Thursday, February 28, 2013

Second Snowstorm Hits Area

A second snowstorm hit the area between Monday night and Wednesday morning, knocking out 67,000 customers in the KCP&L service area. Sheridan and Worth County were not affected. The snow that hit this time was heavy slush, which caused tree and limb damage which caused the outages. The power was out as far north as Chillicothe.
Although Monday evening was clear and it looked like the promised storm might not materialize, it struck with full force over the night with high winds and heavy snow. Northeast Nodaway called off school at 12 that day while Worth County did not have school at all either Tuesday or Wednesday. Missouri Western called off classes by 11 while Bedford’s school had early dismissal.
The sectional basketball games that were supposed to have been played Tuesday were moved back to Wednesday. Northeast Nodaway did not have school on Wednesday; that day will be made up at the end of the year. Worth County will make up their snow days at the end of the year, meaning that school will be dismissed on May 21st instead of the originally scheduled May 16th.
A final round of snow hit the area Wednesday morning, creating difficult driving conditions. By mid-afternoon, most of the roads had cleared, although the road from Sheridan to Ravenwood was still treacherous. School resumed for both Worth County and Northeast Nodaway Thursday and Friday although Worth County’s bus routes were restricted to hard surfaces only.
As with the first storm, the second storm’s biggest impact was south of the area. The storm reached historic proportions in Oklahoma, shutting down all the roads in the Panhandle area at one point.
There were four injuries in accidents attributable to the snowstorm in Missouri Highway Patrol Troop H. In one, the Patrol reports that three people were injured in a one-vehicle accident on I-35 at the 97.6 mile marker at around 1:15 p.m. The accident occurred as a 1997 Jeep driven by Nicholas Cote (27) of Azle, TX was southbound and encountered slush and lost control and ran off the east side, overturning and landing on its wheels in the median. Cote received moderate injuries. A passenger, Kayla Bellows (21), also received moderate injuries. A two year old child received minor injures and they were all taken to Harrison County Hospital. All three were wearing safety devices at the time of the accident. The Jeep was totaled and was towed from the scene.
The other accident happened at around 11:48 p.m., one mile west of Stewartsville. The Patrol reports that a 2003 Ford Expedition driven by Rebekah Younger (34) of St. Joseph was westbound on 36 when it skidded off the south side of the roadway. Younger received minor injuries and was taken to Heartland Regional Medical Center. She was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. The Expedition received minor damage.
Wind gusts were as high as 30 miles per hour around Sheridan. However, there were places where the wind gusted as high as 40-50 miles per hour. And at its worst, the storm produced nearly hurricane force winds. There were hundreds of cars crashed or stranded while there were six people killed in Kansas due to the storm.
Another area hit heavily by the storm was off to the north, where Wisconsin got as much as 15 inches of snow and Michigan was hit hard as well, according to The Weather Channel. In Wisconsin, there were more than 440 stranded vehicles and crashes. The snow was so heavy in places that it threatened buildings. In northeast Kansas, for instance, a Macy’s was evacuated as three to four feet of snow on the roof caused an evacuation due to safety concerns.
In Colorado, east of Colorado Springs, a school had to bring back students to the school after they tried to dismiss students early but had to bring them back after whiteout conditions made it impossible to drive in.

Senate Advances Measure to Rein in Tax Credits

The Missouri Senate today approved a measure to rein in inefficient tax breaks that could save Missouri taxpayers nearly $1.3 billion over the next 15 years.

Senate Bill 120 would cap Missouri’s most costly tax incentives, including the Low-Income Housing and Historic Preservation tax credit programs. Part of the estimated savings from the reduction in those tax credit programs would help fund new job-creating incentives, including credits for data storage centers and the “Missouri Export Incentive Act.”

Senate Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said this comprehensive economic development and tax credit reform bill is part of Senate leadership’s commitment to cutting government waste while creating a more business-friendly environment.

“We have to find the delicate balance of protecting funding for vital programs while offering tax incentives in a financially responsible way to businesses to stay competitive,” said Dempsey. “Offering these efficient tax incentives will help create jobs in the state. With the tremendous savings realized from this important legislation, we can use a portion of that savings to support these new incentives while saving our state more than $1 billion over the next decade.”

Senate Bill 120 would place caps on the Low-Income Housing tax credits at $50 million dollars per year and $45 million for incentives given for Historic Preservation projects. Currently, Missouri allocates more Historic Preservation tax credits than any other state in the nation and is second in Low-Income Housing tax credits, costing Missourians more than $300 million a year.

The new measure would provide tax credits for new data storage centers and also create the Missouri Export Incentive Act,” which would authorize air export tax incentives for freight forwarders in Missouri.

Senate Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, says approval of the air export tax incentives is a good example of this legislative session’s push for pro-employment policies.

“Missouri is naturally positioned as a gateway to the rest of the world,” said Schmitt. “It is vitally important that we seize this opportunity to encourage new investment and jobs we currently do not have in our state.  This bill can give Missouri a place in the global marketplace and change the trajectory of our economy for decades.”

According to Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, passing SB 120 is part of a broad base tax policy reform underway in the Senate that will make Missouri a part of the global economy

“This bill is the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication by the Senate in the past few years to create meaningful tax credit reform in our state,” said Richard. “This represents a much better investment of taxpayer dollars, which I believe is what the people of Missouri expect and need.”

The bill will now head to the House for consideration. For more on this bill and others, go to

Sheridan Receives Another Drinking Water Violation

Sheridan has received a water violation for the entire year of 2012. The city has levels of disinfection byproducts that are above drinking water standards. The city's level of trihalomethanes exceeded the allowable level for the 12 month period ending December 31, 2012. This is not an emergency and customers do not need to use an alternative water supply. However, if you have specific health concerns, you should consult your doctor. 

Disinfection byproducts are formed when chlorine combines with naturally occurring organic matter in the water. Disinfection is necessary to inactivate harmful microbes such as bacteria and viruses which may be present in untreated water. The maximum contaminant level is based on long-term exposure of drinking two quarts of water a day for 70 years. Some people drinking water containing excessive trihalomethanes may experience problems with their liver, kidneys, or central nervous system and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

The University of Rolla is testing the water to see if there can be a way of disinfecting without adding the amount of chlorine that causes trihalomethanes. For more information, contact the City of Sheridan or Water Superintendent David Parman.

Worth County FBLA Sends Three to State

Monday February 25 the Worth County chapter of Future Business Leaders of America ventured to Maysville First Baptist Church to compete in the annual District Leadership Conference.  The conference was originally scheduled to be held at NWMSU but due to snow it was postponed and some events were altered to meet time restraints.  Where normally all FBLA members would get to attend conference the alterations meant that only performing students were able to attend.  The Worth County Chapter was well represented with three state qualifiers and 12 top 10 finishes.  Placing first in Electronic Career Portfolio was senior FBLA president Rebecca Moore.  Rebecca created a Prezi that showed judges her resume, career research, and her experience and qualities that will lead her to success in her career path of accounting.  The Business Presentation team consisting of Rebecca Moore, junior Kristen Andrews, and junior Brianna Fletchall also placed first.  In their presentation they had 7 minutes to show their research and tips for success at a business luncheon.  The final state qualifier was freshman Jacob Auten qualifying in Cyber Security.  Jacob had an hour to take a 100 question test about terms and issues involving the internet and security. State FBLA will take place April 21st – 23rd where qualifiers will have another round of presentations or tests to take.  Overall, the Worth County Chapter competes in the second largest FBLA in the nation with our district, district 1, having the highest membership in Missouri.  Congrats FBLA members!

Top 10 Finishers
2nd place Sidney Davenport and Dakota Owsley in Website Design
3rd place Jacob Auten in Computer Problem Solving
4th place Chase Thummel in Business Law
4th place Ally Buffington, Sydney Thummel, and Madison Caasavaugh in Marketing
5th place Sydney Thummel in Public Speaking 1
6th Ally Buffington Introduction to Business
6th Place Joel Kollitz Introduction to Technology Concepts
6th place Grant Parman in Personal Finance
7th place Grant Parman in Business Communication
8th place Cassie Carter and Shelby Goacher in Desktop Publishing
8th place Cassie Carter in Healthcare Administration

10th place Rikky Hunt in Word Processing 1

Cut to the Chase -- Barefoot in the Dirt

By Rebecca French Smith
With about a foot and a half of snow on the ground, I am seriously looking forward to spring. Punxsutawney Phil said it would be here early this year, but one tweet I read called him a hack—I am reconsidering my trust in his predictions.
Truth is, spring comes when it comes, and I am ready for it. The first falling snowflakes of winter are beautiful and welcome, but there is nothing quite like the feel of freshly plowed earth beneath your feet and between your toes, or the earthy scent lingering in the garden air. It connects you to the land, to the seed you’re about to plant, in a unique way. It is … grounding.
But for many, they can’t remember the last time they were barefoot in the dirt, if ever.
Recently, a story on Politico, “Agriculture has slipped from D.C.’s radar screen,” piqued my interest, not only because it has been a struggle of late to keep those who produce the nation’s food in the forefront for our national legislators and the President, but because the gap between the farm and the vast majority of the population is widening.
It seems we in agriculture and rural America are “singing to the choir” too often and need to reach beyond. Are you listening? If you’re reading this, consider yourself reached out to, whether you’re in agriculture or whether you don’t know the first thing about growing something—perhaps even your houseplants are plastic.
My family grows a large garden—okra, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, cantaloupe, sugar snap peas, even tried eggplant and green peppers, with which we haven’t had too much success. Even in a good year though, we are challenged to make the food we grow last more than a few months.
Truth is, when I look in my pantry each evening for dinner, there are groceries there I cannot grow. I simply do not have the time or resources to produce everything my family eats, wears or uses. I remind myself to be thankful for the things we’ve grown accustomed to. I could not survive without the practice and passion of farmers who help me live the life I live. Rural America and farmers are a necessity for me.
However, people beyond the farm are at least three generations removed from it. They do not readily connect those dots. Many children think milk comes from a carton, not a cow. While we face different challenges and issues, it will take all of us—both rural and urban—to bridge that gap of understanding. In doing so, we can create harmony at a very polarized time.
I am privileged to have space to grow a garden, to put a seed in the ground and watch it grow. It is a simple pleasure that I wish I could enjoy year-round—maybe a greenhouse is in order.
Truth is, we should all go barefoot in the dirt more often.

(Rebecca French Smith, of Columbia, Mo. is a multimedia specialist for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.)

Judith Matteson to Head Red Cross Fund Drive

The American Red Cross of St. Joseph serves the greater St. Joseph area, Worth County 10 other counties in NW Missouri & NE Kansas. They are primarily funded from the St. Joseph United Way. The St. Joseph United Way would appreciate monies to be contributed by the outlying counties to help support Red Cross activities in those counties.

Red Cross delivered a total of 1200 meals on two different days to Worth County during the December 2007 ice storm. They furnish new clothing & food vouchers to Worth County residents who have suffered a house fire. They completely furnished our new “Shelter Trailer” with cots, blankets, MRE’s and first aid supplies. They help with many other items in Worth County as well as all over the world.

Worth County has been challenged with raising $1,000.00 as our share of funding for the year & Judith Matteson has again accepted the challenge of raising the funds. You may mail a donation with a check made out to American Red Cross to Judith Matteson at P.O. Box 101, Grant City, Mo. 64456 or you may donate online to You should note on the bottom of the check-Worth County Hero.

Facebook Privacy Chain Letter is a Hoax

The following chain letter is circulating through Facebook:
WARNING!!! FACEBOOK HAS CHANGED THEIR PRIVACY SETTINGS ONCE MORE!!! DUE TO THE NEW “GRAPH APP” ANYONE ON FACEBOOK (INCLUDING OTHER COUNTRIES) CAN SEE YOUR PICTURES, LIKES, AND COMMENTS. The next 2 weeks I will be posting this, and please once you have done it please post DONE! Those of you who do not keep my information from going out to the public, I will have to DELETE YOU! I want to stay PRIVATELY connected with you. I post shots of my family that I don't want strangers to have access to!!! This happens when our friends click "like" or "comment"... automatically, their friends would see our posts too. Unfortunately, we cannot change this setting by ourselves because Facebook has configured it that way. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (DO NOT CLICK), a window will appear, now move the mouse on “FRIENDS" (also without clicking), then down to "Settings", click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on "LIFE EVENTS" and "COMMENTS & LIKES" and "PHOTOS". By doing this, my activity among my friends and family will no longer become public. Now, copy and paste this on your wall. Once I see this posted on your page, I will do the same. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

 Facebook users can adjust their privacy settings so that only friends can see pictures that are posted or only close friends. Posts can also be managed this way. 

If the content you share on Facebook is set to private (i.e. "Friends Only") then only the friends of that Facebook user can see it, regardless of if your friends comment or like it. These messages fail to acknowledge that simple fact and instead provide a completely worthless “solution” about unchecking Likes and Comments which prevents all of that friends likes and comments from reaching your newsfeed, which negates the social aspect of Facebook. Non-friends who try to view such a photo get an error message.

The site Botcrawl, which debunks hoaxes, states that there have been no recent changes on Facebook that would allow the public to see activities on any wall. The privacy and sharing controls of the person sharing the item determines the audience. If you follow the instructions in the message,  you will only be unsubscribing from your friend's comments and likes, meaning that you will no longer be able to see what they say on Facebook.

Every time you comment on a friends' post or post on their wall, total strangers can see your post, including people on different continents. Facebook has always been designed as a public forum. However, Facebook allows users to create groups that are private, accomplishing the objective of the chain letter -- only the members of the group can see your posts in that group. For instructions on creating a group, see this blog.

Did Li Ching-Yuen Live to be 256 Years Old?

There are stories of a Chinese man, Li Ching-Yuen, who is said to have lived to be 256 years old. He was born in either 1677 or 1736 and lived until 1933. Wikipedia, in a biography, states that he was born in 1677 and was a martial artist, herbalist, and tactical advisor. A 1930 New York Times article quotes a professor, Wu Chung-chieh of Chengud University as having discovered imperial Chinese records from 1827 congratulating him on his 150th birthday, as well as a similar congratulatory note in 1877, on his 200th birthday. A 1928 Times article recounted that many of the old men in Li's neighborhood asserted that their grandparents knew him when they were boys and that at that time, he was a grown man. Li, according to the stories, had met an older hermit, over 500 years old, who had taught him various arts, including Qigong, that he had performed faithfully.

The May 15th, 1933 issue of Time reported on his history, including his way for living long:
--Tranquil mind;
--Sit like a tortoise;
--Walk sprightly like a pigeon;
--Sleep like a dog.

The biggest problem in authenticating Li's age is the lack of radiocarbon dating. It can be used to determine the date of birth of an individual. And the lack of recordkeeping in China makes it difficult to authenticate or debunk these claims.

The story of Li's life is frequently used by certain websites to sell Goji Berries, which are touted as a superfood which can greatly enhance health.

The May 5th, 1933 New York Times published an obituary of Li's death. The obituary stated that he had 23 wives and 180 living descendents. Locating some of these descendents could authenticate or refute this story.

The longest authenticated age for anyone is Jeanne Louise Calment, who lived from 1875 to 1997 and died at the age of 122 years. She lived in France.

Rats Perform Intercontinental Mind Meld

In a scene straight out of a Star Trek movie, two rats have successfully had a mind meld using implants even though they were on two separate continents. In the popular Star Trek movies, Vulcans could mind meld with other sentient beings, including humans. Researchers were conducing the experiment in order to develop possible organic computers. The system allows one rat to use the senses of the other and incorporate information from its far away partner into its own representation of the world. The successful experiment was reported in

Researchers are now working on melding four mice as well as melding monkeys together, which would allow for more complex tasks. Applications could include creating more complex computers and healing brain damage and Alzheimer's Disease.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Missouri PSC Analysis: NO Additional Cost to Electric Customers Under Power Infrastructure Legislation

A new Missouri Public Service Commission analysis says legislation to modernize power infrastructure won’t carry any extra costs for electric customers compared to current law.
“The Missouri PSC, which has final say on any utility case, is the recognized authority when it comes to electric rates. The independent Missouri PSC has ultimate credibility on this matter, especially versus opponents of the legislation who have a long history of misrepresenting facts and falling far short of the truth,” said Irl Scissors, Executive Director of Missourians for a Balanced Energy Future.
The bipartisan PSC and its professional staff made the conclusion in a report requested by Senator Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, sponsor of Senate Bill 207. The legislation would enable Missouri’s investor-owned electric companies to be reimbursed on a more timely basis for dollars already spent on power infrastructure. Five times in its report to Senator Kehoe about the potential cost of Senate Bill 207 for electric customers, the Public Service Commission said there is NO more impact on the costs than there would be after a larger, longer general rate case.
Scissors noted that SB207 will extend to electric utilities the same opportunity as water and gas utilities to recover costs from infrastructure investments. “For nearly a decade, our state’s gas and water utilities have used the procedure in the legislation to directly benefit consumers, stabilize rates and improve their infrastructure. It will modernize the current regulatory barrier for electric utilities across the state and allow for necessary upgrades to power generation facilities, substations and distribution systems. This legislation is a positive step in bringing the cost savings and benefits consumers deserve,” Scissors said.  

Location, timing critical for double-crop success

Double-cropping soybeans after wheat provides the opportunity to harvest two crops in the same year from the same piece of land. But here are challenges and concerns with double-cropping, and a University of Missouri Extension agronomist says location is a big factor.
“In the middle part of Missouri we’re going to be planting soybeans around July 1, but is there enough time for the soybeans to mature before the first frost?” said Bill Wiebold. “In this part of the state, probably, but as you go farther north the growing season shortens just enough that by the time you get to the Iowa border it probably doesn’t pay to double-crop.”
Conversely, as you move farther south in Missouri double-cropping becomes more likely to succeed. Wiebold says that in the southeastern part of Missouri where quite a bit of wheat is grown, almost every acre is double-cropped with soybeans.
Double-crop soybeans don’t typically yield as high as full-season beans, but with recent high soybean prices it can still be very profitable. However, if you lose too much yield on the soybean side, you have to make it up on the wheat side. Wiebold says that can be difficult because wheat prices haven’t followed the same trend soybeans have taken.
“It’s a complex equation between what happens to the wheat and what happens to the soybeans,” Wiebold said. “What are the different prices? What kind of yields can you get? So it’s a little complicated and it becomes even more difficult north of Highway 36.”
Aside from the length of the growing season, there are other considerations when double-cropping, such as straw management.
“The wheat is going to produce straw. You can bale it, and that’s another source of revenue if you have a place to sell that straw,” Wiebold said. “You have to be careful, though. If you wait a couple days to plant, that could hurt your bean yield. So you have to calculate that into the equation.”
Another challenge is that double-crop beans are planted at such a time that seed filling will occur in late August, when the day length is shorter and the angle of the sun is greater, so there is less sunlight and less yield potential.
“You also get a shorter seed-filling period,” Wiebold said. “It may be 35 days versus 55 days for full-season.”
Moisture is also a crucial factor when it comes to double-cropping.
“The length of growing season is about location,” Wiebold said. “But wherever you double-crop, wheat has taken quite a bit of moisture out of the soil. So what is that weather going to be—not only the day that I plant but also the next six or seven days as I’m trying to get those soybean seedlings out of the soil? Quite often it is just too dry and the beans don’t emerge or they emerge spotty.”
Wiebold says some practices that can make double-cropping successful include having a high-yielding, early-maturing wheat variety, no-till planting, planting as early as possible, using narrow rows, and increasing seed density.
“No-tillage is a good water-conservation practice and it’s a good time-conservation practice,” he said. “Narrow rows are important because that canopy forms more quickly, capturing sunlight sooner and helping yield.”
Wiebold recommends selecting a soybean variety that you would use in a full season, so it is tall enough and produces enough leaves to drive the yield. He also says a higher seed density is needed when double-cropping.
“If we have 100,000 to 110,000 plants per acre, that captures most of the yield in full-season situations,” Wiebold said. “But you may need 140,000 or 150,000 plants in a double-crop situation. The plants are shorter; they don’t produce as many nodes, so you have to add some plants to make up for those nodes.”
For more information, contact your local MU Extension center.

NRCS Announces Deadline for Wetlands Reserve Program

Missouri landowners interested in participating in the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) should apply by March 15 to be considered for the next round of funding, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced.

WRP is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their properties. NRCS provides technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts.

By signing WRP easements, landowners receive cash payments in exchange for restoring or converting marginal agricultural land to shallow wetland areas. They also agree to maintain the new or restored wetlands.

NRCS' goal is to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled in the program.

Karen Brinkman, NRCS acting state conservationist, says funding for this round of application ranking is not guaranteed, and could be extremely limited.

"The highest-ranking applications always receive priority consideration for funding," Brinkman says. "We might not be able to fund many applications this time, and possibly none. But applications not funded this time will be kept on file for later consideration."

To sign up for WRP or to get more information about it and other NRCS programs, contact the NRCS office located in the USDA Service Center in your county.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Aiming for Commonsense Electronic Device Rules, McCaskill Meets With Nation’s Telecom Chief

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today met with the country’s telecom chief to discuss the need for changes to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations prohibiting the use of electronic devices on airplanes while below 10,000 feet—an effort McCaskill has pursued to make travel more reasonable and convenient, and to better reflect advances in technologies for both aircraft and electronic devices.

In a meeting with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski, McCaskill cited her recent letter to acting FAA chief Michael Huerta highlighting the nonsensical nature of the existing rules. Genachowski has also previously written to the FAA urging changes to the FAA rules.

“The Chairman and I agree on the need to work with the FAA, airlines, electronic device makers, and other stakeholders to formulate commonsense policies, without compromising passenger safety,” McCaskill said. “The idea that in-flight use of electronic devices for things like reading a book poses a threat to the safety of airline passengers is baseless and outdated.”

Current rules do not allow passengers to use portable electronic devices (PEDs) for the full duration of a flight but McCaskill pointed out that the FAA allows airlines to replace their paper flight manuals in the cockpit with tablet computers, which can be used during all phases of the flight.

McCaskill’s December letter went on to suggest that if the FAA does not act on this issue in a timely manner she is “prepared to pursue legislative solutions.”

McCaskill and Genachowski’s discussion occurred as members of the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Committee for Portable Electronic Devices is set to meet in Washington this week to discuss the issue. The committee, which was formally created by the FAA and began meeting last month, is comprised of representatives from the airline industry, electronic device makers, airline employee unions, consumer groups and federal agencies, including the FCC. The committee has a July 31 deadline to make recommendations to the FAA on changes to the current electronic device rules.

McCaskill is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which has jurisdiction over communications and aviation policy.

Clear Your Driveway the Smart Way

Northwest Missouri is receiving more snow again and Missouri Department of Transportation crews are working hard to make all state roads safe and passable. As snow plows clear the roadways, plowed snow may end up blocking private drives. MoDOT's priority is to clear the roadway, but offers some tips you can do to keep the plowed snow from your driveway.
Pile snow that has been shoveled from the driveway on the DOWNSTREAM side of the driveway. Plow blades will then push snow into the area just before your driveway, leaving a much smaller amount in the entrance. Remember to have the snow removed away from the entrance far enough to allow one to see oncoming traffic when entering the highway.
More information on keeping your driveway clear is available at this link:
For more information about this or for updated road conditions, call 1-888-ASK-MODOT (888-275-6636) or visit and view the online Traveler Information Map. In addition, MoDOT provides updated information on Twitter @MoDOTNorthwest and Facebook at

Obituary -- Lester Earl Blanchard 1926-2013

Lester Earl Blanchard was born January 10, 1926 in Mason City, IA to Paul John and Hazel (Smith) Blanchard. He died February 24, 2013 at his home in Grant City at the age of 87.

Lester was united in marriage to Dolores Sparks on November 27, 1946 in Olathe, KS. To this union, 4 children were born. He worked for Ford Motor Company as a machine operator. Lester served in the United States Marines during World War II. Lester was preceded in death by son Michael Blanchard, his parents, and 2 brothers.

Survivors include wife Dolores of the home; son Greg Blanchard of Grant City; daughters Susan M. Duke of Salt Lake City and Leslie Bowman of Maryville; 7 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren.

The body has been cremated. Arrangements are under the direction of the Prugh-Dunfee Funeral Home in Grant City.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sierra Michaelis Perfect Compliment for Mizzou Women

Mercer guard Sierra Michaelis, who wowed everyone at the Worth County District Basketball tournament, is not necessarily done with her playing days after she is done at Mercer. She has signed on to play for Missouri, giving the womens basketball team a local flavor. Sophomore point guard Kyley Simmons, who earned a starting job for the Tigers last year as a freshman, is the niece of Todd and Whitney Simmons of Parnell.

Michaelis is a perfect fit for the team-first approach of Missouri’s athletics program; Athletic Director Mike Alden, in a recent visit to Worth County, talked about the importance of his school’s programs playing as a team. She is gifted with outstanding court vision, meaning that if other teams try to double her, she can spot open players that most other players can’t see. That forces teams to play honest defense on her and that allows her to assault the state high school scoring record, which she will likely come really close to breaking if she continues scoring at her present pace.

And Sierra is not necessarily the only scoring option for Mercer anymore. Courtney Owens, who is playing for Central Methodist next year, set a building record for the Worth County gym with 44 points in Wednesday’s lopsided semifinal win over Cainsville. That eclipsed the total set by Linda (Schmitz) Mattson in her senior year at Northeast Nodaway back in 1987; Linda hung 38 on Benton JV in the first round of the Worth County Tournament that year. The other three players are also capable of scoring if the need arises and know how to play the game, a benefit of having played with Sierra and Courtney for four years.

Michaelis has the gift of making everyone around her better, a must at the college level, where she will join a team that’s on the rise. Mizzou is in a transition period as this is their first year in the SEC and both the men’s and women’s teams along with the football team have experienced growing pains. But the women have improved on last year’s record and sit at 15-13 before a senior night game Thursday night. Like the men, the women have made Mizzou Arena one of the most inhospitable places to play in their new conference; they are 13-4 at home. And they are open to Missouri talent even at the class 1 level; Montrose standout Morgan Eye leads the team with over 100 three-pointers this year and has had as many as 33 points in a game this year. Montrose derailed Jefferson’s bid for a state title three years ago.

After three unsuccessful attempts to get past Jefferson the last three years, Mercer finally got the monkey off their backs Saturday night, winning 59-39 over their long-time nemesis. When asked what it meant to her to finally get the monkey off their backs, an ecstatic Sierra said, “I can’t describe it!” Sierra and her teammates have captured everyone’s hearts and minds because they have discovered the ability to enjoy every moment and play every game like it might be their last. This is what made other teams in the area successful, including the Northwest Women’s final four team of two years ago, the Northeast Nodaway girls teams of 2008-2011, and the Tiger girls teams from 1998-2005.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Obituary -- Saundra Fern (Stevens) Trauernicht 1950-2013

Saundra Fern (Stevens) Trauernicht was born October 13, 1950 in Maryville to Albert and Helen Gail (Hamilton) Stevens and departed this life February 20, 2013 at the Heartland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph at the age of 62 years.

She grew up in Grant City, graduating from the Worth County R-III high school. She was a member of the Grant City Baptist Church. She later moved to St. Joseph where she worked as a nurse's aide in nursing homes. She entered the Golden Living Center in Albany where she resided until her death.

She is survived by son Elton Dean Moss II of St. Joseph, sister Judy (Charles) Fletchall of Mount Ayr, and other relatives. She was preceded in death by her parents and grandson Elton Dean Moss III.

Funeral services were held at 2:00 Friday, February 22nd, 2013 at the Prugh-Dunfee Funeral Home in Grant City with Pastor Darin Drury officiating. Interment is in the Grant City Cemetery.

Missouri's Senate gives overwhelming approval to letting voters approve local taxes for University of Mo. Extension programs

By Marie French

(MDN News) -- The University of Missouri System Extension program would be able to get additional funding from voter-approved local taxes under a bill passed by the Senate Monday, Feb. 18.

Districts consisting of one or more counties would be able to collect taxes to fund the activities of the extension program in the area. Voters in each county would have to approve the tax, and a county could withdraw from the district if the voters did not approve the tax.

"It would have to have a majority vote in that whole district," said bill sponsor Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg.

The bill passed by a vote of 23-7. It will now go to the House.

Lawmakers consider bill requiring schools explore evidence on evolution

By Elizabeth Hagedorn

(MDN News) -- A Missouri lawmaker defended legislation before a House committee Wednesday, Feb. 20, which would encourage public elementary and secondary school teachers to teach differing theories of evolution.

While the bill doesn't mandate teaching creationism, it does call on educators to examine the "strengths and weaknesses" of evolutionary theory and prohibits schools from barring them from doing so.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, said most textbooks are one-sided when it comes to teaching evolution. He said his bill would empower teachers and allow for greater academic freedom in the classroom.

"Many teachers are afraid to teach criticisms of scientific theories out of fear of losing their jobs," Koenig said.

Rep. Jeff Roorda, R-Barnhart, expressed concerned that the bill was legislating curriculum.

"We ought to let this issue evolve slowly," Roorda said.

Spokespersons from the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that advocates for intelligent design, argued that the bill would encourage students to think critically in the classroom. They pointed to similar laws in Louisiana and Tennessee, which they say have not faced legal challenges.

No one testified in opposition to the bill.

Mo. lawmakers target sales tax to fund road repairs

By Taylor Beck and Wes Duplantier

(MDN News) -- Several Missouri lawmakers have said the state needs more money for road projects and are proposing tax increases to fund those projects.

Although Missourians haven't passed a sales tax increase in decades, witnesses packed an early morning hearing of the Senate Transportation Committee Wednesday, Feb. 20, to support one that would increase the state sales tax by one cent for the next 10 years to provide money for Missouri's roads and transportation system.

If passed, the bill would put the tax-increase proposal before Missouri voters on the 2014 ballot. Revenue from the increase would be distributed among cities and counties for the purpose of supporting transportation and infrastructure projects, such as the maintenance of roads and bridges.

Committee chairman and bill sponsor Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said the tax increase would create nearly $8 billion in revenue and 250,000 jobs. He also said the jobs created would stimulate spending, and thus, the economy.

"The value for Missourians, the value for your dollar right now is incredible value, the opportunity is now," said Kehoe, a former car dealer.

Michael Rathbone, a political researcher at the Show-Me Institute, said the tax is unfair to those who don't use highways as often. The Show-Me Institute is a conservative think tank that opposes tax increases.

"It's really taking away from the fact that we're having people who don't use these as much," Rathbone said. "People that walk to work or bike to work are helping to subsidize with the sales tax people who use these roads and facilities more frequently."

A similar but slightly different measure has been filed in the House. Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, is sponsoring a measure that would increase the state sales tax by one percent for 10 years, with all of the money going to transportation projects. Ten percent of the funds raised from that extra tax would go to cities and counties for road projects and the state would keep the other 90 percent to fix up highways and interstates.

The House Transportation Committee heard testimony on that measure Tuesday, Feb. 19. If it passes the legislature, the measure would go before voters in 2014.

Neither the House nor Senate committees took action on either version of the proposal this week

Friday, February 22, 2013

Gun control debate heats up in Missouri Capitol

By Ellie Coatar and Miica Patterson

(MDN News) -- As Congress considers tightening federal gun laws in response to last year's school shooting in Connecticut, Republicans in the Missouri legislature moved Tuesday, Feb. 19, to limit the power of any new federal measures within the state's borders.

Missouri legislators heard several pending gun bills throughout the day Tuesday, including:

- A bill that would have required students and teachers to get annual gun training on how to respond to school shootings.

- Legislation that would make Missouri legislators felons if they propose bills that restricts gun laws.

- A proposed state Constitutional amendment that would allow citizens to bear arms to defend their families.

- A bill that would exempt guns made in Missouri from federal law and regulation.

- A measure that would make it unlawful to enforce federal law that restricts rights for guns made it Missouri that stay in the state.

The Senate gave first-round approval to the gun-education bill Tuesday. Originally, the bill would have required first-graders to view a National Rifle Association-endorsed gun-safety video and mandated active-shooter training for teachers, but the Senate amended the bill to make the education optional, after pressure from Democrats.

Early in the debate Tuesday, Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis County, said she was strongly opposed to the bill. She said there is already too much gun violence in urban areas and that legislators should focus on bills about gun control.

"There are people who don't care about a black life," Chappelle-Nadal said. "And they have legislation such as this that puts our citizens and our communities at risk, more than they already are."

Both House and Senate General Laws Committees heard gun-related bills on Tuesday. The Senate committee heard a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution that would state citizens have the right to bear arms to defend their family as well as their home, property and their self.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, the proposal's sponsor, said all rights under the Missouri Constitution are equal including the right to bear arms.

"Some of them (constitutional rights), because they may currently be less popular, are no less important," said Schaefer, R-Columbia.

Rep. Mike Leara, R-St. Louis, introduced a bill Monday, Feb. 18, that would make it illegal for Missouri legislators to propose legislation that would limit gun rights. If convicted, legislators would be class D felons, which is punishable by up to four years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Leara refused to speak to Capitol reporters, but a released a statement Tuesday that said the bill was a symbolic gesture.

"I filed (the bill) as a matter of principle and as a statement in defense of the Second Amendment rights of all Missourians," said Leara in the statement. "I have no illusions about the bill making it through the legislative process, but I want it to be clear that the Missouri House
will stand in defense of the people's Constitutional right to keep and bear arms."

Missouri House Democrats push for Medicaid expansion in the state

by Josie Butler
(MDN News) -- Democratic lawmakers said they fear rural hospitals will be forced to close if new legislation expanding Medicaid in Missouri is not passed.

House Minority Floor Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis City, filed legislation on Monday, February 18, that would expand Missouri's Medicaid system. Hummel, along with the House Democratic Caucus,  presented his bill at a press conference. He said he believes Medicaid is the biggest issue in the state.

Pemiscot Memorial Hospital CEO Kerry Noble spoke at the press conference. Noble said his hospital will be at risk for closing if the expansion is not passed.

Pemiscot Missouri is located in the Southeast Missouri and 30 percent of the population lives below the federal poverty line. Noble said the hospital has a $50 million operating budget, but $9 million of that is spent on uncompensated care. If Medicaid is not expanded, Nobel said the hospital would lose around $1 million annually, which would put the hospital at a great risk of closing. 

"We will jeopardize our facilities, we will no longer be in existence if passage of this expansion does not occur," Noble said.

The Senate Appropriations staff estimates that by 2020 $250 million would be cut from federal funding for hospitals for uncompensated care.

Hummel said Medicaid expansion, which would expand eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to leverage $8.2 billion in federal investment in the state, would also create 24,000 jobs and bring $9.6 billion in additional investments in Missouri economic activity. He said expansion would provide 300,000 Missourians with access to health care.

Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said he believes Medicaid expansion is not the way to go. He said expansion will receive little support from House Republicans. 

"I think there is interest in transforming Missouri's Medicaid system into what would be the most free-market based Medicaid system in the entire country," Barnes said. "I think there's no interest in simply expanding Medicaid envisioned under Obamacare."

Barnes has been working on a piece of legislation that he said would transform the state's Medicaid program to deliver better care. Barnes said "stay tuned" for more information on his legislation.

During the annual State of the State Address in January, Gov. Jay Nixon said Medicaid expansion is "the right thing to do." "Strengthening Medicaid will strengthen our economy," Nixon said in his address. However, Nixon said he would support including a provision that would roll back Medicaid expansion if Washington does not honor its financial commitment.

Rep. Jeanne Kirkton, D-Webster Groves, said this legislation is a golden opportunity to grow Missouri's economy by "accepting the federal dollars to extend health care to more hardworking, uninsured Missourians." She said bringing the federal tax dollars back to Missouri is expected to decrease the rate of uninsured in Missouri in different regions of the state anywhere from 26 to 31 percent. "More access to care, less medical debt and lower mortality is not only a public good, it's good for our economy," Kirkton said. She said failing to expand Medicaid will weaken Missouri hospitals and maybe force some hospitals to close, which will stifle Missouri's economic growth. "This is too important of an issue to sweep under the rug," Hummel said. "We're willing to work across the isle and get something done."

A Moment with Mike -- Gun Control, taxes on agenda

      This week in the state Capitol was marked by a lot of discussion, and a lot of calls and emails, in regard to controversial gun control legislation filed in the Missouri House.  The bill in question (HB545), filed by a couple of members from St. Louis, was meant to make it a felony to possess an assault weapon or a large capacity magazine.  The bill would give Missourians 90 days to turn over their guns or face felony charges.
      The most important thing to understand about this bill is that it has no chance of becoming law.  The Missouri House has an overwhelming majority of members from both parties who believe in defending the Second Amendment rights of their constituents.  The bill was really meant to generate media attention, which it has certainly done, but it is only supported by a small minority of House members.  You can rest assured that your state legislature will do all it can to protect your right to keep and bear arms, and we will stand against legislation like HB 545, or any other, that would infringe upon your Constitutional rights.
      A bill that was passed in the House and sent to the Senate last week would allow Missourians who have a delinquent tax bill, the opportunity to pay off their debt without additional interest or penalties.  The legislation would create a tax amnesty period to pay their back debt with the stipulation that they would comply with state tax rules for the next eight years.  If they failed to do so, they would be charged the full interest and penalties that were waived.
      This is a proposal the House has approved several times in recent years but it has not made it across the finish line.  The last time the state did something similar was a decade ago when an amnesty period generated an additional $74 million in tax revenue one year and another $42 million the next year.  With the amnesty period we are considering this year, we anticipate a much needed boost of about $70 million to our state budget.  The Senate will pick up the debate on this soon.
      In other action the House Committee on Agriculture Policy approved some legislation that I am sponsoring this year to help develop a comprehensive long-range strategic plan for career and technical education in Missouri.  The bill would create a special advisory council to oversee Missouri’s career and technical education programs and the student organizations like FFA, FBLA, DECA and others.
      The council would be made up of educators, administrators and members of the business community who have a vested interest in the success of CTE programs.  They would work together to develop both a short and long-range statewide plan for career and technical education and make recommendations to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on how to make our CTE programs a  vital part of our educational system.
      Our CTE programs have an enormous impact on many young people in our state and nowhere more than here in Northwest Missouri.  More than 63% of the state’s high school students participated in at least one CTE program for the 2011 – 2012 school year.  The practical training and leadership skills that are taught in these programs are vital to those that are going out into an ever-changing workforce.  I will keep you apprised as this bill moves through the process.
     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.

Gov. Nixon declares state of emergency in Missouri in response to severe winter storm

Gov. Jay Nixon today declared a state of emergency in Missouri in response to severe winter weather that began early this morning, bringing hazardous travel and the possibility of power outages. The weather system has involved a mix of snow, sleet and ice throughout the state, with forecasts of 10 inches or more of snow in some parts of the state and a wintry mix across many other regions of Missouri.
“A severe winter storm continues to bear down on communities across the state,” Gov. Nixon said. “Missouri stands ready to help communities in need and to deploy the resources to keep folks safe. I urge all Missourians to keep a close eye on the weather and avoid unnecessary travel.”
The State Emergency Operations Center has been actively monitoring the storm system since yesterday. Gov. Nixon has been receiving updates from his emergency management team, including senior officials from the Missouri Department of Public Safety, Missouri National Guard, Missouri State Highway Patrol and State Emergency Management Agency to assess the current weather situation and review the latest forecasts.
Gov. Nixon has also activated the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan, which allows state agencies to coordinate directly with local jurisdictions to provide emergency services.
Citizens who need disaster information, shelter information, and referrals are urged to call 211. The 211 Service is now available for most areas of Missouri. In areas where the 211 service is not operational, citizens may call 800-427-4626. 
Gov. Nixon also encourages Missourians to take steps to protect themselves and their families, including:
  • Listen to radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information, or visit the state’s Web site – – for comprehensive emergency information.
  • If you must drive, check for road conditions before departing. Dial the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s emergency line - *55 from a cellular phone – if you encounter an accident while driving.
  • Check on the elderly and neighbors who may be in need of additional assistance. For information about emergency services and resources, visit
For more winter preparedness information, go to

Thursday, February 21, 2013

McCaskill Will Lead Senate’s Consumer Protection Panel

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today announced that she will chair the Senate Commerce Committee’s subcommittee devoted to protecting consumers from predatory practices and harmful products.

“Whether it’s Chinese goods made from toxic materials in U.S. stores, or questionable rules on airplanes about electronic devices—American consumers deserve rules that protect them, that are fair to our businesses, and that meet the test of common sense,” said McCaskill, former Jackson County Prosecutor and Missouri State Auditor. “We’ve seen some successes in the past few years, like protecting our veterans from scams by for-profit colleges and big banks, and successfully cracking down on predatory lending practices by credit card companies. And now, I’m thrilled to be in a position to do even more to protect consumers from unfair practices. I’m looking forward to using this new position to look out for Missouri’s families and businesses in a sensible way.”

McCaskill plans to use her new Chairmanship to address entities that target consumers in deceptive and predatory practices—an issue that has taken on increased importance due to the growing use of the internet and mobile devices.

The Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance oversees:
·         the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which has responsibility for prohibiting unfair and deceptive business acts and practices
·         the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has responsibility for vehicle and highway safety
·         and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has responsibility for protecting the public from unsafe consumer products, including children’s toys

The Subcommittee also has jurisdiction over property and casualty insurance, as well as matters related to amateur and professional sports.

McCaskill has served on the Senate Commerce Committee since joining the Senate in 2007.