Missouri Southern heads to Edmond, OK aiming for MIAA tournament title

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Missouri Southern Lions are just a few days away from playing in the final four of the MIAA softball conference tournament.

The Lions are in the final four after sweeping Missouri Western in two games last weekend. They’ll face Central Missouri on Thursday in Edmond, Oklahoma.

“It feels great. It’s always a great feeling to be winning and we’re in the perfect position to win it all, so I’m just excited,” says senior Makaila Leonhart, “I feel like we go out on the field, we leave it all out there and we do our thing. I think when we do that we’re unbeatable.”

“Our theme for right now is calm and confident. When we get there you know…I don’t know the last time Southern was in this position, but we fully plan on enjoying it being confident while we’re there, and walking in like we own the place.”


SEK Humane Society takes in seized dogs, kennel owner refutes Horrible Hundred report


PITTSBURG, Kan. – “The animal facilities inspection program at the Kansas Department of Agriculture notified some unlicensed individuals that due to the number of dogs they had at their facility they were not operating legally,” explains Heather Lansdowne with the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

Lansdowne with the Department of Ag says a residence in Cherokee County was found to have more dogs than is allowed without a license. The limit is 20. She explains the Department of Ag let the homeowners know that they needed to get a license, but they didn’t comply.

So this week, the department removed nine dogs from the location — which are now at the SEK Humane Society. After being checked out by a vet, Jasmine Kyle says they aren’t unhealthy. But the females were used for breeding, and all of them have a long way to go before they recover.

“These dogs have not been handled. They are extremely terrified of humans. It is very hard to even hold the dogs, handle the dogs,” says Kyle. “So, that is where us as humane society workers come in.”

Kyle says it’s a situation she sees too often, and can happen even at licensed facilities like dog breeders.

The Humane Society of the United States released its 2021 “Horrible Hundred” report, which highlights what they call problematic puppy sellers across the country. There are seven on the list in Kansas.

“Those are just the identified cases,” says Kyle. “So, always keep your eyes and ears open, and if you see a barn yard outlet and you see dogs in cages and units, that’s a big red flag.”

The report lists Whispering Oaks in Coffeyville, where the Human Society says they photographed dogs in crowded cages, and outdoor enclosures that weren’t structurally sound, creating a concern during inclement weather. But the owner refutes that.

Owner Kristi Hillyard tells us her cages outside are anchored and in good shape, her dogs have 34 acers to run and play on and aren’t crowded when they are inside. She says she follows all the laws and regulations and works hard to make sure her dogs are happy and healthy. She also notes that the USDA just inspected her facility in March and that no issues were found, something the Humane Society report backs up.

She tells us that she knows there are bad breeders out there, but she isn’t one of them.

We reached out to the Humane Society of the United States, but have not heard back at the time of publication.


Schools, health departments waiting for guidance following authorization of Pfizer vaccine for ages 12-15

NEOSHO, Mo. – The FDA has given emergency authorization to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15. Now, local schools and health departments are waiting on guidance to determine how to get those kids vaccinated.

Newton County Health Department Administrator Larry Bergner is excited about the new age group being opened up to vaccines. However, he knows there may be some hesitancy as many have heard the virus doesn’t impact children nearly as severely as adults. “Those younger age groups while they may not become sick or they may not be as affected they can still carry the virus and therefore can pass that on to an age group that would have more detrimental effects of the COVID virus.”

With the news of the authorization just out Monday, Bergner says there are still a number of unknowns when it comes to the best ways to get kids vaccinated quickly. “As we get more information and guidelines we certainly will share that with our school districts and those personnel and the parents in the community, but certainly we want to get the word out that that vaccine now is available and we want to start getting those folks vaccinated as quickly as we can.”

For Neosho School District Superintendent Dr. Jim Cummins, they’re playing a similar waiting game with the state. “I’m sure DESE’s going to come out with some ideas on how we can handle that for students.”

But Cummins says the district is prepared to offer whatever support they can. “If we can offer a site where they can come and do vaccinations with proper parent permission and those types of things, we’re all for it, whatever we can do to help move us past the current pandemic that we are in.”

Cummins says the district recently had a mass vaccination clinic at their junior high for teachers and staff and are open to offering similar clinics at the appropriate schools for students.


Former Joplin RB Isaiah Davis aims for national championship in freshman season at South Dakota State

JOPLIN, Mo. – Former Joplin High School running back Isaiah Davis is about to play for a national championship in his freshman season at South Dakota State.

“It’s amazing. It’s one of the best experiences of my life. It’s something you dream about as a kid,” Davis says, “My goal was to play for a national championship, and that’s how it played out.”

South Dakota State will face Sam Houston State at 1 PM on Sunday in the FCS National Championship.

It’s a big stage – but not too big for Davis, who played for a state championship at Joplin High School in his senior year in 2019.

“I feel like this year my confidence has been built up,” Davis says on the lack of nerves heading into the national championship, “Playing and making the start against SIU has helped me build that confidence. The experiences have been great. I didn’t really know what to expect…with COVID. I just had the mindset to be the best I could be this year.”

Davis hasn’t just been a passenger on the national championship ride for the Jackrabbits.

This season he has rushed for 640 yards and 7 touchdowns on 86 carries – averaging 7.8 yards-per-rush. He was named the MVFC Newcomer of the Week after rushing 22 times for a career-high 150 yards and scoring three touchdowns in South Dakota State’s 44-3 road win at Southern Illinois on March 20th.

“I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to play as a freshman,” Davis says, “To get my reps in and get something on film is a great opportunity for me.”

The former Eagle was the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior in 2019. That season, he finished with 2,283 rushing yards and 45 touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for 220 yards and had 50 tackles on defense

“In high school, it was really just about working on us and working on our plays,” Davis says of the difference between the high school and college games, “In college, the knowledge and things you have to know are totally different.”

While he’s 500 miles away – Davis says he still feels the support of the 4-State area as he heads into the national championship – and is still in touch with his former Joplin teammates and coaches.

“I text them every weekend and they text me good luck before every game,” Davis finishes, “I see it all over Facebook, people wearing SDSU gear, buying some or getting some in the mail. It’s amazing to see the support I have back home.”



Missouri to end all federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s governor directs the end of federal pandemic-related unemployment insurance programs to address workforce shortages.

The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations will notify the U.S. Department of Labor that Missouri will end participation effective Saturday, June 12, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.

“From conversations with business owners across the state, we know that they are struggling not because of COVID-19 but because of labor shortages resulting from these excessive federal unemployment programs,” Governor Parson said. “While these benefits provided supplementary financial assistance during the height of COVID-19, they were intended to be temporary, and their continuation has instead worsened the workforce issues we are facing. It’s time that we end these programs that have ultimately incentivized people to stay out of the workforce.”

“As I travel the state, from Sarcoxie to Hannibal and all points in between, over-arching concerns from business owners is the shortage of employees,” Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe said. “Across every industry, businesses cannot compete against federal largesse. Our economy is built upon an active and vibrant workforce, and we should be cultivating job-creation and employment rather than inhibiting them. The jobs exist and the demand exists, and I applaud the governor for taking this bold and decisive action.”

The termination announced today applies to the following programs:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance;
  • Emergency Unemployment Relief for Government Entities and Nonprofit Organizations;
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation;
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation;
  • 100 Percent Reimbursement of Short-Time Compensation Benefit Costs Paid Under State Law; and
  • Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation.

The governors of Arkansas, Montana and South Carolina already have opted out of the federal pandemic unemployment assistance programs. (Related articles: Arkansas to opt out of federal supplemental unemployment program)

“We know that one of the last remaining hurdles to full economic recovery is addressing this labor shortage. Even with unemployment at only 4.2 percent, there are still 221,266 known job postings across the state,” Governor Parson said. “The solution to close this gap is not the excessive spending of taxpayer dollars by the federal government, but rather getting people back to work and to a sense of normalcy for themselves and their families. Today’s action ensures that we will fill existing jobs as well as the thousands of new jobs coming to our state as businesses continue to invest and expand in Missouri.”

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor, Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Anna Hui gave notice of Missouri’s intention to terminate all federal pandemic-related unemployment programs. (View the letter below)

“During the last recession in 2008, the federal government contributed $25 per week to supplement state unemployment benefits. During the latest economic downturn, Washington poured in $600 per week in addition to Missouri’s weekly benefit of up to $320,” said Director Hui.

“Even after the original $600 supplement expired, it was replaced by a federal supplement that provides an extra $300 per week on top of Missouri’s existing state benefit, meaning thousands of claimants continue to receive $620 per week or more,” Director Hui continued. “The unemployment system is designed to provide a temporary safety net as workers look to reenter the job market. Leaving the level of benefits artificially high would prevent a return to full employment in our state.”

Today’s action follows steps taken last July to require claimants to again conduct weekly work searches in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits. This work search requirement had originally been waived in March of 2020 as part of an agreement with the federal government to receive funds under the CARES Act.

Under Missouri’s law, claimants are required to perform and report three work search activities per week. Qualified work search activities include filing an application (online or in-person) with an employer or through job posting sites or attending a job fair, job interview, reemployment service, or skills workshop.

Missouri Job Centers are available to assist unemployed workers with these requirements by providing customized job searches through jobs.mo.gov , job fairs, Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA) appointments, workshops, and other training programs. Employers are encouraged to post job openings on MoJobs. For more information about services available through the Missouri Job Centers, visit jobs.mo.gov.

For questions regarding Missouri unemployment, you can utilize the Division Employment Security’s virtual assistant at labor.mo.gov and visit labor.mo.gov/coronavirus.

2021-5-11 Dir Hui to USDOL – Missouri Termination of Program Agreement


Carl Junction’s Katie Scott commits to Oral Roberts basketball

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. – Former Carl Junction standout Katie Scott is heading to Tulsa – committing today to continue her basketball career at Oral Roberts University.

“I adamantly believe that the people you surround yourself with determine your college experience, and there are no better people than those at ORU,” Scott says, “I think the staff, players, and students will be people who elevate me to a better version of myself on and off the court.”

The former Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year just played her freshman season at Grand Canyon University in Arizona. Scott was the team’s leading scorer, posting 16.2 points per game. She was also second on the team in rebounding with 5.6 rebounds per game.

For her big season, Scott earned WAC Freshman of the Year honors and was a 1st team All-WAC selection.

Now, she’ll have the chance to play closer to home – while still playing at the Division I level.


Joplin Council reviews feasibility study for Memorial Hall renovation

JOPLIN, Mo. – Joplin city leaders discuss proposed additions to the city’s downtown.

(Related Story: Concerns over parking in downtown Joplin come up again with new project proposals)

At Monday night’s work session city council discussed plans for renovating Memorial Hall. Council members reviewed a feasibility study for Memorial Hall. The study analyzed the potential costs of renovating Memorial Hall, as well as a possible additional annex.

For both scenarios, a conservative and an aggressive cost estimate were given.

“I’ve heard from the community and there’s certainly one of the things we hear a lot about the cities: need for entertainment amenities,” said City Manager Nick Edwards.  “This would be a versatile space for the community to have and something that could provide a lot of opportunities for a lot of different entertainment options.”

The study was completed by two companies called SFS Architects and Ballard, King and Associates.


School shooting in Russia kills 9 people; suspect arrested

MOSCOW (AP) — A gunman launched an attack on a school in the Russian city of Kazan that left at least nine people dead Tuesday — including seven youngsters — and sent students running out of the building as smoke poured from one of the windows.

At least 21 others were hospitalized, six in extremely grave condition, authorities said.

The attacker, identified only as a 19-year-old, was arrested, officials said. They gave no immediate details on a motive.

But Russian media said the gunman was a former student at the school who called himself “a god” on his account on the messaging app Telegram and promised to “kill a large amount of biomass” on the morning of the shooting.

Attacks on schools are rare in Russia, and President Vladimir Putin reacted by ordering the head of National Guard to revise regulations on the types of weapons allowed for civilian use.

Four boys and three girls, all eighth-grade students, died, as well as a teacher and another school employee, said Rustam Minnikhanov, governor of the Tatarstan republic, where Kazan is the capital.

Footage released by Russian media showed students dressed in black and white running out of the building. Another video depicted shattered windows, a stream of smoke coming out of one, and the sound of gunfire. Dozens of ambulances lined up at the entrance.

Russian media said while some students were able to escape, others were trapped inside during the ordeal.

“The terrorist has been arrested, 19 years old. A firearm is registered in his name. Other accomplices haven’t been established. An investigation is underway,” Minnikhanov said.

Authorities said the 21 hospitalized included 18 children.

Authorities announced a day of mourning on Wednesday and canceled all classes in Kazan schools. Authorities tightened security at all schools in the city of about 1.2 million people, 430 miles (700 kilometers) east of Moscow.

The deadliest school attack in Russia took place in 2004 in the city of Beslan, when Islamic militants took more 1,000 people hostage for several days. The siege ended in gunfire and explosions, leaving 334 dead, more than half of them children.

In 2018, a teenager killed 20 people at his vocational school before killing himself in Kerch, a city in the Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea. In the wake of that attack, Putin ordered authorities to tighten control over gun ownership. But most of the proposed legislative changes were turned down by the parliament or the government, the Kommersant newspaper reported.

Russian lawmaker Alexander Khinshtein said on Telegram that the suspect in the Kazan attack received a permit for a shotgun less than two weeks ago and that the school had no security aside from a panic button.

Authorities in Tatarstan ordered checks on all gun owners in the region.

Putin extended condolences to the families of the victims and ordered the government to give them all necessary assistance. Russian officials promised to pay families 1 million rubles (roughly $13,500) each and give 200,000 to 400,000 rubles ($2,700-$5,400) to the wounded.

The Kremlin sent a plane with doctors and medical equipment to Kazan, and the country’s health and education ministers headed to the region.