Tragedies, triumphs mark memorable year
INFLUENZA BUG HITS PETTIS EARLY AND HARD
It’s in the checkout line at the grocery store.
It’s across the cubicle at work.
It can cause fever, muscle aches, sore throat, cough and put a person out of it for a week.
It’s influenza, and it’s hitting Pettis County earlier and harder this year than in the past.
The Pettis County Health Center has received 382 reports of the flu here since October, compared to nine during the same period last year, said epidemiologist and registered nurse JoAnn Martin. This figure exceeds last year’s total number of cases — 228.
COMMISSION HIRES ONE WHILE OTHERS WAIT
The Pettis County Commission has hired an assistant at a time when other elected officers are awaiting word on their requests to hire employees and give pay raises.
The commission hired Bill Connor, a former sheriff’s deputy, on Dec. 28, at an annual salary of $25,000.
Presiding Commissioner Rusty Kahrs said Mr. Connor would help with or take over duties performed in other offices, including the auditor’s and county clerk’s offices.
The County Commission will supervise him. Mr. Kahrs said Mr. Connor will also work with the clerk’s office on payroll; generate reports; troubleshoot the planned updated accounting software for the auditor’s office; keep the commission and courthouse schedule; keep copies of contracts, orders, grants and other commission documents; work on human resources policies and questions; act as a research assistant; and work with the Sedalia-Pettis County Emergency Management Agency during disasters.
WINDSOR SCHOOL UNCOVERS 'HIT LIST'
A Windsor Elementary School sixth-grade boy made a “hit list” threatening harm to several peers, prompting a police investigation and his removal from the building.
Henry County sheriff’s deputies went to the school just after 9 a.m. Tuesday when administrators reported the discovery of the hit list, said Maj. Rob Hills.
“The list is definitely something that we had to treat and investigate as a credible threat,” said Maj. Hills. “Any acts of school violence we are going to investigate to the hilt.”
Maj. Hills said he did not know how many names were on the list, “which alluded to some harm coming to those students.” He also did not know whether the boy threatened to use a weapon or whether he expressed an intention to kill those named.
RAGTIME MUSEUM MOVES CLOSER TO REALITY
A plan to turn the Uptown Theater in downtown Sedalia into a ragtime museum is closer to reality.
The theater’s owner, Margie Wagenknecht, is donating the building at 227 S. Ohio Ave., to Sedalia Downtown Development Inc. She is making the donation in honor of her parents, J.T. and Mercedes Ghosen, who opened the theater in 1936.
“I thought it would be nice for the city to have something like that,” Mrs. Wagenknecht said of the ragtime museum.
Mrs. Wagenknecht gave the deed to Sedalia Downtown Dec. 26, said Meg Liston, the organization’s administrator.
SMITH-COTTON TO BEGIN FRESHMAN ACADEMY
Next year’s Smith-Cotton High School freshmen will face tougher classes and receive more help when the school begins its freshman academy.
The academy is the first step toward making “smaller learning communities” at the high school.
The district received the $797,560 smaller learning communities grant in 2006 to form a freshman academy and three career academies. The career academies will start in the 2009-2010 school year.
The grant money, which will be distributed over five years, will be spent on training, evaluations of the effectiveness, and equipment.
CITY REVENUE CLIMBS WITH MORE SPENDING
Consumers spent more money in Sedalia in the past year, boosting city revenues.
The spending trend indicates that workers here are making more or have more job security.
The City of Sedalia saw a more than 6-percent increase in sales tax collections in its 2006-2007 fiscal year. That amounts to $224,705.
Sedalia Finance Director Pam Burlingame said she’s unsure what caused the growth in sales tax revenue, but speculated that supplies and repairs as a result of spring storms could have contributed to the increase.
CONAGRA RECALLS PEANUT BUTTER
A salmonella outbreak that sickened some 300 people nationwide forced merchants here to pull certain brands of peanut butter from their shelves.
Nebraska-based food retailer ConAgra Foods Inc. recalled Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter.
In Sedalia, workers at Woods, Bing’s, Wal-Mart, Cash Saver, and Price Chopper said Thursday they had removed potentially tainted product from their shelves.
ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD RESCUES SISTERS FROM HOUSE FIRE
Eleven-year-old Morgan Baskins is a hero to her family after she helped evacuate her sisters when their home caught fire Saturday morning.
“Me and my sisters were in the living room playing a video game. Then I smelled something and went in the kitchen and saw the fire and got my sisters out of the house,” Morgan said.
Her mother, Serena Baskins, 28, and her three daughters lived in the second floor apartment in a house at 508 W. Seventh St. She said she was cooking and had left the kitchen to make a phone call when her daughter yelled “there’s a fire.”
“I went back into the kitchen and it was small. I called 911 and by the time we got downstairs the fire was billowing out, it was just everywhere — it was just a few seconds. Morgan is definitely our hero today,” Ms. Baskins said.
LUCAS RETURNS AS FAIR DIRECTOR
The Missouri State Fair Commission hired former director Marion Lucas to oversee the fair.
The commission interviewed Mr. Lucas and interim director Mike Riley on Monday for the position left vacant by Mel Willard when he retired at the beginning of the year.
Mr. Lucas, of Surprise, Ariz., will begin his new duties April 1, said Acting Commission Chairwoman Elizabeth Schlueter, of Troy.
The Fair Commission received 41 applications for the job. Three applicants were finalists, but one withdrew before the interviews Monday, Ms. Schlueter said.
Mr. Lucas was director of the Missouri State Fair from 1981 to 1986. He was Iowa State Fair manager and CEO from 1986 until his retirement in 2002, and former chairman of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions.
Mr. Lucas’ annual salary will be $85,000.
S-C PRINCIPAL’S CONTRACT REFUSED
The Sedalia school board refused to extend the contract of Smith-Cotton High School Principal Todd Whitney.
The board voted 4 to 3 against extending Mr. Whitney’s contract through the 2008-2009 school year in a closed session after Monday’s board meeting.
Board member Jim Waldo asked the board to extend Mr. Whitney’s contract through the 2008-2009 school year, but board members Stan Bowlin, Jeff Redford, Ken Coffelt and Scott Gardner rejected the motion.
Mr. Waldo and board members Mary Allee and Jeff Sharp voted to extend Mr. Whitney’s contract.
FOOTBALL COMING TO CLOVER DELL
The Sedalia Youth Football League is closer to getting adequate playing fields for its growing program.
The Sedalia Park Board decided at its meeting Thursday to build football fields at Clover Dell Park. The Youth League, which has 1,200 to 1,300 participants, would use the fields along with Sacred Heart School, which is starting its football program this fall.
The board has hesitated to build football fields at Clover Dell because of traffic issues.
Parks Director Mark Hewett and Mr. Brown met with the Pettis County Commission to see if the county could help improve West 32nd Street.
“I think, long-term, they’re going to help us with what they can,” Mr. Hewett said.
There is room for about four football fields on Clover Dell’s 175 acres, Mr. Hewett said.
YAP ADVANCES TO NATIONAL BEE
Sitzmark (sits´märk´) n. 1. The depression made in snow by a skier who has fallen backward. 2. The word Chester Yap, 13, correctly spelled to win the regional spelling bee.
Chester, an eighth-grade student at Sacred Heart School, outspelled 22 other students to win Friday’s spelling bee at the Smith-Cotton High School cafeteria.
Chester will represent the area at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., at the end of May.
Sarah Timmer, a seventh-grader at Holden Middle School, came in second; Sean Loomis, an eighth-grader at Smithton Middle School, won a tie-breaking spell-off for third place.
RETIRED REPORTER ORMAN DIES AT 66
Friends and co-workers remember former Democrat staff writer Chuck Orman as a colorful, lovable person who always had a good story to tell.
Mr. Orman died of cancer Thursday evening at Palms of Pasadena Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. He was 66.
Mr. Orman had worked as a news reporter and writer for The Sedalia Democrat from Jan. 24, 2000, until his retirement June 18. He covered stories ranging from police news and obituaries to community events and feature stories.
DILL TO GET PRIZES FROM GAME SHOW
A Pilot Grove grandmother returned from a California vacation as the recipient of a new car and 15 minutes of fame.
Patricia Dill, 74, was recently a showcase winner on “The Price is Right.”
“It was a great experience,” Mrs. Dill said. “I’m embarrassed and humbled to think I’m going to be on national TV.”
The grandmother won nearly $25,500 in prizes, including an electric keyboard, $1,000 cash, stereo, sauna and a Chrysler PT Cruiser.
VOTERS APPROVE SCHOOL TAX
Sedalia School District 200 voters approved a 55-cent tax increase 3,499 to 3,025.
The tax passed with 54 percent of the vote cast, larger than the margin of defeat of a 69-cent tax increase that failed by 364 votes in June 2006.
The 55-cent tax increase will fund $23.5 million in construction intended to relieve overcrowding in elementary schools, and will expire in 2026. Property taxes will increase to $3.77 from $3.22 per $100 assessed valuation.
Six classrooms will be built at both Skyline and Parkview elementary schools, and should be completed by the fall of 2008. A $22 million high school will be built on 121 acres between Sacajawea Road and state Route B, and should be complete for the fall of 2009.
FAMILY GETS HELP AFTER FIRE LOSS
The Alexanders lost everything in a fire.
But it showed them the grace of God and the kindness of strangers, family, friends and their community.
A Jan. 12 fire burned the Alexander family’s Houstonia mobile home to the ground. Since then, several communities have sponsored a dinner and auction that raised more than $11,000. Others have donated clothes, food, a freezer, a Lowe’s gift card for a washer and dryer, a piano and countless other items.
Tony and Jennifer Alexander and their children, Will, 17, Cole, 14, and Caitlin, 11, appreciate the help.
“You see the fire, and it was devastating,” Mr. Alexander, 48, said. “But then you see all these nice people.”
“We know people around here are good,” Mrs. Alexander, 45, said. “We just didn’t expect to be recipients.”
BOTHWELL OPENS CLINIC IN WARSAW
WARSAW — Average people spend about one-third of their lives sleeping.
Specialists say that disruption of a normal sleep cycle, with at least 7.25 to 8 hours of sleep a night, can aggravate ailments such as depression, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Residents here have a new site to seek relief from sleep apnea, insomnia and other sleeping disorders at the Bothwell Sleep Disorders Clinic, which opened Sunday afternoon.
Bothwell Regional Health Center President and CEO John Dawes joined Warsaw Mayor Ken Brown, and the center’s medical director, Dr. David C. Kuhlmann, along with members of the staff and public at a ribbon cutting ceremony at the center’s new home, 148 Tower Drive, Suite B, in Warsaw.
AQUILA EYES CITY-OWNED LAND
Aquila is considering a $2.6 million purchase of city-owned land to build a power plant.
The electric company is considering buying 162 acres on the northwest edge of Sedalia near the former landfill, north of West Main Street. Aquila would pay $200,000 annually in lieu of property taxes for 25 years.
The plant would generate additional electricity during peak times, during emergencies or during maintenance of other units.
“It’s intended to be brought on line when needed, not run constantly,” Vancas said.
The $150 million project could produce some 150 skilled construction jobs. Aquila would have five permanent employees at the plant.
If approved, construction would begin in late fall 2008 or early 2009. It would take about a year to complete.
HIGH SCHOOL RIVALRY COOLS
Sacred Heart School and Smith-Cotton High School principals and baseball players said they think the rivalry that led to property damage has cooled down.
Smith-Cotton Principal Todd Whitney said coaches and some teachers have talked to athletes and students about not getting involved in property damage and making sure the rivalry calms down.
Sacred Heart Principal Mark Register said coaches have talked to teams, and he has talked to the entire high school about how “we’re too small a community for this.”
Thirteen players from Smith-Cotton were suspended for six baseball games after they vandalized the baseball field at Centennial Park that Sacred Heart uses. The players will also serve community service.
The damage apparently began with someone spray painting graffiti at Jennie Jaynes Stadium. The message made Smith-Cotton baseball players suspect Sacred Heart baseball players were involved, said Bryce Johnson, a pitcher for Smith-Cotton.
BOARD RAISES BASE TEACHER PAY
The Sedalia school board Monday approved a 2.5 percent salary increase for teachers and staff and accepted several bids for improvements to the high school.
The base salary for a certified teacher next year rises to $29,561.
The board also increased the pay for teachers who sponsor clubs and for coaches.
PROPOSED POWER PLANT GETS NO STATIC
A proposed Aquila power plant here has met little opposition so far.
Aquila is hosting a series of meetings to garner community support for the project before it decides to build. Naysayers were silent, if there were any among the 18 people who attended an afternoon meeting Wednesday at State Fair Community College.
Aquila representatives have had two other community meetings, talked to several civic groups and met with landowners who live within one to three miles of the proposed plant.
GAS PRICES SOAR AS MANY DRIVE LESS
As gas prices break the $3 threshhold here, some folks are driving less, and others are looking for cheaper vehicles.
Vehicles lined up Thursday at the Murphy USA pumps outside Wal-Mart, where gas was selling for $2.89 a gallon — a deal compared to $3.05 at other places. Murphy raised its prices to $3.05 by Friday afternoon.
Those prices matched the trend throughout the Midwest, where gasoline prices averaged $3.07 a gallon May 7, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
POST OFFICE RAISES SHIPPING PRICES
A postal customer who mails a guitar to San Jose, a couch to Timbuktu or a letter to St. Joseph will pay more for shipping beginning Monday.
The U.S. Postal Service will base shipping prices on size, shape and weight. Until now, prices were based on weight alone. Changes take effect Monday.
The cost of a first-class stamp will increase by 2 cents to 41 cents as well.
WATERLOO PLANS MAJOR EXPANSION
Waterloo Industries plans a major expansion here over the next five years that will mean 322 new jobs, a company investment of more than $30 million, and $1.5 million in state tax breaks, according to Gov. Matt Blunt’s office.
The Missouri Department of Economic Development has approved $1.5 million in state tax credits under the enhanced enterprise zone program, the governor’s office announced this week.
“The department has reserved tax credits for the five-year benefit period in the amount of $1,531,626 based on the company’s projection of 322 new jobs at an average wage of $22,329 and new investment of $30,727,153 at 1500 Waterloo Drive,” said the news release.
Waterloo, which employs 600 to 700 people here, produces a wide range of tool boxes and storage systems for use in homes and businesses
SPELLER MISSES ESPN DEBUT
A vowel stood between Chester Yap and his national television debut.
The 13-year-old was eliminated Wednesday in the fourth round at the 80th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. He misspelled varioliform by replacing the “a” with an “e.”
Chester would have appeared during the televised portion of the contest today, had he spelled the word correctly.
He qualified for the competition by winning a regional bee here.
Chester, a recent eighth-grade graduate from Sacred Heart School, was the first regional speller from here to reach the quarterfinals of competition at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in at least five years.
FANS GATHER TO ENJOY RAGTIME
Adam Swanson is a slender 15-year-old in braces, sneakers, jeans and a T-shirt. He has made his fourth trip to Sedalia, this time from his new home in Shenandoah, Iowa.
Alice Kane is decades older than Adam and is wearing pink -pink hat, pink slacks, pink shirt. She has driven 677 miles from Superior, Wis. She’s been coming here every year since 1998.
Fifty-six-year-old Donald Ryan — dressed in khaki slacks with a personal digital assistant on the belt, a light blue oxford shirt, rimless glasses and leather shoes — has come from Tulsa, Okla., for his fourth time.
All three are in Sedalia this weekend to soak up the sounds and sensations of the genre that was born here, ragtime. They sat among about 50 fans and performers at the Maple Leaf Site at a take-your-turn-at-the-piano event dubbed a ragtime reunion Wednesday evening.
WORKS BOARD MULLS LAKE SALE
The Sedalia Public Works Board has taken the first step toward putting Spring Fork Lake on the market.
The Water Department has hired Mid America Land Services, of Columbia, to appraise the 400-acre site that includes the 134-acre lake.
The appraisal will help the board compare the lake’s worth with the cost of needed improvements, such as dredging, said Water Department Manager Charles Brosch.
“This is in the very preliminary stages,” he said Tuesday.
A casual conversation with an individual who mentioned an interest in purchasing the lake led to the appraisal, Brosch said. The lake would be put on the open market, if the board decided to sell it.
SCHOOL BOARD ALTERS BOUNDARIES
The Sedalia school board decided to change boundaries for elementary schools at its meeting Monday.
The changes mean students who live between Winchester Road, Broadway Boulevard, West 16th Street, and South Limit Avenue would attend Skyline instead of Heber Hunt Elementary School.
Students who live in the rectangle formed by South Ohio Avenue, East 20th Street, South Ingram Avenue and Broadway Boulevard would attend Parkview Elementary School instead of Horace Mann Elementary School.
Students who live from Crescent Drive and south of Broadway Boulevard to the west end of Sedalia would attend Parkview instead of Washington Elementary School.
About 130 students are affected.
HUBBARD PARK HOSTS FESTIVAL
The smell of barbecue filled the humid air Saturday at the Juneteenth celebration at Hubbard Park in Sedalia.
The sixth festival was held to celebrate the end of slavery and honor African heritage and equality between all races. Rhonda Chalfant, Pettis County NAACP president, said the park was chosen because it, “has historically been the place designated for African-American use.”
Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Chalfant said the park was segregated and is now a fitting place to celebrate the emancipation of slavery. Juneteenth is a reaffirmation of community where anyone can share in the joys and obligations of citizenship, she said.
AQUILA ANNOUNCES PLANT PLAN
Aquila plans to purchase an option to buy land for a power plant in Sedalia after the company received positive community comments about the plan.
“The majority of the community believes this is a positive thing and will be good for the local economy,” said Ivan Vancas, vice president of Missouri electric operations.
Aquila would pay $129,600 for the option to purchase 162 acres of land north of West Main Street, near the former landfill. The City Council is scheduled to consider the option at a meeting July 2. Aquila would have three years to buy the land.
The company has not made a final decision on whether to build the power plant, Vancas said.
If it decides to build the plant, it would pay $2.6 million for the property.
If the power plant is built, and a rate increase is approved by the Public Service Commission, electric bills for Aquila customers would increase by $5 per month, Vancas said.
SPRING FORK SOUGHT FOR HOME
A city official told members of the Sedalia Board of Public Works to quickly sell Spring Fork Lake when an individual offered to buy the lake for his new home, said board President John Kehde.
Kehde elaborated at Tuesday’s board meeting about the events that led up to a City Council meeting last week in which the council shot down the idea of selling the lake. The Public Works Board had previously decided to abandon Spring Fork as a drinking water source since it is filling with silt.
Kehde said he had a “discussion with an individual within the city” when an offer was made on the lake.
“The city came back to us and said to sell it as soon as possible,” he said.
Kehde refused to name the person, whom he said was a “decision maker.”
The department hired a Columbia appraiser, who valued the 449 acres of property at $945,000, which includes the 134-acre lake 10 miles south of Sedalia off state Route V.
POLICE OFFICER SHOOTS, KILLS MAN
A Sedalia police officer shot and killed a man Saturday afternoon.
According to a written statement by the Sedalia Police Department, Officer John Cook answered a domestic disturbance call at 720 N. Lamine Ave. at 2:03 p.m. Saturday. A woman complained that a man at her home cut the telephone line. The caller was at a family member’s home when she made the call, the statement said.
Officer Cook found David Morgan sitting on the front porch of the home. The woman returned to the home and told the officer that Morgan was armed with a knife. Cook ordered Morgan to drop the knife several times, but Morgan refused, the statement said.
Morgan told Cook “something to the effect that he was going to die anyway,” then lunged at the officer from the porch with the knife in his hand. Cook then drew his weapon and fired a single shot, hitting Morgan in the chest, the statement said.
Officers on the scene “performed life-saving measures,” until an ambulance arrived..
Morgan was taken to Bothwell Regional Health Center where he died.
A neighbor, Carl Nagy, of 713 N. Lamine, witnessed the shooting. He told a Democrat reporter that he heard people yelling and stepped onto his porch to investigate.
“I saw a cop with his gun pointed at the guy on the porch.” Nagy said. The officer, in a two-handed combat stance, was “yelling ‘put it down’ or ‘get down’- I’m not sure which — then boom and the guy dropped.”
DUKE CROWNED MISS PETTIS COUNTY
Nikki Duke, 18, of Sedalia, will be representing Pettis County in the Miss Missouri State Fair pageant next month. Duke was crowned Miss Pettis County 2007 Thursday evening at Smithton High School. Duke is a 2007 graduate of Smith-Cotton High School. She is the daughter of Jeff Duke and Deidre and Mark Esquivel.
Bobby Garner, 18, of Smithton, was awarded first runner-up. She is the daughter of Robert Garner and Kathy and Floyd Smeltser. She is a graduate of Smithton High School and is attending cosmetology school in Warrensburg.
Crystal Twenter, 18, is the daughter of Larry and Beverly Twenter. She is a 2007 graduate of Sacred Heart High School and plans to attend the University of Missouri-Rolla, majoring in geology.
Kassie Kresse, 17, of Sedalia, is the granddaughter of Jim and Janet Kresse. She will be a senior at Smith-Cotton High School. She plans to attend Missouri Southern State University, in Joplin, and major in elementary education.
Bobby Garner and Crystal Twenter shared the title of Miss Congeniality.
FLOODING CLOSES TRUMAN BEACHES
Flooding at Truman Lake this week closed beaches and docks, washed tons of debris into the lake and cost marina owners thousands of dollars.
The lake rose to more than 24 feet above the normal full pool of 706 feet above mean sea level.
Three high-water boat ramps are available, at Shawnee Bend, Berry Bend and Talley Bend.
However, boaters could have trouble negotiating the debris-filled water, said Tom Novinska, owner of Sterett Creek Marina on Truman.
The debris is the worse Novinska has seen in his 23 years there. In some places, one could walk across logs floating in the water, he said.
Business has been slow to nearly halted for two weeks, Novinska said. He estimated his loss at $30,000 to $40,000.
Nathan Steenburgen, assistant manager of Harry S. Truman State Park Marina, estimated his losses at $20,000 to $30,000.
Tammy Gilmore, natural resource manager for the Corps of Engineers at Truman Lake, said Friday that she thought the lake may have crested Thursday at 730 feet. The lake remained at that level for more than 12 hours.
The high-water record was set Oct. 12, 1986, at 738.72 feet above mean sea level. Floods in 1993 brought the lake up to 735.2 feet.
COUNCIL APPROVES BOTHWELL REQUEST
Bothwell Regional Health Center will soon expand its services in Benton County.
On Monday, the Sedalia City Council approved a request from Bothwell, which is publicly owned, to buy nearly 4.5 acres of land in Warsaw for $670,000 from Green Valley, L.L.C.
John Dawes, Bothwell’s president and chief executive officer, said the hospital is unsure if it will expand and move its existing Truman Lake Clinic or offer new services at the property. The existing clinic is landlocked, so the hospital is unable to expand there, Dawes said.
“We’ll decide later this year what services will be available there,” he said.
Three doctors and a nurse practitioner provide services at the Truman Lake Clinic. The hospital also leases the Bothwell Therapy Center-Warsaw and Bothwell Sleep Disorders Center-Warsaw.
STREETSCAPE PLAN UNVEILED
Musical notes and symbols will eventually pave the way to downtown.
Meg Liston, administrator of Sedalia Downtown Development Inc., showed the Sedalia City Council on Monday an architectural drawing of a streetscape project nearly two years in the making.
Construction on a six-block section of downtown is scheduled to begin next spring. The section is along South Ohio Avenue from Main Street to Third Street, and one block to the east and west on Main Street and Second Street.
Improvements include new concrete sidewalks, brick crosswalks, disabled-accessible curb cuts and brick inlays depicting musical notes and instruments in the intersections. Liston said the first decorated intersection will be at Third Street and South Ohio Avenue, and other intersections will be added as money is available.
The cost of the project is more than $1 million. Nearly all the money is provided through Missouri Department of Transportation grants. The city is also paying for some of the street improvements, an expense that would he been part of the combined sewer overflow (CSO) improvements.
LAKE CLEANUP MAY COST THOUSANDS
The cleanup at Truman Lake could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That is the estimate made Monday by Bob Marchi, the Army Corps of Engineers’ operations project manager for Truman Lake.
Marchi said he doesn’t know how the 36 acres of debris floating near the Truman Dam will be cleaned up.
“That’s going to be a big job,” Marchi said of the floating mess. “I would not be surprised at all” if the cost reached hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The lake’s campgrounds and boat ramps are all open, although swimming beaches remain closed.
The lake started rising in early July, and reached a high of 730.24 feet above mean sea level. Monday, the lake was about seven feet above its normal full pool of 406 feet, Marchi said.
While the lake has been flooded, about $5 million worth of electricity has been generated at Truman Dam, Marchi said.
BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB SCORES BIG
The Boys and Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri expects to receive nearly $1.5 million this year and $6.2 million over five years through state grants.
The 21st Century Community Learning Center grant money is “a real opportunity that is almost beyond our wildest dreams,” said Rob Rollings, president of the club’s board of directors.
The money will pay for staff and equipment for teen after-school programs in Sedalia, La Monte, Leeton and Cole Camp, and the addition of elementary after-school programs in Cole Camp and Green Ridge. It will also go toward free adult education and English as a second language classes for the families of children in club programs.
The grants will pay for 58 new jobs, including 19 full-time positions. The club’s operating budget will grow from $439,000 to about $2 million, said Executive Director Brett Barth-Fagan.
GROUNDBREAKING HELD FOR SCHOOL
More than 100 people went to see the “culmination of a dream” Thursday at the groundbreaking for the new high school.
Sedalia School District 200 school board President Jeff Sharp said the groundbreaking was the “culmination of several years of work” to get a new high school.
After the 15 minute ceremony, Sharp said the construction is the “culmination of a dream.”
Work on preparing the ground for the $22 million building will begin next week, said architect Sam A. Winn. Construction should be complete for the school to open for the 2009 school year, he said.
BOND EYES HOUSING FEDERAL PRISONERS
Sheriff Kevin Bond has not given up the idea of housing federal prisoners from Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the U.S. Marshal Service in the Pettis County Jail and is still working to correct some lingering problems.
However, the prospect of the U.S. Marshal Service using the county jail is slim.
In rejecting Pettis County’s bid to house federal prisoners in October 2004, Anthony W. Gasaway, chief deputy U.S. marshal for the Western District of Missouri, said a new 250-bed facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., opened in November 2004, and the lack of expected growth in the prisoner population for the Jefferson City division reduced the need for the county’s assistance.
There is still the possibility ICE would partner with the county, if corrections to the current system are made.
WOODS PLANS TO EXPAND STORE
Woods Supermarket plans to open an expanded store here to include a fuel station, sit-down deli, coffee shop, pharmacy with drive-thru and other expanded services.
Woods will remodel and expand the existing Price Chopper store at 701 E. Broadway Blvd.
Craig Easter, vice president of Woods Supermarket in Bolivar, said Wednesday his company will start renovations the second week of October and plans to open in the spring.
Woods plans to hire an additional 30 to 40 employees to staff the new store.
MAYOR NIXES ENGLISH RESOLUTION
Sedalia’s mayor said Tuesday the City Council will not consider a resolution to make English the official language.
Mayor Bob Wasson announced his decision after a local radio show host presented a petition asking the council to consider making English the official language of Sedalia. KDRO radio host Charlie Thomas said after the meeting he expected the mayor’s refusal to consider his request. He said he had about 1,000 signatures for the petition.
His petition said the council should pass a resolution “designating English as the official language of Sedalia, Missouri.”
VIGIL HELD FOR MAN SHOT BY POLICE
Some 40 community members gathered at the steps of the Pettis County Courthouse on Wednesday evening for a candlelight vigil in memory of a man killed in a police shooting. Participants in the vigil expressed hope that the community could “heal and come together” and dissatisfaction with the city’s response to the shooting.
David Morgan was shot and killed by John Cook, a Sedalia police officer, on June 30 after the police were called to a domestic disturbance at 720 N. Lamine Ave. A Highway Patrol investigation of the shooting cleared Cook of any wrongdoing, and he has since been reinstated on the police force. A committee formed in the wake of the shooting to review the city’s use of force policy made five recommendations, mostly involving the formal adoption of existing police procedures.
AN ERA ENDS AS SEDALIA ICON CLOSES
The neon wheel has blazed for the last time at a Sedalia landmark.
The Wheel Inn Drive In served up the last chocolate Pepsi and famed guberburger on Sunday.
The end of an era was punctuated Wednesday by the image of the restaurant’s mascot, a 4-foot-tall burlap peanut character with a black top hat, resting in the bed of a pickup truck, destined for a new home.
The mascot was one of several items — ranging from photos and memorabilia from the restaurant’s 60-year run, to kitchen wares and restaurant equipment — sold at an auction at the now-silent business.
Scores of former customers crowded around the front of the restaurant Wednesday afternoon looking to take home a piece of local history. The Wheel Inn, which first opened in 1947, closed this month to accommodate expansion of the intersection of West Broadway Boulevard and South Limit Avenue.
BLUNT PRESENTS DOWNTOWN GRANT
Gov. Matt Blunt presented community leaders with a $400,000 grant to help pay for street and sidewalk improvements around the Pettis County Courthouse. The improvements also will result in 34 additional parking spaces.
Blunt made the announcement Tuesday afternoon on the courthouse lawn during a visit here to receive a report about the progress Sedalia has made in the year since it received its DREAM status. About 50 people attended the event.
Sedalia was among the 10 communities chosen in 2006 for the Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri (DREAM) Initiative. As part of the three-year program, Sedalia has access to state technical assistance, and DREAM projects receive priority through state programs for historic preservation, affordable housing, community services, business development and job creation.
Some $840,000 in real estate has been bought and sold, and Sedalia has received $3.1 million in housing, construction and renovation projects and other improvements since receiving its DREAM designation.
CHILDREN'S THERAPY CENTER MOVING
The Children’s Therapy Center plans to relocate to western Sedalia.
Bothwell Regional Health Center bought the building at East 14th Street and South Ingram Avenue for $950,000.
The new Virginia Flower Child Development Center will be adjacent to the H.W. and Janet Harris Center in Thompson Meadows Industrial Complex on West Main Street.
FORMER EMPLOYEE TO REOPEN WHEEL INN
It’s coming back.
A Sedalia woman plans to reopen the Wheel Inn Drive-In, complete with a horseshoe shaped counter and original guberburger, at a new location on South Limit Avenue.
Judy Clark, who was a Wheel Inn employee off and on for the past 47 years, said the former owners gave permission to open the restaurant.
The words “Future home of the Wheel Inn” and “The original guberburger” are written on the windows of the building in the 2100 block of South Limit Avenue, between Sedalia Implement and Sedalia Automotive Car Sales.
Clark said she will offer the same menu at the new Wheel Inn, where a neon wheel will sit atop the building.
ROADS CHIEF QUITS AFTER FUNDS PROBLEM
The Pettis County Road and Bridge superintendent resigned after failing to follow purchase policies and exceeding the department’s asphalt budget by as much as $600,000.
Christian Farris told the Pettis County Commission of the overspending Friday.
The County Commission released a statement Tuesday about the issue and Farris’ resignation.
Farris failed to follow the county’s spending policy, which requires purchase orders be approved before materials or services are bought. Farris requested materials for which the county was later billed, or has yet to be billed.
Presiding Commissioner Rusty Kahrs said the county still owes the $600,000.
Farris took the position as manager of the department in 2001. His annual salary for this year was $43,000.
ROAD PROJECTS NOT SCHEDULED
The roads superintendent created an asphalt budget overrun by completing projects that were not scheduled, not budgeted and never discussed with the Pettis County Commission, commissioners said Friday.
The causes cited were in addition to the superintendent’s failure to follow the county’s purchasing policy.
“There’s no question there was a communication breakdown between the county road superintendent and the commission,” said Presiding Commissioner Rusty Kahrs. “We’re doing what we can to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Bill Connor, deputy administrator for the commission, estimated that the $1.5 million asphalt budget was overspent by about $528,000, or about 35 percent.
The commission also announced on Friday at a news conference that it appointed Connor as interim road and bridge superintendent. Connor, who will continue his existing duties, will receive a $1,000 monthly stipend in addition to his annual salary of $26,249.
SEDALIA'S STORYTELLER RETIRES AFTER 35 YEARS
This, by most accounts, is a cynical age.
The news, whether local or national, is awash with stories of corruption, political sniping, the deterioration of the traditional family, and a seemingly endless string of human tragedy. Good news, on the other hand, can be harder to come by.
This was never an issue for retiring Democrat reporter Ron Jennings.
In his 35 years at The Democrat, Jennings built a loyal readership and many friendships that grew from his work as a beat and feature reporter, and later, as a columnist. A graduate of University of Missouri-Columbia’s journalism school, Jennings came of age in the late 1960s, volunteered for the presidential campaign of Bobby Kennedy, and took his post at The Democrat in the era of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers. Throughout, Jennings said his focus always remained a simple one.
“It’s the people. It was always about the people,” Jennings said. “I always believed that everyone has a story to tell.”
ROAD CHIEF ADMITS RESPONSIBILITY
The former county road superintendent takes full responsibility for a $528,000 budget overrun, but contends that the County Commission knew about asphalt work that deviated from the five-year plan.
Christian Farris said the overrun in the Road and Bridge Department’s asphalt budget was caused by his failure to follow Pettis County’s purchasing policies.
“I made a mistake, and I owned up to it,” he said in a telephone interview Monday.
Farris told the county commissioners — Presiding Commissioner Rusty Kahrs, Larry Wilson and Rod Lindemann — of the oversight Sept. 22. Commissioners told him the following Monday, Sept. 24, that they would be unable to resolve the situation, and Farris resigned.
S-C EDUCATOR PLACED ON LEAVE
Smith-Cotton High School vocal music teacher Jonathon Buffington has been placed on administrative leave, and has not been in the classroom in two weeks.
Jeffrey Sharp, president of the School District 200 Board of Education, said Wednesday that Buffington had been placed on administrative leave by Superintendent Doug Ebersold, but refused to explain why.
“That’s a personnel issue we cannot currently discuss,” he said.
Ebersold said Wednesday that Buffington is still employed by the district, but has not been in the classroom since Oct. 9. Buffington is still getting a paycheck, said Ebersold.
COUNTY OWES MONEY ON ROADS
Pettis County still owes some $1.3 million for asphalt, and the auditor has seen no supporting paperwork, more than a month after the County Commission learned of a $500,000 road-and-bridge budget deficit.
The County Commission, Auditor Connie Purchase and Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Mittelhauser met this week to figure out how to pay $1.3 million owed to Lafarge North America Asphalt Quarry for asphalt. The issue is how the county can legally pay for $525,000 of the amount owed because the money was not encumbered before the product was delivered.
The county announced Sept. 24 that Road and Bridge Superintendent Christian Farris had resigned after failing to submit purchase orders for asphalt.
S-C VOCAL MUSIC DIRECTOR RESIGNS
Smith-Cotton High School vocal music director Jonathan Buffington resigned Friday amid allegations of “inappropriate conduct with students,” according to documents released by Sedalia School District 200.
Buffington resigned effective Dec. 31, but will not return to the classroom. He signed an agreement calling for him to stay away from the school, its students and any school-sponsored events.
Buffington was removed from the classroom and placed on paid administrative leave Oct. 9, but district officials had not said why. Under the agreement, he will remain on administrative leave until the end of the year.
The school board voted 6-0 in a hastily called closed session Thursday night to accept the resignation, according to minutes released Friday.
The separation agreement indicates Buffington will be paid through December, and the district will pay its portion of his health insurance premiums through July 21, 2008.
COUNCIL MULLS APPOINTING JUDGE
An appointed municipal judge could make for a less lenient court, say some council members.
The City Council asked City Attorney Anne Gardner at a work session Monday night to draft an ordinance changing the elected office to an appointed position.
Third Ward Councilman Les Harrell said he and other council members receive complaints about people who repeatedly violate city animal and property codes.
“I think some of us are frustrated with the way it’s been handled,” he said.
The council could appoint a new judge after two years if it’s not satisfied with the person’s performance, Harrell said.
DOWNTOWN PROJECT UNVEILED
A Sedalia businessman announced Thursday afternoon his plans for a $3.5 million development of retail, office and living space downtown.
David Furnell, president of Furnell Cos., told about 100 community leaders at a news conference at the Hotel Bothwell about his plans for a 30,000-square-foot building at East Fifth Street and South Ohio Avenue.
The Furnell Landmark Building will have three stories, one each for retail, office and an assisted-living facility. The project will combine the Fox Theater on East Fifth Street and the building next to it at 501 S. Ohio Ave.
COUNCIL DECIDES TO APPOINT JUDGE
The Sedalia City Council will appoint the next municipal judge.
In a 5-3 vote, the council approved an ordinance at its meeting Monday that changes the elected position to an appointed one.
Those voting in favor of the ordinance were Joe Young and Lauretta Emerson, 2nd Ward; Les Harrell, 3rd Ward; and Ken Norton and Priscilla Young, 4th Ward. Wiley Walter, 3rd Ward, and Elaine Horn and Susan Daniels, 1st Ward, voted against the change.
Municipal Judge Deborah Mitchell has sat on the bench for 11 years. She will serve until her term expires April 8.
ANTI-DRUG TEAM MAY BE TWO SHORT
Two fewer officers may be sniffing out methamphetamine labs in Pettis County next year if a new funding source can’t be found for the state’s drug team, officials say.
The Mid-Missouri Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force will lose two officers Dec. 31 if the state’s Missouri Sheriff’s Methamphetamine Relief Team (MOSMART) doesn’t find a new source of money, said Capt. Tony Wheatley of the Task Force.
The U.S. Department of Justice previously paid for much of the program, but cut it from the budget this year, Wheatley said. Missouri initially allotted the program $750,000, but that amount was trimmed to $250,000, he said. The state has so far budgeted no money for MOSMART in 2008, he said.
MAN KILLS TWO, THEN HIMSELF
A man shot and killed his brother and his brother’s fiancé before shooting himself at the trailer where they lived north of Sedalia.
Daniel W. Veach, 37, shot his brother, Stephen M. Veach, 31, and Amy Louise Wall, 24, before shooting himself with his revolver, said officers from the Pettis County Sheriff’s Department at a press conference Monday.
Pettis County Coroner Robert “Skip” Smith said each were shot once.. They died between 11 p.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. Monday, Smith said.
Sheriff Kevin Bond said the office received a call about 7 a.m. Monday about a dead man outside trailer No. 44 at the Happy Acres mobile home park, along the west side of U.S. 65. Officers identified the man as Stephen Veach.
APPOINTED JUDGE FOES TO OPPOSE ORDINANCE
People plan to ask the Sedalia City Council to rescind an ordinance it recently approved to make the municipal judge an appointed position.
Wanda Monsees, of Sedalia, is asking people who oppose the elimination of the elective position to join her at the council meeting at 7 p.m. Monday. Monsees said she would like the council to rescind the ordinance.
COUNCIL RESCINDS APPOINTED JUDGE
More than 50 people showed their opposition at City Hall Monday night to an ordinance that changed the municipal judge position from an elective to an appointive office.
The Sedalia City Council listened, then repealed the ordinance.
“This is democracy,” said Wanda Monsees, who had asked people to join her in opposing the ordinance. “I really do believe it was in the people’s best interest. A lot of people came out and spoke against it. The council did the right thing.”
Sixteen people asked the council to reverse the ordinance and return the municipal judge position to an elected one.
WOMAN, SON DIE IN HOUSE FIRE
A woman and her child died Saturday in a house fire on North Woodlawn Drive that left another of her children injured.
Nicole R. Ortner, 35, died at her home, 2508 N. Woodlawn Drive, according to the Sedalia Police Department. Nicholas Preston, 4, was taken to Bothwell Regional Health Center where he died, the police said.
The cause of death is pending investigation on both victims, Pettis County Coroner Robert “Skip” Smith said. Their bodies will be taken to the Boone County Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy later this week, Smith said.
Stephen Preston, 6, was taken to Bothwell and transferred to a Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
HOUSE FIRE CLAIMS THIRD VICTIM
The 6-year-old boy injured in Saturday’s fire on North Woodlawn Drive died Monday at a Kansas City hospital, authorities said.
Stephen Preston, a kindergarten student at Heber Hunt Elementary School, died at 11:40 a.m. at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, said Pettis County Coroner Robert “Skip” Smith.
MAJOR SNOWSTORM MARKS ANNIVERSARY
City and county officials were preparing for wintery weather this weekend, with freezing rain in the forecast and today marking the one-year anniversary of a 16-inch snow that blanketed Pettis County.
Sedalia Public Works Director Bill Beck said his department has a new driver trained, the plows hooked up and everything checked and functioning.
“We do have our stock of sand and salt already for the winter, so we’re pretty well ready to go,” Beck said.
BAD WEATHER WREAKS HAVOC
The first cumulative snow this winter spurred several vehicle accidents and event closings.
Pettis County Sheriff’s Department deputies and state Highway Patrol troopers kept busy most of Thursday afternoon working vehicle accidents.
“It’s been a little slip-sliding mess this afternoon,” said Sheriff Kevin Bond.
Several schools canceled sporting events and the City of Sedalia postponed a public forum to discuss a new community center. The city plans to reschedule the forum for early January, said Community Development Director John Simmons.
TOY SAFETY CONCERNS MANY
With the holidays fast approaching, many people are scouting the stores, searching for the perfect gifts for their children and grandchildren. One thing that may slow them down this year is the number of toy recalls.
Over the past few months, major companies such as Fischer Price, Toys “R” Us and Target have had to recall toys. Mattel alone has recalled 9 million toys in the past six months. The main reason for these recalls are violations of the United States’ lead paint standard.
COUNTY APPOINTS NEW ROAD SUPERINTENDENT
The Pettis County Commission on Thursday appointed William J. “Bill” Connor as road and bridge superintendent.
Connor has served as interim superintendent since November, when former superintendent Christian Farris resigned after a more than $700,000 budget overrun in the department.
Connor’s salary has been set at $43,000 plus benefits.
LAFARGE FILES CLAIM AGAINST COUNTY
Asphalt supplier Lafarge asked the courts to order Pettis County to pay more than $700,000 in bills this week.
At issue is a $737,164 asphalt bill racked up by former Road and Bridge Superintendent Christian Farris, who failed to follow proper purchasing procedures for the material.
Because the county’s purchasing policy was not followed, officials were concerned they may not be able to lawfully pay the bill to supplier Lafarge North America, Inc. without opening the county up to taxpayer lawsuits.
Pettis County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Mittelhauser, acting as counsel for the county, filed a petition for declaratory judgment in November to resolve the issue.
Lafarge on Wednesday filed a counterclaim in Pettis County Circuit Court to the county’s initial petition.
Lafarge’s answer requests the court find the county indebted for the bill plus pre-judgment interest and other relief as the court deems proper.
Lafarge filed a counterclaim accusing the county of breach of contract, accounts due and unjust enrichment for enjoying the use of the asphalt.
MOSIER ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT FROM EMA
Longtime Sedalia-Pettis County Emergency Management Director Tim Mosier will step down from his position at the end of the year.
“It’s been a heck of a ride, that’s all I can say, and I wouldn’t have missed it for nothing,” Mosier said.
Mosier, 55, was honored Friday at the appreciation dinner of emergency management volunteers.
Now out on sick leave, Mosier will retire Dec. 31. Rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, along with other medical issues, were behind his retirement, he said.
BOY PROBABLY STARTED DEADLY FIRE
A 4-year-old boy playing with a lighter or matches likely started the house fire Nov. 23 that killed him, his brother and his mother, according to a report by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
“The possibility of a child playing with matches or a lighter igniting the couch or love seat, or something around it, cannot be ruled out,” states the report, which names Lee Johnson as the investigator.
A family member told investigators that Nicholas Preston, 4, had a history of setting furniture on fire, according to the report.
The State Fire Marshal office on Wednesday released the results of its inquiry into the fire at 2508 N. Woodlawn Drive that killed Nicholas Preston, his brother, Stephen Preston, 6, and mother, Nicole R. Ortner, 35.
The fire blocked the family’s exit through the front door and the rear door was secured with a deadbolt lock that had no key in it.
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