Chronic Wasting Disease confirmed in Southwest Missouri

BARTON COUNTY, Mo. — Testing for Chronic Wasting Disease in Missouri has turned up two new cases in our area.

Samples from Barton County have tested positive—the first time it’s been identified in the county.

Southwest Missouri had previously seen just one case—and that was in Barry County.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is in the process of testing more than 28,000 samples statewide. The goal is to identify cases early to minimize the potential spread of the disease.

Civil War era was not kind to Missouri's courthouses

McDonald County, Missouri Courthouse

JOPLIN, Mo. — As we turn our calendars to a new year, you’ll find that many historical anniversaries are set to take place in 2023. In Missouri, several of those anniversaries are associated with county courthouses. However, not every anniversary is a celebratory one. For example, 2023 marks the 160th anniversary of the arson fire that destroyed the Vernon County Courthouse (including the entire town of Nevada).

The damage to Missouri courthouses has a tremendous bearing on families in each and every way. Not only are these historic buildings ripped from each of our lifetimes, but also the archives they kept: Marriage, wills, probate, land records, as well as others. Once destroyed, these paper artifacts are permanently lost.

When you look at the dates, most Missouri courthouses that were lost to fire, took place from 1881 to 1885, and it’s not just a coincidence. This was the time of the US Civil War, and when you have a slave state (Missouri) next to a free state (Kansas), small skirmishes and battles were quick to break out in nearly every county in the “Show-Me State.”

Thanks to the historical records website, “Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness” (RAOGK), the dates and information surrounding these courthouse fires have been archived for future generations to access and learn about. The following list from RAOGK reveals which Missouri courthouses went up in flames during the Civil War period of April 1861 to April 1865:

List of Missouri Counties with Burned Courthouses (1861-1865)

  • Barry County Courthouse – Courthouse burned in 1861, some records destroyed.
  • Bates County Courthouse – Courthouse burned in 1861, some records destroyed.
  • Barton County Courthouse – Courthouse burned in November 1862.
  • Chariton County Courthouse – A fire in the clerk’s office, apart from the courthouse, destroyed all county court records on November 11th, 1861, and fires set by Confederates on September 20th, 1864 destroyed the courthouse.
  • Christian County Courthouse – Arsonists destroyed the building and all court records in 1865.
  • Dade County Courthouse – The courthouse was destroyed during the Civil War on October 6th, 1863. Some records were destroyed.
  • Dallas County Courthouse – Confederate troops burned the building on October 18th, 1863.
  • Dent County Courthouse – Courthouse burned in 1864. The next courthouse, built in 1864, also fell victim to fire in May 1866. The fire destroyed county records.
  • Greene County Courthouse – A fire destroyed the courthouse on October 28th, 1861.
  • Holt County Courthouse – Courthouse fire in February 1965. Records saved.
  • Howell County Courthouse – In the fall of 1863, guerrillas burned West Plains and the Courthouse. Most records were destroyed. The county reorganized in 1866.
  • Jasper County Courthouse – Courthouse was destroyed by fire in October 1863. County records were saved by moving them to Neosho, Missouri.
  • McDonald County Courthouse – In 1856 a log courthouse, reportedly built in Rutledge, was demolished by Rioters. Bushwackers burned the courthouse in 1863, destroying most records. Deeds before 1863 were recreated.
  • Newton County Courthouse – Courthouse burned in 1862, destroying many county records.

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  • Oregon County Courthouse – In October 1863 this courthouse was burned in a Civil War incident, destroying many county records.
  • Ozark County Courthouse – Courthouse destroyed by fire in 1858 or 1859, all early records were destroyed. Second courthouse destroyed by fire sometime before February 1864. Some records were lost. Third courthouse destroyed by fire November 28th, 1934.
  • Reynolds County Courthouse – The courthouse has burned twice. The first time was in December, 1863, when the Confederate army burned it. A new courthouse was built in the fall of 1867 on the same foundation as the prior one. This courthouse was burned in late November, 1871. Both times all records were destroyed. Temporary quarters again burned May 27th, 1872, while a new “fireproof” courthouse was being built.
  • Saline County Courthouse – In August 1864 the courthouse burned as a result of Civil War activity.
  • Stoddard County Courthouse – During Price’s raid in September 1864, the courthouse was burned by some stragglers, but fortunately the records had been removed.
  • Shannon County Courthouse – Courthouse was burned by soldiers in 1863 destroying this early courthouse along with all county records.
  • St. Clair County Courthouse – The courthouse apparently was burned in September 1861 by Gen. James Lane. One account claims that Lane’s raid only partially destroyed the courthouse; by some accounts it was rebuilt and used until November 1864, when it was again burned in Civil War activity. Probate Court records were destroyed.
  • Taney County Courthouse – The courthouse was burned in 1863 by Union troops trying to keep the fortress out of the hands of Confederates.
  • Vernon County Courthouse – Both the courthouse and clerk’s office were destroyed when the town was burned in 1863. County Court records are missing from 1861-1865.
  • Webster County Courthouse – Courthouse was accidentally burned by troops in 1863.
  • Wright County Courthouse – Courthouse was partially destroyed in 1862 and then reportedly burned on January 11th, 1863.

Area Senior Centers close due to incoming winter weather

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Area Agency on Aging Region X announced on Facebook that some area senior centers will close out of caution for the projected inclement weather, and all services provided by the Agency, such as lunch, will not be available.

The Area Agency on Aging central office and Senior Center services in Barton County, Carthage, Neosho, Joplin, and McDonald County will close on Thursday, December 22.

Officials said they don’t want the older adult population to be getting out in the case of severe weather. They also do not have the capacity or funding to staff the senior centers after hours.

The Center in Carl Junction and the Webb City Senior Center will be open by the city as warming shelters for those in need. You can find more information about that and other warming shelters in the area here.

This information is subject to change depending on city-specific judgments in the case of severe weather.

Football watch party hosted by Lamar theater

LAMAR, Mo. — It was party time for Lamar football fans today (12/2). The Lamar High School football team battled Blair Oaks in the Class II State Championship game in Columbia.

For fans who could not attend, the Plaza Theater hosted a watch party. More than a hundred Tiger fans were on hand. Plenty of food and drink for all, and plenty of cheering for the Tigers.

“This is great for Lamar for us older folks that don’t want to make the drive and come home in the dark. The Plaza here, it doesn’t cost anything to see the game. And the local bank, Lamar Trust Company, furnishes all the popcorn and drinks you can drink. So, you can’t beat that,” said Terry Moore, Lamar Fan.

“You know, Lamar has always been very good about community support. So, and this is a community-owned theater. So, it’s terrific for it really,” said Scott Kelley, The Plaza and Barco Manager.

Stella, Lamar to receive over $2M to improve water systems

KSNF/KODE— More than $400,000,000 in state grants will help improve water systems throughout Missouri.

Here locally, the Village of Stella has been approved for almost $2.9 million to address issues with drinking water.

The state is using federal ARPA funds for the projects. There are a total of 41 approved for drinking water infrastructure grants.

The City of Lamar was also approved for funding. They’ll receive $2.3 million to replace aging water lines and help fund a new well.

"Guided Bison Saunter" in honor of National Bison Day

MINDENMINES, Mo. — To celebrate National Bison Day, dozens of people gathered at Prairie State Park for a tour and a chance to see bison in their natural habitat.

About four years ago bison were designated the “National Mammal”.

Currently, it’s estimated there are roughly 500,000 bison in North America.

Around 40 of those are located at the Prairie State Park, on 3,000 acres.

“So since it’s our national mammal now, we honor it. Since we do have bison here at the park, we do ‘Bison Saunter’ every month except for October. And National Bison Day we do two of them because we’ve had quite a bit of demand over the past two years to do so,” said Dana Hoisington, Naturalist.

Over the years the number of bison has decreased from nearly 30,000,000 to less than 1,000,000.

Lamar man/Honkies member sentenced to 20 years

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Lamar man was sentenced in federal court Tuesday for illegally possessing firearms and distribution of methamphetamine.

Jerold G. Lake, 40, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison without parole and was sentenced as a career offender due to numerous prior felony convictions. Lake pleaded guilty in November 2021, to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one count of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

In November 2020, Lake led law enforcement on a pursuit through Vernon County, reaching speeds of 100mph. When he was finally stopped, he was found with:

  • 4.2 grams of methamphetamine
  • 3.2 grams of marijuana + another 35.28 grams
  • $1,072 in cash
  • Glock .45 handgun (reported stolen from an officer’s vehicle in Crawford County)
  • Baggie containing 18.2 grams of methamphetamine

Court documents also show Lake is a member of the Southwest Honkies, possessing tattoos that represent the gang plus a skull with “SS” lightning bolts on his back. These types of tattoos have been recognized by the ADL and you can learn more about them here.

Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition.

Lake also has cases pending for arrests during 2020 (following his release from state prison in January 2020) in Barton County for first degree domestic assault, armed criminal action, and unlawful possession of a firearm; in Vernon County for first degree assault; and in Newton County, Mo., for fleeing an attempted traffic stop.

Suspect identified in weekend shooting

KSNF/KODE — The man who, police say is responsible for multiple incidents over the weekend in Southwest Missouri, including shooting at law enforcement, has been identified.

32-year old Brenton Ross is from Kansas City, and is being held on no bond.

Authorities say he led numerous agencies on high-speed chases through parts of Vernon, Barton, and Cedar counties on Saturday, and also fired shots at them. He faces more than a dozen charges.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is handling the investigation.

Ross is in the Cedar County Jail and is set to be transferred to the Vernon County Jail.

Missouri park honoring nurses takes shape thanks to generous donations

Lamar, Mo. — A Lamar park will be adding a new feature thanks to a generous donation. Danny Little is donating $50,000 to Barton County Memorial Park. It will pay for the future “Doris Little Barton County Memorial Nurses Pavilion” honoring both his mother and the nurses of the county.

The donation is the latest in the efforts to expand the Lamar park.

“Memorial Park is being built, you know, by the community support and generous donations. You know, we couldn’t do it without that. And so for him to pay tribute to his mom is real nice,” said Joe David, Barton Co. Memorial Park.

Another donation of $35,000 comes from Redneck Outdoor Products– and will pay to add nearly 900 feet of new sidewalks to the park.

Veteran Voices: Barton Co. Memorial Park

BARTON COUNTY, Mo. —We have brought you many stories out of Lamar involving a piece of property that was once home to the Barton County Memorial Hospital and over the last 2-years, has been transformed into the Barton County Memorial Park. The focus is on one of the soldiers honored there.

“I don’t like any war. And my heart goes out to all the men and women that are fighting,” said Sheri Lanz Keltner, Liberal.

The reason for that hits very close to home for Sheri Lanz Keltner of Liberal.

“My uncle Wallace Nathan Lanz. He is my dad’s oldest brother, and on September 12 of 1944, he along with several other young Barton county men, left to go off to service. He was 20; they sent him to the Philippines,” said Lanz.

The front lines in the Pacific theater, with deadly consequences.

“May the 16th, 1945 he was killed in action while defending his position. A gunner advancing on the enemy, I guess you would say, and he was shot. And they tried to provide medical treatment to him but it was just… they couldn’t.”

Well before Sheri was even born. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t miss the uncle she never knew.

“Just anytime the tapes are played or even the national, National Anthem – a tear comes to my eye because I realized my uncle made the sacrifice he made for our country and the fact that I never really got to know him,” she said.

That sense of loss gives Sheri an even deeper sense of appreciation for the Barton County Memorial Park, and specifically the space dedicated to local lives lost.

“It’s a place that I can actually reflect and remember the sacrifice that my uncle made along with those other 68 men.”

“Barton County sent roughly 2000 men off to World War Two and 69 never came back,” said Joe Davis, Barton Co. Memorial Park.

While this memorial is a physical reminder of their sacrifice, it can also give grieving families something more.

“A lot of these men didn’t make it home. They were buried somewhere else, you know, their body was unrecoverable, or they were buried somewhere else,” added Davis.

“I’ve never seen anything like this myself. I mean, I just think it’s beautiful,” said Lanz.