Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Joplin R-8 posts two teaching positions, at least four coaching spots

During the past week, the Joplin R-8 School District has posted advertisements for two teaching positions and four coaching positions.

The positions available are the following:

-Joplin High School social studies teacher
-Joplin High School business teacher/Fusion coordinator
-Assistant wrestling coaches
-Joplin High School assistant softball coach
-South Middle School assistant football coach
-South Middle School seventh grade volleyball

Joplin R-8 Board approves combining middle school basketball teams

(CORRECTION: The original version said the vote was unanimous. The post has been corrected to note that the vote was 6-1.)

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education moments ago approved by a 6-1 margin a plan to combine the three middle school basketball teams and only field one team apiece for eighth grade boys, eighth grade girls, seventh grade boys, and seventh grade girls.

The dissenting vote was cast by Lori Musser.

The plan would provide room for 30 players on A, B, and "junior varsity" teams, a name change from the C team that had been mentioned previously.

The vote was taken following a presentation by Athletic Director Jeff Starkweather and Assistant Athletic Director Matt Hiatt, who will take over for Starkweather, who is retiring, next year.

Board member Sharrock Dermott warned that people should not expect that this move will bring dramatic immediate improvements to the basketball programs, saying not to expect the move to translate to "we're state champs."

Hiatt agreed, saying, "We have a lot of work to do. This isn't a cureall. This is a step in the right direction.

(More information about the decision will be added later.)

Nineteen teachers retiring from Joplin R-8 School District

Nineteen teachers are retiring from the Joplin R-8 School District.

The teachers and 14 non-certified employees who are retiring were recognized during a reception last week, R-8 Board President Jeff Koch told the board a few minutes ago.

The board has also approved agreements with NEA and JSEA covering teachers, librarians, counselors and as this is published is preparing to vote on a proposal to combine middle school boys basketball and girls basketball teams for all three schools and expand the intramural program.

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

Donald Trump from June 2011: Billions for Iraq, Afghanistan, but nothing for tornado victims

Twelve days after the Joplin Tornado, a New York real estate developer who had his eyes on the White House came to the defense of the city of Joplin during a speech at the annual Faith and Freedom Conference.

Trump never mentions Joplin in his remarks, but he criticizes Senate Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-VA, who said financial aid for Joplin's recovery should only come if it accompanied by corresponding cuts to other budget items:

So we go into Iraq and we spend $1.5, think of this, $1.5 trillion dollars and then a certain Republican representative two nights ago, Rep. Cantor, who I like, said we don’t want to give money to the tornado victims and yet in Afghanistan, we’re spending $10 billion a month, but we don’t want to help the people who get devastated by tornadoes, killed, maimed, injured. 

We don’t have money for this, but we’re spending $10 billion a month in Afghanistan, we’re spending billions of dollars in Iraq, where they have the second largest oil fields in the world.

We’re spending billions and billions of dollars, but we can’t help people who get hit horribly by the tornadoes and then what’s going to happen? We’re going to leave Iraq and as sure as you’re sitting there, and by the way, this is not 95 percent, this is not 99 percent, this is 100 percent . It’s already being planned. Iran will take over Iraq- maybe without firing a shot because we’ve decapitated their army.

Graves: We need well-designed Highway Trust Fund to rebuild our infrastructure

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

Over the past year, the American people have made it clear that rebuilding our transportation network is a huge priority for this country. And when the people speak, it’s on Congress to act.

President Trump has talked at length about a $1 trillion bill to invest in our infrastructure. It’s true that we need to rebuild our bridges, repair our roads, refill potholes and rethink our transportation network entirely.

But, as the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, my real focus is on making sure we’re being responsible in how we pay for this plan. It is obviously nowhere near as simple as thinking we can throw $1 trillion at our infrastructure and then declare the problem solved.

It isn’t solved then, because we’ll be right back at this same place whenever that money is spent and whenever those projects are outdated. And that will happen.

The Highway Trust Fund - which funnels transportation revenues to states and allows them to invest in infrastructure as they see fit - needs to be redesigned for the 21st century. As vehicles on the road become more and more fuel efficient, the trust fund becomes less and less solvent.

What we need is a modern, sustainable, well-designed trust fund system that keeps revenues flowing and allows states to invest with clarity and certainty. With the senior position I hold on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, my focus is on finding that solution.

This will take creativity, compromise, and hard work, but that can be said for every legitimate solution to our most pressing problems. Goods and people moving keep our economy growing. But that can't - and won't - continue if our roads crumble, our bridges age and our infrastructure falls behind the rest of the world.

We need a fix to the HTF to solve those problems. And I intend to find it.

Kansas senator: I welcoming the naming of a special counsel on Russian election interference

(From Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas)

There have been many questions raised about the effect of Russian interference in our elections, and I welcome the naming of a special counsel to conduct the investigation.

With this appointment, my hope is that the distractions can stop, the counsel can do his job and Congress and the president can deal with the many challenges facing our country. 

I expect Mr. Mueller’s pursuit of truth to be conducted in a manner that gives the American people confidence in the findings, regardless of the outcome.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Please don't ask me not to print public records

After about the umpteenth time that someone asked me not to print a crime report, a DWI arrest, an accident, a divorce, or a marriage license and had to hear someone say, "You wouldn't print that if you were the one who was involved," I developed a firm policy and a stock answer that I used to respond to the comment.

"Yes, I would, and if I am arrested for something, it will be printed on page one."

Thankfully, I was never arrested for anything during the times when I was editor at the Lamar Democrat or the Carthage Press, so I never had to put that rule into effect.

But that is exactly what I would have done. If you are going to print some of the records, you print all of the records and if you are going to run the bad things that happen to prominent citizens in a conspicuous place, then you should also be willing to take the same punishment should the situation arise.

The closest I ever came to having something embarrassing printed in a newspaper was when I was at the Lamar Democrat. One day when roads were only partially cleared after a snowstorm, I had to take pictures at Liberal High School, I made it all the way to Liberal and back to Lamar, even going over hills without an incident. When I got back to the Lamar Square, I hit a patch of ice and ran into a truck that was parked on the west side of the square.

I made it a point to put the information from that accident into the paper, though I normally would not have printed such a minor incident. I was totally at fault, though looking back at the incident I seem to recall that the truck was parked aggressively.

The reason I bring this up is that a couple of times over the past few weeks I have been threatened with legal action for printing items that were a matter of public record.

A few weeks ago, it was when I revealed that criminal charges had been filed against a local businessman. The businessman did not threaten me, but someone claiming to be one of his friends thought I  had no business printing the information and said he was sure I would be hearing from the businessman's lawyers.

Considering that all of the information came from court documents, I did not expect to hear anything further about it and I didn't.

The latest incident occurred this week when a man contacted me and was extremely upset because I had printed information about a relative of his who had been involved in a traffic accident.

He asked where I had gotten the information and said it wasn't right to run the information before the whole family had been told about the incident. I told him the information came directly from the Highway Patrol report.

He asked me to remove the information and if it was not removed by the next morning, he would be contacting everyone who could do something to get me into line. He said he had taken screenshots of what I had written, so he had plenty of evidence.

He certainly did.

I wrote to him and told him the Highway Patrol posted the information about the accident on its website hours before I printed it and that it was also going to the local TV and radio stations. It will also most certainly find its way onto the pages of the Joplin Globe.

It is not that I am without feeling. I have sympathy for people who, through no fault of their own, end up being involved in an accident or become involved in some event that makes the news.

For years I worked for newspapers where pride was taken in providing the public with the basic information that people want to know about- arrests, court cases, marriage licenses, divorces, accidents, agendas for upcoming meetings, etc.

Those things have always been the building blocks of local reporting and the newspapers that have shunned that information in recent years because their staffs have been cut to the bone are failing to provide their readers with a valuable public service.

I intend to keep printing the information. Please do not ask me to leave your incident out. I will respond politely, but you will not like the answer.

A thank you to Turner Report/Inside Joplin readers

The first big increase in readers to the Turner Report came six years ago following the Joplin Tornado when people in Joplin and around the world were seeking as much information as they could find about the most powerful tornado to hit the United States in six decades.

During the days and weeks following the tornado, I made every effort to post as much information from as many sources as possible about the tornado and also started publishing the obituaries of the 161 people who died.

Rebecca and Genevieve Williams of the Joplin Tornado Info website were instrumental in helping my posts reach thousands of people.

I assumed at that time that when the national interest in the tornado began to lessen that Turner Report readership would also fall.

For a brief time it did, but in 2013, the numbers went up again as I had my difficulties with the Joplin R-8 School District. Once I was fired and began talking with employees and former employees of the district, I discovered that I had only a vague idea of the extent of the problems in the district. As I began to uncover those problems, readership again grew and surprisingly, I had more readers than I did in the days after the tornado.

When C. J. Huff "retired" and the entire Board of Education from 2013 was replaced within a two-year span, I prepared for a corresponding decrease in readership.

It never happened.

What is the explanation for that?

While I cannot say for certain why readership continues to increase, I offer the following possibilities:

Area Media Difficulties

The Joplin Globe has taken a major hit with its less-than-stellar coverage of controversies in Joplin. People who relied solely on the Globe for information were not aware of the problems of the C. J. Huff Administration until a few days before his retirement was announced and even then their information was severely limited. The newspaper did no background investigation into Wallace Bajjali and frittered away what integrity it had by doing its best to sabotage any actual digging into city problems that was taking place. Cases in point were the Globe's heavy-handed coverage of the Lorraine Report, and the state audits of the City of Joplin and the Joplin R-8 School District.

Area newspapers like the Neosho Daily News, Carthage Press, and Pittsburg Morning Sun, have cut staffs, cut the number of days they publish, eliminated services they once provided, and expect readers to continue slavishly following them with the forlorn hope that at some unspecified point in the future, they will begin providing the kind of news coverage they did back in the days before GateHouse Media bought them.

The additions of Inside Joplin and Inside Joplin Obituaries

In addition to the coverage that was being provided in the Turner Report, the November 2013 decision to increase coverage of the area with Inside Joplin and Inside Joplin Obituaries helped turn this news operation into one that featured more well-rounded coverage of this four-county area.

The obituaries, in particular, have made an impact. Many of you have told me that you keep up with those by reading Inside Joplin Obituaries because you are no longer taking the Globe. And, of course, I print the obituaries for free, in a searchable format, something that cannot be said about the Globe or other area newspapers.

The Turner Report/Inside Joplin blogs and other blogs that have been added have provided coverage of this area and have not followed the pattern established long ago by area newspapers that continue to shrink the number of pages they offer and their frequency of publication, but never stop increasing the prices they are charging.

Reader loyalty

Yesterday, slightly more than 30,000 visitors came to the Turner Report and my other blogs, with the Turner Report and Inside Joplin each drawing more than 12,000.

Most of these people are readers who have kept returning to the blogs and have helped them grow by spreading the word, by sharing on Facebook and Twitter, and by providing information that has helped my coverage.

When I make a mistake, and sadly that happens from time to time, readers have always been willing to help me, and I am not one of those who believes that you cannot ever admit that you made a mistake. I make mistakes and I correct them.

Readers have also been generous with their suggestions on how to improve the blogs and I have followed many of those and would love to follow others, but with this small of an operation it may not be possible.

Readers have also helped from time to time by taking voluntary subscriptions or sending donations to help keep the blogs operating. During a talk I gave recently to the Joplin Writers Guild, I was asked about my subscriptions.

People find it hard to believe that readers are willing to give money for information I am providing for free.

At times, I find it hard to believe.

But it is deeply appreciated and has helped me to cover some of the costs of the operation, including paying for federal court documents, FOIA and Sunshine Law requests, and simply to be able to keep this going as a full-time operation.

In exchange for these subscriptions and contributions, I promise the following:

-A continued effort to uncover news that you will not receive from any other source, including investigative reporting.

-Continued providing of free obituaries (in other words, not following the example of area newspaper companies that charge large amounts of money to grieving families), courts news, records information, and state and national political news

-Offering a voice to people who are not being listened to by other media or by elected officials and providing a voice that is willing to stand up to the other media and to those elected officials.

-Offering a continuously updated news source and following up on stories that are either forgotten quickly or never covered by other media

-Working harder to make the Turner Report/Inside Joplin blogs better and increasing the amount of news that is covered.

-Acknowledging mistakes when they are made, apologizing for them, and quickly correcting them.

Thanks for your support. If you are able to subscribe or make a contribution, it will be greatly appreciated and I will work hard to deserve it. If you are unable to contribute financially, you can help the blogs continue to grow by sharing posts that capture your interest, or by providing comments and news tips, photos or videos.

Those who wish to contribute financially can do so by using the PayPal buttons below or by mailing contributions to Randy Turner, 2306 E. 8th, Apt. G, Joplin, MO 64801.

Subscription prices are $30 for a year (the Globe charges more than $200), $3 per month, or $1 per week.

Thanks again for your continued support. It is deeply appreciated.

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Joplin R-8, Carthage R-9 lawsuits top Turner Report/Inside Joplin posts

Two lawsuits against Jasper County school districts were the most visited posts this week on the Turner Report, but the most surprising one to make the list was one that made the top 10 in March and for some reason drew a lot of traffic earlier this week.

Coming in at number seven, former Carthage resident Paul Wilson writes about the damage GateHouse Media has done to the Carthage Press. His post was written shortly after it was revealed that the Press would be trimmed to one edition per week and long time reporter Rebecca Haines was losing her job.

The top posts of the week and links to them are featured below:

The Turner Report

1. Lawsuit claims Carthage special ed teacher bullied autistic child, stepping on his fingers, rubbing his face in spit

2. Lawsuit charges Joplin R-8 with ignoring racial harassment, including simulated lynching, monkey figurines

3. Joplin R-8 posts nine openings, including five teachers 

4. J. B.'s Piano Bar owner waives arraignment on felony charges, pleads not guilty

5. Joplin R-8 Board to vote on proposal to combine middle school basketball teams

6. Nevada woman sentenced for conspiracy to trade food stamps for meth

7. Former resident: Wake up Carthage, we need a reliable news source

8. Billy Long: I will advocate for broadband access for rural communities

9. Judge denies reduced bond for North teacher charged with having sex with 13-year-old

10. Shocker: Greitens hires Missourian for top position

Inside Joplin

1. Barton County Sheriff's Office arrests

2. Joplin Police searching for armed rape suspect

3. Joplin Police: Do you know these suspects?

4. Neosho man injured when tree falls through windshield

5. Jasper County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

6. Seneca man charged with DWI following accident on 43

7. Joplin Police Department Arrests May 18-19

8. Carthage man killed, three injured in crash on 59

9. Joplin Police Department Weekend Arrests 

10. Jasper County Sheriff arrests Joplin man for protection order violation, two fugitives arrested

Inside Joplin Obituaries

1. Larry Cook

2. Johnnie Heath

3. Michael Boos

4. Janet Marsh

5. Don Capps

6. Valerie Myers

7. Paul Gollhofer

8. Rex Marshall

9. Bud Rogers

10. Carol Bieganowski