Monday, July 31, 2023

More physicians to be available at Freeman Neosho after upcoming $1.2 million office building expansion

(From Freeman Health)

Freeman Neosho Physician Group, located across from Freeman Neosho Hospital, will receive an extensive overhaul between now and November.

A press conference will be held at 10:00 am Thursday, Aug. 3, concerning a $1.2 million expansion to the medical office building, which provides Neosho and surrounding communities with convenient access to physicians and an array of medical services. A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place when the 4,266-square-foot expansion opens to the public. The additional space allows for the support of six residency physicians beginning July 2024.

“Freeman Neosho Hospital and Physician’s Group are thrilled to serve as the rural tract location for Kansas City University’s Family Medicine Residency Clinic,” said Renee Denton, Freeman Neosho Hospital’s Chief Operating Officer. “It is infrequent that a full residency clinic is available to a rural location, so to have this clinic available in Neosho will be extremely beneficial and increase access to medical care right here at home.”

The residency clinic adds two new residents each year for its three-year clinical experience. Typically, these doctors in training develop skills in laboratory work, medical procedures and patient care. In July 2022, the clinic’s first two residents, Dr. Omar Rehman and Dr. Terrance Kelly, began accepting patients at the clinic. Last month, Dr. Brandyce Elia and Dr. Robert Morris joined the team. Two more doctors will be added next July.

“As family medicine physicians, our residency clinic provides care for entire families, from birth to death,” Denton said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for those in our community who may be looking for a physician who can care for their newborn child or their great-grandparent, to be able to establish with one physician and receive exceptional care.”

When completed, the new addition will house 14 examination rooms, two physician offices, a consultation area and three support staff workstations for the Family Medicine Residency Clinic. The existing building’s fire alarm system and various floor coverings will also be upgraded. Outside, 10 additional parking spaces will be added.

The residency clinic is currently scheduling new patients – infants through seniors – and appointments can be made by calling 417.347.4200.

Missouri’s Back to School tax holiday pauses all local taxes for the first time

By Rudi Keller

Since 2003, Missouri has set aside a weekend at the beginning of August when families won’t pay state tax on new clothes and school supplies as they prepare for the start of the school year.

For just as long, every city, county and special district that imposes its own sales tax has had the authority to opt out of the Back to School tax holiday. With local sales taxes often matching or exceeding the state charge, the impact of the discount was limited.

This year, for the first time, there will be no sales tax at all from 12:01 a.m. Friday until midnight Sunday on any sales of the exempt items like backpacks, calculators and jeans. The repeal of the opt-out provision was one of the changes in a 2021 tax law that allows Missouri and local governments to collect tax on online purchases.

Not being able to opt out is expected to cost local governments about $465,000, but it’s offset by additional revenue from online sales in communities that have rolled out what is called a use tax. Of the 156 cities that opted out in 2022, 79 have these use taxes, including regional shopping destinations like Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Joplin and Springfield. Among counties, 49 of 114 opted out in 2022, and 31 of those now have use taxes.

An interstate agreement requires that tax collection for online purchases be as simple as possible, said Richard Sheets, executive director of the Missouri Municipal League. Even without the holiday, the state sales tax table is already 99 pages long because of various local add-ons to the state’s 4.225% tax. The combined state and local tax rate exceeds 11% in several communities.

The U.S. Supreme Court determined five years ago that states can tax online sales, even though the companies don’t have a physical presence within state lines. It’s known as the Wayfair fix because the case was brought by the online retailer.

“To make Wayfair work, we have to standardize those sales tax holidays,” Sheets said. “We can’t have various rules that out-of-state vendors have to abide by.”

In Missouri, the bill that ended Back to School holiday opt-outs also nixed local opt-outs on the “Show Me Green Sales Tax Holiday,” which exempts purchases of energy-star rated appliances costing $1,500 or less for a week in April.


Keeping up with which communities opted out and those that participated in the tax holidays was confusing to consumers, said state Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester. Cities, counties and special districts all have the authority to impose sales taxes with voter approval, and the top rate is above 11% in a number of communities.

“Consumers think there is a holiday, and they didn’t realize they have to pay the local tax,” Koenig said. “Also, I heard from some businesses that they weren’t sure what part was opted in and opted out.”

Oftentimes, cities and counties with large shopping districts would opt out together. That is how it worked in Springfield and Columbia, for example, meaning that only the state tax was not collected.

In Cape Girardeau County, the county government did not opt out while the city of Cape Girardeau did, so the only tax retailers collected was the 2.75% city tax.

Enacting the Wayfair case language was a priority for Missouri retailers, because it meant goods purchased online — often discounted already compared with in-person retailers — would no longer receive the additional advantage of untaxed sales.

The law has boosted sales tax revenues, which were nearly stagnant. Sales tax receipts only grew 1.7% in fiscal 2020, a rate that jumped to 7.6% in fiscal 2023, which ended June 30.

With Koenig’s legislation, Missouri agreed to abide by the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, which has a governing body that decides if state policies meet requirements. Ending opt-outs on sales tax holidays was an important piece of that, Koenig said.


“I didn’t want to take any chances of us being out of compliance,” he said.

Before local governments can collect the online taxes, voters must approve the levy. So far, voters in 281 municipalities across the state have approved the tax.

The opt-out provision was included originally as a compromise because local governments zealously guard their revenue sources when threatened by the legislature. So far, Sheets said, cities have accepted the trade-off of lost revenue from the tax holidays for new revenue from online purchases.

“We haven’t had any major complaints,” he said.

State of Missouri to carry out execution of Johnny Johnson

 (From Gov. Mike Parson)

Today, Governor Mike Parson confirmed that the State of Missouri will carry out the sentence of Johnny Johnson on Tuesday, August 1, 2023, as ordered by the Supreme Court of Missouri.

"Johnny Johnson’s crime is one of the most horrific murders that has come across my desk," Governor Parson said. "Casey was an innocent young girl who bravely fought Johnson until he took her life. My office has received countless letters in the last few weeks seeking justice for Casey. Although this won’t bring her back, we hope that carrying out Johnson’s sentence according to the Court’s order may provide some closure for Casey’s loved ones."

Johnson kidnapped six-year-old Casey Williamson, who would have turned 28 this November, then brutally murdered her at an abandoned factory. Casey defended herself against Johnson as he tried to rape her. She courageously fought for her life while Johnson repeatedly struck her head with a brick until finally crushing her skull with a “basketball-sized boulder.” 

Courts found that Johnson was competent at the time and is competent now. By his own admission, Johnson understands that he is going to be executed because of his crime. The Missouri Supreme Court determined, and a federal appeals court en banc agreed, Johnson’s execution can proceed.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Tawnya Bach named evening anchor at KOAM, Katelyn O'Shaughnessy new morning show host

After 17 years as host of KOAM's Morning News, Tawnya Bach is moving on, but not too far.

Beginning Monday, Bach will join Dowe Quick as evening news anchors with Katelyn O'Shaughnessy taking over as host of the morning program.

In addition to her morning duties, Bach has anchored and served as producer for the noon news.

Bach came to KOAM in 2005 after serving as a weekend anchor at KRBC in Abilene, Texas.

O'Shaughnessy, a Portland, Oregon native, comes to KOAM from WBBJ in Jackson, Tennessee, where she was morning anchor.

Joplin native named publisher of Norman, Oklahoma newspaper

CNHI, parent company of the Joplin Globe, has appointed Joplin native Katherine Miller as publisher of the Norman, Oklahoma Transcript.

Miller, who got her start in newspapers as an advertising executive for the Globe, has most recently been publisher of a group of small CNHI newspapers in Alabama.

From Editor & Publisher:

“Really looking forward to moving to Norman and getting actively involved with the community,” said Miller. “I am fortunate to join a staff dedicated to building on the Transcript’s considerable legacy of serving the residents and businesses of Norman.”

Sentencing scheduled for Joplin doctor on health care fraud charge

The sentencing for Heather Stelling, a Joplin physician who pleaded guilty in December to health care fraud, will be held 9 a.m. September 11 in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

The sentencing was originally scheduled for July 6.

Stelling, owner of Stelling Pain Management, received reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid for work done during a time in which she was suspended from practice for not paying Missouri state taxes.

Though the state revenue office later issued her a notice of compliance and indicated her license had been suspended erroneously, Stelling had falsified records to indicate the services she was being reimbursed for did not occur during her suspension. Records of approximately two dozen patients were involved.

Stelling received $146,026 from the fraudulent filings.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Sedalia residents charged with sexual exploitation of minor, child porn in Jasper, Christian counties

The federal grand jury indictment of two Sedalia residents for sexual exploitation of a minor and receiving and distributing child pornography was unsealed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Dustin Shane Colvin, 35, and Serena Dowling, 23, allegedly coerced a minor to "engage in sexually explicit conduct" for a visual depiction, with the crimes taking place in Jasper and Christian counties, according to the indictment.

Colvin faces the additional charge of being a sex offender committing a crime involving a minor.

Colvin's initial appearance was held today in U. S. District Court in Springfield. His arraignment and detention hearing are scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Joplin R-8 Board hires nine teachers, 24 classified employees, accepts teacher resignation

During a closed session Tuesday, the Joplin R-8 Board of Education hired nine teachers and 24 classified employees and accepted one teacher resignation.

Resigning was Brooke Iseli who has been a teacher at the Early Childhood Center for 15 years 

Certified Hires

Nicole Hubbard, Morgan Wright, James Charles, Kelli Schamber, Dallas Montierth, Colin
McElligott, Jada Reed-Mason, Lucy Hamilton, Cara Clark

Classified Separations

Shelby Perry, Alane Golubski, Adrianna Carey

Classified Hires

Samantha Barnes, James Duffey, Tammy Lett, Margaret Letner, Krystl Hicks, Keisha Smith, Jade Drake, Wesley Underwood, Kaye Lewis, Ivy Herrera, Meredith Moritz, Paris Binning, Tabitha Hendeson, Destiny Gettis, Deborah Powell, David Haggard, Karen Henning, Joy Grant, Charli Thurman, Sara Danner, Brandy Hagston, Cassidy Abts, Laynard Mallarme, Cody Harris

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Highway Patrol inspector sentenced for bribery

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

U.S. District Judge Matthew T. Schelp on Thursday sentenced a former supervisory motor vehicle inspector with the Missouri State Highway Patrol to 15 months in prison for taking thousands of dollars in cash bribes.

Judge Schelp also ordered Larry S. Conrad, 67, to perform 100 hours of community service and pay a $20,000 fine, part of which represented the bribe money that he’d already spent.


At his guilty plea in April, Conrad admitted accepting a total of about $14,020 in individual bribes of $40 to $160 to falsify forms and approve inspections of vehicles that had been damaged and had salvage titles or were listed as “abandoned,” even if he never saw the vehicle.

Conrad “bypassed the entire safety system that was put in place by the state of Missouri and the Missouri State Highway Patrol to ensure that vehicles were safe to operate on our roads,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith said during Thursday’s hearing, “potentially placing unwitting drivers and other motorists in harm’s way.”

In a sentencing memorandum, Goldsmith wrote that Conrad accepted hundreds of bribes over at least six months before being caught.

After receiving a tip about Conrad’s conduct, investigators recorded Conrad taking cash bribes that had been placed in the driver’s side door pocket, the memo says. When he was approached by law enforcement on Sept. 29, 2022, Conrad lied and denied accepting any cash payments that day. After being told that there was audio and video evidence of the bribes, Conrad admitted accepting a small amount of cash, and took it out of his pocket. Pressed further, Conrad admitted accepting additional bribes that day, and took cash out of his pants pockets five different times, eventually admitting that he had taken $610 that day, the memo says. After falsely claiming that he kept money from other bribes in a safe, Conrad made a full confession and allowed the FBI to retrieve $6,565 in envelopes that he’d stashed underneath the rear seat of his personal truck.

Conrad issued passing motor vehicle inspections and certified motor vehicles which he had not even physically inspected, including at least one that was so “substantially damaged as not being in working and driving condition,” Goldsmith wrote. 

His actions “allowed for the sale of vehicles, some of which had latent and undisclosed damage, to unsuspecting individuals who unwittingly trusted that defendant and the Highway Patrol had conducted proper inspections,” Goldsmith wrote.

Conrad’s primary duty was to perform motor vehicle inspections at the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Troop C facility in south St. Louis County. There is no fee for the inspections. If the vehicle passes, an inspector signs and certifies forms required for motor vehicle owners to apply for original Missouri Certificates of Title.

Conrad pleaded guilty to one felony charge of using a facility in interstate commerce, a cellular telephone, to facilitate his bribery scheme.

The case was investigated by the FBI, with the cooperation of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith prosecuted the case.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Branson places ‘adult performance’ restrictions on drag shows

By Annelise Hanshaw

Municipalities in Missouri are attempting to restrict drag performances as obscenity or a planning-and-development concern, with Branson among the first after advancing an ordinance Tuesday night limiting drag to a small area of town.

Rolla recently tried to limit drag, but an ordinance defining it as obscene, failed during a city council meeting last week.

(Photo- Branson's mayor and aldermen on Tuesday night approved an ordinance restricting drag shows to the downtown district.- Screenshot via Branson YouTube channel)

These local actions are reminiscent of policies proposed by GOP state lawmakers during the legislative session. Bills from Rep. Ben Baker, R-Neosho, and Rep. Mazzie Boyd, R-Hamilton, sought to label drag performances as adult cabaret shows and never made it out of the House.

Boyd’s legislation would’ve made drag venues akin to strip clubs in Missouri, where facilities are bound to strict hours and location requirements.

Two state representatives, Branson’s Brian Seitz and Brad Hudson of Cape Fair, spoke during Branson’s Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday evening. During the legislative session, Seitz and Hudson joined Boyd in filing bills that limited the rights of LGBTQ+ Missourians.

Hudson was the House sponsor for a bill, recently signed by Gov. Mike Parson, that bans gender-affirming care for transgender minors. Tuesday, the ACLU of Missouri and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in hopes to stop the implementation of the law.

Hudson compared the drag restrictions in Branson to the gender-affirming-care ban, asking the aldermen to consider if allowing children in drag shows will “negatively impact the child for the rest of its [sic] life.”

“Anytime you have a situation where children could be in harm’s way, it is absolutely the government’s responsibility to step in and protect those innocent kids,” he said.

Branson’s aldermen removed a clause that would’ve allowed those under 18 to attend drag performances alongside a parent or guardian.

The resulting ordinance, passed in a 3-2 vote Tuesday night, mirrors the city’s rules for other “adult performances.” The board will take a vote in August to finalize the ordinance.

It restricts new or expanded drag performances to Branson’s downtown district with a special-use permit. The venue also can’t be located near a public park, school, church, other drag club or a facility serving liquor.

“The series of proposed changes within the ordinance are intended to preserve the city’s values by restricting adult-oriented activities to a location of the city that currently allows such activities and where citizens and tourists can expect to encounter and attend such activities if desired,” the city’s fact sheet says.

The area zoned as “downtown” is different from the “entertainment” region. Downtown has the least amount of commercial land, with under 150 parcels, according to the city’s map.

“The downtown district was created to ensure that the peace and safety of residential and neighborhood-adjacent districts are not negatively impacted by live entertainment uses, which typically include bright signs, loud noises, and heavy pedestrian and car traffic that may continue late into the night. Therefore, drag shows would be zoned to the downtown district,” an ordinance brief says.

Centered around Commercial Street, it looks like a town square one could find in many Missouri towns. It is largely small storefronts where pedestrians can wander through to pick up a homemade pie, buy old-fashioned candy or stop by the bank.

It is far from a sin city in a world of cowboy boots and family values.

Steve Hartley, who owns Dick’s 5 & 10 downtown, told the mayor and aldermen he sees families walking through the area all day.

“I would certainly hate to see anything, whether real or perceived, tarnish the wholesome image we in downtown Branson are working so hard to promote,” he said.

City spokeswoman Lisa Rau told The Independent that adult-centric events have been held in the area with a special-event permit previously. She said the city is trying to please community members while balancing “the need to be respectful to our families.”

But the downtown area doesn’t fit the provisions prescribed in the ordinance, which requires setbacks of 10 feet alongside the back and sides and a 20-foot setback in front of the property and its parking. A setback is the distance between the property line and the structure.

According to the city’s SiteSketch tool, none of the parcels in the downtown area have setbacks on all sides of the property.

Kevin Vaughan, a promoter for a Branson drag show, said during the board meeting that downtown wouldn’t work for the performances.

“There is no venue that can hold a drag show in the downtown district,” he said. “This feels like some sort of attack on the LGBTQ community.”

Some supporters of drag said the shows have operated in Branson for at least 20 years, but more public attention has stirred the community after HBO’s show “We’re Here” featured Branson in its third episode.

During the public-comment period during the board meeting, most residents opposed the ordinance. Some thought drag should be banned throughout the city and spoke of the ordinance as permission for the performances.

“There are some people that think that what we’re discussing tonight is opening up an opportunity,” Mayor Larry Milton said. “The reality is today, drag shows are allowed anywhere in the city limits of Branson.”

Richie Zates, asking for an outright ban of drag in Branson, said, “We have to maintain purity in this town.”

Others quoted from The Bible, although Milton warned at the top of the meeting that he wouldn’t use scripture as a justification for disobeying the U.S. Constitution.

Joe Lauber, a Lee’s-Summit-based attorney hired by the city, said it is tricky to craft the ordinance while maintaining freedom of speech and expression and not committing gender discrimination.

“​​It is constitutionally challenging to create legislation as that which has been requested,” he said, beginning his presentation of the ordinance.

“For the most part, regulation of the activities that form the subject of this proposed ordinance is better left to individuals, the free market or private or nonprofit organizations including religious institutions,” he said.

Justice Horn, chair of Kansas City’s LGBTQ+ Commission, asked in a statement on Twitter for the ACLU of Missouri to “step in and protect the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals who live in rural communities.”

Carl Junction businesswoman waives preliminary hearing on drug trafficking, DWI, bound over for trial

A Carl Junction businesswoman waived her preliminary hearing Tuesday in Jasper County Circuit Court and was bound over for trial on drug trafficking and driving while intoxicated charges.

Lauren Ann Zallar, 36, head of E&P Wireless, will be arraigned in the trial division 9 a.m. August 21.

The Carl Junction Police Department arrested Zallar following a January 11 traffic stop on Copper Oaks.

The alleged crimes are detailed in the probable cause statement:

On January 11th, 2023 at about O120 hours while on patrol I observed a silver SUV leave the lane of travel and go into the oncoming traffic lane while southbound in the 500 block of Copper Oaks. I conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle in the 600 block of Copper Oaks and identified the driver as Zallar, Lauren.

Upon making contact with Zallar, I noticed her speech was slurred and she seemed to have difficulty answering simple questions. Zallar denied using any alcohol or illegal substances. Zallar gave me consent to search the vehicle.

Inside the center console, I located two clear bags filled with a white powdery substance that with my training and experience I believed to be fentanyl. I also located a pill bottle with a worn-off label containing 45 blue pills with "M" marked on one side and "30" on the other.

A quick search of indicated the pills were Oxycodone.

A second article populated showing an example of a counterfeit Oxycodone that was actually fentanyl. I compared the two images with the pills in question. The pills matched the counterfeit picture.

Also located were 5 $1 dollar bills with a white powdery substance, one blue cap with a white substance, and one red straw with a white residue inside of it. The two bags weighed in at a combined weight of 13.2 grams.

Part of one of the blue pills was field tested for Oxycodone and the test indicated no presence of Oxycodone. Zaller was taken into custody for the located items and for driving while impaired. A DRE (drug recognition expert) was contacted and met with Zallar. The DRE conducted an evaluation on Zallar and the results indicated that Zallar was under the influence.

Joplin/Carthage businesswoman sentenced to 14 months for failure to pay company taxes

During a hearing this morning in U. S. District Court in Springfield, a Joplin businesswoman was sentenced to 14 months in prison for failing to pay taxes for her company.

Under the terms of her sentence, Karen Lauridsen, 60, will be on supervised probation for three years once she completes her sentence and will pay $242,251 in restitution. Seven similar counts against Lauridsen were dismissed.

According to the indictment, Lauridsen stopped paying federal payroll taxes for her company in 2011.

The company was not named in the indictment, which noted that the company was located in Carthage between 2003 and 2016 and then moved to Joplin.

A year after Missouri Senate collapse, Eric Greitens reemerges to bash Ron DeSantis

By Jason  Hancock

Eric Greitens, the disgraced former Missouri governor whose Senate campaign cratered last year under allegations of domestic abuse, has tip-toed back onto the political stage this week with a column for a pro-Trump news site declaring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential hopes dead.

In the column entitled “Accept It, Already: DeSantis is Done,” Greitens writes that DeSantis “refuses to accept reality” that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president next year.

(Photo- Eric Greitens addresses the media after filing to run in the Missouri Senate primary on Feb. 22, 2022, at the James C Kirkpatrick State Information Center in Jefferson City- Madeline Carter/Missouri Independent).

“DeSantis is done — and for many, myself included, it’s not personal,” Greitens wrote. “We’re in a fight that’s too important, perhaps, the greatest this nation has ever faced: To restore the power to the people.”

DeSantis is the pick of “the establishment,” Greitens contends, and is being “fueled by their money, their airwaves or their henchmen.”

Republicans must nominate “the man with the scars,” Greitens wrote, “who’s taken their arrows and goes back to the mat every single time. From where I stand, only one man fits that bill: President Donald J. Trump.”

Greitens going all in for Trump is no surprise, as his attempt at a political comeback last year hinged on winning over the former president’s supporters.

In the run up to the 2022 U.S. Senate election, Greitens more than any other candidate in the crowded field latched himself to Trump and the grievances that fueled his rise — from lies about a stolen election to the alleged betrayal of so-called “RINOs.”

Greitens was trying to shake off the scandals that drove him from office four years earlier, including accusations that he sexually assaulted a women with whom he was having an affair and that he stole from a veteran’s charity he founded.

In the end, Trump’s endorsement — seen as Greitens’ only hope to win the hotly contested Senate race — fell flat, with the former president throwing his support behind “Eric” and refusing to clarify whether he meant Greitens or the eventual winner, Eric Schmitt.

It was an ignominious conclusion to a campaign that derailed over accusations by Greitens’ ex-wife that he physically abused her and his children. Those claims were made in a sworn affidavit by the former First Lady as part of a child custody dispute, and were amplified by more than $1 million in TV ads aired in the run up to the GOP primary.


With his political comeback dead, Greitens once again retreated from the public spotlight. His federal campaign committee is largely dormant, and he shuttered his state committee in November and donated all of its leftover money to a nonprofit run by his former campaign manager.

His column this week in support of Trump, who is himself attempting a political comeback despite being awash in scandal and indictments, marks the first sight of Greitens since his child custody dispute was transferred to Texas late last year.

In moving the case, a Boone County judge concluded there was “no pattern of domestic violence” by Greitens.

The former governor declared himself exonerated, pointing the finger at the media for publicizing the charges. His ex-wife, however, said she never alleged a “pattern” of abuse — only claiming instances of abuse when Greitens was angry or stressed.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Nancy Hughes: Read the instructions!

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” Proverbs 16:20 (NIV)

It seemed like a harmless idea, really. A canoe trip in two days with my daughters and granddaughters. Beautiful weather, lots of laughter and just being together. Great food, great fun and only one problem: everyone had a gorgeous tan - but me.

That’s when I remembered a gift I had gotten for my birthday. It was a bottle of self-tanning mousse. I also vaguely remembered my granddaughters telling me that you simply rub it on and within an hour a “real looking” tan would appear. “Just read the instructions, Grandma,” they told me. Somehow I failed to remember that part until much later.


I found the bottle and thirty minutes later the mousse was applied. Forty minutes later I totally forgot that I had used it. Until the next morning. I followed my usual routine of working out at the gym, visiting with some friends after I was done, and driving home before I realized that I hadn’t checked out my “real looking” tan. I hurried inside to see my results.

Staring back at me in my full-length mirror was a half woman/half zebra! What in the world had happened?! There were stripes of brown alternating with white up and down my legs! My arms were tan on top but underneath they were the same pale color before I tanned! My hands looked like I had on dark brown gloves! I grabbed the bottle of mousse and did what I should have done in the first place: I read the instructions.

“Apply mousse with your tanning mitt” (so that’s what that thing is for), “wait at least one hour before showering” (guess overnight is a bit longer than one hour), “be sure to cover all areas of skin equally that you want to be tan” (evidently it doesn’t soak into nearby areas of skin), and “be sure to thoroughly wash your hands if you do not use the mitt” (I wonder how long a “real looking” tan will stay on the palms of hands).

All I had to do was to read - and follow - the instructions. But in my wisdom and my timeline of wanting to get it done immediately, I had neglected that most important part of the process. And the glances that my friends had quietly sent my way at the gym were undoubtedly due to their realization of what I had done - or not done. Mercy.

We must also be discerning when we are given instructions in this world. Remember, we will never get instructions grounded in truth from society. There will be half-truths and lies coated in what sounds right but Truth for our lives only comes through the instructions given to us in God’s Word - the Bible. As Romans 15:4 tells us: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.”

The result of my neglecting to read and follow the self-tanning instructions? A temporary discomfort: wearing jeans and long-sleeved shirts in the heat of summer until the self-tanning mousse faded. But more importantly, not reading and following the instructions in the Word of God can be disastrous! Remember: He will never leave out a step, He will never steer us in the wrong direction and He will always lead us on the correct path when we read the instructions!

R.A.P. it up . . .


Have you ever found yourself faced with a situation that needed answers only found in God’s Word?

Did you search for His instructions or did you go ahead on your own?


Keep a journal and write down situations you are facing daily that need answers.

Search the Scriptures, write down instructions from the Lord for each need and pray over each one.


Proverbs 16:20 (NIV) “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.”

Romans 15:4 (NIV) “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.”

Psalm 119:165 (NIV) “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”

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

Illegal immigrant indicted for possessing fentanyl with intent to distribute in Jasper County

A federal grand jury indicted an illegal immigrant today for five felonies, including possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute.

Jose Navarrete-Hernandez, 40, was also charged with three counts of possessing a weapon illegally and one count of entering the country illegally.

According to the indictment, Navarrete-Hernandez' alleged crimes took place May 11 in Jasper County.

Grand jury indicts Joplin man on meth, weapons charges

A grand jury indictment of a Joplin man was unsealed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Robert Marion Nevels, 34, has been in the Greene County Jail since June 29 when he was initially charged.

According to the charging information, a Carthage Police Department officer stopped Nevels May 16 and seized 210.5 grams of crystal methamphetamine and a handgun.

GOP primary for Missouri treasurer now a three-way race

By Jason Hancock

Missouri Treasurer Vivek Malek (pictured) may have to fend off at least two of his fellow Republicans in the GOP primary next year, after another state legislator joined the race on Monday.

Malek, who was appointed treasurer by Gov. Mike Parson in January, was already facing a primary challenge by state Rep. Cody Smith, a Carthage Republican and chairman of the powerful House budget committee.


Smith officially launched his campaign earlier this month, though he signaled his intentions in April by filing paperwork with the state ethics commission declaring he would run for treasurer.

On Monday, state Sen. Andrew Koenig joined the race, kicking off his candidacy with a fundraiser in St. Louis. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is running because “we need conservatives up and down the state ticket.”

The treasurer’s office was vacated by Scott Fitzpatrick last year after he was elected state auditor.

Since taking office, Malek has post huge fundraising totals — especially for a first-time candidate.

Between his candidate committee and an independent PAC created to boost his campaign, Malek reported roughly $2 million cash on hand this month. He recently launched a TV ad introducing him to voters by highlighting his journey from India to America.


“There’s a lot that divides us,” Malek says in the ad. “But the one thing that unites us all is our love for this great country.”

Smith reported this month roughly $300,000 cash on hand between his campaign and supporting PAC. Koenig had around $80,000.

Lucas Johnson, a business owner from St. Louis County, is running in the race as a Democrat.

City of Joplin adds five new positions to address declining neighborhoods

(From the City of Joplin)

To help address declining neighborhoods in Joplin, the City is pleased to announce several new positions have been added to the Neighborhood Services Division, Building Division, and Planning Division. during a City-driven listening tour held in 2020, citizens noted some neighborhood areas needed improvements, stating that this was an important issue for Joplin.

“During the survey process, residents stated their concern about cleaning up neighborhoods, neglected properties, and dilapidated structures scattered throughout Joplin,” said Troy Bolander, who manages these divisions as the Director of Planning, Development, and Neighborhood Services.

Utilizing this input, the City Council established six goals, including Addressing Declining Neighborhoods. City staff developed nearly a dozen Action Plans outlining programs and processes to focus on neighborhood clean-up, housing revitalization, and additional neighborhood services to cover the city more efficiently. Plans included hiring a Neighborhood Services Supervisor and two more Code Enforcement Officers for this division.

A community with safe, strong, and vibrant neighborhoods begins with the work of the Neighborhood Services Division. Officers conduct routine inspections throughout neighborhoods to ensure City Property and Nuisance Codes are being followed. They respond to neighbors’ requests to check on complaints and work to educate the public about appropriate property upkeep. Officers also engage individuals and work with neighborhood groups, churches, and businesses in volunteer opportunities, while focusing resources on infrastructure improvements in targeted Neighborhood Improvement Districts.

Bolander noted that prior to the two new hires, three Enforcement Officers were responsible for all of Joplin. “Joplin is over 40 square miles and additional staff was needed to be more effective in monitoring properties throughout the City as well as working with neighborhood communities in a collaborative effort.”

In the past, the City worked in community areas to initiate a Neighborhood Improvement Program creating a partnership with citizens to develop a plan of public repairs, maintenance, and improved communications with City officials.

“It really was a successful program for both our citizens and the City,” he said. “Citizens take an active role in their neighborhood by working with the City. They help to gather fellow neighbors and encourage their involvement to learn more about different resources the City can offer and help identify infrastructure needs or public safety issues.”

For easier access to talk with the Neighborhood Services Division, their offices have been moved to the first floor of Joplin City Hall. They are in the northwest corner of the lobby.

Other Action Plans to address declining neighborhoods include implementing programs to help with home repairs and maintenance, as well as processes to reduce the number of vacant and dangerous buildings in Joplin.

Two Building Inspectors and an Administrative Assistant have been hired in the Building Division to help with the current workload and to assist in implementing these programs effectively. A Lead Inspector was also hired to ensure consistency with inspections and permitting processes. A Project Coordinator in the Planning Division was added and will direct various community programs for the City.

Funding for these Action Plans comes from revenues from the Use Tax that Joplin voters approved in November 2021. Other funding assistance will help establish several programs for the City’s Affordable Housing Preservation initiative, with a similar focus to improve our neighborhoods and clean up areas of neglect and disrepair.

The City was recently awarded a $3.5 million grant from the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) through their Community Revitalization Grant Program. As part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), this program is focused on investing in communities of all sizes to support local priorities, encourage economic recovery, and build resilience for the future.


With the City’s ARPA match contribution of $3.5 million, the City will have $7 million committed to community revitalization and establish several programs, including: $2 million for minor home repairs, defined as no more than $40,000 per household;
$2 million for demolition of dangerous structures; and
$3 million for down payment assistance, and closing costs, defined as no more than 20% and not to exceed $40,000 per applicant.

More details about each of these areas will be announced in late summer or early fall so residents will understand if they qualify and how they can apply. The newly hired Project Coordinator will manage these areas along with some of the other new staff members.

For questions about these new programs, please contact Johan Bullington, Assistant Director of Planning, Development and Neighborhood Services at 417-624-0820, ext. 1571.

Carthage R-9 Board hires five teachers, accepts two resignations, one retirement

(From the Carthage R-9 School District)

The Carthage R-9 Board of Education met in regular session on Monday, July 17, 2023, 6:00 pm, at Carthage South Technical Center. 

Present were Board members Jeff Jones, Bill Lasley, Niki Cloud, Ryan Collier, Nathan Terry, and Patrick Scott. Lora Phelps was absent. Jeff Jones led the Pledge of Allegiance. 

The Board approved the Consent Agenda for the purpose of approving the meeting agenda, minutes of previous meeting, payment of bills, district financial report, date for tax rate hearing, award contract for employee drug and alcohol testing, adopt revised policy 0412, and 2023-2024 bus routes. 

Mr. Jones reported he had no update for the Carthage R-9 Foundation. 

Dr. Boyer and Dr. Huntley provided the Board information regarding the revised policies and regulations for their review and consideration for adoption at the August 21st board meeting. 

Dr. Boyer acknowledged and thanked the K.D. & M.L. Steadley Trust for their generous $2,500,000 donation to construct a baseball stadium on the Carthage High School campus. 

Dr. Boyer thanked the Board, colleagues, and members of the community for welcoming him and his family and is lucky to be a part of the Carthage School District. 

The Board met in closed session immediately following the regular meeting to discuss legal, personnel, and student matters in compliance with Section 610.021 (1), (3), and (6) of the Revised Statutes of Missouri. 

In closed session the Board approved the following personnel actions: Approved the employment of certified, support, extra duty, and substitute staff as presented contingent upon receiving a clear criminal record check from the Missouri Highway Patrol and Federal Bureau of Investigation, and a clear check of the Adult Abuse/Neglect Registry maintained by the Missouri Department of Social Services for all employees new to the district: 

Certified Hire 

Kevin Burgi, SPED Teacher Carthage High School New Hire 

Mr. Burgi graduated from Missouri Southern State University in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in General Studies. He completed his teaching certification at Missouri State University in 2016. He began his teaching career in Joplin teaching Middle School Science. He continued his career at McDonald County School District where he taught Special Education and became Assistant Principal at their High School.

Tema Gilion, Tema EL Teacher Carthage High School New Hire 

Ms. Gilion graduated from Western Governors University with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. She also earned a Masters of Arts Teaching from the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Her work experience includes teaching Spanish, 1st Grade Teacher, Middle School Teacher, and Principal for USD 235 school in Uniontown, KS. 

Brett Cline, SPED Teacher 6th Grade Center New Hire 

Mr. Cline graduated from Missouri State University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. His work experience includes Scholarship Counselor at MSU, Student Services Coordinator at Crowder College, CTE Advisor with Crowder College, and Financial Aid Counselor with Evangel University.

Maquelle Huntley, English Teacher Carthage High School New Hire 

Ms. Huntley graduated from Missouri State University in 2021 with a double major in Professional and Technical Writing along with Communications. She earned a Master of Arts in Writing in 2023. Her experience includes working for MSU as a graduate instructor where she taught six sections of 200 level technical writing, an announcer for Ozarks Public Radio, and Assistant Speech and Debate Coach at Kickapoo High School.

Peggy Lucas, Part Time Title I Math Teacher Carthage Intermediate Center Rehire 

Ms. Lucas has been working for the Carthage School District since 1997. She started as a 3rd grade teacher, then switched to media Specialist in 2015. In 2020, she retired from full time teaching and became a substitute teacher for the district. 

Nicole Carter, Process Coordinator Carthage Junior High Modification 
Amanda Carcamo, Process Coordinator Carthage High School Modification 
Melissa Ruiz, Process Coordinator Carthage High School Modification      

Support Hire

Nancy Johnson, Paraprofessional Steadley Elementary New Hire 
Samantha Hall, Cook 6th Grade Center Rehire 
Leanna Gray, Bus Driver Transportation Modification 
Brittany Nugent, Cook Steadley Elementary Rehire 
Emalie Gordon, SPIRIT Teacher 6th Grade Center New Hire 

Extra Duty Hire 

Cynthia Chavez, Assistant Girls Soccer Coach Carthage High School Modification 
Kevin Burgi, Head Baseball Coach Carthage High School New Hire 
Kevin Burgi, Baseball Grounds Keeper Carthage High School New Hire 
Kevin Burgi, Weightlifting Fall Carthage High School New Hire 
Kevin Burgi, Weightlifting Winter Carthage High School New Hire 
Kevin Burgi, Weightlifting Spring Carthage High School New Hire 
Kevin Burgi, Weightlifting Summer Carthage High School 

New Hire 

Drew Bridges, Assistant Baseball Coach Carthage High School New Hire 

Substitute Hire 

Shauna Myers, Cook Steadley Modification 

Certified Transfer

Leslie Hunter, SPED Teacher Columbian Elementary Transfer 
Samantha Slates, FACS Teacher Carthage Junior High School Transfer 
Broc Wolfe, Social Studies Teacher Carthage High School Transfer 
Mackenzie Copeland, Language Arts Teacher Carthage Junior High School Transfer 
Samantha Slates, FACS Teacher, Carthage Junior High

Ms. Slates graduated from Pitt State University in 2015 with a Master's in Business Administration. She has been a full time substitute for our district since 2019. 

Support Transfer 

Michelle Endicott, Paraprofessional Early Childhood Transfer 
Karina Paul, Cook Carthage Intermediate Center Transfer 
Joyce Hale, Cook Fairview Elementary Transfer 
Karen Willis, Paraprofessional Columbian Elementary Transfer 
Sundeana Boyd, Registrar Carthage High School Transfer 
Stormi Hughes, Paraprofessional 6th Grade Center Transfer 
Jason Foster, Custodian Steadley Elementary Transfer 
Kensey Sageser, Route/Scheduling Coordinator Transportation Transfer 
Rebekah Kelly, SPIRIT Facilitator 6th Grade Center Transfer 

Certified Retirement

Jacque Boyer, SPED Teacher Carthage High School Retirement 

Certified Resignation 

Lauren Burkhart, English Teacher Carthage High School Resignation 
Amanda Towe, Social Studies Teacher Carthage High School Resignation 

Support Retirement

Clark Burns, Bus Driver Transportation Retirement 

Support Resignation 

Jasmine Powell, Paraprofessional Steadley Elementary Resignation 
Joshua Antwiler, Router/Schedular Transportation Resignation 
Brenda Carpino, Secretary Carthage High School Position Eliminated 

Substitute Resignation 

Bonnie Tolle, Cook District Resignation

Monday, July 24, 2023

Agenda posted for Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting

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

A closed session for legal issues, real estate and personnel matters is scheduled for 5:15 p.m.

A. Call to Order
1. Roll Call

B. Pledge of Allegiance

C. Approval of Agenda

D. Reports

1. Board President's Report
a. Celebrations

2. Superintendent's Data Report
b. Health & Dental Plan Update
c. Financial Statements 

E. Public Comments Regarding Posted Agenda Action Items

F. Consent Agenda

1. Minutes

2. Consent Contracts for Student Services
a. Employee Lease Agreement Between Joplin Schools and OC
b. MOU Between Ozark Center and Joplin Schools
c. SafeSchools by Vector Solutions
d. Contract with Joplin Schools and Maxim Healthcare
e. Agreement Between Joplin Schools and Elizabeth Betebenner

f. Agreement With Assoc. in Sign Language, LLC
g. Agreement With Mary Lowry, PT
h. Presence Learning

3. Consent Contract for Board Approval

a. JHS Prom DJ Contract
b. MSBA Full Maintenance Service

4. Dairy Bid
5. Food and Supply Bid
6. Buildings and Grounds Alarm Upgrade
7. Irving Indoor Air Quality
8. Cecil Floyd and JHS RS2 Access Control System Install
9. Propress Machine Change Order
10. JHS Replacement of Elevator Actuators A and B Halls
11. Asphalt Repair at JEC/Irving East Driveway
12. CIAPD Plan
13. New JHS Music Elective Course
14. Companion Alexandria Renewal
15. Clevertouch IFP
16. ClassLink License Renewal
17. T-Mobile Student Hotspot Service Renewal
18. MoreNet Membership Renewal
19. Tools4ever Student Account Provisioning
20. PowerSchool Talent Ed Renewal

G. Regular Agenda

1. Health Plan
2. Accounts Payable
3. MOU for Crosswalk at JHS
4. Meal Price Increase

H. Plus/Deltas

I. Adjourn

Joplin man who blames meth addiction for his attraction to child pornography to plead guilty

A Joplin man who blamed his meth addiction for his attraction to child pornography is scheduled to plead guilty August 1 in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

Details of the crime Robert E. Riggs, 46, Joplin, allegedly committed were included in a December 2022 detention motion:

The defendant’s illicit acts were discovered after investigators were alerted that the defendant had stored imagery depicting children as young as five years old being sexually abused in his Dropbox account.

A search warrant was later executed at the defendant’s residence, resulting in the seizure of digital devices later determined to contain thousands of images depicting children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

The defendant was later interviewed and confessed to downloading child pornography from the Internet to satisfy his sexual desires since he was 18 years old. The defendant further admitted that he directly engaged with other members of the child pornography community and discussed sexually abusing children.

The defendant has a significant history of drug abuse and blamed his use of methamphetamine for his involvement with child pornography.

According to the indictment, Riggs' alleged crimes took place between January 1, 2020 and May 25, 2022 in Jasper County.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Sarcoxie mayor addresses fire department concerns

(From Sarcoxie Mayor Don Triplett)

I’m writing this to address some questions and concerns that have been recently raised about increased activity at our fire station. Sometimes it is real easy to let challenges and drama cause us to miss successes and things that are working very well. That in mind, I want to give a shout out to the Sarcoxie Fire Department for a significant accomplishment.

When Chief Carnes was appointed Fire Chief, he was tasked with the priorities of increasing the number of volunteer firefighters, achieving a 98% response rate for calls and to increase participation in training activities. 

These were no small tasks. Like most volunteer departments, we have struggled the last few decades with each of these measurables. At a national level, the number of volunteer firefighters is at a 35 year low while the number of requests for service have doubled or even tripled.

Part of Chief Carnes’ strategy to meet these priorities has been to encourage activities at the department that include family members. Birthday parties, movie nights, group cookouts are now not uncommon occurrences at the fire station. He has allowed volunteers a bay door at times to allow space to work on personal vehicle, lawn mowers, etc. 

 A small pool was recently set up to allow volunteers and family members a place to cool off and splash around a bit. Elected officials have long supported such activities and have gone so far as to set up a pool table and exercise equipment at the station in years past. None of these activities jeopardize the department’s ability to respond to calls. 

 Quite the opposite, this flexibility and creativity ensures that personnel are available for immediate response. Being at the station when a call comes in shaves minutes off of response times. For a cardiac event or traumatic injury, two or three minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

Starting shortly after Mercy stopped staffing an ambulance at the station, Chief Carnes started allowing personnel to stay overnight to be “on-duty” for 24 hour blocks. This has proven so popular, they now have to take turns doing this. Along with this, you will likely see members of the department out and about in official vehicles.

I know this is way different than what we are all used to seeing and it may initially shock the conscience of traditionalists. Between these initiatives and other programs approved by elected officials, we are realizing some significant results that greatly benefit all of us. 

As noted in this week’s Sarcoxie Record, Chief Carnes recently reported the department had not missed a call in a bit over 22 months. To add more to that, the department is maxed out at 20 volunteers, has shrunk its response time by over two minutes per call, and training participation has increased to over 75%.

Not all initiatives have been fully successful or without some hiccups along the way. We are in new territory here after all. With that, adjustments and corrections will be made as we keep moving forward. We cannot lose sight of the goal of having a department of trained volunteers to meet the needs of our city and to ensure our citizens get the prompt emergency response they deserve.

That all being said, I congratulate and thank Chief Carnes, the officers, firefighters and first responders of the department. As volunteers, you are here for our community and ready to respond to any emergency. It doesn’t matter if it is a fire, car wreck, medical emergency, or a host of other crisis situations. When someone in our city is quite possibly having the worst day of their life, you are there to help.

I also want to thank your family members. A lot of folks don’t understand or appreciate the sacrifice and patience required of spouses, parents and children in supporting their volunteer firefighter or first responder. Family members know that most calls are perfectly safe but any given call can put their loved one in mortal danger. Even fewer people understand how hard it can be for emergency responders to process and go back to their normal lives after particularly gruesome or traumatic calls. Family members know.

Additionally, I want to give a sincere thank you to past chiefs and leaders of the department who, over the years, have influenced the department in ways that help make today’s department possible. Without you, we would not have been able to improve our ISO rating from a 7 to a 5 in the last few years.

Please don’t hesitate to contact any elected official if you have questions or are curious about fire department operations. Even better, feel free to stop in the station and have a tour or ask questions. If you are interested in being on the fire department, you can always get an application. Just be prepared to join a growing waiting list of applicants.