O’Fallon Police Blotter: August 23 – 29, 2021

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The following reports for August 23 – 29, 2021 were supplied to 70 West Sentinel by the O’Fallon Police Department. A report of an arrest or charges filed is not an assumption of guilt, nor READ MORE

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In Memoriam: St. Charles County Obituaries, September 26 – October 2, 2021

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The following obituaries were posted by local funeral homes from September 26 – October 2, 2021. Click or tap the link provided to access the obituary on the funeral home’s website. Baue Funeral Homes Glen READ MORE

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Can you live on retirement benefits as a Kansas or Missouri teacher? It depends

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Student Wearing Mask in Classroom

This story was first published by The Kansas City Beacon.

As local school systems are dealing with a teacher shortage, a new report ranks Missouri and Kansas in the bottom half of the pack nationally when it comes to state educator retirement programs.

But a teachers union representative and the director of Missouri’s retirement program say Missouri’s ranking is unfair because the state’s program is strong where it counts — rewarding long-term service.

The report puts Missouri in the top 10 for benefitting teachers who stay in the profession for decades.

“Our pension system in the state is solid as a rock, and I think it’s universally seen as one of the best things we have going for retaining and recruiting teachers,” said Mark Jones, communications director for the Missouri National Education Association.

Overall, the Aug. 31 report from national nonprofit Bellwether Education Partners ranked Missouri 35th and Kansas 30th. Nationally, South Dakota, Tennessee and Washington got the highest overall scores.

The report considers states’ teacher retirement systems from the point of view of taxpayers and teachers who stay for various lengths of time.

Its methodology argues it’s important to consider the systems from multiple perspectives because teachers who don’t stay until retirement, or who move to a new state, deserve consideration as well.

In that light, Kansas ranks in the top 10 when it comes to retirement benefits for short-term teachers — those who stay less than 10 years. Short-term teachers are best served by plans that allow them to take benefits with them when they leave or don’t require high contributions to the program, the report says.

But union members and retirees who taught long term in Kansas are advocating for improvements to the program, which doesn’t provide the recommended income level for retirees to maintain their standard of living.

“I knew that just one thing (income source) wasn’t going to be enough,” Ruthe Goff, who taught for 30 years in the Shawnee Mission School District, said of her retirement in 2017. “And I’m learning even more being involved (in advocacy) as a retiree.”

‘Career educator’

Though Missouri ranks low in the report for short-term retirement benefits, Dearld Snider, executive director of Missouri’s teacher retirement system, said he doesn’t envision the program shifting to cater to short-term teachers.

Currently, teachers who leave after a few years can get their retirement contributions returned to them with interest, and it only takes five years of employment to earn a pension.

But, using a formula that increases retirement benefits as wages and years of teaching increase, the system gives the best rewards to those who stay for decades, Snider said.

“Sometimes we do have people say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, it’s not as good if you leave after three, four, five, seven years?’ And I say, ‘Yes, that is by design,’” Snider said. “This type of retirement security is really for that career educator. I oftentimes say, ‘So when is it a sin to reward those people who stay and serve your community and serve your children?’”

Union members are happy with that focus and believe the program works well for retired teachers, said Jones of the Missouri teachers union. He criticized the way Bellwether weighed its various factors to come up with a low ranking for Missouri.

“To me, it seems a little disingenuous when you say the system is great for people who actually retire from it, but we’re gonna find a way to make it seem like somehow it’s in trouble,” he said.

Kansas City Public Schools uses a separate retirement system, which was not accounted for in the Bellwether report.

Missouri’s Public School Retirement System — used by the other Missouri districts in the Kansas City metro area — is a defined benefit plan, meaning retirees receive a guaranteed payment determined by a formula based on salary and years worked.

Most Missouri teachers aren’t eligible for Social Security, so their retirement benefits are meant to cover for that.

The Bellwether report says the retirement system replaces about 75% of wages, which was within the 60%-80% range the report estimated plans should cover.

The program is funded through teacher salary contributions of 14.5% that are matched by the school district.

Since funding for the retirement system comes directly from school districts rather than the state’s general revenue, legislators aren’t tempted to shortchange the program when money gets tight, as happens in some other states.

“We’ve been fortunate that they’re (Missouri’s pension systems) not underfunded by the government,” Snider said. “And that’s certainly the case with our school districts and with our members; they have always paid the exact amount that’s been asked of them since 1946.”

Recruitment, retention and competition

Forsyth, Jones and Snider said they weren’t aware of a clear pattern of Kansas City-area teachers being drawn to either side of the state line for the retirement system. They agreed prospective or early career teachers might not think about retirement when making plans.

While Missouri’s retirement system is strong, “I don’t think any normal person thinks at that granular level,” Jones said.

Instead, teachers likely focus on salary, working conditions or whether a retirement system will still exist when they need it, he said. But teachers can be motivated to stay as they begin to understand the system.

In Missouri, data shows retention rates improve the longer teachers stay.

Missouri’s system helps teachers feel they can “have a retirement that allows me to live without fear of poverty, that allows me to retire with dignity and recognizes, to some degree, the service that I’ve rendered, which is spending my lifetime working with students and children to help them become lifelong learners and leaders,” Jones said.

Jones said if Missouri wants to reduce teacher shortages, it should maintain its strong retirement system and focus on raising starting teacher salaries. The National Education Association ranks Missouri 50th in the nation for average starting salary.

“Other states are literally putting billboards in our state saying, ‘Hey, tired of what you’re getting paid in Missouri? Come across the state line,’” he said. “One of the ways that we can retain and attract and keep educators is the fact that our retirement system is arguably one of the best in the nation.”

The Kansas City Beacon is an online news outlet focused on local, in-depth journalism in the public interest.

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No more 'grandstanding': Goedeker's board battle ends in settlement

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ST. CHARLES — A fight for control of online appliance retailer Goedeker’s ended Monday with a little give and take.

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‘Tremendous opportunity’: Missouri could be considered for Toyota battery plant

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Toyota, which has a plant in Troy, plans a new $1.29 billion factory to produce batteries for gas-electric hybrid and fully electric vehicles.

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Capitol Perspectives: A personal perspective of Todd Akin

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I write this column about Todd Akin hoping it provides readers a better perspective about journalists and public officials, but also that it might encourage politicians and public officials to be less hostile about journalistic motivations.

Akin’s Oct. 3 death reminded me of the special relationship we had which I suspect will surprise many of my journalistic colleagues and conservative Republicans.

The former Missouri House member and then a U.S. representative always will be remembered by many for his “legitimate rape” comment that sunk his campaign against U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

But for more than a dozen years, Akin was one of my most important sources to understand the growing religious right movement. His candor will remain as my deepest memory of him.

During his 12 years in Missouri’s House, he regularly shared lunch with me and my wife at a restaurant across the street from the state Capitol where we had off-the-record conversations in which he discussed his values and agenda.

As others have written, Akin was a religious conservative.

He was a strong advocate for controversial views about home schooling, abortion restrictions without exception and allowing concealed weapons almost anywhere.

Yet, he eagerly responded to my probing questions during our lunch sessions.

On home schooling, I questioned him about the consequences of restricting exposure of growing children to those with different backgrounds.

Abortion restrictions and gun rights were obvious probing questions for me.

But rather than being defensive or angry, Akin defended his views with detailed explanations I’ve rarely encountered from public officials.

That candor was tremendously helpful for me to better understand the values and motivations of religious conservatives who were becoming a growing force in government and politics.

Our discussions were a demonstration of the value for reporters to seek off-the-record conversations to better understand the values of those whom you are covering.

It also may be a demonstration for public officials to be candid in off-the-record conversations by explaining the foundation for their beliefs and positions.

Before ending this column, I must acknowledge a couple of factors that probably contributed to my relationship with Akin.

At about the same age, we graduated from competing St. Louis County prep schools — Akin from John Burroughs and I from Country Day.

A bigger factor was Akin’s background working for IBM. I was trained by IBM to develop computer applications and network systems under an IBM grant I helped write for my journalism school.

I even had an IBM technical assistant to facilitate my efforts.

It is not as strange a connection as you might think.

Computer wonks always focus on what might be. After all, you cannot write reliable code or design network systems without fully considering every possible outcome.

My IBM training actually helped my journalistic reporting efforts to consider every possible cause and outcome of a story I was covering.

For Akin, however, that approach may have been a factor in voicing what he considered possible outcomes from rape.

Akin had a habit of often thinking out loud without full investigation.

Another connection may have been that Akin knew I had been a member of Youth for Goldwater, a Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter chair and officer of a college Young Republican organization.

However, before our relationship, I had completely left political/ideological advocacy after I became a journalist.

Only a very few times have I disclosed my prior background to Republican or Democratic lawmakers.

Although it helped make connections by correcting possible false perceptions, I remain unsure whether that disclosure of my long-ago background was ethical or not.

It may be a lesson for conservatives who have told me they do not trust reporters because of assumed political values of journalists.

As Todd Akin learned, you will not really know someone’s background if you are not willing to have a meaningful and open conversation.

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Feds seize property of KC-area companies accused of COVID relief fraud

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The federal government has seized two vehicles, and is threatening to seize a lake house, allegedly purchased illegally with COVID-19 relief money by a Kansas City-area businessman.

The property was seized from several real estate companies incorporated in Kansas by Joseph Campbell, with most operating under a version of the name Titan Fish. 

According to a complaint filed by the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas, in early 2020 Campbell submitted 20 applications to the Small Business Administration for federal disaster loans made available under the CARES Act. 

Most were deemed duplicates of other applications, the complaint says, and five were granted. 

Campbell’s companies received nearly $1 million in aid that was supposed to be used to pay debts, payroll and other bills that could have been paid had the COVID-19 pandemic not occurred. 

According to an affidavit filed by Richard Littrell, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service, Campbell’s applications contained false information and he used the money he received to purchase two vehicles and a lake house in Morgan County, Missouri. 

“Based on the information set forth in this affidavit, there is probable cause to believe Campbell committed violations of wire fraud and money laundering,” said Littrell, who conducts money laundering investigations as part of the Kansas City Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces. 

Littrell later added that there is probable cause that the vehicles and property “were purchased with proceeds derived or obtained from the wire fraud violations.”

The two vehicles — a 2019 Dodge Ram 1500 and a 2017 Ford Explorer — have been seized by the government. The lake house has not yet been seized. 

Campbell did not respond to a request for comment Friday. 

Danielle Thomas, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas, said she cannot comment on open cases beyond what is available in the public record.

Titan Fish, based in Shawnee, Kansas, is described on its website as “special situation investors that focus on unique investment opportunities in real estate, energy and other real assets.”

The company garnered attention in 2017 when it purchased the former Rockwood Golf Club in Independence for $550,000 from a company that had owned the property for several years.

Just months after that purchase, the Independence City Council voted to buy the golf course from Titan Fish for $1 million in order to use it to build a solar farm. 

The deal drew FBI scrutiny over a series of donations to Independence Mayor Eileen Weir days before she voted to approve the purchase. 

Those donations came from four political action committees connected to lobbyist Steve Tilley, a former state lawmaker and longtime friend and adviser to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.

Tilley’s lobbying firm represents Independence’s utility and the company chosen to operate the solar farm. 

In 2019 Tilley began representing Titan Fish, and a year later was part of a proposal involving Titan Fish to repurpose a power plant owned by Independence

Titan Fish and Tilley severed ties shortly after details of the proposal were made public. 

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Material delays postpone completion of Route 340 widening project

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Material delays postpone completion of Route 340 widening project
Visitor (not verified)
Mon, 10/18/2021 – 14:50

ST. LOUIS – Delays in getting necessary signal equipment has postponed the completion of a project to add left turn lanes on Route 340 (Olive Boulevard) between Spoede and Old Olive.
The project, started earlier this year, will widen the road between Spoede and Old Olive to lengthen the signalized left turn lanes. The manufacturer has delayed the delivery of the signal posts and the signals, which will postpone the original December 1 completion date.
At this time, the material is scheduled to arrive in mid-December, and weather depending, could be installed by the beginning of 2022.
MoDOT will open as much of the newly constructed roadway as possible that can be safely controlled with the existing equipment. The remainder will open when the new equipment arrives and is installed.
# # #

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Mon, 10/18/2021 – 10:46

Overnight lane and ramp closures scheduled for portions of I-70 for paving work

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Overnight lane and ramp closures scheduled for portions of I-70 for paving work
Visitor (not verified)
Mon, 10/18/2021 – 13:45

JACKSON COUNTY– MoDOT Kansas City will be conducting pavement work overnight along portions of eastbound and westbound I-70 that will require the closure of various lane and ramps beginning on Monday, Oct. 18 through Thursday, Oct. 21. All work is weather permitting.
Eastbound and westbound I-70 will be reduced to ONE LANE from MO Route 7 to Oak Grove for pavement marking work beginning at 7 p.m. on Monday Oct. 18, and Tuesday, Oct. 19, until approximately 6 a.m. the following mornings. At this time, ramps in the area may be intermittently closed for short durations of time.
Eastbound and westbound I-70 will be reduced to ONE LANE at Adams Dairy Parkway for rumble strip work overnight beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21, until 6 a.m. the following morning.
Motorists are advised to plan ahead as there will be delays in the area.
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).

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Mon, 10/18/2021 – 09:42

Pandemic pushed St. Louis job fair for ex-offenders online. It became more successful

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When Dominic Tornatore is released from St. Louis County jail this fall, finding a job will be critical to helping him get back on his feet.

Tornatore, 34, knows he’s made mistakes.

He’s struggled with drinking and has numerous drunk-driving offenses on his record. But he says he’s learned from a lifetime of bad decisions. 

“I’ve stumbled a little bit,” Tornatore said, “but when I get out, I will join [Alcoholics Anonymous], find a sponsor, and continue to stay sober because I know that’s what I need to do.”

Dominic Tornatore will participate in the Transformative Workforce Academy’s job fair on Oct. 19 in St. Louis specifically designed for people who have criminal records and struggle to find employment (Photo submitted).

On Tuesday, Tornatore will participate in a job fair specifically designed for people who have criminal records and struggle to find employment.

Before the pandemic, it would have been unheard of for Tornatore to attend a job fair from jail. 

But after the region’s shutdown in spring of 2020, the Transformative Workforce Academy — a St. Louis University initiative that works to address recidivism — started holding their job fairs online. 

“At first, we thought that virtual would be a poor substitute for the in-person (job fair),” said Lisa Cohn, the academy’s program manager.

But now, she said both employers and participants don’t want to go back to the giant-auditorium model, where job seekers nervously mill around employers’ booths all day. 

Plus, it allows people like Tornatore, who are still incarcerated, to get a jumpstart on their job search as well.

The academy designed a format where participants make a short video about themselves, their circumstances and how they’ve learned from their mistakes. Cohn then matches those candidates with the best fit employers. 

The employers get a reel of candidates, and then within 48 hours must schedule interviews with the candidates who stand out to them.

Every single person walks away with at least one employer lead, Cohn said, and it’s their choice whether they choose to go through with interview. Roughly 86 percent of people who follow up on the employer lead get a job within two months of the fair.

This year, more than 50 employers will take part, along with more than 100 participants.

Cohn said other cities throughout the country have since reached out to the academy to try and replicate the virtual fair.

“I’m kind of thankful that the pandemic forced us to experiment and try something new, that we would never have otherwise tried,” she said.

The pandemic also pushed the academy to bring in about 60 volunteers to help job seekers create the videos and navigate the new digital platform. 

Jeff Smith, who chairs the County Justice Services Advisory Board, served as a volunteer job coach for Tornatore. (Smith also writes a monthly political column for The Independent)

“We want people to leave the jail and never come back,” Smith said, “and research shows that the faster releasees find gainful employment, the less likely they are to recidivate.”

If Tornatore lands a job, he will be among the academy’s first group of incarcerated participants to do so. In every previous fair, none of the job seekers were incarcerated.

The new model

Employers like the new job-fair model better because they don’t have to physically set up a booth and sit around all day, hoping that the right candidates make their way to their tables, Cohn said. 

Participants like it because they can take time to thoughtfully answer questions when they are making their videos. There’s also an added level of support that came with introduction of the volunteer job coaches, Cohn said.

Brendan O’Malley, a small e-commerce business owner, said he coached a 45-year-old man who spent about 12 years in jail for drug-related offenses. They met in Ferguson, where the participant lives, to talk through the process and record the video. 

“And catty-corner to where we are was a brand new shiny medical marijuana dispensary, where people have invested millions of dollars to profit off of the sale of what I believe to be a very harmless drug,” O’Malley said. “And this man spent 12 years of his life incarcerated for something similar.”

O’Malley was able to help him understand how to navigate the job market, which can be particularly challenging for people who have been removed from it for a while, he said. 

Participation in the job fair doesn’t just rely on goodwill of companies. Employers can earn more than $2,000 in tax credits per employee, through the Workforce Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program. It’s a federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from specific target groups who face barriers to employment. 

Because the job fair now mostly happens in people’s homes and offices, the academy only hosts an “opening ceremony” panel on Zoom from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

After the panel, employers will receive their own individualized slide deck of candidate videos and will have until the end of the day Wednesday to review these videos and select the candidates they would like to interview.

“We aren’t asking employers to hire out of pity,” Cohn said, “Justice-involved jobseekers have talent, loyalty, and a work ethic that will benefit businesses and our region as a whole.”

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Funding prisons is a higher priority than funding education in most states. Why? | Opinion

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In America, the land of the free, there are more prisons and more prisoners than any other country in the world.

This is not a new phenomenon.

For decades, the rate of imprisonment in the United States has been more than twice that of its nearest developmental counterpart. The long-standing question, both at home and abroad, is why is the prison population so high?

One could argue it is to sustain a substitute institution of enslavement built on systemic denial of opportunity and disenfranchisement.

There are many reasons given, like waging a war on illegal drugs and overall increases in various crime rates.

But such answers do not get at the root causes and perpetuation of the nearly $200 billion mass incarceration industry that fuels the economy of states across America.

One must look at who makes up the prison populations across states and why. Pick any state and you will find Blacks make up disproportionately the highest rate of people in prison. For example, in Missouri, black people make up 12% of the state’s population, but 34% of the people in prison.

Overall, in America, Blacks are only 13.4% of the total U.S. population. They make up nearly 40% of the prison population.

Why are there more Blacks in prisons in America?

In every aspect of American life, Blacks continue to suffer or be victimized disproportionately. This has been the case since the founding of this country, after the abolishment of slavery, and even after the passage of Constitutional Amendments supposedly to make all things equal.

Blacks have been and continue to be denied equal access to a quality education, jobs, housing, health care services and other privileges afforded other Americans.

What has been the results? A debilitating and destructive state of poverty, delinquency and under achievement, which often result in a perpetual cycle of crime and incarceration.

Let’s look at the cycle of how Blacks end up in prison more than any other group in America.

It begins in grade school, with Blacks being disciplined and expelled at higher rates than other students.

Blacks make up 15% of all public school students but are 39% of those suspended or expelled from school.

A PBS New hour segment a few years ago highlighted a report that found that suspension and expulsion rates for Blacks were significantly higher than those of whites in 13 southern states. What is that reminiscent of?

The way the suspensions and expulsions of blacks are handled, often engaging law enforcement agencies, has created a practice called the school-to-prison pipeline, according to an investigation conducted by the Ash Center at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Missouri is one of the worst states engaging in this practice, suspending more Black preschooler than 44 other states.

There are trends that show a direct correlation between suspensions, expulsions, failure to complete high school and high incarceration rates. Those children are the same struggling academically and have disciplinary issues.

Yet, the growing practice across America is to invest more into building new prisons or renovating older ones rather than investing in schools and educational support programs. This is tantamount to prejudging and presentencing children who could benefit from meaningful intervention programs.

Another study found that almost every state spends much more money per prisoner than money per student in public schools.

Missouri spends $10,810 per student in 2021, and was spending $22,187 per inmate in 2015.

Just recently, the governor of Arkansas announced that the state is allocating $6 billion to build new prisons and renovate older ones. New prisons will also be built in New Mexico, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

The Alabama legislature passed bills and the governor signed them into law that will use up to $400 million of Covid-19 relief funds from the federal government to build new prisons and renovate others.

There seems to be no priority for funding education, prevention, and rehabilitation programs.

Where are the announcements from states about the millions of dollars they will be investing in early childhood education and educational programs to close the achievement gaps of the underprivileged, those likely to end up in the penal system?

Low-income, impoverished communities in the Black urban cores across America suffer most from the lack of or underinvestment in educational resources and programs.

It seems that state leaders and legislatures would rather plan, build, and invest in a future of imprisonment than one of accomplishment for our children, particularly Black children, perpetuating a profitable industry on the misfortunes cause by centuries of denial and gross disparities.

Over the decades there has been an acute awareness and discussion about the educational achievement gap between Blacks and whites. But what has been done about it?

While there have been some efforts to close the educational divide, major gaps still remain in basic areas such as proficiency in reading, writing and math skills. The gap is even wider when it comes to technology. Becoming technologically proficient is critical now and will be more so in the future.

Many Black children do not have adequate access to computers or Internet connectivity. This proved to be a major impediment to virtual learning during the height of Covid-19 when most schools were closed.

Better access to educational resources to ensure achievement is a great path toward prevention and breaking the devastating school-to-prison pipeline practice.

The pipeline is bolstered by the fact that Blacks received longer and harsher sentences than whites for the same crimes and the recidivism rate is higher.

One could conclude that failure to invest in quality education is just another way to silently guarantee that the mass incarceration industry will continue to thrive by using a revolving door of suspensions, expulsions, prison terms, and prison returns..

What will it take to change the priority from funding prisons to funding education to minimize, if not stop, the self-perpetuating cycle of crime and loss of freedom?

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Route 53 in Dunklin County Reduced for Bridge Repairs

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Route 53 in Dunklin County Reduced for Bridge Repairs
Visitor (not verified)
Mon, 10/18/2021 – 09:50

SIKESTON— Missouri Route 53 in Dunklin County will be reduced to one lane as Missouri Department of Transportation crews repair the bridge over Indian Camp Slough.
This section of roadway is located between County Road 332 and County Road 322 near Holcomb, Missouri.
Weather permitting, work will take place Wednesday, Oct. 20 from 7 a.m. to 4:30 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.
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Southeast

Published On

Mon, 10/18/2021 – 05:46

Route A in Dunklin County Closed for Culvert Replacement

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Route A in Dunklin County Closed for Culvert Replacement
Visitor (not verified)
Mon, 10/18/2021 – 09:10

Route A in Dunklin County will be closed as contractor crews replace a culvert under the roadway.
This section of roadway is located from County Road 510 to County Road 531.
Weather permitting, work will take place Saturday, Oct. 30 at 7 a.m. and will re-open Monday, Nov. 8 at 4 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.
 
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Published On

Mon, 10/18/2021 – 05:08

Lane closures along eastbound I-70 at MO Route 7 scheduled for THIS MORNING, Oct. 18

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Lane closures along eastbound I-70 at MO Route 7 scheduled for THIS MORNING, Oct. 18
Visitor (not verified)
Mon, 10/18/2021 – 08:15

JACKSON COUNTY– MoDOT Kansas City will be completing guard cable work beginning at 6 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 18, until approximately noon that will require eastbound I-70 to be reduced to ONE LANE at MO Route 7. Motorists are advised to plan ahead as there will be delays in the area. All work is weather permitting.
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).

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Kansas City

Published On

Mon, 10/18/2021 – 04:12

O'Fallon, Missouri police officer, three others hospitalized in car crash

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The other vehicle involved in the crash had one adult driver and three children in the car, police said.

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New Haven, on the cusp of a renaissance, finds change doesn’t always come easy

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Momentum is underway to draw more tourism to town as new business has flocked to New Haven and others expand.

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New Haven, on the cusp of a renaissance, finds change doesn't always come easy

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Momentum is underway to draw more tourism to town as new business has flocked to New Haven and others expand.

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

Keep Your Keys program for older drivers offered in Warren County

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The Keep Your Keys program is a driver-safety course geared toward people 55 and older, caregivers and facilitators, health educators, policy or highway patrol departments, nurses, etc. This program is being offered at the Friedens READ MORE

The post Keep Your Keys program for older drivers offered in Warren County 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 Food Inspection Scores: Sweet Spot Cake Shoppe, Walnut Grill, TBR Prime Steak Market and more

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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

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Route 65 CLOSED Under Route 83 near Warsaw at Night Oct. 21-23

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Route 65 CLOSED Under Route 83 near Warsaw at Night Oct. 21-23
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 10/15/2021 – 17:00

Where: U.S. Route 65 under Missouri Route 83 south of Warsaw
When: 6 p.m., Thursday, October 21 until 7 a.m., Friday, October 22 and again 6 p.m., Friday, October 22 until 7 a.m., Saturday, October 23
What: Contractor crews will work under Route 83 bridge deck/driving surface over Route 65
Traffic Impacts:
All lanes of Route 65 CLOSED in both directions under Route 83 while crews are working over Route 65
Route 65 drivers will be detoured up and over the northbound and southbound ramps at Route 83
Signs and message board will alert drivers approaching work zone
Drivers should seek alternate route
Weather and/or scheduling conflicts could alter the work schedule.
Additional Project Information: This work is part of a project to remove the bridge deck/driving surface of the Route 83 bridge and replace it with a new surface. In addition, new guardrail will be installed at the ends of the bridge.
The bridge is expected to remain closed until early November to complete the work. 
 
(For more information, call MoDOT in Springfield at 417-895-7600 or visit www.modot.org/southwest)
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Districts Involved

Southwest

Published On

Fri, 10/15/2021 – 12:59

Lawmaker urges Missouri governor to finally appoint cybersecurity commission

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A day after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson garnered national criticism for his push to prosecute a newspaper reporter who discovered a security flaw in a state website, a Democratic lawmaker is urging the governor to appoint members of a cybersecurity commission created by a bill he signed in July.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch informed the state on Tuesday that Social Security numbers for tens of thousands of Missouri school teachers, administrators and counselors were included in the HTML source code of a publicly available website operated by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The newspaper notified the state and agreed not to publish any story until the problem was fixed and the Social Security numbers were no longer vulnerable to public exposure.

Parson reacted by calling the reporter a hacker and asking the Cole County prosecutor to file charges. In a hastily organized press conference Thursday, Parson said he didn’t know why the reporter was trying to access the website, but in the same breath accused the newspaper of simply trying to embarrass his administration.

Instead of attacking reporters, the governor needs to finally appoint members to the newly established Missouri Cybersecurity Commission, “something he has neglected to do since he signed the bill establishing it earlier this year,” said state Rep. Ashley Aune, D-Kansas City.

The commission would be tasked with identifying risk and vulnerability from cyberattacks of critical infrastructure in Missouri.

“Let’s get down to brass tacks: the Parson administration stored the sensitive, private, personally identifiable information of nearly 100,000 Missouri teachers on a public website, and it could easily be accessed by anyone with even a basic knowledge of the internet. That’s a terrifying fact,” Aune said. “This fiasco perfectly illustrates why Missouri needs to get serious about confronting 21st century cyberthreats.”

Cybersecurity experts have universally panned Parson’s push for criminal charges against the reporter, saying the governor has a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Internet operates.

Republican elected officials contacted Thursday were not eager to join the governor in his attack on the media.

State Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters, reacted  on Twitter by harkening back to a previous scandal involving Parson, in which his administration removed an LGBTQ-history exhibit from the state Capitol museum. After public outcry, the exhibit was moved down the street to the Lohman Building, which has far few visitors.

“There’s a simple fix here,” said Christofanelli, one of only a handful of openly gay Missouri lawmakers. “Let’s just move all the [Department of Education] social security numbers over to the Lohman Building so no one ever can find them again.”

Democrats, however, worried Parson’s call for prosecution of a journalist was not only misguided but dangerous.

“It smells a little fascist when a reporter identifies the mistake, alerts the administration and the governor threatens them with prosecution in return,” tweeted state Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City.

State Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, tweeted that seeking criminal prosecution of a journalist who pointed out the vulnerability to the state is “an abuse of power.

“Also, it’s very embarrassing to call this a ‘hack,’” Razer said. “Moral of the story: Missouri has not adequately invested in IT infrastructure.”

The post Lawmaker urges Missouri governor to finally appoint cybersecurity commission appeared first on Missouri Independent.

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Railroad Work to Temporarily Close Route N in Audrain County

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Railroad Work to Temporarily Close Route N in Audrain County
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 10/15/2021 – 15:35

HANNIBAL– Weather permitting, Oct. 21-22, Norfolk & Southern Railroad will be completing repairs at the crossing on Route N in Audrain County just north of Route U. Repairs will take place from 6:30 am to 5:30 pm.
Motorists will need to use alternate routes during these times. For more information on this and other roadwork in your area, you can visit us online at www.modot.mo.org/northeast, or call our customer service number at 1-888 ASK MoDOT (275-6636).
MoDOT’s mission is to provide a world-class transportation system that is safe, innovative, reliable and dedicated to a prosperous Missouri.  Please do your part to help us achieve a safe system by wearing your seat belt every time and putting your phone down while driving…for your safety and our workers.  Take the pledge – Buckle Up, Phone Down.

Districts Involved

Northeast

Published On

Fri, 10/15/2021 – 11:33

Road Closures Scheduled in Ralls County

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Road Closures Scheduled in Ralls County
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 10/15/2021 – 15:30

HANNIBAL– Weather permitting, MoDOT crews will be performing culvert replacements on state routes in Ralls County. These roads will be closed on the following dates and locations. Work will be completed between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Route JJ – Oct.18-19, the road will be closed from the intersection of Route P to Madisonville Rd.
Route AB – Oct. 20-21, the road will be closed from Route F to Pike 20.
Motorists will need to use caution when traveling through the work zone during these times or use alternate routes. For more information on this and other roadwork in your area, you can visit us online at www.modot.mo.gov/northeast, or call our customer service number at 1-888 ASK MoDOT (275-6636).
MoDOT’s mission is to provide a world-class transportation system that is safe, innovative, reliable and dedicated to a prosperous Missouri.  Please do your part to help us achieve a safe system by wearing your seat belt every time and putting your phone down while driving…for your safety and our workers.  Take the pledge – Buckle Up, Phone Down.

Districts Involved

Northeast

Published On

Fri, 10/15/2021 – 11:27

Planned Road Work for Northwest Missouri, Oct. 18 – 24

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Planned Road Work for Northwest Missouri, Oct. 18 – 24
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 10/15/2021 – 15:10

Andrew County
Interstate 29 – Bridge replacement project northbound over Hopkins Creek (mile marker 58) through October * (Capital Paving & Construction, LLC)
I-29 – Bridge painting project at the Nodaway River Bridge (mile marker 66.4) through mid-November
I-229 – Permit work north of Route K, Oct. 16 – 22 One lane will remain open each direction.
U.S. Route 169 – Culvert repair 0.5 miles north of County Road 305, Oct. 19
Atchison County
Routes D, E, U, & V – Resurfacing project through October. This includes intermittent CLOSURES for pavement repairs. Some work will be completed in Spring 2022. (Herzog Contracting Corp.) More info: https://www.modot.org/atchison-and-holt-county-flood-damage-repairs
I-29 – Bridge replacement project over the Nishnabotna River (mile marker 122 – 124) through November. Traffic is head-to-head in the southbound lanes. More info: https://www.modot.org/atchison-county-interstate-29-nishnabotna-river-bridge-rehabilitation * (Phillips Hardy, Inc.)
U.S. Route 59 – Pothole patching from U.S. Route 136 to the Holt County line, Oct. 18 –  22
U.S. Route 136 – Pothole patching from Route M to the Brownville Bridge, Oct. 18 – 22
U.S. Route 136 – Brush cutting from Route U.S. Route 275 to the Brownville Bridge, Oct. 18 – 22
U.S. Route 275 – Brush cutting from Route T to the Iowa state line, Oct. 18 – 22
Buchanan County
U.S. Route 169 – Roadside permit work at Route FF, through October (Rylie Equipment)
U.S. Route 59 (St. Joseph Avenue) – Pavement repair from Middleton Street to I-229, through October. A 12-foot width restriction is in place and some adjacent city street entrances may close. (Herzog Contracting Corp.)
I-29 – Southbound narrowed to one lane at U.S. Route 169 (Exit 44) for a bridge repair project, Oct. 20 through November. A 15.5-foot width restriction is in place.
U.S. Route 169 – Narrowed to one lane, each direction, at the I-29 intersection (Exit 44) for a bridge repair project, Oct. 20 through November. A 10-foot width restriction is in place and no left turns will be permitted at the I-29 interchange.
U.S. Route 36 – Narrowed to one lane westbound, west of I-29, at U.S. Route 169 (Belt Highway), Oct. 18, 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
I-29 – Pavement repair at Route 6 (Frederick Avenue) near Exit 47, Oct. 18 – 22. This includes around-the-clock lane closures and a 12-foot width restriction.
Caldwell County
Route 13 – Core drilling from Hamilton to Kingston, Oct 19
Carroll County
Route Z – CLOSED until further notice from Route C to County Road 217 due to damage caused by a roadway slide and ongoing geological studies. A repair project is being designed and is currently scheduled for a February 2022 letting.
U.S. Route 65 – Shoulder work and pothole patching from Route W to the Carrollton city limits, Oct 18 – 22
Chariton County
Route W – Pothole patching from Route U to Route 3 (Randolph County), Oct. 18
Route O – Pothole patching from Route 5 to Route 129, Oct. 19 – 20
Route Y – Pothole patching from U.S. Route 24 to Route M, Oct. 21 – 22
Clinton County
U.S. Route 169 – Culvert repair at Route 116, Oct. 18 – 19. Flaggers and message boards are in place to guide motorists through the work zone. This may include temporary turning restrictions.
Route PP – Roadside permit work from Troxler Lane to Watkins Road, through mid-November (R and M Pole Line Construction LLC)
Daviess County
Route YY – Pothole patching, Oct. 19 – 20
Route AA – Pavement repair, Oct. 19 – 21
U.S. Route 69 – Shoulder work, October 21 – 22
DeKalb County
Route E – CLOSED for a culvert replacement from Cogdill Road to Ridgeline Road, Oct. 19, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Gentry County
Route H – CLOSED for a culvert replacement from Isaac Miller Trail to 440th Street, Oct. 18, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Grundy County
Route A – CLOSED for a culvert replacement from NW 8th Avenue to NW 22nd Avenue, Oct. 19, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Holt County
I-29 – Bridge painting project at the Nodaway River Bridge (mile marker 66.4) through mid-November
Linn County
Route 11 – Seal coat project from Route 129 to Business Route 36 in Brookfield, through October (Vance Brothers, Inc.)
U.S. Route 36 – Bridge joint repair westbound only at the West Yellow Creek Bridge just east of Brookfield, Oct. 18 – 21. This includes around-the-clock lane closures.
U.S. Route 36 – Shoulder work eastbound only from Route U to Monaco Drive, Oct. 18 – 22
Routes 129, V, HH, and PP – Culvert repairs, Oct. 18 – 22
Mercer County
Route O – Pothole patching, Oct. 18 – 22
Nodaway County
Route M – Shoulder work from U.S. Route 71 to the Guilford city limits, Oct 18 – 19
Routes AF & H – Pothole patching, Oct. 20 – 22
Sullivan County
Routes 5 & 6 – Slide repair project in several locations, through mid-November. (Lehman Construction, LLC)
Routes PP & W – Pothole patching, Oct. 19 – 22
Worth County
Routes J & Z – Pothole patching, Oct. 18 – 19
Route YY – Pothole patching Oct. 20
Route M – Pothole patching Oct. 20 – 21

* Indicates a bridge is included in Gov. Mike Parson’s $351 million Focus on Bridges program, which will repair or replace 250 bridges across the state.
###
Traveler Information Map
http://traveler.modot.org

Districts Involved

Northwest

Published On

Fri, 10/15/2021 – 11:09

Veterans Day Program

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The St. Charles County Veterans Committee and the St. Charles City Veterans Commission will host their Veterans Day Program at 1 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 11, near the Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the Executive Office Building/Historic Courthouse.

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

Traffic Alert: Northbound traffic of US 169 will close overnight for pavement repairs

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Traffic Alert: Northbound traffic of US 169 will close overnight for pavement repairs
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 10/15/2021 – 13:40

CLAY/JACKSON COUNTIES – The Missouri Department of Transportation will make the following traffic change for pavement repair work. This work was originally slated to happen earlier this month; however, it was cancelled due to inclement weather. This work is not associated with the Buck O’Neil Bridge replacement project. All work is weather dependent.
 
Crews will close northbound lanes of US 169 Highway at 5th St. from 8pm, Friday, October 15 until 6am, Saturday, October 16. As a result, all northbound traffic across US 169 Highway will be closed. Motorists will need to find an alternate route.
 
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, 10/15/2021 – 09:36

Nicklaus: Ex-minor leaguer and software entrepreneur team up in youth-sports startup

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Between the Lines arranges live online coaching sessions and tries to give youth players a path to college ball.

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‘Prison nurseries’ proposal would let incarcerated mothers bond with newborns in prison

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      Women in Missouri prisons might not have to be separated from their newborns under a bill being considered for the legislative session that begins in January.       The plan would allow some women who are pregnant when they are about to be incarcerated for short sentences to have their babies with them in prison … Continue reading “‘Prison nurseries’ proposal would let incarcerated mothers bond with newborns in prison”

Missouri’s black bear hunt is conservation in action | Opinion

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Missourians should be ecstatic that we are now reopening bear hunting.

Despite the claims in a recent opinion piece by the Humane Society’s Cody Atkinson that this is a “trophy” hunt, black bears have historically been and continue to be hunted for the same reasons that whitetail deer, elk and other charismatic wildlife are.

Hunting fosters a depth of connection to our ecosystems that only comes through consumptive use. Missouri’s hunters cherish the ability to source their own food, understand the ins and outs of wildlife behavior and intimately know the wild spaces around them.

Black bears are highly regarded in the hunting community as a food source, not simply as a wall hanging. Their fat can be rendered down into cooking oil, for candle making, salves and ointments. The meat was historically preferred over deer for its richness and flavor. Should a person decide to preserve its fur, that serves as a reminder of the beauty and strength of bears, a cultural practice that is as old as humans.

Most importantly, however, Mr. Atkinson’s commentary omits the history of conservation in Missouri.

Hunters formed and funded our state’s conservation organizations. Missouri citizens and hunters helped create the conservation structure which we have now. That structure brought back wild turkey, deer, beaver, river otters and now bear from the brink of extirpation. With each rebound in population, Missourians have the chance to renew their connection to the land, the connection that existed ever since humanity stepped foot in the Americas.

Sustainable use of our natural resources is the inheritance of every person living in our state.

Mr. Atkinson puts up a false dichotomy between ecotourism and bear hunting. To pit hunters against ecotourism is a farce. The hunting industry supports 18,000 jobs annually, and according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, generates over a billion dollars a year in revenue for Missouri.

Large swaths of land managed by the state parks system already exist with excellent infrastructure for ecotourism and recreators who are more interested in mountain biking, photography, or setting up an RV than hunting. The bears will move freely between state parks, where hunting is not allowed and people can view them, to MDC lands, to private and agricultural lands, and as we’ve seen, even on highways and soccer fields.

Arkansas’ bear hunting program is direct evidence that well managed bear hunts are indeed no threat to healthy bear populations.

Our bear population is also connected to Oklahoma’s bear population, which has sustainable enough numbers to host a bear hunt. These populations flow between each other and flow between different lands.

The bear hunt occurs largely on MDC managed land, which is already set aside and funded for the purpose of hunting. This has no impact on potential ecotourism. The funds raised by the bear hunt are also a significant source of funding for bear research, habitat restoration and repopulation.

Each person who applies for the hunt pays a $10 fee. The thousands of applications add up to real money raised for ensuring the future prosperity of bears.

The ecotourism vs. hunting argument simply doesn’t hold water.

Mr. Atkinson’s commentary attempts to portray the current system as a wild, no holds barred pet project of the MDC. In fact, it is one of the most conservative hunts nationwide.

The bear season has a 30 bear quota, which is broken into three zones based on bear density in those zones. Every day of the hunt, the hunters must call and check to see if their zone is open before hunting. The manager of each zone can close a zone if they feel the quota may be overtaken. Also, the season is only 10 days long and will close even if 30 bears have not been taken.

Secondly, the estimated population of bears in Missouri is somewhere in the realm of 600-1000 and is expected to double in 10 years despite hunting pressure. Again, 30 bears out of a population of 600-1000 is a small number and that is assuming that the hunters will be successful.

The yearly limits can be reduced if an over harvest occurs. Missourians showed great restraint in the similarly managed elk season and with such stringent requirements, alarmism is unwarranted.

Lastly, the disruption that Mr. Atkinson repeatedly refers to in his commentary is the natural response of wildlife to predatory pressure from humans. It is the same pressure that has existed on our continent for 10,000 years, ever since early humans travelled here.

Human hunting pressure is as natural to our ecosystem and normal as wolves, eagles, and bears themselves.

Mr. Atkinson’s criticisms are not based in science, but rather in his personal philosophy that humans should not hunt. Those convictions are not held by the majority of Missourians.

Hunting continues to be one of the most culturally important traditions of our state and across the nation. Management decisions in Missouri aren’t made based on the relative charisma of a species, but by the science of their populations, their historic importance to the cultures most affected by their presence, and by the conviction that wildlife, wild places, wild mushrooms and wild plants are publicly held resources, to be reasonably distributed for the benefit of Missourians.

That century old mindset, as Mr. Atkinson calls it, is what built our national parks system, created wildlife refuges, conservation areas, funded the research and restoration of our wildlife and made it possible for us to even have this discussion.

The post Missouri’s black bear hunt is conservation in action | Opinion appeared first on Missouri Independent.

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How a Mississippi court case could pave the way for new abortion bans across the U.S.

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People hold up signs that read "Protect safe, legal abortion."

WASHINGTON — A six-week abortion ban in Texas enacted in September forced those seeking abortion services in the Lone Star State to look across state lines for care.

But the timing couldn’t have been worse for Texans living near the state’s eastern border.

The law took effect as neighboring Louisiana was reeling from the destruction of Hurricane Ida, which shut down two of the state’s three abortion clinics for several days. The growing number of patients seeking help had to wait until the clinics could restore power, or travel hundreds of miles to other providers.

But that was just a preview of the obstacles that would emerge if the Supreme Court upholds a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. For example, Louisiana’s own law would shift to the same 15-week ban, advocates say.

The landmark abortion case that will be heard by the nation’s top court on Dec. 1, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, could spur a cascade of legal changes across two dozen states if justices back the restrictive Mississippi law — and potentially dismantle the landmark 1973 ruling affirming the right to an abortion.

Access would be most severely restricted in a long band of neighboring states stretching across the South and Midwest, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is challenging the law.

The process would be far more time-consuming for those who have the means to travel elsewhere. And states with fewer restrictions would be bombarded with patients seeking out a shrinking number of providers.

The organization has identified 24 states as “hostile” to abortion rights, meaning those states could immediately or very quickly prohibit abortion. They have laws that were on hold but would automatically go into effect or could be enforced again, or lawmakers there are likely to attempt new bans.

Among those are: Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

A dozen states — including Louisiana, Tennessee, Missouri and Idaho — have “trigger laws” that would go into effect banning abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an organization focused on reproductive health and rights.

Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and five others still have abortion bans that pre-date Roe v. Wade on the books, which would become enforceable again if the precedent is overturned. That list shrunk by one earlier this year, when New Mexico repealed its pre-Roe ban.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are 15 states that have laws protecting the right to abortion, a tally that includes Maine, Maryland, Nevada and Oregon, according to Guttmacher.

In Kansas, a state Supreme Court decision in 2019 found the right to bodily autonomy embedded in the state Constitution guaranteed access to abortion. But state voters could change that next year, when a constitutional amendment will be on the ballot to reverse that ruling.

Narrower ruling also would mean new bans

While the Mississippi case will be heard by a Supreme Court with a new conservative majority following the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, it’s not clear that it will lead to a complete reversal of Roe.

But a narrower ruling favoring the Mississippi law also would spur restrictions. A 2019 Georgia law that would outlaw most abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected — about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant — has been on hold, pending the outcome of the Mississippi case.

Louisiana also has a pending law that’s nearly an exact replica of Mississippi’s 15-week ban, and it is explicitly tied to the outcome of the Mississippi case, said Michelle Erenberg, executive director of Lift Louisiana, which advocates for abortion access.

If the Supreme Court backs that neighboring ban, Louisiana’s pending 15-week law also will take effect.

“We’ve grown accustomed to this sort of ping-ponging back and forth, and waiting on judicial review and judicial rulings as these laws have made their way through state legislatures and through the courts,” Erenberg said. “But it is really difficult to feel that you can fully prepare for this inevitability.”

The Supreme Court’s recent rulings suggest it may support the Mississippi law, which was blocked by a lower federal court.

It will be the first time the court will rule on the constitutionality of a pre-viability abortion ban since Roe. That decision forbid states from banning abortions before the fetus can survive outside the womb, or about 24 weeks.

The court’s justices announced in May that they would take up the Mississippi case. Since that announcement, they also voted in a 5-4 decision against preventing the more-strict Texas law from taking effect.

That Texas law bans abortions once cardiac activity can be detected, or typically around six weeks after the patient’s most recent menstrual cycle. It also allows private citizens to file lawsuits against abortion providers and anyone who aids an abortion.

That law was briefly paused by a federal district court, but then reinstated by an appeals court.

Since the Ida-related closures, Louisiana’s abortion providers have seen a substantial rise in the number of Texans seeking abortion services.

Amid the legal chaos and uncertainty, Erenberg said the phone calls from potential patients are “increasingly panicked.”

Record year for state restrictions

The battle at the U.S. Supreme Court is playing out during a year when state legislatures have approved a record number of abortion restrictions, according to tracking data compiled by Guttmacher. As of October, 19 states have enacted 106 restrictions, including 12 abortion bans.

Four states, including Idaho, adopted bans on abortion at six weeks of pregnancy. A Florida lawmaker already has filed a bill for the session beginning in January based on the Texas law, replicating its six-week ban and the ability for citizens to sue people who provide or enable abortions.

“The passing of abortion bans is not slowing down,” said Quita Tinsley Peterson, co-director of Access Reproductive Care-Southeast, an abortion fund working in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Residents across most of those states already are living in “a post-Roe reality,” Tinsley Peterson said, describing the myriad of limitations that have been enacted on abortion access across the South. (Florida is the only state in ARC-Southeast’s region that has passed any abortion protections.)

When the Texas law went into effect, ARC-Southeast worked with another abortion fund to help support people who may be seeking services across the group’s region.

But “people weren’t really calling us,” Tinsley Peterson said. Texans seeking help in other states faced a number of other challenges in states where abortion was technically available, such as waiting periods in Tennessee and Alabama that require multiple appointments or a lengthy trip to get to less-restricted clinics in Georgia or Florida.

“That’s not a decision that anyone should be forced to make: Are they going to drive or fly hundreds of miles for a simple, safe health care procedure?” Tinsley Peterson said.

Longer wait times in states with fewer restrictions

One of the few states that has acted to back abortion rights is New Mexico, where earlier this year state legislators repealed the state’s pre-Roe abortion ban, so it cannot be enforced if the Supreme Court overturns the Roe case.

That effort was driven by “the understanding that a federal protection is not the end-all be-all,” said Charlene Bencomo, executive director of Bold Futures New Mexico, one of the groups that worked to repeal that dormant ban.

But while the state has a more-favorable legal landscape, “actual access is pretty scarce” across the large, rural state with only a handful of providers, Bencomo said.

That’s become even more apparent since the Texas law took effect, which has resulted in New Mexico providers becoming inundated with calls, the same prospect predicted for other abortion-rights states if the Mississippi law holds.

Providers in New Mexico have described an “overwhelming sense of fear and panic,” including among New Mexico residents unsure if the Texas law would mean changes in their state, she added.

One consequence will be longer wait times for patients and longer work days for providers. Some people may need to travel to neighboring Colorado to obtain abortions, she said.

For states and residents seeking abortion services, legal clarity on what comes next also will be a matter of waiting.

The Mississippi case will be heard by the Supreme Court in a few weeks, but a decision isn’t likely until next year, potentially as late as the end of the court’s session in June.

Until then, abortion providers and activists who support abortion rights will be left to watch the court weigh arguments on whether a state law banning abortions much earlier than the Roe standard can be constitutional.

The post How a Mississippi court case could pave the way for new abortion bans across the U.S. 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

Capitol Perspectives: The governor’s charge of a journalist hack

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I’m writing this column after one of the most vicious and unfounded attacks I’ve heard by a Missouri governor against a major Missouri news organization.

It involves the St. Louis Post-Dispatch story published Thursday about how a state education department website allowed access to the Social Security numbers of teachers.

Rather than praising the newspaper’s story identifying a major security breach in his administration, Gov. Mike Parson accused the reporter and the newspaper of violating state law.

After citing the law as well as the criminal and civil penalties, he announced “not only are we going to hold this individual accountable, but we also will be holding accountable all those who aided this individual and the media corporation that employs them.”

He even went on to cite a state cost of $50 million, suggesting a civil penalty.

In more than five decades covering Missouri’s statehouse, I cannot remember a governor ever suggesting a criminal investigation against a reporter or a news outlet because of a news story.

To the Post-Dispatch’s credit, the newspaper actually delayed publication of the story to give the state time to address the problem and close access to that data.

Besides, the education department should not have been surprised. As the Post-Dispatch noted in its story, the state auditor twice in earlier years had warned about digital security problems involving education information.

Rather than praising the newspaper, Parson alleged the information was acquired by illegal decoding of encrypted information without authorization.

In more than five decades covering Missouri’s statehouse, I cannot remember a governor ever suggesting a criminal investigation against a reporter or a news outlet because of a news story.

“It is unlawful to access encoded data and systems in order to examine people’s personal information,” Parson said.

“They had no authorization to convert or decode, so this clearly was a hack.”

That reflects a gross misunderstanding of the digital information in the internet environment.

Information provided on the web automatically is converted or “decoded” by browsers in order to display the information on your screen without any “authorization.”

Websites you visit put their information into HTML.

That is just a method to structure plain text into a format web browsers can display in a graphical presentation along with links to other sites.

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language which you easily can see by clicking on your browser’s source-view tab.

In fact, anti-virus software on personal computers “decodes” HTML to protect you from virus infections.

Sometimes HTML pages can include a link to a database with a password. That can be a huge security breach. But it’s open to global web.

Yes, the world is experiencing an explosion of hacking into personal data.

But the problem largely results from the failure of companies, database systems and even governments like Missouri from protecting private personal data on their websites or not having strong password authorization requirements to access the data.

Identifying that failure of the education department to protect personal information of teachers should have been praised by the governor, not used as the basis for a criminal investigation against the journalist who reported it.

The governor cited a state law that makes it a crime for “tampering with computer data … without authorization…and intentionally examines information about another person.”

Putting information on the web for the world to see, I would argue, amounts to authorization to examine.

I regularly examine state government information provided on the web about campaign contributors, legislators, lobbyists and, yes, even the governor without any “authorization.”

Obviously I’m biased as a journalist.

But it seems to me that a news organization that reported a major privacy vulnerability in a state government website, notified the agency of the problem and did not release the story until the problem was resolved should have been praised by the governor rather than threatened with civil penalties and criminal prosecution.

It struck me that neither the Education Department commissioner nor the administration’s IT director were available at the governor’s Facebook session to answer questions.

The post Capitol Perspectives: The governor’s charge of a journalist hack 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: Pavement work will cause lane and ramp closures in Clay County

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Traffic Alert: Pavement work will cause lane and ramp closures in Clay County
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 10/15/2021 – 12:05

CLAY COUNTY – The Missouri Department of Transportation will make the following traffic changes for pavement repair work in Clay County. Originally, the work was scheduled in early October, but was cancelled due to inclement weather. All work is weather dependent.
Crews will close the ramp from NW Briarcliff Pkwy to US 169 Highway southbound from 8pm, Friday, October 15 until 6am, Saturday, October 16 for pavement repair work. This will be a complete closure.
Crews will intermittently close northbound and southbound lanes of MO Route 1 (NE Antioch Rd.) between 64th and 72nd St. from 7:30pm, Friday, October 15 until 6am, Saturday, October 16 for pavement repair work
 
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, 10/15/2021 – 08:02

Eastbound I-270 lane closures will affect evening rush hour in North St. Louis County today

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Eastbound I-270 lane closures will affect evening rush hour in North St. Louis County today
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 10/15/2021 – 11:30

St. Louis – Crews have closed two eastbound lanes on I-270 just past Lindbergh for emergency bridge repair. The lanes are expected to remain closed until 6 p.m. this evening.
Drivers traveling in North St. Louis County on eastbound I-270 near Lindbergh may want to find alternate routes during evening rush hour today.
Motorists are encouraged to give themselves extra time to travel through this area as major backups are expected.
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Districts Involved

St. Louis

Published On

Fri, 10/15/2021 – 07:27

Bridge Maintenance to Impact Travel on Route F

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Bridge Maintenance to Impact Travel on Route F
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 10/15/2021 – 09:50

CALLAWAY COUNTY– Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) maintenances crew will be making repairs to the Missouri Route F bridge over U.S. Route 54 next week.The work will improve the driving surface across the bridge. In order to safely complete the repairs, crews will close one lane of Route F. across the bridge from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Work is scheduled to begin Monday, October 18 and be complete by Tuesday, October 19.MoDOT appreciates the patience of motorist traveling through the work zone. Drivers are advised to watch for workers on the road and obey all traffic signs.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/central. Follow the MoDOT Central Missouri District on Facebook and Twitter for project updates.###

Districts Involved

Central

Published On

Fri, 10/15/2021 – 05:46

Traffic Alert: I-435 MO River Bridge rehab work scheduled for the weekend

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Traffic Alert: I-435 MO River Bridge rehab work scheduled for the weekend
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 10/15/2021 – 09:05

JACKSON/CLAY COUNTIES – The Missouri Department of Transportation will make the following traffic change as part of a two-year bridge rehabilitation project on the I-435 Bridge over the Missouri River.
Crews will close two lanes of southbound I-435 between Front St. and Route 210 from 7am, until 5pm, Saturday, October 16 for bridge work
 
Closures in this area have the potential for creating significant traffic slowdowns. We encourage motorists to 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, 10/15/2021 – 05:03

TOTAL CLOSURE: Crews will CLOSE eastbound I-670 at I-35 Oct. 16-18

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TOTAL CLOSURE: Crews will CLOSE eastbound I-670 at I-35 Oct. 16-18
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 10/15/2021 – 08:35

JACKSON COUNTY – In late October, The Kansas Dept. of Transportation will close eastbound I-70 at the Lewis and Clark Viaduct to complete bridge work.  Eastbound I-670 into Missouri will be used as the main detour for that work. Signing and pavement marking improvements will be made to eastbound I-670 that will require the TOTAL CLOSURE of eastbound Interstate 670 at I-35 on the Missouri side beginning at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16, until approximately 5 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 18.  The southbound I-35 ramp to eastbound I-670 will also be closed during this time.  Eastbound I-670 traffic will be directed to southbound I-35. Motorists are encouraged to follow southbound I-35 to the Broadway/27th St. exit, make a U-Turn and back onto northbound I-35 to access eastbound I-670. All work is weather permitting.
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

Fri, 10/15/2021 – 04:31

Melissa Armbruster named new principal of Stone Creek Elementary School

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The Wentzville School District Board of Education approved the hiring of Melissa Armbruster, as the principal of Stone Creek Elementary, effective July 1, 2022. Mrs. Armbruster is currently an Assistant Principal at Stone Creek Elementary READ MORE

The post Melissa Armbruster named new principal of Stone Creek Elementary School 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

Lake Saint Louis Police Blotter: August 26 – September 1, 2021

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The following reports for August 26 – September 1, 2021 were supplied to 70 West Sentinel by the Lake Saint Louis Police Department. A report of an arrest or charges filed is not an assumption READ MORE

The post Lake Saint Louis Police Blotter: August 26 – September 1, 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

Gov. Parson to speak, Lance Corporal Schmitz to be recognized at Veterans Day program Nov. 11

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The St. Charles County Veterans Committee and the St. Charles City Veterans Commission will host their Veterans Day Program at 1 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 11, near the Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the St. READ MORE

The post Gov. Parson to speak, Lance Corporal Schmitz to be recognized at Veterans Day program Nov. 11 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

Governor Parson to Speak, Lance Corporal Schmitz to Be Recognized at St. Charles County Veterans…

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The St. Charles County Veterans Committee and the St. Charles City Veterans Commission will host their Veterans Day Program at 1 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 11, near the Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the St. Charles County Executive Office Building.

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

MoDOT Plans to Replace Route FF Bridge in Wayne County

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MoDOT Plans to Replace Route FF Bridge in Wayne County
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 10/14/2021 – 17:55

Online Community Briefing: Share Your Thoughts!

SIKESTON—The Missouri Department of Transportation plans to replace the Route FF bridge over Rings Creek in Wayne County. The bridge is located south of Patterson, Missouri.
The new concrete bridge will be wider than the existing structure.
Construction of the Route FF bridge could begin as early as spring 2023, with completion anticipated by fall 2023.
As work is underway, the roadway will be closed in the vicinity of the bridge for approximately three months. A signed detour will be in place.
Interested persons may review the project in more detail and share their thoughts at www.modot.org/ffwayne. For more information, please contact Project Manager Pete Berry at (417) 469-6242, Area Engineer David Wyman at (573) 472-9021 or MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636).
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Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Thu, 10/14/2021 – 13:54

Overnight paving work scheduled for U.S. 40 and MO Route 7 starting on Oct. 22

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Overnight paving work scheduled for U.S. 40 and MO Route 7 starting on Oct. 22
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 10/14/2021 – 17:00

JACKSON COUNTY– MoDOT Kansas City will be conducting overnight paving work overnight along portions of U.S. 40 and MO Route 7 beginning on Friday, Oct. 22. There will be various lane closures in the area. All work is weather permitting.
Friday, Oct. 22
Crews will close the westbound lanes along westbound U.S. 40 at Blue Ridge Blvd. beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, until approximately 6 a.m. the following morning. Motorists will be forced into the turn lanes in the area.
Crews will close the right lane of southbound MO Route 7 at 30th Terrace beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, until approximately 6 a.m. the following morning.
MO Route 7 will be closed just south of MO Route 58 in both directions beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, until approximately 6 a.m. the following morning. Only one direction will be closed at a time and a flagging operation will be in place to direct traffic.
MO Route 7 will be closed at U.S. 24 in both directions beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, until approximately 6 a.m. the following morning. Only one direction will be closed at a time and a flagging operation will be in place to direct traffic.
Motorists are advised to plan ahead or find alternate routes as there will be delays in the area.
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

Thu, 10/14/2021 – 12:58

Overnight paving work scheduled for U.S. 40 and MO Route 7 starting on Oct. 22

This post was originally published on this site

Overnight paving work scheduled for U.S. 40 and MO Route 7 starting on Oct. 22
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 10/14/2021 – 17:00

JACKSON COUNTY– MoDOT Kansas City will be conducting overnight paving work overnight along portions of U.S. 40 and MO Route 7 beginning on Friday, Oct. 22. There will be various lane closures in the area. All work is weather permitting.
Friday, Oct. 22
Crews will close the westbound lanes along westbound U.S. 40 at Blue Ridge Blvd. beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, until approximately 6 a.m. the following morning. Motorists will be forced into the turn lanes in the area.
Crews will close the right lane of southbound MO Route 7 at 30th Terrace beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, until approximately 6 a.m. the following morning.
MO Route 7 will be closed just south of MO Route 58 in both directions beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, until approximately 6 a.m. the following morning. Only one direction will be closed at a time and a flagging operation will be in place to direct traffic.
MO Route 7 will be closed at U.S. 24 in both directions beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, until approximately 6 a.m. the following morning. Only one direction will be closed at a time and a flagging operation will be in place to direct traffic.
Motorists are advised to plan ahead or find alternate routes as there will be delays in the area.
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

Thu, 10/14/2021 – 12:58

Overnight paving work scheduled for U.S. 40 and MO Route 7 starting on Oct. 22

This post was originally published on this site

Overnight paving work scheduled for U.S. 40 and MO Route 7 starting on Oct. 22
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 10/14/2021 – 17:00

JACKSON COUNTY– MoDOT Kansas City will be conducting overnight paving work overnight along portions of U.S. 40 and MO Route 7 beginning on Friday, Oct. 22. There will be various lane closures in the area. All work is weather permitting.
Friday, Oct. 22
Crews will close the westbound lanes along westbound U.S. 40 at Blue Ridge Blvd. beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, until approximately 6 a.m. the following morning. Motorists will be forced into the turn lanes in the area.
Crews will close the right lane of southbound MO Route 7 at 30th Terrace beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, until approximately 6 a.m. the following morning.
MO Route 7 will be closed just south of MO Route 58 in both directions beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, until approximately 6 a.m. the following morning. Only one direction will be closed at a time and a flagging operation will be in place to direct traffic.
MO Route 7 will be closed at U.S. 24 in both directions beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, until approximately 6 a.m. the following morning. Only one direction will be closed at a time and a flagging operation will be in place to direct traffic.
Motorists are advised to plan ahead or find alternate routes as there will be delays in the area.
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

Thu, 10/14/2021 – 12:59

I-55 in New Madrid County Reduced for Bridge Repairs

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I-55 in New Madrid County Reduced for Bridge Repairs
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 10/14/2021 – 16:50

SIKESTON – I-55 in New Madrid County will be reduced to one lane as Missouri Department of Transportation crews repair the bridge over St. Johns River.
This section of roadway is located from approximately one mile north of Matthews, Missouri.     
Weather permitting, work will take place Monday, Oct. 18 through Tuesday, Oct. 19 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.
 
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Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Thu, 10/14/2021 – 12:45

MoDOT Plans to Replace Route ZZ Bridge in Howell County

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MoDOT Plans to Replace Route ZZ Bridge in Howell County
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 10/14/2021 – 16:45

Online Community Briefing: Share Your Thoughts!

SIKESTON—The Missouri Department of Transportation plans to replace the Route ZZ bridge over Howell Creek in Howell County. The bridge is located east of West Plains, Missouri between the BNSF railroad tracks and County Road 8240.  

The new concrete bridge will be wider than the existing structure.

Construction of the Route ZZ bridge could begin as early as spring 2023, with completion anticipated by fall 2023.

As work is underway, the roadway will be closed in the vicinity of the bridge for approximately three months.

Interested persons may review the project in more detail and share their thoughts at www.modot.org/zzhowell. For more information, please contact Project Manager Pete Berry at (417) 469-6242, Area Engineer Elquin Auala at (417) 462-6286 or MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636).

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Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Thu, 10/14/2021 – 12:40

Missouri governor vows criminal prosecution of reporter who found flaw in state website

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On Tuesday, a reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch alerted the state that Social Security numbers of school teachers and administrators were vulnerable to public exposure due to flaws on a website maintained by Missouri’s department of education.

The newspaper agreed to hold off publishing any story while the department fixed the problem and protected the private information of teachers around the state. 

But by Thursday, Gov. Mike Parson was labeling the Post-Dispatch reporter a “hacker” and vowing to seek criminal prosecution. 

“The state does not take this matter lightly,” Parson said Thursday at a press conference, though he refused to take questions afterward. 

Parson said he had referred the matter to the Cole County Prosecutor and has asked the Missouri State Highway Patrol to investigate.

“This administration is standing up against any and all perpetrators who attempt to steal personal information and harm Missourians,” he said. 

According to the Post-Dispatch, one of its reporters discovered the flaw in a web application allowing the public to search teacher certifications and credentials. No private information was publicly visible, but teacher Social Security numbers were contained in HTML source code of the pages. 

The state removed the search tool after being notified of the issue by the Post-Dispatch. It was unclear how long the Social Security numbers had been vulnerable.

Parson said Thursday that he wasn’t sure why the reporter accessed the information. He claimed it was part of a “political game by what is supposed to be one of Missouri’s news outlets.”

“The state is committed to bring to justice anyone who hacked our system and anyone who aided and abetted them to do so,” Parson said, later arguing that the reporter was “attempting to embarrass the state and sell headlines for their news outlet.” 

The Post-Dispatch published a statement in response from its attorney, saying the reporter “did the responsible thing by reporting his findings to (the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) so that the state could act to prevent disclosure and misuse.

“A hacker is someone who subverts computer security with malicious or criminal intent,” the statement continued. “Here, there was no breach of any firewall or security and certainly no malicious intent. For DESE to deflect its failures by referring to this as ‘hacking’ is unfounded. Thankfully, these failures were discovered.”

The post Missouri governor vows criminal prosecution of reporter who found flaw in state website 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

Report shows Missouri schools with low test scores can have high student growth

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Bubble Sheet Test with Pencil

Schools with a low percentage of students reaching proficient and advanced levels on Missouri standardized tests are also among the ones that have achieved some of the most student growth, according to a new report published Thursday.

In an effort to better visualize how students grow academically over time, researchers from the Policy Research in Missouri Education (PRiME) Center housed in the Saint Louis University School of Education created an index to show how students are moving toward proficient levels.

The report found that high growth schools are not confined to a single category, and that they include those with already high test scores but also those with as few as 11.1% of students tested scoring proficient or advanced in a subject.

The researchers’ model builds on a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education calculation that determines how much students grew relative to predictions. By averaging previous years’ test scores, the Missouri Growth Model predicts an anticipated score a student is expected to achieve.

Thursday’s report details how PRiME Center researchers translated that score to fit onto a scale that more closely mirrors traditional letter grades in order to be easily understood. Schools with an average growth score of 50 under the state’s model would have an average of 85 under the PRiME model.

A single standardized test score doesn’t show a full picture of how a student progresses from when they entered a classroom at the start of the school year. Instead, it often indicates a student’s advantage through outside resources like family income, said Gary Ritter, the dean of the School of Education at Saint Louis University.

“We want growth to be in the conversation, not stats,” Ritter said. “We think Missouri leaders can learn a lot by paying attention to which schools are making consistent growth.”

PRiME Center researchers translated 2019 growth scores from DESE — which average three years’ worth of test scores and are the most comprehensive data available before the pandemic — and placed those on a new, widened scale. The calculation does not alter the ordering of the scores.

For example, only 27.3% of Froebel Elementary School students in St. Louis who were tested scored proficient or advanced on the 2019 Missouri Assessment Program test for mathematics.

But in the researcher’s model, the school’s growth score was over 100, making it one of six elementary schools to achieve a growth score that high in mathematics.

“This is a school where the data reveal a great deal of student growth,” the report read. “Thus, good things are happening that would not be apparent from a simple review of proficiency rates.”

Schools’ growth scores could exceed 100 under the model, but for the purposes of the report they are capped at 100. 

Thursday’s report highlighted the 20 schools with the highest growth scores among various grade levels and the two subjects of English language arts and math. It also calculated scores for schools based on the performance of a subgroup of historically underserved students that contained those receiving free and reduced-price lunch, Black and Hispanic students, English language learners and students with disabilities.

Schools with the top growth scores in Thursday’s report often varied widely in terms of students’ proficiency levels on state standardized tests.

When looking at the growth of the subgroup of students on math in schools that had both elementary and middle school grade levels, proficiency rates among the top 20 schools ranged from as high as 85.7% to as low as 11.1%.

High growth scores also weren’t neatly confined to other factors. They were spread across schools from the Bootheel to Kansas City to St. Louis and the Northwestern parts of the state. 

They could also be found in schools large and small, and include both traditional public schools and charter schools.

“We found so far that schools that earn high PRiME growth scores really run the gamut,” Ritter said.

Eric Parsons, an associate teaching professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Missouri, has been part of a team of education policy researchers that helped develop Missouri’s Growth Model and has calculated it for nearly a decade since 2013.

Growth scores are included in districts’ annual performance reports that track progress and performance. The annual report cards are one of the determining factors that contribute to a school’s accreditation status, but growth scores are just one factor included in the reports.

“But for a variety of reasons, I think in the traditional (annual performance reports) that DESE has produced and so on, they often kind of get buried,” Parsons said of growth scores. “And so I really like that the PRiME report is taking them and making them front and center.”

Parsons said solely focusing on proficiency rates would produce a much more homogenous list of school. The growth score attempts to control for factors outside a school’s control, like the amount of available resources, “and say, ‘Okay, given the starting places of where the students are coming in, which schools and districts are moving them further up the distribution,’ and so that’s why you see that diversity,” Parsons said.

Evan Rhinesmith, the director of research and evaluation for the PRiME Center, said he hopes Thursday’s report will push policy makers to understand and value growth, “because that 70% proficiency rate is only worth so much if kids come in at 70% and stay at 70% every single year.”

Last month, preliminary statewide test results showed that during the 2020-21 school year that was disrupted by the pandemic, scores declined across nearly all grade levels and subjects tested, with the greatest drop in mathematics.

It’s not yet known how the pandemic may have impacted student growth, like leading to smaller gains in growth. However, Parsons said his team of researchers is currently working on completing its growth year analysis that studies how the pandemic impacted student growth.

PRiME Center researchers plan to publish two additional reports that will highlight school rankings based on the state education department’s nine regions and schools demonstrating high growth of student achievement in the subgroup category.

Downloadable data on individual schools and a tool that allows users to look up their district can be found at www.sluprime.org

The post Report shows Missouri schools with low test scores can have high student growth appeared first on Missouri Independent.

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Pipe Replacement to Closed Route WW in Boone County

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Pipe Replacement to Closed Route WW in Boone County
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 10/14/2021 – 14:10

BOONE COUNTY – Motorists utilizing Boone County Route WW on Sunday, October 17 will need to seek an alternate route as culvert replacement work is being conducted by crews with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).For the safety of motorists and workers on the road, crews will close Route WW between Old Hawthorne Drive West to Clubhouse Drive. This work is scheduled to take place from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.Motorists will need to seek an alternate route around the work area. MoDOT appreciates the patience of travelers while the work takes place.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, 10/14/2021 – 10:09

How one policy change can help Missouri keep families together and reduce recidivism | Opinion

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Imagine you are eight months pregnant and about to complete a prison sentence.

You give birth and the baby is then taken away from you and placed into foster care.

Now imagine the same scenario, except you give birth in a prison, are allowed to care for your baby until your brief sentence is over and then walk out of the door together.

Which option is better for the baby and mother? Which option would likely reduce the chances that the mother would end up back in prison, as many do?

Prison nurseries are spaces within women’s prisons that enable women to give birth and co-reside with their infant for the duration of their sentence. This time varies from state to state, from three months to three years. Some nurseries are on-site within the prison complex, separated from the general population, while others are elsewhere in community corrections settings.

Participating women take classes focused on parenting, life skills, substance abuse and behavioral health challenges. The mother will be the primary caregiver for the child, but while mothers are taking classes or participating in other required activities, some states are allowing trained and vetted inmates to serve as caregivers. Rigorous mental health screenings ensure the mother is incarcerated for a nonviolent crime, has not committed any offenses against a child and is capable of caring for her baby.

Extensive research in states that have developed prison nurseries indicates that women who are allowed to stay with their babies in a prison nursery have much lower recidivism rates. Not only will this create a world in which the mother and baby can bond, research is showing the infants who are separated from their mothers and moved among caretakers often develop an insecure attachment style, raising the odds of cognitive and behavioral delays during childhood.

Particularly for children living in risky environments, the mother-child relationship is a crucial developmental step; insecure attachment typically hinders proper socio-emotional development.

One study found that infants who spent time with their mothers in a prison nursery had significantly lower rates of severe anxiety and depression than those separated from their incarcerated mothers.

Since about 6% of women arrested are pregnant, an estimated 2,000 women a year give birth while incarcerated – roughly 50 a year in Missouri over the last decade.

Additionally, allowing the baby to stay with the mother will significantly increase the opportunity to breast-feed. Breast-feeding has been proven to have strong benefits for mothers and babies. According to the Cleveland Clinic, breast-fed babies have stronger immune systems, lower rates of infant mortality and SIDS, and fewer colds and infections among many other health benefits.

Breastfeeding is also healthier for the mother, from helping the uterus return to its original size to decreasing the risk of postpartum depression. It may also decrease the chances for several types of cancer in the mother and child.

While there is a minor cost associated with repurposing prison space into a nursery, paying for supplies and staff, the state will ultimately save money in two ways.

Women who form bonds with their babies have a new sense of responsibility and purpose and are less likely to end up back in prison, saving the state from housing her again (which runs $20,000 annually). Indeed, one study from a Nebraska prison nursery for 1994-2012, showed a 28% reduction in recidivism, a 39% reduction in women returning to prison custody and a cost savings of more than $6 million for those years.

Additionally, states eliminate the cost of placing another child in the foster care system would be eliminated. And given disturbing recent news about nearly 1,000 children in Missouri’s foster care system who went missing as of 2019, our system is struggling to keep up as it is. The last thing it needs is more kids whose mothers desperately want to keep them.

Prison nurseries are not a new concept in the United States. Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York, started in 1901, is the nation’s longest running prison nursery. Currently nine states – including Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and West Virginia –have prison nurseries.

Since about 6% of women arrested are pregnant, an estimated 2,000 women a year give birth while incarcerated – roughly 50 a year in Missouri over the last decade.

Republican state Reps. Bruce DeGroot of Chesterfield and Curtis Trent of Springfield plan to file legislation that would create a nursery at one of Missouri’s women’s prisons.

I hope their colleagues review the research cited above and support this legislation so that instead of the state ripping babies from their mothers just after birth, we can give mothers the opportunity to nurture their child in a way many of them never themselves experienced – and give that child a loving mother instead of a broken bureaucracy.

The post How one policy change can help Missouri keep families together and reduce recidivism | Opinion 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

First Bridge to Be Replaced Through FARM Bridge Program

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First Bridge to Be Replaced Through FARM Bridge Program
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 10/14/2021 – 10:20

Route B North of Meadville in Linn County to Close

HANNIBAL – The first bridge to be replaced under the FARM (Fixing Access to Rural Missouri) Bridge Program is Route B over Smokey Branch in Linn County, just west of Missouri Route 139 and north of Meadville.  The road will close on Monday, Oct. 25 for construction and will remain closed until the end of February 2022.
“We have 31 weight-restricted, poor condition bridges in northern Missouri to replace under this federally-funded program,” stated Missouri Department of Transportation Project Director Jeff Gander.  Lehman-Wilson was awarded the design-build contract by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission at its meeting in May to replace the bridges.  “The MoDOT team has worked closely with the contractor to develop plans for these improvements, and by October 2023, all 31 bridges will be replaced,” Gander noted.
“We understand closing a road can be challenging, yet it’s the best use of our tax dollars, it makes it safer for all the workers, and it speeds up construction,” Gander explained.  There is no posted detour on most of these projects.  The average annual traffic volume on Route B is 190, and the bridge was built in 1954.  All bridges in the program are expected to be closed during construction.
The project will replace deficient bridges on low-volume routes that are:  
Weight-restricted
In poor condition
On timber pile
One-lane but carry two-way traffic
The full list of bridges to be replaced can be found on the FARM Bridge program web page.
Design-build is a project delivery method in which one contracting team is selected to design and build the highway improvement under one contract. MoDOT provides the project goals, budget and schedule and the contractor team completes the work. This technique has been known to significantly save time and provide cost savings.
“Signs will be placed on these roads several days before each closure, and we encourage residents in these areas to sign up to receive our email and text alerts,” Gander said. MoDOT will continue to send information and updates to local media for their distribution. MoDOT’s online traveler map also shows locations of work zones and road closures.
MoDOT’s mission is to provide a world-class transportation system that is safe, innovative, reliable and dedicated to a prosperous Missouri.  Please do your part to help us achieve a safe system by wearing your seat belt every time and putting your phone down while driving…for your safety and our workers.  Take the pledge – Buckle Up, Phone Down.

Districts Involved

Northwest

Published On

Thu, 10/14/2021 – 06:16

SB I-55 in Perry, Cape Girardeau Counties Reduced for Core Drilling

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SB I-55 in Perry, Cape Girardeau Counties Reduced for Core Drilling
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 10/14/2021 – 09:15

Southbound Interstate 55 in Perry and Cape Girardeau Counties will be reduced to one lane as Missouri Department of Transportation crews perform core drilling operations. 
This section of roadway is located between Route 51 in Perry County and Route D in Cape Girardeau, County
Weather permitting, work will take place Tuesday, Oct. 26 and Wednesday, Oct. 27 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
The work zones will be marked with signs. Motorists are urged to use extreme caution while traveling near these areas.
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.
                                                                                                             
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Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Thu, 10/14/2021 – 05:10

Eastbound Exit-Ramp Business 60 in Texas County to Close for Pavement Repairs

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Eastbound Exit-Ramp Business 60 in Texas County to Close for Pavement Repairs
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 10/14/2021 – 08:45

WILLOW SPRINGS – Eastbound Exit-Ramp Business 60 in Texas County will be CLOSED as Missouri Department of Transportation crews perform road maintenance.
The exit-ramp from EB U.S. 60 is located at the first exit on the west side of Cabool, Missouri.
Weather permitting, work will take place Tuesday, Oct. 19 from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The work zone will be marked with signs. Motorists are urged to seek an alternate route and 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.
 
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Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Thu, 10/14/2021 – 04:44

Route 51 in Stoddard County Closed for Culvert Replacement

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Route 51 in Stoddard County Closed for Culvert Replacement
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 10/14/2021 – 08:35

Route 51 in Stoddard County will be closed as Missouri Department of Transportation crews replace a culvert under the roadway.
This section of roadway is located about 2 ½ miles south of Puxico, Missouri.
Weather permitting, work will take place Wednesday, Oct. 20 from 8 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.
 
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Districts Involved

Southeast

Published On

Thu, 10/14/2021 – 04:34

Fort Zumwalt South Class of 2023 to present $30,000 to Schmitz Foundation

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The Fort Zumwalt South High School Class of 2023 dedicated their senior class t-shirts to the memory of 2019 South High graduate Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, USMC, who died in Afghanistan on August 26, 2021. READ MORE

The post Fort Zumwalt South Class of 2023 to present $30,000 to Schmitz Foundation 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 October 14 agenda: Permitting connections to city water system

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The O’Fallon City Council will meet on Thursday, October 14, 2021. The meetings are open to the public and can be viewed on streaming video through the city’s website. Meetings are held in the council READ MORE

The post O’Fallon City Council October 14 agenda: Permitting connections to city water system 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 highway lane closures/work zones for October 14 – 20

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The Missouri Department of Transportation has announced the following work zones and road/lane closures for the upcoming week (Thursday, October 14  through Wednesday, October 20, 2021), weather permitting. For more on roadway closures due to READ MORE

The post St. Charles County highway lane closures/work zones for October 14 – 20 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

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

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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

‘I expect change’: Lawmakers hope new leadership jumpstarts reform at troubled agency

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Jennifer Tidball

After years of dysfunction and criticism — including lawsuits, legislative inquiries and a revolving door of leaders — the announcement Tuesday that Gov. Mike Parson was putting one of his top deputies in charge of the Missouri Department of Social Services was greeted with optimism.

Jennifer Tidball, the acting director of the department for the last two years and the focus of scorn for many state lawmakers, will step down from her job Monday and be replaced by Robert Knodell, the governor’s deputy chief of staff.

During her tenure, the department has faced scrutiny for its handling of reports of abuse and neglect at unlicensed youth residential facilities, fury for its failure to report missing foster kids to law enforcement and was ordered by the courts to implement voter-approved Medicaid expansion.

“I expect change. And if change does not come from her behavior within the department,” Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain View, said of Tidball, “I will not be hesitant to express my disappointment in that.”

But even with a new acting director, Tidball remains as the agency’s chief operating officer. And the frequent turnover in other leadership positions and low employee morale show no signs of abating anytime soon.

There have been eight directors of the Children’s Division — which oversees child welfare services, like foster care — in the past decade. The division is currently led by an interim director, Joanie Rogers, who started in September 2020.

Amid the fight over Medicaid expansion in the courts, and subsequent implementation, Missouri’s Medicaid program was overseen by an acting director from the spring until its director, Todd Richardson, returned from an extended leave of absence on Oct. 1.

And the Department of Social Services overall has not had a permanent director since 2019 after the resignation of former Director Steve Corsi. Tidball is serving in her second stint as acting director after being appointed by Parson in May 2019.

“Candidly speaking, I think we have an agency in duress,” Kelly Schultz, director of the Office of Child Advocate, told lawmakers at a hearing last week.

‘Leadership from the top down’

Jennifer Tidball and Joanie Rogers

Acting Department of Social Services Director Jennifer Tidball and Interim Children’s Division Director Joanie Rogers testify during a House Children and Families Committee hearing Oct. 5, 2021. (photo by of Tim Bommel/Missouri House Communications)

What began last year as a legislative investigation of the department’s lack of action in response to reports of abuse and neglect at unlicensed boarding schools has continued to grow over the course of subsequent hearings, delving into a litany of problems within the department.

At many of those hearings, the agency representative hauled before lawmakers was Tidball, who has been with the department since 1995.

“While she may no longer be the public face that goes before hearings, I think that Jennifer will maintain a lot of leadership as she has for many years,” said Jessica Seitz, executive director of Missouri KidsFirst, an advocacy organization that works to protect children from abuse and neglect.

Kelly, who chairs the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, said she hopes to see improved communication with lawmakers and “accountability with no excuses” from the department’s next leaders.

Shortly before a legislative hearing last month, Rep. Dottie Bailey, R-Eureka, was even more pointed about the need for change.

“We’re in such a state of calamity for kids, that we have got to have some leadership from the top down,” Bailey said. 

Despite serving as acting director since 2019, Tidball has never been confirmed by the Senate. In an attempt to force a confirmation, lawmakers included language in this year’s budget that would have required the DSS director be “confirmed by the Senate to hold the office” in order to be paid their salary.

Parson vetoed that language, and wrote that in his veto letter that it “undermines the executive’s constitutional authority to appoint and compensate department directors.”

Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa and chair of the House Special Committee on Government Oversight which has scrutinized DSS, said lawmakers may propose legislation this upcoming session requiring an acting department director be confirmed by a certain date.

“I do think that that’s important,” Taylor said ahead of a hearing with DSS last month.

Hopes for a next director

House Children and Families Committee

A House Children and Families Committee hearing on a recent federal report on missing foster kids in Missouri on Oct. 5, 2021. (photo by of Tim Bommel/Missouri House Communications)

Lawmakers playing an oversight role over DSS, expressed hope last month that a new director would help right the ship. Many agreed that someone with firsthand experience in the field would be ideal.

Rep. Scott Cupps, R-Shell Knob, said last month a director who can be an effective manager and “shake things up” is necessary. But he also wants to see that coupled with someone who is passionate about the agency’s mission to avoid going “through the same dog and pony show again.”

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said too often these types of political appointments, “are people who are just given these roles who don’t have the experience or knowledge to do what’s best.”

“And I feel like when you’re dealing with child abuse and neglect,” she said, “you need somebody who’s trained in that to be running the department.”

Lawmakers also pointed to tapping someone who has worked their way up through the ranks of the department to lead it.

“I don’t want a bureaucrat. I don’t want a ‘yes’ person. ​​I don’t want someone whose family donated to the governor’s campaign or whatever for the appointment,” Rep. Raychel Proudie, D-Ferguson, said last month. “I want to know that the person who’s going to lead this department has done the work that they’re asking their workers to do.”

Taylor said choosing someone from within who has “been on the ground with them that’s been in the fight” could help build trust among department employees.

Lawmakers have expressed outrage at DSS leadership this year regarding department employees being told they cannot discuss issues with their legislators. The department has said employees can talk to lawmakers but it must be on their own time and speak to their personal experiences — and not on behalf of the department.

Robert Knodell, acting director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, addresses a group of state employees on May 24, 2021 (photo courtesy of the Missouri Governor’s Office).

It’s unclear when a permanent director will be in place and if Knodell would be up for the position. According to Tuesday’s news release, Knodell will be resigning from the governor’s office Oct. 17, ahead of assuming his position at DSS.

There was no mention of Knodell resigning ahead of serving as acting director of the Department of Health and Senior Services following former Director Randall Williams’ sudden resignation in April.

Spokeswoman for DSS and the governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday confirming a search for a permanent director is underway. Knodell could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Kelly said it was too early to comment on how soon she would like to see a permanent director chosen and whether she would like to see Knodell take on that role. She expressed confidence in Knodell’s ability to take on the challenges the department has faced.

“I believe that Robert understands the importance of company morale, and the morale of the department is at an all time low,” Kelly said. “I believe that Robert understands the importance of working with the legislature for the best outcome of Missouri’s kids.”

Persistent staffing issues

A lack of staff, and low pay, has long plagued the agency across divisions that range from child abuse investigators to Missouri’s Medicaid program to safety net programs like food stamps.

Seitz said she would like to see a permanent director of the Children’s Division, which has been “even more of a revolving door.” She would ultimately like to see a reinvestment in the department’s workforce.

“If we don’t invest in the frontline people we’re expecting to carry out these plans, I don’t know how effective they’ll be,” Seitz said.

The department faced deep cuts to its budget and workforce under former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, which continued under his successors. The Department of Social Services faced some of the highest turnover rates in 2014, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch analysis of executive branch agencies at the time.

Last July, in response to budget withholds as a result of the pandemic, about 200 department employees were laid off.

Among Parson’s vetoes this year was $2.1 million budgeted for three percent raises for Children’s Division case workers — a line item that lawmakers hoped would address high turnover in the department.

Meanwhile, this year the department said it would need two months to implement Medicaid expansion after receiving a court order, in part, because of a lack of staff.

Six years ago, a March 2015 audit found that MO HealthNet failed to recover funds from thousands of deceased Medicaid participants, costing the state more than $27 million dollars it could have recovered. Among the reasons the department gave for the failure was a lack of sufficient staff to process cases in a timely manner.

Until the creation of the Office of Childhood this year, the Department of Social Services also oversaw the state’s Child Care Subsidy Program, which supports eligible low-income families and foster kids by offering a sliding scale payment system.

Amid the pandemic, child care providers recounted facing months-long delays that totaled tens of thousands of dollars in payments. At one time in late October, there was a backlog of 5,339 pending payment resolution requests, according to emails The Independent obtained through an open records request that laid bare providers’ frustrations.

The post ‘I expect change’: Lawmakers hope new leadership jumpstarts reform at troubled agency 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

State of Missouri Addresses Data Vulnerability

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(JEFFERSON CITY, MO) – On October 12, 2021, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) was made aware that the personally identifiable information (PII) of three Missouri educators, which was located within the educator certification data available on DESE’s website, was potentially compromised.

Through a multi-step process, a hacker took the records of at least three educators, decoded the HTML source code, and viewed the social security number (SSN) of those specific educators.

Repairs to Buchanan County Interstate 29 bridge over south U.S. Route 169 begin next week

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Repairs to Buchanan County Interstate 29 bridge over south U.S. Route 169 begin next week
Visitor (not verified)
Wed, 10/13/2021 – 18:15

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – U.S. Route 169 under Interstate 29 at Exit 44 will narrow next week as part of a bridge repair project. The Missouri Department of Transportation has contracted with PCiRoads, LLC, to repair the bridge girders that were damaged in a hit-and-run crash. Crews plan to begin work Wednesday, Oct. 20. Work is scheduled to continue through Nov. 19
During the project, southbound I-29 will be narrowed to one lane at the U.S. Route 169 (Exit 44) overpass with a 15.5-foot width restriction.
U.S. Route 169 under I-29 will have the following impacts to traffic:
No left turns at the I-29 and U.S. Route 169 interchange will be permitted
A 12-foot width restriction will be in place
Narrowed to one lane, each direction
Delays can be expected.
All work is weather-permitting, and schedules are subject to change. Please remember that all roads are NO PHONE zones. Buckle up. Phone Down. Arrive Alive.
For more information about these and other MoDOT projects, visit modot.org and view the online Traveler Information Map. Also at modot.org, sign up online for work zone updates. Information is also available 24/7 at 888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636) or via social media.
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Take the Challenge! Buckle Up/Phone Down
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Districts Involved

Northwest

Published On

Wed, 10/13/2021 – 14:13

Portion of Wolfrum Road to Close for Pavement Repair Oct. 18

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The St. Charles County Highway Department, at the request of the City of Weldon Spring, will close Wolfrum Road between 297 Wolfrum Road and Technology Drive, weather permitting, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 18, for pavement repair.

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

Portion of Wolfrum Road to Close for Pavement Repair Oct. 18

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The St. Charles County Highway Department, at the request of the City of Weldon Spring, will close Wolfrum Road between 297 Wolfrum Road and Technology Drive, weather permitting, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 18, for pavement repair.

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

Overnight lane and ramp closures scheduled for portions of I-70 for paving work

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Overnight lane and ramp closures scheduled for portions of I-70 for paving work
Visitor (not verified)
Wed, 10/13/2021 – 13:50

JACKSON COUNTY– MoDOT Kansas City will be making pavement repairs along eastbound and westbound I-70 that will require I-70 to be reduced to ONE LANE from Grain Valley to Oak Grove for aggregate edge treatment overnight. Work will begin at 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. the following morning starting on Wednesday, Oct. 13. This work may involve various ramp closures in the area for short durations of time. Motorists are advised to plan ahead as there will be delays in the area. All work is weather permitting.
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).

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Kansas City

Published On

Wed, 10/13/2021 – 09:46

Keep Your Keys Program for Older Drivers Offered in Warren County

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Keep Your Keys Program for Older Drivers Offered in Warren County
Visitor (not verified)
Wed, 10/13/2021 – 13:10

HANNIBAL – The Keep Your Keys program is a driver-safety course geared toward people 55 and older, caregivers and facilitators, health educators, policy or highway patrol departments, nurses, etc. This program is being offered at the Friedens United Church of Christ, in Warrenton on Wednesday, October 27 at 10:30 a.m. You do not need to register for this event, everyone is welcomed to attend.
The University of Missouri Health Care’s Injury Prevention and Outreach Program provides resources for adults – both individuals and caregivers – who may need support to continue driving or retire from driving. “Drivers age 65 and older are at higher risk for death or disabling injuries due to their body being more susceptible to injury,” said NE Coalition for Roadway Safety Facilitator Marisa Ellison. “We are concerned for everyone who drives on Missouri roads and will continue to work toward reducing fatalities and disabling injuries by supporting educational programs like this one,” she added.
 If interested, please contact Amy Price, Trauma Nurse priceam@health.missouri.edu or Beth Koster, Coordinator of Outreach kosterb@health.missouri.edu or call (573) 884-7143.
There are four main factors that can affect driving as one ages:
Decreased flexibility and strength
Decline in vision and/or hearing
Cognitive issues
Medication interactions
Staying safe on the road
To keep ourselves and our fellow motorists’ safe, it’s essential to self-assess our driving skills on a regular basis.
Ask yourself:
Am I unable to keep up with the flow of traffic?
Do I find myself getting lost or forgetting where I am going?
Do I feel tired when I am driving?
Have I been involved in a crash in the past year?
Have others expressed a concern regarding my driving?
Take our driving self-assessment.
Whether you’re able to ease into driving retirement or it happens unexpectedly, it’s important to create a transportation plan that helps you stay active and social even if you can no longer drive.
 

Districts Involved

Northeast

Published On

Wed, 10/13/2021 – 09:06

First Lady Biden convenes charla in Kansas City to explore challenges of Latino trailblazers

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — First Lady Jill Biden toured a nonprofit serving Latino communities throughout Wyandotte and Johnson counties Monday for insight into challenges of trailblazing entrepreneurs, a university student and a poet.

At the offices of the nonprofit El Centro, Biden marked Hispanic Heritage Month with Isbella Guzman, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, for a conversation, or charla, that touched on stories of people striving to overcome educational, social and economic barriers to build on sacrifices of their parents and previous generations.

It was part of a daylong trip that also took President Joe Biden’s wife to Pennsylvania and Illinois.

“During the campaign, I talked to a lot of young Hispanic youth and they told me, ‘I don’t know that we’re being heard.’ So I started some charlas,” Biden said. “I can’t wait to go back and tell him all your stories and how inspiring you all are.”

The first lady made passing references to the infrastructure bill pending in Congress and appreciation for the DREAM Act, which granted temporary conditional residency with the right to work to undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors.

Another element of the trip was to emphasize how the administration of President Biden had supported Latinos across the country as they endured the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. She said it was important to talk about the Biden administration’s championing of the needs of businesses and families.

“I hope that people of Kansas see that government can be good and can do good things and does help people,” Biden said. “People don’t have a really positive image of the government.”

Biden and Guzman heard from Olivia Caudillo, a 20-year-old junior in aerospace engineering at the University of Kansas. She was born and raised in Kansas City, Kan., and was salutatorian at Sumner Academy of Arts and Science. Her career goal is to work at NASA.

“Education is a value that is extremely important to my family,” she said. “My grandma, she only made it to elementary school. My grandpa dropped out halfway through high school. They always pushed education on their children and eventually their grandchildren. For me, that meant the world to me.”

Caudillo is among 10 women in the aerospace engineering program at KU, and the lone Latina.

“The first day I felt scared. I felt out of place and underrepresented,” she said. “There’s been many times, not because the course work was so hard, but because I was so alone, I thought about switching to something else that I knew wasn’t for me. Then, I thought about my grandparents and my family. I wanted to keep doing that for them, to kind of be a role model.”

“Olivia, you have to pay it forward,” Biden said. “It’s so important that we get more young women interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Your story is so beautiful. You have to mentor other young women.”

Ari Rodriguez Boog, owner of the Lenexa, Kan., sustainability-focused architecture firm Archifootprint, was born in Michigan while her Venezuelan mother studied medicine and her father sought a degree in engineering. In her mid-20s, Boog returned to the United States to earn a master’s degree. Her architectural career has centered on work with U.S. clients in the energy sector, but she launched her own firm in 2018 to spend more time designing sustainable housing.

Her business suffered as the pandemic took root and may not have survived without federal financial support including Paycheck Protection Program loans, Boog said.

“To be honest,” Boog said, “I don’t think we would be here otherwise. We are on the road to recovery.”

Huascar Medina, a 38-year-old Lawrence, Kan., resident who had a Panamanian mother and Puerto Rican father in the U.S. Army. He moved to Kansas in 2001 after graduating from high school in San Antonio. He found a home in books and developed into a writer in Spanish and English.

He served as poet laureate of Kansas from 2019 until this year — the first Latino to hold that job in Kansas.

“Poetry has been the only constant thing in my life. Poetry is how I’ve learned to explore and share hard truths. I’ve been able to travel the state and share my story of being a second-generation immigrant in the United States. I personally prefer the word ‘new American’ to describe myself living here in the U.S.”

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Rocky start to school year shows need for more choice in Missouri | Opinion

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Two yellow school buses are show in bright sunshine outside a two-story brick school building in Columbia, Missouri.

Talk about dashed hopes. 

A school year that began weeks ago with at least the promise of a return to normalcy after 18 months of pandemic-driven disruption has again descended into near-chaos. 

Across the state, thousands of students are quarantined, fistfights are breaking out at school board meetings in disputes over mask policies and the State Board of Education has withdrawn a rule that allowed districts and charter schools alike to extend virtual learning alternatives in response to COVID-19. 

Meanwhile, our children continue to suffer, with test scores during the pandemic dropping across all subjects and grade levels. Less than half of Missouri students performed at grade level or above in English during spring 2020 — with barely one-third reaching that bare-bones standard in both science and math. 

Just as countless parents over the past year-and-a-half came to realize that our status quo approach to public education is badly broken, state lawmakers and Gov. Parson offered a glimmer of hope for students and families across Missouri.

The new Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program will provide thousands of students across the state with scholarships worth nearly $6,400 for an array of educational options. 

Yes, those expenses can include private school tuition — but also homeschooling expenses, tutoring, textbooks, computer technology, instructional materials and curriculum, as well as tuition to attend public charter or district schools outside of a student’s assigned location. 

Students living in Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Jefferson City, Joplin, Kansas City, Springfield, St. Joseph the city of St. Louis, as well as the counties of Jackson, Jefferson, Clay, Saint Charles and St. Louis are eligible for the scholarships, which will be funded with tax-deductible donations. To qualify for the program, students must either be receiving special education services or meet certain low-income standards. 

Additionally, they must have attended public school full-time for at least one semester in the prior year or be starting kindergarten or the first grade. 

The new program will be administered by the Missouri treasurer and is expected to be in place by next fall. Interested parents and donors can stay informed on its progress by visiting Show Me School Options, an online portal created by the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri. Missouri is hardly alone in embracing such new approaches. 

This year no fewer than 17 states have expanded school choice through such tools as education savings accounts (ESAs) and tax credit scholarships, including Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Iowa and Indiana. As our neighboring states continue to embrace education reform that puts the needs of students first, I urge my former colleagues in the Legislature to build on this year’s historic session by passing more accountability measures for schools, as well as public charter school funding equity. 

That last one is an especially easy, and necessary, fix to an outdated state education funding formula that unfairly shortchanges public charter schools. Improving education in Missouri is absolutely critical to our economy and it starts by funding students and families, so that their choices hold our bureaucratic systems and its leadership to account. 

In a year of legislative milestones, let’s keep Missouri moving forward.

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Route EE in Douglas and Texas Counties to Close for Culvert Replacement

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Route EE in Douglas and Texas Counties to Close for Culvert Replacement
Visitor (not verified)
Wed, 10/13/2021 – 11:45

WILLOW SPRINGS – Route EE in Douglas and Texas Counties will be CLOSED as Missouri Department of Transportation crews replace the culvert under the roadway.
The road will be CLOSED between Route 181 in Texas County to Route AD in Douglas County at the North Fork Creek.                                                           
Weather permitting, the road will CLOSE at 7 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 1 with plans to reopen on Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 3:30 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.
 
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Wed, 10/13/2021 – 07:42

St. Louis Work Zones for October 14 – 20

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St. Louis Work Zones for October 14 – 20
Visitor (not verified)
Wed, 10/13/2021 – 11:40

ST. LOUIS – MoDOT maintenance crews continue to work daily on patching potholes, touching up striping and removing trash on state roads around the region. Drivers should be aware of slow-moving maintenance operations on roadways.
When drivers see a MoDOT vehicle with flashing lights, they should remember to slow down or move over to avoid the work ahead. Often three or more maintenance vehicles will be spaced out over some distance to complete maintenance work.
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-64, St. Louis City, the ramp from Jefferson to westbound will be closed until mid-October.
I-64, St. Louis City, the ramp from eastbound to Jefferson will be closed until early November.
I-64, St. Louis City, Ewing bridge over the interstate is closed until mid-October.
I-270, St. Louis County, eastbound off-ramp to Washington Street/Elizabeth Avenue closed until fall.
I-270, St. Louis County, westbound exit ramp at Old Halls Ferry closed until mid-November.
I-270, St. Louis County, one lane of Dunn Road at Washington/Elizabeth closed until fall.
I-270, St. Louis County, eastbound and westbound Pershall Road is closed at Coldwater Creek until 2022.
I-270, St. Louis County, one lane of Pershall between West Florissant and Knollstone Drive will be closed until May 2022. Westbound traffic will no longer be able to use this section of Pershall.
Route 67, St. Louis County, northbound ramp to westbound I-270 closed till mid-2022.
Route 67, St. Louis County, the ramp from northbound to eastbound Route 340 is closed through mid-2022.
Route 340, St. Louis County, ramp from northbound Lindbergh to eastbound and westbound Route 340 closed.
Veterans Memorial Parkway (I-70 Outer road), St. Charles County, closed between Lake St. Louis and Rue Petite Drive until December.
 
Please see the list of daily road closures, weather permitting:
 
Thursday, October 14
I-44, St. Louis County, 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., one lane closed on South and North Outer Road from Bowles to Route 141.
Route 370, St. Louis County, until 2 p.m. Friday, one lane closed westbound from I-270 to Missouri River.
Route 141, St. Louis County, 8 a.m., to 3:30 p.m., one lane closed southbound at Route 364.
Route 180, St. Charles County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in both directions in various locations from I-170 to Route 67.
Route 340, St. Louis County, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Spoede to Old Olive Road.
Route 340, St. Louis County, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in each direction over Lindbergh.
Route 67, St. Louis County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed northbound and southbound over Olive.
Route 100, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., one lane closed in each direction from Big Bend to Hanley.
I-70, St. Charles County, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Bryan Road to Lake St. Louis Blvd.
Route 370, St. Charles County, 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Route 94 to Premier Parkway Bridge.
Route A, Jefferson County, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. & 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Old 21 and Collins Drive. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
Route AH, Franklin County, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed over I-44. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
 
Friday, October 15
I-44, St. Louis County, 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., one lane closed on South and North Outer Road from Bowles to Route 141.
Route 141, St. Louis County, 8 a.m., to 3:30 p.m., one lane closed southbound at Route 364.
Route 180, St. Charles County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in both directions in various locations from I-170 to Route 67.
Route 67, St. Louis County, 9 a.m. to noon, one lane closed northbound and southbound over Olive.
Route 67, St. Louis County, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday, one lane closed northbound and southbound at Page.
Route 370, St. Louis County, 7 p.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, two lanes closed westbound from Route 141 to Elm.
Route 340, St. Louis County, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Spoede to Old Olive Road.
Route 340, St. Louis County, 8:30 a.m. to noon, one lane closed in each direction over Lindbergh.
Route 100, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., one lane closed in each direction from Big Bend to Hanley.
I-70, St. Charles County, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Bryan Road to Lake St. Louis Blvd.
I-70, St. Charles County, 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., up to two lanes closed eastbound at Route 370.
Route 370, St. Charles County, 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Route 94 to Premier Parkway Bridge.
Route A, Jefferson County, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. & 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Old 21 and Collins Drive. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.  
 
Saturday, October 16
Route A, Jefferson County, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. & 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Old 21 and Collins Drive. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
 
Sunday, October 17
Route A, Jefferson County, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. & 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Old 21 and Collins Drive. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
 
Monday, October 18
I-44, St. Louis County, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in each direction on Shrewsbury over I-44.
I-44, St. Louis County, 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., one lane closed on South and North Outer Road from Bowles to Route 141.
I-270, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Old Halls Ferry to Hanley.
Route 141, St. Louis County, 8 a.m., to 3:30 p.m., one lane closed southbound at Route 364.
Route 180, St. Charles County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in both directions in various locations from I-170 to Route 67.
Route 67, St. Louis County, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., one lane closed northbound in Lindbergh tunnel.
Route 67, St. Louis County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed northbound and southbound over Olive.
Route 370, St. Louis County, 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., two lanes closed westbound from Route 141 to Elm.
Route 340, St. Louis County, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Spoede to Old Olive Road.
Route 100, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., one lane closed in each direction from Big Bend to Hanley.
Route 340, St. Louis County, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in each direction over Lindbergh.
I-70, St. Charles County, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Bryan Road to Lake St. Louis Blvd.
I-70, St. Charles County, 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., up to two lanes closed westbound at Route 370.
Route 370, St. Charles County, 9 a.m. thru next week, one lane closed eastbound from Elm to the Missouri River.
Route 370, St. Charles County, 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Route 94 to Premier Parkway Bridge.
Route A, Jefferson County, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. & 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Old 21 and Collins Drive. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
I-44, Franklin County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in each direction on St. Mary over I-44. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
 Tuesday, October 19
I-44, St. Louis County, 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., one lane closed on South and North Outer Road from Bowles to Route 141.
I-44, St. Louis County, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in each direction on Shrewsbury over I-44.
I-270, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Old Halls Ferry to Hanley.
Route 141, St. Louis County, 8 a.m., to 3:30 p.m., one lane closed southbound at Route 364.
Route 180, St. Charles County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in both directions in various locations from I-170 to Route 67.
Route 67, St. Louis County, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., one lane closed northbound in Lindbergh tunnel.
Route 67, St. Louis County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed northbound and southbound over Olive.
Route 370, St. Louis County, 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., two lanes closed westbound from Route 141 to Elm.
Route 340, St. Louis County, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Spoede to Old Olive Road.
Route 340, St. Louis County, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in each direction over Lindbergh.
Route 100, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., one lane closed in each direction from Big Bend to Hanley.
I-70, St. Charles County, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Bryan Road to Lake St. Louis Blvd.
Route A, Jefferson County, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. & 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Old 21 and Collins Drive. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
I-44, Franklin County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in each direction on St. Mary over I-44. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
Route C, Jefferson County, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., one lane closed in each direction between River Road and Reynolds Creek Road. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
 
 
Wednesday, October 20
I-44, St. Louis County, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in each direction on Shrewsbury over I-44.
I-44, St. Louis County, 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., one lane closed on South and North Outer Road from Bowles to Route 141.
I-270, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Old Halls Ferry to Hanley.
Route 141, St. Louis County, 8 a.m., to 3:30 p.m., one lane closed southbound at Route 364.
Route 180, St. Charles County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in both directions in various locations from I-170 to Route 67.
Route 67, St. Louis County, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., one lane closed southbound in Lindbergh tunnel.
Route 370, St. Louis County, 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., two lanes closed westbound from Route 141 to Elm.
Route 340, St. Louis County, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Spoede to Old Olive Road.
Route 340, St. Louis County, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed in each direction over Lindbergh.
Route 67, St. Louis County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane closed northbound and southbound over Olive.
Route 100, St. Louis County, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., one lane closed in each direction from Big Bend to Hanley.
Route A, Jefferson County, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. & 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., one lane closed eastbound and westbound from Old 21 and Collins Drive. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
Route C, Jefferson County, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., one lane closed in each direction between River Road and Reynolds Creek Road. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
 
 

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Wed, 10/13/2021 – 07:35

Route 181 in Texas County Reduced for Bridge Maintenance

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Route 181 in Texas County Reduced for Bridge Maintenance
Visitor (not verified)
Wed, 10/13/2021 – 10:30

WILLOW SPRINGS – Route 181 in Texas County will be reduced to one lane wiht a 14-foot width restriction as the Missouri Department of Transportation crews perform bridge maintenance.  
The bridge over US 60 is just south of Cabool, Missouri.
Weather permitting, work will take place Monday, Oct. 25 through Thursday, Oct. 28 from 6:30 a.m. to 5 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.
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Wed, 10/13/2021 – 06:25

Missouri Route 106 in Shannon County Reduced for Bridge Work

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Missouri Route 106 in Shannon County Reduced for Bridge Work
Visitor (not verified)
Wed, 10/13/2021 – 09:20

WILLOW SPRINGS – Missouri Route 106 in Shannon County will be reduced to one lane with a 9-foot width restriction as contractor crews perform bridge work.
The bridge over Jack’s Fork River at Alley Springs is located approximately 6 miles west of Eminence, Missouri.
Weather permitting, work will take place Tuesday, Oct. 26 through Friday, Oct. 29 from 7 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 more information, please call the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) or visit www.modot.org/southeast.
 
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Wed, 10/13/2021 – 05:18

Missouri students can now ‘test to stay’ to remain in classroom after COVID exposure

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Missouri students and teachers identified as being exposed to a coronavirus case in school may now be permitted to remain in class if they continue to test negative for the virus and properly wear a mask.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) updated its school reopening guidance Friday to include the new “test to stay” option.

The modified quarantine policy allows students who are identified as a close contact to remain in school if they don’t develop COVID-19 symptoms, continue to wear a face mask in school for 14 days after exposure and receive at least three negative rapid COVID-19 tests in the first week of exposure.

Whether to allow the “test to stay” option is ultimately at the local public health department’s discretion, and the student must not have been exposed to the virus from a member of their household, the guidance notes.

“Again, it’s still recommended for these individuals to quarantine outside of the school setting. But again, they can stay in school and participate in extracurricular activities as long as the criteria are met” John Bos, with the Department of Health and Senior Services, said during a webinar Tuesday where DESE and state health department officials answered school districts’ questions.

Department of Health and Senior Services Director Donald Kauerauf told The Independent late last month that the revised quarantine model was one the state was evaluating “that allows kids to stay in school.”

“A routine Test to Stay quarantine response protocol, with daily testing in an environment where masks are consistently used, has been shown to be generally equivalent to quarantine for school-based contacts, and a safe alternative to at-home isolation,” the state’s school reopening guidance reads.

A growing number of schools nationwide have implemented the modified quarantine policy that relies on regular testing. However, it’s not endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which notes on its website that when it comes to allowing close contacts to stay in school it “does not have enough evidence at this time to support this approach.”

Under the new “test to stay” option, a student would need to test negative when identified as a close contact, and then receive a minimum of two negative COVID tests results in the first week of exposure. Preferably, the follow-up tests would occur on two non-consecutive days of the school week, for example on a Wednesday and Friday.

If a student is participating in extracurricular activities, like sports, daily testing is recommended. At a minimum, a rapid antigen test should be taken on the day of the extracurricular activity, the state’s guidance notes.

The new quarantine option comes after the state first announced last November that it would be relaxing the CDC’s 14-day quarantine guidelines and allow students and staff who were in close contact to not quarantine if both individuals were wearing masks “appropriately” at the time of the exposure.

Currently, students, teachers and staff identified as close contacts are also not required to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated and don’t develop symptoms or have had COVID-19 within the previous three months and have recovered, state guidance notes.

If a student does not meet the guidelines for those options, they must quarantine at home for the full recommended 14 days.

Test to Stay Infographic

An infographic outlining the quarantine options students, teachers and staff may utilize to remain in school after a COVID exposure. (Screenshot of Department of Elementary and Secondary Education presentation)

When asked if districts may use other quarantine options not outlined by the state to keep unmasked, unvaccinated students in class, Kauerauf shot down that request.

“We are constantly looking at additional options that we can roll out,” Kauerauf said during Tuesday’s call, “but we are comfortable with currently the four options we have.”

The state has directed schools to a screening testing program it’s launched backed by nearly $185 million in federal funds. The program, being operated by Ginkgo Bioworks Inc., a Boston-based biotechnology company, has seen a slight uptick in schools participating since the start of the school year.

As of Tuesday, 17 school districts were participating, or 68 schools overall, according to the state’s dashboard — a tiny fraction of the more than 500 districts and charter schools in the state.

Schools can also order rapid antigen tests from the state health department, and supplemental funding is offered to districts participating in either testing option.

Mallory McGowin, a spokeswoman for DESE, said during Tuesday’s webinar that there are “constrained supplies” of the rapid antigen test cards, and urged schools to request only the number of test kits they need for two weeks at a time. Increased demand for rapid COVID tests in recent weeks has caused a shortage of supplies nationwide.

According to the state’s dashboard, 379 schools are currently receiving rapid antigen tests from the state, with a total of 179,634 shipped.

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Permit for Ameren Missouri’s Labadie coal plant was issued lawfully, commission says

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Missouri’s Clean Water Commission agreed Tuesday that environmental regulators were correct to issue a permit allowing the state’s largest coal-fired plant to discharge superheated water into the Missouri River despite environmentalists’ contention the utility operating it should invest in newer technology.

The commission’s vote upheld a determination by the Administrative Hearing Commission that a permit issued to Ameren Missouri for the Labadie Energy Center in 2015 was lawful despite a challenge from the Sierra Club alleging it violated the Clean Water Act. 

“After years of litigation, we are pleased the Clean Water Commission affirmed the Department of Natural Resource’s issuance of Labadie’s…permit,” said Brad Brown, Ameren Missouri’s spokesman. “The agency followed appropriate procedures in issuing the permit and the hearing officer held extensive evidentiary hearings where the parties presented their arguments.”

Ameren has operated the Labadie Energy Center, a four-unit coal plant adjacent to the river, since the 1970s. Labadie takes in water from the Missouri River to cool the plant and discharges the heated water downstream. 

From the late 1990s until 2015, state environmental regulators at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources allowed it to operate under an expired permit that allows it to occasionally break standards for hot water it discharges into the river. 

When DNR issued the new permit in 2015, the Sierra Club appealed to the Administrative Hearing Commission, saying the agency failed to determine the best available technology to minimize the hot water flowing into the river. The environmental group’s attorneys contend following that standard means retrofitting the plant with cooling towers that recycle the water before it goes back into the river.

Environmental groups say the hot water plume disrupts the aquatic environment in the river and jeopardizes the endangered pallid sturgeon. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrote to DNR last year expressing its concern and recommending enhanced monitoring for the fish, which can be difficult to identify.

The AHC sided with DNR in July, issuing a ruling two years after holding arguments in the case. Members of the state’s Clean Water Commission voted 4-1 Tuesday to uphold the AHC finding.

Tara Rocque, an attorney with the Washington University Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic, which is representing the Sierra Club, said she was surprised, given the complexity of the issue, that the Clean Water Commission didn’t deliberate and opted instead decided to rule immediately. 

“What it means is that Ameren’s Labadie facility is allowed to continue discharging one billion gallons of heated water into the Missouri River each day, doing absolutely nothing to try to mitigate the impact of that thermally-heated water on the river, its ecosystem or the aquatic life within it,” Rocque said. 

Rocque said attorneys for Sierra Club were still considering their options, but a possible next step would be taking the case to the Missouri Court of Appeals.

The federal Clean Water Act requires entities that discharge pollutants, including hot water, into bodies of water first obtain permits setting limits and establishing reporting requirements. Those permits are supposed to set limits on discharges based on the best available technology for the industry. 

At issue in the Sierra Club’s appeal was DNR’s determination of the best available technology for Labadie. 

The environmental group contends cooling towers would be best at Labadie and economically achievable. Doing so would drastically reduce the amount of hot water the plant discharges into the river, minimizing the potential impact on aquatic life, including the endangered pallid sturgeon in the river. 

Sierra Club’s attorneys say DNR failed to conduct an analysis of the best available technology before issuing that 2015 permit and later issued an analysis to retroactively justify issuing the permit. According to the group, DNR said it conducted a “mental” analysis of the best available technology for Labadie. 

Tim Duggan, assistant attorney general, represented DNR in Tuesday’s proceedings and said the agency did not retroactively justify its decision. He said the DNR employee who wrote the permit was simply showing the work she did before issuing the permit.

“She did all of that work, but it was not required at the time that she fully explain and show all of her homework in the fact sheet,” Duggan said. “She did that after the fact at the encouragement of Ameren so that could be vetted by the public, including Sierra Club.” 

Duggan said the department is seeing no adverse impact on the pallid sturgeon near Labadie but that it had asked for more studies as part of a new permit under consideration now. He said water law is not a “hammer looking for nails.” 

“If you do not have a serious problem, you do not have to fix it,” Duggan said. 

Ameren’s senior manager of environmental services, Craig Giesmann, said in a recent op-ed the company was making sure its employees were “being good stewards of the water near our operations.”

“That point of the river has been studied extensively in recent years, and those results show there is no difference in the amount and abundance of aquatic life on the Missouri River upstream and downstream of Labadie,” he wrote. 

Ameren’s attorney, Dan Deeb, also denied the charge that DNR retroactively justified the permit. 

Deeb told the commission adding cooling towers at Labadie would cost more than $1 billion. He said such technology is exceedingly rare.

The only commissioner to side with environmentalists was John Reece, who said Ameren was not being held to the same standard that applies to wastewater plants situated on rivers.

“I think that Ameren should be held accountable,” Reece said. “They need to limit the heat that they are discharging to the Missouri River.”

The decision comes as DNR considers Ameren’s permit renewal, which would let it continue discharging hot water. 

The Sierra Club spoke out against the proposed permit this summer during a public comment session. At that time, their case on the 2015 permit had been pending before the ACH without a decision for two years. 

Less than two weeks after the public hearing, the agency issued its decision. 

Environmentalists also said Ameren wasn’t following a new Supreme Court ruling they believed required it to obtain permits for coal ash ponds near the river that have been leaching toxic chemicals into groundwater. 

But until the permit is issued, Rocque said it was difficult to know whether Tuesday’s decision might forecast how DNR would handle the current permit request. 

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Wentzville Police Blotter: August 20 – 26, 2021

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The following reports for August 20 – 26, 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

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In sudden cabinet shake-up, Parson announces director changes in five Missouri agencies

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Gov. Mike Parson announced a sudden cabinet shake-up Tuesday, with a slew of personnel changes across five state agencies — including the immediate and unexplained departure of the official in charge of the state’s procurement agency.

In a news release Tuesday afternoon, Parson announced Office of Administration (OA) Commissioner Sarah Steelman was stepping down and being replaced in the short term by Ken Zellers, the director of the department of revenue.

OA handles contracting and procurement for state government. 

No reason was provided for Steelman’s departure in a news release Tuesday.

In a text message to The Independent, Steelman said she was called into the office of Parson’s chief of staff and asked to resign earlier in the day Tuesday. 

“I asked if I did something wrong,” she said in her text message, “and he said ‘no.’ So I resigned.”

She added: “It was a privilege to get to serve the citizens of Missouri and work with the tremendous team at the Office of Administration.”

Jennifer Tidball, the embattled acting director of the Department of Social Services (DSS), will also step down from her role next week but continue to serve as the department’s chief operating officer. She will be replaced by Parson’s deputy chief of staff, Robert Knodell.

Knodell, who most recently served as acting director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, had been rumored to be up for the acting director position of DSS.

Representatives for OA and DSS did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Steelman was appointed to her role leading OA by former Gov. Eric Greitens. She stayed on in the job after Parson took office following Greitens’ resignation in 2018. 

Her husband, David Steelman, was a longtime member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators who had a falling out with Parson earlier this year after raising objections about an adviser to the governor using his connections to the university to seek business for other lobbying clients.

David Steelman expressed concern that if he didn’t “play ball” with Steve Tilley, a lobbyist and longtime friend of the governor, that he’d lose his seat on the board of curators.

Parson demanded David Steelman resign after the concerns became public. When he refused, the governor appointed a replacement for him on the board after the legislature adjourned for the year, avoiding what promised to be a tough confirmation battle in the Missouri Senate. 

Steelman’s tenure at OA also involved a federal investigation of tracking devices placed on her vehicle and the vehicle of the state’s former chief operating officer, Drew Erdmann. The devices were put on their vehicles by a private investigator who said he was aided by Rep. Dottie Bailey, R-Eureka. It’s unclear if the investigation remains ongoing.

Tidball has faced intense criticism from lawmakers over the past year, who have held a series of legislative hearings looking into the department’s handling of abuse and neglect at youth residential facilities, layoffs of Children’s Division employees and failure to report missing foster kids to authorities.

Bailey, who has been outspoken in her criticisms of the department this session, previously told The Independent she would like to see Tidball replaced.

“I would love to see anybody but Jennifer Tidball — anybody qualified,” Bailey said. “But under her reign, it’s just gone downhill. And so any good business would replace that person immediately.”

Many lawmakers told The Independent last month that someone with firsthand experience in the field who has worked their way up through the ranks of the department to lead it would be ideal.

Among Parson’s vetoes this year, was nixing language that would have required the DSS director be “confirmed by the Senate to hold the office” in order to be paid their salary.

Tidball has yet to be confirmed by state lawmakers’ despite serving her second stint as acting director.

In his veto letter, Parson wrote the change was not part of his budget recommendations and “undermines the Executive’s constitutional authority to appoint and compensate department directors.”

Rep. Jered Taylor, the chair of the House Special Committee on Government Oversight that has held hearings on DSS, said there may be legislation proposed this upcoming session to ensure that the DSS department director be confirmed by lawmakers within a certain period of time.

“There’s a reason we have that set up in the state of Missouri that they have to be confirmed through the Senate,” Taylor said. “And I think our frustration as a committee is, it appears that we’re trying to get around that by just allowing an interim for forever, rather than getting them confirmed.”

Tidball was appointed by Parson as acting director of DSS in May 2019. She previously served as the director of the Division of Finance and Administrative Services and had also served as the interim director of the MO HealthNet, the state’s Medicaid program. She has been with the department since 1995, according to a previous news release.

Additionally, the Department of Revenue’s General Counsel Joseph Plaggenberg will become acting director effective immediately. 

In the Department of Mental Health, Valerie Huhn, the agency’s deputy director, will become acting director when department Director Mark Stringer retires at the end of the month. 

Similarly, Maggie Kost, the deputy director of the Department of Economic Development, will become acting director when current Director Rob Dixon departs later this month for his new role as the director of community and economic development for Ameren Missouri.

In a statement, Parson thanked agency leaders for their work.

“These leaders have helped move our state forward while navigating some of the hardest times in our state’s history,” Parson said. “This transition in state government will better position our cabinet to provide the best possible service to Missourians in the coming years.”

The cabinet moves come months after two top members of Parson’s cabinet, former Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams and Chief Operating Officer Drew Erdmann, resigned suddenly in April with little explanation as to why.

Please check back. This story will be updated.

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The costs of not spending $3.5 trillion | Opinion

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For weeks there’s been intense debate regarding a proposed $3.5 trillion-dollar budget plan facing the U.S. Senate. Some Democrats say we should spend more. Others say we should spend less. For the most part, Republicans say no to the whole darn thing.

Politics are fun, are they not?

Surely, dollars matter. Anyone making the case that the United States is already too deep in debt to spend more has a legitimate leg to stand on — although many of those same folks didn’t flinch a bit when the national debt rose by nearly $7.8 trillion under former President Donald Trump. (Were those large corporate tax breaks really worth it?) 

Indeed, the nation is now $28.4 trillion in the hole — with the highest debt to GDP ratio since at least 2000. No doubt, this amount of debt is a problem and we will need to address it. But it’s not as simple as not spending in order to pay it down. If it were, we’d all be on board. 

The trouble is that our nation has significant infrastructure issues that must be addressed now or it will cost us even more later. In this light, adding some additional debt to solve these issues might actually make fiscal sense. 

Take, for example, climate change. 

The science is abundantly clear that if we fail to address climate change, the costs to the U.S. will increase substantially over time. Many cost estimates land into the trillions. When you consider spending a few hundred billion on infrastructure now to prevent trillions later, this suddenly seems like an incredibly wise investment — even if it means driving up the national debt slightly further. In fact, one could easily argue we haven’t spent enough to date, and that we’re already paying more than was necessary.

Similar long-term benefits can be seen throughout the proposed bill. 

Consider the billions set aside for universal pre-K ages 3 and up. At first it seems expensive and one might question the timing given our debt. Yet here again the research is quite clear that these are wise investments. Several studies estimate that for every public dollar spent on improving the early experiences of children, there’s a 7% to 13% return on investment annually. Setting aside the benefits to people, economically that’s a smart move.

Of course, we also care about the impacts to people, so if we’re considering not only the short-term health of our nation, but also the long-term, then incurring such debt might be wise. This is seen with other proposed policies such as paid family leave, child care and wildfire resources where the costs saved over time are worth the upfront debt.

On the other hand, there are a few proposals in the bill that should make us all pause. 

For example, in a national debt crisis, lowering taxes for those making up to nearly half a million annually feels a bit … off. Especially given the extreme wealth disparities in America today, arguing for lower taxes on people making a quarter of a million dollars per year seems not only fiscally unwise but out of touch with most Americans. Arguing to lower taxes among the low and middle class, however, makes a lot of sense — as would drastically raising taxes on the top 1% and corporations.

Mostly, when it comes to spending and debt, I’m fascinated by how much of the discussion centers on a specific number — $1.5 trillion, $2.5 trillion, $3.5 trillion, $6 trillion — as if we’re deciding how much we want to add to the debt and only then considering what we can get for the price. But shouldn’t we equally focus on what programs are smart investments and let that help drive the decision? 

I won’t suggest you should be thrilled about adding $3.5 trillion to the already bloated national debt. I’m not, either. But I will advocate for most of the programs in the bill that are smart investments, as well as suggest that we focus on the long-term value of the debt incurred as much as the short-term amount.

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Route AB in Stoddard County Closed for Culvert Replacement

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Route AB in Stoddard County Closed for Culvert Replacement
Visitor (not verified)
Tue, 10/12/2021 – 09:15

SIKESTON—Route AB in Stoddard County will be closed as Missouri Department of Transportation crews replace a culvert under the roadway.
This section of roadway is located between Route 25 and County Road 535.
Weather permitting, work will take place Wednesday, Oct.13 and Thursday, Oct. 14 from 8 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.
 
###
 
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Tue, 10/12/2021 – 05:11

Wentzville Board of Aldermen October 13 agenda: Roundabout planned for realigned Josephville Road, Mexico Road

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The Wentzville Board of Aldermen will meet on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at Wentzville City Hall. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. and is open to the public, and is also available on live stream. READ MORE

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Fort Zumwalt Park closed to vehicles starting today until end of holiday season

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Fort Zumwalt Park will be closed to vehicles starting today, due to the set up for the Celebration of Lights, the city’s annual display of holiday lights and scenes. Visitors are still welcomed to walk READ MORE

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St. Charles County COVID-19 update: No new deaths this past week; confirmed cases still declining

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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

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‘Are you going to keep me safe?’: Hospital workers sound alarm on rising violence

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This story was originally published by Kaiser Health News.

The San Leandro Hospital emergency department, where nurse Mawata Kamara works, went into lockdown recently when a visitor, agitated about being barred from seeing a patient due to COVID-19 restrictions, threatened to bring a gun to the California facility.

It wasn’t the first time the department faced a gun threat during the pandemic. Earlier in the year, a psychiatric patient well known at the department became increasingly violent, spewing racial slurs, spitting toward staffers and lobbing punches before eventually threatening to shoot Kamara in the face.

“Violence has always been a problem,” Kamara said. “This pandemic really just added a magnifying glass.”

In the earliest days of the pandemic, nightly celebrations lauded the bravery of front-line health care workers. Eighteen months later, those same workers say they are experiencing an alarming rise in violence in their workplaces.

A nurse testified before a Georgia Senate study committee in September that she was attacked by a patient so severely last spring she landed in the ER of her own hospital.

At Research Medical Center in Kansas City, security was called to the COVID unit, said nurse Jenn Caldwell, when a visitor aggressively yelled at the nursing staff about the condition of his wife, who was a patient.

In Missouri, a tripling of physical assaults against nurses prompted Cox Medical Center Branson to issue panic buttons that can be worn on employees’ identification badges.

Hospital executives were already attuned to workplace violence before the pandemic struck. But stresses from COVID have exacerbated the problem, they say, prompting increased security, de-escalation training and pleas for civility. And while many hospitals work to address the issue on their own, nurses and other workers are pushing federal legislation to create enforceable standards nationwide.

Paul Sarnese, an executive at Virtua Health in New Jersey and president of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety, said many studies show health care workers are much more likely to be victims of aggravated assault than workers in any other industry.

Federal data shows health care workers faced 73% of all nonfatal injuries from workplace violence in the U.S. in 2018. It’s too early to have comprehensive stats from the pandemic.

Even so, Michelle Wallace, chief nursing officer at Grady Health System in Georgia, said the violence is likely even higher because many victims of patient assaults don’t report them.

“We say, ‘This is part of our job,’” said Wallace, who advocates for more reporting.

Caldwell said she had been a nurse for less than three months the first time she was assaulted at work — a patient spit at her. In the four years since, she estimated, she hasn’t gone more than three months without being verbally or physically assaulted.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s expected, but it is accepted,” Caldwell said. “We have a lot of people with mental health issues that come through our doors.”

Jackie Gatz, vice president of safety and preparedness for the Missouri Hospital Association, said a lack of behavioral health resources can spur violence as patients seek treatment for mental health issues and substance use disorders in ERs. Life can also spill inside to the hospital, with violent episodes that began outside continuing inside or the presence of law enforcement officers escalating tensions.

February 2021 report from National Nurses United — a union in which both Kamara and Caldwell are representatives — offers another possible factor: staffing levels that don’t allow workers sufficient time to recognize and de-escalate possibly volatile situations.

COVID unit nurses also have shouldered extra responsibilities during the pandemic. Duties such as feeding patients, drawing blood and cleaning rooms would typically be conducted by other hospital staffers, but nurses have pitched in on those jobs to minimize the number of workers visiting the negative-pressure rooms where COVID patients are treated. While the workload has increased, the number of patients each nurse oversees is unchanged, leaving little time to hear the concerns of visitors scared for the well-being of their loved ones — like the man who aggressively yelled at the nurses in Caldwell’s unit.

In September, 31% of hospital nurses surveyed by that union said they had faced workplace violence, up from 22% in March.

Dr. Bryce Gartland, hospital group president of Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare, said violence has escalated as the pandemic has worn on, particularly during the latest wave of infections, hospitalization and deaths.

“Front-line health care workers and first responders have been on the battlefield for 18 months,” Garland said. “They’re exhausted.”

Like the increase in violence on airplanes, at sports arenas and school board meetings, the rising tensions inside hospitals could be a reflection of the mounting tensions outside them.

William Mahoney, president of Cox Medical Center Branson, said national political anger is acted out locally, especially when staffers ask people who come into the hospital to put on a mask.

Caldwell, the nurse in Kansas City, said the physical nature of COVID infections can contribute to an increase in violence. Patients in the COVID unit often have dangerously low oxygen levels.

“People have different political views — they’re either CNN or Fox News — and they start yelling at you, screaming at you,” Mahoney said.

“When that happens, they become confused and also extremely combative,” Caldwell said.

Sarnese said the pandemic has given hospitals an opportunity to revisit their safety protocols. Limiting entry points to enable COVID screening, for example, allows hospitals to funnel visitors past security cameras.

Research Medical Center recently hired additional security officers and provided de-escalation training to supplement its video surveillance, spokesperson Christine Hamele said.

In Branson, Mahoney’s hospital has bolstered its security staff, mounted cameras around the facility, brought in dogs (“people don’t really want to swing at you when there’s a German shepherd sitting there”) and conducted de-escalation training — in addition to the panic buttons.

Some of those efforts pre-date the pandemic but the COVID crisis has added urgency in an industry already struggling to recruit employees and maintain adequate staffing levels. “The No. 1 question we started getting asked is, ‘Are you going to keep me safe?’” Mahoney said.

While several states, including California, have rules to address violence in hospitals, National Nurses United is calling for the U.S. Senate to pass the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act that would require hospitals to adopt plans to prevent violence.

“With any standard, at the end of the day you need that to be enforced,” said the union’s industrial hygienist, Rocelyn de Leon-Minch.

Nurses in states with laws on the books still face violence, but they have an enforceable standard they can point to when asking for that violence to be addressed. De Leon-Minch said the federal bill, which passed the House in April, aims to extend that protection to health care workers nationwide.

Destiny, the nurse who testified in Georgia using only her first name, is pressing charges against the patient who attacked her. The state Senate committee is now eyeing legislation for next year.

Kamara said the recent violence helped lead her hospital to provide de-escalation training, although she was dissatisfied with it. San Leandro Hospital spokesperson Victoria Balladares said the hospital had not experienced an increase in workplace violence during the pandemic.

For health care workers such as Kamara, all this antagonism toward them is a far cry from the early days of the pandemic when hospital workers were widely hailed as heroes.

“I don’t want to be a hero,” Kamara said. “I want to be a mom and a nurse. I want to be considered a person who chose a career that they love, and they deserve to go to work and do it in peace. And not feel like they’re going to get harmed.”

Kaiser 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.

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New owners seek to revive Missouri newspapers sold by Gannett

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Five newspapers arranged so the mastheads are all readable to illustrate newspapers that have been sold in the past year by Gannett.

When media giant Gannett wanted to sell the Lake Sun-Leader, a community newspaper with a 120-year history, Trevor Vernon decided it would fit in well with his family’s other publications.

Vernon Communications owns the Eldon Advertiser, the Hermitage Index and the Tipton Times.

“It makes sense,” Vernon said. “I own a newspaper on both sides of it. I was driving to Hickory County once a week already. It made sense for that to happen.”

The sale was announced in early August and is just one of a dozen titles shed by Gannett or its predecessor, GateHouse Media, from its Missouri newspapers. GateHouse merged with Gannett in 2019, taking the latter company’s name and forming a nationwide chain with more than 100 daily newspapers, including the flagship USA Today, 1,000 weekly papers, and numerous specialty publications.

At the time of the merger, GateHouse owned a dozen Missouri newspapers and Gannett owned one, the Springfield News-Leader. The biggest Missouri acquisition for GateHouse prior to the merger was the Columbia Daily Tribune, purchased in 2016 from the family that owned it for 115 years. 

The Tribune was the last family-owned newspaper serving a city of 100,000 or more in Missouri.

Now the Tribune and the News-Leader are the only Missouri newspapers owned by Gannett. 

In recent weeks, the others have been snapped up by local owners of nearby newspapers eager to show they can offer quality community journalism — and make a profit doing so. 

Gannett has not made its plans for selling smaller community newspapers clear, but announcements came regularly during the summer, the trade magazine Editor and Publisher reports.

A successful newspaper must offer advertisers a reason to buy space in its print and online platforms, said Randall Smith, professor of business journalism at the University of Missouri. 

“You live and die by content and if you don’t have good quality journalism, you are not going to be around for long and you are not going to be essential,” Smith said.

GateHouse expanded rapidly in the years before the merger and cut costs dramatically. The company laid off news staff, centralized business operations and cut the number of publication days. In 2018, it closed the Waynesville Daily Guide and the 134-year-old Carthage Press.

At the Tribune, early in 2018, the newspaper was operating with only one reporter on staff.

The Lake Sun-Leader, which also publishes magazines and specialty publications about recreation and real estate at the Lake of the Ozarks, will operate with three reporters and an editor, Vernon said.

That means he’s hiring.

While Vernon is not looking to add to his chain, he said he would like to see more community newspapers returned to local ownership.

“I hope it is a national trend,” he said. “I believe that Gannett has done the same thing in Kansas. I really believe there is a need for local journalists to do local journalism.”

The changes will be good for both Gannett and the community newspapers under new ownership, said Mark Maassen, executive director of the Missouri Press Association.

“It was no secret these newspapers were struggling,” Maassen said. “Now with local ownership, they will get the attention they deserve.”

New to news

Many of the new owners at the former Gannett papers already own newspapers in adjoining counties or states. But there’s one owner who got started in newspapers just last year.

Cherry Road Media, owned by Cherry Road Technologies of Parsippany, N.J., bought the Independence Examiner, the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune, the Boonville Daily News and the Linn County Leader in a deal announced Sept. 24 that includes 16 other newspapers in Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.

The company now owns 27 newspapers in seven states.

“I think if you look at them, in particular the Missouri properties, particularly the three smaller papers, they have been cut back so far that the product is a shell of its former self,” said Jeremy Gulban, CEO of Cherry Road.

That means his newspapers, like Vernon’s, will be hiring.

“We want to build a better product that is more locally focused,” Gulban said. “We are going to need some more hands, to bring back subscribers and bring back the advertising base.”

Cherry Road serves the technology needs of government and educational institutions. The model Gulban wants to produce, he said, will use that knowledge to help communities improve their technology and make the newspaper an important element of that improvement.

“We have that skill set,” he said. “We are an internet service provider, but some businesses don’t have websites. We intend to build out a community portal to sell things online and make it much more affordable, to keep the dollars in the community.”

The first paper sold from GateHouse’s Missouri holdings was the Hannibal Courier Post,  purchased in 2019 by Quincy Media, publisher of the Quincy, Ill., Herald-Whig. That company was purchased in early 2021 by Phillips Media Group, an Arkansas newspaper company that owns eight other Missouri publications.

Phillips in August purchased the Kirksville Daily Express. It also purchased the Rolla Daily News but turned around and sold it to Salem Publishing, which also publishes the Phelps County Focus. 

The Rolla Daily News is being merged with the Focus, which will be the name of the surviving publication.

“They just kept cutting, cutting, cutting at Rolla Daily News until they just cut themselves out of existence,” said Donald Dodd, owner of Salem Publishing Company.

The Focus was established four years ago to compete with the Rolla Daily News and it is one of three newspapers that recently gained press association membership after surviving their first three years in operation.

The others are the Maries County Advocate and the South Cass Tribune in Harrisonville.

“You have got to have local news and you have to support the local community or your days are numbered,” Dodd said.

The other newspapers sold by Gannett are the Aurora Advertiser and the Neosho Daily News, purchased by Sexton Media Group, which also publishes the Newton News Dispatch and the River Hills Traveler. The News-Dispatch will be merged with the Daily News.

Newspaper cuts

The economics of newspapers overall do not indicate a healthy industry. 

In 2020, for the first time, subscription revenues exceeded advertising revenues, which fell 26 percent for the year, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, even before the pandemic, revenues were declining and from 2008 to 2019, newspapers responded by cutting newsroom employment by 28 percent.

The economics of a community newspaper are based on a different calculation than metropolitan dailies. 

A publisher can count on revenue from legal advertisements for foreclosures, court actions and election notices. Local business owners can advertise to a local audience drawn by news they cannot find elsewhere.

A recent entrant into newspaper ownership, Tim Schmidt said his dreams of being a publisher began when he would go over box scores in the newspaper when he got home from school. Then he became a sports reporter.

“I was able to cover games and get paid for it and thought,” Schmidt said. “It doesn’t get much better than this.”

After working for many years at the Washington Missourian, in 2018 Schmidt purchased the Montgomery Standard. Soon he added the Warren County Record, and last year he purchased the Mexico Ledger from Gannett.

This summer, the Moberly Monitor-Index was purchased by his Westplex Media Group.

“Our whole thing is we want to partner with everyone,” Schmidt said. “We want people to think of the newspaper when they think about our community.”

The new local owners aren’t the only publishers who are trying investments in more reporters and bulkier newspapers to recover readers. 

The Kansas City Star, owned by California-based McClatchy, added 16 pages a week in August and is adding a dozen reporters to fill them.

The new local ownership, working from a sustainable business model, should be good for their communities, Smith said.

“It just couldn’t be a better fit than to have someone come and hopefully breathe life into these publications,” he said.

After difficult years, new investment is welcome, Maassen said.

“I am bullish on Missouri newspapers,” he said, “especially the community newspapers.”

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A DOJ partnership is hoping to change how Kansas City handles violence prevention

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This story was originally published by the Kansas City Beacon

Several years after the embattled violence-reduction program known as KC No Violence Alliance faded from public view, Mayor Quinton Lucas’ administration is working with federal authorities and community partners to revive and broaden the strategies that for a time seemed to be making a difference in Kansas City, Missouri.

The new program, dubbed the Community Safety Partnership, is being rolled out as Kansas City continues to struggle with violent crime. After a record 176 homicides in 2020, the city has seen 117 this year as of Oct. 5. Kansas City has consistently ranked in the top 10 when it comes to murder rates in U.S. cities, and it had the sixth highest rate per capita in 2020.

The Community Safety Partnership is built around four pillars: prevention, intervention, enforcement and trust building. Officials hope it will act as a positive force for years to come, but questions about funding and the anticipated departure of federal partners in the coming year mean its future is murky.

Local and national effort

The Community Safety Partnership has its roots in a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Kansas City Police Department that started in 2018. Kansas City is one of several dozen cities taking part in the DOJ’s public safety partnership program.

“We attended a symposium in Birmingham, Alabama, where we learned about other sites and their PSP experience,” said Sgt. Jacob Becchina at KCPD. The symposium included a strategic planning session on forming partnerships “to improve our approach and response to violence,” he said.

The list of involved parties is long. Representatives from KCPD; the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office; Missouri Division of Probation and Parole; the U.S. attorney’s office; FBI; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the U.S. Marshals Service all come together in biweekly meetings.

The public safety partnership “has actually been very helpful,” said Michael Mansur, communications director with the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office. “I mean, frankly, the only time we sit down together on violence, kind of bigger picture kind of discussions, is because of PSP.”

In early 2020, the partnership invited community groups to join in a planning process. Those discussions resulted in a 48-page blueprint, which became the framework of Lucas’ Community Safety Partnership.

Community input 

The Community Safety Partnership board is larger than KC NoVA’s was, and that’s intentional. Organizers want to ensure that a single person can’t sink the program by pulling out, which is what happened after Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith retracted the department’s support for KC NoVA.

“It speaks to the fact that you always have to have collaboration,” Lucas said. “It doesn’t stop with a mayoral term, or a police chief’s term.”

Among the new board members is Candance Wesson, who founded the women’s reentry program The Help KC. A member of the Center for Conflict Resolution also sits on the board, as does the Rev. Vernon Howard with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, a strong supporter of KC NoVA, has reprised her role as a board member, as has a KCPD liaison.

The board’s meetings are publicly broadcast on the city’s YouTube channel, a distinct shift from the secrecy of KC NoVA meetings. Members of the public can attend board meetings, and meeting minutes are public record.

When the 48-page strategic plan was initially released, it focused on three pillars: prevention, intervention and enforcement. The fourth, trust building, was added later, but board members say it should guide every step of the program.

“I think if we just keep those four pillars in mind, the really hard work surrounding the implementation of the strategic plan will be a lot simpler,” said Mary O’Connor, who works with cities partnering with the DOJ to put violence reduction strategies in place.

Branding, rollout complications

The revised program was initially announced a year ago under the name Reform KC. Organizers realized the name didn’t accurately reflect all the program was designed to do and changed it to the Community Safety Partnership.

The pandemic got in the way of the rollout and forced several planned town halls online. Grand plans for action steps had to be shelved as everyone worked from home, making it difficult to draw conclusions about the program’s effectiveness in 2020.

The DOJ’s public safety partnership is only supposed to provide assistance for three years in each city. Kansas City was granted a one-year extension because of the pandemic.

O’Connor, who served for more than 20 years with the Tampa Police Department, will guide the partnership on behalf of the DOJ for the remaining year. She said the Community Safety Partnership identified several key areas to focus on, including enhanced community engagement and streamlining victim-witness support services.

“The commitment to providing referrals to victims and witnesses in the city is outstanding,” she said. “And I think any work that you guys can do in this area to continue this effort is going to be great for the victims in Kansas City, which is really what it’s all about.”

Funding concerns

Funding for a vital part of the program is guaranteed for the next year. After that, things are unclear.

KCPD and the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office agreed to use funds from the Jackson County Community Backed Anti-Crime Tax, better known as COMBAT, to retain client advocates, who provide social services to individuals considered likely to be perpetrators or victims of gun violence. The advocates are the last holdovers from KC NoVA and have quietly continued their work after police pulled out of the program.

The funds from COMBAT total $78,268 and provide a buffer until the advocates can find more funding sources, said Darren Faulkner, the team’s leader.

In a late September interview, Lucas said an earlier decision by the Kansas City Council to reallocate one-fifth of the police budget toward a new “community services and prevention fund” could provide some support for the Community Safety Partnership’s priorities. That decision is now in limbo, however, after a Jackson County judge ruled that the reallocation was illegal. The city is considering appealing the ruling.

The city has also applied for a federal grant and is continuing to pursue private funding options through community donors. The Community Safety Partnership approved moving the client advocates under the Kansas City Health Department’s umbrella to make it easier to obtain money to pay the advocates.

“The NoVA initiative, its new branding, everyone on that board has a day job, except for social services,” Faulkner said. “We are the only ones that actually work for the partnership. If we go away, then a big part of this new strategy is gone.”

The Kansas City Beacon is an online news outlet focused on local, in-depth journalism in the public interest.

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Families with disabled children in limbo as Missouri aid program remains stalled

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Gabriella Cotton

The seizures started hours after Gabriella Cotton was born.

In the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, “there were tubes everywhere,” said her mom, Stephanie Currie. They protruded from Gabriella’s belly button and mouth, wires were strapped to her head and IV’s snaked out of the newborn’s five-and-a-half-pound body. 

Gabriella Cotton

Gabriella Cotton at five days old after she was born and being cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Currie)

“All of my attention was on her at the time, just if she would be okay,” Currie said, who braced herself for the possibility of losing her newborn child. “I didn’t get to hold her until she was a week old.”

After MRI scans, Gabriella was diagnosed with a grade three bilateral brain bleed. It’s what caused her cerebral palsy and epilepsy — just two of the conditions that the now-three-year-old lives with daily.

The brain bleed also led to a build up of fluid known as hydrocephalus, requiring a ventriculoperitoneal shunt to be placed to drain extra fluid. She relies on being fed through a gastrostomy tube and physical movement can be difficult, requiring assistance with standing, sitting and controlling her head.

Gabriella can’t talk. But in the three years Currie has cared for, as a mother and full-time caregiver, they’ve developed a bond that doesn’t need words to define it.

Families like Currie’s are ones that a new pilot program funded by the state aims to help. Included in this year’s state budget was nearly $3 million in federal stimulus funds to launch a program to train family members to be certified home health aides.

It would be small to start, with just 50 families in the St. Louis area. After being trained, the family members could be hired by a home health agency and be paid to provide care for their medically fragile children.

Team Select Home Care, an Arizona-based company that has lobbied for the program for the past three years, argues its a solution that will help tackle a shortage of private duty nurses, ensure children with disabilities receive consistent care and ultimately save both the state and company money.

“A parent never misses a shift, never calls in sick, there’s never a gap in care like there is when we’re only able to use nurses,” Fred Johnson, the company’s president and CEO, said.

But the program has yet to be implemented. The company said top state officials told them the budgeted funds were diverted to respond to COVID-19 needs instead. State agencies have ignored questions on the program for weeks. A state lawmaker and Team Select Home Care are raising questions as to why.

But while the program’s implementation remains in limbo, families like Currie’s are left to get by with the resources they have on hand, even when it’s not enough.

Without help

Isabella Bisher

Two-year-old Isabella Bisher with her younger sister Elizabeth (Photo courtesy of Amanda Bisher).

After being born in October 2018, Isabella Bisher kept turning blue.

Isabella would stop breathing. At first, she was sent home with oxygen. But five days later she developed a rhinovirus infection, and from there her oxygen levels and respiratory rates kept dropping. She was eventually diagnosed with congenital central hypoventilation syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that results in impaired breathing.

Like Gabriella, Isabella spent the early days of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit, where she experienced seizures and underwent a tracheostomy surgery to provide an alternate way to breathe. She stayed at St. Louis Children’s Hospital for nine months and wasn’t able to come home until August 2019.

Despite Isabella qualifying for 16 hours of nursing a day, her family could only secure one part-time nurse for four nights a week.

“Nursing was a nightmare,” Amanda Bisher, Isabella’s mom, said.

She’s gone through six or seven day nurses and nearly as many night nurses. One of the nurses who was a great fit and going through nursing school later left for a better paying job with better hours at a hospital when she graduated.

Low wage is a persistent problem within the private duty nursing industry that makes it difficult to attract staff. Advocates are hopeful increased Medicaid reimbursement rates that lawmakers passed this year will help.

As of right now, two different nurses cover six nights, along with help from Bisher’s mom, who is 60 years old and also helps care for Isabella.

“She’s here full time and helps us because Isabella is a full time job,” Bisher said. “And I have five other children. It is not an easy task.”

‘I wouldn’t give it up for anything’

Isabella Bisher and family

Two-year-old Isabella Bisher sits on her father’s shoulders and poses for a photo with her mom, siblings and grandma. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Bisher)

Both Bisher and Currie described at first being in shock as they learned how to navigate their daughters’ care and the rollercoaster of being in the neonatal intensive care unit.

But they’re now experts. Bisher can now launch into a detailed explanation of steps to tie and change Isabella’s tracheostomy tube — a process that initially terrified her and took a year until she felt comfortable doing it without a nurse’s help.

She’s become unfazed when Isabella has a spell of holding her breath and Bisher needs to step in and manually resuscitate her to jumpstart her breathing.

Currie knows the nonverbal cues to look for to understand Gabriella’s needs. A smile or a little chuckle means yes. Sucking on her hands a lot and cranky could be that her muscles are tight or she’s hungry.

“You kind of have to just learn. You learn smells, you learn what things look like, the differences,” Bisher said. “There’s a lot that goes into it, and you just can’t learn it all at once. It totally comes from experience.”

Currie didn’t return to job as a sales associate at the Gateway Arch or her side job as a baker after Gabriella was born and cares for her full-time. Without a day nurse, Bisher does, too, on top of home-schooling her kids. Both are single-income families of eight.

“She’s kind of like my best friend. I spend everyday with her. So I really love it,” Currie said. “It is a lot of work. I think a lot of people would think that it’s very overwhelming. But I love it. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”

Currie already went through the steps of becoming a certified home health aide before, and was hired by Team Select Home Care when it initially started a pilot program before state officials said it needed secure approval for the legislature in 2019.

Gabriella Cotton

Three-year-old Gabriella Cotton at two-years old. She requires assistance with activities like sitting and standing. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Currie)

It was devastating when the pilot got shut down, Currie said. Being paid to care for Isabella meant her husband didn’t have to work so many hours of overtime as a forklift operator at a freight company and could be with the family more. They felt like they could put savings aside and plan for the future.

“So when it stopped, our whole life kind of stopped,” Currie said. “And we had to think, ‘Okay, well now, what do we do now?’”

Bisher is part of the Caring for Complex Kids Coalition, which is a part of a federal lawsuit alongside nine families that sued the state last year. The lawsuit argued the state violated the Medicaid Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, in part, for failures to arrange for private duty nursing. As a result, the state has since agreed to a plan outlining steps it will take to ensure plaintiffs receive services.

While many of Isabella’s needs require higher certifications of care, Bisher said it would be “a huge help” and amazing to be able for her mother to be paid for the care she helps provide.

Currie has never sought out an in-home nurse, and she ultimately doesn’t want to. She feels she is best for the job. She doesn’t understand why she can hire a stranger to care for her daughter, but isn’t allowed to be paid to do so herself.

“Gabriella is my baby. And when your baby is sick, or when your baby doesn’t feel good, your baby needs you,” Currie said. “And being medically complex, she needs me every day. She needs me all the time, and I want to be able to do that for her.”

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Missouri’s upcoming black bear trophy hunt is reckless and irresponsible | Opinion

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With its trophy hunt on black bears in the state set to begin in a few days, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has taken a reckless and irresponsible turn. A turn against science. A turn against ecology. A turn against public values.

Like many wildlife agencies around the country, and driven by its governor-appointed commission, the MDC is trapped in a century-old mindset, one that assumes we must kill bears to conserve them.

That’s not right, and a trophy hunt is not what we need. We need a new approach to the management of bears and other wildlife, one that respects public sentiment concerning charismatic species, takes account of the best scientific knowledge about their population dynamics and places the non-lethal mitigation of human-animal conflict above the demands of trophy hunters and their lobbyists.

It says something about the hasty nature of Missouri’s first trophy hunt of bears that the commission unanimously approved it with blithe disregard and without bothering to show Missourians a proper baseline population estimate for bears. Who doesn’t think that a clear grasp of their numbers and distribution should precede any discussion of managing bears, let alone killing them?

It’s worth remembering how fortunate we are that bears, having survived several centuries of persecution, are in our state at all. What’s more, they are a primary attraction for millions of people who visit the Ozarks in hope of catching a glimpse of them.

Trophy hunting, by disrupting their population dynamics, cheats Missourians and others of the chance to enjoy the experience of seeing them alive. In a fundamental way, too, the killing of bears undermines a growing ecotourism industry that brings more dollars into the state than a hundred bear hunts could ever do.

Trophy hunting is particularly dangerous for black bears and their social structure because they reproduce slowly and provide extended care to their young. When a trophy hunter kills an adult breeding male, other males may come into that territory and kill his cubs. In other words, for each bear killed by a trophy hunter, there are more bears at risk.

Sadly, the MDC has compounded this threat by authorizing the killing of unaccompanied bear cubs.

Given the bum rush that accompanies most trophy hunts in the United States, and at the least, our citizenry has a right to expect prompt action by the MDC in the likely scenario of a quota overrun like that which occurred during the outrageous Wisconsin wolf hunt last February.

The failure of Wisconsin officials to halt that hunt once trophy hunters had exhausted the quota produced an embarrassing carnage that put the lie to any claims of wise management. Similarly, Florida’s first bear hunt in 2015 was promptly shut down after only one season after trophy hunters slaughtered more than 300 bears – including 36 mother bears who were still nursing cubs – in just two days of what was supposed to be a week-long season.

To be fair, the MDC has shown its willingness to strengthen its bear-awareness and conflict mitigation programs. That’s good, because Missourians have made clear how they feel about the wanton killing of bears for trophies. A March 2019 Remington Research Group poll found that 67% of Missourians do not support black bear trophy hunting and believe that the state should prioritize non-lethal methods to reduce human-bear conflict.

Humane management is our future, and this is the mandate for action that the agency should embrace from now on. There should be no more pandering to a small faction seeking to foist a trophy hunt on a state where the majority of citizens don’t want to see it happen at all.

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UPDATE Work to Temporarily Close Missouri Route 79 in Pike County

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UPDATE Work to Temporarily Close Missouri Route 79 in Pike County
Visitor (not verified)
Mon, 10/11/2021 – 07:30

Closure has been moved to Tuesday, October 19

HANNIBAL– Weather permitting, Oct. 19, Kansas City Railroad will be completing repairs in both directions from Ashley Street to Delaware Street in Louisiana between 7:30 am to 3 pm.  The road will be closed while the work is being performed.  Please use alternate routes.
Motorists will need to use alternate routes during these times. For more information on this and other roadwork in your area, you can visit us online at www.modot.mo.org/northeast, or call our customer service number at 1-888 ASK MoDOT (275-6636).
MoDOT’s mission is to provide a world-class transportation system that is safe, innovative, reliable and dedicated to a prosperous Missouri.  Please do your part to help us achieve a safe system by wearing your seat belt every time and putting your phone down while driving…for your safety and our workers.  Take the pledge – Buckle Up, Phone Down.
 

 

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Mon, 10/11/2021 – 03:29

O’Fallon Police Blotter: August 16 – 22, 2021

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The following reports for August 16 – 22, 2021 were supplied to 70 West Sentinel by the O’Fallon Police Department. A report of an arrest or charges filed is not an assumption of guilt, nor READ MORE

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In Memoriam: St. Charles County Obituaries, September 19 – 25, 2021

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The following obituaries were posted by local funeral homes from September 19 – 25, 2021. Click or tap the link provided to access the obituary on the funeral home’s website. Baue Funeral Homes Joseph Hubert READ MORE

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Trump rails against Democrats, repeats election fraud conspiracies during Iowa rally

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Former President Donald Trump ruminated on election fraud and Democratic wrongdoing during a rally on Saturday while teasing a potential 2024 run.

Trump gave a warm greeting to Iowans and touted his win in Iowa in 2020 and his latest Des Moines Register/Iowa Poll numbers.

“As disastrous as the Biden administration has been, no one can blame the great state of Iowa because boy, we did really, really great here,” he said.

Saturday was Trump’s first visit to Iowa since before the 2020 election. Though he has not announced his candidacy for 2024, Trump gave a campaign-style stump speech, railing against President Joe Biden and emphasizing his own success in office.

He joked with the audience about a potential new slogan: “Make America Great Again, again.”

Throughout his speech Saturday, Trump continued to incorrectly claim that he won the 2020 election, noting that he “never conceded.”

“Remember, this is not about me being robbed of an election,” he said. “This is about the American people having their country taken away from them.”

He spoke in detail about grievances with specific states, incorrectly claiming widespread fraud had occurred to prevent him from remaining in office. To date, there has been no evidence of large-scale fraud in the election and multiple court cases on the matter have been thrown out.

Even so, Trump noted that he gets the “biggest cheers” when speaking about election fraud. He advocated for a complete overhaul to the election system “to ensure it’s free, fair, honest and able to be fully and quickly audited.”

Another major through-line of the speech was that Biden had undone the success of his administration.

“If Biden had just gone to the beach,” Trump joked, the southern border would have remained secure.

He emphasized crime as a growing issue in the U.S., alleging that other countries were intentionally bringing criminals into the country and that there were “bloodthirsty gangs” roaming the streets.

On policy, Trump lingered on a Democrat-led spending bill that would include a wide range of Biden’s priorities, like free community college and a child tax credit.

“We cannot allow America to ever become a socialist country. That’s what they’re doing,” he said. “And I really think it’s a step beyond that, to be a communist country.”

Trump also spent a large chunk of the speech on Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, focusing on the decision to leave behind equipment.

“We should have taken everything,” he said. “Most importantly, we shouldn’t have lost 13 warriors.”

He said the withdrawal was “the most embarrassing event in the history of America.”

The vast majority of Trump’s nearly two-hour address was focused on critique of the Biden administration, praising his own record and claiming election fraud, but Trump also repeatedly told the crowd to vote out Democrats next November.

“Practically every single Democrat lawmaker in the House and Senate has endorsed this deranged legislation,” Trump said, referring to the spending bill. “And that’s why every single one of them needs to be voted out of office next November.”

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St. Charles County Corrections staff graduate from department’s first leadership program

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Sixteen leaders in the St. Charles County Department of Corrections recently completed a new program that addresses key issues facing corrections departments in today’s environment. Leadership Academy is the first of its kind for the READ MORE

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Lake Saint Louis Police Blotter: August 19 – 25, 2021

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The following reports for August 19 – 25, 2021 were supplied to 70 West Sentinel by the Lake Saint Louis Police Department. A report of an arrest or charges filed is not an assumption of READ MORE

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Despite plan calling for ‘signature development,’ SLU sells prime Midtown land to QuikTrip

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SLU tried to distance itself from the transaction in May, but QuikTrip has had a contract with the university since February 2019.

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Corporate meat lobby claims they’re the scapegoat when they’re really the problem | Opinion

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Recently, in a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), a mouthpiece for the corporate meatpacking industry, complained that the Biden Administration’s work to combat concentration in the agriculture industry cannot ignore the “fundamental principles of supply and demand.”

Let us look at some facts to counter their claims. In 1977, the largest meatpackers controlled 25% of the beef supply. Today, just 4 corporations control 85% of the beef supply.

NAMI lobbied to remove Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) and succeeded in 2015, so now any beef product from anywhere in the world could be labeled as “Product of the USA”, no matter what country the meat comes from. This matters for both consumers and farmers. For example, in 2014, when the U.S. had mandatory COOL, cow/calf producers were paid around $518 per cow/calf unit. In 2020, that margin dropped to $85 per unit and is projected to be around $120 per cow/calf unit this year. This means cattle farmers are operating below their cost of production–meaning they are losing money on every animal they sell.

Meanwhile, we are importing more and more cattle and boxed beef, which undercuts prices paid to U.S. cattle producers. In 2020, during the pandemic, the U.S. imported a record 4.4 billion pounds of beef and only exported 2.9 billion pounds.

Right now, the price paid for fed cattle (cattle ready for processing) is the same as it was in January 2020, even though the price of beef has risen significantly for consumers, who have seen their grocery bills rise and meat prices skyrocket. Long story short: cattle farmers are struggling while meatpackers enjoy record profits.

NAMI is trying to make you (and policymakers) believe that COVID and lack of labor is causing this. They want you to believe that consolidation and centralization of the meatpacking industry has nothing to do with our current challenges, for both the farmer and consumer.

The truth is, over the last three decades, corporate consolidation and control have put small and medium-sized meat processing facilities out-of-business, while paying farmers less and charging consumers more. Diversity in our food system, including meatpacking, allows for more resilience, in good times and bad.

With just four companies controlling almost the entire beef industry, supply and demand is virtually an illusion, and so is NAMI’s argument. NAMI business practices not only make them the scapegoat, but the problem as well.

We as producers and consumers can make a change happen.  There are bills currently moving or being debated that could help.

The bipartisan “50-14 Bill” sponsored by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., would require meatpackers to purchase 50% of their supply from the market and own their supply for 14-days or less before slaughter.

The “American Beef Labeling Act of 2021” sponsored by Tester, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. and Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., would reinstate mandatory COOL and ensure that “Product of the USA” really means the beef was “born, raised and harvested” in the USA.

Bipartisanship is rare. It is up to us to push our Congresspeople to make these bills law. We all know nothing gets done in Washington, D.C., without “We the People.” So now it’s up to us.

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Onder eyeing race for St. Charles County executive; incumbent Ehlmann plans to seek fifth term

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‘At a certain point, it is time for new leaders to step forward,’ Onder said. Ehlmann responds, ‘I don’t have time to worry about Bob Onder.’

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Traffic Alert: I-435 MO River Bridge rehab work scheduled for the weekend

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Traffic Alert: I-435 MO River Bridge rehab work scheduled for the weekend
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 10/08/2021 – 16:10

JACKSON/CLAY COUNTIES – The Missouri Department of Transportation will make the following traffic change as part of a two-year bridge rehabilitation project on the I-435 Bridge over the Missouri River.
Crews will close two lanes of southbound I-435 between Front St. and Route 210 from 8pm, Friday, October 8 until 3pm, Saturday, October 9 for deck pour work
 
Closures in this area have the potential for creating significant traffic slowdowns. We encourage motorists to 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

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Published On

Fri, 10/08/2021 – 12:09

Georgia U.S. attorney quit after Trump pressure to reject election results, new report confirms

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Former President Donald Trump forced a top federal prosecutor in Atlanta to step down because he wouldn’t help Trump overturn his loss of Georgia in the 2020 presidential election, a U.S. Senate report released Thursday said.

The report, written by Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats, found that the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, Byung Jin “BJay” Pak, resigned under pressure from the Trump White House in early January.

Pak would not substantiate unfounded claims that the election results in Georgia were fraudulent, the report said.

Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, asked Pak to make an investigation of supposedly illegal ballots carried around in suitcases “a top priority,” Pak told committee investigators in an interview made public for the first time Thursday.

Thursday’s report was only an interim account, released as committee investigators continue to gather evidence in their investigation into Trump’s efforts shortly after the November election to undermine President Joe Biden’s victory.

Though the findings aren’t final, the report adds details about Pak’s ouster and confirms it was related to his resistance to pursuing Trump’s demands to find  nonexistent election fraud.

Pak’s resignation letter, submitted Jan. 4, made no mention of his reason for leaving the post he’d held since October 2017, though the move raised questions at the time because it broke with the Justice Department’s succession protocol.

Bobby Christine, then the U.S. attorney for the neighboring Southern District of Georgia, replaced Pak on an acting basis. Under normal procedure, Pak’s top deputy, Kurt Erskine, would have become the acting U.S. attorney.

A ‘never-Trumper’

In a Jan. 3 Oval Office meeting, Trump complained to acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who by then had replaced Barr, and acting Deputy Attorney General Richard O’Donoghue that Pak was a “never-Trumper,” according to the report.

Trump said he’d prefer Christine to take over the Northern District office, which includes Atlanta, because “he’ll do something about [election fraud].”

Trump was displeased that Pak, a former Republican state legislator whom Trump had appointed to the U.S. attorney post, wouldn’t back unfounded claims of election fraud related to ballots inside State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

Rudy Giuliani, a personal attorney and adviser to Trump, traveled to Georgia in early December to promote the theory that a video showed poll workers at the arena delivering suitcases full of illegal ballots.

Barr, before he stepped down as attorney general Dec. 14, asked Pak to make an investigation of Giuliani’s claim “a top priority,” Pak told committee investigators.

U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., and Richard J. Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Judiciary Committee staff members were present for Pak’s interview.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office quickly debunked that Giuliani claim, finding instead that the supposed suitcases were secure ballot boxes holding legitimate ballots.

Pak personally reviewed video and audio from the arena and confirmed the secretary of state’s findings were valid, he said.

“I was comfortable that the main allegation that Mr. Giuliani made with respect to the secure ballot box being a suitcase full of fake ballots, that was not true,” Pak told committee investigators. “That was debunked. I was satisfied of the explanation.”

But Trump and some allies continued to push that theory and other strategies to overturn Biden’s victory in Georgia.

On Jan. 2, Trump called Raffensperger and asked him, during an hour-long call, to “find” enough ballots to change the election result.

The next day, Trump met with Rosen and Donoghue and said he wanted to fire Pak, whom he called a “never-Trumper” who wouldn’t zealously pursue fraud claims.

Donoghue resisted. But when Trump overruled him, Donoghue told him Pak planned to step down the next day anyway, though Pak had actually told colleagues he planned to stay in office until Inauguration Day.

“That’s fine,” Trump responded, according to Donoghue’s testimony. “I’m not going to fire him, then. But when his resignation comes in, it’s accepted. Tomorrow is his last day as U.S. attorney.”

Trump then suggested Christine take over the Northern District. Donoghue responded that Erskine was next in the line of succession, but Trump insisted on Christine.

Pak did submit a “very bland” letter of resignation on Jan. 4 in order to avoid disrupting a special U.S. Senate election the next day, he told investigators.

The committee report concludes that the Trump White House made inappropriate demands of the Justice Department to investigate claims of election fraud, especially in Georgia.

Mark Meadows, a former North Carolina congressman who was Trump’s White House chief of staff, asked Rosen to “investigate various discredited claims of election fraud in Georgia,” the report said.

Grassley retort

After the Democrats’ report was issued Thursday, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa’s senior senator and the ranking Republican on the Judiciary panel, pushed back against it and said it vindicated Trump rather than implicating him.

The report focuses on Trump receiving advice from Jeffrey Clark, then the head of the Justice Department’s civil division, outside counsel John Eastman and others to take drastic actions to subvert the election results.

Those steps included firing the top DOJ leadership and installing Clark, sending letters to states asking them to contest the results, and suing states with voter issues.

But Trump rejected the most extreme options, Grassley said.

“The Democrats’ report makes much of efforts by individual lawyers to push the department to take these steps,” Grassley said. “But the fact is, none of these steps were taken because President Trump made the ultimate decision not to.”

Representatives for Ossoff did not return a message seeking comment Thursday. A spokeswoman for fellow Georgia Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock also did not return a request for comment.

Both were elected in the special election on Jan. 5, the day after Pak resigned.

The post Georgia U.S. attorney quit after Trump pressure to reject election results, new report confirms appeared first on Missouri Independent.

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Planned Road Work for Northwest Missouri, Oct. 11 – 17

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Planned Road Work for Northwest Missouri, Oct. 11 – 17
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 10/08/2021 – 15:10

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 Oct. 11 – 17.
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 such as pothole patching, mowing, striping, signal work, etc., in addition to the work mentioned below.
Andrew County
Interstate 29 – Bridge replacement project northbound over Hopkins Creek (mile marker 58) through October * (Capital Paving & Construction, LLC)
Route H – Pothole patching 0.5 miles north of County Road 46, north of Fillmore, Oct. 12
Atchison County
Routes D, E, U, & V – Resurfacing project through October. This includes intermittent CLOSURES for pavement repairs. (Herzog Contracting Corp.) More info: https://www.modot.org/atchison-and-holt-county-flood-damage-repairs
I-29 – Bridge replacement project over the Nishnabotna River (mile marker 122 – 124) through November. Traffic is head-to-head in the southbound lanes. More info: https://www.modot.org/atchison-county-interstate-29-nishnabotna-river-bridge-rehabilitation * (Phillips Hardy, Inc.)
Route M – Pothole patching from Route C to the Iowa state line, Oct. 12
Route 46 – Pothole patching from Route EE to Route 113 (Nodaway County), Oct. 15
Buchanan County
U.S. Route 169 – Roadside permit work at Route FF, through October (Rylie Equipment)
U.S. Route 59 (St. Joseph Avenue) – Resurfacing project from Krug Park Drive to Route K, through October (Herzog Contracting Corp.)
St. Joseph Avenue – Pavement repair from Middleton Street to I-229, through October. A 12-foot width restriction is in place and some adjacent city street entrances may close. (Herzog Contracting Corp.)
Route DD – Pothole patching from Route E to Route H (Clinton County), Oct. 12 – 13. A 10-foot width restriction is in place.
I-29 – Pavement repair at Route 6 (Frederick Avenue) near Exit 47, Oct. 12 – 15. This includes around-the-clock lane closures and a 12-foot width restriction.
Caldwell County
Route E – CLOSED for a culvert replacement from SE Kirkpatrick Road to SE Catawba Road, Oct. 12, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Carroll County
Route Z – CLOSED until further notice from Route C to County Road 217 due to damage caused by a roadway slide and ongoing geological studies.
U.S. Route 65 – Shoulder work from County Road 220 to County Road 224, Oct. 12 – 15
Route KK – CLOSED for shoulder work from SE Hickory Road to County Road 140, Oct. 13, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Chariton County
Route W – Pothole patching from Route U to Route 3 (Randolph County), Oct. 12
Route 5 – Pothole patching from Route T to Route KK, Oct. 13
Route O – Pothole patching from Route 5 to Route 129, Oct. 15
Clinton County
Route PP – Roadside permit work from Troxler Lane to Watkins Road, through mid-November (R and M Pole Line Construction LLC)
Route 116 – Pothole patching in the eastbound lanes just west of the ramp to I-35, Oct. 12 – 13. A 10-foot width restriction is in place.
Route DD – Pothole patching from Route H to Route E (Buchanan County), Oct. 12 – 13. A 10-foot width restriction is in place.
DeKalb County
Route E – Pothole patching, Oct. 12 – 15
Grundy County
Route E – Resurfacing project from Route 6 to Route 139 (Linn County), Sept. 30 through October. A 10-foot width restriction is in place. (Magruder Paving, LLC)
Linn County
Route E – Resurfacing project from Route 139 to Route 6 (Grundy County), through October. A 10-foot width restriction is in place. (Magruder Paving, LLC)
Route 11 – Seal coat project from Route 129 to Business Route 36 in Brookfield, through October (Vance Brothers, Inc.)
U.S. Route 36 – Bridge joint repair eastbound only at the West Yellow Creek Bridge just east of Brookfield, Oct. 12 – 15. This will include around-the-clock lane closures.
Route 129 – CLOSED for railroad crossing maintenance north of Bucklin, Oct. 12 – 15. This will be an around-the-clock closure. (BNSF Railroad)
Mercer County
Route O – Pothole patching, Oct. 12 – 15
Nodaway County
Route 46 – CLOSED for pavement repair from N. Dunn Street to Frederick Street in Maryville, Oct. 12 – 15, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily
Route JJ – Pothole patching from Route 148 to Route FF, Oct. 13
Route 46 – Pothole patching from Route 113 to Route EE (Atchison County), Oct. 15
Sullivan County
Routes 5 – Slide repair project in several locations, through mid-November. (Lehman Construction, LLC)
Routes C, O, PP, U, UU & W – Pothole patching, Oct. 12 – 15
Worth County
Route J, PP & Z – Pothole patching, Oct. 12 – 13

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

Districts Involved

Northwest

Published On

Fri, 10/08/2021 – 11:07

Bridge Maintenance to Close Route O in Laclede County

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Bridge Maintenance to Close Route O in Laclede County
Visitor (not verified)
Fri, 10/08/2021 – 14:55

LACLEDE COUNTY – Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) bridge crews are scheduled to make repairs to the Laclede County Route O bridge over the Gasconade River next week.
The routine maintenance procedure will take place Tuesday, October 12 through Thursday, October 21. The work will require the closure of the bridge, east of Competition, from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day.
Motorists will need to use an alternate route around the closure area while work takes place. MoDOT appreciates the patience of motorists traveling through the work area.
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/central. Follow the MoDOT Central Missouri District on Facebook and Twitter for project updates.
###

Districts Involved

Central

Published On

Fri, 10/08/2021 – 10:53

St. Charles County Food Inspection Scores: Duke’s BBQ, Loaded Elevated Nachos, Lake Forest Country Club and more

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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: Duke’s BBQ, Loaded Elevated Nachos, Lake Forest Country Club 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

Lawmaker demands answers about why Missouri program to aid disabled kids isn’t running

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Gabriella Cotton

A state lawmaker that helped secure nearly $3 million in funding to launch a pilot program to provide medically fragile children with another avenue of in-home care is demanding an explanation as to why the program’s launch has been delayed.

In a Thursday letter to state Budget Director Dan Haug, Sen. Brian Williams, D-University City, requested a detailed explanation for the state’s plan to implement a pilot program to train 50 parents to be certified home health aides and allow them to be paid to care for their children with disabilities who qualify for in-home care.

Missouri Sen. Brian Williams, D-University City (photo courtesy of Missouri Senate Communications).

“After more than a year’s delay, and after meeting the requests of MoHealthNet, I have yet to receive a clear answer explaining why a program the Legislature twice passed, and Governor Parson twice approved, continues to be delayed,” Williams wrote in the letter, a copy of which was provided to The Independent.

Thursday’s letter builds on questions the Arizona-based home health agency Team Select Home Care has been raising as to why the pilot program it lobbied for hasn’t gotten off the ground despite funding allocated in the state budget.

The company has said it was told by officials in the governor’s office and Office of Administration (OA), the agency that oversees state budgeting and purchasing, that the funding was diverted to respond to COVID-19 needs. 

OA and the Department of Social Services, which oversees the state’s Medicaid program, have ignored repeated requests for comment on the program over several weeks. Neither agency, nor the governor’s office, responded to emailed questions Thursday afternoon.

Fred Johnson, Team Select Home Care’s president and CEO, said it’s the most recent barrier in a string of roadblocks the company has faced over the past three years in its attempts to get a pilot launched in Missouri.

“They’re basically digging their heels in and saying ‘We don’t want to.’ I can’t even speculate as to why at this point,” Johnson said, later adding: “It’s mind boggling, because the situation with these families is so bad. The hospitals are overflowing.”

Johnson said Team Select Home Care has already administered a similar program in Colorado since 2012, and will soon launch in Arizona. He billed it as a program that will help children with disabilities receive the consistent care they need and avoid costly, long-term hospital stays while filling a shortfall of private duty nurses.

Ultimately, Johnson said he believes the model will save both the state’s Medicaid program and the company money,

Parents of children that require intensive medical care said they are struggling to get by without the full nursing services they are eligible for. For them, being trained under the program and hired as certified home health aides to care for their children makes sense, as they know their kids’ needs best and are doing that work already.

Gabriella Cotton

Three-year-old Gabriella Cotton requires assistance with activities like sitting and standing (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Currie).

For Stephanie Currie, it would mean being able to help her husband support their family of eight in St. Louis as she cares full-time for their three-year-old daughter, Gabriella Cotton, who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, a global developmental delay and has experienced seizures.

“I am her only caregiver. We don’t have anybody else,” Currie said. “I don’t have help. I’m the only one.”

Budget issues

Included in the budget lawmakers passed this year for the Department of Social Services was a line item for nearly $3 million in CARES Act funds allocated to launch a pilot program to train 50 parents in the St. Louis area whose children are eligible for in-home nursing services or are admitted to a pediatric hospital.

The goal of the program: parents can be trained and become certified home health aides and be hired by agencies like Team Select Home Care to be paid to care for their children who need constant medical attention.

The budget went into effect for the fiscal year starting July 1. But more than three months later, the program has yet to launch.

Bill Sczepanski​, Team Select Home Care’s vice president of government relations, said he was told during an Aug. 17 conference call with the governor’s policy director and Haug that the funds were unavailable because they were instead needed to respond to COVID. Sczepanski​ said Haug wouldn’t elaborate further on what the funds were specifically needed for.

“Here we are trying to give you an option that’s working in other states,” Sczepanski​ said. “And you won’t even pilot it.”

The nearly $3 million in federal money was slated to come from the State Emergency Management Federal Stimulus Fund. As of the end of September, the fund had a remaining balance of $131.3 million.

OA did not respond to questions on whether it believes the fund was over-appropriated, therefore warranting expenditures to be withheld.

Parson has not yet issued any budget restrictions for the fiscal year. It’s unclear if federal stimulus funds would be subject to the same withhold process as state general revenue funds.

Johnson claims the company was originally granted approval from top MO HealthNet officials in 2018 to launch a pilot program and from there began to train families. However, state officials later instructed the company in the spring of 2019 that the company instead needed to go through the legislative process to secure approval.

As a result, the company secured language and funding in the Department of Health and Senior Services budget bill lawmakers passed in 2020 that would allow up to 100 parents to be trained in a pilot.

However, according to emails provided to The Independent, the company was informed later that fall by MO HealthNet officials that after discussions with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services it was determined the program would be unable to be implemented under private-duty nursing regulations.

So the company and lawmakers tried again this year.

“Per the request of MOHealthNet, the funding and authority was placed in the department’s Home Health Program as a pilot limited to the St. Louis metropolitan area,” Williams wrote in Thursday’s letter.

But since the budget bill went into effect July 1, Williams and Team Select Home Care have said they have since been unable to secure clear answers as to why the program has remained unimplemented.

Need for care

Home care agencies have long struggled to attract nurses to provide in-home care, in part, because of low reimbursement rates through Medicaid that result in low wages companies can offer compared to other health care settings, like hospitals.

And a shortage of nurses willing to provide in-home care has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, Johnson said.

“It’s almost impossible to hire a nurse,” Johnson said. “We have two recruiters calling nurses nonstop. And we haven’t been able to hire a nurse in Missouri for about six months.”

Amanda Bisher’s two-year-old daughter Isabella was born with congenital central hypoventilation syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that results in impaired breathing. Isabella qualifies for 16 hours of in-home nursing a day as result to help with everything from securing her tracheotomy tubes to setting up a ventilator to go to sleep.

Isabella Bisher

Two-year-old Isabella Bisher with her younger sister Elizabeth (Photo courtesy of Amanda Bisher).

In the two years Isabella has been at home full-time, the full 16 hours of care has never been fulfilled, Bisher said.

“So it’s a battle,” Bisher said. “And it’s hard to find good nurses.”

Carol Hudspeth, the executive director of the Missouri Alliance for Home Care, said MO HealthNet has said that only about 75 percent of authorized nursing hours go fulfilled.

“So a little over a quarter of services go unprovided because the private duty nursing agencies have issues with staffing,” Hudspeth said.

It’s an issue that is the basis of a federal lawsuit filed against DSS last year in which nine children and their families sued the state, arguing it’s violating the Medicaid Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, in part, for failures to arrange for private duty nursing. As a result, the state has since agreed to a plan outlining steps it will take to ensure plaintiffs receive services.

This year, lawmakers also increased private duty nursing reimbursement rates under the Healthy Children and Youth program, from $33.44 an hour to $36.64. And a one-time increase with American Rescue Plan funds will also bump that up temporarily to $38.56 once approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Last year, MO HealthNet also implemented a new regulation that allows family members who are current registered nurses or licensed practical nurses to be hired by a private duty nursing agency and paid to care for their family members.

“Anything that would bring more resources to the private duty nursing industry, we are very supportive of as an association,” Hudspeth said of the proposed pilot program.

Nursing shortages mean Team Select Home Care is only able to match nurses for about 30 children in Missouri currently, Johnson said. If the pilot isn’t implemented, the company may have to leave the state altogether, he said, “which is going to abandon a whole bunch more kids.”

The post Lawmaker demands answers about why Missouri program to aid disabled kids isn’t running 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 Hunting Guide Allegedly Solicits More than $50,000 from Investors in Five States

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEOctober 8, 2021 Contact: JoDonn Chaney, (573) 526-0949
 
Missouri Hunting Guide Allegedly Solicits More than $50,000 from Investors in Five States
Jefferson City, Mo. — Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s securities division issued a cease and desist order against a Re

FY 2022 Traffic Engineering Assistance Program (TEAP)

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FY 2022 Traffic Engineering Assistance Program (TEAP)
rodney.braman
Fri, 10/08/2021 – 09:15

FY 2022 Traffic Engineering Assistance Program (TEAP)

Award Announcement

 

MoDOT’s LPA Program is pleased to announce the FY 2022 TEAP Project Awards.  This year, 26 applications were submitted requesting nearly $292,000, with available funding limited to $135,000. 

The Traffic Engineering Assistance Program (TEAP) allows local public agencies (LPA) to receive engineering assistance for studying local traffic engineering issues. LPAs awarded TEAP funding must utilize the LPA On-Call Consultant List for consultant services.

Local public agencies are reimbursed for eligible project costs at a rate of 80 percent with the local agency providing a 20-percent match.  Funds administered by MoDOT will provide 80 percent of the TEAP project costs, up to $12,000 per project. If the total cost is greater than $12,000, the local agency can pay more than 20 percent to complete the TEAP project.

All awarded project sponsors will receive an official email from MoDOT informing them of the next steps in the TEAP process. 

 

2022 Traffic Engineering Assistance Program – Project Awards

Local Agency

Award Amount  

Type of Project

City of Cameron

$12,000.00

US 36/Bob F. Griffin Road Operational Analysis

City of Kirksville

$12,000.00

Sidewalk Analysis

City of Mexico

$9,600.00

Clark Street Corridor Study

City of Knob Knoster

$12,000.00

Sidewalk Analysis & Inventory

City of Richmond

$12,000.00

Camden Street Corridor Study

City of Ashland

$9,600.00

Henry Clay Blvd./Main St./Liberty Ln. Intersection Operational Analysis

City of St. Robert

$12,000.00

ADA Transition Plan

City of Lake St. Louis

$12,000.00

Lake St. Louis Blvd. Operational Analysis

City of Cassville

$12,000.00

Citywide Roadway Asset Management Inventory

City of Marshfield

$12,000.00

Hubble Drive Corridor Study & Operational Analysis

City of Cape Girardeau

$12,000.00

Broadway Street Operational Analysis

 

Published On

Fri, 10/08/2021 – 09:17

Jack in the Box Recruiting Event

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Event date: October 22, 2021
Event Time: 10:00 AM – 02:00 PM
Location:
212 Turner Blvd.
St. Peters, MO 63376
Description:
Jack in the Box will be recruiting at the Missouri Job Center of St. Charles County on Friday, October 22nd from 10am to 2pm. They are looking to fill all positions on all shifts.

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

Amazon Recruiting Event

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Event date: October 21, 2021
Event Time: 02:00 PM – 04:00 PM
Location:
212 Turner Blvd.
St. Peters, MO 63376
Description:
Amazon will be recruiting at the Missouri Job Center of St. Charles County for Warehouse positions.

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

Smashed machines put emphatic end on Missouri illegal gambling case

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PLATTE CITY – When the bucket of the backhoe came down on the first of five illegal gambling machines destroyed Thursday by court order, it crumpled like a cardboard box being prepped for recycling.

The particle board sides offered no resistance to the pressure, and in about 40 seconds, all that remained was a pile of wood, plastic and electronic shards as the five machines were shattered into thousands of pieces.

“This is a good day,” said Eric Zahnd, Platte County prosecutor. “There is a good reason that the Missouri Legislature said these should be publicly destroyed. It is somewhat about the spectacle of destruction because the legislature wanted to send a message that these machines won’t be tolerated in the state of Missouri. It is a good day.”

The destruction took place at the Platte County Public Works lot, which has plenty of space and lots of heavy equipment suited to the task. 

Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd, second from right, speaks before the destruction of five illegal gambling machines Thursday in Platte City. With Zahnd, from left, are Sgt. Craig Hubbell of the Parkville police, assistant prosecutor Blake Sherer, Parkville Police Chief Kevin Chrisman and Major Erik Holland of the Platte County Sheriff’s Department. (Rudi Keller/Missouri Independent)

The five machines were seized in 2018 as part of what remains the only completed prosecution of a vendor who offers video games offering a cash prize for placement in convenience stores, truck stops and other locations. Integrity Vending, a Kansas-based firm, was found guilty of felony promotion of gambling in September 2020 and fined $7,500.

But thousands of other similar machines, owned by other vendors, remain in place in the state. Lawmakers have struggled to find agreement on new laws to clearly designate the games as illegal, as heavy lobbying pressure from vendors has blocked their efforts.

The Platte County prosecution showed that no additional laws are needed, Zahnd said before the smashing began Thursday.

“In Missouri, the law is clear,” Zahnd said. “These machines are illegal and they must be destroyed.”

Not every prosecutor agrees. 

There have been hundreds of investigations by local law enforcement and the Missouri State Highway Patrol, but a review by The Independent found that many prosecutors are reluctant to file charges and some do not think the games are illegal at all.

The key difference between a casino slot machine and the games destroyed Thursday is that the games have a feature that allows a player to see if their next bet will be a winner or a loser. If it is a loser, the player can withdraw their money, canceling the bet, or change games or wagered amounts in search of a winner.

While Integrity Vending removed its machines from the state, others have not. The most advanced prosecutions of vendors are three felony cases in Linn County. In all, about 24 prosecutions, mainly misdemeanor cases, have been filed since the start of 2019, while estimates put the number of machines being played in the state at 15,000 or more.

Torch Electronics of Wildwood has been the most aggressive in fighting back. The company and Warrenton Oil Company joined together in a lawsuit in Cole County to block the Missouri State Highway Patrol from investigating the games. And in early June, about a month after the latest effort to regulate the games failed in the General Assembly, Torch and Warrenton Oil combined to donate $350,000 to political action committees tied to Steve Tilley, a former House speaker and adviser to Gov. Mike Parson who lobbies on behalf of Torch. 

As a result, the machines have been called “gray-market” games, operating in the space between an old-style slot machine, which is clearly illegal, and the regulated games offered on casinos and by the Missouri Lottery.

The machines are syphoning money away from the education programs supported by the lottery and special taxes on casino gambling, said Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, who drove to Platte City from his Andrew County home to witness the destruction.

The lottery and casino games are also regulated for fairness, Hegeman noted.

For gambling machines in casinos – slot machines and those that mimic table games like video poker – the minimum return is 80 percent. Typically, the 13 casinos pay out about 90 percent of the money deposited in the machines.

A minimum 45 percent of lottery revenue is dedicated to prizes.

Those protections aren’t in place for the unregulated machines. Hegeman has sponsored legislation that would have prevented any vendor who offers the machines from converting 

Sgt. Craig Hubbell, a detective with the the Parkville Police Department, looks over the debris from the destruction Thursday of five illegal gambling machines. (Rudi Keller/Missouri Independent)

“I just hope this example will be picked up by the other prosecutors in the state,” he said. “They are not gray-market machines. They are black-market machines.”

The destruction is a satisfying day, said Sgt. Craig Hubbell of the Parkville Police Department, who initiated the investigation that began in October 2018.

“It made the case come to a conclusion, yes,” Hubbell said after looking over the remains of the machines.

The public destruction assures the public that machines won’t go back into use elsewhere, Zahnd said.

“I think there is no question that the reason the law requires them to be destroyed is that we don’t want them back in circulation,” he said. “And again, the law not only requires them to be destroyed but to be publicly destroyed. I think that is a recognition of the special harm that can come from illegal gambling.”

The post Smashed machines put emphatic end on Missouri illegal gambling case 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

Section of Hopewell Road to close between Hwy. N, Diehr Road for new pavement Oct. 13 – 15

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The St. Charles County Highway Department will close a portion of Hopewell Road Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021 through Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 for the construction of new pavement for the Route N/Hopewell Road realignment project. READ MORE

The post Section of Hopewell Road to close between Hwy. N, Diehr Road for new pavement Oct. 13 – 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

Misinformation abounds as U.S. House panel questions Arizona’s presidential election ‘audit’

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WASHINGTON — It didn’t take long for Thursday’s congressional hearing about a controversial ballot review in Arizona to demonstrate the persistent misinformation about the validity of last year’s presidential election.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, asked his colleague, Arizona Republican Andy Biggs, if he accepts the findings of the GOP-led review of ballots in Maricopa County. That so-called audit did not dispute the state’s certified result that President Joe Biden won Arizona’s electoral votes.

“Who won the election in Arizona? Donald Trump or Joe Biden?” Raskin asked Biggs.

“We don’t know,” Biggs incorrectly claimed, adding: “There are a lot of issues with this election that took place.”

Raskin expressed exasperation as he resumed his opening statement to the rest of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

“There’s the problem that we have,” Raskin said. “Donald Trump refused to accept the results. And unfortunately, we have one of the world’s great political parties, which has followed him off of the ledge of this electoral lunacy, and it’s dangerous for democracy.”

The nearly four-hour U.S. House hearing was the first public effort by Congress to question several key Arizona officials and other election experts about the questionable procedures involved in the months-long, GOP-led ballot review and the ramifications for public faith in the election process.

Absent from that interrogation was Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based firm that was hired to conduct the ballot review.

Logan told the committee this week that he was refusing to testify, a decision that comes after his company also has repeatedly refused to cooperate with document requests from lawmakers in D.C. and in Arizona.

During Thursday’s hearing, the witness table included a name tag and empty seat reserved for Logan, and Democrats berated him for declining to participate. Committee leaders have not yet said whether they will subpoena Logan to compel his testimony, which is within their power.

“Mr. Logan’s refusal to answer questions under oath is just one more sign that the dark-money-fueled audit that he led should never have happened in the first place,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who chairs the oversight panel.

County supervisors testify

Instead of hearing from Logan, legislators questioned two Republicans on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors who opposed the “audit,” Chairman Jack Sellers and Vice Chairman Bill Gates.

Sellers and Gates defended the county’s lengthy planning efforts to ensure last year’s elections were safe and secure. They described the 2020 general election as the most-scrutinized election in the county’s history — followed by a drive by fellow Republicans to discredit those results, the county’s auditing process, and the level of cooperation by Maricopa officials.

Gates described how county officials went to court to get direction on whether they could in fact turn the ballots over to a third-party group like Cyber Ninjas — and even after they sought an expedited ruling, the state Senate was one vote away from holding them in contempt.

“That was wrong,” Gates said. “It was also wrong once they had the ballots, in my opinion, to conduct an audit with auditors who had no elections experience, and then also auditors who clearly had a preconceived notion.”

“I don’t have a problem with audits,” he added. “I had concerns with this particular audit.”

Also testifying was Ken Bennett, a former Arizona secretary of state who served as a liaison between the Arizona state Senate and the companies hired for the ballot review.

Bennett asserted that the aim of the “audit” was simply to verify that official election procedures were followed, and noted that the most “significant” finding was that the hand count very closely matched the official results in the presidential race.

Bennett also criticized what he described as a lack of cooperation by county officials in the ballot review.

“Not many people like to have their work checked, but audits are much better with the cooperation of the auditee,” he said.

Router questions

Several Republicans on the panel expanded on that line of attack.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., raised questions about county officials blocking access to routers. Gates responded that there were cybersecurity concerns with allowing access to those devices, and costs associated with having to eventually put the county’s network back together.

An agreement was eventually reached that will allow the county to keep its routers out of the hands of Cyber Ninjas, as the Arizona Mirror has reported. Instead, it will involve the appointment of a special master to answer any questions related to the routers and their data.

Other Republicans on the panel used their time to repeat misinformation about the 2020 election results.

Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., said he believes the 2020 election “was indeed compromised,” and that a full investigation would “take time.”

“Yet as of January 20, 2021, Joe Biden was the inaugurated president,” Higgins said. “Listen good: On January 20, 2025, we’re gonna fix that. And Democrats will have an opportunity to deal with the re-elected and newly inaugurated President Donald J. Trump again, and I have no doubt that my Democratic colleagues across the aisle will object.”

Election experts have expressed alarm that the ongoing unsubstantiated claims of voting impropriety have undermined confidence in elections across the country.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., asked Gates if he believes the audit was about restoring faith in elections, as supporters have claimed.

For some involved, they may have been focused on ensuring any lingering questions about the election were answered, Gates said.

“But unfortunately, I do believe that a lot of people who led this, that was not their major focus,” Gates said. “Instead, I think it was more on raising doubts, and I think we’re seeing that again today, quite frankly.”

The post Misinformation abounds as U.S. House panel questions Arizona’s presidential election ‘audit’ appeared first on Missouri Independent.

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Gateway Fiber expands gigabit internet network into Dardenne Prairie and Lake Saint Louis

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Fiber optic internet provider Gateway Fiber is now taking orders for its residential and commercial high-speed internet services in Dardenne Prairie, Lake Saint Louis, and other parts of St. Charles County. Fiber network construction has READ MORE

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Suspect dead after officer-involved shooting in Wentzville

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The St. Charles County Police Department reported an officer-involved shooting today on their Facebook page: St. Charles County police are investigating an officer-involved shooting that left one man dead. The incident occurred just after 2:00 READ MORE

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GOP lawmakers push back against federal probe into threats against school board members

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WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans on Thursday objected to a move by the Justice Department to investigate violent threats made against local school board members and teachers, arguing that the federal agency is “policing the speech of citizens and concerned parents.”

“Violence and true threats of violence should have no place in our civic discourse, but parents should absolutely be involved in public debates over what and how our public schools teach their children, even if those discussions get heated,” according to a letter led by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

Attorney General Merrick Garland earlier this week directed the FBI to meet with local governments and law enforcement officials to probe increasingly frequent clashes at school board meetings over mask mandates and discussions of race in public schools. His action followed a Sept. 29 plea for help from the National School Boards Association to President Joe Biden, in which school meetings in Georgia, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, Virginia, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Nevada were cited.

“As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” the association said.

“As the threats grow and news of extremist hate organizations showing up at school board meetings is being reported, this is a critical time for a proactive approach to deal with this difficult issue,” the letter added.

But the GOP senators said that it was “entirely inappropriate” for the association to ask for a review of whether crimes are being committed under various statutes including the PATRIOT Act, which is aimed at deterring terrorism.

“We urge you to make very clear to the American public that the Department of Justice will not interfere with the rights of parents to come before school boards and speak with educators about their concerns, whether regarding coronavirus-related measures, the teaching of critical race theory in schools, sexually explicit books in schools, or any other topic,” they wrote.

“Furthermore, we urge you to instruct the FBI and the various United States Attorneys to make clear in the meetings discussed above that speech and democratic processes, like those that occur at a local school board meeting, must be respected.”

Over the last year, school board meetings across the country have been the target of conservative activists and some parents over requirements to mask in school to curb the spread of COVID-19 and over “critical race theory,” which is not taught at the K-12 level and instead is an academic theory studied in college. Critical race theory is the study of the intersection of race and U.S. law.

Garland said threats against public servants are illegal and wrong. “Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety,” Garland wrote in his memorandum to the FBI director.

Other Senate Republicans who signed the letter to Garland include Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, John Kennedy of Louisiana and Josh Hawley of Missouri.

Dozens of House Republicans on Thursday also sent a similar letter to DOJ, led by U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan, a member of the House Education and Labor Committee.

“Threats of violence are completely unacceptable; however, this is nothing more than a scare tactic to silence parents who are pushing back against unnecessary mandates and an agenda they disagree with being forced down our children’s throats,” the House Republicans wrote. “School boards are elected bodies and it’s their duty to be responsive and fairly represent the parents and students in their district.”

Some GOP lawmakers who signed included Reps. Daniel Webster, Vern Buchanan and Greg Steube of Florida; Tom Emmer of Minnesota; Bob Gibbs of Ohio; Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin; Russ Fulcher of Idaho; Debbie Lesko of Arizona; Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania; and Ben Cline of Virginia.

In the Senate letter, Republicans argued that the local school board meetings that the NSBA characterized as disruptive could have been dealt with by local law enforcement. “Citizens expressing their concerns in an appropriate forum is not a matter for law enforcement, and it is even more difficult to imagine what role federal law enforcement would play in such a scenario,” the senators said.

In Florida, a school board meeting was disrupted when parents and protesters came to discuss items that were not on the agenda such as critical race theory, as reported by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the NSBA told the White House. Similar situations happened at school board meetings in Michigan and Nevada.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a school board meeting in Gwinnett County, Georgia was disrupted when participants refused to wear masks and objected to the school’s requirement that students, teachers and staff wear masks.

“This too does not appear to warrant criminal investigation, especially by the federal government,” according to the GOP letter. “Not wearing a mask in a public place may or may not be a violation of a local law, but at most it is a petty offense wholly unworthy of the federal government’s attention and the sort of civil disobedience many Democrats would embrace if the politics of wearing masks were reversed.”

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Public Hearing

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Event date: October 12, 2021
Event Time: 07:00 PM – 07:30 PM
Location:
100 N. 3rd St.
St. Charles, MO 63301
Description:
Plublic Hearing on Redistricting Plan for County Council Districts

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

Encountering Loose Animals

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Although adequate control is required for animals, there may be situations where you encounter a loose or stray animal in your neighborhood. To control your own pet, keep him or her on a leash that is no longer than 10 feet.

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

St. Charles County police officer fatally shoots man in struggle over gun, chief says

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Thursday’s shooting on Veterans Memorial Parkway marks the second time since March that a St. Charles County officer has fatally shot someone.

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St. Charles County police identify man shot and killed in Wentzville

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Thursday’s shooting on Veterans Memorial Parkway marks the second time since March that a St. Charles County officer has fatally shot someone.

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St. Charles County police identify man shot and killed after pulling gun in Wentzville

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Thursday’s shooting on Veterans Memorial Parkway marks the second time since March that a St. Charles County officer has fatally shot someone.

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

St. Charles County police shoot and kill man who pulled gun in Wentzville

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Thursday’s shooting on Veterans Memorial Parkway marks the second time since March that a St. Charles County officer has fatally shot someone.

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

TOTAL CLOSURE: Crews will CLOSE eastbound I-670 at I-35 Oct. 16-18

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TOTAL CLOSURE: Crews will CLOSE eastbound I-670 at I-35 Oct. 16-18
Visitor (not verified)
Thu, 10/07/2021 – 17:05

JACKSON COUNTY – In late October, The Kansas Dept. of Transportation will close eastbound I-70 at the Lewis and Clark Viaduct to complete bridge work.  Eastbound I-670 into Missouri will be used as the main detour for that work. Signing and pavement marking improvements will be made to eastbound I-670 that will require the TOTAL CLOSURE of eastbound Interstate 670 at I-35 on the Missouri side beginning at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16, until approximately 5 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 18.  The southbound I-35 ramp to eastbound I-670 will also be closed during this time.  Eastbound I-670 traffic will be directed to southbound I-35. Motorists are encouraged to follow southbound I-35 to the Broadway/27th St. exit, make a U-Turn and back onto northbound I-35 to access eastbound I-670. All work is weather permitting.
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

Thu, 10/07/2021 – 13:02