tax is something I’ve been fighting for years. It just doesn’t make sense. We work all our lives to scrape by, pay taxes all along the way, and then hopefully pass something along to our children. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the federal government thinks it’s owed something when we die. Death shouldn’t be a taxable event.

The latest proposal on the table is much worse than that. Eliminating the stepped-up basis—a little known tax provision most of us only learn about when we lose a parent or loved one—would, in-effect, supercharge the existing death tax.

Here’s how it would work. Let’s say a farmer bought 1,000 acres in 1987 for $680 per acre. Then, they pass away in 2021 and that land is worth $4,903 per acre. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, their descendants would owe a $0 tax bill on that. Under this new plan, they could owe about $1.5 million in capital gains taxes alone. Most farmers, including those with much larger farms than 1,000 acres don’t have that kind of cash sitting around. They’re land rich, but cash poor. In agriculture, it takes a lot of money just to make a little.

That could force some families to sell off massive portions of the farm just to pay the tax bill. Others, if they can’t get the land sold in time, could wind up watching the farm their parents, grandparents, and generations of their family built be sold on the courthouse steps. It’s heartbreaking and it could mean the end of the family farm as we know it.

Now, the Administration has promised a special carve-out for small businesses and family farms where the next generation keeps running the business or farm. What they haven’t done is offered any real concrete proposal to do that. Farmers have heard plenty of these empty promises before. I’m from the Show-Me State. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Until then, we should all stand up and make our voices heard. We cannot afford to let this happen. We’ve already lost far too many family farms, and this could good well be the final nail in the coffin. I won’t sit silent and watch this happen.

Detention motion: Sarcoxie sex offender was living in home with one minor child, another on the way

A Sarcoxie sex offender who was indicted by a federal grand jury for failing to report to Jasper and Lawrence county authorities has been living in a home with a minor child and another one on the way, according to a detention motion filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Jacob Zuber, 32, who lived in Carthage before moving to Sarcoxie, has a long list of offenses including being convicted of two felony sex offenses against children while he was living in Oregon, according to the motion.

According to the indictment, Zuber failed to report between January 1, 2017 and December 23, 2020.

Zuber's detention hearing is scheduled for 12 p.m. Friday in Springfield.

His previous offenses and the government's reasoning for wanting him held without bond while awaiting trial were spelled out in the detention motion.

On or about May 21, 2008, Jacob ZUBER pled guilty to two counts of sexual abuse in the first degree in the Lincoln County Circuit Court, 17th Judicial District of Oregon. 

The charges of the indictment that the defendant pled guilty to read as follows: 

COUNT 3: SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE FIRST DEGREE (ORS 163.427 F/B) The said defendant, on or about April 2005, in the County of Lincoln and State of Oregon, did unlawfully and knowingly subject [Jane Doe], a person under the age of 14 years, to sexual contact by touching her genitalia, a sexual or intimate part of [Jane Doe]. 

COUNT 4: SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE FIRST DEGREE (ORS 163.427 F/B) The said defendant, on or about April 2005, in the County of Lincoln and State of Oregon, did unlawfully and knowingly subject [Jane Doe], a person under the age of 14 years, to sexual contact by touching her breasts, a sexual or intimate part of [Jane Doe]. He was sentenced to 75 months in the Oregon Department of Corrections and 10 years post-prison supervision. 

ZUBER was released from the Oregon Department of Corrections on October 11, 2013. On June 6, 2008, ZUBER completed his initial Oregon Sex Offender Registration Form which clearly outlined the penalties for failing to comply with the requirements of the sex offender registry. 

On December 11, 2015, ZUBER completed and signed his last recorded Oregon Sex Offender Registration Form. He specifically initialed the section that stated, “no more than 3 days after moving to another state . . . I must report to law enforcement in that county, in person, and complete registration.” 

On January 15, 2020, Deputy United States Marshal (DUSM) Cole Faulconer was assigned to investigate a possible Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act violation by ZUBER. DUSM Faulconer obtained ZUBER’s 2017 and 2018 Jasper County Property Tax Assessment Lists. 

On his 2017 personal property declaration, ZUBER declared an address of 10055 Maple Road, Carthage, Jasper County, Missouri. On the 2018 personal property declaration, ZUBER declared that he had changed his address to 13632 Lawrence 1022, Sarcoxie, Lawrence County, Missouri. 

On that form, ZUBER listed the date he moved from Carthage, Missouri, to Sarcoxie, Missouri, as August 2017. DUSM Faulconer also received information from the Missouri Department of Employment, the Missouri Department of Conservation, the United States Postal Inspectors, the Missouri Department of Revenue, Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the Lawrence County Assessor’s Office, that all demonstrated that ZUBER was living and working in Missouri, specifically, in Jasper County and Lawrence County. 

DUSM Faulconer confirmed with the Missouri Information Analysis Center, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, and the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office that ZUBER had not registered as a sex offender and remained unregistered as of December 28, 2020. 

In relation to the history and character of the defendant, the defendant has an extensive criminal history with convictions for improper use of 911, custodial interference, attempt to elude a police officer with a vehicle, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, sexual abuse in the first degree and sexual abuse in the first degree. The victim in the sexual abuse in the first degree was a minor relative of the defendant. 

Given the nature of his criminal history, it is extremely concerning that the defendant is living with a minor and that his wife (who the defendant intends to live with if released on bond) is pregnant. 

The defendant has an active warrant for absconding from parole in relation to the sexual abuse in the first degree case. Given his absconder status and his history of flight from law enforcement, he is a risk of flight. 

Given the nature and circumstances of the offenses charged, the weight of the evidence against the defendant, the defendant’s criminal history, his status as an absconder, his inadequate home plan which includes contact with minors, and the danger to the community by the defendant’s release, the United States submits that there is clear and convincing evidence that there are no conditions that would reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance in court or the safety of the victim or community

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Carthage R-9 School District drops mask requirement

(From the Carthage R-9 School District)

Effective May 27, the Carthage R-9 School District will no longer expect students, staff, and visitors to wear masks/face coverings. 

Obviously, you can continue wearing masks, especially if you are not fully vaccinated. However, wearing masks is optional and we will not question whether or not you are fully vaccinated. 

We will monitor positive and quarantine cases to determine if expecting wearing masks should be reissued.

Joplin R-8 drops mask mandate effective immediately


Hartzler, Smith among those expected to announce Senate runs

By Rudi Keller

Republican activists from around the state will gather in Kansas City next month for the party’s annual Lincoln Days. And by that time, GOP insiders expect the announced field vying for Missouri’s open U.S. Senate seat will grow by one or more candidates.

According to several sources familiar with her plans, U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Harrisonville will announce her bid sometime in early June and go to Lincoln Days in full campaign mode.

She could use the June 3 Cass County Lincoln Days in her home county or another venue closer in time to the statewide event for the announcement, sources told The Independent.

By running, Hartzler would give up almost certain re-election to the 4th Congressional District seat she has held since 2011.

U.S. Rep. Jason Smith of Salem on Monday visited former President Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York as he pursues the primary’s most coveted endorsement.

“We would love to have his support,” Smith’s campaign spokesman, Josh Siegel, said Tuesday about the Trump visit.

GOP political operatives, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Smith will likely get into the race if he can either obtain the former president’s endorsement or win assurances that Trump will stay out of the primary contest entirely.

Otherwise, they expect to see Smith to seek another term representing the 8th Congressional District.

A formal announcement by Lincoln Days isn’t as important for candidates as making sure those attending know their intentions, GOP state executive director Charlie Dalton said Tuesday. There will be no other large gathering of Republicans from across the state until just before filing begins next February.

“This is a gathering of the most dedicated, grassroots Republicans in the state of Missouri,” Dalton said. “As far as directly talking to voters, this is their opportunity. If they are considering being a U.S. Senate candidate, they need to be there.”

So far, the field includes a disgraced former governor, the current attorney general and a man who blasted to internet fame by confronting protesters with a firearm in the race for Missouri’s open U.S. Senate seat.

Former Gov. Eric Greitens was the first candidate to jump in the race after U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt announced in early March that he would not seek a third term. He was followed by Attorney General Eric Schmitt and, most recently, St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey.

Missouri has eight seats in Congress, with six held by Republicans. Four of those members – U.S. Reps. Ann Wagner of the 2nd District and Billy Long of the 7th District along with Hartzler and Smith – are known to be considering their prospects in the crowded August 2022 primary.

State Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, is also considering whether to enter the race.

The decision for members of Congress is whether to give up a safe GOP seat for the uncertainty of a primary where a loss could end their political careers. Wagner had the closest race in 2020, winning by 6.3 percent, while the others won their districts by margins ranging from 38 to 55 percent of the vote.

Smith is lined up to be chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee if Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives, a factor that will influence his decision.

Smith isn’t likely to make a final decision before Lincoln Days, Siegel said.

“We are just trying to look at the lay of the land and make a decision going forward,” he said. “We believe Congressman Smith is the best candidate in the race, should he decide to do it.”

Smith was a staunch Trump ally during his presidency, and is said to have a close relationship with the Trump family. More recently, he voted against certifying the electoral college vote in January and held a fundraiser at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in April.

Greitens is also angling for the endorsement. He hired Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News host who is dating the former president’s eldest son, as national chair of his campaign.

If Trump is leaning toward blessing multiple candidates, Smith “would plead with the Godfather not to make any endorsement,” one GOP insider told The Independent.

Wagner and Long, several GOP strategists said, are farther from a decision than either Hartzler or Smith. Schatz said as this year’s legislative session ended that he would make his intentions known soon but gave no timeline.

Greitens not only was the first to announce but also has the widest name recognition and has shown great strength in early polling despite his exit from the state’s top job under a cloud.

Greitens was accused of violent sexual misconduct during a 2015 affair. He was also accused of stealing a donor list from a veteran’s charity he founded in order to boost his political career — a felony charge that was dropped as part of a plea deal that stipulated prosecutors had “sufficient evidence” to bring his case to trial.

Lawmakers convened in special session in May 2018 to begin impeachment proceedings. He resigned in June 2018 as part of his plea deal.

Schmitt, elected state treasurer in 2016, moved to his current position after Josh Hawley won a Senate seat in 2018. Schmitt was considered a moderate during his two terms in the Missouri Senate but his politics evolved as the state turned a deeper shade of red over the last decade.

He has also been courting Trump support, and the support of his Missouri voters. Schmitt joined the failed legal effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory and has launched several lawsuits targeting the Biden administration.

McCloskey became a public figure when he and his wife, brandishing firearms, confronted Black Lives Matter protesters who were marching through their gated community to the home of then-St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson. They endorsed Trump and made a video played at the 2020 Republican convention.

On the Democratic side, the announced candidates are former state Sen. Scott Sifton of Afton; Marine Corps veteran and attorney Lucas Kunce of Independence; Spencer Toder, who works in real estate and runs a medical device company; activist Tim Shepard and Jewell Kelly, a veteran who has a family real estate business in Jefferson County.

Former Gov. Jay Nixon and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas have been mentioned as possible candidates.

Rudi Keller covers the state budget, energy and the legislature. He’s spent 22 of his 30 years in journalism covering Missouri government and politics, most recently as the news editor of the Columbia Daily Tribune. Keller has won awards for spot news and investigative reporting.

Grand jury indicts Sarcoxie man for failure to register as sex offender

A federal grand jury indicted a Sarcoxie man for failure to register as a sex offender.

According to the indictment, which was unsealed today, Jacob Zuber, 32, failed to register as a sex offender in Jasper and Lawrence counties between January 1, 2017 and December 23, 2020.

A detention hearing is scheduled for 12 p.m. Friday in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

Kentucky man sentenced to 10 years for molesting Newton County child

(From the Newton County Prosecuting Attorney's Office)

A Kentucky man entered a plea of guilty in Newton County Circuit Court to a count of child molestation and was sentenced to 10 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

John E. Hartle, 71, Williamstown, Kentucky, was sentenced by Judge Kevin Selby of the 40th Judicial Circuit on Tuesday, May 25, on one count of child molestation in the first degree.

In the summer of 2020, the juvenile victim gave a disclosure to a forensic interviewer at the Children's Center in Joplin, Missouri that the defendant rubbed the victim's genitals through the victim's pants pocket.

Family members confronted the defendant about the disclosure, at which time he fled the state to attend a sexual addiction treatment center in Kentucky.

"Finding justice for juvenile sexual assault survivors in a way that doesn't further their trauma is difficult to balance," said Newton County Prosecuting Attorney William Lynch.

"This plea allows justice to be served without requiring this child to testify repeatedly throughout the process. Given the age of the defendant, he may well spend the rest of his life in prison.'

The case was investigated by Detective Brad Black of the Newton County Sheriff's Office and prosecuted by William Lynch and Mitchell Cross of the Newton County Prosecutor's Office.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Newton County reports 12 new COVID-19 cases

(From the Newton County Health Department)

Covid-19 Update as of yesterday May 24, 2021:
12 New Cases
34 Active Cases
8 Daily Recovered Cases

Covid-19 tests conducted in Newton County for week of May 16 – May 22, 2021:
476 Total Tests
431 Negative Tests
45 Positive tests
9.50% Positivity Rate

Covid-19 Cumulative Tests for Newton County:
38,450 Total Tests
32,172 Negative Tests
6,278 Positive Tests
16.30% Positivity Rate

Newton County Vaccinations given:
16,772 Total Vaccinations
18.10% Percentage of population with one dose
15.70% Percentage of population with two doses
440 Number of doses administered in the last 7 days

Nancy Hughes: When a "mean girl" attacks your daughter

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

Philippians 1:27a (NIV)

My mother always had an answer when a friend was mean in elementary school. I would ride the bus home, wait for her on the front step, and share my heartbreak before she could get out of the car. 

I would announce through tears that a friend whispered I was so skinny I looked like Popeye’s girlfriend Olive Oil or another declared at lunch that my dress looked like a really old wrinkled sack. 

And possibly the worst betrayal for a 6th grade girl? Confidentially telling my best friend the name of the boy I secretly liked only to have her tell him. “She will never be my friend ever again!” I would tell my mother.

But she would reply “There will always be mean girls who say or do something unkind. When a girl is mean, picture her naked with a wart on her nose. Then smile and forgive her. Tomorrow will be better. 

 Just remember how this feels so you never treat anyone like you have been treated.” That was great advice – well, maybe except for the “picture her” part. But it did cause me to smile, forgive and move on. And yes, apologies were given, friendships healed and tomorrows were once again hopeful and happy.

However, in today’s world, the definition of “mean girl” has taken on a whole new dimension. A “mean girl” is a bully focused on randomly attacking a girl verbally, emotionally, mentally or even physically with the goal of humiliating her. 

It’s not because of something bad that the target has done, which would still not make it okay. No one deserves to be bullied by a “mean girl.” Simply put, the attack is done “just because.” Need examples?

“I can’t believe anybody who sees you would actually vote for YOU for homecoming queen!” (spoken to a queen candidate) “Your teeth are so big; you look like a horse when you smile.” (spoken to a girl with beautiful straight teeth) “You dress like a ----- every day at school.” (shouted by a group to a girl wearing a new pair of jeans) Those are the least offensive comments that can be shared and are almost always followed up with a smile and “just kidding.” But they are not.

Today’s “mean girl” longs to be popular and has a following either frightened of her or wanting to emulate her. She is not afraid to attack face to face but feels empowered with a group backing her, whispering and glancing at a girl to give the impression they are talking about her. They may play jokes on her in front of peers to make her look – and feel – belittled and embarrassed. And they never apologize for their behavior.

Perhaps the opposite occurs. A girl is totally ignored by her friends, like she is invisible. And this does not even address bullying on Facebook or Snapchat, where a person can remain anonymous and say whatever they want with no way to be held accountable.

Now before you say “but there has always been bullying in some form so girls just need to toughen up,” there is a difference in todays “mean girl” bullying: she fully intends to inflict pain and cause heartache on her target. And she is not content until she feels she has accomplished just that. And one more fact: mean girls are everywhere. In your daughter’s classes at school, at her favorite place to eat, even in her church youth group.

So what can your daughter do when a “mean girl” decides to focus on her? She basically has two choices: she can focus on what the world says (Get even no matter what it takes.) or she can focus on the Word. (Jesus never retaliated against anyone attacking Him.) Is there a solution that will cause the bullying to stop completely? Sadly, no. But there ARE some things that your daughter can do to create a perspective of mercy toward the “mean girl” and hopefully, in the process, affect the attitude of the bully. Consider the following:

First, pray with your daughter: for courage and strength and wisdom to address the girl who is mean; for a change of heart for whoever is bullying her. What the mean girl says and does reflects her heart, not your daughter’s.

Second, encourage your daughter to step away from the friendship, either temporarily or permanently. Talk to the bully gently but firmly: “I would never talk to you or treat you like you are treating me. Friends don’t do that to each other. So for now I am going to step away from our friendship, and if we can’t fix it, then it needs to end.”

Third, if the person is not a friend, have your daughter consider having a teacher or principal present as she talks with her: “I do not know why you are treating me like you are but I would never treat you that way. My parents know about it and I want my teacher/principal to know that it is going on and it needs to stop.”

Fourth, remind your daughter to forgive the “mean girl.” That does not mean that she has to hang around with her again. But Jesus commands (not suggests) that we forgive those who have harmed us.

We will never be able to keep our daughters from encountering a “mean girl” from time to time in their lives. But choosing to respond with forgiveness and compassion will guard their hearts and help them to be an example of Jesus to those being mean.

Father, please help me to teach my daughter to be an example of the love Jesus had toward those who are mean. Please give her strength, courage and wisdom. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up . . .


· Has your daughter ever been the target of a “mean girl”?

· If so, what was your first response when she told you?


· Pray for the heart of the one who has been a “mean girl” to your daughter.

· Follow the suggestions given on handling a “mean girl.”


· Philippians 1:27a (NIV) “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

· Matthew 5:43-44 (NIV) “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

· I Corinthians 16:14 (NIV) “Do everything in love.”

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

Paul Richardson: Don't ever drop the bike

It took me several years after we were married to convince the good wife to get on the back of my motorcycle. 

It may have had something to do with my past, but also had something to do with her past. Past experiences for her were somewhat of a mixed bag of issues such as quality of ride and a feeling of security.

The co-riding began slow at first and then quickly grew to more frequent and longer experiences. Eventually she expressed her fears from the past and assured me that these had been vanquished. In fact, she went beyond escaping the fears, but indicated that not only did she feel safe and comfortable but enjoyed this time we had together in a new and unique way.

There was only one caveat, do not ever drop the bike with her on it! That would be the deal breaker. She would leave any such incident and never look back and we would return to pre-riding days and this connection would be lost.

Over the years I had my incidents. If you ride, it is not a matter of whether or not you will have incidents, it is a matter of when. They may not be serious accidents resulting in injury or property damage, but there are and will be incidents. 

I had a few of these from sliding in on loose gravel, repeating this on wet grass, t-boning a car that pulled out in front of me at 55 mph, and then hitting a deer that jumped in front of me at highway speed. The car put me down, minor injuries and totaled the bike. The deer did not. This totaled the bike, but I kept control and remained upright in the saddle.

But it was in 2009 on a trip to Chama, New Mexico that fate would find us on a remote logging road, on the top of a mountain, somewhere between Chama and Santa Fe. 

My old friend Charlie Moore was leading us back to Chama after a visit to Santa Fe when he diverted us off of the main routes to a more remote two-lane state road. There were a lot of problems associated with this decision, but one of them became prevalent when the state pavement ended and all that lay ahead of us was a dirt road leading into a state forest on top of the mountain. 

This wouldn’t have been so complicated if there was a fuel stop within a reasonable distance and my grandson wasn’t riding on the back of Charlie’s bike. Knowing the only way to reach fuel in a proper amount of time and distance and not leave my grandson to the uncertainties ahead, was to continue on forward and hope that the five-mile gap was all that lay between us and the next main route.

As luck would have it, that five-mile gap turned into a twelve-mile trek over a dirt road that was rutted from logging trucks. It was when we hit one of these ruts that the unimaginable, but inevitable, not whether or not, but when, happened. I dropped the bike with the goodwife on the back. We were moving at a slow speed, there was no injury or property damage, but I remembered the caveat. Was she going to sit on a stump here, waiting on our return with a different vehicle? I didn’t know.

The good wife is a lot tougher than most would assume. She jumped up, helped me get the bike up and after much more and a lengthy process we were able to continue on. She has continued to join me on rides ever since, but I still abide by the rule: Don’t ever drop the bike!

Watch live- Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting at 6 p.m.


Newton County member of Southwest Honkys sentenced to 21 years on meth conspiracy charge

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

A Stella, Missouri, man was sentenced in federal court today for his role in leading a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in southwestern Missouri.

Nathen D. Libertus, 31, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 21 years in federal prison without parole.

On May 20, 2020, Libertus pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Newton County and Barry County, Mo., from April 30, 2017, to Jan. 20, 2019. According to court documents, Libertus is an affiliate of the Southwest Honkys, a violent prison gang, who has fled from law enforcement officers on several occasions.

A McDonald County, Mo., sheriff’s deputy was passed by a vehicle on West 76 Highway on Nov 10, 2017. The black Cadillac CTS appeared to have something dragging off the back of the vehicle, causing sparks on the roadway. 

As the deputy attempted to get behind the vehicle, it sped off and nearly spun out. The deputy initiated his emergency lights and the vehicle, which was being driven by a woman (not identified in court documents) with arrest warrants, was stopped. 

The deputy searched the vehicle and found a plastic bag that contained approximately 332.74 grams of methamphetamine and a total of $6,952 in cash. Inside the bag with the methamphetamine and cash was a wallet with Libertus’s driver’s license.

On March 29, 2018, a sergeant with the Newton County Sheriff’s Department responded to an address in reference to a suspicious vehicle. Once he got there, he saw a grey/silver colored Chevrolet Camaro with Oklahoma plates in the driveway. He pulled in behind the vehicle and approached, knocking on the window and the roof to get Libertus, the driver, to exit.

Libertus refused to do so and instead started the vehicle and attempted to flee by driving through the yard. The vehicle got stuck on some shrubbery, a fence, and a cinderblock, and Libertus was unable to go any farther. 

Libertus bailed out of the vehicle and ran west through the woods with officers in pursuit. After a quarter-mile foot chase, Libertus came to a stop but had to be tased before he could be taken into custody. 

Officers searched Libertus and found approximately $4,430 in his pants pockets. Officers found another $1,591 in the vehicle, along with a scale that tested positive for methamphetamine, a glass bong, two cell phones, and other drug paraphernalia.

On April 9, 2018, investigators saw Libertus and the woman from the Nov. 10, 2017, arrest arrive together in a Chrysler 300 at a Newton County residence where they were about to execute a search warrant. 

The Chrysler pulled into the driveway, maneuvered around several parked vehicles, and continued about 100 yards into a wooded area immediately south of the residence. Libertus and two others attempted to conceal the Chrysler 300, which has been reported stolen, with tarps. When officers arrived, Libertus ran into the wooded area. 

As a Newton County detective arrived, he saw Libertus spring from the east side of the street and start running down the street. The detective drove toward him. 

Libertus then tried to cut back onto the property, however, there was a steep hillside and he was unable to make it up the hill. He turned around and ran across the street and into the driveway. He tried to shut the cattle gate so the detective couldn’t follow him in his vehicle, but was unable to, then attempted to run again. He tripped on some shrubbery, got up, tried to run, and then tripped on some more shrubbery and fell down again. 

The detective was then able to take him into custody. Libertus had $1,240 in his wallet and a key to the Chrysler 300 in his pocket.

The detective found a hollowed out railroad tie near the vehicle. Inside was a camouflage box that contained a Ziploc bag of approximately 396 grams of methamphetamine, a used methamphetamine pipe, several distribution bags with methamphetamine residue in them, a bag of suspected marijuana, several bags of suspected synthetic marijuana, and a digital scale with suspected methamphetamine residue. Another detective found a hollowed-out log nearby that contained a black box with approximately two grams of methamphetamine.

On Sept. 4, 2018, a man in Newton County called emergency services after finding Libertus passed out behind the wheel in the middle of the roadway. 

A Newton County deputy attempted to wake Libertus several times; he finally started awake and said “I don’t have any money.” Libertus denied consent to search the vehicle, but one of the deputies saw a green and yellow bong between the driver’s seat and the passenger’s front seat. A detective went to seize the bong and noticed a black metal combination safe. 

The detective picked up the safe and it fell open, revealing numerous jewelry bags commonly used to package drugs as well as bags containing methamphetamine residue, gel caps, a set of digital scales with methamphetamine residue on them, and a bag containing more than 30 grams of methamphetamine. Libertus had approximately $1,245 in his pocket.

On Jan. 20, 2019, Libertus was again passed out in his vehicle. He fled from police after being asked to step out of the vehicle. The pursuit lasted an hour and ended only after the Missouri State Highway Patrol threw down a spike strip. When the vehicle finally stopped, officers found nearly three pounds of methamphetamine strewn about the vehicle other drugs, and cash. In phone calls made after his arrest, Libertus tried to persuade his friends to burn up his truck.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Josephine L. Stockard. It was investigated by the FBI, the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team, and the Newton County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Joplin R-8 administrators to recommend dropping mask mandate for summer school


Joplin R-8 administrators will recommend dropping the mask mandate at the end of the regular school year.

The R-8 Board of Education will act on the recommendation when it meets 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Memorial Education Building.

If approved, there will be no mask mandate for summer school, which begins Wednesday, June 2.

The recommendation document noted the district had no COVID-19 cases among students or employees on May 18 and that numbers in the city of Joplin, Jasper County and Newton County "have held relatively flat for several weeks.

Agenda posted for Joplin R-1 Board of Education meeting

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education will meet 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Memorial Education Building. A closed session will be held at 5:30 p.m. to discuss personnel, real estate and negotiations with employees.

The agenda for the regular session is printed below:

A. Call to Order
1. Roll Call

B. Pledge of Allegiance

C. Approval of Agenda

D. Reports

1. Board President's Report
a. Celebrations
b. Board Finance Committee

2. Superintendent's Data Report

a. Construction Update
b. Health and Dental Care Insurance Reports 
c. Financial Statements
d. Recognition of Advertisers Sponsoring the Junge Field Video Scoreboard

E. Public Comments Regarding Posted Agenda Action Items

F. Consent Agenda

1. Minutes

2. Consent Contracts
a. Tyler Technologies SIS Pulse Subscription
b. Westbrook & Co. P.C.

3. Approval and Reporting of Time Sensitive Payments

4. Consider Rescinding the Resolution in Response to Health Emergency

5. Ion Wave Technologies / SpedTrack

6. High School Summer Cheer Camp

7. Joplin Schools Extension of Trash Service for 2021/22

8. HVAC Filter Supply for Joplin Schools 2021/22

9. Soft Drink Bid 

10. Fuel Purchase

G. Regular Agenda

1. Junge Field Press Box Remodel 

2. Consideration of COVID Precautions 

3. Agreement Between Joplin Schools and the Joplin Schools National Education Association (JNEA) - Action

4. Agreement Between Joplin Schools and JESP 

5. Salary Schedules and Other Salary Adjustments for the 2021/22 School Year

6. Accounts Payable 

7. Fund Transfer Authority 

8. Final Budget Adjustments

H. Plus/Deltas

I. Adjourn

Sunday, May 23, 2021

From 5:41: John Hacker's reporting from the scene moments after the Joplin Tornado

For our 10th anniversary edition of 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado, John Hacker and I had two goals, with the first being that we wanted to publish a book with stories that would draw the reader into the immediacy of the tornado, as well as the long months of recovery. 

The second goal was to publish a volume that would be a necessary stop for future historians who wanted to tell the story of what happened in Joplin 10 years ago yesterday.

The tone for our book was established immediately with the opening story, "Surviving" written by John Hacker.

John has established a much-deserved reputation over the last quarter of a century as a top-notch on-the-spot reporter, as well as being a gifted photographer.

Those abilities are thoroughly showcased in that opening story detailing- through words and photos- what John saw when he arrived in Joplin 20 minutes or so after the tornado to help a friend.

A couple of his photos are included in this post. The rest can be found in our book.

by John Hacker

Moments after a category EF-5 tornado turned the heart of Joplin’s residential district into a post-apocalyptic wasteland, bloodied, wet and tired survivors began to emerge from the wreckage and take stock of a new reality.

Many who emerged from the rubble of homes around 20th Street and Wisconsin Avenue bore some kind of injury, but they rushed to help others who were trapped in the rubble of churches and apartments in the area.

This remarkable storm’s sound, a powerful roar that permeated everything for a few brief moments, was a theme that ran through most residents’ tales of survival.


Larry Thomas emerged from the rubble that was the Missouri Place Apartments remarkably uninjured, but he knew his neighbors were not so lucky.

“There’s some fatalities back there,” Thomas said. “I suspect that the woman across the hall from me stayed in her apartment thinking she was going to be safe and it’s gone, too.”

Thomas said the roar was the first thing that got his attention.

“I opened my bedroom window and looked in this direction and heard the freight train coming,” Thomas said. “I was in the hallway and we’ve got glass doors on both ends and it just busted the windows out. The wind shoved me into a vacant apartment. It forced the door open into a vacant apartment and I got into the kitchen which is a narrow little place and I hunkered down. I’ve lost a lot of property in there, but I came out of it — let me see, do I have any scrapes? Not really. I have mud on me. I’m alive.”

As he walked on Wisconsin Avenue, looking for the home of one of his professors, Thomas, who is also vice chair of the Homeless Coalition for Jasper and Newton counties, wondered about his future.


“My desktop and my laptop are gone and I’m due to start school in two weeks,” Thomas said.

“At Pitt State, I have one summer class, and this fall I have my practicum and then I’ve got my bachelor’s degree. I don’t have transportation to get there now, it’s trashed.”

Victims to rescuers

All over the neighborhood south of 20th Street and east of the shattered Joplin High School, victims became rescuers as they struggled to deal with the loss of homes and loved ones.

Several people took crowbars and their bare hands, anything, they could find to rip into a small white car on the side of Wisconsin Avenue and pull two older women out of it.

A man covered in blood and with a swollen face watched and tried to help the rescuers get his wife and her mother out of the car.

The man said the three were headed for their home in the 2900 block of Wisconsin Avenue, but they didn’t make it and rode out the EF-4 tornado in their small white Toyota.


The 10th Anniversary edition of 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado is available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon (the e-book edition features color photographs), and can be purchased in Joplin at Always Buying Books, Changing Hands Book Shoppe and The Book Guy.

“I got hit in the face by a two-by-four, or that’s what it felt like,” the man said. “I lifted my head up for a second when the wind started pushing the car and something hit me.”

With the doors jammed, the man’s wife and her 82-year-old mother were trapped in the car. Both were covered in blood from cuts and scrapes. Debris covered the car; some had come through the windows and pummeled the three occupants.

Finally, rescuers were able to pry open the driver’s side door.

As that was happening, others were yelling for anyone who could to run to the nearby Mormon Church on Indiana Street to help pull trapped people out of that flattened building.

Edward Allen was one of many survivors who dove for their bathroom and rode out Sunday’s storm that tore his home at 2308 Illinois Ave. to pieces.

“The last I saw on the TV, it was going off and on, and they said you hit cover,” Allen said. “If you can still hear us, take cover. So I ran in the bathroom and all I had in there was one of those mats, the big fuzzy one, and I put over my head. There are some two-bys fell right there beside me.”

Allen said the storm seemed to last a lifetime.

“I knew that it was a tornado, and it was a-coming, and I was just wondering when it was going to stop,” he said. “The bathroom was kind of in the middle of the house, that’s what they recommend. It did work because these other places and my place are just gone.”

Once the winds died down, Allen, who lived by himself, faced another challenge — hail the size of golf balls started falling on his suddenly-exposed bathroom.

“After it hit, the top of my bathroom was gone,” he said. “I went to another room because it began to hail real bad, so I got in the other bathroom and other closet and that area still had kind of a cover over it, so I got in there. I’m not hurt, I don’t know why.”

As he walked around with shirts tied around his neck, Allen was in shock, but he was also thankful.

“I look up and say God I’m thankful I’m still alive,” he said. “That’s what you can do.”

Ron Smith’s pickup was battered, likely beyond repair, but for a while on Sunday it served as shelter for him and his wife, Ellen and their two dogs, Buddy and Buffy after the tornado shattered their home at 2402 Illinois Ave.

Ron and Ellen Smith took cover with their two dogs in their bathroom as the winds of up to 195 miles per hour ripped their home apart.

“There was a big roar,” Ellen Smith said. “We were in the dining room and the TV went out and I heard that roar toward the west and there was some kind of banging all of a sudden. We grabbed the dogs and headed to the bathroom.”

At first, Ron dismissed the warnings on television, but he soon changed his mind.

“I was sitting in the dining room watching TV thinking, oh, it’s just another damn storm,” Ron Smith said. “She came in and said did you hear that roar, and I started to hear it. We barely made it to the bathroom in the hall with the dogs.”

“The way that roar sounded and the shaking of the doors and the walls, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Ellen Smith continued. “I’ve been through tornados, but they were small ones in Wisconsin.”

The destruction of their home and its contents was dire, but their situation was made even more serious because of a decision the two made just a few weeks ago out of economic necessity.

“I lost my job a few months ago and we had to cancel the insurance on the house last month,” Ron Smith said. “I couldn’t afford it; it was $400 a month. We’ve got probably a good $50,000 or $60,000 worth of furniture in there and it’s all ruined.”

The two were upbeat about their situation as they looked around at the devastation that surrounded them.

As they sat, their daughter, Joanna, and granddaughter, Hannah, fought their way through the rubble-strewn streets to reach them.

Daughter and granddaughter broke down emotionally as they held Ron and Ellen.

“We didn’t hear about this until 30 minutes after, and they said the Joplin school is gone,” Joanna said. “We had to get over here, we had to. I didn’t care how long it took us. It took us an hour to get here from the mall. We went down one road and had to turn around, down another road and they said it was blocked. The closer I got here, the more damage you could see. “We’re getting the hell out of here. We’ve got to get out of here. Now where are you going to stay, you all are going to have to come to my place now.”