Monday, January 31, 2022

Decision barring local COVID orders hampering Missouri health agencies' response to other diseases

By Tessa Weinberg

Two weeks after a Cole County judge stripped local health agencies of their ability to issue orders to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, a top official in the state health department predicted the impact would be much more far-reaching.

“The pending litigation is going to shut down most (local public health agency) activities, and based on the latest call I have taken, it won’t be just on COVID,” Adam Crumbliss, the agency’s director of the division of community and public health, wrote in a Dec. 7 email to officials in the governor’s office and state health department.

(Photo- A sign directs residents to a state-sponsored COVID-19 testing site in Columbia on Jan. 25, 2022/Tessa Weinberg/Missouri Independent).

Whether he knew it or not, Crumbliss’ prediction was already coming true.

In St. Clair County in late November, state and local public health officials struggled to get the needed information to investigate an outbreak of respiratory syncytial virus in a daycare. After the court ruling was issued, and more specifically when Attorney General Eric Schmitt threatened litigation against any health department that failed to abide by it, the investigation was shelved.

Across the state in Jefferson County, the local health department gave up on issuing a quarantine order to a nursing home where COVID safety protocols weren’t being followed, potentially resulting in two deaths. They worried after the court ruling that they no longer had the authority.

In the immediate aftermath of the court ruling, public health experts warned it could undermine efforts to fend off other infectious diseases. Local officials pleaded with the state for clarity on the decision’s scope.

Emails obtained by The Independent through open records requests document confusion and growing frustration of local health departments as they waited for answers.

“I have schools and parents beating down my doors,” Chris Gilliam, the Howell County Health Department administrator, wrote to Crumbliss in early December asking when guidance may come.

It’s been over two months since the ruling, and local officials interviewed by The Independent say they’ve received little clarity and their questions have been ignored — leaving them virtually on their own to figure out how to move forward.

“They’ve been completely silent,” said Blair Shock, administrator of the Clinton County Health Department.

Lisa Cox, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said the department hasn’t issued any written statewide guidance but has continuously assisted local agencies on an individual basis when they have a specific request.

“They each have their own individual situations going on that lend themselves to individual discussions,” Cox said, “but these are all very capable and hardworking local public health administrators and teams.”

But local health departments said the advice from those individual discussions was to consult their attorneys. They want DHSS guidance to ensure a uniform response and answer questions that many of them share.

“It’s kind of like floating in a giant ocean with only a life jacket on and you’re all alone,” said Cheryl Eversole, administrator of the Dallas County Health Department.

The Missouri Supreme Court has been asked to review Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green’s decision, but in the meantime, local health departments say they’ve been left in limbo to determine what basic public health activities they still have the authority to pursue.

It’s led to a patchwork pattern of public health across the state.

“Until we get something in writing saying we are (allowed) to quarantine/isolate we will not be doing anything more than data entry of positive cases,” Eversole wrote to state officials the day the attorney general sent letters threatening legal action. “Our hands have been tied and the chair pulled out from under us.”

More than just COVID

St. Clair County was seeing a rise in cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in late November, when outbreaks hit local daycares.

While attempting to complete its investigation of an outbreak, the health center and state officials were repeatedly met with resistance from the daycare director, who cited the daycare’s privacy policy for withholding information.

Iris Queen, an epidemiology investigator for the St. Clair County Health Center, said the investigation was ultimately called off after Schmitt sent letters to public health departments demanding they comply with the court’s ruling or face legal action.

“Due to the lapse in time, limited information and uncertainty of our authority, we decided to cease the investigation at that time,” Queen told The Independent.

Sharing details of the St. Clair RSV outbreak, state officials wrote in Dec. 13 emails that they’d received similar feedback from other health departments and that it was an “ongoing problem.”

The incident reached Donald Kauerauf, director of DHSS, who stressed the severity of the situation the next day to Andrew Bailey, Gov. Mike Parson’s general counsel.

“I want to ensure the point isn’t lost that (local public health agencies) are now applying their interpretation of the court order to other highly communicable diseases,” Kauerauf wrote in a Dec. 14 email.

In a Dec. 8 email to DHSS attorneys, Jane Drummond, general counsel and vice president of legal affairs for the Missouri Hospital Association, wrote that some hospitals had already been notified by public health departments that they were no longer giving out COVID vaccines or flu shots after the attorney general’s threats.

In an interview, Drummond said she was aware of only a few health departments that notified hospitals.

Asked about whether Schmitt was concerned about the ruling’s effects on the mitigation of infectious diseases beyond COVID-19 and whether Schmitt thought more clarity was needed, the attorney general’s spokesman Chris Nuelle simply referred to previous comments where the office said the ruling voided public health orders, but would not prohibit the gathering or reporting of COVID-19 data.

Impacts on public health

The disruption the ruling caused was swift.

A day after the Cole County ruling was issued, Kelley Vollmar, executive director of the Jefferson County Health Department, wasn’t sure if she could still order a nursing home to quarantine.

The nursing home had been experiencing COVID cases, and Vollmar had just found out from the state that day that there had been two COVID-related deaths.

“Our staff do not believe that the facility is implementing the appropriate protocols to stop the spread of the illness and that we should pursue a quarantine order against the facility,” Vollmar wrote in an email to Crumbliss.

Her health department had issued such an order twice before, and found it helped quickly bring outbreaks under control. But the Cole County ruling left her unclear as to whether health departments still had that ability to quarantine a facility, and she asked the state to clarify.

In an interview, Vollmar said the state recommended she consult with her department’s own legal counsel. She ultimately decided that due to the ruling, the health department did not have the authority to close the facility.

Since the court ruling, the board overseeing Jefferson County’s health department has voted to allow it to continue to enforce orders to limit the spread of communicable diseases — except for COVID-19. The board is among five local entities appealing the Cole County ruling.

“So even under our local order,” Vollmar said, “we are still not allowed to do isolation or quarantine for COVID.”

Lack of state guidance

DHSS officials learned of Schmitt’s letters threatening legal action against public health departments “literally at the same time they did,” Lori Brenneke, a DHSS deputy division director, wrote to Kauerauf, Crumbliss and others the day the letters were sent.

Soon after Schmitt’s letters, DHSS asked local public health officials to submit their questions so the department could “provide a consistent and uniform response.”

The most common questions included whether the ruling would impact health departments’ ability to enforce orders beyond COVID, how to handle mask mandates and whether departments should still report case numbers to the state’s database.

“Who do we tell the public to contact when there is a large increase in cases when the community sees we have no teeth in our directives?” one question posed. “Do we give them the name and contact info to the Attorney General?”

Others asked what would happen during the next epidemic. Another pleaded: “Please tell us the black and white of this situation!”

A week later on Dec. 14, DHSS canceled a scheduled call with health departments, citing the fact that there had been calls the prior two weeks.

In response, Shock, the administrator for the Clinton County Health Department, urged DHSS officials for a meeting on behalf of all the agencies in his region by Dec. 22 — the day the ruling would become final.

“I understand the need for the State of Missouri and DHSS to have time to fully interrogate and process the decision, but given that, barring a stay in the decision, it will become effective on that date, guidance on the matter must be received prior to that time,” Shock wrote in a Dec. 14 email.

He received no response.

In an interview, Shock said a subsequent email sent three weeks later reiterating the need for guidance also garnered no response.

“It’s radio silence on their end, which is highly, highly unusual,” Shock said, later adding: “We’ve always viewed ourselves as partners of the state. And it doesn’t feel like we’re partners right now, that’s for sure. It feels like a very estranged relationship.”

Health department administrators interviewed by The Independent said they still have not received the promised answers to their questions about the ruling, like whether they can issue quarantines and isolations the next time there is a tuberculosis outbreak. DHSS resumed its regular calls with health departments, but they were devoted to going over things like COVID testing resources and updated CDC quarantine guidelines.

Cox said DHSS has addressed concerns through associations that represent the departments and on an individual basis, noting that Kauerauf met with Vollmar directly.

Vollmar said the conversation with Kauerauf was a productive one, and expressed hope that discussions like that can be held for other health departments to gain clarity.

“As locals, we don’t know where we stand,” Vollmar said. “And so we really want to ensure that we are able to maintain that collaboration with the state and stand strong as a unit for public health to be able to ensure our voices are still heard.”

Shock said he’s confident one day the guidance from the state will come. But he just doesn’t know when.

“Ultimately,” Shock said, “moving forward, the state has taken the posture… that they’re going to provide us with no guidance, no input and we are on our own. So we are proceeding as such.”

Independence, Kansas man charged with series of threats against President Biden, Secret Service agents

(From the U. S. Attorney for the District of Maryland)

Baltimore, Maryland – A criminal complaint was filed on January 28, 2022, charging Scott Ryan Merryman, age 37, of Independence, Kansas, for federal charges of making threats against the President of the United States and interstate communication containing a threat to harm. Merryman is expected to have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore today at 3:45 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent.

The criminal complaint was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Bo Keane of the United States Secret Service - Baltimore Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Brandon Bridgeforth of the United States Secret Service – Kansas City Field Office.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Merryman has made threats against the President of the United States and several United States Secret Service Agents and traveled from his home in Kansas to Maryland. The affidavit alleges that in a series of telephone calls on January 25 and January 26, 2022, Merryman advised law enforcement officers that he was en route to Washington, D.C. to see the President and that he was going to “cut the head off the snake in the heart of the nation.”

As detailed in the affidavit, during an in-person interview with a Secret Service agent on January 26, 2022, in Hagerstown, Maryland, Merryman allegedly reiterated his plans to travel to Washington, D.C. to “cut the head off the snake in the heart of the nation.” During a consent search of Merryman, the agent found no weapons, but Merryman did have a loaded magazine containing three bullets that he was carrying on his person, and a spotting scope in his backpack.

Later that day, Merryman called the Secret Service agent with whom he had spoken in Kansas and told the agent that he had finished speaking with the agents that the Kansas agent “had sent for him and that they had given him the answer.” He told the Kansas agent that the agents in Hagerstown had told him “not to take the bullets to the White House,” then stated, multiple times, “I’m coming for you b***h.” The affidavit alleges that during the course of the conversation, Merryman also stated, “Well, I have a bullet with your name on it,” among other threats.

The affidavit includes a series of increasingly threatening messages Merryman allegedly posted on social media from January 25, 2022, through January 27, 2022. In addition, the affidavit alleges that Merryman contacted the White House switchboard on January 27, 2022, and made threats against the President, using the same telephone number he used to contact the Kansas Secret Service agent. Merryman allegedly stated the threats to a White House operator and to a Secret Service Special Agent to whom his call was referred.

If convicted, Merryman faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for making threats against the President of the United States and a maximum of five years in federal prison for interstate communication containing threats to harm. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the United States Secret Service Baltimore and Kansas City Field Offices for their work in the investigation and thanked the Justice Department’s National Security Division for its assistance. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas M. Sullivan, who is prosecuting the federal case.

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, and its efforts to protect national security, please visit and

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Counties ask Missouri Supreme Court to strike down law restricting local CAFO rules

By Allison Kite

A pair of Missouri counties is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn a 2019 law that stripped them of their ability to set their own rules for concentrated animal feeding operations.

Under the law, county commissioners are prohibited from setting policies that are “inconsistent with or more stringent than” state rules for CAFOs. The law nullified health ordinances in counties where residents feared industrial agriculture operations could pollute their groundwater and harm their communities.


Commissioners in two of those counties — Cedar and Cooper counties — sued, along with several Missouri residents, saying the law and an update to it passed in 2021 violated the Missouri Constitution.

They lost at the trial court level after Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green sided with the state in December.

“This case does not ask the court to decide whether concentrated animal feeding operations…are good or bad for communities or the state of Missouri,” Green wrote in his judgment. “Whether wisdom or folly, they are nonetheless questions of public policy, upon which people of good faith…may hold strong opinions.

Green ruled not only that the law prohibiting county ordinances on CAFOs was constitutional but that it applies retroactively and preempts counties’ ordinances regarding CAFOs.

The counties and fellow parties filed an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Their attorney, Stephen Jeffrey, said they believe the “Right to Farm” amendment to the Missouri Constitution allows counties to regulate CAFOs and that Green’s ruling was made in error. An update to the legislation, Jeffrey said, was passed as part of a bill so wide-ranging it may violate the Missouri Constitution’s requirement that legislation stick to a single subject.

The group filed a notice of appeal but has not yet filed a more detailed brief.

CAFOs, depending on the class, can hold anywhere from a few hundred animals to tens of thousands. The rise of industrial hog operations have roiled some rural communities where neighbors have fought CAFO operations until owners abandoned their plans.

But the Missouri General Assembly, in recent years, has passed CAFO-friendly policy, including prohibiting local county control over the operations.

In Cedar County, two county commissioners resigned their positions in the Farm Bureau over the law. The county had an ordinance requiring facilities too small to be considered CAFOs under state law to get permits and ensure their operations are at least one-quarter of a mile from the nearest neighbor’s home. Cooper County adopted rules for CAFOs just before the 2019 law went into effect.

Friday, January 28, 2022

City of Joplin offers update on July 2021 security breach

(From the City of Joplin)

The City of Joplin, Missouri (“The City”) is announcing today that it is notifying additional individuals whose information was involved in a data security incident that occurred in July 2021.

Upon learning of the incident, the City immediately began to investigate, a cybersecurity firm was engaged, and steps were taken to address the incident and restore operations. The City of Joplin also contacted law enforcement. Through its investigation, the City of Joplin determined that an unauthorized person obtained access to its systems between July 2 and July 6, 2021, and took some files out of its network.


On July 10, 2021, the City’s investigation determined that files relating to its employer-sponsored health plan were accessed by an unauthorized person. The City carefully reviewed those files and began mailing letters to affected individuals on September 8, 2021. The City’s ongoing investigation identified additional health plan files that may have been accessed by the unauthorized person. These files contained Social Security numbers and health insurance information for members enrolled between 2015 and 2020.

In an abundance of caution, the City has arranged for affected health plan enrollees to receive a complimentary membership to identity monitoring services provided by Kroll at no cost for one year. Services include Credit Monitoring, Fraud Consultation, and Identity Theft Restoration.

The City also determined that the involved files included information related to residents of Joplin and Duquesne who paid their sewer bill via check between 2013 and 2021. The information includes certain individuals’ names and checking account information for the account used to pay the sewer bills. The City recommends that all residents whose information may be involved be vigilant for incidents of fraud or identity theft by reviewing their account statements and free credit reports for any unauthorized activity, and report such activity to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

The City sincerely regrets that this incident occurred and apologizes for any inconvenience or concern. To help prevent something like this from happening again, the City is continuing to take steps to enhance its existing security protocols.

The City opened a dedicated call center to answer questions about this incident, available 1-855-651-2613 from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm, Central time, Monday through Friday.

Billy Long: Joe Biden's not a nice guy

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

We were promised that if we would just elect Joe Biden President that we would have a nice guy in charge that would return things to normal at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. 

In fact he placed such a premium on treating people with respect that he promised his staff that 'I will fire you on the spot' if they disrespected others. 

Well he now makes the late Don Rickles truly look like the 'Mr. Warmth' he was sarcastically known as. That is unless you have a different definition of a nice guy. 

President Biden chastises female reporters for asking 'dumb questions' and called a male reporter a 'stupid S. O. B.' And, as far as getting things back to normal the Biden administration has been anything but normal. 

The past year has seen crisis after crisis, all due to President Biden’s failed leadership. Shouldn't the party that campaigned on restoring institutional norms actually uphold a few of those norms? 

The Department of Justice has been completely politicized and the Congressional leadership attempted to blow up the filibuster, all while the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee wants to pack the Supreme Court with liberal justices to protect their radical policies. 

As all of this is going on, the Democrats have been quietly attempting to weaponize the banking industry, namely the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). This attack on a critical industry shows that the Democrats will stop at nothing to enact their broken policies, even if it means breaking with norms that have been in place for nearly 90 years.

Created in 1933, during the height of the Great Depression, the FDIC was intended to protect depositors by providing insurance on their deposits. Without the FDIC, if your bank were to fail, your savings would disappear. This was a common occurrence during the Depression, so the federal government took action to protect deposits. An agency of such importance as the FDIC should be protected from political interference, which it was for several decades, but now that President Biden is in charge, that is changing.

Jelena McWilliams, chairman of the FDIC, recently alleged that President Biden’s appointees have been attempting a “hostile takeover” of the agency. Chairman McWilliams, who was appointed by President Trump in 2018, specifically claims that the other FDIC board members, all appointed by President Biden, have attempted to subvert her authority as chairman, and implement their own policies, against the will of either her or the FDIC career staff. 

Typically, the FDIC career staff will draft policy documents, and then present them to the board for their approval, but that process doesn’t fit into the Democrats’ plan. In October of this year, Chairman McWilliams alleges that Rohit Chopra, who serves as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and sits on the board of the FDIC, presented Chairman McWilliams with a draft request for information on bank mergers, without first addressing it with the career staff. 

When the career staff were able to review the document, they found several omissions and inaccuracies, and offered to work with the other board members to draft a better document. A few weeks later, the other board members attempted to force a vote on the CFBP’s draft, and not the FDIC’s draft. They voted over email, which does not constitute a formal vote, but decided to post the CFPB’s document on the website, claiming it was an official FDIC release.

The recent attempt by partisan board members to seize control of the FDIC flies in the face of the agency’s history. Even when the chairman is of a different party than the majority of the board, board members have respected the chairman’s authority and control over the FDIC staff. 

Sadly, this is no longer the case, and it has led to Chairman McWilliams’ announcement a few weeks ago that she will resign from the FDIC in early February. For four years, the Democrats falsely claimed that President Trump was destroying institutional norms, and that they would restore those norms when they were in power. 

Now that they are in power, they have done more damage to our nation’s critical institutions than was ever thought possible. It is imperative that this assault on our institutional norms stop immediately. We simply can’t allow the Democrats to continue undermining these vital institutions of our Republic. In the sales world advertising one product while delivering a different product of inferior quality is known as 'bait and switch' and the practice is illegal. Luckily for President Biden, 'Bait and Switch' apparently is not illegal in the political world.

Bill White offers updates on redistricting, veterans legislation

By Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin)

We closed the last full week of the opening month of session with some productive committee hearings, one of which sent the House and Senate bills for congressional redistricting to the Senate floor for consideration. 

Congressional districts contain approximately 750,000 people, adhere to the Voting Rights Act and are intended to be as contiguous and compact as possible to keep communities, cities and counties intact. 

The proposed map outlined in Senate Bill 663 and House Bill 2117 make a few, minor changes to southwest Missouri’s District 7, adding Webster County in its entirety and removing the eastern portion of Taney County.

On Jan. 26, the Senate Seniors, Families, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee heard three bills, one of which was Senate Joint Resolution 40

If passed by the Legislature and approved by voters, SRJ 40 will exempt all veterans with a total service-connected disability from paying personal property taxes. Currently only those who were prisoners of war and deemed totally disabled qualify for the exemption. Due to the late start of the hearing, the committee will continue to hear testimony on these proposals next week.

Additionally, this committee unanimously voted to “do pass” Senate Bills 698 and 639 to extend Medicaid coverage to postpartum women to one year. We also advanced Senate Bill 667 and Senate Joint Resolution 35 with a do pass vote. Senate Bill 667 better equips the Department of Social Services to restrict and handle contracts with abortion providers and their affiliates, and SJR 35 creates the Missouri Department National Guard, pending voter approval.

Joplin R-8 Board approves 12 teacher retirements, one resignation, hires three teachers

During a closed session Tuesday, the Joplin R-8 Board of Education, hired Assistant Superintendent Kerry Sachetta as superintendent, hired three teachers and 24 classified employees and approved 12 teacher retirements and one resignation

Certified Employment- Amani Mayer, Terryle Pullum, Somer Quade

Classified Employment- John Blanken, Melanie Bryan, Jan Culbertson, Darla Fort, Sage Friese, Sharon Green, Kelli Hardy, Cody Harris, Carla Johnson, Britany Long, Garth Milazzo, Deonna Newton, Doris Powell, Omar Trenche, Stacy Tucker, Jill Weller, Myron Wilbanks, Shanna Wozny, Stefanie Allen, Gabriel Cravens, Abigail Leathermon, Toba Phillips, Tabitha Wood, Olena Yakovyshena

Certified Separations (Retire)- Tamatha Arteaga, Katherine DeMint, Sheri Francis, Joyce Hale, Dale Hoggatt, Susan Knapps, Susan More, Dianne Schramm, Marda Schroeder, Maria Timpe, Jeffrey Williams, Angela Delph

(Resignations)- Dana Stokesbary

The board also discussed legal issues and real estate, but took no actions. 


Thursday, January 27, 2022

Judge orders Joplin man held without bond on child pornography charge

A Joplin man will be held without bond while awaiting trial on a federal child pornography charge.

U. S. District Court Judge David P. Rush issued the detention order for Dakotah "Cody" Gilmore, 31, during a hearing this morning in Springfield.

Gilmore was arrested following the execution of a search warrant Friday at a home in the 1500 block of South Murphy Lane. 

A Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force investigation had traced child pornography, much of it involving children who appeared to be age five or younger to accounts belonging to Gilmore.

Carthage man held without bond on meth trafficking charge

A Carthage man charged with involvement in a meth trafficking conspiracy was held without bond following his initial appearance today in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

Jeremy J. Sanders, 42, was one of seven Jasper County residents whose indictments on the meth conspiracy charges were unsealed Wednesday.

According to the 18-count indictment, the meth conspiracy began January 8, 2020 and continued until January 10 of this year.

The others who were indicted were Robert "Bobby" Stevens, 30, Joplin; Jacinto Bernave 31, Reeds; Amanda Consolver, 30, Joplin; Troy D. Frost, 42, Joplin; Dustin A. Teeter, 43, Webb City; and Oleyesa A. Tiegs, 29, Carthage.

A detention hearing and scheduling conference for Sanders is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. February 1.

Joplin man who ditched guns, meth in trash bin at Fuzzy's Tacos sentenced to 11 years

A Joplin man who was captured after ditching a backpack full of guns and meth in a trash bin behind Fuzzy's Tacos was sentenced to 11 years and five months in prison today during a hearing in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

Freddie McAnally 43, was sentenced to 77 months for possession of a controlled substance and 60 months on an accompanying weapons charge with the sentenced to run consecutively. After McAnally serves his time, he will be under supervised probation for five years.

A third charge, unlawful transport of firearms, was dismissed.

McAnally's crimes were described in a motion for a detention hearing field February 11:

Joplin Police Department (JPD) Officer H. Hinkle was dispatched to 3502 S. Range Line Road, Maple Wood Place, Joplin, Newton County, Missouri on December 23, 2019, in response to a male subject suspected of manufacturing methamphetamine in a hotel room at said location.

Officer Hinkle had information that the suspect was a white male who was carrying a black backpack and wearing a camouflage hoodie, blue jeans, and a black hat. Officer Hinkle observed an individual matching the suspect’s description, walking on the east side of Eagle Stop at 3504 S. Range Line Road, carrying a black backpack.

Officer Hinkle activated his patrol vehicle’s emergency lights and sirens to stop the suspect. The suspect looked at Officer Hinkle and then ran east across Range Line Road, then north through the parking lot of Fuzzy’s Tacos (3607 S. Range Line Road).

The suspect was walking away from a garbage bin behind Fuzzy’s Taco when Officer Hinkle caught up to him.

Upon reaching the suspect, Officer Hinkle noticed that he no longer possessed the black backpack that he was carrying moments ago. Officer Hinkle detained the male subject and identified him as Freddie Joe McAnally.

Officer Hinkle then contacted JPD Officer Joshusa Dykstra advising him that McAnally had “ditched” the backpack and that the backpack may be in the garbage bin behind Fuzzy’s Tacos.

Officer Dykstra went to the garbage bin behind Fuzzy’s Tacos and located a black backpack in the front left corner of the blue garbage bin. Officer Dykstra searched the abandoned backpack and located a black and grey Bersa, .380 caliber pistol, bearing serial number E29521, in a camouflage soft holster.

A computer check of the serial number showed the firearm was stolen.

Inside the backpack, Officer Dykstra also located 138.7 grams of suspected methamphetamine, 13.8 grams of suspected mushrooms, and 19 blue and yellow pills identified by drug identification as clozapine pills.

The drugs were eventually tested by the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab, which confirmed the existence of 136 grams of methamphetamine— Schedule II, 6 grams of mushrooms—Schedule I (psilocyn), and 0.17 grams of clonazepam— Schedule IV.

McAnally refused to speak with Officer Hinkle after he was read his Miranda rights. McAnally then blurted out that he didn’t know whose backpack that was in the bin. Officer Hinkle informed McAnally that he saw him carrying a backpack while he was running.

McAnally was taken into custody for fleeing, felon in possession of a firearm, felony stealing, and possession of a controlled substance.

McAnally has prior felony convictions for property damage first, resisting arrest, and three separate convictions for possession of controlled substances.

On June 10, 2020, ATF Special Agent Brian Fox, a firearms interstate nexus expert, determined that the Bersa, model Thunder 380, .380 caliber pistol, bearing serial number E29521, was not manufactured in the State of Missouri, and therefore, it would have traveled in interstate commerce before being found in McAnally’s possession on December 23, 2019.

McAnally’s status as a fugitive between September 2020 and January 2021 supports a finding that he poses a serious risk to flee. On August 25, 2020, McAnally was indicted for the offenses described above.

On September 1, 2020, United States Magistrate Judge David Rush, Western District of Missouri, issued an arrest warrant for McAnally. On December 15, 2020, after exhausting all efforts to locate McAnally, the ATF signed over apprehension responsibility to the United States Marshals Service (USMS).

McAnally continued engagement in criminal activity while a fugitive shows that he poses a risk to the safety of the community. On January 28, 2021, McAnally was apprehended in Jasper County, Missouri, during the execution of a state search warrant by the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team (ODET).

While searching McAnally’s camper, ODET detectives located multiple baggies containing a crystal substance, which field tested positive for methamphetamine, multiple empty plastic baggies, a scale, and components of a methamphetamine lab.

Inside McAnally’s wallet, ODET detectives located $1,245 in cash. ODET detectives arrested McAnally for the offenses of manufacture, delivery, and possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrest.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

McDonald County Health Department reports 36 COVID-19 cases, 1,005 already this year


Newton County Health Department confirms 152 COVID-19 cases in two days

(From the Newton County Health Department)

Covid-19 Update
January 25, 2022:

74 New Cases
518 Active Cases
112 Daily Recovered Cases

New cases by age range for January 25, 2022:
Total= 74
<1 yr= 1
1-11 yrs= 5
12-19 yrs= 5

20-29 yrs= 9
30-39 yrs= 11
40-49 yrs= 12
50-59 yrs= 11
60-69 yrs= 13
70-79 yrs= 3
80-89 yrs= 3
90+ yrs= 1

January 26, 2022:

78 New Cases
487 Active Cases
109 Daily Recovered Cases

New cases by age range for January 26, 2022:
Total= 78
<1 yr= 0
1-11 yrs= 7
12-19 yrs= 4
20-29 yrs= 15
30-39 yrs= 11

40-49 yrs= 6
50-59 yrs= 10
60-69 yrs= 13
70-79 yrs= 6
80-89 yrs= 5
90+ yrs= 1

138 Deaths to date

Covid-19 tests conducted in Newton County for week of January 17, 2022 – January 23, 2022:

1388 Total Tests
846 Negative Tests
542 Positive tests
39.00% Positivity Rate

Covid-19 Cumulative Tests for Newton County:

74,846 Total Tests
62,752 Negative Tests
12,094 Positive Tests
16.20% Positivity Rate

Newton County Vaccinations given:

36,406 Total Vaccinations
34.00% Percentage of population with one dose
30.60% Percentage of population with two doses
241 Number of doses administered in the last 7 days

Jasper County Health Department reports five COVID-19 deaths

The Jasper County Health Department reported five deaths due to COVID-19 Tuesday.

The deaths bring the total to 255.

The victims were men in their 50s, 60s and 90s and women in their 40s and 50s.

Arraignment, detention hearing set for Joplin man on child pornography charges

A federal grand jury indicted Dakotah James "Cody" Gilmore, 31, Joplin, on child pornography charges today.

An arraignment and detention hearing for Gilmore, who had already been arrested and was being held in the Greene County Jail in Springfield, will be held 11:30 a.m. Thursday in U. S. District Court.

The indictment enables the government to bypass a preliminary hearing.

Gilmore was arrested following the execution of a search warrant Friday at a home in the 1500 block of South Murphy Lane. A Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force investigation had traced child pornography, much of it involving children who appeared to be age five or younger to accounts belonging to Gilmore.

Federal grand jury indicts seven Jasper County residents on meth conspiracy charges

A 10 a.m. Monday arraignment and detention hearing is scheduled for Robert "Bobby" Stevens, 30, Joplin, (pictured), one of seven Jasper County residents whose indictments on meth conspiracy, distribution and possession charges were unsealed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Stevens' initial appearance was held this morning in Springfield. He is being held in the Greene County Jail in Springfield.

According to the 18-count indictment, the meth conspiracy began January 8, 2020 and continued until January 10 of this year. Most of the alleged crimes took place in Jasper County with two occurring in Newton County.

The others who were indicted were:

Jacinto Bernave 31, Reeds

Amanda Consolver, 30, Joplin

Troy D. Frost, 42, Joplin

Jeremy J. Sanders, 42, Carthage

Dustin A. Teeter, 43, Webb City

Oleyesa A. Tiegs, 29, Carthage

Joplin Globe editorial: Billy Long's campaign ad claim is false (he's just kissing up to Trump)

In an editorial in today's edition, the Joplin Globe criticized Seventh District Congressman Billy Long for his bonkers U. S. Senate campaign ad in which he says the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.

In his latest campaign ad, Long falsely claims “the Democrats rigged the election. ... I’m running for Senate to stop the insanity ... and stop the Democrats from stealing another election.”

Long offers no evidence to support his claims — there isn’t any. This has been rejected ad infinitum by investigations and court hearings at the local, state and federal levels.

He is of course after Donald Trump’s endorsement, as are his leading Republican rivals.

Somehow, the Globe editorial failed to mention that Long's campaign ad and his obvious effort to kiss up to the former president was pathetic.

It was pathetic.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Law enforcement officers, legislators resist Kansas House bill banning no-knock warrants

By Tim Carpenter

Advocates of Kansas House legislation imposing a prohibition on no-knock search warrants by law enforcement officers Monday triggered indignation and rebukes from legislators with professional experience as investigators, attorneys and judges in Kansas.

Rep. Brett Fairchild, a St. John Republican, joined with Republican and Democratic peers in the House to seek support for the bill endorsed by representatives of the Libertarian Party and the ACLU of Kansas. 

(Photo- Rep. Brett Fairchild, R-St. John, joined a bipartisan group of legislators endorsing a House bill banning no-knock search warrants of residences and adoption of a law requiring officers to be in uniform when serving the warrants.-Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

It would require officers to be in uniform and to announce their presence before breaking down doors of a residence in a quest for suspects or evidence. A collection of law enforcement organizations testified against House Bill 2133.

“I believe that no-knock warrants have caused harm to both civilians and police officers and have caused more harm than good, and I believe that my bill is at least a first step in attempting to solve this problem,” Fairchild said.

Senate committee advances "6-2" Missouri Congressional map

By Jason Hancock

A new Congressional map won the approval of a Missouri Senate committee on Tuesday, setting the stage for a debate that promises to be among the most contentious of the 2022 legislative session.

After two hours of public testimony, a pair of Democrats joined with seven Republicans Tuesday to advance a map that keeps the partisan makeup of the state’s congressional delegation unchanged.

Voting against the map were two Democrats and three Republican members of the Senate’s conservative caucus.

(A view of the Missouri Senate chamber from the visitors gallery- Missouri Senate photo).

The proposed map now heads to the full Senate, where disagreement among Republicans over whether to reconfigured a Democratic seat in Kansas City in order to tip it to the GOP’s favor have already caused tensions to run high.

The chamber’s conservative caucus, which has been in open war with Senate leadership for months, is calling for a map that would split Kansas City into two districts in order to ensure Republicans hold seven of the state’s eight congressional seats — leaving St. Louis’ Cori Bush as the sole Democrat.

Republican leaders have balked at the plan, arguing a 7-1 map may not survive a court challenge. Even if it did, by trying to do away with a Democratic seat, a 7-1 map could end up packing enough Democrats into other districts to put GOP seats in danger.

“We’ve been in sweep elections the last 10 or 12 years where the numbers are just crazy,” said state Sen. Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee’s Summit. “Some day, we’ll return to the norm. And if that happens in 2024, 2026, with a seven to one map, we could easily lose three seats.”

The conservative caucus, and the parade of opponents of a 6-2 map that showed up to testify at the public hearing Tuesday, argue that Missouri must do everything it can to send more Republicans to Washington, D.C.

Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, pointed to states like Illinois, where Democrats engaged in gerrymandering to target two Republicans seats.

But Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial and chair of the House Special Committee on Redistricting, said he purposefully ignored partisan data when crafting a map.

“We drew a map that was compact, contiguous and constitutional,” he said Tuesday, adding: “I don’t see how Branson has any connection with downtown Kansas City.”

While Republicans have faced criticism of the map from their conservative base, Democrats have also expressed concerns.

In the House, Democratic opposition meant an emergency clause was not approved that would have ensured the new map was in place before the August primary.

Appeals court orders St. Louis Circuit Attorney to turn over Eric Greitens case records

By Rudi Keller

A circuit judge will determine whether St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is entitled to claim privilege for her communications with political donors and key figures in the 2018 investigation of former Gov. Eric Greitens, the Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

The court affirmed a 2020 decision by St. Louis Circuit Judge Christopher McGraugh that found Gardner’s office purposely violated the Missouri Sunshine Law by refusing to turn over documents to John Solomon, a Washington, D.C. reporter who is a Fox News contributor and former staff member of The Hill.

(Photo- St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner - Rebecca Rivas, Missouri Independent)

Under the ruling, Gardner’s office must provide Solomon with a list of the documents potentially subject to disclosure and provide the documents themselves to McGraugh to determine what is and is not a public record.

While Greitens resigned in 2018 as the Missouri House moved toward his impeachment, he is attempting a political comeback this year as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Polls have consistently shown him to be among the frontrunners in the Republican primary set for August.

A large portion of the opinion discusses Gardner’s argument that McGraugh’s decision should be set aside because he didn’t allow a response to be filed late to the allegations in Solomon’s lawsuit. Assistant Circuit Attorney Lopa Blumenthal, who handled the case, argued at various times that the filings were late because of a clerical error, that there was confusion at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and that she didn’t file it because she wanted to add material, Eastern District Appeals Court Presiding Judge Robert Clayton wrote in the Tuesday ruling.

Instead, Clayton wrote, it was reasonable for McGraugh to decide the failure “to file a timely responsive pleading to the amended petition was not an act of negligence but instead was a deliberate, conscious, and reckless choice to risk the possibility of a default judgment.”

Gardner’s last chance to overturn the ruling would be an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court, said Solomon’s attorney, David Roland of the libertarian Freedom Center of Missouri. He doesn’t consider that likely.

McGraugh ordered Gardner’s office to pay a $5,000 civil fine for the Sunshine Law violation and in Clayton’s opinion, the appeals court granted attorney fees because Solomon prevailed.

Gardner’s office could continue the fight by challenging McGraugh’s decisions on each document, but it would add to the cost, Roland said.

“If it matters that the meter will be rolling, it may influence their conduct,” Roland said.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Gardner’s office said she would explore an appeal.

““We are disappointed with the court’s decision, and intend to investigate and pursue the office’s right to have the decision reviewed,” the statement read.

When Greitens resigned from office in June 2018 he faced felony charges stemming from allegations that he threatened to release a nude photograph of the woman — taken while she was blindfolded and her hands were bound — if she ever spoke publicly about the emotionally and physically abusive relationship.

In his 2019 request, Solomon asked Gardner for all her communications with the woman, her former husband, the ex-husband’s attorney, Al Watkins, and Missouri Times publisher Scott Faughn, who made $100,000 in cash payments to Watkins in the days leading up to the story about the alleged blackmail breaking on St. Louis television station KMOV.

Solomon also sought communications with key figures who opposed Greitens push to limit or end the state’s low income housing tax credit program; liberal billionaire George Soros and his political operations; and leaders of the Missouri House impeachment inquiry, including former Republican state Rep. Jay Barnes of Jefferson City.

During the investigation, Greitens and his attorneys alleged that Faughn’s payments originated from figures in the low-income house tax credit industry, noting that one of the sponsors of his weekly television talk show is Sterling Bank, which specializes in financing projects involving low-income housing tax credits.

Solomon filed his lawsuit in 2020 after Gardner’s office refused to turn over any of the records he sought. Gardner’s office claimed the records were closed because the prosecution of Greitens was dismissed and the records were privileged.

Kerry Sachetta announced as Joplin R-8 superintendent

Kerry Sachetta, assistant superintendent for operations for the Joplin R-8 School District, will receive a promotion July 1.

Sachetta, the longest serving administrator in the district, will become superintendent replacing Melinda Moss, who is retiring. Moss will continue with the district through September 30 to ease the transition, it was announced at tonight's R-8 Board of Education meeting.

Sachetta has served in his current capacity since 2016 overseeing the operational departments of the district including facilities, food service, transportation, technology, and safety.

Before that, he was Joplin High School principal for 14 years, helping guide the district through the trying years following the destruction of the high school building in the May 22, 2011 tornado.

Sachetta has 29 years of experience in education and has served as a teacher, coach, principal and university instructor. 

Sachetta's institutional knowledge served as an asset to Moss when she was hired in 2017 to replace Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder.

Moss was hired as superintendent in 2017, replacing Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder, who guided the district for two years following the "retirement" of C. J. Huff.

Joplin man pleads guilty to child pornography charge; flash drives contained images of infants


A Joplin man pleaded guilty this afternoon in U. S. District Court to child pornography charges.

A plea agreement filed today indicates the government has agreed to recommend a 10-year sentence followed by 15 years of supervised release for Jerry Vowell, 34.

Judge David P. Rush ordered a pre-sentence investigation. No date is scheduled for sentencing.

Vowell's activities came to the attention of the Joplin Police Department October 3, 2020, when a woman reported she found child pornography on five USB flash drives Vowell left at her residence, according to the plea agreement.

A forensic examination found 984 images and 43 videos containing child pornography, some of which included the sexual abuse of infants.

Joplin man pleads not guilty to kidnapping, sodomy, child molestation charges; bond reduction hearing scheduled

A Joplin man accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old girl from East Prairie, Missouri and molesting her, pleaded not guilty during a video arraignment Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Grant Henson, 19, is being held without bond in the Jasper County Jail on two counts of statutory sodomy, and single counts of kidnapping, child molestation and child abuse.

Henson's brother, Bryan Henson, 22, who is charged with felony statutory rape involving a 16-year-old girl, also pleaded not guilty and is being held in the Jasper County Jail on $100,000 cash or surety bond.

A bond reduction hearing for both brothers is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. February 2.

Jasper County Health Department reports 190 COVID-19 cases Monday

(From the Jasper County Health Department)

COVID Update 1/24/2022
190 new positive cases
(93 of the 190 did not respond for interview)

<1 year 6
1-4 yrs 9
5-11 yrs 14
12-19yrs 21
20-29yrs 28

30-39yrs 39
40-49yrs 32
50-59yrs 18
60-69yrs 16
70-79yrs 3
80-89yrs 4
90+yrs 0
Vaccinated = 53 (0 w/boosters)
Reinfection = 9 (0-vaccinated)

Joplin Health Department confirms 306 COVID-19 cases

The Joplin Health Department confirmed 306 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, according to statistics posted Monday night.

The new cases bring the total to 11,808, including 413 active cases.

The number of COVID-19 patients in city hospitals stood at 103 Monday, including 16 Joplin residents.

One hundred ninety deaths have been reported due to COVID-19.

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

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education will meet 6 p.m. today in the Memorial Education Building.

A closed session is scheduled for 5 p.m. to discuss real estate, personnel and legal items.

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 Policy Committee
c. Board Data Committee
d. Board Safety and Security Committee

2. Superintendent's Data Report
a. Construction Update - Info. (Crossland Construction)
b. Health Insurance and Dental Care Insurance Reports
c. Financial Statements

E. Public Comments Regarding Posted Agenda Action Items

F. Consent Agenda
1. Minutes
2. Proposal to Approve Change Order 006 and 007 at Dover Hill Elementary for Modification of the Grease Trap Location and Adjustments to Door Hardware
3. Acellus Site License

4. PowerSchool Online Enrollment Amended Item
5. Out of State Overnight Trip for JHS Show Choirs
6. Westbrook & Company, P.C. Contract Renewal
7. Fuel Bids

G. Regular Agenda
1. Access Control for Dover Hill Elementary
2. Consideration of Missouri Southern State University MOSO CAPS Memorandum of Understanding
3. Staff Development Opportunities
4. CAT Heavy Equipment Operator Simulators
5. Graphic Design Fundamentals Course Addition
6. Accounts Payable
7. Nursing Supplies for Joplin Schools
8. Repair and Maintenance on the Franklin Tech Greenhouse
9. Policy Updates for First Reading
a. Policy BBB: School Board Elections
b. Policy DCB: Political Campaigns
c. Policy JHDE: Behavioral Risk Assessment

H. Plus/Deltas

I. Adjourn