Friday, June 28, 2024

Webb City man sentenced to 50 years in prison for murder of Jolene Walker Campbell

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

The last of nine defendants was sentenced today for the kidnapping and murder of Jolene Walker Campbell, an Osage Nation citizen, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.

U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell sentenced Tre Robert Allen Ackerson, 30, Webb City, Missouri for Murder in the Second Degree. Judge Frizzell ordered Ackerson to be sentenced to 600 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release.

“I hope the family of Ms. Campbell can find some sort of healing knowing the person who murdered their loved one will likely die behind bars,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “The Justice Department will continue its relentless efforts to seek justice on behalf of missing and murdered Indigenous people.”

According to court documents, Ackerson kidnapped and violently murdered Jolene in July 2020. The victim’s body was found in a remote field in Mayes County. The investigation showed that Jolene was robbed and kidnapped in Missouri and driven into the State of Oklahoma, where she was murdered by Ackerson.

Ackerson and several of the defendants used physical force or threatened the use of physical force against four witnesses in separate incidents. Various assaults on witnesses took place that included witnesses being kidnapped, restrained with zipties, blindfolded or having their eyes duct taped shut, being shot at, and being beaten. The acts were committed to prevent the witnesses from testifying or as retaliation for communicating to law enforcement about Jolene’s murder.

The additional defendants sentenced in this are as follows:Sarah Michelle Humbard, of Joplin, Missouri, was sentenced in Oct. 2023 for Tampering with a Witness, Victim, and Informant by Using the Threat of Physical Force. U.S. District Judge Raul M. Arias-Marxuach sentenced Humbard to five years of probation.

Chloe Louise Stith, of Carthage, Missouri, was sentenced in Nov. 2023 for Tampering with a Witness, Victim, and Informant by Using the Threat of Physical Force. U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell sentenced Stith to 87 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release.

Breanna Lynn Sloan, of Joplin, Missouri, was sentenced in Jan. 2024 for Kidnapping Resulting in Death. U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell sentenced Sloan to 240 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release.

David William Morris, of Joplin, Missouri, was sentenced in Nov. 2023 for Tampering with a Witness, Victim, and Informant by Using the Threat of Physical Force. U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell sentenced Morris to 65 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release.

Morgan Lee Bowman, of Joplin, Missouri, was sentenced in Mar. 2024 for Tampering with a Witness, Victim, and Informant by Using the Threat of Physical Force. U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell sentenced Bowman to 46 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release.

Megan Louise Detherage, of Joplin, Missouri, was sentenced in Mar. 2024 for Misprison of a Felony. U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell sentenced Detherage to time served, followed by one year of supervised release.

Jacob Ryan Scribner, of Joplin, Missouri, was sentenced in Apr. 2024 for Conspiracy to Retaliate Against a Witness, Victim, and Informant. U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell sentenced Scribner to 48 months of imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release.

Lane Ryan Bronson, of Joplin, Missouri, was sentenced in Mar. 2024 for Tampering with a Witness, Victim, and Informant by Using the Threat of Physical Force. U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell sentenced Bronson to 228 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release.

The FBI, Mayes County Sheriff’s Office, Muscogee Nation Lighthorse Police Department, and the Joplin Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin Bish and George Jiang prosecuted the case.

Missouri governor slashes $1 billion from state budget approved by lawmakers

By Rudi Keller

More than 170 items were struck from the Missouri state budget Friday as Gov. Mike Parson cut $1 billion from the spending plan passed this year by lawmakers.

In a statement explaining his cuts, Parson said he vetoed earmarked items that he believes were loaded into the budget for special projects and organizations without considering the future financial stability of the state.

“The use of the veto pen is not something I do eagerly, but today these vetoes represent the elimination of unnecessary pet projects and the protection of the taxpayer dime,” Parson said in a news release announcing his budget actions. “We may be leaving $1.9 billion on the bottom line, but that doesn’t mean we spend for the sake of spending.”

It was the second year in a row Parson cut the budget despite near-record surpluses.

One of the biggest cuts was $150 million in general revenue that was part of a $727.5 million plan for expanding Interstate 44 in southwest Missouri. The cut leaves $577.5 million available, with $363 million coming from borrowed money.

Other projects, large and small, that Parson did not approve include grants to not-for-profit organizations, support for local projects and set-asides that targeted a single vendor for a state purchase.

Many of the individual items carried a warning — that the fund being tapped was “grossly overappropriated,” that it was a local responsibility or that the long-term financial health of the state required the cut.

A new education law will cost an estimated $400 million more annually for public schools when fully implemented, with the foundation formula estimated to cost $300 million more in fiscal 2026, Parson wrote in a message repeated several times.

“We have obligations both this year and in future years that must be accounted for today to avoid future budgetary pains tomorrow,” Parson said in the news release.

The budget — $50.5 billion for state operations in the year that begins Monday — has several spending initiatives that Parson did approve. He requested several of them and accepted others added by lawmakers.Almost $700 million for roads including the $577.5 million for I-44, $150 million to widen U.S. 67 through Butler County and $40 million for construction on U.S. 65 from Buffalo to Warsaw.
Full funding of the state’s 75% share of school transportation costs for the third year in a row. The transportation support has not been fully funded for almost 30 years until the budget surplus started growing.
A 3% increase in funding for state colleges and universities, plus $367 million in new funding to complete construction projects begun in 2022 or for new campus construction.
A 3.2% pay raise for state employees.
A boost in state grants to support teacher pay to make the minimum salary $40,000. In May, Parson signed a bill mandating the $40,000 minimum salary for all districts.
$1.5 billion in federal grant awards to expand broadband access in rural areas.
$56 million for public and charter schools to provide Pre-Kindergarten programs to all students qualifying for free and reduced lunch.

Parson left in place initiatives he called for, such as increased rates for child care providers, even if the budget did not fund them at the levels he requested.

Some of the vetoed items have become targets for criticism, including $12.5 million to purchase land for a state park in McDonald County inserted into the budget by state Rep. Dirk Deaton of Noel.

Parson also vetoed $1 million to assist Deaton’s hometown recover from the closure of a Tyson plant. The state has helped plan job fairs and sought to market the Tyson plant site, the veto message states.

“Beyond all of these efforts, the state has been unable to determine the intended use of these specific funds,” Parson wrote.

There were other items vetoed because there was too little information about how the money would be used.

For one, $502,000 to support an historical society that operates a museum and a cemetery, the administration had no information at all.

“The demographic language is not specific enough to identify where this project is located,” Parson wrote.

Some of the items vetoed were repeats from last year. One of those items was $8 million for a law enforcement training center in O’Fallon in St. Charles County.

“That project is built on a partnership that includes commitments from five different counties from the region,” Parson wrote. “Whereas the state senators that represent the county in which this facility is located voted against (the spending bill), this leads my administration to believe that there is not widespread, regional support for this training facility.”

St. Charles is represented by state Sens. Bill Eigel of Weldon Spring and Nick Schroer of Defiance, members of the Freedom Caucus group that disrupted plans for orderly debate on the budget with a 41-hour filibuster.

One of the smaller earmarked items that was vetoed was $38,000 for sales tax refunds sought by state Sen. Mike Moon of Ash Grove. The refunds were for taxes found to be owed when the interpretation of tax law changed because of a court ruling.

None of the items cut were vetoed because the state lacks money.

On May 31, the general revenue fund held $4.8 billion and there was $1.6 billion in the bank in other funds that could be spent like general revenue. There are also funds set aside for major projects that are not so far along that they couldn’t be stopped, like $600 million set aside for expanding the state Capitol Building.

Parson’s administration put out a two-page summary seeking to dispel the idea that the state has substantial surplus cash. There are large fund balances, the document states, but there are also large pending obligations that will draw down those balances.

”Reductions in revenue and increased ongoing expenditures approved by recent legislation mean we have obligations beyond the current fiscal year that rely on Missouri’s fund balance in the future,” the summary states.

Parson’s budget office projects a $1.9 billion general revenue balance on June 30, 2025. The budget passed by lawmakers spent $50.9 billion total on state operations, with $15.2 million from general revenue.

Parson said in the news release that he cut that to $50.5 billion total for operations and $14.9 billion in general revenue. The budget is based on a projection for $13.1 billion in general revenue receipts.

That means an accumulated surplus must be tapped to fill the gaps on ongoing operations, but there are trends that will reduce the drawdown.

Last June 30, Missouri had a general revenue surplus of $5.1 billion, $1.3 billion more than had been projected when the budget for that fiscal year was written.

Parson’s budget proposal from January projected it would decline to $3.2 billion when the current year ends Sunday and stand at $1.6 billion on June 30, 2025.

Those estimates were based on a slight decline in revenues this year, but through Thursday collections are up 1.1%, which will add a small amount to the surplus. The state has collected $94 million more in general revenue in the current year, $13.3 billion total so far, than in fiscal 2023.

The estimate for almost flat revenue in the coming year is unchanged, Budget Director Dan Haug said Friday in an email to The Independent.

That would mean approximately $200 million would be available during the coming fiscal year that is not anticipated in the original budget.

The other factor reducing the draw on general revenue and other state funds is understaffing at state agencies, in some cases more than 10% down from authorized strength.

Working to reduce state revenue are pending tax cuts. If this fiscal year ends with revenue exceeding last year’s total by $200 million, it would trigger a reduction in the top income tax rate of 0.1%, to 4.7%, on Jan. 1.

The increase through Thursday isn’t enough to trigger the refund but there are collections to come.

“We won’t,” Haug said, “be able to make that calculation until after we see what final collections will be.”


Thursday, June 27, 2024

Oklahoma schools ordered to use Bible in history teaching

By Nuria Martinez Keel

Oklahoma’s top education official on Thursday ordered all public schools in the state to incorporate the Bible into their curriculum as a historical text.

(Photo- Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters ordered all public schools in the state to keep the Bible in classrooms and use it as a teaching tool.- Photo by Nuria Martinez-Keel/Oklahoma Voice)

State Superintendent Ryan Walters said he wants the Bible kept and taught in every Oklahoma classroom, particularly how it is referenced in America’s history and founding documents.

“We’re going to be looking at the Mayflower Compact (and) other of those foundational documents to point to and say, listen, here’s conceptually what the founders believed,” Walters said while speaking with news reporters on Thursday.

State academic standards for social studies already require schools to teach students about the impact of religion on U.S. society and government.

The academic standards are a lengthy list of topics Oklahoma public schools must teach. Local school districts are allowed the freedom to decide their own curriculum, or how they teach the standards.

Walters’ announcement drew quick opposition from Democratic lawmakers and groups advocating for separation of church and state.

The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the order would further marginalize religious minorities in public schools and violate religious freedom. The Muslim civil rights organization has advocated against adding specific religious teachings to the classroom.

“Although we and the American Muslim community recognize the important historical and religious significance of the Bible, forcing teachers to use it and only it in their curriculum is inappropriate and unconstitutional,” said Adam Soltani, director of the Oklahoma chapter. “We adamantly oppose any requirements that religion be forcefully taught or required as a part of lesson plans in public schools, in Oklahoma, or anywhere else in the country.”

State Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, said the matter could end up in court, costing the state taxpayer dollars. Meanwhile, she said it fails to “provide solutions to the real problems facing our schools,” like the teacher shortage and falling below the regional average in public education funding.

Oklahoma already has been grappling with the role of religion in public schools. The state Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a publicly funded Catholic charter school that was weeks away from opening in the state. The Court found the concept of a religious, state-funded school is unconstitutional and a violation of state law.

Attorney General Gentner Drummond led the legal challenge against opening the Catholic charter school, called St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School. But when reached for comment Thursday, his office did not raise alarm bells over Walters’ order on Bible teaching.

“Oklahoma law already explicitly allows Bibles in the classroom and enables teachers to use them in instruction,” the AG’s spokesperson, Phil Bacharach, said.

Walters has been a vocal supporter of St. Isidore. He called the Court’s ruling on the Catholic charter school “one of the worst” of its decisions and said the concept of separation of church and state is “a myth.”

Oklahoma Catholic leaders indicated they intend to appeal the ruling. A meeting agenda for the school’s Board of Directors states St. Isidore will “delay opening to students at least until the 2025-2026 school year, as it seeks review by the United States Supreme Court.”

Parson says he plans to veto hundreds of earmarked spending items

By Rudi Keller
Missouri Independent

Hundreds of earmarked items in the $51.7 billion budget passed by lawmakers this year will be vetoed, Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday, just days before the new fiscal year begins.

Speaking with reporters after groundbreaking for a new multi-agency state laboratory, Parson had two criticisms for the budget plan — it goes overboard on earmarks and shortchanges essential state services.

Parson said the administration’s budget staff had identified more than 600 earmarked items throughout the 16 appropriation bills for the fiscal year that begins Monday.

“We’re going to veto a lot of the earmarks, especially some of them that maybe were not even ready to be done, that just people put different things in there,” Parson said. “There’s gonna be a lot of the those making it across the finish line, but not everybody’s gonna get what they want.”

The Independent analyzed the budget and found more than 400 earmarked items – with 284 new this year – totaling $2.1 billion in spending.

Parson called those earmarks “a lot of overspending.” The state services that are not fully funded will require a large infusion of additional cash, he said, but lawmakers won’t have to return this fall to pass a supplemental budget.

“You’ll see one of the largest supplementals at the beginning of next year that you’ve seen,” Parson told reporters.

The state is sitting on a large surplus, but Parson said it is not as large as the fund balances in the treasury would make it appear. The budget passed by lawmakers spends $15.3 billion in general revenue — including $700 million on earmarked items identified by The Independent.

When they were finished with the budget in May, legislative leaders claimed two achievements – a total $1 billion less than Parson requested in January and ongoing general revenue spending that was less than ongoing revenues.

In legislative language, that means that spending above the expected $13.1 billion in general revenue would be one-time expenses met by tapping the surplus.

When the total after his vetoes is added to the amount of the supplemental budget needed to maintain services, he said, that will no longer be true.

“That was more of a political gesture than it was anything,” Parson said.

The House Budget Committee chairman, state Rep. Cody Smith of Carthage, and the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, state Sen. Lincoln Hough of Springfield, are both running for statewide office.

Even with spending from the surplus, Parson said, the state will have about $1.5 billion in extra cash at the end of the coming fiscal year.

“I’m gonna make sure,” Parson said, “that there’s enough finances available for the next administration.”

Agenda posted for Joplin City Council meeting

MONDAY, JULY 1, 2024
6:00 P.M.


Call To Order

Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America

Roll Call




Proposition Action Update


Finalization Of Consent Agenda


Reports And Communications


News From The Public Information Office


Citizen Requests And Petitions


Public Hearings


Public Hearing Procedures



A RESOLUTION granting a Special Use Permit (1st Request) for the operation of a Day Care Center, located at 2231 S Annie Baxter Ave in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri. (Requested by  Leah Gurley. Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval). 



AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2022-274, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, August 1, 2022, by removing from District M-2 (Heavy Industrial) and include in District R-2 (Two-Family Residential) property as described below and located at 302 S McKinley Ave. (Requested by SCJ Construction. Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval).


Consent Agenda


Minutes Of The June 17, 2024, City Council Meeting



AN ORDINANCE approving the City of Joplin to enter into a construction agreement with Sprouls Construction, Inc. in the amount of One Million Seven Hundred Thirty-Seven Thousand Seven Hundred Forty-Three and 00/100 dollars ($1,737,743.00) for the 4th and Murphy Blvd Geometric Improvements project and authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin, and setting a date when this Ordinance shall become effective.

  1. CB2024-114.PDF


AN ORDINANCE approving an amended work authorization with Allgeier, Martin, and Associates in the not to exceed amount of One Hundred Thousand and no/100 Dollars ($100,000.00) for professional engineering services associated with the MS4 Permit & Floodplain Management Support project on behalf of the City of Joplin and authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin; and setting a date when this ordinance shall become effective.

  1. CB2024-125.PDF


AN ORDINANCE approving an amendment (Change Order 3) to the construction agreement with Blevins Asphalt Construction Company Inc. in the amount of Three Hundred Fifteen Thousand Seven Hundred Seventeen and 50/100 Dollars, ($315,717.50) for the Mill and Overlay 2023 project; authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin, and setting a date when this Ordinance shall become effective.

  1. CB2024-127.PDF



Ordinances - Emergency



AN ORDINANCE approving the contract by and between the City of Joplin and Freeman’s Landworx LLC. for the demolition of the structure(s) and clearing of a lot located at 1711 W A St. in the City of Joplin, Missouri, for Three Thousand Nine Hundred Eighteen dollars ($3,918.00); providing how the cost thereof shall be paid; how the assessment thereof shall be made; and containing an emergency clause.



AN ORDINANCE authorizing a Program Services Contract, by and between the State of Missouri, Department of Health and Senior Services, and the City of Joplin, Missouri, for the City of Joplin Health Department to receive compensation, for Forty Thousand, One Hundred Eighty Dollars, no cents, ($40,180.00); and, authorizing the City Manager to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin, Missouri; and, containing an emergency clause.  


Ordinances - First Reading



AN ORDINANCE approving the City of Joplin to enter into an agreement with Emery Sapp and Sons Inc. in the amount of One Million Six Hundred Eleven Thousand Seven Hundred Twenty-Eight and 52/100 dollars ($1,611,728.52) for construction of the Zora Street and Duquesne Road Intersection Improvements project and authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin; and setting a date when this Ordinance shall become effective.


Ordinances - Second Reading And Third Reading


Unfinished Business


New Business

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Missouri GOP and Democrat AG rivals agree on one thing: state government is ‘viciously corrupt’

By Jason Hancock

Republican Will Scharf and Democrat Elad Gross disagreed on almost every issue Monday night during a forum of attorney general candidates in St. Louis.

(Photos- From left, Will Scharft, Andrew Bailey, Elad Gross)  

They aren’t on the same page on dealing with violent crime or protecting speech on campus. They crossed swords over abortion rights and access to contraception. And they couldn’t agree on the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.

But Scharf and Gross were in lock step on one issue: They believe state government is being manipulated by special interests, to the detriment of Missouri taxpayers. And both point the finger directly at the incumbent attorney general, Andrew Bailey.

“Elad and I agree that Jefferson City is viciously corrupt,” Scharf said, adding: “The political class in this state has fundamentally failed the people of Missouri.”

Gross quipped during the forum that, “I told you we’re going to agree on a lot of stuff today,” going on to declare that the Missouri attorney general’s office needs to create a public corruption unit.

The idea drew applause from the audience — and from Scharf.

“We need to have serious enforcement against corruption in Missouri,” Gross said.

The pair are hoping to replace Bailey, a Republican running for a full term in office after being appointed to the job by Gov. Mike Parson in 2022.

Bailey did not attend Monday’s forum, citing scheduling conflicts. The event was sponsored by the Federalist Society, a conservative legal advocacy group whose leadership has largely backed Scharf and has been involved in almost every high-profile conservative judicial appointment of recent decades.

Gross is running unopposed in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary, while Scharf and Bailey are engaged in a heated GOP contest, with the massive fundraising hauls translating into a nasty TV ad war across the state.

One of Scharf’s main lines of attack has been Bailey taking donations from lobbyists and companies whose interests intersect with the attorney general’s office.


For example, last year the attorney general had to recuse his office from litigation filed by companies accused of operating illegal gambling devices, forcing the state to hire private counsel. The recusal came after Bailey received thousands in contributions from PACs connected to the chief lobbyist for the companies suing the state.

Bailey also drew fire over accepting a $50,000 donation from a St. Louis company shortly after filing an amicus brief backing its efforts to move a lead-poisoning lawsuit it was facing out of Missouri.

“When you look at Jefferson City today,” Scharf said Monday, “you see a political culture that’s deeply in hock to a very narrow set of special interests and lobbyists and political insiders.”

Bailey has denied any wrongdoing, and his campaign has noted that Scharf’s bid for attorney general is being bankrolled by out-of-state interests, namely conservative activist Leonard Leo.

On Tuesday, an organization connected with Leo donated $2 million to support Scharf’s candidacy. Since joining the race for attorney general, Scharf has benefited from $3.5 million in donations from the organization, making up a majority of the money he’s received in the race.

Gross is a former assistant attorney general who currently runs his own law firm in St. Louis. His legal practice focuses on the Sunshine Law. In 2021, he won a landmark ruling from the Missouri Supreme Court that public agencies could not charge for time attorneys spend reviewing public records that are requested under the state’s Sunshine Law.

Bailey served a general counsel for Parson before taking over as attorney general when his predecessor, Eric Schmitt, won a seat in the U.S. Senate. He previously worked as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Warren County, an assistant attorney general and general counsel for the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Scharf is a former assistant U.S. attorney who worked as policy director in Gov. Eric Greitens’ brief administration. He left state government when Greitens was forced to resign in disgrace in 2018. He is currently part of a the team of lawyers representing former President Donald Trump in various legal matters pertaining to his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Carthage City Council's City Administrator Hiring Committee to meet behind closed doors


Cherokee County jury finds Galena man guilty of murder

(From the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office)

A Cherokee County Jury returned its verdict early Wednesday afternoon, following a 3 day murder trial held at the Cherokee County Courthouse.

Billy Barker, age 50, of Galena, was found guilty of First Degree Murder, Being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Criminal Carrying of a Weapon.

On April 18, 2023, Barker shot and killed 27-year-old Levi Porter, of Riverton, in the 800 block of North Columbus Street in Galena.

The Judge ordered Barker be held in the Cherokee County Jail, pending his sentencing scheduled for September 5th, 2024.

The homicide investigation was conducted by the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office and Galena Police Department.

Barker was prosecuted by Cherokee County Attorney Kurt Benecke.

(Photo- Deputy Evan Duckett and Chief Deputy Nate Jones escort Billy Barker from the Cherokee County District Courtroom.)

Arraignment set for Joplin man charged with making terrorist threat at Webb City apartment complex

A 9 a.m. July 2 arraignment is scheduled in Jasper County Circuit Court for Dalton James Stanley (DOB 1994), Joplin, who is charged with making a terrorist threat.

Stanley was bound over for trial after waiving his preliminary hearing June 13.

According to the probable cause statement, Stanley allegedly told residents at Cardinal Towers in Webb City September 25, 2023 he had "something hidden in the building that would take care of everyone."

Word spread quickly about what Stanley allegedly said causing residents to panic and leave the apartment complex.

The arraignment will also cover charges of possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and trespassing filed against Stanley following an April 14, 2023 Joplin Police Department arrest.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Former KOAM reporter named host of Virginia This Morning

Amy Lacey, who got her start in TV journalism at KOAM, has been named co-host of Virginia This Morning on WTVR in Richmond.

Lacey comes to WTVR from WRIC in Richmond where she was a news anchor.

Lacey was with KOAM around 2000 and 2001 and described one of her most memorable stories here, reporting from the Joplin Regional Airport on September 11, 2001.

Monday, June 24, 2024

My new book, Running Circles Around the Globe: 20 Years of the Turner Report available now

My new book, Running Circles Around the Globe: 20 Years of the Turner Report, is available now on Amazon and should be in Joplin by July 10.

Nearly half of Running Circles is a new investigative report that I have been working on for several months that reveals new evidence concerning the December 2017 death of 3-year-old Jayda Kyle of Carl Junction.

A couple of timely chapters are devoted to two people who are attempting political comebacks in August- former Joplin Tornado Mayor Mike Woolston and former Joplin R-8 Board of Education member Mike Landis.

Other chapters are devoted to the following, some of it dating back to the early years of my blog:

-The suicide of Webb City High School student and Afghan refugee Rezwan Kohistani
-The nearly forgotten scandals of Judge Dean Dankelson
-A chapter on former Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff, which focuses on the 6 1/2 mile long ribbon, the wrong-colored bleachers and the story of the failed inspection of the new high school

-The Wallace Bajjali story
-The Joplin Blasters
-From 2005: My "feud' with Tiffany Alaniz
-The controversy surrounding the Neosho teacher and his pride flag
-The infamous punch that floored me in 2017
-And a few of my stories.

The book is available in paperback and e-book editions.

Running Circles Around the Globe: 20 Years of the Turner Report: Turner, Randy: 9798329192988: Books

Turner Report readers offer opinions on Memorial Hall, Cornell Center

In the comment section of my June 20 commentary on Joplin City Council's decision to demolish Memorial Hall, readers offered their own opinions. In case you missed them, I thought I would share some of them here:

Randy you are not wrong. I can appreciate your position and there was a time, back in the 1990s, when I agreed that much more effort needed to be made and put forth into, what’s the current terms young people like to use today (reinvigorate?) toward the building to not only keep it modem, but keep it relevant. It did not happen.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the elected officials during that time chose not to invest more funds to provide proper infrastructure support. It was the bare minimum done to keep it operational as long as some revenues could be recouped.

30 years later, for the current elected officials to catch the blunt of the blame for decisions made by elected officials for at least 60 years (perhaps longer) is misdirected.

I don’t blame the influential members of the community for raising funds for and building a venue that less than 10 percent of the 50,000 current residents of Joplin and probably leas than 5 percent of the population in the extended metro area will ever set inside and appeals to so few people. This is Wort’s legacy and Cornell’s legacy. They will never care again for a project in Joplin as the one they completed.

Memorial Hall’s time has come and gone. Let it go. The tough decision has been made to take it to the ground. I’m old enough to know it’s no good to look back at what should have been done and what was a failed effort and what didn’t work, instead let’s focus on looking forward to what will happen next and if city elected leaders will make the best decisions moving forward instead of kicking the can down the road for another generation of leaders to tackle.


As a kid I remember going to Memorial Hall watching the Shriners Circus, then Joplin banned those activities. Later in life it was boxing and wrestling, then Joplin banned those activities. Then as I got older I went to several concerts at Memorial Hall, then Joplin banned those activities. It's like the city has been against the hall my whole life.

That all set aside, this building was built as a memorial for the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom. Not built for people who just served, built for people who were killed in war!!! You can't tear something like like down and not regret it eventually. You can't just go around tearing down memorials because you can't profit from them. They have to be maintained passed on to the next generation and so on.

The building is a memorial for the dead and we are just going to tear it down? Shame shame.


The writing was on the wall as soon as the Cornell Center was dreamed up....all they saw over there was a good place for a parking lot.


No one banned those events. The market changed. The carnival moved to the mall. The concert events ended who Al Zar died and the casinos took over the concert venues. The city was negligent for not updating through decades. Now, it’s too expensive to remodel without a large tax increase that was already turned down.


Well maybe we could have then turned it into a sasino, backed by the government and Indian tribes - so all those with gambling problems could be stealing from their employers and non-profits and ruining the lives of their families in the name of progress, or they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.


Sincere question for the readers of this blog, how many of you have set foot inside or even attended an event at the arts complex?

If my math is accurate, the arts complex has a social media following of 2,800 people that’s 5.6 percent of the 50,000 population of Joplin and when you take into account the population of Joplin swells to 250,00 people Monday-Friday from 8-5 pm (those numbers are from a law enforcement study in 2005) 2,800 social media followers means 1.12 percent of the people inside of Joplin each week are following the arts complex.

The website has no current information, with articles published in 2021.

If I were interested in renting the venue for an event, no information on how much to rent it, space available, size of the space or the amenities offered (tables, chairs, AV equipment, etc) cannot be found on the website.

It was said the venue was built for less than 5 percent of the population of Joplin for those who possess 75 percent of the wealth. I believe it. Those who raised the money and built it do not want the average Joplin resident or the average person from the extended metro to have access to it or attend events at the arts complex.


There is another way.

If the Hall is torn down save the interior plaques and memorials, photograph the entire building and draw up plans to reconstruct a new building much like the old. Will be used for events the Cornell Center is not made for--cage matches, UFC events, and so on. 

These are popular. Use the grants and $ the city is adept at getting from the Federal government for the new building.

Hold the city accountable to get this done, not to sabotage it with prohibitive taxes on private and real estate property, like they will try to do soon now that they have 2 communication specialists on staff to put out puff pieces on how effective the city is and how more taxes are a very good thing.

Put the plaques inside the new building, save the outside memorials.

Stops the new park option that will be Spiva Park only larger with more space for homeless campers, that the Cornell Center and most of us do not want.

We have a debt to the dead. A large and proper debt. Let us repay it with this plan.

Mack Evans, Sheep Shed pastor, dead at 82

Mack Evans, 82, senior pastor at the Sheep Shed died today, according to an announcement from the church.

Evans, who had attended Joplin High School for two years before graduating from a Louisiana high school, returned to the city in 1972 as pastor of Central Assembly of God, where he increased the congregation so much that it had to move to a larger facility, the former Fox Theater at 410 S. Virginia Avenue.

Health issues forced Evans to retire at Central Assembly of God Church, though he continued to preach, despite his ongoing health problems.

Evans started the Sheep Shed in 2012, moving to the former Faith Tabernacle halfway between Joplin and Neosho on Gateway Drive.

The following announcement was posted on the Sheep Shed Facebook page:

Jo Evans and the entire Evans family, and The Sheep Shed Church, are heartbroken to announce that our founder and senior pastor, Dr. Mack Evans, passed away today of natural causes. The elders of the church ask that all of us respect the family's privacy.

Oklahoma man arraigned, pleads not guilty to murder charge in connection with Noel stabbing

Garrett Sumter, 32, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, entered a not guilty plea during an arraignment today in McDonald County Circuit Court.

Sumter is charged with murder in the second degree and armed criminal action in connection with a fatal stabbing Saturday at the Minnow Springs area in Noel.

A bond review hearing will be held 10 a.m. Wednesday for Sumter, who is being held in the McDonald County Jail without bond.

Jason Smith: Fighting the left's anti-gun agenda

(From Eighth District Congressman Jason Smith)

Like so many Americans, I am completely fed up with the Left’s endless attacks on rural communities and our way of life. Whether they’re trying to ban gas-powered vehicles, legalize abortion on demand, or force people to take COVID vaccines, the Left views the federal government as a tool to transform Missouri into a blue state like California or New York. That’s especially true when it comes to the Second Amendment.

During a recent speech pushing his anti-gun agenda, President Joe Biden said, “Guess what, if you need 12 to 100 bullets in a gun, in a magazine, you’re the lousiest shot I’ve ever heard.” His speech, which included a call for a ban on certain magazines and universal background checks, was just one of many examples of his never-ending attacks on law-abiding gun owners.

In April, the Biden administration announced a new rule that threatens to turn thousands of law-abiding gun owners into criminals. The rule seeks to require anyone who sells a firearm to register as a federal firearm licensee and use the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in order to sell a gun, whether it’s to a family member or hunting buddy. Thankfully, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey is leading the fight to stop this attack on behalf of Missouri gun owners.

It’s unacceptable that Biden is circumventing Congress to advance the Left’s illegal, anti-gun agenda. The bottom line is that the Second Amendment cannot be legislated away. And as your voice in Congress, I will never stop fighting to protect law-abiding gun owners from the Left’s attacks on this fundamental freedom.

Additionally, as blue states become emboldened to attack our Second Amendment rights, these states are choosing to criminalize legal concealed-carry rights. That’s why I coauthored the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. This legislation allows citizens licensed in one state to carry concealed firearms in any other state. The bill provides a simple solution to the question of whether a license-carrying, law-abiding citizen can exercise their constitutional right to bear arms across state lines.

One of the biggest threats facing law-abiding gun owners right now is the Biden administration’s rule restricting pistol braces, which are helpful for individuals – including disabled veterans – who lack physical strength to comfortably fire pistols. I was proud to coauthor H. J. Res 44 that passed the House of Representatives back in June to get rid of this overreaching Biden administration rule. In addition, I’ve coauthored two amicus briefs urging the Supreme Court to block the rule from going into effect.

I’ve fought to stop the Left’s attacks on Missouri’s Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, which produces ammo for our armed forces and gun owners all across America. Right now, the radical Left is pushing the Biden administration to halt production of certain types of ammo for commercial sales, which would destroy countless jobs, increase the nationwide ammo shortage, and hurt our military readiness. I coauthored a letter to the Biden administration demanding they reject calls to ban commercial sales of ammo production at Lake City. Radical Leftists are simply trying to make it impossible for gun owners to purchase ammo for the firearm they need to hunt, defend their families, or shoot targets.

During a speech last year, former President Donald Trump hit the nail on the head when he said mass shootings aren’t a gun problem: "This is a mental health problem, this is a social problem, this is a cultural problem, this is a spiritual problem.” Evil people, not firearms, are responsible for despicable acts of violence. But that’s something the Left refuses to understand. But make no mistake: I will NEVER back down in the fight to protect your Second Amendment rights.