Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Moment with Mike -- Cautious Optimism for 2013 Budget

It is always exciting to roll into the new year, with new resolutions, anticipation and apprehension of what the year will bring.  It is no different in the Missouri General Assembly.  We have closed the last chapter of 2012 and the 96th General Assembly.  It is time to look ahead, assess the needs of our state and begin the yearly process of evaluating and budgeting.
      While our state has seen some tough budget situations in recent years due to our sluggish economy, we hope those days may soon be behind us as Missouri’s economic engine starts to rev up.  We have seen declining unemployment rates significantly below the national average and our tax and regulatory environment has continued to make our state an attractive location for new businesses.  We still have much work to do if we are going to be competitive  but our past efforts to create a business friendly atmosphere have helped stabilize our state and give us a sound financial base.
      The budget leaders from the House and Senate recently met with representatives from the governor’s office to take a look at the direction we are headed for the next fiscal year that will begin July 1, 2013.  After crunching the numbers they agreed on what is known as a consensus revenue estimate, which is the amount of money the state can expect to have on hand for budgetary purposes.    The good news is the estimate for fiscal year 2014 represents an increase of $237 million over the estimate used to prepare the budget for the current fiscal year.  The total amount of general revenue the state is anticipated to have for the next budget is $7.929 billion.  These numbers, of course, are estimates and can only be used to help guide us through the process.  This revenue estimate is based on anticipated economic growth of 4.8 percent.  It also factors in the several million dollars lost of one-time funding , which will decrease our available revenue.   Overall, it is good news as every dollar we gain is a dollar we can use to the benefit of Missouri families.  We have had to make tough decisions in recent years when it comes to cuts in the budget.  It is my hope that the 2013 session will make for an easier budget process as the uptick in revenue will prevent the need for cuts to critical areas such as education.
      Even though we have reason to be optimistic, we must keep in mind that the past few years have put us way behind in many areas and the climb back to prosperity may be slow and tedious.   Two or three hundred million dollars will not stretch far enough to make up for the shortage in the funding formula for our public schools, the decline in state support for our public higher education institutions, the diminishing funds for the department of transportation, the cuts endured by health care providers, capital improvement needs to our public facilities and the ever- growing cost of Medicaid.  It is obvious that the process of providing services for the state of Missouri will continue to be a challenge and the priorities will be debatable, however, we are on the right track and will continue to do the best we can to spend your money wisely.
      As we all assess our priorities, our needs and our budget for 2013, we may find that we too will have to make decisions and we may not have everything that we would like to have.  I am thankful, however, that we live in a state and nation that still offers many opportunities and we must remain optimistic about our future.   I would like to wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.
          If you have questions, you may reach me at my Capitol number 573-751-9465, at the local district number, 660-582-4014, by email at or by mail at Room 401B State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

Bearcat Men Back on Winning Track; Down Central Methodist

Northwest Missouri State's men's basketball team got back on the winning track Saturday afternoon, beating Central Methodist 79-59 to snap a two-game losing streak. As they have in most of their wins this year, Northwest has made good use of their size; Central Methodist had nobody on their roster bigger than 6'5", meaning that they were at a size disadvantage against Northwest's bigs.

But Central Methodist made up for it by grabbing and tearing at the ball every chance they could get and collected some steals and cheap buckets in the process. Northwest let one of their shooters, Melvin Tillman, go off on them for 25 points and six 3-pointers.

For Northwest, Dillon Starzl did not start as he had the flu. He was able to come off the bench and get some points for Northwest. However, anytime a starting lineup is changed, it changes the chemistry of the team and Northwest struggled at times with their offense.

Northwest got ahead 21-13 with 10:30 left in the first half, but then when Matt Wallace came out, they began struggling with their offense, giving up a cheap bucket off a steal as well as a three seconds call. That made it 21-18, forcing Coach Ben McCollum to put Wallace back in. Northwest pushed the lead back up to seven at 28-21 as Bryston Williams took a charge on defense. But then Northwest made the mistake of fouling Tillman as he was making a 3-point shot; that was a play that got him and the Eagles going as they fought back to take a 29-28 lead.

Tyler Funk came off the bench for Northwest to take a charge on defense and DeAngelo Hailey scored some buckets late in the first half to put Northwest back up 35-31, but then Central Methodist came back to tie it at 35 at the break. The Eagles were running a dribble weave offense that was giving Northwest problems.

But then Northwest made a couple of adjustments at the half; they started Dillon Starzl for the second half and they switched on the dribble weave instead of going through the screens. That made it easier for Northwest to guard it and allow their off the ball defenders to stay on Tillman and the rest of their shooters.

Northwest fell behind 40-37 at the start of the second half, but then they fought back to tie it at 40 and then went ahead for good when Matt Wallace, falling to the floor, somehow got the ball away to Alex Sullivan for a 3-pointer on the opposite side corner. Sullivan then took a charge on defense and then Tyler Funk came off the bench once again and hit his second 3-pointer of the day to put Northwest up 45-40 following a Wallace kickout.

Northwest did a much better job of taking care of the ball in the second half and making use of their size advantage. They threw the ball away 11 times in the first half, but cut that down to 6 times in the second half.

Matt Wallace jumped a pass on defense and got an easy score to give Northwest its biggest lead so far at 51-42; he had five steals for the night. Post player Grant Cozad then hit Sullivan for a 3-pointer to get it into double digits; Northwest was doing a much better job of recognizing where the doubles were coming from when the ball went into the post and who was open in the second half.

Another highlight film play from Wallace sparked another run for Northwest. Tillman's shooting was keeping Central Methodist in the game, but then Grant Cozad stripped Tillman who was driving into the lane and got it to Matt Wallace in transition for a two on one. Wallace threw behind the back to DeAngelo Hailey to make it 61-48 and spark a run that left Northwest up 75-55 in the last few minutes of the game. Tyler Funk took his third charge on defense and Lyle Harris showed some potential with an emphatic drive to the basket down the stretch for Northwest.

Northwest had 10 different people in the scoring column. Alex Sullivan led the scoring with 18 and four 3-pointers. Grant Cozad followed with 13 and Tyler Funk followed with 10. Matt Wallace had 9, DeAngelo Hailey and Dillon Starzl had 8, Bryston Williams had 5, Kyle Schlake had 4, and Lyle Harris and Conner Crooker had 2 each.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Price and yield volatility add risk to fixed-rate farm leases

Over the years, most cropland has been rented on a fixed rate per acre, but recently there has been a lot of volatility in both crop prices and crop yields. University of Missouri Extension agricultural economist Ron Plain says this makes a lot of producers concerned about fixed-rate agreements.
“A lot of landlords are looking to get more money given the higher crop prices, and tenants are uneasy about locking themselves into a high fixed rate because of the yield risk,” Plain said. “So there has been growing interest in a variable rate in which the payment is not a portion of the crop but a cash payment that will vary depending on crop prices and yields.”
According to Plain, a common method is to look at historical averages of price, rent and yield, and use current prices and yields to whether to take the cash rent up or down compared to the historical average.
There are several other variations that can be used to determine a cash rent rate.
“One that varies just for price is where a tenant pays the landlord the value of X bushels of crop,” Plain said. “In the case of beans, for example, say 8 bushels per acre is what the tenant is going to pay. You multiply that times harvest price, and that’s how many dollars per acre the operator pays.”
When a tenant is worried about a drought year, sometimes there is an agreement to pay a percentage of the production times a fixed price per acre, Plain said.
“One of the drawbacks to these flexible arrangements is that until the harvest comes in and you see harvest-time prices, neither the landlord nor the tenant knows what the rent will be for the year,” he said.
Plain says it is good advice to put all rental arrangements and lease agreements in writing. These discussions usually happen once a year and memories can fade over time. A written agreement also will ensure that should something happen to you, your family members will know the terms of the agreement.
According to USDA numbers, pasture and cropland rental rates have been going up quite fast in recent years. Plain cautions producers to remember that nothing can go up forever.
“If you look at how high we’ve pushed some cash rents, there are probably going to be some situations in which these cash rents are going to have to back down a bit,” Plain said. “If it rains more in 2013 and we have a better crop, we are going to see crop prices back down.”

Jack Remembers -- Poster Boys

Every once in a while I drive on I-70 100 miles from Columbia to Oak Grove and back. There are two lanes of solid traffic on both the east and westbound lanes no matter what time of day or night. It frightens me to think of all these cars going down the road 80 mph that one of them might be drunk. That driver should loose his license forever.

Sixty years ago it was a different story. After midnight, there wouldn’t be more than one car per hour going down 40 Hiway, which was replaced by I-70. We had no speed limit, and there was no law against driving and drinking. However, if you got stopped for abusing either of these, the patrol could give you a ticket for careless and imprudent driving.

In 1950 when I was a senior, on Christmas Eve and New Years, almost our whole class gathered at the Ranchhouse, a roadhouse saloon located between Grain Valley and Blue Springs on 40 Hiway. The Korean War was on. All our classmates who had quit school to join the service or had gotten drafted and were home for Christmas knew to meet at the Ranchhouse. That Christmas Eve, my closest friend Daren Davis and I left at 1:30 a.m. and went out to the car to go home. It seemed like we had been driving quite a while when I asked Davis if he could see where we were going. I couldn’t see a thing. We stopped the car and got out. It became obvious that while we were in the saloon an ice storm had hit and there was about a half an inch of ice on the windshield. We could see the lights of the Ranchhouse, but we weren’t on 40 Hiway. We had headed southeast and were stuck out in a field.

The wind was blowing and it was bitter cold. We called good old Roy Warren, who ran a wrecker service in Bates City, to come pull us out. His cable wasn’t long enough to reach us. He had to take another cable and tie on to it to finally get us out. We asked him how much we owed him. He said we didn’t have enough money to pay him for getting out of a warm bed at 2 a.m. Christmas morning, if he hadn’t known our folks so well he wouldn’t have come at all, and please never call him again.

Back then there was no such organization as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. If there had been, Davis and I could have been their poster boys.

Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075 or,

Opinion -- One Thing We Can Agree On About Government

By Lee H. Hamilton
We are locked in a seemingly permanent debate over the proper size and scope of government. It was a centerpiece of the recent presidential campaign. It features heavily in the ongoing maneuvering over the “fiscal cliff” and the upcoming vote on raising the debt ceiling. And it surfaces regularly in the speeches and comments of politicians and opinion leaders who either take the government to task for growing too large or argue that it needs to play an even more active role than it does now.
I don’t expect this argument to end anytime soon — after all, it’s been a feature of political life for as long as any of us can remember. But no matter how we view the role of government, there’s one thing most of us do agree on: whatever government does, it should do it well.
Recently, I read a compelling speech by a prominent corporate CEO who criticized the federal government for creating an environment of uncertainty and stifling the engines of market growth — and then went on to lay out plans for economic renewal that all involved the government: a revamped education policy, more investment in infrastructure and in basic research, changes to the tax code to reward innovation. His speech underscores a basic truth about American life: we can argue about the fine points of its reach, but the importance of government’s role in our lives is inescapable.
This does not mean that government is the answer to everything — far from it. Nor, however, does the anti-government rhetoric that so often marks our politics show much sign of being rooted in reality. When we want to build roads and bridges, operate schools and keep our cities safe, create conditions under which businesses can thrive, respond to natural disasters or attacks on our security, we turn to government at some level. And we expect the people who run it — the leaders as well as those on the front lines — to be good at what they do.
As Alexander Hamilton put it, “A government ill-executed, whatever may be the theory, in practice is poor government.” You don’t want second-rate scientists doing cancer research, second-rate lawyers negotiating arms control treaties, second-rate bureaucrats helping your community recover from a hurricane or flooding, second-rate inspectors making sure your hamburger is free from e. coli, or second-rate air traffic controllers guiding your plane through crowded airspace. None of us wants to live with a government that is incompetent in the exercise of its important functions.
For this reason, Americans are not as anti-government in practice as their “get government off our backs” rhetoric would often suggest. We turn again and again to government to solve the problems we complain about. And however easy it might be to rail against Washington or against “big government,” it’s the institutions of government you turn to when you need them.
Constructive criticism of Congress is always appropriate, but the anti-government language that so often gets bandied about creates distrust of the very institutions we rely on to meet the challenges and solve the problems that confront us as a nation. I sometimes find myself wondering how far we can erode confidence in our officials and our government and still have a country that works.
Whatever the particular policies of a given administration, whatever programs are enacted by the Congress, the American public is entitled to have those policies and programs administered effectively, efficiently and competently. This cannot be done without skillful civil servants and a steady stream of talented people who are attracted to public service.
My sense is that the public is demanding more from government, not in size, but in performance. Americans want government to work better for less, and the only way to achieve this is for government to become more effective and productive in dealing with the challenges before us.
Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

Worth County Cub Scouts Hold Annual Christmas Party

Cub Scouts held their annual Christmas Party Monday, Dec. 17.  We started the evening with the Bear Leader, Tyler Hann awarding Jackson Smith with his Bobcat Badge and parent pin.  Next, was Tiger Leader, Rick Frese, who awarded Kolton Smith, Jacob Kanak, Landon Moser and Ethan Frese their Bobcat Badges and parent pins. The parent pin is pinned on the parent by the scout.  It takes both the parent and the leader working together to help the scouts to achieve their goals.  The Scouts received their Derby Cars kits and their little Christmas stockings. But the highlight of the evening was the Pie in the Face.  Since the scouts achieved their selling goal as a  pack each den got to throw a whipped cream pie in their leaders' face and they all got to throw one in our Cubmasters face. We finished the evening with refreshments brought by the parents.

--Glenda Craven

Cut to the Chase -- The News is Missing from the News

By Blake Hurst
I haven’t a clue when the submissions for the Pulitzer Prize are due, but I imagine the judges will gather soon. Why? Because The Kansas City Star has just finished publishing a series on the beef industry that can only be seen as the newspaper’s pitch for this year’s prize. It certainly didn’t contain any news, and the only reason a struggling paper would devote so many resources to such a nothingburger of a story has to be vanity. The Star has taken on the beef industry with a passion, but with almost no new information.

To say this series is derivative is to practice understatement on the same level Star journalism practices hyperbole. Michael Pollan should send a bouquet, although I imagine he would settle for attribution. Forty-year-old heart studies, five-year-old documentaries and books published a decade ago, all contributed anonymously to the Star’s mighty effort, but original reporting was sorely lacking. In fact, only two conclusions can be drawn from original reporting: beef should be thoroughly cooked and invasive injuries caused by an F5 tornado are extraordinarily nasty and tragic injuries. 

Although, most everyone reading the articles, if there was anyone who read the whole series, probably knew both things.
What else? Nobody can be trusted. Dieticians are bought by beef producers, and the Federal Drug Administration is a totally owned subsidiary of the drug industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary recommendations are for sale, or can at least be rented. The industry can’t be trusted to market a safe product, and the government can’t be trusted to regulate the industry. The only institution in society that can be trusted, one supposes, is the press. Except at Pulitzer time, it seems to me.

We learned that slaughterhouses smell bad and are nasty places to work—a fact Upton Sinclair made clear a century ago. Of course, job security at slaughterhouses is better than at the average newspaper, and who knows what injuries come to journalists from repetitive cutting and pasting. 

The series tells us more about the state of journalism than it does the meat industry. There is only one goal of the average journalist, and it isn’t to sell newspapers or inform readers. No, the only goal of the average reporter is to get a job at The New York Times. The best way to get noticed by the Times is to win one of those awards chosen by, well, people who work at the Times. They recognize journalistic courage, courage that can only be exhibited by attacking local industry with the kind of “investigative” reporting that resulted in this article. The fact the series contained little that was original or news doesn’t matter.

What one might not know, if one read the series, is that the incidence of most food borne illnesses has been in decline, particularly illnesses caused by E. coli. The incidence of listeria, however, is increasing. Listeria is a particularly nasty bacteria, the leading cause of miscarriages and often occurs in foods that are normally eaten uncooked. The bacteria is also associated with cats.  Now, that would be true journalistic courage—a series that takes on sprout-eating cat lovers.

(Blake Hurst, of Westboro, Mo., is the president of Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.)

Obituary -- Clinton H. Verbick Jr. 1932-2012

Clinton H. Verbick Jr. was born June 21, 1932 in Ravenwood, Missouri to Clinton H. Sr. & Forence (Davenport) Verbick. He passed away on December 26, 2012.

He was united in marriage to Alberta Cox on August 9, 1952. To this union two children were born; Clinton Harold and Charles Dwayne.  Clinton served in the United States Air Force from 1950-1951. He was a self employed truck driver.

Surviving is wife Alberta of the home in Grant City; sons: Clinton and wife Londa of Grant City, Missouri, Charles and wife Tabatha of Maryville, Missouri; 5 grandchildren: Desirea O’Neal, Darren, Derek, Michelle & Dustin Verbick; and 4 great-grandchildren: Trevor, Kally and Sam O’Neal and Klayton Verbick.

He was preceded in death by his parents and three sisters: Cora Huff, Barbara Wilson and Betty Price.

Clinton enjoyed spending time with family and especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He will be sadly missed by family and friends.

Funeral services will be held 10:30 A.M. Saturday, December 29, 2012 at the Prugh-Dunfee Funeral Home in Grant City, Missouri. Pastor Len Green officiated. Interment will be in the Oak Lawn Cemetery in Ravenwood, Missouri. Memorials may be made to HMS Hospice of Maryville or American Lung Association. 

Rep. Jason Smith files HJR 7 to Protect Missourians’ Right to Hunt, Fish and Farm

Rep. Jason Smith pre-filed a constitutional amendment today to protect the right of Missourians to hunt, fish and farm. This amendment comes in the wake of a recent regulatory movement, spear-headed by career bureaucrats and Washington DC special interests, to force state agencies to implement regulations reducing the ability of citizens to hunt, fish and farm.

“While Missouri state agencies can create rules to restrict our ability to hunt, fish and farm, these rules have to comply with our constitution,” said Smith, R-Salem. “One way to ensure out-of-state special interests don’t pass rules restricting the number of cows that a rancher can own, or pass rules making it illegal to hunt deer, is to protect the right to hunt, fish and farm in our state’s constitution.”

Smith’s proposal is very similar to a constitutional amendment that recently passed in North Dakota. There, outside special interest groups representing vegan and animal rights activists poured millions of dollars into a ballot measure designed to alter that state’s animal laws. Smith’s amendment is seen as a firewall, protecting Missouri from these outside groups.

“This amendment will preserve Missourians’ choices at the supermarket and enshrine our long-held traditions of agriculture, hunting and fishing.  Consumers and producers alike deserve the right to raise and consume the food of their choice without interference from big-money special interests and out-of-touch bureaucrats.”

The constitutional amendment has been co-sponsored by more than 30 of Smith’s colleagues including House Speaker Tim Jones.

Twelve Worth County Officers, Employees Recognized for Service

12 Worth County officers and employees were recognized for their service to the county Thursday morning following the swearing in of new officers. They were: Treasurer Linda Brown (15 years), Public Administrator Patsy Worthington (15 years), recorder of Deeds Barb Foland (5 years), Associate Judge Joel Miller (5 years), Deputy Assessor Carma Rauch (10 years), Carol Ann Kerwin (15 years), Assessor Carolyn Hardy (20 years), Deputy Clerk Cheryl Snead (15 years), Former Coroner Gary Hann (10 years), Road & Bridge Supervisor Jim Fletchall (15 years), and Collector Julie Tracy (10 years).

Worth County Officers Sworn In

New County Commissioners Chevy Davidson (West) and Regan Nonneman (East) were sworn in Thursday morning by Judge Joel Miller at a ceremony. Returning officers sworn in were Sheriff Terry Sheddrick, Deputies Tony Steele and Tom Trullinger, Assessor Carolyn Hardy, Public Administrator Patsy Worthington, and Coroner Sharon Supinger.

About 20 friends, family members, and county officers attended the ceremony.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Deep roots help grass stay green in dry spell; grazing grass too short kills off root systems

In the prolonged summer drought, farmers noticed that grass stayed green longer in their hayfields than in their pastures.
While hayfields kept growing, pastures turned brown. Cows ran out of grass to graze.
The difference is in the length of the roots. Grass that is grazed every day doesn't develop roots as deep as grass of the same species allowed to grow uncut for a month.
"Allowed to grow, grass roots will go down and find water," said Dennis Hancock, University of Georgia Extension forage specialist.
Hancock talked about basic biology of grass at the annual Crop Management Conference held by University of Missouri Extension in Columbia.
Forage crops can withstand the usual summer dry periods, Hancock said. But they must be given a chance to grow and develop deep roots.
The unseen loss from continuously grazed pastures is the killing of roots, he said. If leaves are continuously clipped, the roots die back. There's not enough photosynthesis to feed the roots. That’s when lack of roots cuts the supply of water to the leaves.
Lack of strong roots on pasture grasses results in great loss to livestock producers.
Unmanaged grazing cuts losses further. On continuously grazed pastures, cattle get only 30 to 40 percent of the growth. Rotational grazing, moving livestock off the pasture before all the leaves are eaten, improves total growth.
Dividing a pasture into just four paddocks and rotating animals improves efficiency to above 60 percent. "There is lots of room for improvement," the Georgia specialist said. "If you had only 30 percent efficiency feeding your corn, you would do something about it."
In Georgia, grazing dairies increased grazing efficiency to 80 percent. They rotate cows to new paddocks after every milking.
Improved production from managed grazing is one reason dairy cow numbers are increasing, not decreasing, in Georgia, Hancock said. Forage-based milking herds have a cost advantage.
In a short lesson on grass biology, Hancock explained why grass should be grazed during the rapid growth stage. Production efficiency peaks then.
In early growth, nipping new grass too soon stunts plants. Roots fail to grow deep. At the reproductive stage, when plants set seed, growth stops.  Leaves become fibrous when nutrients move into the seed head.
The rest period for forage determines the success of the grazing system.
Hancock praised Missouri farmers who use the “grazing wedge.”
“Missouri leads the nation," he said.
To graph the wedge, producers measure dry-matter growth in each paddock with a rising plate meter. The graph shows which paddock to graze next. This helps prevent paddocks from going into the reproductive stage before they are grazed. Each paddock can be grazed at peak production in the rapid-growth stage.
Producers can see the system at
Letting the livestock graze the forage, instead of harvesting and feeding it, is the way to increase profits. "Baled hay is the biggest block to profits," Hancock said.  "If you need hay, let your neighbor grow and bale it."
Hancock left a challenge for producers: “There’s no reason not to have a 300-day grazing season. Grazing grass can eliminate most of a 120-day hay-feeding season each winter. The goal is not to unroll a bale of hay.”
Pasture grasses can be stockpiled, ungrazed, in the fall growing season. That forage can be grazed by livestock through most of the winter.
The underground part of the plants, the roots, extends downward during that fall while resting from grazing. Longer roots help supply the winter forages.

Bill Would Have Missouri Join National Popular Vote Compact

A bill introduced by Missouri State Representative Jeff Roorda would make Missouri a member of the National Popular Vote Compact. This compact would bind states to pick electors favoring the national popular vote winner in a Presidential election rather than the current policy of each state casting its electoral votes for the winner within the state. The compact would take effect when states representing a combined total of at least 270 electoral votes pass such legislation. Currently, nine states with a combined total of nearly 150 electoral votes have passed the compact. There are similar bills in all 50 states.

Supporters point to recent examples like the 2000 and 2012 elections. In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote. In 2012, Barack Obama trailed in the popular vote for much of the night before moving ahead to win by three million votes; he won over 300 electoral votes. A shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio would have elected John Kerry in 2004 even though George Bush won the popular vote that year.

Supporters also say that the current winner take all rule allows candidates to ignore the concerns of voters in states in which they are way ahead or way behind. For instance, two thirds of the Presidential candidates visits were to just six states and 98% of advertising money went to 15 states while two thirds of all the states were ignored.

The Constitution gives states exclusive control over the manner of awarding electoral votes. The winner-take-all rule is not in effect in Nebraska and Maine. They are apportioned by Congressional District. In 2008, Barack Obama took one of Nebraska's electoral votes by winning the Omaha congressional district that year.

Opponents argue that abolishing the Electoral College would give big states too much power. For instance, if Texas and Florida were to put a Republican candidate over the top but Washington State was to vote Democratic, Washington would have to vote for the Republican under this plan, which would not sit well with a lot of voters. That would be the case even if Washington were to vote 90% Democratic. Another argument is that if the popular vote were close, which it has been for three out of the last four elections, then the taxpayer expense for conducting a recount would be astronomical. A third argument is that it would not solve anything as politicians would campaign in the 15 biggest states instead of the 15 battleground states and ignore all the rest.

Bill to Outlaw Falsifying Drug Test Results

A new bill prefiled in the Missouri House, House Bill 38, would outlaw falsifying drug test results. HB 38 defines the crime as knowingly altering or falsifying drug or alcohol results by using or possessing with the intent to use any substance or device designed to defeat drug tests, submitting a false sample, submitting false documents, or making false material statements with the intent to alter or falsify drug or alcohol tests or test results. Altering or falsifying drug or alcohol tests would be a Class D Felony and persons found guilty would be imprisoned up to four years.

It would also be a crime to manufacture, possess, sell, give away, distribute, produce, or market such biological samples in the State of Missouri for the purpose of falsifying drug or alcohol test results. For the purpose of determining intent, the trier of fact may take into consideration whether or not verbal or written instructions or advice regarding any method of altering or falsifying drug tests or test results accompanied the sale of such adulterants. Persons who violate this section will be deemed guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor.

2013 Great Plains Growers Conference January 10th – 12th

Vegetable, fruit and cut flower growers across the Midwest should make plans to attend the Great Plains Growers Conference and Trade Show on January 10th, 11h and 12th, 2013, at the Fulkerson Center on Missouri Western State University’s campus in St. Joseph, Missouri.

The conference will cover many topics including:  vegetable, tree & small fruit, and cut flower production, beekeeping, soils & irrigation, beginning and advanced organic, high tunnel operations, community supported agriculture, farmers markets, urban/community gardening, and marketing.

The conference also features a trade show, allowing you to talk with dealers in equipment, tools, seed, chemicals, containers and other horticulture supplies. With all the conference has to offer it is one of the most comprehensive grower conferences in the Midwest.

A full program schedule and registration form is available online,,  or call the Buchanan County Extension office (816) 279-1691.

Editorial -- Steve Breaston Distraction Costs Chiefs

One of the big problems with the Chiefs this year is the Steve Breaston soap opera. Breaston, who caught over 60 passes for the Chiefs last year, was benched for most of this year. The explanation by Coach Romeo Crennell was that Breaston doesn't know the system. However, we do not buy that because we fail to see how someone who can catch 60 passes the year before can somehow forget everything he has ever learned. We suggest that there was a lot more going on than what Coach Romeo Crennell was telling the media.

The Breaston soap opera was a major distraction to what should have been a promising season where the Chiefs were supposed to challenge Denver for the division title. Whatever the reason, Crennell and GM Scott Pioli let this matter hang around far too long. As a result, much of the focus that should have been on the team was instead wasted on whether Breaston would play or not. In other words, the focus was on a player and not the team. That is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.

There were three better ways that the Chiefs could have handled this better. They could have either put up with his shortcomings and played him just like they had been. It doesn't matter how high of a level you are at; there are always shortcomings with any player than you sign. That is an inherent risk of being a GM at any level. The second was to release him before the season. Tell him that he was not in their plans for 2012. That would have brought closure to both the Chiefs and Breaston -- he would then have been free to pursue another team and the Chiefs would have had one less distraction to worry about. The third would have been to release him in the middle of the season once it was clear he was a problem. Eat his salary and move on. For whatever reason, coaches and players part ways over philosophical differences all the time. That would have freed up a place on the roster for someone hungry to prove themselves on the field.

This is not the only time that GM Scott Pioli has let stuff hang for too long. The Larry Johnson soap opera lasted for over 2 1/2 years before the Chiefs finally let him go in 2009. Given the Steve Breaston soap opera, it is obvious that Pioli has not learned his lessons on how to handle personnel. There are always going to be people that are difficult to deal with in any walk of life. Pioli has had four years to leave his mark on the Chiefs franchise. We do not defend anything that Johnson or Breaston did or might have done that is harmful to a team. But dealing with people who are difficult to deal with separates winning teams from losing teams. Scott Pioli has not done that.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tyler Schmitz Has Career Night for NEN Boys

Tyler Schmitz led three Northeast Nodaway boys in double figures with a career high 16 points as the Bluejay boys beat Worth County 59-46 to win their second straight since the Northwest Missouri Tournament and even their record to 5-5. For Northeast, it was a matter of establishing another scoring threat on the floor. For Worth County, while they were able to cut down on the crazy passes that have plagued their play this year and eliminate taking drives that were not there, they have still yet to develop the balanced scoring they need in order to start winning games. Bryce Ross had 22 for the Tigers, followed by Brevyn Ross with 12 and Cole Parman with 7. However, nobody else had more than two for the Tigers. The goal will be to make all five people on the floor a threat to score and hold teams under 50 points.

Worth County was playing better on the floor, but they were not getting any easy looks against Northeast in the first quarter. Consequently, Northeast scored the first 12 points of the game. Tyler Schmitz had four while four other Bluejays contributed two each – Kevin Stoll, Steve Schulte, Shaun Burns, and Aaron Patton. This is exactly the sort of balanced scoring that Worth County has been lacking for most of the year.
Cole Parman finally broke the shutout for Worth County with a 3-pointer and Bryce Ross scored off a pair of free throws before Aaron Patton hit a reverse layup at the buzzer to put Northeast up 14-5 after one quarter.

Bryce Ross finally got going for Worth County, getting a pair of pullups with the taller Kevin Stoll right in his jersey, getting the Tigers back to within 19-11. But then Jason Henggeler hit a pair of free throws and Kevin Stoll scored a putback to make it 23-11 with 3:26 left in the first half as Northeast threatened to make it a blowout. But Brevyn Ross, who had been scoreless up to that point, finally got untracked by going coast to coast for a 3-point play to make it 23-14.

But then Northeast got their big men going late in the half to take their biggest lead at 31-17 so far. Joel Scroggie got a putback and Tyler Schmitz got loose twice. “We knew we had a size advantage, so we worked on our post game a lot in practice this week,” said Coach Chaim Jenkins. He said that Tyler had been one of the hardest workers on his team and that it was finally starting to pay off.

Sage DeLong hit from the right wing to score for Northeast and give them their biggest lead of the game at 33-17, but then Bryce Ross got going for Worth County, hitting shot after shot with Kevin Stoll in his face. Brevyn Ross added a steal as the teams traded buckets for much of the third quarter. Aaron Patton got untracked for Northeast as The General started scoring off drives. Joel Scroggie got loose underneath, Tyler Schmitz scored inside again, and Shaun Burns hit a free throw as Northeast led 44-29 with 1:16 left.
But all of a sudden, Grant Parman scored off a backdoor layup and Worth County put on a press with immediate success. Brevyn Ross got a steal off the press for a layup and then Bryce Ross scored off an Andrew Mullock steal to make it 44-35 at the end of the third.

Bryce Ross opened the scoring with a pullup over Stoll. Aaron Patton got a 4th chance putback for Northeast, but then Brevyn Ross caught them napping and went coast to coast on them; Bryce followed with yet another pullup over Stoll to make it 46-41.

But then Kevin Stoll hit a backbreaker, a 3-pointer, that changed the momentum back in Northeast’s favor. Aaron Patton followed with a fast break. Chris Alarcon hit a free throw for Worth County, but then Steve Schulte threw a breathtaking bounce pass to Tyler Schmitz to beat the Worth County press and Kevin Stoll hit a pair of free throws to make it 55-42 and put the game out of reach for Northeast. Worth County would not get the deficit under double digits again.

Tyler Schmitz led the scoring for Northeast with 16 points. Aaron Patton followed with 14 and Kevin Stoll 11. Joel Scroggie had 8. Shaun Burns and Steve Schulte had 3 each and Sage DeLong and Jason Henggeler had 2 each. That was the sort of balanced scoring that Northeast had that night and that Worth County is still looking for.

Applebees Outing, Team Bonding Sparks Bluejay Girls Before Break

Northeast Nodaway’s girls, following their disappointing third place loss to CFX in the Northwest Missouri Tournament last week, did just what the doctor ordered; the freshmen and sophomores ate out at Applebees while the upperclassmen did other bonding activities. And it didn’t hurt for them to have Jacqueline and Michelle Schulte practicing with the team, which allowed the players to see for themselves what it takes to be successful at Northeast. They came back to play this week a totally different team; they won both their games this week, a school record 35-4 win over Union Star in which they allowed the fewest points in school history and a 38-36 win over Worth County in which they lost their leading scorer Taryn Farnan in the second quarter to her ongoing shoulder problems but came back to win. They were also still without Claudia Wiederholt, who is still not playing because of her concussion.

For Worth County, there were a lot of little things that added up to a disappointing finish. The foul differential was lopsided; there were 30 fouls called on Worth County and only 8 on Northeast Nodaway. They struggled at the start of the third quarter and then gave up a momentum-changing play at the third quarter buzzer as they continued their habit of relaxing too much in the closing seconds of quarters. And Northeast did a lot of things that they hadn’t done all year; they broke Worth County’s press at will at times and did the best job of handling it all year; they also hit free throws down the stretch after having struggled to hit half their free throws much of the year.

The Worth County game started off as a tight defensive struggle for both teams until Sidney Thummel came off the bench and sparked Worth County with three steals in the period as Worth County moved out to a 6-2 lead. The Tigers were bottling up Taryn Farnan, who was scoreless in the first quarter; Taryn was battling the flu but was still playing. But Dallis Coffelt came out on fire for Northeast; she was relentlessly attacking the basket.

Things looked like roses for Worth County at the start of the second quarter. Northeast slipped back into their bad habits of forgetting the plays on offense and they were having a ton of turnovers. Meanwhile, Kristen Andrews hit a free throw after getting a steal off the press, Claire Andrews hit from the right baseline after Worth County used some pinpoint passing to break the Northeast pressure, and Kaitlyn Davidson stepped through two defenders for a layup as Worth County moved out to an 11-3 lead.

But then Holly Redden broke the run for Northeast as she stepped up and hit a 3-pointer to make it 11-6 with 4:58 left.

Kacey Smyser kept Worth County in front for most of the second quarter as Worth County was getting the ball in to her. But Taryn Farnan scored off a spin move to cut it to 14-10 as she was starting to get into the swing of things despite her flu. On the next play, Taryn landed on her bad shoulder in a collision. The play threatened to be a backbreaker for Northeast right after they had begun to play strongly, but Worth County was called for the foul on the play and Holly Redden checked in to hit both free throws to make it 14-12.

Dallis Coffelt got a steal on defense and took it in for the tying points, but Kristen Andrews got back on defense for Worth County and took a charge, setting up a putback from Sidney Thummel to make it 16-12. But Holly Redden countered with a shot from the stop of the key to make it 16-14 at the half. Holly Redden had all seven of her points in the period, just when they were needed to spark Northeast.

Nobody could score for the first three minutes of the third quarter, but then Kristan Judd, who had been scoreless for the game, broke through at the 4:58 mark and converted a 3-point play to put Northeast in front. Jill Spire cut inside and got a pass from Dallis Coffelt and then Judd scored inside again to put Northeast up 21-18 with 3:32 left in the period. For Worth County, the tragedy of the Stanberry game, in which they could not hold a big first half lead, was repeating itself.

But all of a sudden, they responded better as Kristen Andrews got a putback to tie it up. From there, Worth County’s press started working as well as it had all game. Sidney Thummel hit Kaitlyn Davidson inside after Kristen Andrews got a steal off the press. Claire Andrews hit a 3-pointer from the right wing after a possession kept alive by two offensive boards to make it 26-21 Worth County. The bleeding would have been worse for Northeast if Kristan Judd had not taken a charge on defense.

But then Worth County, like the Jefferson game, gave up a momentum-changing play at the end of the third. Dallis Coffelt hit a guarded baseline shot from the right side of the court with eight seconds left to make it 26-23. Worth County then got careless with the ball and Dallis came to the other side of the floor, stole the inbounds pass, and hit another guarded 10-footer to make it 26-25 at the buzzer.

Northeast looked alike a completely different team at the start of the fourth as Kerrigan Adwell hit Kristan Judd inside to put Northeast up 27-26. But all of a sudden, like a light switch flipped on, Claire Andrews was unconscious for Worth County, hitting shots with a hand in her face to keep Worth County in the game. Claire hit from the right side to put Worth County up 28-27 with 6:58 left.

But Northeast was solving the press as well as they had all year and Jill Spire got on the line with a free throw. She missed the second, but Judd was there for the putback to make it 30-28. But Claire struck again for Worth County, this time from the other side with a hand in her face to tie it at 30 with 5:58 left.

Claire finally cooled off for Worth County and Dallis Coffelt got on the line and hit both free throws to put Northeast ahead. Jill Spire followed with a shot from the left side off a pass from Kerrigan Adwell to make it 34-30. But then Kristen Andrews gave Worth County new life by pushing it up the floor and hitting Kacey Smyser with 3:12 left to cut it to two. Dallis Coffelt then missed a runner for Northeast and Claire struck once again to tie it at 34. Rebecca Moore forced a Northeast player out of bounds to give Worth County a chance to go ahead, but Worth County missed two tries to go ahead and Jill Spire tied up Kacey Smyser in the post with 1:49 to give Northeast the ball back.

Holly Redden missed a 3-pointer that would have put Northeast up by three, but got her own board. But then Kaitlyn Davidson got a steal as she jumped a pass and she went full speed ahead to the basket. But Kristan Judd hustled back on defense and contested the shot, forcing a miss and Northeast got the ball back. With 1:03 left, Jill Spire got into the lane and drew a foul and got a free throw chance. She missed, but Dallis Coffelt was there for the putback to put Northeast up 36-34. Claire Andrews missed a 3-pointer and Kaitlyn Davidson missed a putback try with 43 seconds left.

Sidney Thummel got a steal for Worth County near the midcourt line, but Kerrigan Adwell stole the ball right back and then Northeast took 15 seconds off the clock before Worth County could foul and get the clock stopped. But then Kerrigan Adwell hit both free throws for Northeast to make it a two possession game at 38-34 before Sidney Thummel hit a meaningless shot at the buzzer for Worth County.

For Northeast, Coach Vance Proffitt said that the win was a big confidence builder for his team. “Dallis got a lot of tips on defense and we got a lot of tieups as well,” he said. “We would have folded in the Northwest Missouri tournament, but we stepped up in a big way tonight.” For Worth County, Coach Bryce Shafar said that his team needed to work on consistency in order to avoid such losses in the future. “We had a great first half, a bad third quarter, and we did OK in the fourth,” he said. “We were very unselfish with our offense in the first half and there were a lot of positives to take out of this game. We just got away too much from what was working for us in the third quarter.

Northeast was led by Dallis Coffelt, who had a career-high 13 points. The scary thing about it is that she’s only a freshman. Kristan Judd played the best game since coming back from her injuries and had nine. She returned to form right when the team needed her the most, with both Taryn and Claudia out with injuries. Holly Redden had 7 and Jill Spire had 5 for Northeast.