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Daughter of Circle of Hope owners speaks out after parents' arrest

HUMANSVILLE, Mo.- The daughter of Boyd and Stephanie Householder, owners of Circle of Hope, has spoken out after the news of her parents’ arrest.

Boyd and Stephaine were arrested Tuesday and are being held in Vernon County. The Householders have been charged with 102 felonies between them.

The Circle of Hope facility, just a few miles off of Highway 13 on N Highway, came into the light back in August of 2020 when 24 girls were removed from the reformatory boarding school after several allegations of abuse came forward.

Amanda Householder says she was in disbelief when she found out about their arrest.

“I got a phone call from someone telling me they were arrested, and I was like ‘this is not happening, did that really happen?'”

She said she told her two sons about it, and they were a mix of happy and sad about the news.

“When I found out it was true, I can put it this way. When I told my kids that their grandparents were arrested, my oldest son was happy because of everything that happened, he doesn’t know the extent, but he does know how hard we’ve been working. But my youngest son looks at him and goes, ‘but that’s my grandparents.’ That right there is my feeling like I’m happy, but they’re my parents, so at the same time I’m sad. I don’t know how to explain it,” said Amanda.

Her biggest question is why it took nearly ten years to start investigating Circle of Hope.

She says now there is a social media group of women who lived at Circle of Hope when they were young; that group has around 50-60 members. Right now, there are four women with lawsuits against the Householders.

Amanda did reach out to some of the women, and they were in as much disbelief.

“We’re happy to be here. I’m happy that my parents are being held accountable, but I feel like the people who should’ve done something sooner need to be held accountable and need to be looked into. It’s insane that it took this long,” says Amanda.

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Missouri attorney general details charges of Circle of Hope owners

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.- Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt will have a press briefing at noon to provide an update on the Circle of Hope investigation.

Schmitt says this case is one of the most widespread cases of sexual, physical, and mental abuse patterns against young girls in Missouri history.

Boyd Householder was charged with 80 felony charges and Stephanie Householder has 22 charges filed against her.

Boyd Householder has been charged with:

  • Six counts of second-degree statutory rape
  • Seven counts of second-degree statutory sodomy
  • Six counts sexual contact with a student
  • One count of second-degree child molestation
  • 56 counts of abuse and neglect of a child
  • Two counts of endangering the welfare of a child

Stephanie Householder has been charged with:

  • Ten counts of abuse and neglect of a child
  • 12 counts of endangering the welfare of a child

Boyd and Stephaine Householder were arrested Tuesday and are being held in Vernon County. The Householders have been charged with 102 felonies between them.

According to Schmitt’s Office, Counts 1 through 22 in Boyd’s felony information document allege repeated statutory sodomy, statutory rape, and sexual contact with a student, detailing multiple incidents where Boyd had oral and sexual intercourse with a victim under the age of 17, as well as several incidents where Boyd placed his finger(s) in the victim.

“In total, the forensic interviews and statements of 16 victims were used to corroborate instances of alleged abuse,” Schmitt’s Office said.

Schmitt began assisting in the investigation in November 2020. In August, there were around 24 girls removed from the ranch by Child Protective Services.

Four women have filed legal petitions against Circle of Hope. The legal petitions include instances where the women were sexually abused by the Householder family, the ranch owners.

The AG’s Office is continually working to identify and contact victims, and urges anyone who has any information related to abuse at Circle of Hope Girls Ranch to contact his at 573-751-0309. 

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River Street to close for bridge replacement

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Parts of River Street in Carthage will be shut down as crews work to replace a bridge this week.

Crews will be closing part of River Street between Fifth and Sixth streets to traffic on Wednesday. The roads will be open to people living in those areas. There will be a detour setup at Central and Fulton and River and Chestnut.

Construction begins Wednesday and will take 60 to 90 days to complete.

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Congressman Billy Long reacts to Blunt announcement

MISSOURI — Congressman Billy Long says he didn’t hear about Monday’s news until he landed in Washington.

He and Blunt have worked closely together on several projects in the past. Long said the senator has been a mentor to him.

Congressman Billy Long (R) Mo, said, “He did so much for the Republican Party. He pretty much rebuilt the Republican Party in Missouri. And a lot of people don’t know that. When he first got elected in congress he opened the seventh congressional district office, which operated for all 14 years he was in congress and the first six or eight I was in congress. He did a lot for a lot of people in the state of Missouri.”

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Congressman Long says he is considering running for Blunt’s Senate seat and says he has more to consider before running.

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Parsons celebrates 150 years

PARSONS, Ks. — There was a sesquicentennial celebration Monday in Southeast Kansas. We spoke with the families who’ve called Parsons their home for generations.

Marilyn Smith, Parsons Resident, said, “Everybody was community built, everybody was friends with everybody.”

This was a major day for the city of Parsons 150 years ago.

Dave Mattox, Parsons Historian, said, “On March 8th, 1871, the very first lots were sold in Parsons at the KATY Freight Depot. They were looking for a junction point for the two KATY lines, and Parsons ending up being that junction.”

Bringing people people far and wide to work on creating the city. People like Stephen Miller’s great grandparents, who lived in the area before the city was even established, wanted to help create something great.

Dr. Stephen Miller, Parsons Resident, said, “They put their two story country farm house up on skids and had the mules pull them into town, and was one of the first rooming houses for the construction people who were building the other things in Parsons.”

The city grew and the railroad continued to provide employment for generations.

“My grandparents worked at the railroad, my grandpa cleaned out box cars, I had another grandpa who worked at the baggage clerk, my dad worked at the diesel shops in several different crafts, I worked in the diesel shops as a laborer, I was the second female to ever be hired as a laborer,” said Smith.

Creating a community of people who love their hometown, and giving the city reason to celebrate 150 years later.

“When people say ‘Why don’t you move to Lawrence where you have three little grandkids?’ I say, ‘No I rather live in Parsons.,” said Miller.

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Council moves forward with City Action Plans, Ewert Park Plans

Council passed the presented Ewert Park Improvement Plans to be included in the nondiscretionary list for the Parks & Stormwater Tax Renewal at Monday night’s work session. These plans are estimated to cost a total of $5.9 million. Additionally, council finished discussing the remaining 20 city action plan items left over from their previous work session held February 22. They passed a vote for the city manager to prepare ballot language of the city action plan items for council review in May. This passed with six in favor, two against, and one absent. 

After a presentation with further information about the Ewert Park Improvement plans, council decided to include the plans in the Parks & Stormwater Tax Renewal. The plans describe option one of the few that were previously presented during the Ewert Pool Study, which includes a splash pad and an ice ribbon that may be used in the winter.  

After council heard the remaining City Action Plan items, the category of plans included: Improve Community Appearance, Address Declining Neighborhoods, Increase Economic Development, Address Homelessness, Reduce Crime & Increase Safety, Resilient Revenue, and Downtown Joplin Alliance. 

“It’s certainly exciting, these are plans that will help the city improve and I think it will address some longstanding issues that citizens have had for a long period,” said Nick Edwards, city manager. “It will finally address ‘why doesn’t the city take care of, why doesn’t the city do something about this.’ It’s the city listening to the community and responding to those needs, and that’s when we’re doing our best work.” 

The City Action Plans were created based on citizen feedback and within each action plan are various goals, which council members identified during a workshop session. Edwards presented on the vision implementation of the City Action Plans, saying council should support the new vision because they meet community needs, the goals and plans were driven by citizen engagement, and it enhances the quality of place and service of community. 

The total cost for the 46 City Action Plan items is $6,023,250. The funding options for the City Action Plans are through either Use Tax or Property Tax, though Edwards presented that they recommend funding through the Use Tax. He said they hope to have direction from council by May and they seek approval of the action plans council wants to pursue. 

“To fund the action plans there’s a lot of expenses tied to those action plans to fund the new enhancements,” Edwards said. “The city will need to approve a Use Tax, and so in May we’ll bring forward a draft ballot language for the council to review. It’ll say, in essence, should the voters approve this tax these are the things that would be pledged to be done with the tax money. If they like that then they can approve it and then it’ll go on the ballot for the November 2021 election.” 

In addition come May, council will also look to finalize Memorial Hall plans and rediscuss parking in the plans, as well as finalize Project Launchpad plans in Joplin’s downtown library. Edwards said that the cost of “doing nothing” is great if these projects are not passed. 

In regards to the Ewert Park Improvement Plans, Paul Bloomberg, Joplin Parks and Recreation director, presented more in-depth information so council could make a decision about it. The chosen option for Ewert Park includes a splash pad with an ice ribbon—similar to an ice rink—as well as a covered basketball court, an amphitheater, and a kiosk & interpretative signage. The ice rink would also have its own theme of “Original Joplin—Route 66” in order to preserve history. The splash pad is anticipated to be free, while the ice ribbon would be function during the winter months for a $3 admission fee and $4 skate rental fee. 

Bloomberg presented that this option provides lower operational and management costs than the other options that were previously discussed. This splash pad, with its additional features, has a total cost of $5,829,375. The costs break down to: ice ribbon, $5,000,000; covered basketball court, $550,000; amphitheater, $250,000; and kiosk & interpretive signage, $29,375. Bloomberg stated that this recommendation aligns with the needs of the community. 

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Child tax credit payments: What we know about the plan to send checks to parents

(NEXSTAR) — For much of the last year, Congress has debated the size of stimulus payment checks meant to boost the economy and help the hardest-hit Americans pay down their bills. Now, a provision in the stimulus package being hammered out on Capitol Hill could result in regular checks for parents starting later this year.

Details on exactly how frequently the checks would be distributed are not yet finalized, but here’s what we do know:

  • Child tax credits are not new, parents have previously received the benefits at tax-filing time.
  • For this year only, Democrats have proposed increasing the benefit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child. Parents of children under age 6 would be eligible for an even larger $3,600 total credit.
  • The plan would also include $3,000 benefits to the parents of 17-year-olds who meet plan qualifications. Previously children had to be 16 or younger.
  • Regular check distribution would begin no sooner than July and would be an advance on up to half of the total benefit. So a family receiving the benefit for one child under the age of 6 would see $300 monthly payments for six months. Between 7 and 17, the benefit would be $250 monthly, if approved.
  • The added payments this year would begin phasing out for couples making over $150,000, and couples making over $170,000 would see no added benefit, according to the New York Times.
  • As in previous years, single filers making under $200,000 and married filers making less than $400,000 would still be eligible for the $2,000 payments.
  • The frequency of the checks containing the first half of the payment is not yet solidified. The Treasury Department will determine how frequently checks can realistically be distributed.
  • The remaining half of the credit would still be claimed when taxes are filed.
  • The credit would be refundable, meaning you could still get the credit even if you don’t end up owing taxes.
  • Some Democrats have called for making the payments permanent.

In pushing the credit, Democrats have said this change — in conjunction with stimulus payments, childcare credits and other relief for parents in President Joe Biden’s proposal — could reduce the number of children living in poverty by more than half, a claim based on a study by the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University.

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Missouri House passes bill for guns on buses, public transit

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – People with concealed carry licenses could soon bring their firearms on public transit in Missouri.

The Missouri House took up the legislation Monday afternoon, and 124 of the 163 members voted in favor of the measure. House Bill 52, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schnelting, would allow guns on public transit, like the MetroLink in St. Louis, as long as the person has a concealed carry permit.

Lawmakers have said this legislation is something they’ve been trying to push for years.

Under HB 52, with a permit, a person can bring firearms on publicly funded transportation systems like buses and trains. If someone does not have a permit, he or she can still transport a firearm on a bus, as long as the weapon is in a “non-functioning” state.

Schnelting said criminals who ride public transportation already carry firearms and this would protect Missourians from them and their Second Amendment rights.

“This legislation assures the right to self-defense for those that have undergone the CCW firearms training, weapons training,” Schnelting said.

Across the aisle, Democrats said this measure is something that could create more of a problem.

“What do you think the chances are that somebody else in the general public gets hurt if we pass a law like this in those kinds of conditions?” Rep. Wiley Price (D-St. Louis) asked Schnelting. He responded by saying next to none.

“The temperament on the bus in the summer in St. Louis can be kind of hostile without weapons and so I think if you added weapons to this circus, I think it could be problematic for the general public,” Price said.

Price agreed with Schnelting that criminals have firearms regardless of the law, but he said it’s easier for them to access guns in the state due to relaxed gun laws.

“We’re about to make a bill that could probably create more problems than it’s going to stop,” Price said. “You should absolutely always have the right to defend yourself in any situation, I just don’t know if adding weapons to that; the analogy we always use in this body, is the only way to stop a gun is a gun, and I think that is a terrible misconception.

The bill does not allow anyone to carry a gun on Amtrak. HB 52 now heads to the Senate for approval.

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Multiple candidates weighing possible run to replace Sen. Roy Blunt

ST. LOUIS – Senator Roy Blunt made a surprise announcement Monday. Missouri’s senior Republican senator announced his political career will come to an end when his term concludes. Blunt will not seek reelection in 2022.

The news opens the doors for a host of potential candidates. Several Republicans took to social media sharing statements about the possibilities of running for the US Senate.

Representatives Ann Wagner and Jason Smith each posted their own messages. State officials indicating possible campaigns included Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.

Former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has already indicated running against Blunt was possible. William Hall, a former senate staffer and adjust professor for Webster, Washington, and Maryville universities, believes Blunt stepping aside in 2022 could hurt Greitens’ chances.

“It really takes away what I believe might have been one of the focal points of a Greitens race – to run against an establishment candidate,” Hall said.

Democratic State Senator Scott Sifton previously announced he intended to challenge Blunt.

Following Blunt’s announcement, several other Democrats indicated they could run. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and State Senator Brian Williams shared messages indicating they will examine how they can best serve the state.

Blunt was asked if he had any advice for his replacement. He said lawmakers should not waste time on issues lacking support.

“Too many politicians have rushed to create this huge list of what they’ll never do, which means when they get there, they never get anything done,” he said.

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Missouri lawmaker wants a task force to monitor state employees working remotely

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Like most of the nation, Missourians began working from home a year ago when the pandemic started taking over. One Missouri lawmaker wants to make sure state employees remain successful while working away from the office.

Rep. Louis Riggs (R-Hannibal) said 90 percent of state employees who work remotely achieve job satisfaction. Riggs told the House Workforce Development Committee Monday he spoke with the Office of Administration (OA) about the efficiency and effectiveness of having state employees work from home during the pandemic.

“Remote work, work from home, work from anywhere, these are the terms we heard now and again before the pandemic struck us a year ago, but now they are in the forefront of our thoughts today,” Riggs said. “Work from anywhere, known as WFA, is here to stay and in a big way.”

Riggs is sponsoring House Bill 1178, which would create the “Missouri State Employee Work-From-Anywhere Task Force.”

The task force would evaluate where Missouri stands as a state for work from anywhere.

“While we do not know what the future will hold, we can utilize this task force to make sure that we are moving ahead as a state workforce as a way that is efficient and provides our citizens with the best experience possible under the new normal,” Riggs said. “It’s one of the many takeaways from the pandemic experience that we need to come to grip with now.”

The goal of the task force would be to evaluate state workers to make sure they are working as efficiently and with the best practices. Riggs said his goal is to start with state employees and later move the task force to look at the private sector.

“I have talked with constituents in the private sector who have been working at home for the past year and have no plans to go back to their offices if they are not compelled to do so,” he said.

According to the legislation, the task force would be made up of 17 members, including six lawmakers, three members from each chamber, the commissioner of OA, four members appointed from the governor, three people appointed by the Missouri Speaker of the House, one member representing the Department of Economic Development, one member from the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, and one member who represents a Missouri-based technology provider.

No one spoke in opposition of the measure during the hearing Monday. The committee did not vote on the legislation which is needed before moving forward to the House chamber.