Newton County to vote on ambulance district tax levy rate

NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. – Voters in Newton County, Missouri will head to the polls Tuesday, April 6 to vote on a new tax levy rate for the county’s ambulance district.

The current levy rate is not quite 19 cents per 100 dollars of assessed valuation. If approved, the new rate would be 35 cents. Officials with the ambulance district say the levy raise would help pay for new equipment and provide more competitive wages for the districts workers.

“Because of television and things a lot of people think we are part of the fire department,” said Newton County Ambulance Chief Rusty Tinney. “We’re a completely different entity. You know there are more fire trucks and police cars in this county than there are ambulances. Again we have six ambulances to cover the entire county.”


News to Know (4/1/2021)

ATLANTA, Ga – With the U.S. well above 30 million confirmed COVID-19 cases so far, the nation is bracing for what health experts fear could become a fourth wave. New data from the CDC shows the highest number of cases per capita now concentrated in Michigan and parts of the northeast.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The state of Missouri looks to vaccinate up to ten-thousand residents at a “mega” vaccine site in Springfield. It will be held at the Hammond Student Center at Missouri State University. It’s a two-day clinic next Thursday, April 8 and the following Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on both days. The clinic will use the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine. You must register in advance.

MCDONALD COUNTY, Mo. – Authorities in McDonald County, Missouri make a breakthrough in a cold case. For 30 years investigators worked off this rendering as they tried to identify a woman only known as “Grace Doe”. Investigators had been referring to the woman as “Grace” as they tried to uncover her identity because they thought, only through the grace of God would they figure out who she was. Now DNA evidence has revealed who she really is, Shawna Beth Garber. Garber was found dead in 1990 on Oscar Talley Road in McDonald County. Lieutenant Hall with the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office says the case is far from closed.

PITTSBURG, Kan. – A multi-million dollar tax settlement involving Pittsburg native and entrepreneur Gene Bicknell has been overturned by the Kansas Court of Appeals. In a two to three decision, the court ruled that the district court of Crawford County improperly put the burden of proving that Bicknell lived in Kansas on the Kansas Department of Revenue. Bicknell’s legal fight with the state centered on whether he lived in Kansas or Florida when he sold his company, NPC International in 2006.


Toxic substance mailed to county officials in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – A federal terrorism task force is investigating after mail laced with a dangerous toxin was sent to a Sedgwick County government office, causing coughing and skin irritation for two employees and forcing several more to undergo decontamination.

The Sedgwick County Finance Department in the county courthouse received the certified letter on Monday, the Wichita Eagle reported.

The three-page letter was coated in a white powder, and two employees who handled the letter experienced symptoms of coughing and skin irritation, Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz said. One of the employees was sent to a hospital for observation. Both are expected to be OK.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force determined that the substance is diaminotoluene, a chemical used in dye making, Stolz said. It is highly toxic and potentially fatal if enough is inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin.

Three other finance employees, two courthouse police officers and two sheriff’s deputies underwent decontamination as a precaution, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Stolz said the letter purported to come from Moorish nationalists, but the origin of the letter remains under investigation.

The Southern Poverty Law Center defines Moorish nationalists as people who believe African Americans constitute an elite class with sovereign immunity that places them beyond federal and state authority.


Parsons man killed in a wreck while passing another vehicle

LABETTE COUNTY, Kan. – A Parsons, Kansas man dies in a wreck in rural Labette County Friday morning.

Kansas Highway Patrol says it happed at 7:35 a.m. at 9000 and Ness Rd about 4.5 miles south of U-160. 25-year-old Axzivian Cummings of Parsons was passing another vehicle at a high rate of speed when he lost control of his car. The car hit the ditch, collided with two utility poles, rotated counter clockwise, rolled multiple times and came to rest in a field.

Cummings was pronounced dead at the scene.


Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office reflects on pandemic challenges

COLUMBUS, Kan. – In a press release Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves reflected on how the county met the challenges posed by the pandemic. One year ago today, Cherokee County reported the first case of COVID-19.


Full Release:

03/19/2021 – A Look Back on the Past Year

One year ago today, our team announced the first confirmed case of Corona-virus in the Four State Region.  On one hand it feels as if this past year has flown by but on the other hand it feels like it was five years ago that we made the announcement.  Over the past twelve months, our team has encountered numerous challenges, not entirely different than those faced by communities across the country.

Throughout the long and challenging days, though, one thing has remained consistent and to be honest, inspiring.  The level of commitment demonstrated by community leaders to help others has never wavered.

In addition to the countless hours of dedicated service put in by Health Department Administrator Betha Elliott, Emergency Manager Jason Allison and their staffs, an incredible response from our community, including school leaders and staff, medical providers, non-profit organizations, our county commissioners, city leaders, citizen volunteers, along with Dale and Christina at the K-State Extension Office, just to name a few, demonstrated day in and day out what makes Cherokee County truly a great place.

Despite the challenges, despite spirited debate at times regarding the best course of action, despite not knowing when the next curve ball will come our way, the people of Cherokee County care about one another and are always ready and willing to step up – however they can – to help our neighbors, friends and community.

Like most of you, I would have been perfectly content with not having heard so much about contact tracing, social distance, mass gatherings, quarantine, isolation, or knowing that being within six feet of someone for more than ten minutes meets a definition of ‘close contact,’ but I guess when it comes to a global pandemic, we are all in it together.  And, although we aren’t completely over this pandemic, we are making progress.

Just as I have been during previous events, I’m proud of Cherokee County and how we come together, demonstrating grit and perseverance to overcome and get through challenging times.

Stay safe, stay healthy and God Bless,

Sheriff David Groves


Local senior centers reopening after a year of being closed

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Area Agency on Aging Region X (AAAX)  announced plans for a soft opening of all seven of its senior centers on May 3. That includes the centers in Barton County, Carthage, Webb City, Carl Junction, Joplin, Neosho and McDonald County.

“After being closed for more than a year, we have started to see a continued decline in COVID-19 cases,” said AAAX CEO Jennifer Shotwell. “In addition, more and more residents are being vaccinated as vaccination clinics pop up across our four counties. I feel confident that we can safely open the centers with minimal restrictions.”

Each center will have activities on specific days of the week. Monday and Friday have been designated for clients to play pool. Tuesday and Thursday have been designated for bingo and lunch service. Wednesday has been designated for cards/games and exercise classes. Officials ask clients call ahead to sign up for all activities, except for pool. However, pool tournaments will not be held at this time. Officials say that may change in the future.

All clients entering the senior center will be asked to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing in order to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Volunteers will be asked to oversee the activities and to help maintain cleanliness by washing any tables or chairs that are used for activities. Volunteers will also resume delivering to Meals on Wheels recipients at all centers.

The Area Agency expects to bring more activities back as COVID-19 cases continue to decline.


Vernon County Route BB bridge to close for replacement

VERNON COUNTY, Mo. – MoDOT will close the Vernon County Route BB bridge over Moore Branch south of Nevada, Missouri during a replacement project. Officials say the bridge will be close for up to 90 days beginning the week of March 22.

Contractor crews will replace the old bridge with a new structure as well as installing new guardrail at the ends of the bridge.

Traffic impacts:

  • All lanes of Route BB CLOSED over Moore Branch for up to 90 days
  • Drivers will be able to access entrances on either side of the bridge, but will not be able to travel through the work zone
  • No signed detour
  • Drivers urged to find alternate routes around work zone
  • Signs and message boards will alert drivers approaching the work zone

This bridge is included in Gov. Mike Parson’s $351 million Focus on Bridges program, which will repair or replace 250 bridges across the state. Route BB Bridge project cost a of $1.9 million.


Southwest Missouri counties provide transparent spending data online

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Jasper and Newton Counties are counted among the 10 counties participating in the state’s Local Government Checkbook Program. Participants provide spending data to available on online in an effort government transparency.

Spending data from ten local governments, Cape Girardeau County, Cass County, Clay County, Cole County, Franklin County, Greene County, Jasper County, Newton County, St. Charles County and the City of St. Louis, can be searched, with 16 additional counties in progress.

Visitors to the Checkbook can examine expenditure data detailing funds, departments, vendors, payment descriptions, and totals for the available government entities.

“Government transparency is essential to a functioning republic,” Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick said. “As Treasurer, I will always strive to improve transparency because I want Missourians to trust that their government is working for them and their tax dollars are being spent wisely. Increased transparency helps facilitate that trust and I am hopeful that more county leaders will volunteer to participate in the local government checkbook.”

In 2020, Treasurer Fitzpatrick announced the expansion of the Show-Me Checkbook to include local governments. He also facilitated aggregating state expenditures related to CARES Act funding in one portal on the Treasurer’s Office website for Missourians to search. The Local Governments section of the Show-Me Checkbook can be found here.

March 14 kicked-off Sunshine Week. The week celebrates open government and access to public information. It runs through March 21.


Part of I-49 to close during concrete replacement project

JASPER COUNTY, Mo. – Segments of I-49 will close to traffic beginning on April 5 while MoDOT replaces the concrete pavement between I-44 and a point south of Jasper County Route FF (32nd Street) in Joplin. The closing could last for up to 16 days.

Contractor crews will remove and replace 1.4 miles of concrete pavement beginning in the southbound lanes. Both lanes of traffic will be closed in each direction ’round the clock. When that work is complete, the southbound lanes will be reopened to traffic and crews will move to the northbound lanes. Both northbound lanes will be closed ‘round the clock.

Traffic Impacts:

  • Phase 1:
    • All lanes of southbound I-49 CLOSED ’round the clock for up to 16 days for pavement replacement
    • All lanes of northbound I-49 open
  • Phase 2:
    • All lanes of northbound I-49 CLOSED ‘round the clock for up to 16 days for pavement replacement
    • All lanes of southbound I-49 open
  • Route FF (32nd Street) ramps will be CLOSED in the direction of the work being done
  • Expect increased travel times
  • Drivers will be directed to signed detour using Business Loop 49, I-44 and Missouri Route 59

Wilson County hosts walk-in immunization clinic

FREDONIA, Kan. – The Wilson County Health Department hosts a walk-in immunization clinic Monday.

Kansas residents needing an immunization such as a booster shot or children’s vaccines can get inoculated appointment-free at the Health Department in Fredonia, Kansas today from 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

This is not a COVID-19 vaccine clinic. Those who need the COVID-19 shot need to set an appointment.

Kansas is currently in Phase 2 of its vaccination plan. It includes people aged 65 and older, people in congregate settings, high-contact critical workers, healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities and workers critical to pandemic response continuity.

*KOAM has corrected the article to point out this is not a COVID-19 clinic