Thursday, November 30, 2023

Joplin, Pittsburg men arrested following robbery, pistol whipping

(From the Joplin Police Department)

On November 30, 2023, at approximately 2:45 a.m., the Joplin Police Department Emergency Communications Center received a report of a robbery and assault near the 2200 block of West 3rd Street. 

It was reported that two suspects had assaulted a 17-year-old juvenile male by physically striking him in the head multiple times with a handgun, then stealing his phone, wallet, and shoes.


As the victim attempted to flee on foot, witnesses reported a gunshot coming from the suspect vehicle. Officers immediately responded to the area and located the suspect vehicle attempting to leave at a high rate of speed. 

A high-risk traffic stop was conducted near 7th Street and Tri-State Road. Two adult male suspects were detained, and evidence of the shooting was found in the vehicle. Both males were arrested at the scene. They have been identified as Andrew M. Reed, age 21 of Pittsburg, Kansas, and Bobby M. Bush, age 18 of Joplin, Missouri. 

Charges were forwarded to the Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for Robbery in the 1st Degree for both Reed and Bush. 

The juvenile victim in this case was treated on scene for minor injuries related to the assault. Detectives with the Joplin Police Department are continuing their investigation of this incident and further details may be released as information becomes available.

The Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney's office filed first degree robbery charges against the men this afternoon and bond was set at $10,000 cash only.

Goodman woman charged with kidnapping after blocking driveway so Amazon delivery man can't leave

The McDonald County Prosecuting Attorney's office filed a misdemeanor kidnapping charge against a Goodman woman after she allegedly blocked a driveway so an Amazon delivery driver was unable to leave after attempting to deliver a package November 16.

According to the probable cause statement, Cora Virginia Duncan (DOB 1983) told the McDonald County deputy sheriff, the Amazon Prime driver pulled up into her yard but would not get out of his vehicle because of her dogs.

I observed approximately 3-4 big dogs in her driveway that did come down barking and running in our direction. At first impression they did appear to be aggressive but after approaching they were friendly.

Mrs. Duncan advised the Amazon driver called her and told her to come outside. Mrs. Duncan {said} the Amazon driver threw the package at her head and then she threw it back and {he} backed up and went to the driveway across the street.

The Amazon driver told the deputy sheriff it was Amazon's policy not to get out of the vehicle or deliver the packages if dogs were aggressive and that he called her to tell her to get the dogs so he could deliver the package or come out to the vehicle and get the package herself.

The driver said he handed the package to Duncan and she threw it back at him "so he rolled up the window and started to back out of the driveway, then Mrs. Duncan started to punch the window and the mirror."

He backed into the driveway across the street, according to the probable cause affidavit. Mrs. Duncan followed him and blocked him so he could not leave the driveway

Sentencing date set for former H. E. Williams official caught with child pornography on work computer

A 9:30 a.m. December 19 sentencing date has been scheduled in U. S. District Court in Springfield for a former H. E. Williams official who was caught with child pornography on his workplace computer.

Shane Barton, 56, Carthage, pleaded guilty April 11.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the original criminal complaint, the director of information technology for Carthage-based H.E. Williams, Shane Barton’s employer, was alerted to a suspected virus on Barton’s company-issued computer that was in Barton’s office and connected to the business network.

On January 5, 2022, he observed an unauthorized anti-virus program on the computer and discovered numerous files that contained adult and child pornography. He notified management of the violation of company policy.

While doing so, he noticed the files were being deleted. Fearing that Barton was possibly tampering with evidence, he locked Barton out of the network and his company-issued computer.

Barton was placed on leave, the affidavit says, pending the resolution of an internal investigation. He was instructed to turn over his company-issued iPhone. A forensic examination of the computer identified approximately 10,000 images and approximately 100 video files of suspected child pornography, the affidavit says, as well as additional video files of suspected child pornography on the iPhone.

Barton resigned from his position with the company a couple of weeks later.

Charges against alleged McDonald County sex cult leader include underage boys and girls, date back to 1995

In a filing Wednesday in McDonald County Circuit Court, Prosecuting Attorney Maleia Cheney asked that felony sex charges against former Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church pastor Raymond Lambert be combined into one case.

The cases against Lambert, 68, all involve sex with underage children with some dating back as far as 1995.

If Judge John LePage grants the motion, the following cases would be combined:

-Rape- Lambert allegedly forced a 10-year-old girl to have sex with him in a shed in the summer of 2013 after pushing her against the wall and grabbing her hair.

-Statutory sodomy- According to the complaint, between 2002 and 2004, Lambert reached into the pants of an underage boy and performed a sex act

-Statutory sodomy- Lambert allegedly compelled an underage girl to perform an oral sex act on him while he touched her genitalia between 2002 and 2004

-Statutory sodomy- The complaint says Lambert committed the same crime mentioned in the previous paragraph with the girl on another occasion between 2002 and 2004.

-Statutory sodomy- Lambert committed the same crime with a different underage girl in 1995, according to the complaint.

More information about the cases against Lambert and about the Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church can be found at the link below:

The Turner Report: Attorney General's office to assist in prosecution of alleged McDonald County sex cult leader (

Sex offender charged after living in Alba, Sarcoxie without registering

The Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney's office filed a felony failure to register as a sex offender charge today against an Alba man.

A warrant was issued for the arrest of Michael Lee Gibbons (DOB 1977) after the Jasper County Sheriff's Office arrested Gibbons on an outstanding warrant and determined he had been living in Alba and Sarcoxie since November 1.

The law requires sex offenders to register within three business days of moving into a community.

Gibbons, who was convicted of having "felony carnal knowledge" of a 15-year-old girl in Louisiana, lived in Jasper County before and was registered but left in 2020 to return to Louisiana, according to the probable cause statement.

Gibbons told the investigating officer he had been in Jasper County on "multiple occasions" since he left in 2020.

Officials with the Webster Parish Sheriff's Office said Gibbons had not complied with the sex offender registration law in Louisiana.

Bond was set at $2,500 cash or surety with the requirement that Gibbons registers before he posts bond.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Ranger Ed, Fun Club, Children's Hour, Joplin's Black-owned newspapers inducted into Regional Media Hall of Fame

(From KGCS)

Missouri Southern State University Department of Communication honors the history of regional media, this year highlighting Children’s Programming including: The Fun Club on KOAM-TV, Bar 12 Ranger on KODE-TV and The Children’s Hour on KY3, along with Black-owned Newspapers, and an influential figure in Joplin-area television, KSNF Vice President and General Manager John Hoffmann.

The annual Regional Media Hall of Fame banquet and induction ceremony was held on November 14th. For the event, KGCS-TV put together a series of short documentaries on each inductee, discussing their history and contributions to the local community. Missouri Southern has been honoring pioneers in the realm of broadcast and print media since 1997, beginning with the studio’s namesake, Ruth I. Kolpin.

KGCS General Manager, Lisa Olliges, acted as emcee for the event. “You know, the area of media and broadcasting and journalism has never been one that has been reaping the big rewards money-wise,” Olliges said. “These people are called with a mission to serve the public, to deliver information, entertainment, so it’s really important to honor the past as we morph into the future.”

Among those honored this year were Norma Champion, long-time host of the beloved Children’s Hour program on KY3, Terriann Wilson Williams, daughter of ‘Ranger’ Ed Wilson, the host of KODE’s Bar 12 Ranger program, and KSNF’s Hoffmann.

The Hall of Fame also paid tribute to three of Joplin’s historically Black-owned newspapers, The Joplin Uplift, The Joplin Advance, and The Afro-American Leader. Nanda Nunnelly, President of the Minnie Hackney Community Service Center, was present to accept award on the behalf of the Black History of the Ozarks Preservation Society for which she is also president.

Champion, Williams, Nunnelly, and Hoffmann each took turns at the podium to express their gratitude.

“We did more than have a show on, the children who came to the station were given an opportunity to get behind the camera, they helped run the camera to see how it worked, and they were learning television really at the same time I was,” Champion said about her time on The Children’s Hour (1953-1986). For twenty-nine years she acted as the show’s host, writer, and producer, discovering the magic of broadcasting as she went. Hardly a day goes by that ‘Aunt Norma’ isn’t recognized by someone for her role on this iconic program.

Williams credited the event as having brought back touching memories of her late father, “He’d be so proud of you guys for doing this for him, I thank you so much.” Other Joplin residents can still recall Ranger Ed’s comforting and fatherly presence each afternoon, citing him as “one of the good guys.” Sadly, there is no surviving video of Ranger Ed or his show, only Williams’ family photos remain to give us a glimpse of the charming cowboy host.

Nunnelly shared her appreciation for the efforts of the university to keep the memory of Joplin’s Black History alive, “I just want to also, again say, that the (Augustus) Tutt family continues to serve their communities and our country and they also would like to thank you all for this.” Augustus Tutt, the owner and editor of Joplin’s most successful Black-owned newspaper, The Joplin Uplift (1926-1931), is survived by his grandchildren, including Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California. Today, laminated copies of The Joplin Uplift are kept in the possession of Joplin resident and long-time curator of Black History, Betty Smith.

For media veteran John Hoffmann, the honor was one he felt should be shared. “They’re giving me this award, but it should really go to all the people I’ve worked with over 40 years,” Hoffmann said. In his time at the station, Hoffmann helped lead his team through the aftermath of the Joplin Tornado, the construction of their new facility, and the retransmission fight with Nexstar Media Group. He also spearheaded the creation of the Missouri Southern Gold Lion Scholarship recognizing community service by high school students.

KOAM General Manager Brooke Arnold accepted the Fun Club award on behalf of her station. Former Regional Media Hall of Famer Dale Switzer was unable to attend but did make an appearance in The Fun Club documentary. After being hired on at KOAM in 1975, Switzer spent his early years helping to direct the show, working alongside its most popular host, former Hollywood western star, Lloyd “Arkansas Slim” Andrews. About the show, Switzer stated, “A lot of people still in the four states will recall being on Fun Club. It was—it was a ritual you went through. At some point, it appeared just about everybody of that generation was on Fun Club or watched their friends on Fun Club.”

Mayor Pro-Tem Keenan Cortez was on hand to issue mayoral proclamations for each inductee.

The Hall of Fame event is being broadcast on KGCS-TV Wednesday, November 29 at 7:00 p.m.

Longer versions of the documentaries will also be featured in upcoming Newsmakers programs and as a special Hall of Fame program on Channel 21, KGCS-TV. They are also available for viewing on the station’s YouTube channel: KGCS – Missouri Southern State University.

KGCS programming can be seen on channel 21 and is also available on regional cable television systems such as Sparklight, Mediacom and Suddenlink Communications. The station operates as a service of the Department of Communications at Missouri Southern State University.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Preliminary hearing scheduled for Webb City man for DWI, attempting to run over police officer

The preliminary hearing for a Webb City man charged with driving while intoxicated, assault, possession of a controlled substance, property damage and resisting arrest by fleeing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Andrew Manning Brewer (DOB 1985) was arrested by the Webb City Police Department following a September 2 traffic stop at Madison and 7th.

Police determined that he had a requirement for an ignition interlock and the car did not have one installed.

According to the probable cause statement, Brewer attempted to flee, dragging an officer along with him, then rammed his truck into the police car and then attempted to run over an officer.

Brewer's record includes two pending DWI charges in Jasper County, the probable cause statement said.

Greenfield man bound over for trial for making terrorist threat, pointing gun at man and his 2-year-old granddaughter

Following a preliminary hearing today in Dade County Circuit Court, a Greenfield man was bound over for trial on charges of making a terrorist threat, endangering the welfare of a child, harassment, armed criminal action and assault.

A 10 a.m. December 20 arraignment will be held for Todd Wesley Martin (DOB 1975) before Judge David Munton in the trial division.

Martin (DOB 1975) was arrested November 15 at the Dollar Store in Greenfield where he allegedly threatened a Greenfield man and his 2-year-old granddaughter.

More information about the case can be found at the link below:

Jasper County meth trafficker sentenced to 10 years

During a hearing this morning in U. S. District Court in Springfield, a Monett man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for trafficking methamphetamine in Jasper County.

After his sentence is completed, Troy D. Liggett, 28, will be under supervised release for six years.

Liggett pleaded guilty March 30, only three weeks after a grand jury indicted him.

According to his plea agreement, Liggett met with a confidential source for the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team at a Taco Bell in Joplin March 4, 2022, then went to a "neutral site" where he sold the source 117 grams of methamphetamine.


Carterville man sentenced to 15 years for meth trafficking

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

A Carterville, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for possessing methamphetamine to distribute.

Cody Goucher, 44, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough to 15 years and eight months in federal prison without parole. Goucher was sentenced as a career offender due to his prior felony convictions.

On May 18, 2023, Goucher pleaded guilty to one count of possessing methamphetamine to distribute.

On Oct. 7, 2022, a Carl Junction, Mo., police officer attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the gray Nissan Titan pickup truck Goucher was driving. Goucher initially stopped, but then began slowly driving away. As the officer followed the vehicle and activated his siren, Goucher increased his speed. Eventually the truck left the roadway and crashed into a ditch. Goucher was found lying in the ditch and was arrested.

The officer found a green backpack beside the vehicle that contained approximately 300 grams of methamphetamine as well as drug paraphernalia. According to court documents, Goucher was also in possession of more than 100 rounds of ammunition for two separate types of firearms.

According to court documents, Goucher’s criminal history includes six prior felony convictions and numerous misdemeanor or other convictions, including felony property crimes, felony drug crimes, and felony and misdemeanor acts of assault and violence. In one of his three convictions for domestic assault, Goucher threatened his girlfriend with a firearm, put the firearm to her chin and pulled the trigger, though a bullet was not fired. He also threatened a law enforcement officer involved in the investigation of this federal case.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron A. Beaver. It was investigated by the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team, and the Carl Junction, Mo., Police Department.

Ethics investigation into Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher continues next week

By Jason Hancock

The Missouri House Ethics Committee will reconvene for a third time next week for a closed-door hearing into allegations of misconduct by Speaker Dean Plocher.

The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Dec. 6. The public notice says the committee will discuss a “personnel inquiry” and an ethics complaint.

Though it doesn’t mention his name, the hearing’s focus is Plocher.

The inquiry was launched after The Independent reported last month that Plocher on numerous occasions illegally sought reimbursement from the legislature for airfare, hotels and other travel costs already paid for by his campaign.

The revelation followed weeks of scrutiny surrounding Plocher’s unsuccessful push to award a contract to a company to manage constituent information and a decision to fire his chief of staff.

Plocher, a Republican from Des Peres running for lieutenant governor, has flatly denied any wrongdoing, chalking up false expense reports to a “checkbook error.” He paid back the illegal reimbursements, saying he and his wife — who is also his campaign treasurer — caught the mistakes and self-reported them.

But though the false reports went back years, Plocher didn’t begin making repayments until two weeks after The Independent submitted a Sunshine request seeking his expense reports.

Proceedings of the committee are confidential, and none of the discussions, testimony or evidence gathered is public until a report is issued. The 10-member committee is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.

Plocher’s troubles spilled out into the public in September, when he was accused of threatening to fire nonpartisan legislative staff as part of a push to get the House to award a lucrative contract to a private company to manage constituent information.

Records obtained by The Independent through the Missouri Sunshine Law document allegations that Plocher connected the success of the contract the 2024 campaign — in which he is running for lieutenant governor — and engaged in “unethical and perhaps unlawful conduct.”

The saga has garnered attention from federal law enforcement, with the FBI attending the September legislative hearing where the contract was discussed and voted down.

The FBI, which investigates public corruption, has also interviewed several individuals about Plocher.

A few weeks later, The Independent revealed that Plocher filed false expense reports with the legislature going back to 2018 seeking reimbursement for costs already paid for by his campaign.

Submitting false expense reports could be prosecuted as stealing from the state, a class A misdemeanor. It could also be considered false declaration, a class B misdemeanor that involves knowingly submitting any written false statement. The House speaker could also have run afoul of laws prohibiting campaign contributions from being converted to personal use.

(Photo by Tim Bommel/Missouri House Communications)

Newton County Sheriff's Office believes drunk driving was an act of Passion

The Newton County Prosecuting Attorney's office filed a driving while intoxicated charge against a Stilwell, Oklahoma woman who was arrested November 19 during a traffic stop in Seneca.

According to the probable cause statement, Passion Lovette Stigleman (DOB 1996) was driving 67 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone when she caught the attention of a Newton County Sheriff's Office deputy.

Stigleman ran a stop sign and was pulled over. The probable cause statement indicates she registered .157 on the portable breath test, did not fare well on field sobriety tests and when she was taken into custody "she began to yell profanities at me and kicked the partition in my patrol car numerous times."

The profanities continued after they arrived at the jail where she allegedly was disrespectful to jail staff while being booked, according to the statement.

Teen involved in double-fatality crash on Main bound over for trial

A Welch, Oklahoma teen waived his preliminary hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court this morning and was bound over for trial on a felony charge of resisting arrest by fleeing.

Colton F. Goddard, 18, will be arraigned in Division III 9 a.m. January 2.

Goddard was charged with the felony and a misdemeanor, careless and imprudent driving following a double-fatality crash at Casey's on Main in Joplin September 2.

Goddard and Taran Morris, 20, Miami, Oklahoma were allegedly riding their motorcycles at high rates of speed down Main and took off after a Joplin police officer attempted to stop them at a light.

The police department's news release indicated Goddard and Morris were traveling at speeds of 80 to 100 miles per hour down Main, running red lights in the process. Morris collided with a motorcycle driven by Mark McGowen, 60, as he pulled out of Casey's.

Both men were killed.

The Joplin Police Department recommended two charges of murder in the second degree against Goddard, according to the probable cause statement, but the Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney's office elected to file the one felony and misdemeanor.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Brenten Byrd named Webb City R-7 superintendent


Joplin man sues Walmart for $10 million, claims false accusations of sexual harassment

A Joplin man who claims he was wrongfully accused of sexual harassment and kicked out of the 7th Street Walmart Neighborhood Market is suing Walmart for $10 million, claiming he has "physical and mental pain due to slander."

Stephen Hill filed the complaint on his own behalf after shopping it to three Joplin law firms who turned him down.

Hill said two of the firms said they would not take on Walmart while the other one wouldn't do it for free.

In his handwritten petition, Hill claims on December 5, 2021, a man claiming to be a Walmart manager approached him and said in a loud voice "I have written reports on file from customers and employees about your sexual harassment and sexual advances." The man then said in a lower voice he had been asked by the owners of Walmart to ban him from the store.

Hill claims the statements were made in front of "three or four people."

Hill wants the following relief for his "pain and suffering."

-Order Walmart to pay for sensitivity training for the employee

-Let Hill shop at the Neighborhood Market again

-$10 million in damages

-No retaliation or arrest for Hill as he organizes a 12-month protest at the Neighborhood Market with "citizens that have experienced such negligence and that such negligence should not be a way of operation for Walmart.

Carterville man's employers, family, friends ask judge for leniency in meth sentencing

The government wants a 44-year-old Carterville man to spend 19 years behind bars for possession with meth with intent to distribute, but family and friends are doing their best to give the judge a look at a different side of Cody Wayne Goucher.

In a sentencing memorandum filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Springfield, 12 people including former employers, co-workers, a coach and family members, submitted letters asking for leniency.

The letters include testimonials to his work ethic, his reliability not only in paying his rent, but in making improvements on his home, his willingness to work long hours and do whatever needed to be done at his job and his paying for man to get a prosthetic leg.

One of Goucher's former girlfriends praised him for helping her kick her meth problem and for encouraging her son to attend the Missouri Southern Police Academy and become a Webb City police officer.

A couple of the letter writers noted that Goucher always paid child support for his two children on time and would not be able to pay for their support if he is in prison.

The government's sentencing memorandum, which was filed Wednesday cited not only Goucher's present crime, but his long history of criminal activity.

The defendant’s criminal history includes six prior felony convictions and numerous misdemeanor or other convictions, and is diversified to include felony property crimes, felony drug crimes, and felony and misdemeanor acts of assault and violence.

In 2004, he committed the acts that resulted in his first three felony convictions. He was convicted of second-degree domestic assault after he threatened his girlfriend with a firearm, put the firearm to her chin and pulled the trigger, though a bullet was not fired.

That same year, he was arrested and later convicted for being in possession of a stolen motorcycle and possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. Upon release from his incarceration sentences, he violated his parole and was returned to prison for possessing Xanax without a prescription, as well as driving while intoxicated.

After serving more time in the department of corrections, the defendant was later convicted of two additional instances of domestic assault, two instances of violating an order of protection, felony receiving stolen property, and felony possession of methamphetamine.

The defendant has been leading a life of crime for more than two decades. Most concerning to the Government are his violent, assaultive acts or threats made to girlfriends and law enforcement personal.

Goucher's sentencing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday in Springfield.

Jason Smith: Fighting back against anti-semitism

(From Eighth District Congressman Jason Smith)

In the aftermath of the October 7 terror attack in Israel, antisemitic incidents in the U.S. have skyrocketed by 316% compared to the same time last year. 

We've seen massive hate-filled rallies in cities and on college campuses across the nation with people celebrating Hamas and calling for the elimination of Israel. Jewish students don’t feel safe walking to class, studying in the library, or going to sleep at night because of the dangerous rhetoric and antisemitic actions of pro-Hamas student groups.

While Congress can’t single-handedly defeat antisemitism, it must do its part to fight back. That’s why, as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, I recently held a hearing to look into ways we can use the tax code to address some of the issues that have been laid bare in the aftermath of October 7.

Colleges enjoy lucrative tax advantages – including on their endowments – because of their educational mission. But these institutions have shifted from free speech to preferred speech, creating a double standard that has led to Jewish students getting physically harassed, having their dorm room door set on fire, and being forced to walk by slogans posted on campus calling for the genocide of the Jewish people. Too many college presidents have sought to appease the most radical voices on their campuses. When they fail to act, they claim it’s about free speech rights. But this is laughable. Time and again, these institutions have protected speech preferred by left-wing administrators and professors rather than the actual principles of free speech.

While there are numerous examples of colleges failing to show moral clarity and leadership after Hamas’s terror attack, one that stands out is Cornell – the very same college where a professor called Hamas’s slaughter of innocent people “exhilarating.” At our hearing, Talia Dror, a Jewish Cornell student, shared her story of fearing for her life from violent death threats the same day college administrators falsely claimed students were safe. “That night I sat in my locked house pondering my mortality. I knew that with my roommates and I being openly Jewish community leaders, our apartment would be one of the first targets for someone looking to actualize the threats,” she said.

While the eruption of hatred toward Jewish students on college campuses after the October 7 attack has been disturbing to watch, the organization around it is not some organic movement – it has been carefully built over years, in part, by groups that have ties to terrorists.

One of the radical groups pushing Hamas propaganda and organizing hate-filled rallies on college campuses is Students for Justice in Palestine. It’s the student wing of American Muslims for Palestine, which has been sued in federal court for operating as an alter ego of an organization that funneled $12.4 million from Americans to fund Hamas before it was shut down by the U.S. government back in the early 2000s. At the hearing, Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, a terrorism financing expert, told us that bipartisan legislation led by my colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee that would take away the tax-exempt status for any organization that provides financial support or resources to designated terrorist groups would be “a very valuable tool.”

No person should fear for their safety because of their religion, background, or beliefs. Sadly, acts of antisemitism will likely continue to rise as Israel continues its fight to defeat the Hamas terrorists who slaughtered over a thousand innocent people. As Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, I will continue doing my part to combat antisemitism, whether it’s going after tax-exempt groups that support terrorists or looking into ways to hold colleges accountable for failing to protect Jewish students.

Carthage R-9 Board accepts retirements of principal, six teachers, resignations of nine teachers

(From the Carthage R-9 School District)

The Carthage R-9 Board of Education met in regular session on Monday, November 20, 2023, 6:00 pm, at Fairview Elementary. Present were Board members Jeff Jones, Bill Lasley, Niki Cloud, Ryan Collier, Patrick Scott, and Lora Phelps. Nathan Terry was absent. 

Fairview Elementary first grade students provided cheerful songs under the direction of vocal music teacher, Mrs. Megan Blanchard. 

The Board approved the Consent Agenda for the purpose of approving the meeting agenda, minutes of previous meeting, minutes of previous board retreat, payment of bills, district financial report, amendments to FY24 budget, current bus driver salary and benefits package, student ridership count and bus routes for 2023-2024, and filing dates for the annual Board of Education election. 

Shelley Wilson, School Counselor & K-12 Counseling Department Chair, Deena Murdock, District Counseling Specialist, and Jessica McDonald, District Counseling Specialist, presented the MSIP 6 Standard: Counseling and Advisement evaluative report to the board. An overview of target areas one and two were discussed. 

Dr. Boyer, Superintendent, presented the MSIP 6 Standard: Finances evaluative report to the board. 

Mr. Jones provided a Carthage R-9 School Foundation update highlighting the success of the Major Saver card campaign and that Trivia Night will be held in February 2024 at Specialty Risk Insurance.

Dr. Boyer, Mr. Jones, Mr. Lasley, Mr. Collier, and Mrs. Phelps attended the 2023 MSBA Annual School Board Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, November 2-4, 2023. All attendees discussed their takeaways from conference sessions. 

Rebecca Baker, KPM CPA’s, reviewed the FY 23 audit report. Carthage R-9 was in compliance with all requirements and received an overall clean audit report with no material weaknesses. 

Dr. Huntley, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, Jana Sawyer, Director of Language Programs, and Beth Hunt, Curriculum Director, provided information regarding the district's dual language program. Items discussed were the goals and progress of the program, academic achievement, progress towards biliteracy, attrition rates of students and teachers, waiting lists for the program, and curriculum. 

Mr. Collier and Mr. Scott volunteered to serve on the John T. Belcher Scholarship Selection Committee. The committee will select a nominee to represent the district in this competitive scholarship application process. 

Dr. Goodnight, Assistant Superintendent for Business, provided the Board information regarding the five bids the district received for the baseball stadium. A decision was made to rebid the project and ask for approval in the December 18, 2023 board meeting. 

Dr. Boyer updated the Board regarding the following: 

• Thank you to the board members that were able to attend the MSBA conference and your dedication to moving the district forward. 

• The transportation department will start altering bus routes in January 2024. 

• Blayne Daugherty, dual language student, in the district was able to assist a young girl that was lost by speaking in Spanish and then calling the police department. 

• The 3rd grade feast was a great event where students learned table etiquette and shared what they were thankful for. 

• Kylie Kyte at Fairview Elementary and Rebekah Kelly at CIC were both presented with the Tiger Pride Kindness Award and Alex Benbow at CIC received the McDonald’s Outstanding Educator Award. 

• Three Carthage Tiger educators were recognized at the MOSHAPE State Convention. Jamie Newman (CIC) received the Young Professional of the Year Award, Kirk Jones (JH) received the Professional Service Honor Award, and former Superintendent Dr. Mark Baker was named Administrator of the Year. 

• Carthage High School Theatre department presented the CHS musical “Bright Star”, everyone involved did an amazing job. 

• Veterans Day assemblies were held at all buildings to honor and express our deepest gratitude for their service. 

The Board met in closed session immediately following the regular meeting to discuss personnel matters and evaluative personnel reports in compliance with Section 610.021 (3) and (13) of the Revised Statutes of Missouri. 

In closed session the Board approved the following personnel actions: 

Approved the employment of professional, certified, support, 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: 

PN Staff Contract Renewals: 

Mari Beth Linder, Practical Nursing Program Coordinator Carthage Tech Center Re-employment for 2024 
Jo Ellen Branstetter, Practical Nursing Instructor Carthage Tech Center Re-employment for 2024 
Jessica Barrett, Practical Nursing Instructor Carthage Tech Center Re-employment for 2024 

Certified Hire

Elder Reyes, SPED Teacher Carthage Junior High School New Hire 
Mr. Reyes has been student teaching with our district. He will graduate from Missouri Southern State University in December of 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. 

Calvin Gazaway, SPED Teacher 6th Grade Center New Hire 
Mr. Gazaway is a retired educator. Most recently he was a Music Teacher at Columbian Elementary and Sixth Grade Center.

Support Hire

Yvonne Holmes, Cook Carthage Intermediate Center Modification 
Bethany Jeffries, Personal Paraprofessional Fairview Elementary New Hire 
Darryl Berg, Bus Driver Transportation New Hire 
Rebecca Taylor, Tiger Cub Care Paraprofessional Mark Twain Elementary New Hire 
Antonio Mejia, Custodian Carthage High School New Hire 
Mary Filbeck, Bus Driver Transportation New Hire 
Michelle Funk, School Nurse Columbian Elementary New Hire 

Chester Harris, Bus Driver Transportation New Hire 
Larry Doty, SPED Paraprofessional 6th Grade Center Modification 
Cayden Crahan, Assistant Bus Mechanic Transportation New Hire 

Substitute Hire 

Cheryl Worthington, Substitute District New Hire 
Larry Doty, Substitute District New Hire 
Donald Manka, Substitute District Modification 
Alli Gibson, Substitute District New Hire 
Amanda Jones, Substitute Nurse District New Hire 
Jimi Tucker, Substitute District New Hire 
Joseph Bartosh, Substitute District Modification 
Seth Lingengfelter, Substitute District New Hire 

Support Transfer 

Sheril Vonholten-Cartwright, Personal Paraprofessional Carthage Intermediate Center Transfer 
Katie Wimer, Instructional Assistant Columbian Elementary Transfer 
Ryan Staggs, Custodian Carthage High School Transfer 

Certified Retirement/Resignation 
Jenny Bogle, Principal Carthage Junior High School Retirement 
Judith Lucas, SPED Teacher Pleasant Valley Elementary Retirement 
Cheryl Church, Art Teacher Carthage High School Retirement 
Michelle Joyce, SPED Teacher Carthage Junior High School Retirement 
Jeffrey Marrs, Machine Tech Teacher Carthage Tech - South Retirement 
Chris Wilkerson, PLTW Biomed Teacher Carthage Tech - South Retirement 
Randall Evans, Career Tech Teacher Carthage Junior High School Retirement 
Elizabeth Arthur, 3rd Grade Teacher Fairview Elementary Resignation 
Brett Cline, SPED Teacher Sixth Grade Center Resignation 
Elizabeth Nichols, 5th Grade Teacher Carthage Intermediate Center Resignation 
Mariah Stilabower, 1st Grade Teacher Columbian Elementary Resignation 
Haley Manley, EL Teacher Fairview Elementary Resignation 
Miranda Mason, 2nd Grade Teacher Fairview Elementary Resignation 
Jennifer Grizzel, 2nd Grade DL Teacher Fairview Elementary Resignation 
Evelyn Andrews, 4th Grade Teacher Carthage Intermediate Center Resignation 
Jasmine Deckard, 5th Grade Teacher Carthage Intermediate Center Resignation 

Support Retirement/Resignation

Carl Titius, Custodian Carthage High School Retirement 
Jason Latzko, Head Custodian Fairview Elementary Resignation 
Bailee Bland, Nurse Coordinator District Resignation 
Richard Southard, Bus Driver Transportation Resignation 
Joseph Bartosh, HSE Teacher CTC-North Resignation 
Xandria Virtue, Cook Fairview Elementary Resignation 
Carmen Feliciano, District Registrar Welcome Center Resignation 

Substitute Resignation 

Crystal Masters, Substitute Cook District Resignation 
Anna McGatha, Substitute Cook District Resignation 
Taylor Ferris, Substitute District Resignation 

Extra Duty Resignation 

Taylor Ferris, 9th Grade Volleyball Carthage High School Resignation 
Mark Lingenfelter, Girls Head Tennis Coach Carthage High School Resignation

Police release identity of Joplin pedestrian killed on Rangeline

(From the Joplin Police Department)

On Saturday, November 25th, 2023, at 2:10 p.m. the Joplin Police Department Emergency Communications Center received 911 reports of a crash involving a vehicle and a pedestrian near 29th and Rangeline Road. 

Officers and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene and provided aid to the pedestrian. He was transported to a local hospital with critical injuries and later succumbed to those injuries the same day. 

During the initial investigation, it appears several witnesses observed the pedestrian along the east side of the road yelling at passing vehicles before stepping out in front of an oncoming vehicle. A pickup traveling northbound was unable to stop and struck the pedestrian. 

The driver of the pickup was not injured. The collision occurred in the outside lane of northbound traffic on Rangeline Road, near the front entrance of 3031 S. Rangeline Road. 

The pedestrian has been identified as Kevin C. Ockuly, age 65 and was reported as being homeless.
Next of kin has been notified. 

The Joplin Police Department Major Crash Team is continuing the investigation. If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact the Joplin Police Department at 417-623- 3131.

Neosho man charged with armed robberies of Dollar General stores

A Neosho man has been charged in connection with armed robberies of two Newton County Dollar General stores and is being held without bond in the Newton County Jail.

Richard Mark Hatfield, 62, explained his procedure for determining whether he would rob a Dollar General store, according to the probable cause statement.

Richard stated he would go into the stores on the day of the robberies to see if women were working. Richard stated he would rather rob the stores with women employees rather than men because he was afraid a male might fight back.

Hatfield's first Dollar General robbery took place November 19 at 12023 K Highway, the probable cause statement said.

Deputies learned that a man had entered the store armed with. a handgun and a bat Two employees were working· at the business and advised the man had po√≠nted the gun at them near the registers and demanded money.

Employees émptied the cash drawers and complied with the suspect, The suspect; was described as wearing a camo jacket, camo winter hat, jeans, and black tennis shoes with white soles.

The suspect made a statement to the employees that there were three men a¢ross the street with radios and guns and they would be shot if they called 911.

Furthermore the employees witnessed a small Ford Ranger green in color leaving the parking lot post robbery.

The same procedure was followed during the second Dollar General robbery on November 21 in Racine.

Newton County deputies were able to get surveillance footage from Four State Trucks of the vehicle being used by the robber.

Two deputies were conducting surveillance on the Granby Dollar General store Thursday when they spotted the dark green Ford Ranger. The vehicle pulled into the parking lot, circled it, then went east on U. S. 60.

The deputies pulled the vehicle over and saw the driver had black paint covering his face. Wallace took off, according to the probable cause statement, but drove down an embankment between Hillcrest and Beaver Avenue north of 60.

 I saw that the vehicle was disabled and began making commands for the suspect to make himself known, I heard a male voice yell at me stating, "I have a 9mm, if you come down here, I will shoot you." 

After checking the VIN number of the vehicle, deputies located the owner, who said he sold it to Hatfield in 2021.

The deputies located Hatfield at his brother's home in Granby. According to the probable cause statement, he told his brother he had been beaten up, the Ford Ranger had been stolen and his face was black because he had fallen into tar. 

Deputies found Hatfield in the shower "scrubbing his face rapidly" in an effort to remove the paint.

Hatfield told deputies the weapon he used during the robberies was a BB gun and he had thrown it away, according to the probable cause statement. The weapon was later recovered.

Hatfield is being held without bond. A bond reduction hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. December 4 in Newton County Circuit Court.

Jasper County Jail inspection shows Carthage woman's cup runneth over with meth

The Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney's office charged a Carthage woman with possessing a controlled substance in the county jail.

According to the probable cause statement, Idania Juarez-Hernandez (DOB 2005) had a pipe and two baggies of methamphetamine in her bra when jail staff were changing her out to take her to the pods. 

Juarez-Hernandez' bond was set at $5,000 cash or surety.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Attorney General's office to assist in prosecution of alleged McDonald County sex cult leader

The Missouri Attorney General's office filed an entry of appearance indicating it will assist in the prosecution of former McDonald County pastor Raymond Lambert who is charged with the rape of a 10-year-old girl in the summer of 2013.

The pre-trial conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday before Judge John LePage in McDonald County Circuit Court, but that's no guarantee it will take place. Online court records indicate the hearing has been rescheduled nine times.

(Note: The photo of Raymond Lambert was taken during a 2006 hearing)
Lambert, 68, Washburn, was arrested October 12, 2022 by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which conducted the investigation.

It was not the first time Lambert had been arrested in connection with sex crimes involving a child. In 2006, Lambert was alleged to be the ringleader of a sex cult in the church he pastored, the Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church. Church membership was approximately 100 and church members lived in what authorities described as a "compound." He and several members of his family, including his wife, Patricia Lambert and sister-in-law Laura Epling were also charged.

A McDonald County grand jury indicted Lambert in February 2008, charging him with four counts of child molestation, three counts of statutory sodomy and one count of child abuse in connection with ritual sex abuse of children.

Janice Durbin, who was McDonald County prosecuting attorney at the time, dismissed charges against Lambert June 10, 2008, again citing reluctance of witnesses.

After current McDonald County Prosecuting Attorney Maleia Anne Cheney filed the most recent charge against Lambert, she also filed charges against Laura Epling and Patricia Lambert.

McDonald County Circuit Court records do not indicate any current case against Patricia Lambert.

An amended complaint against Epling charged her with statutory sodomy, with the crimes allegedly taking place between 2002 and 2004.

From the probable cause statement:

Raymond Lambert instructed (the victim) to perform oral sex on him to which she complied. According to the victim, Laura Epling was present during the assault and acted in concert with Raymond Lambert by providing instruction and at one point placing her hand on (the victim's) head to assist her in the sexual act.
Judge LePage denied a motion to dismiss the case against Epling November 6. Her pre-trial conference is also scheduled for Wednesday, November 29.

No charges have been filed against Raymond Lambert in connection with the crimes described in Laura Epling's probable cause statement

Grant Valley Independent Baptist Church and the Lambert/Epling Family

The Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church was founded by Patricia Lambert's father, the late Cecil Epling and was featured in a multi-part investigation by National Public Radio in December 2006.

At that time, charges had also been filed in Newton County against another church pastor, George Johnson. Assistant Newton County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Dobbs offered the following comment to NPR:

"We have, in McDonald County, Raymond Lambert, who is married to his stepsister," Dobbs says. "We have George Johnston, who is an uncle to Raymond Lambert. It is alleged by some members of that community that the religious leaders may, in fact, be the biological parents of several children who have been born into this group."

The NPR report also featured an interview with a family member who was not involved in any alleged criminal activity, who offered insight into the Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church's beliefs.
"In April, I learned that my grandfather thought that his daughters needed taking care of spiritually," {the woman}tells NPR. "And so in order to do that, in order to keep his daughters, he had sex with them. He then went on to father a child for most all of his daughters, or his daughter-in-laws [sic]."

Her grandfather was the late Cecil Epling, a minister originally from Ohio. According to Burkett, Epling wanted his seven sons and four daughters to become a tight-knit community, so he helped buy them the Missouri farm. When Epling died, his stepson, Raymond Lambert, took over the ministry. George Johnston later joined the family's church.

Family members say Cecil Epling passed his sexual beliefs to both pastors, teaching them that they needed to fulfill the sexual needs of their daughters and selected girls in the church.

"What's inside of them is God, and they think that they have all the power, all that it takes to take care of a woman," {the woman} says.