Lake Saint Louis Polar Plunge set for February 6

This post was originally published on this site

The Lake St. Louis, O’Fallon, St. Charles County, and Wentzville police departments are dispatching a call from hibernation for all Polar Bears! The 18th Annual Polar Plunge® will be held on February 6, 2021. Brave READ MORE

The post Lake Saint Louis Polar Plunge set for February 6 first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

O’Fallon man charged after shots fired incident in St. Charles, police pursuit

This post was originally published on this site

Samir A. Alan, 40, of O’Fallon, has been charged with unlawful use of a weapon, unlawful possession of a firearm, and resisting arrest after an incident in St. Charles early Friday morning.The St. Charles Police READ MORE

The post O’Fallon man charged after shots fired incident in St. Charles, police pursuit first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

St. Charles County COVID-19 update: 33,286 confirmed cases, 347 deaths as of Jan. 22

This post was originally published on this site

St. Charles County Government and the Department of Public Health staff are working closely with local, regional, state and federal partners to investigate COVID-19, monitor individuals who may have been exposed to the virus and READ MORE

The post St. Charles County COVID-19 update: 33,286 confirmed cases, 347 deaths as of Jan. 22 first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

O’Fallon new business licenses: Mexican restaurant, vape shop, home care and more

This post was originally published on this site

In reports to the O’Fallon City Council, the city’s Economic Development Department noted that seven new businesses applied for business licenses in October, November and December, 2020. Those businesses are: El Mezon (Mexican restaurant), 2175 READ MORE

The post O’Fallon new business licenses: Mexican restaurant, vape shop, home care and more first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Wentzville Historical Society plans move to former city hall building, sesquicentennial display

This post was originally published on this site

by Lois Kessler, Wentzville Community Historical Society President We’re excited to share that the Wentzville Community Historical Society has a new home! To help our city celebrate its sesquicentennial anniversary (150 years) in 2022, the READ MORE

The post Wentzville Historical Society plans move to former city hall building, sesquicentennial display first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Mass COVID vaccinations are starting in Missouri. But supply of doses remains limited

This post was originally published on this site

Mass vaccinations are already underway across the state, with the Missouri National Guard activated to help get shots in arms at its first event in Poplar Bluff Friday.

But with demand still outpacing the state’s limited supply, some public health officials on the state’s Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID Vaccine Distribution expressed concern Thursday that diverting large amounts of doses to mass vaccination events may make equitable distribution more difficult.

Gov. Mike Parson announced Wednesday that Missouri National Guard members will be deployed across the state to help with administering vaccines — through mass vaccination events in nine regions, but also to assist with administrative duties, like alleviating data backlogs.

“The purpose of all these vaccine teams is to support our existing vaccinators and provide additional vaccination sources for eligible Missourians that may otherwise have a hard time receiving one,” Parson said.

But increasing the number of people administering vaccines doesn’t alleviate the shortfall in doses currently facing the state.

For the week of Jan. 18 alone, the state received about 240 requests, totaling roughly 254,000 doses. Missouri is only expecting to receive 76,225 doses for the initial shot of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines that week, Lynelle Paro, the assistant bureau chief for DHSS’ Bureau of Immunizations, outlined during an Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID Vaccine Distribution meeting Thursday.

“So you can see we have a large amount of requests,” Paro said, “but unfortunately, we don’t have enough vaccine to fulfill all of those requests.”

As of last week, some providers still had not received their first vaccine shipment, and some of the state’s largest public health departments only recently received their first shipment of 975 doses earlier this month.

Paro said the state anticipates being allocated about 38,025 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and 38,200 of Moderna’s a week — a total of roughly 76,225. Allotments of Moderna’s vaccine are once again available after the state had directed its share of Moderna’s doses to the federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate residents and staff in long-term care facilities, Paro said.

Diverting supply? 

Members of the Missouri National Guard hosting Missouri’s first mass COVID-19 vaccination site in Poplar Bluff on Jan. 22 (photo courtesy of Missouri Governor’s Office).

Rex Archer, the director of health for the Kansas City Health Department and a member of the advisory committee, noted on the call that if there’s nine mass vaccination events — one for each highway patrol region — each administering 2,500 doses a week, that would be a total of 22,500 doses weekly.

That would be nearly 30 percent of the state’s estimated weekly allocations. 

What’s more, Parson said during a press conference Wednesday that the sites would be capable of administering as many as 2,500 doses per day. Additional sites are expected to be up and running by the end of the month.

“That’s going to further constrain flow that we would have been able to manage otherwise,” Clay Goddard, the director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said on Thursday’s advisory committee call.

In Springfield, Goddard said the health department has been able to administer “a couple of thousand doses” weekly and ensures it gets delivered throughout the area.

Larry Jones, the executive director of the Missouri Center for Public Health Excellence and a member of the committee, said that if the state’s allotment of vaccine remains the same, “we’re making it even harder for equitable distribution.”

“It seems like that should be coming out of new distribution that comes in, not off of the continuation at this time,” Jones said of doses going toward mass vaccination events. “That’s my two cents.”

Ahead of Thursday’s meeting, Jones said that residents with underlying conditions who are now eligible would likely be best suited to receive their initial shot through their primary care providers, who would know the details of their unique situation and be able to better advise them.

“Clinics work well when you’re taking care of an entire police department or every teacher and staff member in a school where the majority of them have no problems whatsoever,” Jones said. “But they don’t work quite as well, when you’re doing mass clinics and you have people with medical conditions who may have lots of questions.”

Archer noted that the nine regions vary in terms of population, raising questions about how the state would be tailoring events to serve each region uniquely.

“As you know, some of the highway patrol districts have 10, 15 or more times as many people in them as other ones do,” Archer said. “So I’m just wondering how that was gonna play out and still be equitable.”

The Missouri National Guard teams will work in conjunction with “Regional Implementation Teams” that are made up of local healthcare and community leaders.

On Thursday’s call, Jonathan Garoutte, the administrator for DHSS’ Section for Environmental Public Health who is helping lead the state’s effort on establishing regional implementation teams in the nine regions, said they are “moving rapidly” to identify team leads for the Regional Implementation Teams, however they are not all finalized yet.

Garoutte described the 2,500 number as “a max target” that doesn’t necessarily have to be met by each site.

“We’re going to do mass vax events in those regions that make sense for those regions,” Garoutte said. “And in fact, if there are opportunities to add a mass vaccination team in areas of higher population, we’ll consider that as well.”

Reporting backlog

When asked how the state would take into consideration the committee’s concerns, and if it would consider delaying mass vaccination events until vaccine supply from the federal government increased, a spokesperson for the Missouri National Guard directed questions to the Department of Health and Senior Services, who directed questions to the Governor’s Office.

A spokeswoman for the governor’s office had not responded to a request for comment by Friday afternoon.

Teams of Missouri National Guard members will not only assist with mass vaccination events in each of Missouri’s nine highway patrol regions, but “targeted teams” will also be deployed. Parson said targeted teams in St. Louis and Kansas City will specifically work with clergies to reach vulnerable populations.

Parson noted that after the state expanded the tiers of eligible residents — allowing people 65 years and older, those with certain underlying health conditions and first responders to now receive the vaccine — the National Guard was needed to help reach more rural communities and support the vaccination of millions of residents.

An estimated 2.5 million residents fall within the second tier of Phase 1B alone — making up about 40 percent of the state’s population.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Thursday morning Missouri has been distributed 621,200 doses, with about 265,382 administered — or about 42.7 percent of the doses received. That puts Missouri toward the bottom of the country in terms of the percentage of doses administered, according to Bloomberg.

Parson said currently at least 68 vaccinators are reporting data manually, slowing the process down and creating a backlog. 

“This backlog causes the total number of vaccines administered to appear much smaller than it actually is,” Parson said. “In reality, there are many more vaccines that have been administered, but not yet been reported to us.”

Jones said most providers’ first priority is to get the vaccine out to residents, and that it’s natural for the data entry to be secondary until the process is better streamlined.

“If they have to make a choice between one or the other, they’re going to get it into somebody’s arm so that they’re starting to be protected,” Jones said.

Advisory committee members’ concerns were raised ahead of the first mass vaccination event Friday at Hydro Adventures in Poplar Bluff.

According to the Daily American Republic, 1,950 people pre-registered for the event to receive the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. A second dose will be administered at the same location in three weeks on Feb. 12, the newspaper reported.

Parson said details on future events would be released once they were finalized.

The post Mass COVID vaccinations are starting in Missouri. But supply of doses remains limited appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Missouri Senate dealing with COVID-positive member who was in two committee meetings

This post was originally published on this site

A Republican state Senator who participated in two lengthy committee hearings this week has tested positive for COVID-19, Senate Democratic leader John Rizzo said Friday.

Rizzo, D-Independence, said he was informed of the positive test on Thursday evening. Democratic staff have begun informing senators about their possible exposure. 

“I told my caucus so they could be aware if they had been in close contact with that person so they could be in quarantine,” said Rizzo, who declined to identify the member.

It is too early to know whether the case will disrupt the Senate schedule for next week, when the highlight is supposed to be Gov. Mike Parson’s State of the State address on Wednesday. The House canceled this week’s session in an attempt to control an outbreak of COVID-19 in that chamber.

“We are still at the point of contact tracing the spread and all of that first,” Rizzo said. “After that, I would imagine there would be conversations about moving forward.”

In a text message to The Independent, Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said “we’re gathering information and have a caucus call this afternoon.” 

The Senate Administrator, Patrick Baker, did not respond to an email seeking comment on the situation.

The two committees impacted are the Education Committee and the Health and Pensions Committee. Six GOP Senators are either members of both committees or a member of one who also presented a bill in a public hearing conducted by the other.

The Independent has not confirmed which Republican senator tested positive. None of the six Republicans who participated in both hearings could be reached for comment Friday morning.

Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, said she did not attend the public hearing of the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday but did attend the meeting Thursday when the committee voted on bills expanding charter schools.

“I actually streamed most of my committee meetings this week because I know my Republican colleagues are not wearing masks, the vast majority of them,” Schupp said. “I know we have had outbreaks in the other chamber and I don’t think this virus cares about which side of the building you are on.”

Lawmakers come from all over the state and while overall numbers of new cases are down, there is still widespread transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. On Friday, the Department of Health and Senior Services reported 1,783 new cases identified by PCR testing, with at least one new infection in 107 of the state’s 117 local health jurisdictions.

The department reported that 445,621 Missourians have become ill since the first case was discovered in March. But that may understate both the total number of Missourians who have become ill and the number who are actively infectious, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday

The state data does not include any of the 64,685 Missourians who have tested positive on an antigen test, which is not as accurate as a PCR test but which, along with the standard PCR test, can identify a person who can spread the virus.

The department has reported an average of 1,633 new PCR-tested cases per day over the past seven days, down from a peak of 4,722 per day in November. There were 42 additional deaths on Friday, bringing the total for the pandemic to 6,527.

The positive rate on PCR tests continues to fall, reaching 11.7 percent on Friday. The peak, also in November, was 24.5 percent.

Prior to Thursday, there had been at least 13 members of the Missouri House or Senate who have become infected with COVID-19, according to the Associated Press. The latest to identify themselves was state Rep. Kimberly-Ann Collins, D-St. Louis, who posted about her illness Monday on Facebook.

The Missouri House is scheduled to return to work Monday. The Senate, as of Friday morning, was also slated to be in session on Monday. 

If one or both chambers cannot meet, it could alter plans for Parson to deliver his speech, scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday. The House was unable to pass the resolution inviting Parson to the chamber for his speech because it was not in session this week, Rizzo noted. And it was also unable to pass the resolution necessary to invite the Senate to its chamber for the joint session.

“If they are not going to come back next week, there is no physical way to pass the resolution, which we have to do,” Rizzo said.

Neither chamber has a rule requiring members to wear masks during floor sessions or during committee meetings.

While most Democrats wear masks, as do many legislative staff, Republicans have been seen sitting in close proximity on the floor and crowding into elevators without masks.

“People are making decisions not to do that and putting the health of each of us who work in the capitol in jeopardy,” Schupp said. “It is very concerning to me. This so-called individualism that  is suggesting to people that they should not have to wear masks, is not boding well for us.”

The standard guidance from health experts is to avoid close contact with people for more than 15 minutes and to wear a mask when that is not possible.

“There’s a lot of people down there who do not do that,” Rizzo said. “It is exactly the opposite of what the CDC tells us to do.”

HELP US GROW
Make a tax-deductible donation.

THE MORNING NEWSLETTER
Subscribe now.

The post Missouri Senate dealing with COVID-positive member who was in two committee meetings appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Careers

This post was originally published on this site

Use this site to find job opportunities within the county.

For the complete story from St. Charles County click the title at the top of this post or click on the post link above.

Traffic Alert: I-435 MO River Bridge rehab work schedule extended

This post was originally published on this site

Traffic Alert: I-435 MO River Bridge rehab work schedule extended
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 01/22/2021 – 16:50

JACKSON/CLAY COUNTIES – The Missouri Department of Transportation will make the following traffic changes as part of a two-year bridge rehabilitation project on the I-435 Bridge over the Missouri River.
Crews will close the ramp from Route 210 to southbound I-435 from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. daily, beginning Monday, Jan. 25 and continue through Friday, Jan. 29 for bridge work
Crews will close two lanes of southbound I-435 between Route 210 and Front St. from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. daily, beginning Monday, Jan. 25 and continue through Friday, Jan. 29 for bridge work
 
Closures in this area have the potential for creating significant traffic slowdowns. We encourage motorists to please plan ahead.
 
This is all part of a project to replace the bridge deck, reinforce the structural steel and repair the substructure of the aging bridge. The I-435 Bridge over the Missouri River, located just south of Worlds of Fun was built in 1972 and is showing signs of aging and wear. The structure sees about 81,500 vehicles each day. This rehab project is slated to be complete by December 2021.     
Motorists are reminded to slow down and pay attention while driving in work zones. Not all work zones look alike. Work zones can be moving operations, such as striping, patching or mowing. They can also be short term, temporary lane closures to make quick repairs or remove debris from the roadway.
 
For more information about MoDOT news, projects or events, please visit our website at www.modot.org/kansascity. For instant updates, follow MoDOT_KC on Twitter, or share posts and comments on our Facebook at www.facebook.com/MoDOT.KansasCity. MoDOT Kansas City maintains more than 7,000 miles of state roadway in nine counties. Sign up online for workzone updates or call 888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636).
 

Districts Involved

Kansas City

Published On

Fri, 01/22/2021 – 11:47

Biden orders tougher mask rules as part of overhauled COVID-19 strategy

This post was originally published on this site

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s first policy focus after being sworn in is overhauling the disjointed federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which claimed another 4,400 American lives on his first day in office alone.

“The brutal truth is, it’s going to take months before we can get the majority of Americans vaccinated,” Biden said Thursday. “So while we increase vaccinations, we’re going to take steps necessary now to slow the spread of the disease.”

One of the initial executive orders he signed Wednesday requires mask-wearing and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal lands, and by federal employees and contractors, plus a broad call for Americans to mask up during the next 100 days.

He followed that on Thursday with another mask-wearing directive — requiring their use on airplanes, trains and other public transportation — as well as rolling out a national strategy for combating the virus. 

Those steps by Biden mark a sharp shift from his predecessor, who repeatedly downplayed the public health threat and refused to wear a face mask. The Trump administration had left it up to states to craft their vaccine distribution plans, but didn’t push Congress to provide additional money, even as state officials sought more help for the mammoth task before them.

States also have complained about receiving too little or shifting information about vaccine shipments from Operation Warp Speed, the task force set up under the last administration to deliver vaccine doses. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday that Iowa is 46th in the nation for doses of vaccine received.

More vaccine centers, more masking

Biden’s plan calls for more masking, testing, treatment and data.

He’s seeking to give states a boost in their vaccination efforts; fix supply shortages; support school reopenings; and improve equity in the pandemic response across racial, ethnic and geographic lines.

He aims to get 100 new federally supported vaccine centers operating by the end of February, and to provide staff to help run them.

Perhaps most of all, his administration says it wants to rebuild trust in the federal government’s statements about and response to the pandemic.

“Our national strategy is comprehensive. It’s based on science, not politics. It’s based on truth, not denial. And it’s detailed,” Biden said Thursday afternoon as he outlined his new coronavirus actions.

Among other changes, Biden’s 10 COVID-related executive orders and other directives would:

  • Require masks in airports and on commercial airplanes, trains, intercity buses and other public transportation
  • Direct the Federal Emergency Management Administration to fully reimburse states for the cost of National Guard personnel and supplies to create vaccination centers, as well as using the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund to reimburse certain costs related to reopening schools
  • Use the Defense Production Act to bolster supplies for testing and vaccines
  • Create a COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board to expand testing capacity, particularly in schools
  • Enhance the collection, production, sharing and assessment of COVID-19 data, including working with states to aggregate and analyze data, and create publicly available dashboards with national and state-by-state level information on cases, testing, vaccinations, and hospital admissions.
  • Instruct his administration to provide guidance on the safe reopening and operating of schools, child care providers, and institutions of higher education. It also calls for collecting data around reopening and school closures to help guide state and local officials in decision-making.
  • Better protections for workers put at risk of contracting COVID-19

Vaccines for those 65 and older

Biden also said he wants states to expand who is eligible to get the vaccine, prioritizing teachers and grocery store workers along with those who are 65 or older. Iowa plans to make this age group eligible for the vaccines by Feb. 1, but cannot guarantee adequate supplies, Reynolds said Thursday.

The Trump administration earlier this month also called for states to vaccinate anyone 65 and older, or those younger with health conditions that put them at elevated risk. A Kaiser Family Foundation report found that as of Tuesday, 28 states have included those 65 and older in their 1A or 1B priority groups, 12 more than did before the Trump administration urged the policy change.

But of those 28 states that have prioritized those 65 and older, only 15 are currently registering them for appointment and several have long waits to get a vaccine appointment.

Biden also said Thursday that FEMA will establish a COVID-19 response liaison for each state in an effort to maximize communication, similar to how the agency coordinates in natural disasters.

Ramping up the federal response one year after the first U.S. coronavirus case was identified will be challenging: It will take time, and more congressionally approved money, to better aid states in getting vaccine doses into more arms. He’s seeking more than $400 billion from Congress to help pay for the bolstered federal response and coordination efforts.

Biden’s proposal to utilize the Defense Production Act to boost supplies drew support from at least one Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

“The hollowing out of America’s manufacturing destroyed jobs, families and communities across this country, and left us dangerously dependent on other countries,” Rubio said in a statement. “I support President Biden invoking the DPA to address this.”

Mask requirements in states

Biden focused during his campaign on boosting the use of masks, in part because increasing that precaution can have a more immediate effect on reducing infections and deaths.

But Biden faces constraints on his ability to require mask-wearing, as well as a public relations challenge with those who refuse to do so. He has authority to enact requirements for federal property and interstate travel, as he’s done so far, but broader mandates will require buy-in on the state and local level.

Tracking data from the National Governors Association shows 37 states that require wearing a face covering in public. His administration will be seeking to boost that by reaching out to state and local officials. Iowa Republican lawmakers turned down a proposal Thursday to require masks in the state Capitol.

Biden wore a mask while signing the executive orders in the Oval Office on Wednesday. Trump refused to wear a mask and repeatedly questioned the effectiveness of wearing one.

Biden also is reversing the Trump administration’s move to begin withdrawing from the World Health Organization, saying that group is “critical” to international response to COVID-19.

Speaking to the WHO on Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to Biden, said the U.S. relationship with that organization is “one that we value deeply and will look to strengthen going forward.”

The post Biden orders tougher mask rules as part of overhauled COVID-19 strategy appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Planned Road Work for Northwest Missouri, Jan. 25 – 31

This post was originally published on this site

Planned Road Work for Northwest Missouri, Jan. 25 – 31
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 01/22/2021 – 13:05

St. Joseph, Mo. – The following is a list of general highway maintenance and construction work the Missouri Department of Transportation has planned in the Northwest Missouri region for the week of Jan. 25 – 31.
All road closures and planned roadwork may be viewed on the Traveler Information Map at http://traveler.modot.org/map/.
Inclement weather may cause schedule changes in some of the planned work. There may also be moving operations throughout the region in addition to the work mentioned below.
Atchison County
Route C – Pothole patching from Route O to Route M, Jan. 25 – 29
Carroll County
Route Z – CLOSED until further notice from Route C to County Road 217 due to damage caused by a roadway slide
Chariton County
Route 139 – CLOSED for a bridge replacement project at the Grand River Overflow Bridge through July. This bridge is included in Gov. Mike Parson’s $351 million Focus on Bridges program, which will repair or replace 250 bridges across the state. More info: https://www.modot.org/chariton-county-route-139-grand-river-overflow-bridge
Nodaway County
U.S. Route 71 – Drainage work from 220th Street to Route FF, Jan. 28 – 29
Sullivan County
Route PP – CLOSED for a bridge replacement project over East Medicine Creek through mid-March. This bridge is included in Gov. Mike Parson’s $351 million Focus on Bridges program, which will repair or replace 250 bridges across the state. More info: https://www.modot.org/sullivan-county-route-pp-east-medicine-creek-bridge
Route VV – CLOSED for a culvert replacement from Eagle Drive to Front Drive, Jan. 26 – 27, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily
###
Traveler Information Map
http://traveler.modot.org

Districts Involved

Northwest

Published On

Fri, 01/22/2021 – 08:02

Missouri House Democrats face criticism from staff over handling of ethics complaint

This post was originally published on this site

In a rare sign of rebellion, legislative aides who work for Missouri House Democrats are accusing their party’s leaders of doing more to protect a fellow lawmaker than employees.

The group of staffers, who requested The Independent withhold their identities for fear of retribution, are upset with how Democrats handled a House Ethics Committee report accusing state Rep. Wiley Price of harassment and retaliation against an aide who reported an alleged violation of House rules barring sexual relations between lawmakers and interns.

The House voted 140-3 last week to censure Price after a Republican-led effort to expel him failed to receive the necessary two-thirds majority. Only one Democrat voted in favor of expelling Price.

The staffers, who work for Democrats from across the state as well as the demographic and ideological spectrum, detailed their concerns in an article submitted to The Independent this week (published below). 

They say they were compelled to make their feelings public because of a “toxic culture” in the Capitol that “turns a blind eye to abuses of power when it’s politically expedient.”

Subsequent interviews with House Democratic staff not involved with the op-ed mirrored its sentiment. 

“We work tirelessly in an already toxic environment to support the Democratic Caucus when it needs us,” the legislative staff wrote. “But when we most needed them, where was their support? Strategically absent.”

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said in an interview that she has certainly heard from lots of people who were not happy with how the process played out, including Democratic staff. 

“It makes me sad that folks feel betrayed,” Quade said when asked about the reaction of Democratic staff. “That is the first feeling that I have. It makes me feel sad.”

‘Milquetoast’

Rep. Wiley Price, D-St. Louis, discusses the effort to censure him during House debate on Jan. 13, 2021 (Photo by Ben Peters/Missouri House Communications).

The House Ethics Committee, made up of five Republicans and five Democrats, voted unanimously last month to recommend censuring Price. The committee concluded that he lied during a legislative investigation of an alleged sexual encounter with an intern and threatened the legislative assistant who reported the encounter. 

Price, D-St. Louis, has steadfastly denied having sex with the intern, and he points out that the intern also denies the encounter ever happened. 

But he acknowledges making mistakes dealing with the investigation. 

He has admitted lying to a House investigator when he said he had never sent or received texts from the intern, but said he told the truth in closed-door testimony to the ethics committee. 

The committee’s report, Price argued, was marred with omissions and misrepresentations. And he flatly denies ever attempting to threaten his legislative assistant into silence. 

When the ethics committee released its report, Republican leadership quickly issued a statement declaring that they stood behind the findings and that Price would face punishment. 

Quade responded to the findings with a statement saying that “the next step will be for the full House to evaluate the evidence and determine appropriate action.”  

The staff called Quade’s statement “milquetoast.”

When the House took up the committee’s report for debate last week, Democrats ended up defending Price from an attempt by Republican lawmakers to go beyond the ethics committee’s recommended punishment of censure and instead to expel him from the House. 

Ultimately, the GOP couldn’t muster the two-thirds majority needed for expulsion, and Price was censured 140-3, with eight Democratic members voting “present.”

The Democratic staffers who reached out to The Independent said watching the debate unfold last week “was like watching an episode of the Twilight Zone.” 

They wrote: “People who we admire actively let us down, and people for whom we have no warm feelings rushed to our defense. It is shameful that the Democratic Caucus, a group that consistently claims the mantle of championing dignity for working people, should be so complicit in worsening an already toxic environment for their own employees.”

Quade said last week’s debate “certainly didn’t go in any way how we expected it to go.”

Democrats didn’t know that the GOP were going to push to expel Price until an hour before the debate began, Quade said. 

“As you can guess we were all very blindsided by it,” she said. “We had folks prepared to talk about the need for censure, and it was going to be a very different conversation. We didn’t say the things that we wanted to say that day.”

Instead, Quade says Democrats were forced to defend the recommendation of the committee.

“It was about the future of that committee,” she said. “It was about ensuring that folks have a place to go that is respected and trusted when they have concerns, and respecting the work that those individuals on the committee did for nearly a year.”

When the committee unanimously voted to censure but not expel Price, she said, “I had to trust that they did their due diligence.”

In their submission to The Independent, the staff called Democrats’ defense of the process “empty platitudes,” especially when compared to the public statements made that day by Republicans. 

“In fact,” they wrote, “if the thesis of the Democrats was ‘we need to respect the process,’ that of the Republicans was ‘we need to respect staff.’”

Fear of retaliation

Frustration among some House Democratic staff has simmered behind the scenes since Quade’s initial statement. But it has occasionally bubbled to the surface. 

Emilie Bridges, who works for Democratic Rep. Tracey McCreery of St. Louis County, tweeted the day of the House debate that she was willing to concede that because the intern denied a sexual relationship with Price, “that complaint in and of itself might not stand on solid ground.” 

“What I cannot understand, hurt me as a staff member, (and) disappointed me as a Democrat, was the seeming lack of concern with how staff is treated,” she tweeted. 

Price’s former legislative assistant testified to the ethics committee that Price admitted having sexual relations with the intern after he, the legislative assistant and the intern attended a party in January 2020. 

The assistant testified that after informing Price he had violated House rules and would be reported, Price tried to convince the assistant to lie to cover for him. According to the testimony, Price eventually threatened to fire the legislative assistant for reporting the encounter.

The committee’s report said Price later told the legislative assistant, “where I come from people die for doing s*** like this,” referring to reporting the alleged sexual encounter. 

After the House debate last week, Bridges tweeted: “We cannot simultaneously be the party that claims to be on workers’ sides and blatantly not believe the female staff member who testified to being harassed in her place of work.” 

Bridges told The Independent on Wednesday that she has thus far not received any pushback or faced any retaliation for her public comments. 

“I have a really good relationship with my boss,” she said, “and I feel confident that she has my back. But I get the sense that a lot of other staff in the building don’t feel as comfortable doing that, so it felt important for me to use my own social media platforms to express some of the fears and concerns that last week’s vote brought up for me.”

In their op-ed, the staffers said House Democratic leadership “made the inexplicable strategic decision to dig in and refused to acknowledge that what happened to the staffer in question was wrong.”

The ethics committee did not conclusively prove that Price had a sexual relationship with an intern, the staff said, but the allegations of perjury, obstruction and threatening a staffer should not be treated as trivial. 

“This staffer did everything that House policy required and followed the rules that every member agreed to when they swore their oath of office,” the staff said. “Silence on this issue sends a loud and clear message to other staff: keep your head down, nobody’s looking out for you.”

Quade said that is simply not the case. 

“The censure on Rep. Price was not about the intern. It was 100 percent about the treatment of the (legislative assistant) and the perjury,” she said. “The committee, as well as the members who voted for censure, which were almost all of us, were acting on the fact that we believe there was retribution against the (legislative assistant), and we said we will absolutely not stand for this.”

She added that censure, “is not just a slap on the wrist. The representative was taken off committees, he has a very hefty fine, he cannot serve in leadership, etc. It’s the first censure in House history. And so that wasn’t taken lightly.”

When the House returns next week, Quade said she intends to meet with any staff member who wants to discuss the situation. 

“I know folks are upset. People are upset from all sides, not just staff,” she said. “And the only way to move past that is to have dialogue.”

Staff Op-ed

The post Missouri House Democrats face criticism from staff over handling of ethics complaint appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

TRAFFIC ALERT: Benton County Route HH CLOSED Jan. 29 for Pipe Work

This post was originally published on this site

TRAFFIC ALERT: Benton County Route HH CLOSED Jan. 29 for Pipe Work
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 01/22/2021 – 12:10

Where: Benton County Route HH between Schenewark Ave. and Eifert Ave. near Lincoln
When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, January 29
What: Route HH CLOSED to allow MoDOT crews to replace a deteriorating drain pipe underneath the road
Traffic Impacts:
Both Route HH lanes CLOSED where crews are working
Drivers will have access to driveways at either end of the work zone, but will not be able to travel through the work zone
No signed detour
Signs and message boards will alert drivers to the work zone
Drivers should find alternate route
Weather and/or scheduling conflicts could alter the work schedule.
 
(For more information, call MoDOT in Springfield at 417-895-7600 or visit www.modot.org/southwest)
(Follow MoDOT’s Southwest District: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |YouTube)
(Take the Challenge! Buckle Up/Phone Down)

Districts Involved

Southwest

Published On

Fri, 01/22/2021 – 07:06

Ralls County Route M Will Be Temporarily Closed for Brush Cutting

This post was originally published on this site

Ralls County Route M Will Be Temporarily Closed for Brush Cutting
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 01/22/2021 – 10:05

MACON – Weather permitting, Jan. 27, MoDOT crews will close Ralls County Route M beginning at Cherokee Drive to 0.50 mile south of Lakewood Place for brush cutting. The work will take place between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. that day.
Motorists will need to use alternate routes during these times. Please always use caution if you will be traveling near work zones. Remember to obey all work zone signs and personnel, and put down your cell phone to help eliminate distractions.
This work is weather dependent and could be rescheduled or delayed. For more information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK MoDOT (275-6636). All roadwork is posted on the traveler information map. You can also visit us online at www.modot.org/northeast.
Winter road conditions, as well as work zones, can be found online at modot.org under the traveler map.  Please drive slowly during winter weather.  If your wipers are on, your headlights should be on; it’s the law in Missouri.  Subscribe to our e-update service and receive road condition emails when winter weather could affect travel, and you can get text alerts on road closures, too!  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @MoDOT_Northeast for road updates. 

Districts Involved

Northeast

Published On

Fri, 01/22/2021 – 05:02

Westbound US 60 in Howell County Reduced to Cut Brush and Trim Trees

This post was originally published on this site

Westbound US 60 in Howell County Reduced to Cut Brush and Trim Trees
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 01/22/2021 – 10:00

WILLOW SPRINGS – Westbound US 60 in Howell County will be reduced to one lane while Missouri Department of Transportation crews cut brush and trim trees. 
This section of road is located from Route RA to County Road 1550.
Weather permitting, work will take place Monday, Jan. 25 at 6:30 a.m. through Thursday, Jan. 28 at 3 p.m. The work zone will be set-up for 24-hours a day.
The work zone will be marked with signs.  Motorists are urged to use extreme caution while traveling near the area.
For additional information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) or visit www.modot.org/southeast.
 
###
facebook.com/MoDOTSoutheast
twitter.com/MoDOTSoutheast
youtube.com/MoDOTSoutheast

Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Fri, 01/22/2021 – 04:56

Lincoln County Route Y Will Temporarily Close for Culvert Work

This post was originally published on this site

Lincoln County Route Y Will Temporarily Close for Culvert Work
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 01/22/2021 – 09:45

MACON – Weather permitting, Feb. 2, MoDOT crews will close Lincoln County Route Y beginning at Sandhill Road to 0.10 mile east of Sandhill Road for a culvert replacement. The work will take place between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. that day.
Motorists will need to use alternate routes during these times. Please always use caution if you will be traveling near work zones. Remember to obey all work zone signs and personnel, and put down your cell phone to help eliminate distractions.
This work is weather dependent and could be rescheduled or delayed. For more information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK MoDOT (275-6636). All roadwork is posted on the traveler information map. You can also visit us online at www.modot.org/northeast.
Winter road conditions, as well as work zones, can be found online at modot.org under the traveler map.  Please drive slowly during winter weather.  If your wipers are on, your headlights should be on; it’s the law in Missouri.  Subscribe to our e-update service and receive road condition emails when winter weather could affect travel, and you can get text alerts on road closures, too!  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @MoDOT_Northeast for road updates. 

Districts Involved

Northeast

Published On

Fri, 01/22/2021 – 04:43

Pike County Route P Will Temporarily Close for Culvert Work

This post was originally published on this site

Pike County Route P Will Temporarily Close for Culvert Work
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 01/22/2021 – 09:35

MACON – Weather permitting, Feb. 3-4, MoDOT crews will close Pike County Route P beginning at Old Dameron Road to Timberlake Road (Pike 203) for culvert replacements. The work will take place between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. each day.
Motorists will need to use alternate routes during these times. Please always use caution if you will be traveling near work zones. Remember to obey all work zone signs and personnel, and put down your cell phone to help eliminate distractions.
This work is weather dependent and could be rescheduled or delayed. For more information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK MoDOT (275-6636). All roadwork is posted on the traveler information map. You can also visit us online at www.modot.org/northeast.
Winter road conditions, as well as work zones, can be found online at modot.org under the traveler map.  Please drive slowly during winter weather.  If your wipers are on, your headlights should be on; it’s the law in Missouri.  Subscribe to our e-update service and receive road condition emails when winter weather could affect travel, and you can get text alerts on road closures, too!  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @MoDOT_Northeast for road updates. 

Districts Involved

Northeast

Published On

Fri, 01/22/2021 – 04:33

MoDOT closes Ewing Avenue over I-64 on Feb. 1 for six months

This post was originally published on this site

MoDOT closes Ewing Avenue over I-64 on Feb. 1 for six months
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 01/22/2021 – 09:30

ST. LOUIS – Drivers who use the Ewing Avenue bridge over Interstate 64 in the city of St. Louis should choose alternate routes before the bridge closes Monday, February 1, and allow themselves extra time for travel.

Crews will close the Ewing Avenue bridge at 9 a.m. February 1 to remove and rebuild the bridge over the interstate. The bridge will be closed for reconstruction for six months.

Detours around the bridge closure will be marked.

In addition, crews will close the ramp from westbound I-64 to Market Street, Exit 38B, at 10 a.m. Thursday, February 11 to stage equipment for demolishing the Ewing bridge.  Crews will close ramps in both directions of I-64 between Grand and I-44 starting at 7 p.m. Friday February 12, with all lanes in both directions being closed by 8 p.m. for the demolition.  Drivers should consider I-44 and I-70 as alternate routes to get into downtown or to Illinois to avoid the construction. Detour routes for the closure will be marked. Eastbound drivers will use Market/Bernard, Jefferson, Cass and I-70 to detour. Westbound drivers will use I-44, Jefferson and Market as detours.

All interstate lanes and the Market Street exit (Exit 34B) are scheduled to reopen by 5 a.m. Monday, February 15.

For more details on the overall project, please visit: https://www.modot.org/i-64-jefferson-interchange.

###

Districts Involved

St. Louis

Published On

Fri, 01/22/2021 – 04:25

Shelby County Route FF Will Temporarily Close for Culvert Work

This post was originally published on this site

Shelby County Route FF Will Temporarily Close for Culvert Work
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 01/22/2021 – 09:25

MACON – Weather permitting, Jan. 26-27, MoDOT crews will close Shelby County Route FF beginning at U.S. Route 36 to where state maintenance ends for a culvert replacements. The work will take place between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. each day.
Motorists will need to use alternate routes during these times. Please always use caution if you will be traveling near work zones. Remember to obey all work zone signs and personnel, and put down your cell phone to help eliminate distractions.
This work is weather dependent and could be rescheduled or delayed. For more information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK MoDOT (275-6636). All roadwork is posted on the traveler information map. You can also visit us online at www.modot.org/northeast.
Winter road conditions, as well as work zones, can be found online at modot.org under the traveler map.  Please drive slowly during winter weather.  If your wipers are on, your headlights should be on; it’s the law in Missouri.  Subscribe to our e-update service and receive road condition emails when winter weather could affect travel, and you can get text alerts on road closures, too!  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @MoDOT_Northeast for road updates. 

Districts Involved

Northeast

Published On

Fri, 01/22/2021 – 04:23

Bridge Work Planned in Upcoming Weeks on Schuyler County Route E

This post was originally published on this site

Bridge Work Planned in Upcoming Weeks on Schuyler County Route E
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 01/22/2021 – 09:20

MACON – Weather permitting, Feb. 1-4 and Feb. 8-11, MoDOT crews will be working on Schuyler County Route E at North Fork South Fabius River Bridge, located just west of Penn Avenue. The road will be closed from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day while bridge work is completed.
Motorists will need to use alternate routes during these times. Remember to obey all work zone signs and personnel, and put down your cell phone to help eliminate distractions.
This work is weather dependent and could be rescheduled or delayed. For more information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK MoDOT (275-6636). All roadwork is posted on the traveler information map. You can also visit us online at www.modot.org/northeast.
Winter road conditions, as well as work zones, can be found online at modot.org under the traveler map.  Please drive slowly during winter weather.  If your wipers are on, your headlights should be on; it’s the law in Missouri.  Subscribe to our e-update service and receive road condition emails when winter weather could affect travel, and you can get text alerts on road closures, too!  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @MoDOT_Northeast for road updates.

Districts Involved

Northeast

Published On

Fri, 01/22/2021 – 04:15

St. Charles County Food Inspection Scores: Crumbl Cookies, Menchies Frozen Yogurt, Deja Vu Hookah Bar and more

This post was originally published on this site

The St. Charles County Department of Public Health monitors more than 1,300 food service providers in St. Charles County. (The City of St. Peters conducts its own inspections.) Routine inspections are conducted by specialists with the department READ MORE

The post St. Charles County Food Inspection Scores: Crumbl Cookies, Menchies Frozen Yogurt, Deja Vu Hookah Bar and more first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Seven U.S. Senate Democrats call for ethics probe of Josh Hawley

This post was originally published on this site

WASHINGTON—Seven U.S. Senate Democrats on Thursday  urged the chamber’s ethics panel to look into Sen. Josh Hawley’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in connection with the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

The Democrats also want a similar probe of Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s actions and the Jan. 6 mob attack.

“Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley lent legitimacy to President Trump’s false statements about election fraud by announcing that they would object to the certification of electors on January 6,” according to the Thursday letter.

The Democrats said Hawley and Cruz’s objections to the certification of Electoral College votes declaring Joe Biden the winner helped perpetuate the falsehood that the presidential election was stolen.

“The question the Senate must answer is not whether Senators Hawley and Cruz had the right to the object to the electors, but whether the senators failed to “put loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to persons, party, or Government department” or engaged in “improper conduct reflecting on the Senate” in connection with the violence on January 6,” the senators wrote.

They said the committee should fully investigate the senators’ conduct to fully understand their role.

As Congress was set to ratify the Electoral College votes, President Donald Trump held a rally blocks from the Capitol and said without evidence that the election was stolen and encouraged his supporters to “fight like Hell” and march on the Capitol. Five people died in the mayhem, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer, and dozens of police officers were injured.

Hawley was photographed outside the Capitol that day pumping his fist and giving his support to the pro-Trump crowd contesting the validity of the presidential election.

The seven Senate Democrats who signed the letter are Tim Kaine of Virginia, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawai’i, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

The senators also want the Select Committee on Ethics to investigate any fundraising methods that Cruiz and Hawley used by objecting to the Electoral College vote. Hours after the insurrection, Cruz and Hawley sent fundraising messages, touting their efforts to challenge the presidential election.

If the committee finds Hawley and Cruz at fault, the committee will determine the punishment.

The post Seven U.S. Senate Democrats call for ethics probe of Josh Hawley appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Pet Selection

This post was originally published on this site

Finding the “right” pet to join your family is an exciting, but important step. Based upon your preferences, we can find a pet that meets your needs and wants.

For the complete story from St. Charles County click the title at the top of this post or click on the post link above.

Vegan Deli & Butcher closes in St. Charles after 6 months

This post was originally published on this site

Vegan chef Chris Bertke is planning his next venture, while the restaurant’s parent business Peace Love Coffee will reopen soon with a new vegan menu.

For the complete story from the Post click on the title at the top of this article.  Help support LOCAL journalism by subscribing to the Post Dispatch by clicking HERE

Discover How to Make Sweet Maple Syrup with St. Charles County Parks

This post was originally published on this site

It’s that time of year again when the St. Charles County Parks and Recreation Department invites everyone to join them in making maple syrup at The Historic Daniel Boone Home, 1868 Highway F in Defiance! Join in the fun from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Saturday,

For the complete story from St. Charles County click on the title at the top or click on the post link above

Biden immigration overhaul would open a door to citizenship for 11 million people

This post was originally published on this site

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is poised to send a sweeping immigration reform bill to Congress Thursday that would lay out a path for nearly 11 million undocumented people to obtain citizenship within eight years.

Immigration has been one of the toughest issues for Congress to tackle, and the legislation’s fate is unclear in a House in which Democrats wield narrower control than in the past and a 50-50 Senate where Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie vote for Democrats.

But Biden has pledged to act swiftly on immigration, and his proposed legislation is accompanied by executive actions including halting construction on the border wall, ending the Trump administration ban on U.S. entry for people from  Muslim-majority nations and pausing some deportations.

The Biden administration released a summary of its bill, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which would also allow applicants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival to apply for permanent residency.

DACA is an Obama administration initiative for individuals brought into the country illegally as children, and there are more than 700,000 people enrolled.

The proposal is a stark difference from the Trump administration, which spent four years assaulting any form of immigration in the U.S., from trying to eliminate the DACA program to separating families at the border. The last time the U.S. passed sweeping immigration reform was 1986.

“Today, President Biden turned the page on a dark chapter in American history,” House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a statement. “The time to fix our broken immigration system is long overdue, and I look forward to working with President Biden and his Administration towards securing much needed reforms.”

If passed by Congress, the bill would allow undocumented individuals such as DACA recipients, Temporary Protective Status holders and “immigrant farmworkers who meet specific requirements” to apply for temporary legal status. After five years, those individuals could apply for green cards if they pass background checks and show they pay taxes.

After three more years, those green card holders could apply to become citizens if they again pass background checks and pass the citizenship test.

While the bill would likely pass the House, it’s unclear if Democrats have enough votes in the Senate.

The last time Democrats tried to pass a bipartisan immigration bill that would have laid out a path to citizenship within 13 years for undocumented people was in 2013. It passed the Senate, 68-32, but was never brought to the House floor under Republican control.

Even without Congress, the Biden administration Department of Homeland Security is moving forward with pausing removal of noncitizens who are under deportation orders “to ensure we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security, and public safety,” the agency said in a memo Wednesday.

“The pause will allow DHS to ensure that its resources are dedicated to responding to the most pressing challenges that the United States faces, including immediate operational challenges at the southwest border in the midst of the most serious global public health crisis in a century,” the agency said.

Biden’s bill reforms family-based immigration by allowing “immigrants with approved family-sponsorship petitions to join family in the United States on a temporary basis while they wait for green cards to become available.” It also clears backlogs, eliminates wait times and increases the number of per-country visa caps.

The bill would also improve immigration courts by expanding programs to manage family cases, which would reduce backlogs in court and also expand training for judges to handle those cases.

A large section of the proposal also aims to deal with the causes of mass migration.

The bill allocates $4 billion to address migration in El Salvador, Guatemala and Hondura, with the goal of reducing “corruption, violence, and poverty that causes people to flee their home countries.” It would also reinstate the Central American Minors program, which reunites children with their relatives in the U.S., and would also create “the Central American Family Reunification Parole Program to more quickly unite families with approved family sponsorship petitions.”

Republicans and other members of the GOP have already voiced their opposition to Biden’s immigration reform plan.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Spokesman Chris Hartline said in a statement that the proposal was radical.

“The proposal by President Biden would give amnesty to eleven million illegal immigrants with no effort whatsoever to secure the border,” he said.

However, the proposal does address security at the border and focuses on using technology to screen for narcotics and other contraband at various checkpoints.

It also allows for the expansion of investigations into drug trafficking and allows DHS to develop strategies to improve ports of entries for asylum seekers.

The post Biden immigration overhaul would open a door to citizenship for 11 million people appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Lawmakers renew effort to crack down on illegal gaming machines in Missouri

This post was originally published on this site

Missouri law is clear that it is illegal to have gambling machines outside of a casino. 

Yet in bars, gas stations and other gathering spots around the state, games similar to slot machines have been popping up for years. 

So why, despite outcry from some lawmakers, law enforcement and state regulators, has Missouri been hesitant to crack down on these machines?

It’s a question Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, hopes to put to rest. 

On Thursday, he set off once again on his annual push to rid the state of these so-called grey-market games, presenting a bill to the Senate’s committee on government accountability and fiscal oversight that would grant the Missouri Gaming Commission authority to go after these machines.

It also allows for the revocation of a liquor license of any businesses found to be allowing the machines to operate on their premises. 

“If we make it clear that having one of these machines will cost you your liquor license, which is probably more valuable than whatever revenue they were generating from these illegal games, that gives businesses something to lose,” Schatz said in an interview with The Independent. 

This year, Schatz believes his odds of success have improved. 

That’s because late last year, Platte County Judge Thomas Fincham found Kansas-based Integrity Vending LLC guilty of promoting illegal gambling in the first degree, a class E felony.

With gaming companies having long argued that these devices didn’t violate state law, observers had been following the Platte County case for clarity on exactly what kind of games are legal in Missouri. 

Among them was Attorney General Eric Schmitt, whose office enforces consumer protection laws. He has said he’s waiting for the Platte County case to resolve before deciding how to spend $150,000 earmarked in this year’s budget to investigate the devices. 

“We’re watching the case in Platte County as it moves through the court system to determine the best path forward and potential next steps,” Schmitt’s spokesman, Chris Nuelle, said in an email to The Independent on Tuesday.

But Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd says the case is already over. Integrity Vending was found guilty and the judge assessed a fine. The company did not file an appeal, he said, “and the time for filing an appeal has lapsed.”

In response to Zahnd’s comments, Schmitt’s spokesman said via email Thursday morning: “As has been clear all along, and as the Platte County case proves, this is a matter for local prosecutors. If the legislature chooses to expand our jurisdiction in these cases, that’s a whole different matter.”

He did not clarify what the office intends to do with the $150,000.

‘Clearly illegal’

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz testifies before a Missouri House Committee in 2019 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel/House Communications).

The machines operate similarly to what you’d find in a casino. A player inserts money, selects a game and decides how much they wish to wager. Winners get paid by the store cashier. 

Missouri officials estimate there are 14,000 of these machines across the state. 

The Missouri Gaming Commission has deemed them gambling devices, which are prohibited outside of licensed casinos, and the state highway patrol considers them illegal. 

Schatz says the problem has been getting local prosecutors to take up the cases.

“Prosecutors have a lot on their plates,” he said. “But there is no longer any question that these machines are clearly illegal. There’s no reason to call them gray market anymore.”

At the county level the problem may not seem significant, Schatz said, the impact of so many unregulated machines across the state is concerning. 

“We have seen a diminished return from our lottery sales because of the revenues of being stripped off that are going into these gray-market games,” Schatz said. “This is impacting revenues that should be going to our schools.”

Schatz’s push to crack down on these machines has faced resistance from the companies profiting from them, most notably Wildwood-based Torch Electronics. 

The company, which did not respond to a request for comment, has long argued that its machines are perfectly legal and fall outside the definition of “gambling device.”

Torch was key to derailing legislation last year, Schatz said.

Others have pointed out the company’s ties to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, who oversees the gaming commission and highway patrol. 

In addition to thousands of dollars in contributions to boost Parson’s campaign, the company also funded a political action committee supporting state House and Senate candidates.

The company’s lobbyist is Steve Tilley, a former House speaker who is a longtime friend and political adviser for Parson

Kelli Jones, spokeswoman for the governor’s office, did not respond to a request for comment on Schatz’s legislation or whether Parson has spoken with Tilley about the issue. 

Tom Robbins, Tilley’s business partner, testified to the Senate committee on Thursday that Schatz’s bill would put Torch out of business. 

He said Torch’s machines reveal the outcome of the wager before the player moves forward, and thus, are not a game of chance.

“Under Missouri law… gambling has three elements: money in, money out, and in the middle, chance, or unknown outcome,” Robbins said. “Our games are not gambling devices because they have no chance element. All outcomes follow a static script, and players can see the outcome before they play or even deposit money.”

Sen. Bill White, R-Jopin, dismissed Torch’s reasoning.

Even if Torch’s machine reveals that a player will lose money, White noted, the player must place a losing bet in order to have a chance at winning again.

“This is a sleight-of-hand argument to pretend this isn’t gambling,” he said, adding: “It’s not skill. It’s a game of chance.”

Level playing field

Jim Turntine, owner of TNT Amusements, says the proliferation of these gaming devices are hurting businesses like his who are “following the letter of the law.”

He’s filed lawsuits trying to get these slot machines removed from businesses, and he hopes lawmakers will put more teeth in the law to ensure enforcement. 

State and local authorities need to take action, Turntine said. 

“They were illegal already,” he said in an interview with The Independent. “You didn’t need the court ruling in Platte County. I’m telling you, if you read the Constitution of Missouri, it’s very clear. They didn’t need that court ruling to take action, but it was an easy cover for politicians.”

Several lawmakers on Thursday wondered why the state has struggled to get a handle on the proliferation of these machines. 

“These things aren’t hard to find,” said Sen. Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee’s Summit. “You just walk into these establishments and there they are.” 

Schatz said some lawmakers want to expand gaming to allow for these types of machines to operate legally. While he would oppose that, he isn’t willing to even entertain a debate on the issue until the state reins in illegal machines. 

“The thing that frustrates me is these companies are operating illegally, but they are betting that the legislature will eventually come in and wave a magic wand and make it legal for these games to exist in Missouri,” he said. “If we want to expand gaming, then we need to make sure there is a level playing field. We can’t allow bad actors to have an advantage because they were willing to break the law.”

HELP US GROW
Make a tax-deductible donation.

THE MORNING NEWSLETTER
Subscribe now.

The post Lawmakers renew effort to crack down on illegal gaming machines in Missouri appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Culvert Pipe Replacement to Impact Travel on Route 52

This post was originally published on this site

Culvert Pipe Replacement to Impact Travel on Route 52
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 01/21/2021 – 15:55

MILLER COUNTY – The Missouri Department of Transportation will be closing one lane of Route 52 in various locations of Miller and Maries counties over the next two weeks in order to improve drainage.MoDOT will be replacing culvert pipes between Route 17 in Tuscumbia and Route 133 in Maries County from Monday, January 25 until Monday, February 8. One lane will be closed between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. through that time. Flaggers will be in place to guide motorists through the work area.The work being done on Route 52 is in preparation for a pavement overlay project on Route 52, which is scheduled to take place in 2022.Some delays are possible. Motorists are advised to seek an alternate route around the work area. MoDOT says they appreciate the patience of travelers while this work takes place.The work is weather permitting and could be delayed. For more information about this project or other transportation-related matters, please call 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636) or visit www.modot.org/central. Follow the MoDOT Central Missouri District on Facebook and Twitter for project updates.
           
###
 

Districts Involved

Central

Published On

Thu, 01/21/2021 – 10:51

MoDOT to add J-turns on Route M in Jefferson County

This post was originally published on this site

MoDOT to add J-turns on Route M in Jefferson County
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 01/21/2021 – 15:20

JEFFERSON COUNTY- The Missouri Department of Transportation will be adding J-turns at St. Luke’s Church Road and Moss Hollow Road on Route M in Jefferson County.
Construction for the project is set to begin this summer and is expected to be completed by Summer 2022. Anticipated impacts have not been finalized for construction details. MoDOT will work with business owners and residents to ensure access is available during construction.
The purpose of this project is to improve safety and reduce crashes by lower the number of conflict points by adding J-turns. A J-turn is a specialized intersection where, rather than crossing traffic, motorists turn right, merge into the left lane and then make a U-turn at a designated point. J-turns have been proven to greatly reduce right-angle crashes, which are most responsible for fatalities and serious injuries at intersections. 
This project cost approximately $1 million.
For additional information about the Route M project, please contact Franklin/Jefferson County Project Manager, Shirley Norris at (314) 314-565-5648 or via email at Shirley.Norris@modot.mo.gov.
                                                                            ### 

Districts Involved

St. Louis

Published On

Thu, 01/21/2021 – 10:20

TRAFFIC ALERT: Henry County Route N CLOSED Jan. 28 for Pipe Work

This post was originally published on this site

TRAFFIC ALERT: Henry County Route N CLOSED Jan. 28 for Pipe Work
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 01/21/2021 – 13:35

Where: Henry County Route N between NW 1271 and Rush Street near Blairstown
When: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, January 28
What: Route N CLOSED to allow MoDOT crews to replace a deteriorating drain pipe underneath the road
Traffic Impacts:
Both Route N lanes CLOSED where crews are working
Drivers will have access to driveways at either end of the work zone, but will not be able to travel through the work zone
No signed detour
Signs and message boards will alert drivers to the work zone
Drivers should find alternate route
Weather and/or scheduling conflicts could alter the work schedule.
 
(For more information, call MoDOT in Springfield at 417-895-7600 or visit www.modot.org/southwest)
(Follow MoDOT’s Southwest District: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |YouTube)
(Take the Challenge! Buckle Up/Phone Down)

Districts Involved

Southwest

Published On

Thu, 01/21/2021 – 08:30

Gasconade County Bridge Replacement to Begin Next Week

This post was originally published on this site

Gasconade County Bridge Replacement to Begin Next Week
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 01/21/2021 – 13:15

Project

Route J Bridge Replacement over First Creek

GASCONADE COUNTY – The Route J bridge over First Creek will be replaced and the Missouri Department of Transportation is advising local residents that the road will be closed for the next several months beginning next week.

The 83-year-old bridge, located one half mile west of Route 100, south of the city of Gasconade, has reached a state where replacement is necessary.  

Beginning on Monday, January 25, crews will begin replacing the existing bridge with a new bridge deck that will be two feet wider which will improve safety for travelers. Route J at the bridge will be closed to traffic for up to three months while the work takes place.

Motorists will need find alternate routes while the bridge replacement takes place.

The bridge is included in Gov. Mike Parson’s $351 million Focus on Bridges program, which will repair or replace 250 bridges across the state.

This work is weather permitting and could be delayed. For more information and updates about this project or other transportation-related matters, please call 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636) or visit www.modot.org/FirstCreekBridgeReplacement. Follow the MoDOT Central Missouri District on Facebook and Twitter for project updates.

 

Districts Involved

Central

Published On

Thu, 01/21/2021 – 08:10

MoDOT to close Route Y between Vomund and Freymuth for pipe replacement

This post was originally published on this site

MoDOT to close Route Y between Vomund and Freymuth for pipe replacement
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 01/21/2021 – 13:05

ST. CHARLES COUNTY- The Missouri Department of Transportation will close Route Y between Vomund and Freymuth to replace pipes under the roadway.
On Tuesday, January 26, and Wednesday, January 27 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. this area will be closed to motorists.
For more on roadway closures due to construction, additional work zone information and real-time roadway weather conditions go to http://traveler.modot.org/map.  For real-time traffic, visit www.gatewayguide.com. All work is subject to change and may be shifted due to inclement weather.
                                                           ### 

Districts Involved

St. Louis

Published On

Thu, 01/21/2021 – 08:03

Capitol Security an Early Session Priority for House

This post was originally published on this site

      An ongoing discussion about security in the Missouri State Capitol continues next week when House committees will hold hearings on two bills.       One would move control of the Capitol Police from the Department of Public Safety to a new Capitol Police Board, made up of members appointed by the House Speaker, the Senate … Continue reading “Capitol Security an Early Session Priority for House”

Ashcroft Announces 4 Initiative Petitions Received

This post was originally published on this site

For immediate release:                  January 21, 2021
Contact:                                           Maura Browning, Communications Director
                                                         (573) 526-0949 
Ashcroft Announces 4 Initiative Petitions Received
Jefferson City, Mo. — Se

Route WW in New Madrid County Closed for Culvert Replacement

This post was originally published on this site

Route WW in New Madrid County Closed for Culvert Replacement
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 01/21/2021 – 11:35

SIKESTON – Route WW in New Madrid County will be closed as Missouri Department of Transportation crews replace a culvert under the roadway.
This section of roadway is located between Route P and County Road 404.
Weather permitting, work will take place Monday, Jan. 25 through Tuesday, Jan. 26 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
The work zone will be marked with signs. Motorists are urged to use extreme caution while traveling near the area.
For additional information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) or visit www.modot.org/southeast.
 
###
 
facebook.com/MoDOTSoutheast
twitter.com/MoDOTSoutheast
youtube.com/MoDOTSoutheast

Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Thu, 01/21/2021 – 06:30

Route CC in Perry County Closed for Culvert Replacements

This post was originally published on this site

Route CC in Perry County Closed for Culvert Replacements
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 01/21/2021 – 10:25

SIKESTON – Route CC in Perry County will be closed as Missouri Department of Transportation crews replace multiple culverts under the roadway.
This section of roadway is located between Route T and County Road 718 near Silver Lake, Missouri.
Weather permitting, work will take place Wednesday, Jan. 27 through Friday, Jan. 29 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
The work zone will be marked with signs. Motorists are urged to use extreme caution while traveling near the area.
For additional information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) or visit www.modot.org/southeast.
 
###
 
facebook.com/MoDOTSoutheast
twitter.com/MoDOTSoutheast
youtube.com/MoDOTSoutheast

Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Thu, 01/21/2021 – 05:24

Culvert Pipe Replacement to Impact Travel on Route 179

This post was originally published on this site

Culvert Pipe Replacement to Impact Travel on Route 179
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 01/21/2021 – 09:45

MONITEAU COUNTY – The replacement of a culvert pipe and ditch cleaning operations will require lane closures on Missouri Route 179 in Moniteau County over the next two weeks.Missouri Department of Transportation crews will close one lane of Route 179 between Bacon Bridge Road and Factory Creek Road from Monday, January 25 until Friday, February 5. The work will take place from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. each day.Flaggers will be in place to guide motorists through the work zone. Drivers are advised to seek an alternate route around the work area or expect minor delays.MoDOT says they appreciate the patience of travelers while this work takes place.The work is weather permitting and could be delayed. For more information about this project or other transportation-related matters, please call 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636) or visit www.modot.org/central. Follow the MoDOT Central Missouri District on Facebook and Twitter for project updates.
           
###
 

Districts Involved

Central

Published On

Thu, 01/21/2021 – 04:44

Route PP in Ozark County to CLOSE for Culvert Replacement

This post was originally published on this site

Route PP in Ozark County to CLOSE for Culvert Replacement
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 01/21/2021 – 09:10

WILLOW SPRINGS – Route PP in Ozark County will be CLOSED as Missouri Department of Transportation crews replace the culvert under the roadway.
The road will be CLOSED between Route H to US 160.                                                           
Weather permitting, the road will be CLOSED on Tuesday, Jan. 26 through Wednesday, Jan. 27 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Motorists are urged to seek and alternate route.
For additional information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) or visit www.modot.org/southeast.
 
###
facebook.com/MoDOTSoutheast
twitter.com/MoDOTSoutheast
youtube.com/MoDOTSoutheast

Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Thu, 01/21/2021 – 04:06

Route H in Ozark County to CLOSE for Culvert Replacement

This post was originally published on this site

Route H in Ozark County to CLOSE for Culvert Replacement
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 01/21/2021 – 09:05

WILLOW SPRINGS – Route H in Ozark County will be CLOSED as Missouri Department of Transportation crews replace the culvert under the roadway.
The road will be CLOSED between US 160 to Route 181.                                                           
Weather permitting, the road will be CLOSED on Monday, Jan. 25 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Motorists are urged to seek and alternate route.
For additional information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) or visit www.modot.org/southeast.
 
###
facebook.com/MoDOTSoutheast
twitter.com/MoDOTSoutheast
youtube.com/MoDOTSoutheast

Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Thu, 01/21/2021 – 04:03

Route U in Reynolds County Reduced for Culvert Replacements

This post was originally published on this site

Route U in Reynolds County Reduced for Culvert Replacements
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 01/21/2021 – 08:50

Route U in Reynolds County will be reduced as Missouri Department of Transportation crews replace multiple culverts under roadway.
This section of roadway is located between Route 21 and County Road 204 near Lesterville, Missouri.
Weather permitting, work will take place Tuesday, Jan. 26 through Thursday, Feb. 4 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
The work zone will be marked with signs. Motorists are urged to use extreme caution while traveling near the area.
For additional information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) or visit www.modot.org/southeast.
###
 
 
facebook.com/MoDOTSoutheast
twitter.com/MoDOTSoutheast
youtube.com/MoDOTSoutheast
 

Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Thu, 01/21/2021 – 03:45

Riverside Landing Park closing Feb. 1 for construction of campsites, restrooms, picnic and play areas

This post was originally published on this site

Exciting new amenities are coming in 2021 to Riverside Landing, located at 600 Kampville Drive in St. Charles along the Mississippi River. Purchased in March 2018 by the St. Charles County Parks and Recreation Department, READ MORE

The post Riverside Landing Park closing Feb. 1 for construction of campsites, restrooms, picnic and play areas first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

St. Charles County Finishes 2020 Well Ahead of 2019 in Housing, Commercial Construction Permits

This post was originally published on this site

Good news on the housing front is coming out of St. Charles County. Despite the pandemic, the County reports year-end totals for housing and commercial construction permits are well ahead of 2019.

For the complete story from St. Charles County click on the title at the top or click on the post link above

Wentzville Police Blotter: January 1 – 7, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

The following reports for January 1 – 7, 2021 were supplied to 70 West Sentinel by the Wentzville Police Department. The term “arrest” is used in the Wentzville PD’s database to refer both to actual READ MORE

The post Wentzville Police Blotter: January 1 – 7, 2021 first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Republican lawmakers seek to curb local control over COVID-19 health orders

This post was originally published on this site

When Missouri’s top leaders resisted implementing statewide restrictions, like a mask mandate, amid the pandemic, there was a theme they repeatedly raised as the basis for their decisions.

Local control.

On Wednesday, a Missouri Senate committee debated a slew of bills filed by Republican lawmakers that aim to strip local authority from city and county officials and health boards during states of emergency.

Some bills would limit how often local public health orders and regulations can be implemented, including no more than a cumulative 30 days every 60 days or 14 days in a two-year period, unless approved by the legislature. Others would impose a 30-day comment period on such orders and require they be approved by local officials. Some would limit restrictions on the free exercise of religion.

Another would prohibit local officials and the governor from imposing limits on the number of people within residents’ homes. One bill would restrict county health boards’ authority to issue restrictions related to infectious diseases altogether.

“COVID-19 has taken thousands of lives and made many more sick. At the same time, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that COVID-19 has been the most politicized disease in human history,” Sen. Bob Onder, a Republican from Lake St. Louis and chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Pensions, said during Wednesday’s hearing.

Onder recounted the effects the pandemic has had — shuttering businesses, lost jobs, the impact on education gains and higher rates of suicide and depression.

“Many have questioned, is the cure worse than the disease?” Onder said.

Supporters of the legislation, including small business owners and county commissioners, said the bills will ensure accountability, consistency and oversight is baked into the process for how restrictions are issued.

Meanwhile, opponents of the bills warned of unintended consequences that may result during future emergencies if the ability to issue public health orders in a timely manner is severely limited.

One provision of Senate Bill 21, sponsored by Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, would limit political subdivisions, county health boards and the Department of Health and Senior Services from issuing ordinances and regulations during a declared state of emergency to a total of 14 days in a two-year period.

Under the bill, public health orders that go beyond that allotted period would require approval from the both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly through a concurrent resolution.

Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin, raised concerns that with the Missouri legislature only in session from January through May, it would require a special session at the cost of taxpayers to address additional restrictions that fell outside of that window.

“Let’s look at how we can constrain without throwing the entire ability to have emergency response out,” White said.

Clay Goddard, the director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, warned that limiting health departments’ powers to implement rules or impose quarantines could have potentially deadly consequences outside of a pandemic, such as during a measles outbreak.

“And really, those are situations oftentimes where inaction can result in death,” Goddard said. “And I’m not being a drama queen, but that can occur.”

For some lawmakers, the basis of their bills stemmed from what they viewed as “extreme” and “far-reaching” orders issued by certain county officials. Throughout the hearing, there was a focus on public health orders issued in St. Louis County, including a November order that temporarily closed indoor dining in bars and restaurants. 

Benjamin Brown, the owner of Satchmo’s Bar & Grill in Chesterfield, whose restaurant was shut down for violating county health orders and is among those who had sued the county to invalidate the orders, said he’s had to cut his staff in half and make difficult decisions as to who will continue to receive a paycheck versus who will be laid off.

Chris Saracino, who helps run the Bartolino’s family of restaurants in St. Louis County which also faced shutdowns, said that from November through the end of December, business was down by 66 percent.

“We still wrote the check for the property tax. We still paid the payroll tax,” Saracino said. “And we’re left with absolutely no data to support what was done to us.”

Koenig’s bill would also allow residents to receive a credit on property taxes if their property was affected by city-wide or county-wide restrictions.

‘Powerplay’

Local public health directors on the frontlines of the pandemic expressed dismay in what they described as lawmakers’ “powerplay.”

After Ripley County’s last hospital closed its doors two years ago, Jan Morrow and her small staff at the Ripley County Public Health Center have had to do it all. Working seven days a week since early March, they’ve had to contact trace and test and prepare mass vaccination events at the local high school gym — all on top of their regular public health duties.

Whenever a local ordinance is issued, Morrow, the health center’s director, said she always works together with her county commissioners and the elected health center board to ensure residents’ interests are best served.

“That’s the biggest mistake that they can do,” Morrow said Tuesday of state lawmakers’ bills to restrict public health’s authority to issue restrictions, later adding: “Everybody wants rules and regulations for everybody else, but themselves. And I think that’s what has happened.”

Morrow would like to see lawmakers put their efforts toward improving funding for public health. 

From 2017 to 2019, Missouri ranked last in the nation in terms of per capita state funding for public health, according to an analysis from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center located at the University of Minnesota. Amid the pandemic, some local public health departments struggled to receive federal CARES Act funds allocated to their counties. 

“It’s very hard to see if prevention is working until something like this happens,” Morrow said.

At the heart of the debate was what authority public health officials have when it comes to making decisions for the broader community. 

John Truesdell, the presiding commissioner of the Randolph County Commission, said that public health officials’ focus is where it needs to be — on healthcare. However Truesdell, who was in support of the bills, said that their perspectives lead to “tunnel vision,” and that county commissioners are tasked with seeing the broader picture, including economic impact.

It remains to be seen how the proposed bills may clash with Gov. Mike Parson’s stance on local control. During a press conference in late November, he reiterated his support for local control while declaring he would not be issuing a statewide mask mandate.

“What I am opposed of is mandates from this position to the people of this state. People on the local level should have a voice. You should have a voice through your county commissioners, through your city councils, through your mayors…” Parson said.

“What we did in this state is that I do truly believe in local control and will continue to support the decisions that they make,” Parson said.

Science skeptics

Eleven months into the pandemic, lawmakers expressed skepticism around the science behind the virus’ spread and restrictions intended to limit it over the course of the three-and-a-half hour hearing Wednesday.

“To say, ‘if you were within six feet’ — who came up with that?’ said Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, a Republican from Shelbina and sponsor of the bill that would strip county health boards of their authority to issue restrictions. “What are the criteria you use when you shut down your local economy?”

Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, repeatedly asked witnesses for studies and research that justified public health orders, and said discussing specific capacity limits is “more of a red herring and is more designed to propose a narrative of scientific evidence that simply doesn’t exist.”

“This isn’t really about the science. This isn’t really about the medicine,” Eigel said. “This is about control from individuals at a local level that don’t know what the answer is, and is trying to compensate for that by empowering unelected boards to make decisions that are based upon one facet of our communities.”

Sen. Barbra Washington, D-Kansas City, said she herself fought COVID. As lawmakers debated the extent of restrictions and its impact on religious freedom or the economy, Washington said the virus’ toll on people’s health can’t be ignored.

“I don’t have a problem with people, especially small businesses, being open,” Washington said. “But I do have a problem that we’re ignoring the fact that this is something that as of today has killed 400,000 people in less than a year.”

The post Republican lawmakers seek to curb local control over COVID-19 health orders appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Jarred by potholes? Frustrated by road construction? Read the Road Crew chat transcript

This post was originally published on this site

Ask the experts from the Missouri Department of Transportation, St. Louis and St. Charles counties and St. Louis City your questions about highways and roads. The live chat starts at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

For the complete story from the Post click on the title at the top of this article.  Help support LOCAL journalism by subscribing to the Post Dispatch by clicking HERE

‘End this uncivil war’: Joe Biden takes oath of office with towering challenges ahead

This post was originally published on this site

The post ‘End this uncivil war’: Joe Biden takes oath of office with towering challenges ahead appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Foster Videos

This post was originally published on this site

These videos are available to help pet foster families volunteering with the St. Charles County Pet Adoption Center.

For the complete story from St. Charles County click the title at the top of this post or click on the post link above.

Volunteer Videos

This post was originally published on this site

Division of Humane Services volunteers can use these training videos to assist in their roles with the Pet Adoption Center in St. Charles County.

For the complete story from St. Charles County click the title at the top of this post or click on the post link above.

Here’s what Joe Biden plans to do on his first day as president

This post was originally published on this site

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden early Wednesday unveiled the list of executive orders, memos and directives he will make when he assumes the presidency later in the day, reversing a slew of Trump administration actions and laying out new policies of his own.

“These actions are bold, begin the work of following through on President-elect Biden’s promises to the American people, and, importantly, fall within the constitutional role for the president,” the transition team said in a statement.

According to the transition team, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will:

  • Ask the American people to mask up for 100 days in a “100 days masking challenge” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They will require masks and social distancing in all federal buildings and on all federal lands.
  • Create the position of a COVID-19 response coordinator, reporting directly to the president.
  • Cease the process of withdrawing from the World Health Organization, which has been coordinating the global response to COVID-19, and begin taking part in WHO meetings and other actions.
  • Ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend the federal eviction moratorium until at least March 31 and call on Congress to provide more rental assistance. They will ask the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to “consider extending foreclosure moratoriums for federally guaranteed mortgages and continuing applications for forbearance for federally guaranteed mortgages until at least March 31.”
  • Ask the Department of Education to extend the pause on interest and principal payments for federal direct student loans until at least Sept. 30.
  • Sign the document to rejoin the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and deposit it with the United Nations on Wednesday.
  • Direct federal agencies to review actions taken during the Trump administration that were harmful to public health, damaging to the environment and not in the public interest.
  • Direct agencies to consider revising vehicle fuel economy and emissions standards.
  • Direct the Department of Interior to review the boundaries and conditions of the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bears Ears, Northeast Canyons, and Seamounts Marine National Monuments and placing a temporary moratorium on all oil and natural gas leasing activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Revoke the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Embed the concept of equity across the government by defining it as the “consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities, such as Black, Latino, Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and other persons of color; LGBTQ+ persons; people with disabilities; religious minorities, persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise affected by persistent poverty or inequality.”
  • Direct federal agencies to review the state of equity in their departments and deliver action plans; launch a new data working group to make sure that federal data reflects American diversity; task the budget office with working for more equitable allocation of federal resources; and more.
  • Reverse Trump administration orders that excluded undocumented immigrants from census counts.
  • Sign a presidential memo supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and call on Congress to take action to pass laws for permanent status for Dreamers.
  • End the restriction on entry into the United States of people from primarily Muslim and African nations.
  • Stop construction of the border wall by terminating a national emergency declaration that was used by President Donald Trump to continue its funding.
  • Sign an order aimed at prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Order every appointee in the executive branch to sign an ethics pledge.
  • Issue an order that pauses any new Trump regulations from moving forward so they can be reviewed.

The post Here’s what Joe Biden plans to do on his first day as president appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

MoDOT to Hold Virtual Open House for the I-70 Rocheport Bridge Replacement

This post was originally published on this site

MoDOT to Hold Virtual Open House for the I-70 Rocheport Bridge Replacement
Visitor (not verified)
Wed, 01/20/2021 – 13:40

COOPER/BOONE COUNTY – The Missouri Department of Transportation will hold a virtual open house on Tuesday, January 26 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to discuss the construction of the new Interstate 70 Missouri River bridge near Rocheport.
Construction on the new bridge is expected to begin later this year. MoDOT staff will review the scope of the project, as well as the timeline and goals. No design work has been done. It will be completed by the team that is retained to design and construct the project. Presentations will be repeated every 20 minutes, approximately.
To view available information, or to login to the virtual open house on January 26, visit https://www.modot.org/RocheportBridge.
Participants can log on or call in. All participants will have the opportunity to voice their concerns or ask questions. Those joining on their computer will also be able to type in questions via the Question & Answer option, and a member of the project team will respond.
For more information and updates about this project or other transportation-related matters, please call 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636) or visit www.modot.org/RocheportBridge. Follow the MoDOT Central Missouri District on Facebook and Twitter for project updates.

Districts Involved

Central

Published On

Wed, 01/20/2021 – 08:38

TRAFFIC ALERT: Glenstone Ave (Greene Co. Route H) Northbound Lane Closed at Valley Water Mill Road

This post was originally published on this site

TRAFFIC ALERT: Glenstone Ave (Greene Co. Route H) Northbound Lane Closed at Valley Water Mill Road
Visitor (not verified)
Wed, 01/20/2021 – 13:35

In SpringfieldThursday, January 21 For Traffic Signal Work

What: Glenstone Avenue (Greene County Route H) northbound lane closed at the Valley Water Mill Road intersection in Springfield
When: 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. Thursday, January 21
Details: MoDOT crews repairing the northbound traffic detection loop for the signal
Traffic Impacts:
Glenstone Avenue (Route H) northbound lane closed at Valley Water Mill Road intersection
Glenstone Avenue (Route H) northbound left-turn and right-turn lanes open at Valley Water Mill Road intersection
Glenstone Avenue (Route H) northbound traffic will be diverted to the left-turn lane
Glenstone Avenue (Route H) southbound lane open
Drivers urged to find alternate routes. No signed detours are planned.
Traffic delays are expected
Weather and/or scheduling conflicts could alter the work schedule.
END
(For more information, call MoDOT in Springfield at 417-895-7600 or visit www.modot.org/southwest) 
(Follow MoDOT’s Southwest District: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |YouTube)
(Take the Challenge! Buckle Up/Phone Down)

Districts Involved

Southwest

Published On

Wed, 01/20/2021 – 08:31

St. Louis Work Zones for January 21 – 27

This post was originally published on this site

St. Louis Work Zones for January 21 – 27
Visitor (not verified)
Wed, 01/20/2021 – 13:15

ST. LOUIS – Drivers on northbound I-270 heading to eastbound I-44 should be aware of a ramp closure scheduled this weekend.
Crews will close the ramp from northbound I-270 to eastbound I-44 between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, January 23 to drill for new guard rails.
To detour around the closure, drivers can exit to eastbound Watson Road (Route 366) and take Lindbergh Boulevard (Route 67) to eastbound I-44.
 
For more on roadway closures due to construction, additional work zone information and real-time roadway weather conditions go to http://traveler.modot.org/map.  For real-time traffic, visit www.gatewayguide.com. All work is subject to change and may be shifted due to inclement weather.
 
Motorists should be aware of the following on-going closures:
I-44, St. Louis County, one lane closed westbound between I-270 and Bowles through early 2022.
I-70, St. Louis County, two left lanes closed westbound and one left lane closed eastbound between Route 141 and 5th Street until late 2020.
I-270, St. Louis County, eastbound I-270 off-ramp to Washington Street/Elizabeth Avenue closed until mid-2021.
Route 67, St. Louis County, northbound ramp to westbound I-270 closed till mid-2022.
 
Please see the list of daily road closures, weather permitting:
 
Thursday, January 21
I-270, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound near Route 367.
I-270, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound near Washington/Elizabeth.
Route 67, St. Louis County, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., one lane closed southbound in Lindbergh tunnel.
Route F, St. Charles County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., lane closed in both directions from Route D to Route 94. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
Route 61, Jefferson County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed northbound and southbound at Joachim Creek.
Route 185, Franklin County, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in each direction from Bourbeuse River to Boeuf Creek. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
Route AC, Franklin County, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in each direction at Boone Creek.
I-44, Franklin County, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., complete 15-minute interval closures eastbound and west from Eureka to Gray Summit.
I-44, Franklin County, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., one lane closed eastbound from Pacific to Route OO.
Route 50, Franklin County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound between Progress Way and I-44 in Franklin County. Flaggers will direct traffic through the work zone.
 
Friday, January 22
I-270, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound near Route 367.
I-270, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound near Washington/Elizabeth.
I-270, St. Louis County, 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., one lane closed westbound between I-170 and Lindbergh.
I-270, St. Louis County, 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Dunn entrance ramp near Hanley/Graham to westbound I-270 will be closed.
Route 67, St. Louis County, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., one lane closed southbound in Lindbergh tunnel.
Route F, St. Charles County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., lane closed in both directions from Route D to Route 94. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
Route 61, Jefferson County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed northbound and southbound at Joachim Creek.
I-44, Franklin County, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., complete 15-minute interval closures eastbound and west from Eureka to Gray Summit.
I-44, Franklin County, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., one lane closed eastbound from Pacific to Route OO.
Route 50, Franklin County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound between Progress Way and I-44 in Franklin County. Flaggers will direct traffic through the work zone.
 
Saturday, January 23
I-270, St. Louis County, 5 a.m. to 6 p.m, the northbound ramp to eastbound I-44 will be closed.
Sunday, January 24
No Scheduled Closures
 
Monday, January 25
I-270, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound near Route 367.
I-270, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound near Washington/Elizabeth.
Route F, St. Charles County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., lane closed in both directions from Route D to Route 94. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
I-44, Franklin County, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., complete 15-minute interval closures eastbound and west from Eureka to Gray Summit.
I-44, Franklin County, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., one lane closed eastbound from Pacific to Route OO.
Route 185, Franklin County, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in each direction from Bourbeuse River to Boeuf Creek. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
Route 50, Franklin County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound between Progress Way and I-44 in Franklin County. Flaggers will direct traffic through the work zone.
 
Tuesday, January 26
I-270, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound near Route 367.
I-270, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound near Washington/Elizabeth.
Route Y, St. Charles County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., all lanes closed from Freymuth to Vomund.
Route F, St. Charles County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., lane closed in both directions from Route D to Route 94. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
I-44, Franklin County, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., one lane closed eastbound from Pacific to Route OO.
Route 100, Franklin County, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in each direction at Big Beoug Creek.
Route 50, Franklin County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound between Progress Way and I-44 in Franklin County. Flaggers will direct traffic through the work zone.
Wednesday, January 27
I-270, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound near Route 367.
I-270, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound near Washington/Elizabeth.
Route Y, St. Charles County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., all lanes closed from Freymuth to Vomund.
Route F, St. Charles County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., lane closed in both directions from Route D to Route 94. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
I-44, Franklin County, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., one lane closed eastbound from Pacific to Route OO.
Route 50, Franklin County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound between Progress Way and I-44 in Franklin County. Flaggers will direct traffic through the work zone.
Route C, Franklin County, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in each direction at Beouf Creek. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closures.
# # #

Districts Involved

St. Louis

Published On

Wed, 01/20/2021 – 08:14

I thought I had a sure thing. After the D.C. insurrection, I’m not so sure

This post was originally published on this site

There’s an old poker adage that says, “if you look around the table and can’t figure out who the fish (that is, sucker) is, then you’re probably the fish.”

In a very different realm of gambling, I had a recent experience evoking that maxim.

Just after the Dec. 14 Electoral College vote, an old friend and poker buddy called me. He knew a fellow high-stakes player looking to bet $100,000, with 20:1 odds, that Trump would be sworn in for a second term on Jan. 21.

That meant he needed someone willing to risk $2 million to win $100,000. The funds would be held in escrow for one month at a law firm upon which both parties agreed.

It felt like free money to me.

I’m a former political scientist with a background in campaigns and elections, and given all the evidence-free Trump legal filings, I saw no plausible scenario under which the outcome would change. By my back-of-the-envelope calculations it was a 60 percent annualized return with infinitesimal risk. And where else can you get that, with interest rates approaching zero and savings accounts offering less than 1 percent?

So I started rounding up the dough, using my own savings as seed money.

I had thousands of former donors, some of whom remain friends, from my days as a state senator and congressional wannabe. So I had a decent list of contacts to ask.

“Hey man,” I texted the first. “I never use the phrase ‘sure thing’ but I think I’ve got one for you.” Then I outlined the terms.

“So I gotta put up $100K to win $2M if Biden is actually sworn in? Hm. Maybe. I gotta think about it. I honestly don’t think Trump’s gonna leave.”

“Nah man, it’s the other way around – the odds work the other way,” I replied. “And look, he can squat in the White House for all I care. But we’d still win the bet! All that has to happen for us to win is Biden be sworn in — he can live across the damn street. Nothing else matters.”

“Dunno man. ”

OK, 0 for 1.

Obviously if the guy wasn’t champing at the bit to take the wager at 1:20 odds — which I found astonishing — he wouldn’t ever take it at 20:1.

I reached out to a second friend, a longtime politico whose husband is a very detail-oriented lawyer, and explained the proposed bet.

“LOLOL, are you Nigerian prince-scamming me?” she asked. “We’re not willing to risk $ because with a lunatic like this it’s going to come down to enforceability of contract. If he can’t acknowledge Biden won, he’ll litigate until the end.”

I decided to change things up and try a phone call, this time to a progressive who, based on my experience playing poker with him, definitely enjoyed to gamble and didn’t mind high stakes.

“No f***ing way,” he replied after I described the proposal. “Trump would sooner start a riot than walk out of the White House voluntarily.”

The next few prospects said they wanted to research the inaugural process a bit more, or wanted to check with their lawyer to make sure it was legal, or had to talk it over with their wives. The fourth asked, “Who wins the bet if there’s massive unrest, like the start of a civil war, and they can’t even hold an inauguration?”

I rolled my eyes impatiently, thinking to myself, As nutty as some of the hardcore MAGA folks are, Trump’s broken brains on the left, too. Wake up, people — this is free money!

Clearly, I needed to recruit partners who were less emotional and more sophisticated about politics.

At wit’s end, I started thinking out of the box, and reached out to a savvy Republican strategist with a different approach. “I’ve got a business proposition for you. But first: What do you think the percentage is that Trump is sworn in for a second term?” I figured I should ask, since the strategist had publicly raised doubts about the election outcome.

“Zero,” came the instant reply.

“OK, then do you wanna make some easy money? I have someone who wants to bet 100 grand versus two million that Trump gets inaugurated next month.”

“Thanks, but I gotta take a pass,” he said. I understood. As a vocal Trump supporter, he wisely realized that if word of this ever got out, it could hurt his career as a Republican consultant.

Nearly all of the dozen of so progressives I called were absolutely convinced that Trump would try to stay on, possibly by declaring martial law or through other violent means, and that there was a 50-50 chance he’d succeed. They had taken his offhand rally comments about being president for life — perhaps with the help of “our tremendous military” or “our great police” or even the white supremacist gangs he had directed to “Stand back and stand by” in the first presidential debate — both seriously AND literally.

These are all very intelligent, successful businesspeople and lawyers who were so traumatized by the last four years of norm-breaking that they’ve completely given up on our democracy’s guardrails, and our capacity to self-correct. They lost faith that Republican leaders will stand up and ensure a peaceful transition of power.

It took me overnight and into the morning to round up the money, and by the time I did, it was too late. The man found someone else to take the bet. Since I’d figured to make a nice chunk of dough in a hurry, I was disappointed — and surprised that even when windfall profits seemed imminent, something akin to progressive PTSD prevented people from pursuing them.

Now, a few weeks later, after images of the violent mob that stormed the Capitol and caused the deaths of five people — a mob egged on not only by Trump but, memorably, by Missouri’s United States senator — have been indelibly etched on our minds, it was humbling to realize that the friends I’d casually dismissed as philistines may have been prescient in their hesitance to risk so much money banking on a peaceful transition of power.

In other words, as I scanned the proverbial poker table of potential partners for the bet, I realized that maybe “I” was the fish.

Since the assault on Congress, nearly everyone has seemed to condemn Trump — even former loyalists such as ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But while House Democrats moved quickly toward quick impeachment proceedings, some senators were more cautious.

Missouri’s other senator, Roy Blunt — who had admirably stood against his home state colleague by immediately rejecting Hawley’s move to stop election certification — was more circumspect when it came to impeachment. “The president touched the hot stove on Wednesday and is unlikely to touch it again,” he predicted, sounding a tad like Maine Sen. Susan Collins after the Ukraine-related impeachment, when she insisted that “the president has learned from this case … (and) I believe he will be much more cautious in the future.”

But is that continuing to assume, much as I did, that we’re operating within the normal confines of American politics even after we’ve jumped the shark? What will come next, when hordes of people who as of this morning believe Trump will remain in office are crestfallen and angry? Will Trump retire to a leisurely life of golf at Mar-a-Lago, or will he see profit in further inciting his base?

Maybe there’s no such thing as a sure thing in American politics anymore.

The post I thought I had a sure thing. After the D.C. insurrection, I’m not so sure appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

MoDOT TRAFFIC ALERT: Dallas County Route U CLOSED the Week Of January 25

This post was originally published on this site

MoDOT TRAFFIC ALERT: Dallas County Route U CLOSED the Week Of January 25
Visitor (not verified)
Wed, 01/20/2021 – 11:20

For Pipe Replacement Work

Where/When: 
Dallas County Route U CLOSED between Dallas County Route D and Judges Branch Road east of Urbana
8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday & Tuesday, January 25 & 26
Dallas County Route U CLOSED between Judges Branch Road and Freedom Road east of Urbana
8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Wednesday, January 27
Dallas County Route U CLOSED between Howard Chapel Road and Pony Drive east of Louisburg
8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Thursday & Friday, January 28 & 29
What: MoDOT crews replacing deteriorating drain pipes underneath the road
Traffic Impacts:
Dallas County Route U CLOSED only where crews are set up working
Road open at night
Drivers will be able to get to driveways and entrances on either side of the work zones, but will not be able to travel through the work zones
Drivers urged to find alternate routes. No signed detours are planned.
Electronic message boards located near the planned road work will alert drivers to any changes in the work schedule
Check MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map for road closings/traffic impacts
Weather and/or scheduling conflicts could alter the work schedule.
END
(For more information, call MoDOT in Springfield at 417-895-7600 or visit www.modot.org/southwest) 
(Follow MoDOT’s Southwest District: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |YouTube)
(Take the Challenge! Buckle Up/Phone Down)

Districts Involved

Southwest

Published On

Wed, 01/20/2021 – 06:16

MoDOT TRAFFIC ALERT: Webster County Route AB CLOSED East of Seymour

This post was originally published on this site

MoDOT TRAFFIC ALERT: Webster County Route AB CLOSED East of Seymour
Visitor (not verified)
Wed, 01/20/2021 – 11:10

Monday-Friday, January 25-29

Where: Webster County Route AB CLOSED between Old Jericho Road and end of state maintenance east of Seymour
When: 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday-Friday, January 25-29
What: MoDOT crews replacing deteriorating drain pipes underneath the road
Traffic Impacts:
Webster County Route AB CLOSED only where crews are set up working
Route AB will be open at night
Drivers will be able to get to driveways and entrances on either side of the work zone, but will not be able to travel through the work zone
Drivers urged to find alternate routes. No signed detours are planned.
Electronic message boards located near the planned road work will alert drivers to any changes in the work schedule
Check MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map for road closings/traffic impacts
Weather and/or scheduling conflicts could alter the work schedule.
END
(For more information, call MoDOT in Springfield at 417-895-7600 or visit www.modot.org/southwest) 
(Follow MoDOT’s Southwest District: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |YouTube)
(Take the Challenge! Buckle Up/Phone Down)

Districts Involved

Southwest

Published On

Wed, 01/20/2021 – 06:09

MoDOT Plans Virtual Public Meeting to Discuss Round Spring Bridges in Shannon County

This post was originally published on this site

MoDOT Plans Virtual Public Meeting to Discuss Round Spring Bridges in Shannon County
Visitor (not verified)
Wed, 01/20/2021 – 09:40

MoDOT Accepts Public Input on Route 19 Current River, Spring Valley Bridges

SIKESTON—As part of an Environmental Assessment, the Missouri Department of Transportation will hold a virtual public meeting to discuss a proposed project to improve the Route 19 Round Spring Bridges over the Current River and Spring Valley in Shannon County.

The virtual public meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 4 from 5 to 7 p.m., with formal presentations beginning at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. The same presentation will be delivered at both 5 and 6 p.m. to provide attendees with multiple opportunities to join the discussion. Throughout the online meeting, there will be breaks for attendees to ask questions or share comments. Attendees can join the virtual public meeting on Feb. 4 by visiting www.RT19VPM.com.

The goals of the project are to improve the condition and functionality of these aging structures as well as maintain local and regional connectivity. Although funding is not yet secured for the project, MoDOT is exploring alternatives for replacing or rehabilitating each structure through the study.

The Environmental Assessment will include a detailed overview of alternatives for each structure and will ultimately result in a recommendation for a preferred alternative at each bridge location.

Properties eligible for protection under Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act (publicly owned parks, recreation areas, wildlife/waterfowl refuges and historic sites in public or private ownership) (Section 4(f) properties) are found within the project study area. The public is invited to comment on potential uses of these properties and ways to avoid, minimize or mitigate uses. Additional information on these properties and uses will be made available in a future public meeting.

The public is invited to offer comments or concerns about properties listed on or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (historic properties) found within the project area and potential effects on them. Known historic properties include the Current River Bridge, the Spring Valley Bridge and the Three Bridges Historic District.

Interested persons may review the project in more detail and share their thoughts at https://www.modot.org/roundspringbridges. Individuals interested in attending the virtual public meeting may visit www.RT19VPM.com to join on Feb. 4. The link to access the virtual public meeting is also available on the project website at https://www.modot.org/roundspringbridges.

Comments will be accepted through Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.

For more information or to request a hard copy of the meeting materials, please contact MoDOT Project Manager Pete Berry at (417) 469-6242 or Consultant Project Manager David Kocour at (816) 256-8584.

###

Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Wed, 01/20/2021 – 04:38

Links to related information

Comment on This Project

St. Charles County COVID-19 update: 32,828 confirmed cases, 344 deaths as of Jan. 19

This post was originally published on this site

St. Charles County Government and the Department of Public Health staff are working closely with local, regional, state and federal partners to investigate COVID-19, monitor individuals who may have been exposed to the virus and READ MORE

The post St. Charles County COVID-19 update: 32,828 confirmed cases, 344 deaths as of Jan. 19 first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Missouri GOP push bill to discipline officers who ‘infringe’ on Second Amendment rights

This post was originally published on this site

Missouri law enforcement officers could be permanently disbarred and face fines if they “infringe” on residents’ Second Amendment rights, under a bill debated by a state Senate committee on Tuesday. 

Republican state Sen. Eric Burlison’s legislation would create a “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” which prohibits any state or local officer from enforcing federal firearms laws “declared invalid by the act.”

Some of those laws deemed invalid would include imposing certain taxes on firearms, requiring gun owners to register their weapons and laws prohibiting “law-abiding” residents from possessing or transferring their guns. 

Officers who attempt to enforce the federal firearms laws could be “permanently ineligible” from serving in Missouri and on the hook for potential court costs and fines, according to the bill.

 “Qualified immunity shall not be available to the defendant as a defense,” the bill states. 

Republican Sen. Eric Burlison

Burlison, who represents Christian and Greene counties, claims the incoming administration of Democratic President Joe Biden has plans for gun control that include “attacks on private gun manufacturers” and restrictions on who can buy firearms.

“Nothing disturbs me more than the precipice that we’re standing today with a new administration that feels it’s their responsibility to erode our Second Amendment rights,” Burlison said during a Senate committee hearing on his bill Tuesday afternoon.

Burlison noted a similar and “more aggressive” bill was passed the Missouri House and Senate in 2013 but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Jay Nixon. 

“When it was brought back to the General Assembly, it missed by one vote,” he said of overriding the veto. 

Democratic Sen. Brian Williams, D-St. Louis County, wasn’t there for Tuesday’s hearing, but was present when Burlison introduced this same bill during a committee hearing last year. 

Law enforcement agencies opposed the bill, Williams said, for good reason.

“What this bill would do is lead to more gun violence, more death,” he said, “and it’ll put police officers in even more dangerous situations every single day.” 

The Missouri Legislature cannot nullify federal law, he added. 

“Much of this bill is a political stunt to incite a political base, just like on January 6,” Williams said. “We saw in Washington, when political stunts go too far, folks get hurt and they create very dangerous environments.” 

About 10 people spoke in favor of the bill in person and echoed Burlison’s fears of the incoming administration. 

One man, who said he lives in a rural area, testified in favor because he has been increasingly worried about recent bear attacks.  

“I worry for the safety of my son,” he said. “I live out in the country because I don’t like living in a city.”

A farmer said carrying a gun out of a store is just like carrying out groceries that he bought.

“I am a person that believes in property rights,” he said. “Our government can’t come in and take our property.”

No one spoke in opposition, but the committee chair said he had received a “tremendous number of written witness forms,” which were not read during the hearing. 

Cathy Gilbert, a Ballwin resident who said she’s concerned about rising gun violence in St. Louis, sent emails to every member of the Senate General Laws committee. She didn’t attend the hearing to testify against the bill because she feared the recent COVID outbreaks in the state Capitol.

“It’s a dangerous bill,” she said. “It would create a great deal of confusion whether law enforcement could or couldn’t enforce a particular law.” 

David Parrish of the Missouri Sheriff’s Association expressed these concerns as well. The association is supportive of protecting people’s rights to bear arms, he said, but they also have an obligation to victims of crimes. 

“The question then becomes what do we do with those who do not obey the law?” Parrish said. “And what tools should we use as your law enforcement to bring those people to justice and to bring justice for our victims?”

Parrish said they want to be able to “use every tool in the toolbox” to take care of violent criminals. And the association was worried about how it would impact their collaboration with federal agents to address murders and drug trafficking.

Burlison said the bill doesn’t stop federal agents from aiding local law enforcement. It also doesn’t prevent the federal government from enforcing federal government laws in Missouri, he said. It just prevents state and local law enforcement agencies from enforcing those federal laws. 

“Federal agents can and may, and probably will, continue to enforce federal gun laws,” Burlison said. “We’re not able to stop them from doing so. But we will not be funding the enforcement of their unconstitutional laws.”

The post Missouri GOP push bill to discipline officers who ‘infringe’ on Second Amendment rights appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Josh Hawley will delay Senate confirmation of Biden’s pick for Homeland Security

This post was originally published on this site

The post Josh Hawley will delay Senate confirmation of Biden’s pick for Homeland Security appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Jarred by potholes? Frustrated by road construction? Ask the Road Crew your questions

This post was originally published on this site

Ask the experts from the Missouri Department of Transportation, St. Louis and St. Charles counties and St. Louis City your questions about highways and roads. The live chat starts at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

For the complete story from the Post click on the title at the top of this article.  Help support LOCAL journalism by subscribing to the Post Dispatch by clicking HERE

Missouri American Water asks to increase rates about 20%

This post was originally published on this site

Missouri American Water is seeking to increase annual revenues by about $73.5 million — a jump of 21%. Increases for individual customers depend on water usage.

For the complete story from the Post click on the title at the top of this article.  Help support LOCAL journalism by subscribing to the Post Dispatch by clicking HERE

Are public health ads worth the price? Not if they’re all about fear

This post was originally published on this site

The public service announcement showed a mother finding her teenage son lifeless, juxtaposed with the sound of a ukulele and a woman singing, “That’s how, how you OD’d on heroin.”

It aired locally during the 2015 Super Bowl but attracted national attention and has been viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube.

“You want to tap into a nerve, an emotional nerve, and controversy and anger,” said Mark Schupp, whose consulting firm created the ad pro bono. “The spot was designed to do that, so we were happy with it.”

But like other ads and PSAs seeking to move the needle on public health, it went only so far.

Marketing experts say public health advertising often falls short because it incites people’s worst fears rather than providing clear steps viewers can take to save lives. They say lessons from opioid messaging can inform campaigns seeking to influence behavior that could help curb the coronavirus pandemic, such as wearing masks, not gathering in big groups and getting a covid-19 vaccine.

The Super Bowl ad was produced and aired by the St. Louis chapter of the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse using $100,000 from an anonymous donor. Then-director Howard Weissman said a top priority for his group was for Missouri to start a prescription drug monitoring program.

Five years later, Missouri remains the only state without a statewide program. And the number of opioid deaths has steadily increased in that time, state data shows, up from 672 in all of 2015 to 716 deaths in just the first six months of 2020.

The national council, now called PreventEd, is one of many nonprofits and government agencies that invest millions in messaging aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic. People who study such advertisements said it’s difficult to measure their impact, but if the metric is the number of overdose deaths, they have not yet succeeded. The country set a record for overdose deaths in 2019 that it was on pace to break in 2020.

“You have to give them a solution, especially in a health context, like with opioids, because similar to with cigarette smoking, if you increase fear and don’t give a solution, they are just going to abuse more because that’s their coping mechanism,” said Punam Anand Keller, a Dartmouth College professor who studies health marketing.

THE MORNING NEWSLETTER
Subscribe now.

To address public health issues, marketers often use images of diseased lungs to discourage smokers or the bloody aftermath of car crashes to prevent drunken driving. But these can provoke “defensive responses” that may be avoided by giving people ways to take action, said a 2014 International Journal of Psychology review of campaigns that use fear to persuade people.

Missouri’s state health and mental health departments, with the help of federal funds, spent at least $800,000 on advertising in 2019 to curb the opioid epidemic through their Time 2 Act and NoMODeaths campaigns, according to data from advertising agencies and partner organizations.

Mac Curran, a 34-year-old social media influencer, described his struggles with opioid addiction in a number of videos for Time 2 Act, one of which was viewed more than 100,000 times on Facebook. In another recent video, Curran used storytelling to highlight the benefits of getting treatment for his addiction. He talked about strangers cheering for him when he returned to a friend’s streetwear store after getting out of the recovery program, and discussed how he learned coping skills he could use throughout life.

Jay Winsten, a Harvard University scientist who spearheaded the U.S. designated-driver campaign to combat drunken driving, described Curran’s videos as “really excellent because he comes across as genuine and well spoken. People remember stories more than they do someone simply lecturing at them.”

Still, Winsten emphasized the importance of including actionable steps and would like to see Missouri and other groups focus on teaching friends of users “how to intervene and what language to use and not to use.”

Others, including the libertarian Cato Institute, argue that PSAs on drug use just don’t work and point to the history of failed campaigns to discourage teen marijuana use.

Yet agencies keep trying. Missouri’s mental health department and the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri-St. Louis convened focus groups in 2019 with drug users and their families and captured their words on billboards for the NoMODeaths campaign. One said, “Don’t give up on treatment. It’s worth the work,” and gave a number to text for help with heroin, fentanyl or pill misuse.

In addition to giving information, the goal was “to let people who use drugs know that other people care if they live or die,” said Rachel Winograd, a psychologist who leads the NoMODeaths group aimed at reducing harm from opioid misuse.

HELP US GROW
Make a tax-deductible donation.

She said she understands the argument that PSAs are a waste of money, given that organizations like hers have limited funds and also try to provide housing for those in recovery and naloxone, used to revive people after overdoses.

But, Winograd said, some of the advertisements appeared to work. The organization saw a big increase after the ads ran in the number of people who visited its website or texted a number for information on treatment or obtaining naloxone.

Although federal funding rose for fiscal years 2021 and 2022, Winograd’s team and state officials decided to cut NoMODeaths’ advertising budget in half and instead spend the money on direct services like naloxone, treatment and housing.

Now health agencies are consumed by the coronavirus pandemic and are trying to craft messages that cut through politically charged discourse and get the public to adopt safety measures such as wearing masks, staying physically distanced and getting vaccinated.

Convincing people to wear masks has been difficult because messages have been mixed. Missouri’s health department has tried to depoliticize mask-wearing and get people to view it as a public health solution, said spokesperson Lisa Cox.

But Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has appeared without a mask at public events and has declined to enact a statewide mask mandate. He also said at a Missouri Cattlemen’s Association event in July, “If you want to wear a dang mask, wear a mask.”

Cox would not comment on whether Parson’s approach undermined the state’s public health efforts, but Keller said it did.

Missouri’s messaging about vaccines has been much more straightforward and clear. A website provides facts and answers to common questions as it encourages people to “make an informed choice” on whether to get the shots.

Keller praised the “unemotional, not-fear-arousing” approach to the vaccine messaging issued so far.

“It needs the right messengers: well-known individuals who have high credibility within specific population groups that currently are hesitant about taking the vaccine,” Winsten said.

This time, Parson has been one of those messengers. When he announced the launch of the vaccine website in November, he said in a news release: “Safety is not being sacrificed, and it’s important for Missourians to understand this.”

In spite of the politicization of the virus crisis, Winsten, who serves on the board of advisers of the Ad Council’s $50 million covid vaccine campaign, has “guarded optimism” that enough people will get vaccinated to curb the pandemic.

And he remains hopeful that PSAs could eventually help reduce the number of people who die from opioids.

“Look at the whole anti-smoking movement. That took over two decades,” he said. “These are tough problems. Otherwise, they would be solved already.”

This story is from a reporting partnership that includes KCURNPR and KHNKaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

The post Are public health ads worth the price? Not if they’re all about fear appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Development Begins on Riverside Landing; Park Closes Feb. 1

This post was originally published on this site

Exciting new amenities are coming in 2021 to Riverside Landing, located at 600 Kampville Drive in St. Charles along the Mississippi River. Purchased in March 2018 by the St. Charles County Parks and Recreation Department, the 7.73-acre park will be

For the complete story from St. Charles County click on the title at the top or click on the post link above

Press Release: MoDOT is looking ahead to spring set to hire 50 new Maintenance Workers

This post was originally published on this site

Press Release: MoDOT is looking ahead to spring set to hire 50 new Maintenance Workers
Visitor (not verified)
Tue, 01/19/2021 – 16:50

Kansas City – Even though spring is still several months away, the Missouri Department of Transportation is already looking ahead with the hopes of adding at least 50 new Maintenance Workers to its workforce.
 
MoDOT’s Human Resource Department announced it will be hiring 50 full-time maintenance operators in Jackson, Clay, Platte, Ray, Lafayette, Saline, Johnson, Cass, and Pettis counties.
 
The hiring effort is to ensure that MoDOT has plenty of capable and dependable personnel to help maintain the 7,670 lane miles across the Kansas City District, during the spring and summer months.  
 
Full-time employees will receive training and other benefits including retirement, paid leave, medical, vision and dental insurance.
 
MoDOT requires maintenance worker applicants to be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma and successfully complete a criminal background check and drug screening.
                                                            Interested applicants should apply at www.modot.org/careers or call Angela Norman at 816-607-2143.
For more information about MoDOT news, projects or events, please visit our website at www.modot.org/kansascity. For instant updates, follow MoDOT_KC on Twitter, or share posts and comments on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MoDOT.KansasCity. MoDOT Kansas City maintains more than 7,000 miles of state roadway in nine counties. Sign up online for workzone updates or call 888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636).
 
 

Districts Involved

Kansas City

Published On

Tue, 01/19/2021 – 11:49

Route D in Cape Girardeau County Reduced for Sidewalk Improvements

This post was originally published on this site

Route D in Cape Girardeau County Reduced for Sidewalk Improvements
Visitor (not verified)
Tue, 01/19/2021 – 15:20

SIKESTON – Route D in Cape Girardeau County will be reduced to one lane as contractor crews perform sidewalk improvements.
This section of roadway is located from Farmington Road to Rosebud Drive in Jackson, Missouri.
Weather permitting, work will take place Monday, Feb. 1 through Friday, Feb. 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.
The work zone will be marked with signs. Motorists are urged to use extreme caution while traveling near the area.
For additional information, please contact Resident Engineer Donald Hills at (573) 840-9781, MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT or visit www.modot.org/southeast. 
###
facebook.com/MoDOTSoutheast
twitter.com/MoDOTSoutheast
youtube.com/MoDOTSoutheast

Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Tue, 01/19/2021 – 10:15

NB Route 61 in Cape Girardeau County Reduced for Sidewalk Improvements

This post was originally published on this site

NB Route 61 in Cape Girardeau County Reduced for Sidewalk Improvements
Visitor (not verified)
Tue, 01/19/2021 – 14:45

SIKESTON – Northbound Route 61 (Jackson Blvd.) in Cape Girardeau County will be reduced to one lane as contractor crews perform sidewalk improvements.
This section of roadway is located from Kimbel Lane to Gloria Drive in Jackson, Missouri.
Weather permitting, work will take place Monday, Feb. 1 through Friday, Feb. 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.
The work zone will be marked with signs. Motorists are urged to use extreme caution while traveling near the area.
For additional information, please contact Resident Engineer Donald Hills at (573) 840-9781, MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT or visit www.modot.org/southeast. 
###
facebook.com/MoDOTSoutheast
twitter.com/MoDOTSoutheast
youtube.com/MoDOTSoutheast

Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Tue, 01/19/2021 – 09:40

At least 179 killed while in jail or in encounters with St. Louis-area police over decade, legal group says

This post was originally published on this site

A report says 132 people were killed in police incidents in St. Louis and the three surrounding counties, with 47 more dying in area jails.

For the complete story from the Post click on the title at the top of this article.  Help support LOCAL journalism by subscribing to the Post Dispatch by clicking HERE

Route TT in Stoddard County Reduced for Shoulder Repairs

This post was originally published on this site

Route TT in Stoddard County Reduced for Shoulder Repairs
Visitor (not verified)
Tue, 01/19/2021 – 13:55

Route TT in Stoddard County will be reduced as Missouri Department of Transportation crews perform shoulder repairs.
This section of roadway is located from Route 60 to County Road 642.
Weather permitting, work will take place Thursday, Jan. 21 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The work zone will be marked with signs.  Motorists are urged to use extreme caution while traveling near the area.
For additional information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) or visit www.modot.org/southeast.
 
###
facebook.com/MoDOTSoutheast
twitter.com/MoDOTSoutheast
youtube.com/MoDOTSoutheast
 
 

Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Tue, 01/19/2021 – 08:51

U.S. 60 Outer Road in Stoddard County Reduced for Shoulder Repairs

This post was originally published on this site

U.S. 60 Outer Road in Stoddard County Reduced for Shoulder Repairs
Visitor (not verified)
Tue, 01/19/2021 – 13:35

The U.S. Route 60 outer road (North Outer Road) in Stoddard County will be reduced as Missouri Department of Transportation crews perform shoulder repairs.
This section of roadway is located from One Mile Road to Old Highway 25 in Dexter, Missouri.
Weather permitting, work will take place Wednesday, Jan. 20 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The work zone will be marked with signs.  Motorists are urged to use extreme caution while traveling near the area.
For additional information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) or visit www.modot.org/southeast.
 
###
facebook.com/MoDOTSoutheast
twitter.com/MoDOTSoutheast
youtube.com/MoDOTSoutheast
 
 
 
 

Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Tue, 01/19/2021 – 08:31

Effort to stop charging 17-year-olds as adults has stalled in Missouri

This post was originally published on this site

Khadijah Wilson had a bully during her junior year at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles.

She told her principal and teachers about the name calling, and how the other girl constantly threatened to beat her up. But no one intervened. It went on for several months.

“I reported it more and more,” Wilson said, “knowing that it was getting worse.”

One day it got to be too much, she said, and she hit the girl. 

A police officer came to the school, put her in handcuffs and took to an adult jail — because she was 17. Under Missouri law at the time, 17-year-olds were immediately processed as adults, and she was charged with assault in the third-degree. 

She spent three months in St. Charles County Corrections awaiting her court hearing, and sharing a room with adult women facing serious charges.

“I cried every night,” said Wilson, now 22. “I prayed, ‘God, please just take me out of here.’”

Wilson was among those who rejoiced in June 2018 when Missouri passed a law to stop automatically charging 17-years olds as adults — joining 45 other states.

The law was supposed to go into effect on January 1. 

But two weeks into the year, only two Missouri counties — St. Louis County and Jackson County — have started processing 17-years-olds through juvenile systems. 

The majority of Missouri prosecutors say the law is contingent on funding, and state legislators have not allocated the money necessary to pay for social services and other added costs that come with expanding the juvenile court system.

However, Missouri will soon have to abide by the federal legislation that also passed in 2018 that will require that youth held in adult jails — including those charged as adults — be removed to juvenile detention centers by December 21. 

“It’s time to act now,” said Latrisha Gandy, an organizer with Metropolitan Congregations United, a group that advocated for the legislation.

Legal fight

Missouri Rep. David Evans (photo courtesy of Missouri House Communications)

The law makes two conflicting mandates that have left the courts and prosecutors confused.

It states: “Expanding services from 17 years of age to 18 years of age is a new service and shall not be effective until an appropriation sufficient to fund the expanded service is provided therefor.”

Rep. David Evans, R-West Plains, who chairs the Missouri House’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Juvenile Justice, estimates that it would cost between $10 to $16 million a year to implement the law. 

However, the law also says 17-years-olds can no longer be detained in adult jails, unless they’re certified as an adult. And the law mandates that 17-years-olds no longer be automatically treated as adults.

Any county putting a 17-year-old in adult jail could be violating the law, Evans said.

Over the last two years, prosecutors have not been able to get Missouri legislators to clean up the legislation, said Steve Sokoloff, general counsel for the Missouri Association of Prosecutors Attorneys.

“The legislature had the opportunity to fix this over two sessions,” said Sokoloff, referring to the 2020 regular session and the special session on criminal justice in the fall. “The law is not very clear, and they didn’t do anything to rectify that and clarify that.”

Now, Sokoloff is representing Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Locke Thompson in a lawsuit that aims to convince the court to rule in the matter for prosecutors statewide. 

Thompson argues in the petition — filed on Dec. 23 — that legislators have not made the necessary budget appropriation to fund expanded juvenile services. 

The prosecutors association isn’t advocating for the law to be interpreted one way or the other, Sokoloff said. 

“It’s just a question of — tell us what it is so we can act accordingly,” he said. 

St. Louis and Jackson counties said they aren’t waiting for the court’s ruling or for funding. 

“We are ready to do it without funding from the governor’s office,” said Rick Gaines, chief juvenile officer in St. Louis County, during a rally on Dec. 10. “This is the right thing to do. Seventeen-year-olds are still kids, and we want to treat them like that.” 

Sokoloff said it’s “really problematic” that the two largest counties in the state are moving ahead with the legislation because it creates inconsistency.

“If you are 17,” he said, “it shouldn’t depend on what county you’re in.”

In St. Louis city, Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner is concerned that implementing the law without funding could further harm one of the state’s most vulnerable populations.

“You are going to hurt these kids worse if you are putting them in a situations where there are no services,” Gardner said.  

She is interpreting the law the same way as the prosecutors association, she said, along with the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association.

“We have to follow the law,” Gardner said. “Right now there is no appropriation, and based on the language they wrote into this bill, it does not take effect until that appropriation is in place.”

Going forward

Evans, who was previously a juvenile court judge, said that the juvenile court system can prevent young people from a “bleak future” with the many services it provides.

Evans said he and Rep. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, who sponsored the bill changing the law when he was serving in the Senate in 2018, have tried to get to get funding into the state budget but “couldn’t get it across the finish line.”

And budget cuts due to the pandemic made that task even more difficult in 2020, he said. 

HELP US GROW
Make a tax-deductible donation.

At this point, Evans said he’s waiting for the judge’s ruling to guide him on how Missouri legislators should proceed.

“If they say, ‘It’s already effective, you should have been doing something already,’ then the goal would be to get some sort of emergency funding for it,” Evans said.

If they don’t, Evans said he will try to take more time to clarify the provision’s language and “get it done right.”

One clarification Evans hopes to make is the issue of the Juvenile Justice Preservation Fund that the law established. About $2 million has been raised through a court surcharge tax that the law mandated. The fund was meant to be “used for the administration of the juvenile justice system,” the law states. 

However, it gives no instructions on how to distribute those funds among the courts. Evans introduced a bill in March that would have, in part, directed those dollars back to the courts in the amounts that they paid them. It didn’t pass. 

Saving taxpayer dollars

Advocates say Missouri legislators have known that the state would have to abide by the latest reauthorization of the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, regardless of what any Missouri court rules.

Directing 17-year-olds into the juvenile system will actually help the state save money, advocates argue, because juvenile courts have the resources to prevent youth from reoffending.

“That’s how it saves taxpayer dollars,” Gandy said. “If we can put that money in the community, keep those kids in the community, provide them with those resources, a lot of things can turn around.” 

THE MORNING NEWSLETTER
Subscribe now.

Any change in the law came too late for Wilson. 

Immediately after the fight with her bully, she only went to adult jail for one day. However, when she showed up for her court date, she said the court administrator told her she wasn’t in the system. A warrant was later issued for her arrest — for failing to appear — and that’s why her jail time was so severe.

Wilson couldn’t afford to pay the $10,000 bond that would’ve kept her out of jail pretrial. And she couldn’t pay for a lawyer that might have been able to decrease the offense to a misdemeanor and kept the felony off her record — making it hard for her to get a job. 

Wilson, who now works at the Organization for Black Struggle, where she completed her community service, said Missouri needs to implement the law now.

 “I believe it’s important,” she said, “because it’s kids like me who have no option but to just let the system do what they want to do with us until we’re finally free.”

The post Effort to stop charging 17-year-olds as adults has stalled in Missouri appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

MoDOT TRAFFIC ALERT: Gregg Road North of Route 14 in Nixa CLOSED

This post was originally published on this site

MoDOT TRAFFIC ALERT: Gregg Road North of Route 14 in Nixa CLOSED
regan.mitchell
Tue, 01/19/2021 – 12:00

Monday & Tuesday Night, January 25 & 26

Project

Mount Vernon Street (Route 14) Widening

What: Gregg Road on the north side of Mount Vernon Street (Missouri Route 14) in Nixa CLOSED

When: 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. Monday & Tuesday, January 25 & 26

Details: Contractor crews installing a drain pipe underneath the road and repairing the pavement

Traffic Impacts:

Gregg Road CLOSED at night only where crews are working north of Route 14
Gregg Road open during daytime hours
Drivers will be able to get to driveways and entrances on either side of the work zone, but will not be able to travel through the work zone
Drivers urged to find alternate routes. No signed detours are planned.
Electronic message boards located near the planned road work will alert drivers to any changes in the work schedule
Check MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map for road closings/traffic impacts
(Weather and/or construction delays will alter the work schedule)

END 

(For more information, call MoDOT in Springfield at 417-895-7600 or visit www.modot.org/southwest) 

(Follow MoDOT’s Southwest District: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |YouTube)

(Take the Challenge! Buckle Up/Phone Down)

Districts Involved

Southwest

Published On

Tue, 01/19/2021 – 06:56

Route 153 in Dunklin, Pemiscot Counties Closed for Bridge Replacement

This post was originally published on this site

Route 153 in Dunklin, Pemiscot Counties Closed for Bridge Replacement
Visitor (not verified)
Tue, 01/19/2021 – 11:25

SIKESTON – Missouri Route 153 in Dunklin and Pemiscot Counties will be closed as contractor crews replace the bridge over Drainage Ditch Number 84.
This section of roadway is located between County Road 439 in Dunklin County and Route EE in Pemiscot County.
Weather permitting, work will begin Monday, Feb. 1, with completion anticipated Saturday, May 1. A signed detour will be in place.
This bridge is included in Gov. Mike Parson’s $351 million Focus on Bridges program, which will repair or replace 250 bridges across the state.
The work zone will be marked with signs. Motorists are urged to use extreme caution while traveling near the area.
For additional information, please contact Resident Engineer Donald Hills at (573) 840-9781, MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT or visit www.modot.org/southeast.
###
 
facebook.com/MoDOTSoutheast
twitter.com/MoDOTSoutheast
youtube.com/MoDOTSoutheast

Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Tue, 01/19/2021 – 06:21

Lane Closures Scheduled for I-70 for Signage Work This Week

This post was originally published on this site

Lane Closures Scheduled for I-70 for Signage Work This Week
Visitor (not verified)
Tue, 01/19/2021 – 11:05

JACKSON COUNTY– MoDOT Kansas City will be making U.S. 24 route marking designation changes along both I-435 and I-70.  Crews are working to remove the U.S. 24 designation from Independence Ave. west of I-435.  Beginning at I-435, U.S. 24 will soon be routed along I-435 and I-70 into downtown Kansas City.  East of I-435, the U.S. 24 designation will remain unchanged.  This work will require various overnight lane closures. Motorists are advised to plan ahead and find alternate routes if necessary. All work is weather permitting.
This project includes route marking designation changes on I-435 from U.S. 24 to I-70, on I-70 from I-435 to U.S. 24. Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19, the work will include:
Westbound I-70 will be reduced to ONE LANE from Blue Ridge Cutoff to I-435 for overhead sign truss work Tuesday, Jan. 19, from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. the following morning.
Westbound I-70 will be reduced to ONE LANE from U.S. 40 to Van Brunt Blvd. for overhead sign truss work on Wednesday, Jan. 20, from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. the following morning. During this time, the ramp from westbound I-70 to Van Brunt Blvd. will also be closed.
Westbound I-70 will be reduced to one lane from The Paseo to the Troost Ave. for overhead sign truss work on Thursday, Jan. 21, from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. the following morning. During this time, the ramp from westbound I-70 to Harrison St./Troost Ave. will also be closed.
Please be patient and considerate to your fellow motorists. Use the zipper merge and take turns at merge points.  Please remember that all work zones are NO PHONE ZONES. Buckle up. Phone down. Arrive Alive. For potential impacts to traffic, please review KC Scout cameras at http://www.kcscout.net or consult our real-time traffic partner, WAZE.
Motorists are reminded to slow down and pay attention while driving in work zones. Not all work zones look alike. Work zones can be moving operations, such as striping, patching or mowing. They can also be short term, temporary lane closures to make quick repairs or remove debris from the roadway.
For more information about MoDOT news, projects or events, please visit our website at www.modot.mo.gov/kansascity. For instant updates, follow MoDOT_KC on Twitter, or share posts and comments on our Facebook at www.facebook.com/MoDOT.KansasCity.  MoDOT Kansas City maintains more than 7,000 miles of state roadway in nine counties. Sign up online for work zone updates or call 888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636).

Districts Involved

Kansas City

Published On

Tue, 01/19/2021 – 06:02

Route ZZ New Madrid County Reduced for Bridge Repairs

This post was originally published on this site

Route ZZ New Madrid County Reduced for Bridge Repairs
Visitor (not verified)
Tue, 01/19/2021 – 10:55

Route ZZ in New Madrid County will be reduced to one lane as Missouri Department of Transportation crews repair the bridge over Drainage Ditch # 52.
This section of roadway is located from County Road 335 to Route F.                            
Weather permitting, work will take place Monday, Jan. 25 through Wednesday, Jan. 27 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
The work zone will be marked with signs. Motorists are urged to use extreme caution while traveling near the area.
For additional information, contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) or visit www.modot.org/southeast.
 
###
facebook.com/MoDOTSoutheast
twitter.com/MoDOTSoutheast
youtube.com/MoDOTSoutheast
 
 

Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Tue, 01/19/2021 – 05:54

MoDOT to hold virtual public meeting to discuss Big Bend over I-44 TODAY

This post was originally published on this site

MoDOT to hold virtual public meeting to discuss Big Bend over I-44 TODAY
Visitor (not verified)
Tue, 01/19/2021 – 08:55

ST. LOUIS – Residents who use the Big Bend bridge over Interstate 44 in St, Louis county may want to view the information and attend a virtual open house style public meeting TODAY about an upcoming project.

The Missouri Department of Transportation will hold the virtual open house-style informational public meeting to share information about an upcoming project to replace the Big Bend bridge over I-44 in 2022.  Information about the project and a comment form is available for viewing until February 2, 2021. Individuals can call into the WebEx virtual meeting today, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

To view available information, or to login to the virtual meeting, visit: https://www.modot.org/big-bend-i44-vpm.

On the webpage and during the meeting, MoDOT engineers will share information about the project, schedule, and expected impacts to commuters for the project, discuss the proposals and hear concerns from residents along the roadway.

There will be no formal presentation. Participants may log in at any time during the open house style virtual meeting.

      This meeting will allow the public to get information about the project and to provide comments, either directly to the engineers or in written comments, on potential impacts due to the construction of this project.

 

###

Districts Involved

St. Louis

Published On

Tue, 01/19/2021 – 03:52

Links to related information

Link to view information and join meeting

Wentzville new businesses: Gyros, event planning, drywall, dermatology and more

This post was originally published on this site

The following businesses received Wentzville business licenses during the last half of 2020. If the business has a website, the name is a link. Soulard Gyro, 1004 Quartz Canyon Drive Facebook page: Soulard Gyro (Wentzville) READ MORE

The post Wentzville new businesses: Gyros, event planning, drywall, dermatology and more first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Public hearings on Missouri American’s request to hike water rates begin this week

This post was originally published on this site

Missouri American Water is seeking to increase annual revenues by about $73.5 million — a jump of 21%.

For the complete story from the Post click on the title at the top of this article.  Help support LOCAL journalism by subscribing to the Post Dispatch by clicking HERE

Capitol Perspectives: An invasion of the U.S. Capitol 

This post was originally published on this site

This column is prompted by the pictures of the Capitol assault that triggered fond memories of where I had been an NPR reporter for about six months before I was recruited to start MU’s State Government Reporting in Missouri’s Capitol.

While the invasion of our U.S. Capitol raises several major issues for our country, this column addresses just one — the impact on reporters who have spent their careers in these centers of American democracy.

Capitol reporters spend such extended hours in these buildings that we come to think of them as second homes.

For this column, I reached out to a former student of mine, Sarah Wire, who covers Congress for the Los Angeles Times and also chairs the Standing Committee of Correspondents which allocates news media access to Capitol resources.

During the Capitol siege, she spent more than four hours secreted away in a locked room with Congressional members, staffers and other reporters to avoid being detected by the rioters.

Talking with her a few days later, Sarah agreed with me that a Capitol is like a second home because of the very long hours we spend in the building.

But she cited another component for this feeling — the proximity in the Capitol that fosters relationships from the frequent informal access to sources.

She said members of Congress would ask about her child and she knew about their children.

Good point. In both Washington and now Missouri, that close interaction helped me foster conversations that I’ve found so critical to understanding the issues and the process.

In no way do those interactions affect coverage of a source, but they do open lines of communication.

For Sarah, the riot was an example of the friendships that develop in the Capitol. Huddled down to avoid exposing themselves in the House chamber as rioters banged on the door, a legislator hugged Sarah and asked about her child.

Sarah wrote, “she took my photo with her phone and posted on Twitter, tagging @latimes to alert my colleagues I was OK.”

Being an outstanding journalist, Sarah quickly began interviewing the legislator about her thoughts while hiding in the building.

Sarah also said the long history of a Capitol building is a physical reminder of the monumental importance of what we are covering.

For many decades, on the first day of orientation for my journalism students I would sit them down at the press table inside the Senate chamber which resembles an ancient Roman temple.

I would stress to them that the ornate setting helps demonstrate the importance of the issues and process to senators, visitors and reporters alike.

So, seeing my former U.S. Capitol “home” trashed by invaders had an emotional impact on me. I fondly remembered almost every location shown in news accounts of the riot.

I end this column with a confession.

I now restrict my physical presence in Missouri’s Capitol as much as possible for fear of COVID-19 infection because so many legislators refuse to wear face masks.

Sarah has done the same, although she told me, “It makes me homesick.” Exactly my feeling as well.

Unfortunately, at least three members of Congress tested positive for COVID-19 in that room where Sarah took refuge during the Capitol riots and where many did not wear masks.

Search the LA Times for the headline, “I’m in a roomful of people ‘panicked that I might inadvertently give away their location,’” to read a powerful account of her experience.

In her article, she demonstrated her commitment to the process when she concluded her story: “More than four hours after being locked inside, I was permitted to leave. There was only one place for me to go. I headed upstairs back in the [House press] gallery — to chronicle history.”

The post Capitol Perspectives: An invasion of the U.S. Capitol  appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

In Memoriam: St. Charles County Obituaries, January 3 – 9, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

The following obituaries were posted by local funeral homes from January 3 – 9, 2021. Click or tap the link provided to access the obituary on the funeral home’s website. Baue Funeral Homes Dorothy Lou READ MORE

The post In Memoriam: St. Charles County Obituaries, January 3 – 9, 2021 first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Payne Family Homes to build 2021 St. Jude Dream Home in City of Dardenne Prairie

This post was originally published on this site

With several unique amenities inspired by lifestyle changes in 2020, Payne Family Homes’ 2021 St. Jude Dream Home is sure to be a dream come true for one lucky winner. “The past year has really READ MORE

The post Payne Family Homes to build 2021 St. Jude Dream Home in City of Dardenne Prairie first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Tax Form 1099-G Available Online For Missourians Who Claimed Unemployment Benefits

This post was originally published on this site

Jefferson City – Missourians who received unemployment benefits in 2020 can now view, print and download their 1099-G tax form online at uinteract.labor.mo.gov.
Form 1099-G details all unemployment benefits a claimant received during the calendar year as well as information about taxes withheld from their benefits. It is important to note that both state and federal unemployment benefit payments are taxable and the total will be included on Form 1099-G. This information must be reported each year for tax purposes. The forms are also available for years 2016-2019.

St. Charles County COVID-19 update: 32,476 confirmed cases, 342 deaths as of Jan. 15

This post was originally published on this site

St. Charles County Government and the Department of Public Health staff are working closely with local, regional, state and federal partners to investigate COVID-19, monitor individuals who may have been exposed to the virus and READ MORE

The post St. Charles County COVID-19 update: 32,476 confirmed cases, 342 deaths as of Jan. 15 first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

O’Fallon City Council approves Mayor Bill Hennessy’s appointment of Philip G. Dupuis as permanent Police Chief

This post was originally published on this site

The O’Fallon City Council approved Mayor Bill Hennessy’s appointment of Philip G. Dupuis as the Police Chief for the O’Fallon Police Department. The Council voted to accept Mayor Hennessy’s nomination during the January 14, 2021, READ MORE

The post O’Fallon City Council approves Mayor Bill Hennessy’s appointment of Philip G. Dupuis as permanent Police Chief first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Wentzville’s Playtime Arcade and Bar offers axe throwing, laser tag, fun for the whole family

This post was originally published on this site

by Todd Bishop My wife and I created PLAYTIME in 2007, when our children were little.  They are now in college and high school and we wanted to grow up with them in our business. READ MORE

The post Wentzville’s Playtime Arcade and Bar offers axe throwing, laser tag, fun for the whole family first appeared on 70 West Sentinel.

For the complete story from 70 West Sentinel click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Missouri map shows where you can get a vaccine. Not all providers listed have doses

This post was originally published on this site

Wondering where to go to get a coronavirus vaccine in Missouri? On Friday, the state launched an interactive map detailing where over 1,100 providers are located across the state.

But not all locations identified on the map as providing the vaccine actually have vaccines on hand to administer. And reports that the federal government has already exhausted its supply of reserve COVID-19 vaccines could hamper efforts in Missouri to quickly expand the number of residents with shots in arm.

“Before contacting a vaccinator on this map to coordinate your vaccination, please understand that many vaccinators are still awaiting supplies from the federal government,” the map notes.

Among the providers listed is the Sullivan County Health Department in Northern Missouri. On Friday, Deborah Taylor, the administrator of the Sullivan County Health Department, said that her department has yet to receive its first vaccine shipment.

The department was approved as a vaccinator a couple of weeks ago, Taylor said, and worked with other providers in the region to submit an order for a shipment of Pfizer vaccine.

“We’re just waiting,” Taylor said.

It’s an issue providers are facing across the state. Currently, a request for doses does not mean an order will be approved, due to the state’s limited supply.

Members of the state’s vaccine planning and distribution team stressed Thursday that while the state is expanding who is eligible to receive their first dose, the state hasn’t received enough vaccine from the federal government to cover everyone within those categories.

Starting Thursday, first responders and other healthcare workers can now receive their first dose after the state activated the first tier of  “Phase 1B.” On Monday, tier two will begin, allowing residents 65 years and older and people with certain underlying health conditions, like cancer or Type 2 diabetes, to be vaccinated. 

The two tiers contain over 40 percent of the state’s population, with an estimated 2.7 million people.

The state is still working through vaccinating all of the roughly 500,000 frontline healthcare workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities who are in “Phase 1A.” The state’s vaccine distribution and planning team said Thursday that an estimated 35 to 40 percent of Phase 1A has received their first dose, with about 18 percent of long-term care facilities residents and staff having received that initial shot. 

Juanita Welker, the administrator of the Bollinger County Health Center, said her health department had not yet ordered any doses, because residents in her area weren’t yet eligible under Phase 1A. Health departments were informed of the newly activated tiers on Thursday morning, and since the state’s announcement, “the phone’s ringing off the wall,” Welker said.

Requests for doses must be submitted to the state by 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, but the state didn’t announce it was expanding eligibility for the vaccine until Thursday. That means some providers may not see a vaccine shipment for at least another week — and that’s if their order is approved.

“It kind of caught us off guard,” Welker said of Thursday’s announcement. “Notice would have been helpful — at least a week.”

Adam Crumbliss, the director of DHSS’ Division of Community and Public Health, said on a call with vaccinators Thursday that the limited supply will continue to be a “rate limiter.”

“…Simply because we’re moving into a new tier, does not mean that we have suddenly developed a new vaccine supply chain,” Crumbliss told vaccinators. “We’re still constrained in what we have.”

Lynelle Phillips, the president of the Missouri Immunization Coalition and vice president of the Missouri Public Health Association, said the state faces “a big distributive justice challenge.” It must weigh when competing groups will receive the vaccine, like people who are high-risk because exposure could make them sicker versus those who are high-risk for potentially more widespread exposure.

“You have to — in public health decision making — justify why the 80-year-old with Type 2 diabetes who never goes anywhere gets vaccinated first, before the very healthy 21-year-old that’s returning to campus that could potentially spread COVID all over the place,” Phillips said. “It’s just a real conundrum.”

The map unveiled Friday marks the first comprehensive look at who has been approved to offer the vaccine throughout the state. Earlier in the week, local public health departments had said they had not yet been told by the state who else was providing the vaccine.

Scott Clardy, the assistant director of the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services, said earlier this week that the department worked on its own to determine who else was a vaccinator in the area.

“We don’t have the full picture. And it’s certainly not due to a lack of trying,” Clardy said Wednesday, later adding: “We’d like to know how much vaccine has been sent into Boone County. We’d like to know how many people in Boone County have received their first or second dose.”

Many health departments have recently launched surveys to assess residents who were interested in receiving a vaccine, and gather contact info to notify them when doses were available. Both Boone County and St. Louis County received their first shipment of 975 Pfizer doses last week.

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health had nearly 100,000 responses to its form in about five days, Christopher Ave, the department’s spokesman, said earlier this week. In Boone County, over 9,200 responses had been received as of Wednesday afternoon, Clardy said.

In Sullivan County, the health department posted on its Facebook page to let residents know that there was no need to call the office. The department would reach out when supply is available.

“You just have to leave everything kind of up in the air,” Taylor said.

State officials said the decision to move into additional tiers was in light of a “significant increase” in expected vaccine supply following the Trump administration’s announcement that second doses would not be withheld.

However, The Washington Post reported Friday that when Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that the federal government would be releasing the second doses that were held back, no such reserve existed.

It’s unclear how this may affect Missouri’s distribution plan. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Senior Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Kelli Jones, a spokeswoman for Gov. Mike Parson, said that on Wednesday, both Azar and Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, encouraged governors to activate next phases and vaccinate those 65 years and over and others with high-risk medical conditions.

“We cannot wait until we are at 100 percent uptake in Phase 1A before we move on to Phases 1B and 1C. We need to start offering vaccine to these other priority groups now. This is my recommendation; it is not a directive,” Redfield wrote in a letter to governors provided by Parson’s office.

Missouri’s state health officials have previously urged providers to request that the federal government send allocation estimates at least a month in advance to facilitate better planning on the ground.

“We continue to urge our federal partners to fulfill their commitment to allocate additional supplies of vaccine into Missouri to be provided to our population,” Jones said. “Distribution plans will continue to be based upon available supply.”

The post Missouri map shows where you can get a vaccine. Not all providers listed have doses appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above

Former GOP chair, Farm Bureau leader vie for seat on University of Missouri curators

This post was originally published on this site

Former Republican Party chairman Todd Graves is one of three people seeking Gov. Mike Parson’s nomination for a seat on the University of Missouri Board of Curators.

Graves, former Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst and St. Joseph accountant David Liechti have each called lawmakers seeking support for the northern Missouri seat currently held by former state Sen. Phil Snowden.

State Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby said he’s spoken to all three.

“I like them all,” Hegeman said.

As a land-grant university, the Columbia campus operates extension programs throughout the state and is home to the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. A curator who understands rural issues is important, Hegeman said.

“I am partial to agriculture,” Hegeman said. “I think there should be a strong ag voice on the Board of Curators.”

None of the hopefuls returned messages from The Independent seeking comment on their pursuit of the seat.

The seat held by Snowden is one of four on the nine-member board available for Parson to fill with a new appointment. Snowden’s term expired Jan. 1, but like most state boards, he will continue in his post until a successor is named and confirmed.

The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 6.

Parson’s office could not immediately provide details on who has applied for the available seats or when he may act on the appointments.

Curators serve six-year terms and govern the system that has campuses in Columbia, Rolla, St. Louis and Kansas City. It is an unpaid position.

Under state law, no more than two curators can be appointed from any of the state’s eight congressional districts. 

Snowden lives in the 6th Congressional District, which covers the northern part of the state between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and reaches into Jackson County in the Kansas City area.

The other three seats where curators are serving expired terms are the 1st District, held by Juila Brncic, the 2nd District, held by Maurice Graham, and the 8th District, held by David Steelman.

The terms for Brncic and Graham expired Jan. 1. Steelman’s term expired Jan. 1, 2020, but Parson has refrained from naming a replacement.

State law also requires that no more than five curators can be members of the same political party. Graham and Snowden are Democrats, Brncic was appointed as an independent and Steelman is a Republican. 

The current board has four Democrats, three Republicans and two independents. If Parson allows Steelman to remain on the board or re-appoints him to a new term, he could name Republicans to two of the other open seats.

The Independent has been unable to determine who, if anyone, has applied for the other open seats.

Former GOP Executive Director Jean Evans, in an interview Thursday, noted that eight of the current curators have degrees from the Columbia campus and the ninth, Brncic, did not attend the university.

“As someone who went to school at UMSL, I would like to see more representation from other campuses,” she said.

All three potential candidates for the Sixth District seat hold degrees from the Columbia campus. Graves received a law degree, Hurst received a degree in agriculture and Liechti received an accounting degree.

Graves is the lead partner in Graves Garrett LLC, a Kansas City law firm that also includes among its attorneys former acting U.S. Attorney General Matt Whitaker and Lucinda Luetkemeyer, who served as general counsel for former Gov. Eric Greitens and is married to state Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville. 

Graves is a former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, and his brother is 6th District U.S. Rep. Sam Graves.

He would not be the first current or past party chairman to be appointed. Gov. John Ashcroft named Woody Cozad of Kansas City, a former GOP chairman, to the board when he was in office in the late 1980s, and Gov. Matt Blunt named then-GOP Chairman David Russell of Lebanon while he was in office from 2005 to 2009.

Graves was GOP chairman from 2017 to early 2019 and riled some in the party when it directed $200,000 to a committee seeking to overturn the 2018 anti-gerrymandering initiative known as Clean Missouri.

The spending left the party short of funds at the beginning of the 2019-2020 election cycle, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.  

Evans, who became executive director of the party in February 2019, declined to discuss the spending in an interview. But she told the Post-Dispatch at the time that the party would not put any more money into initiative campaigns.

“Financially that’s just not something we have the resources for,” she said. “It’s outside our mission. Our mission is to elect Republicans.”

Those decisions could play a role in whether Graves could be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. 

“I don’t think his confirmation would be rubber-stamped – potential issues from both sides,” Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, wrote in a text when asked about Graves.

Hurst is a farmer from the Tarkio area and was president of the Farm Bureau for 10 years before stepping down in December. As leader of the Farm Bureau, Hurst worked closely with Republican lawmakers on numerous issues, including the 2014 Right to Farm constitutional amendment, which Parson handled in the state Senate.

Liechti, who operates an accounting firm in St. Joseph, is a former chairman of the Missouri Western State University Board of Governors. He was appointed to that post by Gov. Jay Nixon and capped his term with the selection of a new president in 2019.

The post Former GOP chair, Farm Bureau leader vie for seat on University of Missouri curators appeared first on Missouri Independent.

For the complete story from MissouriIndependent.com click on the title of this article or click on the "post" link above