Sunday, November 22, 2009

Petition to Repeal Nonpartisan Court Plan gets Cool Local Reception

An initiative petition circulating around the state that would repeal the current Nonpartisan Court Plan has met with a cool local reception. The petition would place a measure on the ballot that, if approved, would replace the current nonpartisan system for selecting judges with a partisan system in which judges would be elected by party similar to other statewide officeholders. Judges of the Supreme Court and the district Courts of Appeals would serve eight years instead of the current 12.

The measure would also change the way in which judges are appointed. Currently, the statewide Nonpartisan Judicial Commission submits three nominees to the governor, who will choose one of the three. Should the governor fail to do so within sixty days, the commission would appoint one of the nominees to serve on the bench. The ballot initiative would have the governor appoint judicial nominees to fill vacancies with the advise and consent of the Senate. Confirmed nominees would fill positions until December 31st following the next general election after the expiration of twelve months in the office. Governors would be able to make recess appointments, but these appointments would terminate if the advise and consent of the Senate is not given within thirty days after the senate has convened in regular or special session.

Beginning after November 2, 2010, judges of the supreme court whose terms expire shall be replaced by individuals elected by the voters eligible to vote within the state. Each such duly elected individual shall be entitled to serve for the term prescribed. Nothing shall prevent judges of the supreme court who were appointed under a previous method of judicial selection or appointed to fill a vacancy from seeking election to the supreme court. Currently, judges are appointed and then retained by a yes or no vote of the people.

The petition relaxes the restrictions on political activities by judges. Under the initiative, a judge or judicial candidate may announce his or her views on disputed legal or political issues provided that the judge or judicial candidate does not make pledges or promises to render specific rulings or decisions on pending litigation. Judicial candidates and judges who are judicial candidates shall be allowed to solicit, receive and make campaign contributions, and make and receive the benefit of campaign expenditures, as may be provided by law.

The petition is being pushed by a group called "Better Courts for Missouri." On the front page of their website, they describe themselves as "...a coalition of Missourians from all walks of life, dedicated to fixing the method by which Missouri judges are selected. The judges on our highest courts make decisions that profoundly affect every Missourian. Everything from jobs and wages to health care and family values are affected by the powerful judges on those courts. That is why we are dedicated to ensuring that openness, accountability, independence, and excellence are represented in the Missouri Court Plan for selecting judges." They charge that "our highest courts have been under the influence of legal industry special interest groups for years," accusing "these groups" of "wanting nothing more than to take down our tort reform laws." Better Courts for Missouri accuses personal injury attorneys of encouraging courts to "strike down laws for their own financial benefit."

But the petition has met with a cool local reception. County Clerk Lisa Hargrave said that if judicial elections were to become partisan elections, it would lead to greatly increased costs for her office to count ballots, print paper, and advertise the election. "The system is not broken now, so why fix it," she asked. Commissioner Dennis Gabbert said that it would not improve the judicial system and that it would simply bring the level of judges down to political parties and popularity contests. Presiding Commissioner Kevin Austin noted that the State of Missouri just ended the political patronage system that had been used to select Department of Revenue offices for many years and that it wouldn't make sense to go to a partisan system. "We'll all pay more," added Commissioner Rob Ruckman.

Jerry Drake, who would be affected by the judges that he would argue before as a lawyer, said that he was not a fan of the current system, but that he was not convinced that the petition was any answer. The problem he saw with the current selection process was what he called the substitution of the power of a few for the electorate. Having dealt with elected judges on the local level, Drake said that "the judges you elect are no less motivated than that ones that you appoint." But he said that didn't mean that he was going to sign the petition. He said that his main concern was what he called the secrecy behind who was funding the petition. He added that he was concerned that the judiciary would become a tool of special interests who would simply taylor the courts to suit their agendas like they did the legislature. A former legislator, Drake said that the legislature was dominated by special interests and that he didn't want to see the judiciary go the same way.

State Senator Brad Lager, in e-mailed comments to the Sheridan Express, said that he thought the state didn't need to eliminate the court plan, but that some changes were needed that he said would make the court system actually non-partisan. First of all, Lager said that he wanted more common people on the commission than lawyers. He said that as things stood right now, the lawyers on the commission or their firms would end up practicing in front of the judges whom they help pick. He compared it to allowing the CEO's of all the energy companies to pick members of the Public Service Commission. "It is bad public policy and simply not good government," he said.

Other ideas for reform Lager said were needed included increasing the number of people on the panel sent to the Governor. He said that the Governor should be given power to reject a panel of nominees he didn't like, meaning that the commission would have to put forward a new slate. He also said that there needed to be more transparency in the process. "There is no reason that only select lawyers are allowed to know the nominees and learn about them in private closed-door sessions," said Lager in his comments.

Lager said that the state should open up the entire process, saying that all documents, lists, and interviews should be open to the press and public. And instead of letting the Missouri Bar Association pick the members of the Commission, Lager said that everyone nominated to the commission should stand for Senate confirmation, like other boards and commissions appointed by the governor.

NEN Junior High Girls Gain Revenge at Tourney

Northeast Nodaway's Junior High Girls gained revenge against Worth County in the opening round of their own tournament as they took a big early lead against Worth County and then held them off in the closing seconds to win 19-18 Tuesday. While the players swore that they were not out for revenge, everyone's actions suggested otherwise -- for instance, student assistant Blair Schmitz wore a black and gold jacket in a bit of reverse psychology. Northeast, which had been struggling to score all year, completely fluxommed the Tigers in the first 2 1/2 minutes, getting nine points in that time span to go up 9-0. Most of them were off steals off their press as the players were showing the kind of physical play that Coach Ryan Davis said they needed to have after Northeast's loss to Worth County earlier this year.

Sidney Thummel finally broke the ice for Worth County, getting a shot from the right baseline off a Liz Novak drive. Worth County started playing more effectively after Breanna Fletchall came in and started hounding Northeast on defense and doing a good job helping out. But they could not get any closer as Taryn Farnan came out of nowhere to reject a Tiger layup after Worth County had gotten a steal off their press. Holly Redden scored off a fast break after going to the basket to put Northeast up 11-2 after one quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Northeast got the ball on a turnover, only to throw an errant pass out of bounds downcourt. "That's like a punt," quipped Coach Davis over the play. Katie Mullock scored from the right wing for Worth County with 4:36 left, but Northeast pushed it right back down the floor and got it into Taryn Farnan to make it 13-4. The Bluejays swarmed the Tigers on defense, getting them out of their offense and Claudia Wiederholt stole a ball and get a layup to give Northeast its largest lead of the night at 15-4.

But then Worth County settled down and started moving the ball sharper on offense as Breanna Fletchall continued her sharp play on defense and Kristen Andrews started playing strong on-the-ball defense, grabbing and tearing at loose balls. Liz Novak got loose on a fast break and got the ball to Katie Mullock for a baseline jumper, Kristen Andrews got a shot from the wing off a Katelyn Davidson kickout, and Kristen Andrews went coast to coast with 4 seconds left after Northeast had missed two close shots to make it 15-10. That was a four-point swing and there was a big difference between being down 17-8 and 15-10.

Katie Mullock connected from inside right off the bat, but then the Bluejays stiffened. They only managed a pair of free throws from Taryn Farnan, but were able to keep the ball on their end of the court for most of the period as Worth County could not buy a defensive board. On the other hand, they were able to bother Northeast with a 1-3-1 press that they put in at the start of the fourth quarter. The score was stuck at 17-12 from midway through the third quarter through midway through the fourth quarter before Kaitlyn Davidson cleaned up on a miss, making it 17-14 with 3:38 left.

Davidson's bucket triggered off a frantic finish in which Worth County could not quite make up the deficit. Northeast struggled at the line down the stretch as both Shayna Dougan and Taryn Farnan saw attempts at the line go in and out. Finally, Kristin Andrews stripped a Northeast ballhander in the backcourt and the ball rolled out of bounds with 2:04 left to give them the ball. The Tigers missed three close shots -- all airballs, but Kaitlyn Davidson drew a foul on Taryn Farnan and one of her free throws banked off the glass and rolled in with 1:58 left to make it 17-15. Her second free throw missed, but took a crazy bounce off Farnan and out of bounds. But consecutive misses by Worth County gave the ball back to Northeast and then Jenny Seipel's first free throw with 1:43 left rolled all over the rim before dropping in to make it 18-15.

The frantic sequence continued as Jenny Seipel stole the ball on the press, Liz Novak stole the ball back for Worth County, but then Taryn Farnan got a steal for Northeast. Claudia Wiederholt missed twice, but then Liz Novak traveled with the ball after the rebound to give the ball right back to Northeast with 58 seconds left. Katie Mullock picked up her fifth foul with 54 seconds left and then Claudia Wiederholt hit a free throw to make it 19-15. Shayna Dougan then got a steal for Northeast, but Breanna Fletchall stole the ball right back and fed the ball to Liz Novak for a layup to make it 19-17. Kristen Andrews then stole the ensuing inbounds pass, but missed the layup. However, the ball went out of bounds off a blue shirt and Worth County had another shot with 30 seconds left.

The ball went out of bounds off of Kristen Andrews and Northeast had to bring it up against fullcourt pressure. Kristen Andrews knocked the ball loose, touching off a frantic scramble for the ball in which Claudia Wiederholt picked up her fifth foul, putting Liz Novak on the line. Novak made her first free throw to make it 19-18, but her second try was short with 12.1 seconds left. The rebound was a tie-up and the possession arrow pointed to Northeast. The Bluejays ran the clock all the way down to 5.8 seconds in the backcourt before Novak fouled Taryn Farnan. Farnan's free throws missed and Worth County got timeout called with 4.7 seconds left. The Tigers were able to work the ball to Novak on the right side; however, her shot under heavy pressure went astray to give Northeast the one-point win.

After hanging on for another one-point win, this time over South Nodaway, Northeast bowed out to St. Gregory's 25-8 for the championship trophy. Worth County avenged an earlier loss to Jefferson by beating them 22-18, but fell to Avenue City 22-12 for the consolation game.

Principals Report on Building Improvement Plans

Elementary Principal Nancy Lewis and Secondary Principal Dale Healy reported on their building improvement plans for the school at the regular Worth County Board of Education Meeting Thursday. Lewis reported on the professional development that the elementary teachers were doing. She said that sometimes, they would go to other schools and observe classes while sometimes, they met among themselves and exchanged ideas. "We have lots of knowledge in our building and our goal is to be able to share that knowledge," she said. Teachers wrote out measurable goals to meet the MAP Tests and will evaluate the students' progress in categories measured by the tests throughout the year. She said that way, the school will figure out who is learning and progressing through the system. Lewis said that the goal of teaching elementary has changed; before, the goal was to teach to the middle. However, she said that getting everyone to the exact same level did not make sense; therefore, the goal is to teach to everyone. She said that some students were ready for certain skills and concepts at different times.

Healy reported that his teachers met together by subject and were going to various workshops around the region. For instance, some went to workshops on the ACT while others went to a workshop which brought teachers and college professors together. Healy said that previously, teaching at the high school level focused on rote learning. However, he said that the job requirements over the years have changed, meaning that the schools must change the way they have students learn materials. For instance, Social Studies classes are more cross-curricular and collaborative. Healy reported that one time, he had Tim Wall do an in-service program on test-taking skills, which he said was very valuable to the teachers. Wall also worked with students on their test-taking skills as well. High School teachers do problems of the day which are similar to the questions on the MAP and the ACT. Once a month, teachers meet together to compare resources and get ideas. In answer to a question about communication between elementary and secondary teachers, Superintendent Matt Robinson said that they do vertical teaming every year and work on ensuring that the students meet their Grade Level Equivalencies for their grade level.

Robinson reported that teacher Chris Healy had written a program that he says makes it much easier for the custodial staff to do work orders. If a teacher notices work that must be done, they enter the work order into the program. Nancy Lewis and Dale Healy then approve the work orders and then the custodial staff does them. Robinson said that this step helps reduce the backlog of work orders around the school.

The board went to closed session to hire two substitute nurses.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Grade Problems Drop NEN Junior High Boys Out of Tournament

Northeast Nodaway did not field a junior high boys team for their home tournament last week because four out of their eight players were declared ineligible for athletic competition due to grades. High School Principal Jeremy Covey said that the decision was made in accordance with policies contained in the Northeast Nodaway High School Handbook. He said that the school had been upfront with the students about the consequences. Covey explained that the students had been given one month to remove their "F" grades, which they had failed to do; he said that their remedial work had involved mandatory tudoring in the subjects that they were getting the low grades in. "They knew ahead of time what the consequences were going to be," he said. "It was not fair to the other four students who were getting good grades that they did this."

Covey said that Northeast's policies are higher than MSHSAA standards; he said that students were required to have passing grades (D or higher) in all their courses. "We hold our students to a higher standard than MSHSAA because we know that our students are capable of passing all their classes," he said.

The removal of Northeast Nodaway's Junior High boys from the tournament also affected Worth County; the Tigers were to have played the Bluejays in a rematch of the barnburner between the two teams earlier this month. Instead, Worth County had to play Maryville, whom they lost to by 30 points. The Tigers went on to win consolation by beating South Nodaway.

Pfost Gives Progress Report for Middlefork Water Company

Brock Pfost of Middlefork Water Company met with the Grant City Council last Wednesday and gave a progress report. Middlefork currently supplies Grant City's water. He said that he wanted to form a committee consisting of officials from Grant City and Stanberry who would meet with Middlefork personnel on a regular basis in a move that Pfost said would improve communication. Councilman Bruce Downing, Public Works Director Carl Staton, and Water Superintendent Greg Miller were appointed to the committee, which would meet quarterly. Grant City has joined the Northwest Missouri Wholesale Water Commission and Pfost said that he would be working with the Commission on doing interconnections between various entities; Middlefork is one of eight major water hubs that will be used by the Commission. Pfost reported that the 20-year bonds that set up the company were about to be paid off in 2011.

Public Works Director Carl Staton reported that the salt for the city has been delivered and that the equipment has been winterized. He said that the city has removed some abandoned gas lines and that they had gotten a new pickup.

Clerk Ayvonne Morin reported that the city had started collecting around $700 to $900 per month from the telephone tax that voters had authorized.

The council voted to set aside 2% of their budget for capital improvements for the pool. The money would not pay for operating expenses for the pool, but would be used as an emergency fund; members said that would prevent the city from being caught flat-footed down the road if the pool were to deteriorate again. The council voted to have Warner Brothers Electric do the underground wiring for the pool for a cost of around $550.

Councilwoman Linda Phipps suggested taking the old lights around the square and putting them on the Nature Trail, saying that it would be lit all the time; Staton said that it would deter vandalism. The current lights around the square are owned by the city and will be replaced under the Downtown Renovation Project funded by a federal appropriation through the Missouri Department of Transportation; the city will have to decide what to do with the old lights once they are taken down. The downside would be that it might possibly broaden the scope of the Nature Trail Project; Clerk Ayvonne Morin said that she would check into that.

The city reported that 129 of the income surveys out of the 284 that were sent out for the $1 million 11 mile water line project have been returned. The city must get a response rate of around 80% in order to be able to apply for a CDBG Grant for the project.

Monday, November 9, 2009

NEN Junior High Boys Blitz Tigers, Hold Off Late Rally

Northeast Nodaway's Junior High boys took a big early lead on Worth County Thursday and then held off a late rally to win 36-31. "These kids are going to play hard every night," said Bluejay Coach Charley Burch. "We just have to make better decisions down the stretch and have better shot selection." After the first half, Worth County went to a 1-3-1 zone which Coach Burch said bothered his players. "We waited too long to get going," said Tiger Coach Chris Healy. "But I was pleased with how we fought back and how we never gave up."

Brandon Auffert's three-pointer jump started a 10-0 run for Northeast that left them up 12-1 after one quarter of play. Garrett Jackson followed with a pair of free throws, Steve Schulte hit another free throw, and then Shaun Burns cleaned up after a steal and then had a nice crossover move to end the first quarter.

J.T. Welch came off the bench for Worth County to start the second quarter and kicked one out to Cole Parman for a baseline shot, but Garrett Jackson answered with a free throw and then Steve Schulte, seemingly channeling his two standout older sisters, went coast to coast on two consecutive plays against the press for two easy layups to make it 17-3. Welch connected from the wing, but Schulte once again beat the Tigers down the court and this time, drew a foul and hit the free throws. Austin Jones and Garrett Jackson followed with free throws to give Northeast its biggest lead of the game at 21-5. Travis Troutwine, channeling his aunt Tiffany, banked a 3-pointer from the left wing with 28 seconds left in an omen of things to come in the second half; Schulte responded with a coast to coast layup to leave Northeast up 23-8 at the break.

Cole Parman started off the scoring for Worth County with a fast break and a shot from the right wing and then followed it with a 3-pointer from the wing to make it 23-13. That seemed to take the lid off the basket for the Tigers. Shaun Burns grabbed an inbounds pass and drove right past a defender for Northeast to make it 25-13. Wyatt Rush then got a putback for Worth County. Brandon Auffert hit a 3-pointer from the right wing with 3:38 left, but Rush scored from inside again to make it 28-17. Shaun Burns drove the lane and hit a floater and then Joel Scroggie drove from the wing and threw up a prayer that went in to make it 32-17, but Aaron Green drove the left baseline with time running out in the third to make it 32-19.

Green hit a free throw to start the fourth quarter and then Andrew Mullock scored after a steal from Travis Troutwine to make it 32-22. Steve Schulte scored after a steal, but then Aaron Green cleaned up after a steal and then Shaun Burns picked up his fifth foul, which seemed to open the floodgates for Worth County. It was still 34-24 with 2:56 left, but then Cole Parman scored from the right side and then Travis Troutwine hit a 3-pointer from the right wing and it looked like he might break Northeast's hearts for the second year in a row; his free throws last year at Ravenwood completely cold off the bench had put that game out of reach for Worth County as they handed Northeast their first loss of the year in junior high.

Troutwine's three-pointer left it 34-29 with 1:45 left, but Worth County missed two chances to make it a one-possession game. Finally, they put Steve Schulte on the line as they were forced to foul to try to get the ball back; Schulte missed both free throws, but then got his own board. Northeast worked the ball to Brandon Auffert; showing no conscience whatsoever, he let fly a high floater from the left baseline, throwing Coach Charley Burch into convulsions. But the shot dropped through and proved to be the dagger as Worth County could only manage a steal and layup from Aaron Green in the closing seconds.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Second Time No Fade Job for Junior High Tigers

Tuesday night, the Worth County Junior High girls had a shocking collapse against King City -- after entering the fourth quarter with a 30-16 lead, King City hung 21 points on Worth County and came back to win 37-31. Given a similar situation against Northeast Nodaway, the Tigers learned their lesson as they protected a similar lead against the Bluejays and won 22-11 Thursday night.

Coach Suzie Smith said that the difference between the two games was that her squad had played calmer the second time around. "We were more in control the second time, and we didn't panic when they put pressure on us." The first eight minutes of the game started off as an all-out war between the two squads as both sides were putting strong pressure on the ball and not giving up any easy looks at the baskets. The only points in the first quarter were a driving layup from Claudia Wiederholt and a drive from Kristen Andrews when she picked up a carom and went in for a layup. There was a lot of rough play on both sides as Stormy Sherer had a hard foul on Wiederholt that left her shook up and Wiederholt picked up three fouls in the first half and saw extended time on the bench after the second quarter. "We played hard, but we didn't play well enough," said Northeast coach Ryan Davis. "Worth County was the most physical team we have seen all year. We have to learn to be just as physical in order to win these kinds of games."

In the second quarter, Worth County slowly began to take control. Liz Novak knocked down a shot from the left side to make it 4-2. Taryn Farnan hit a free throw, but then Novak connected from the right side with 4:15 left, prompting Coach Davis to start keying on her. That opened everyone else as Kristen Andrews connected from the right side after a Claire Andrews kickout and then she drew Wiederholt's third foul on a strong move inside and hit one out of two to make it 9-3 at the break.

Novak got her sixth point from the baseline to start the second half. Shayna Dougan answered with a shot from the right wing with 5:07 left, but then Novak connected from the right side again with 4:38 left to make it 13-5. In the period, the Tigers were switching perfectly when denying the inbounds pass on the press, forcing Coach Ryan Davis to burn two timeouts to avoid five-seconds calls as Northeast was having trouble getting the ball in all night. Claire Andrews then hit from the right side to make it 15-5 with 2:25 left. Novak then picked up her fourth foul and Taryn Farnan scored from inside as Northeast had a glimmer of hope. But then Claire Andrews had a drive right down the lane to open the scoring in the fourth for Worth County. Holly Redden scored on a fast break with 4:09 left, but Katie Mullock hit a free throw with 3:18 left and then Claire Andrews provided the dagger following a turnover with a shot from the right wing. With Northeast trapping, trying to get the ball back, Kristen Andrews drove out of it for a layup down the middle to make it 22-9. Kristen Wiederholt scored a meaningless bucket in the closing seconds for Northeast to account for the final score.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Schoonover, Rosier, Panthers Maul Tigers in Playoffs

Worth County lost 52-0 to Mound City in the first round of the playoffs as their lack of experience showed; the Tigers only had four seniors for this year compared to 11 for Stanberry and 7 for Mound City. Worth County had beaten the Panthers earlier this year, but in the meantime, the experienced Panther squad had taken more strides in improvement than Worth County had. The Tigers continued to be the confused, shell-shocked bunch that fell behind early against Stanberry and couldn't claw back as the missed blocks, poor tackling, and confusion about assignments from the last game combined to bite them in the playoffs. Winning a playoff game is different from winning a regular season game; it requires one to take one's game to a whole different level. The experienced Panther squad succeeded in doing so while the Tigers could not.

The loss was significant in some other ways. The Tigers were shut out in a game for the first time since 2002, when the Mound City Panthers shut out the Tigers 42-0. That loss also ended Worth County's school-record 28-game winning streak. Worth County also dropped consecutive games for the first time since the end of the 2004 season, when consecutive losses to North Nodaway and Stanberry dropped the Tigers out of the playoffs that year. Worth County's troubles were not limited to the Panthers as one of the referees, obviously on a power trip, tried to tag Worth County for a sideline warning because someone on the St. Francis medical staff stood halfway over the dotted line on their side of the field even though she was wearing a coat that clearly identified her as a volunteer trainer for St. Francis and not one of Worth County's coaching staff.

After the Tigers forced Mound City to punt on their opening series, what looked like a possible defensive struggle turned into a disaster when James Schoonover, in the first of many defensive plays Friday night that would hurt the Tigers, shot through unblocked to block a Tiger punt and give Mound City a short field to work with as they started on the Tiger 23. One bad play doesn't win or lose games. But the scene repeated itself throughout the night -- the Tigers actually moved the ball against Mound City at times. But then, they would forget to account for Schoonover, who would shoot into the Tiger backfield to disrupt plays. The Panthers were in the end zone in five plays after the first miscue as Gage Rosier scored from 11 yards out with 5:59 left. Lucas Schawang ran in the extra points to make it 8-0.

It was Rosier (21 carries, 257 yards) who was the second half of the wrecking crew for Mound City -- in a scene that repeated itself from the Stanberry game, the Tigers would hold the Panthers at times. But then, there would be breakdowns on defense and someone would try to grab at Rosier instead of wrapping him up, with predictable results -- Rosier going off to the races and leaving everyone behind.

Worth County could only get seven yards on three plays on their next series after Barrett Baker had returned the ball to the 30 to get them decent field position. They elected to go for it on fourth and three, but a short pass was incomplete and the Panthers took over on the Tiger 37 on downs. This was nothing to worry about -- yet. The Tigers forced two turnovers deep in their own territory in the playoff game two years ago; on both occasions, the Panthers had threatened to make it a two-possession game. But this time, Mound City only needed three plays to make it a two-possession game. Gage Rosier took a sweep, made a cutback, and nobody was home to stop him and he was off for a 32-yard score with 3:08 left in the first quarter. James Schoonover caught the extra point pass and it was 16-0.

It was Schoonover again on defense on the next series as he dumped Barrett Baker for a four-yard loss and then sacked Zach Harmening for an 11-yard loss as the Tigers did not have an answer for him and were forced to punt. This time, Mound City only needed one play to score as two defenders fell down on the play and Rosier shot right up the middle for a 54-yard score with 1:28 left. He caught the extra point pass to make it 24-0.

Worth County finally mounted a drive against Mound City only to be denied. They got into the red zone four times, but failed to score as their rez zone struggles continued. After J.J. Mullock caught a squib kick at the 30, Zach Harmening converted a fourth and inches with a sneak to the Mound City 37. Two plays later, Eli Mullock finally found some daylight as he got open for 24 yards down to the Mound City 10. A facemask penalty then moved the ball down to the six, but then Harmening got thrown for a loss of two on an option play and then Worth County threw two incomplete passes to give up the ball on downs.

Mound City could do nothing with the ball as a block in the back penalty and a big loss in which Schawang slipped and fell while going back to pass moved it all the way back to the one. The Panthers elected to quick kick rather than risk a safety or a turnover and Worth County took over at midfield. Two rushing plays could only net four yards and a pass was incomplete, but on fourth and six, Alex Harmening caught a 35-yard pass down to the Panther one before he was wrestled down. But then someone forgot what the count was and a false start moved it back to the six; a fumbled handoff then gave the ball right back to the Panthers. On their first play from scrimmage, Rosier went on a sweep and was off to the races again for a 70-yard score thanks to some poor tackling and Prent Eaton caught the extra point pass with 7:53 left to make it 32-0.

Worth County got into the red zone for the third consecutive play thanks to some trickery as Alex Harmening aired it out to Zach for 36 yards down to the 25. A holding penalty moved it back to the 37, but then Eli Mullock caught a swing pass for 9 and then Mullock caught a screen pass to the 17. Alex Harmening caught a short pass to the 14, but then once again, nobody blocked James Schoonover, who shot into the backfield and forced a fumble that Kyler VanSchoiak returned all the way to the Tiger 38. A block in the back penalty on Mound City moved it back to the 27, but the damage was done.

Ryan Crowley ran for a first down up to the 40, but two plays later, Eli Mullock outjumped a Mound City defender and intercepted a pass at the 14. But three plays later, Worth County fumbled the ball right back to the Panthers as Alex Harmening ran for a 12-yard reverse, only to fumble the ball at the end of the run at the Tiger 26. Mound City took full advantage of the miscue; three plays later, Lucas Schawang threw an 11-yard strike to Miles Jumps as nobody guarded him and he was all alone in the end zone to make it 38-0 with 2:15 left at the end of the half. Worth County could not move the ball thanks in part to Schoonover, who was in the backfield hurrying Zach Harmening before he was ready to throw; Eli Mullock broke up a long pass and nearly got his second interception and Mound City botched an option play and fumbled it as they were unable to score again before the half. Very appropriately, the Mound City band played Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York;" this is the song that the world champion New York Yankees play after every win.

Worth County got the ball at the start of the second half and they held out hopes of getting back in the game if they got some lucky breaks, but Schoonover was once again in the backfield; this time, he sacked Harmening for a loss of 15 back to the Tiger five, forcing them to punt. The kick only traveled 19 yards, giving Mound City a short field to work with. Worth County came out and played a little better on this series, but they could not overcome the short field. Rosier's first down run went for 13 yards to the 7, and then Crowley's crack for six yards got down to the one. Two cracks by the Panthers could not break the plane, but Schoonover caught a fourth and one pass with 8:16 left to make it 44-0 with 8:15 left.

Cody Green caught a pass for 14 yards to the 29 on Worth County's next series, but they stalled at the 32. With nothing left to lose, Worth County went for it on fourth and seven, but once again, nobody blocked Schoonover, who was in Zach Harmening's face as his pass went incomplete. Rosier got loose for 14 yards to the 16, but the Tigers stiffened for the next three plays, holding Mound City to seven yards in three plays. But this time, Schoonover burned the Tigers on defense as nobody guarded him on pass coverage and there was nobody within 10 yards of him as he caught a nine-yard pass to account for Mound City's final score of the evening.

After the two teams exchanged punts, the Tigers whiffed again in the red zone. Cody Green caught a 22-yard pass to the Panther 20 after a short kick by Mound City gave Worth County good field position. But once again, nobody blocked Schoonover, who dropped Barrett Baker for a two-yard loss. Eli Mullock found some daylight to the 17 on the next play, but then Zach Harmening's pass to an open Barrett Baker was too far and then he was picked off in the end zone on fourth down to end Worth County's final scoring threat of the evening.

Despite the loss, Coach Chuck Borey looked at the big picture, saying that this particular group of seniors had come a long ways since junior high, when they were 1-5 that year. "Thanks to all your hard work, we exceeded everyone's expectations," he told them after the game. The game was the last for Josh Wagner, J.J. Mullock, Zach Harmening, and Barrett Baker. He said that he would have been happy with a 7-3 or 8-2 record and that getting back into the playoffs was a pleasant surprise. Speaking of the game, he said that he was disappointed that they did not convert their chances in the red zone, saying that "it can't happen against a good team like Mound City." He said that the more experienced Panthers came and played like they had something to prove against Worth County. "Mentally, we didn't stay tough. They dominated the line of scrimmage and we could never get our running game going."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Town Meeting To Be Held for Proposed County Jail

Mayor Bud Allee and Council members agreed to call a town meeting at which Gary Hamilton of Albany, the man who would put the proposed county jail in the Sheridan Schoolhouse, would present information about the project. Allee said that he was all for it, saying that it would get the building back in shape and back on the city's tax rolls, but that it was up to the council to decide the fate of the proposal. Allee said that it would be a self-contained prison that would be fenced in and surveyed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; the monitoring would be done based on state requirements. The employees would be private security guards who would have no public authority or arrest powers.

Council members said that there were some people who were for it and some against it. Councilman Dave Thomas said that most of the people he talked to were for it, but councilwoman Candy Martin said that the people she talked to were all against it. Rodney Martin said that he did not want to see any criminal element brought to Sheridan. Councilman Dave Thomas said that the worst offenders that would be there were people who were convicted of DWI offenses or child support violations. Allee said that contrary to rumors, the inmates would not have the run of the park or be allowed to go to the tavern. "There were these sorts of rumors going around when Maryville's facility was built," he said. "And look how lucrative it is for them."

Both Allee and councilman Leland Wake said that the big upside of the project would be the fact that the Schoolhouse would be fixed up. "We've been trying to maintain the building ever since the school closed," said Allee. "This is our chance to do so." He said that another upside would be that the building would be back on the tax rolls; he said that it would use a lot of water, meaning a lot more revenues for the city's water fund. The proposed jail would have its own sewage plant to ease the additional load on Sheridan's water resources.

Miranda Lyle, an opponent of the proposal, addressed the council said that there were a lot of unanswered questions about it. For instance, she said that the city did not know enough about Mr. Hamilton's credentials or what his business plan would be or what information, if any, the state had on either him or similar such projects. "This is research that should have already been done," she said. She said that there were a lot of similar projects around the state in which small towns were stuck with buildings that they could not use because of leins on the property after the jails went under. Another question she said needed to be asked was the fact that there was an already existing unused facility near Bethany but that Mr. Hamilton was trying locate it in Sheridan. "Why here and not Bethany?" she asked. The Bethany jail recently closed, which triggered the current proposal before Sheridan. Councilwoman Mary Jo Hawk said that the project would be paid for by Hamilton's own money and that of two partners and that he was in the process of getting grant money for the project as well.

Lyle then said that the criminal element argument was being downplayed too much. "They may only be in here for 120 days maximum, but that doesn't mean that they didn't commit something else," she said. "These people are not going to willingly walk into these places."

Debbie (Fletchall) Zook, another opponent of the proposal, said that the city should look at other alternatives to bringing in a jail. "We're planning to retire to Sheridan and we're building a house next to the jail," she said. "We should not have to worry about our safety because of the fact that we live next to a jail."

Wake said that the council could not come up with the answers in one meeting and that the best thing to do would be to have a town hall meeting with Mr. Hamilton so that the city and residents could get some answers. Allee appointed Martin and Hawk to organize a meeting with Mr. Hamilton so that he could introduce himself to the community and pitch the proposal.

Talking about the late Marian Scott, Allee said that the town had lost a "prominent, productive citizen." Ms. Scott had worked with the city for 11 years and Allee said that "She was a good friend and she did a lot of good things for the city."

It was reported that there was a vandalism at the park; kids had taken the slide and dragged it in front of the bandstand.

Water Superintendent David Parman reported that he had renewed his water treatment license and that there were six delinquent customers this month.

Street Commissioner Doug Allee reported that the new city truck had been fixed. Work was done on the two-speed, the shutoff, the oil filter, the tail light, and the hydraulics. He said that he planned to work on the city streets this weekend, weather permitting. More work was still needed on welding the snowplow.