A Republic, if you can keep it

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ron Paul A Statesman

When I answered my most recent Question Of The Week I said that I felt United States Representative Ron Paul was a Statesman. I thought I'd show you a few reasons for that answer.

Thanks go to:
Ron Paul 2008

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

I hope your having a safe and happy Memorial Day. I spent a part of mine visiting an Uncle that can't be here. God Bless everyone that has ever lost their life while serving our country. In 2006 Saint Joseph, Missouri had a problem with some young people that didn't respect those that have passed on. They vandalized a beautiful old cemetery. The final resting place of some of our Civil War Veterans. They were caught and a part of their sentence was to, "apologize for their actions in a public forum by writing letters to the community to appear in the News-Press." The letters were published Sunday, May 27, 2007 . One other person and I find their apologies hard to except and responded to the following News-Press article.

Teens apologize for Mount Mora vandalism spree

EDITOR'S NOTE: In September 2006, vandals struck Mount Mora Cemetery, causing more than $70,000 in damage over the course of several nights. Hundreds of tombstones and obelisks at the historic cemetery were knocked over, some of which were destroyed while others were able to be salvaged.

Six people - not one over the age of 17 - were arrested and charged for the crime. Randy E. Norris and Terry L. Danberry, both 17, were charged as adults and pleaded guilty to institutional vandalism. Both were ordered to complete 500 hours of community service repairing the damage they caused at the cemetery.

Four others between the ages of 13 and 16 were charged as juveniles. The teens' sentences consisted of hundreds of hours of community service cleaning up Mount Mora.

Officials completed restoring the damage earlier this year, and the teens continue to complete their community service by helping with maintenance at the cemetery.

The teens had one more duty to fulfill their sentences: apologize for their actions in a public forum by writing letters to the community to appear in the News-Press.

Dear Mount Mora Cemetery,

I am very sorry for what happened on your property. I did not know it was a popular place. I did not think before I did it, but since I did, I am paying for the consequences. When this happened, it affected a lot of people, including me and my family, and also you. It affected the relatives of the people who were buried there. I did feel bad after it happened. I am starting to do community service there. I think that it's a good consequence, along with being committed at the Buchanan County Academy. If I could go back in time, I would choose not to go there. I hope the others would think the same thing.

- Damien

Dear Mount Mora Cemetery,

I am sorry for tipping over graveyard stones. I did not know anything about the cemetery when I did that to the stones. Then, when I went through the tour, I found out every grave had a story. Ms. Lehr told me about the Pony Express riders. I learned a lot about the graveyard. I would never have done that if I had known. But I never meant to hurt anybody or the families. I wish that I would have walked away and gone home. But instead of doing that, I stayed. But at the time, I thought I was cool. I got in a lot of trouble. I had to write a letter, then I went to Buchanan County Academy. I'm really sorry and I hope you can forgive me.

- Monty

Dear Mount Mora Cemetery,

I apologize for knocking down the tombstones. I know what I did was wrong now and I'm sorry for that. If someone knocked over my family member's tombstone, I would be upset. And I'm going to help the cemetery so that I can make things right by doing community service. I did a lot of damage and I wish I wouldn't have done it. I have learned a lot since I went back to the cemetery with a local historian. I learned that the cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places, and some of the important individuals in the history of St. Joseph have been buried there, such as Pony Express riders, war veterans and Missouri governors. I also learned that so many individuals who were laid to rest at Mount Mora were brave heroes.

- Anthony

Dear Mount Mora Cemetery Association,

I am so sorry for pushing over headstones. I am sure it hurts everyone, especially the people who had family buried up there. I will help clean up the place by raking leaves and other helpful stuff.

If I could turn back time, I would never have gone up there in the first place with the other kids. The consequences I have for this incident are: I'm on probation, I have 250 hours of community service, I have to write a 1,000 word essay on the history of the cemetery and I am writing this apology letter.

I met with someone who knows a lot about Mount Mora. I learned that the cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places and important individuals in St. Joseph have been buried there. Many of them were heroes, such as veterans and people who died in fires. I know and understand why my actions upset the community.

- John

Reader Comments


Posted: Sunday, May 27, 2007
Article comment by: Tee

After reading the letters from the vandals of Mount Mora Cemetery, one thing struck me. None were the "ring leader". Each one says they wished they had not done it and gone home, but apparently it was no one's idea. All were only followers. The other thing was the constant focus on a cemetery of heroes. It was a resting place for the dead, no matter who they were. Tearing up anything is reprehensible in our disposible society. Waste not and want not later. Why damage? Young people why not create instead? Don't tear up a cemetery, clean up a park. Adopt a highway, rake an elderly person's yard. Stand up for something worthwhile instead of lying down for something reprehensible. You know better, you had to do this thing under the cover of darkness. If it has to be secret or done in the quiet, it is probably wrong. Remember that. Practice it and then learn it before it is too late for you.

Posted: Sunday, May 27, 2007
Article comment by: David

Dear, Damien, Monty, Anthony, & John, I'm sorry but there is something I have to ask before I can except your apologies. I hope you will respond without being forced to do so. Just suppose Mount Mora Cemetery was not on the National Register of Historic Places and there were no heroes, veterans or famous people buried there. They were all just common everyday people. You didn't know any of them or their families. If that was the case would your actions have been any less serious? God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

I really expected more people to speak out about this and hoped to hear more from Damien, Monty, Anthony, & John. As it is I'm not so sure they have learned much and the apologies were just something they had to do to complete their sentences. The lack of public comments shows that the community doesn't care. Because of that I expect to see these four boy's names in the news in the future.

Thanks go to:
The St. Joseph News-Press

God Bless America, God Save The Republic

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Question Of The Week, 5/27/07

Good Morning. I hope you are having a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend. I was chatting (On-line) with my Daughter that now lives in Spencer, Iowa yesterday. She hasn't decided who to vote for in the 2008 Presidential election yet, so she went over to Algona, Iowa to hear Hillary Clinton speak. She is not supporting Hillary, she is just candidate shopping. She said Hillary really didn't have much to say. She was surprised to see how lax security was. She (my Daughter) was carrying a purse and was not searched when she went up to get her photo taken with Hillary (She got a free pizza out of the deal). I did notice she was wearing a Hillary for president shirt in the photo. I wonder if that was a requirement for getting the photo taken? That's not the Question Of The Week, it's just a thought.

According to Merriam-Webster Online the definition of a Politician is:

Main Entry: pol·i·ti·cian
Pronunciation: "pä-l&-'ti-sh&n
Function: noun
1 : a person experienced in the art or science of government; especially : one actively engaged in conducting the business of a government
2 a : a person engaged in party politics as a profession b : a person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow usually short-sighted reasons.

The definition of Statesman is:

Main Entry: states·man
Pronunciation: 'stAts-m&n
Function: noun
1 : one versed in the principles or art of government; especially : one actively engaged in conducting the business of a government or in shaping its policies
2 : one who exercises political leadership wisely and without narrow partisanship.

Using those definitions this weeks Question Of The Week is. What would you call each of these Democratic and Republican candidates, a politician, or a statesman?

I'll post my answers in the Comment Section Monday night.

Thanks go to:
Merriam Webster Online
Open Secrets

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

Friday, May 25, 2007

In Memory Of The U.S.S. South Dakota.

Just in case you didn't know the U.S.S. South Dakota was the first United States ship to fire on mainland Japan during World War Two. A site has been set up in memory of the ship and her crew. I'll be spending part of the day there this Memorial Day. There are a lot of informative links at the bottom of the Home Page. By clicking on "Mail Call" you can send/post a message to the ships living crew members. I visit this site in memory of Richard L. Goforth (My Uncle.Page 3 Photos, 9th row, 1st on the left) KIA 6/19/44 while serving on the U.S.S. South Dakota. The site has made it possible for me to contact some of his old shipmates and learn about a family member that I never got the chance to meet. Rest In Peace Richard. I hope you'll check the site out this Memorial Day weekend.

I want to wish you a Safe and Happy Memorial Day.

Thanks go to:
The USS South Dakota.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Question Of The Week, 5/20/07

Good morning. If you didn't hear President Bush's weekly radio address on comprehensive immigration reform you can read it here. This weeks Question Of The Week is. What is your opinion of the Senates immigration reform bill? I'll post my answer in the Comment Section Monday night.

Thanks go to:
The White House

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Senate Amnesty Bill (breaking news)

I was going through my e-mail, trying to get caught up. I'm about four day's behind because of a death in the family. I noticed an action alert from Grass Fire.org said, "(breaking news)". That was enough to get my mind off the loss of my Father-In-Law for a while. I'd like to share the e-mail with you.

"From the desk of:
Steve Elliott, Grassfire

**Senate-White House announced amnesty plan

**Amnesty Debate Will Begin Monday:
Final Vote By Next Friday (action items below)


Ted Kennedy just announced that the a deal has been struck
between The White House, Democrats and Republicans on an
amnesty bill.

This behind-closed-doors bill clearly is an amnesty bill.
12 million illegals will gain immediate legal status,
rights and benefits -- and a path to citizenship.

Even worse -- this back-room deal means no public debate.
The Senate will vote on amnesty by next Friday!

Let's be clear -- they are rushing this through -- without
committee deliberations or the normal two to three week
time for debate -- in an attempt to avoid public discussion
and grassroots pressure.

This is outrageous!"

It is time for me to contact my United States Senators again. I hope you'll do the same. Let them know that you feel that passing an amnesty bill is the same thing as telling the illegal aliens that are in this country, and any that plan on joining them that is OK to break our laws. (If they get into the country illegally some of them will break more laws later.) Let your elected officials (Senators) know that if they support amnesty you will vote to put them out of work the next time you see their name on any ballot.

Thanks go to:
Grass Fire.org

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

In Memory Of Robert L. Liechti

My Father-In-Law passed away on Mothers Day. I have heard him called harsh, gruff and grumpy. Everyone that really knew him knew that was just on the outside. On the inside was one of the most caring people you could possibly hope to meet.

Robert L. Liechti


Robert L. Liechti, 79, St. Joseph, Mo., died Sunday, May 13, 2007, at his home.
Mr. Liechti was born on May 15, 1927, in St. Joseph and graduated from Lafayette High School in 1945.
He served in the United States Army during World War II.
Robert married Violet Lorraine Higbe on April 24, 1986. She survives of the home.
He was a director of finance for the United States Postal Service, retiring after 35 years of service.
Mr. Liechti was preceded in death by his first wife, Ruth "Penny" Pennington; parents; stepson, Randall Scott; and six siblings.
Robert was a member of Woodson Chapel Christian Church; Sgt. Charles E. Tye Evans V.F.W. Post No. 6760 and Pony Express American Legion Post No. 359. He was an avid woodworker.
Additional survivors: his daughter, Susan Parker of Columbus, Ohio; two sons, Steve Liechti, and wife, Robbi; and Brian Liechti, all of St. Joseph; two sisters, Marie Dixon of Clarksdale, Mo.; and Ruth Mooney of Camdenton, Mo.; stepson, Mark Scott of St. Joseph; two stepdaughters, Susan Schantz, and husband, David of St. Joseph; and Diane Donahoo, and husband, Danny of Savannah, Mo.; as well as, numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.
Service: 10 a.m. Thursday, Woodson Chapel Christian Church, St. Joseph. Interment: Memorial Park Cemetery, St. Joseph. Friends may call after 4 p.m. Wednesday at Meierhoffer Funeral Home & Crematory, St. Joseph, where the family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Mr. Liechti will be removed from the funeral home to arrive at the church one hour prior to the service.
The family suggests memorial gifts to the American Cancer Society or Leukemia Lymphoma Society.

I'm sure I know where his soul is now, and I have a feeling that he has already offered to help out any way he can. Add a room onto the mansion, or build a kitchen cabinet. Getting things ready for the day that he once again sees the friends and family he has left behind.

Rest In Peace Robert.

Thanks go to:
The St. Joseph News-Press.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Question Of The Week, 5/13/07

Good morning, and Happy Mothers Day to all you Moms. The last time I bought gas I paid $2.99 per gallon for regular. At that time they were talking about a price increase. Yesterday my Wife paid $3.12 per gallon. An article in my morning paper offers a reason for the price increase and some predictions.

Gasoline reaching new highs

It costs Tyler Lowrance to see his 4-year-old daughter.

Every week, Mr. Lowrance travels from Springfield to St. Joseph to visit her. The weekly gas bill adds up to $150.

"It's hurting us pretty bad," he acknowledged, adding he has no plans to cut out the trips.

Gas prices broke through the $3 barrier last week, presenting scary scenarios of what could happen during the busy driving season.

"This year is certainly shaping up to be one in which consumers will likely see high gasoline prices throughout the summer months," the federal Energy Information Administration stated in a report released May 9.

What are frustrated drivers to do?

One proposal circulating via e-mail urges Americans to stage a gas boycott on May 15.

"If everyone in the United States and Canada did not purchase a drop of gasoline for one day, the oil companies would choke on their stockpiles," the e-mail states.

Drivers may find solace in the idea, but the boycott is based on some faulty assumptions, said Kerry Cordray with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Energy Center.

"The main reason prices have risen has nothing to do with oil companies," he said. "It's because we're just burning it faster than it's being made."

Right now, supplies are especially tight because refineries are switching over to the summer blends.

"The reverse will happen in September or October," said John Rowe, owner of Speedy's Convenience Stores in St. Joseph.

He expects once the supply settles down, so will prices.

"It should come back down and I really look for $2.50 gas for the rest of the driving season," Mr. Rowe said. "I'm an optimistic guy."

Most Americans are more pessimistic, according to a survey commissioned by the Civil Society Institute and the 40 MPG Project. About three-fourths of those surveyed expect gas prices to reach $3.50 per gallon and one in four think they'll hit $4.

The Energy Information Administration doesn't expect prices to get anywhere close to $4. In April, the administration predicted the average national price of gas during the summer would be $2.81. That would have been 3 cents below last year's average.

But last week, the prediction was ratcheted up to $2.95 per gallon.

"There's good news on the horizon if you believe the predictions," said Mike Right, spokesman with AAA in St. Louis.

For the most part, drivers seem to be adapting to the change.

"If it was cheaper, it would help," Randy Davidson, 18, of St. Joseph said as he visited a local station.

The $3 mark triggers a sort of psychological response, but the price isn't expected to cause changes for most drivers.

"It's a lot like smoking," Mr. Rowe said. "More people talk about cutting back than actually do it."

People still take trips and still buy snacks and drinks at the gas station, he said.

"It's the big ticket items that they'll work to cut back on," he said.

Last summer, in fact, motor vehicle travel increased 2 percent, Mr. Right said.

A one-day "gas out" on May 15 won't have much impact on gas prices, but Mr. Cordray said consumers can do something. Among the suggestions the Energy Center offers are keeping tires properly inflated and your car tuned up; avoid idling your vehicle and drive slower; car pool and take public transit when it's available; switch to a more fuel-efficient vehicle when you're ready to buy a new car.

"If more people did these things, we would see the demand side apply less pressure to the market and we would see lower prices," he said.

The 40 MPG Project is pushing for the government to require auto makers to produce more fuel-efficient cars.

"People want, at the very least, to have access to higher fuel mileage cars. There just aren't that many choices in the United States," said Ailis Wolf with the organization.

Given instability in the oil-producing regions of the world, forecasters are careful about making long-term predictions about gasoline prices.

"All bets are off if there's any event internationally or a pipeline fire. That can throw a whole new variable into the mix," Mr. Cordray said.

He does make one solid prediction, however.

"Someday, we're going to see $4 gas, there's no doubt about that," he said. "People need to think about what they would have to do if prices were at that level."

This weeks Question Of The Week will be in three parts.

(1) What are you paying for a dollar of regular in your area at this time?

(2) How high do you expect to see prices go?

(3) Will we ever see $2.50 per gallon regular again?

I'll post my answer in the Comment Section Monday night.

Thanks go to:
The Saint Joseph News-Press.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Updated Waters Rising On Missouri River

We had a little excitement at work Sunday night. I saw a couple of people wearing orange vest walking around over by the railroad tracks and levee system, within 100 yards of the building I work in. A few minutes later I heard the night watchman (on the radio) telling the plant supervisor that we had city and railroad officials on the property. They were afraid they would have to tear out the tracks and sand bag the area where they go through the levee system. When I got off work at 23:00 the tracks had been removed but the sand bags hadn't arrived. Saint Joseph, Missouri officials and residents are getting ready for the flood of 2007 and remembering the flood of 1993. That one left us without safe drinking water for about two weeks. We now have a new water plant so that shouldn't happen again.

Waters rising on Missouri River
Officials order evacuation along Waterworks Road

Clinton Thomas
Agribusiness Reporter

City and county officials called an emergency meeting Sunday as weekend storms pushed the Missouri River to levels not seen since 1993.

Mandatory evacuation orders went into effect for residents along Waterworks Road north of Tyrone Street, while voluntary evacuation began around Lake Contrary. Officials in Elwood, Kan., passed out fliers to notify the public of the impending flood.

As of Sunday night, the National Weather Service's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, based in Kansas City and Pleasant Hill, Mo., predicted the river to crest at 28.9 feet Wednesday, slightly below the 32.1-foot record set during the flood of 1993.

Mary Carpenter, public information officer for the city, said plans have begun to bring roughly 200,000 sandbags into town starting this morning to shore up low points and levees. Missouri Highway 759 will close when the river reaches 25 feet so a sandbag levee can be built.

At 27 feet, the Bubble Creek flood gate will close, which could affect the city's wastewater treatment plant. At that point, efforts will begin to pump water over the levee. Ms. Carpenter said she was unsure if that scenario would cause sewers to back up.

"We hope that because the river went up so fast, it might not crest as high," Ms. Carpenter said.

Other communities around Northwest Missouri experienced flooding and evacuations Sunday.

Ms. Carpenter was hesitant to compare this flood to the one in 1993, citing differences between the two.

"In 1993 it was a river flood with a slow rise," Ms. Carpenter said. "This time we've had a lot of rain at once and the ground is more saturated, so the river rose really quick."

Thirty-one people were evacuated from 21 mobile homes in a community on the north edge of Cameron when Rockwood Creek jumped its banks.

None of the homes sustained any flood damage, but residents were evacuated via fire truck because rising waters would isolate the area and could prove dangerous if the water continued to rise.

Residents originally were taken to Cameron High School, but all found a place to sleep with families or friends, according to Karla Long, emergency services director for the Midland Empire Red Cross.

"It's typical small-town America that they all know someone who will take them in," Ms. Long said.

Multiple road closings detoured traffic throughout the area. The 102 River flooded at multiple points, closing roads around Rosendale and Bolckow, to name a few. The Tarkio River flooded as well, closing U.S. Highway 136 east of Tarkio.

As I write this it sounds like the rain is letting up, maybe we'll get a break. I'd still like to ask you to say a prayer for all the residents of this area.

Thanks go to:
The St. Joseph News-Press

God Bless America, God Save The Republic

Updated 5/7/07, 11:57 AM

It looks like I'll be updating this from time to time just to keep you up on what's going on. My Sister lives out in the country, south of Saint Joseph. When I talked with her this morning she said the road to their house is closed. She said that she heard someone on the news say this will be worse than the flood of 1993. About a month ago I read an article that said the flood of 93 caused more of a monetary loss than Hurricane Katrina. The St. Joseph News-Press has posted an update at it's web site, a section of Interstate 29 is closed.

Counties prepare for evacuations (Updated 10:51 A.M.)
10:51 A.M.

In St. Joseph, Lake Contrary and Bessie Ellison Elementary schools will close today at 11:30 a.m. The St. Joseph School District made the decision mid-morning as a precautionary measure of flooding in the area.

Students at Central High School and Bode Middle School who ride buses 5 and 9 to the Lake Contrary area will also be dismissed at 11:30 as will Central and Bode students who ride buses 26 and 30 to the Ellison area. Also, child care services at Lake and Ellison are cancelled today.

10:16 A.M.
Nearly a dozen areas in Nodaway County are closed or are being monitored at the 102, Platte, and Nodaway rivers.

Road closing include: Highway 113 is closed South of Skidmore; Route DD is closed about a mile west of Skidmore; Highway 46 is closed about 10 miles West of Maryville; Dragonfly Road Near Quitman, Mo., is closed; Highway 136, just West of Burlington Junction, mo., near Catlina Road is closed; 290th Street between Hawk and Hallmark Road is closed; Fox Road inside Maryville is closed; Jet Road is closed off 136 and south of Maryville by the old airport; Route U is closed between Arkoe and Maryville: 395th Street is closed between Highway 71 and Icon Road; Jayhawk Road in Barnard, Mo., is closed and Route VV West of Conception, Mo., is closed at the Platte River bridge.

In addition the Nodaway County Sheriff's department is monitoring an area on Highway 71 South of Pumpkin Center. Also, the 102 River east of Maryville has not crested the banks yet but is being monitored.

In Holt County, Sheriff's Department reports that Highway 111 North of Forest City and that Interstate 29 between mile markers 84 and 92 near Mound City is closed.

9:54 A.M.
In Atchison County on the Missouri side, the Sheriff's Department reports that the Tarkio River and Nodaway River flooding has closed highways and county roads.

Crews are working to open Highway 136 East of Tarkio where the Tarkio River has flooded. Highway 136 was closed Sunday afternoon. The Tarkio River levels has also closed Highway C four miles East of Westboro and Highway 59 between Tarkio and Fairfax. Highway 46 is closed at Route EE, which is about 8 miles East of Fairfax.

9:03 A.M.
Law enforcement and emergency management officials prepared Doniphan County residents Monday morning for evacuations due to rising floodwaters from the Missouri River.

Sheriff Jerry Dubach said authorities have created a command center at the firehouse in Elwood in advance of a predicted 31-foot river crest Tuesday. The river will overrun the town's levees when it reaches 32 feet.

"They've got a plan in effect down there," Mr. Dubach said. "It (crest) is coming quicker than expected."

The county's emergency response called for ordering Elwood residents to pack up belongings now that the river stage reached 27 feet Monday morning, he said. A mandatory evacuation will occur when the river reaches 29 feet. Fliers have been printed to warn residents of the impending evacuation.

The Corps is predicting the Missouri River will crest at 31 feet sometime tomorrow, said Elwood mayor Lawrence Mays. Mr. Mays said the Corps doesn't expect the river to overrun the levee. Currently, the city isn't sandbagging.

Elsewhere in the county, Mr. Dubach said water over the road has forced the closing of Kansas Highway 7 north of White Cloud. Floodwaters are also covering Main Street in White Cloud, he said.

As far as I know Missouri Highway 759 is still opened, I'll be using that to get to work at 23:00. The plant I work at is on 759. Part of the levee system is right outside the back door of the building I work in. I'll keep you updated as news comes in.

Thanks go to:
The St. Joseph News-Press

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

Updated 5/9/07, 5:06 AM

It looks like the threat of another flood has come and gone.

Waters begin to recede

Ray Scherer
Regional Reporter

Emergency responders in St. Joseph and elsewhere in the region started to ratchet down their efforts Tuesday as a swollen Missouri River began to recede.

In other areas, however, relief continued as the river's tributaries topped their banks and threatened homes and businesses. But after a nervous two days, most communities congratulated themselves for two things: that the river didn't rise as much as predicted and that many residents stepped forward to volunteer to fill sandbags.

For St. Joseph, the drier weather gave the opportunity to start assessing damage and close down temporary emergency response offices. Public Works Director Bruce Woody reported that the river crested at 25.2 feet at 6 a.m.

That number avoided a predicted crest of 28.5 feet by early Tuesday afternoon, he said. It also eased worries for the fate of the city's wastewater treatment plant, Mr. Woody added, where sandbags were ready just in case.

In fact, St. Joseph had enough residual sandbags to share with other cities fighting the floodwaters. A total of 6,100 bags were delivered to Craig, Mo., Tuesday, according to information officer Mary Robertson. The city had obtained 160,000 sandbags from Napoleon, Mo., she said.

Residents along Waterworks Road were allowed to return home, but the road remained closed until this morning, Ms. Robertson said. Riverfront Park won't reopen until this morning, but the use of walking trails will be restricted until further notice.

Elwood, Kan., officials began allowing residents back to their homes early in the afternoon, said Mayor Lawrence Mays, after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assessed that the flood threat had passed. "If they want to come back, they can," said Police Chief Larry Hunsaker as early as mid-morning. "There's no stipulation."

Corps officials lauded local efforts to maintain Elwood's levee.

"These guys have done a hell of a job keeping it in shape," said Larry Henderson, a project maintenance mechanic at Smithville Lake.

Mr. Henderson and Emily Nziramasanga, a civil engineer for the Corps' Kansas City district, formed a liaison team that checked levees on the Kansas side of the river. They left Elwood late in the morning to inspect levees from Rulo, Neb., and southward.

Ms. Nziramasanga said the levee checks involve looking for sand boils - areas under the surface that can release water from pressure and potentially destroy a levee's structural integrity.

"If we don't have a good grasp of where the weak points could be, we could be in trouble," she said. "I wouldn't be too scared if I lived here."

Mr. Mays said officials will continue to monitor the levee for the rest of the week. The Missouri Air National Guard has offered to supply volunteers to help residents clean their properties from floodwaters and to move back into homes, he added. Others have offered to help as well.

"The people in our county have been extremely helpful and resourceful," Mr. Mays said. "This community deeply appreciates that."

In other developments:

Agency, Mo., residents who chose to stay in their homes were found to be OK, said Buchanan County Emergency Management Director Bill Brinton. Although the town was surrounded by water on three sides, he said officials have maintained contact with residents to check on their safety. Several homes in the community were partially submerged, Mr. Brinton said.

A farm levee near Kansas City Power & Light's Iatan plant failed, but didn't threaten the facility's operations. Another levee, in the Rushville, Mo./Bean Lake, Mo., area also failed.

Volunteers were placing sandbags against a farm levee late in the afternoon at Lewis and Clark Village.

The 102 River at Riverside Road is rising and isn't predicted to crest until noon Thursday.

Gov. Matt Blunt met with emergency managers and surveyed flood damage in the St. Joseph area. Mr. Blunt praised community leaders, volunteers and agencies for efforts to place sandbags at various locations across the city. "I want to commend everybody for doing such a wonderful job together," he said. "Certainly, St. Joseph set a great example with the community spirit." He said state and federal officials would assess the damage to determine what kind of aid is available. The governor has declared a state of emergency.

I hope the home owners that were effected get their lives back in order soon. There was no flooding in my neighborhood.

20 St. Joe homes overrun with water
City already receives 14 claims for damages as of Tuesday

Joe Blumberg
City Government Reporter

At least 20 St. Joseph homes and basements flooded early Monday from heavy rains unrelated to high levels on the Missouri River.

The homes are scattered throughout St. Joseph, but the largest cluster was in northeast St. Joseph in a set of duplexes near Gene Field Road and Safari Drive.

Of several homes the News-Press visited, the damage was at times extensive but mostly confined to basements and garages.

Most of the basements, however, were finished. Many residents had heavy water damage to carpets, walls, furniture, beds, bathrooms, appliances and personal items.

The city of St. Joseph has yet to fully investigate the causes of the floods.

Based on homeowners' accounts and large amounts of debris in sewer inlets and roadways, it appeared that many of the city's sewers were overrun with water and debris during the heavy rain between about 11 p.m. Sunday and 4 a.m. Monday.

Several storm victims suggested the sewers were poorly or inadequately designed and/or hadn't been routinely checked for debris. "We'll have to review each one and figure out what happened," said Assistant Public Works Director Andy Clements. "... We had all our resources focused on (the Missouri River)."

Generally west of Belt Highway, St. Joseph's sewers are combined, meaning they carry both storm water and sanitary sewerage. In heavy rains, water can fill the sewers, and any trash, debris or tree limbs can cause clogs.

But a complex of four duplexes at Gene Field and Safari is in an area generally served by separate sewers, meaning that ideally the storm water shouldn't have infiltrated the sanitary sewers. Those duplexes are near or part of sites of past problems.

The duplexes had water and/or sewage come up through basement garage drains and/or toilets after midnight. The duplexes sit on the banks of a large creek that hadn't quite overtopped. Mr. Clements said separated sewers can still have legitimate problems with storm water, such as an improper connections.

Duplex residents Linda Tolin and Christine McCoy said a city crew responded at about 2:30 a.m., did something to a nearby sewer, and the water drained properly. The city couldn't confirm this account Tuesday.

Ms. Tolin had only moved into her duplex on Friday night. Most of her belongings were still in boxes in the basement, much of which are now likely ruined.

With all of the focus on the Missouri River, Ms. Tolin said she and her neighbors feel overlooked and underserved - her first hope was for a Dumpster so they could at least remove the sobering sight of her ruined belongings.

The city had received 14 claims for damages as of Tuesday evening. The city investigates and submits the claims to its insurer, MoPERM, which then makes its own review on a case-by-case basis. In past sewer claims, MoPERM has only voluntarily paid out when it determines the city was negligent - meaning it was aware of the problem in advance and failed to address it.

Mike and Kristi Fraser, 1525 Fourth Ave., live along a combined sewer. They said their basement toilet erupted at about 11 p.m. Sunday "like someone had knocked the top off a fire hydrant." Four of their five kids had slept in basement rooms.

Then water came rushing down a hill toward their house, they said. It came knocking at their front door, and judging by the paths left in the yard, it came around back and let itself in uninvited through their basement garage.

"We had a lot of water hit us real quick, and there was nothing we could do about it but hope and pray for the best and keep squeegeeing," Mr. Fraser said.

He said he complained to the city last year about debris in ditches and sewers near his house. He said they cleaned the ditches but didn't touch the sewer, which he also felt isn't big enough to handle runoff from surrounding hills.

"I'm hoping at least the city will take care of the sewage problem and get these drains squared away properly underground instead of over the streets and into homes," Mr. Fraser said.

The Frasers' neighbors on both sides also had water damage in their basements.

The city recommended they fill out a claim form and wait for a response. Meantime, the Frasers cleaned, threw away belongings and relocated their children.

For more information on sewer backups, the city has prepared information at www.ci.st-joseph.mo.us/publicworks/sewerbackupinformation.pdf.

Thank God this didn't turn out to be another 93. I was very impressed by the volunteers I saw (and read about) sandbagging the weak areas in our levee system. I'd like to think they were there because they do care about their neighbor/fellow man. I'm sure some were there because they thought their own property was in danger. I'd like to be able to thank each of them for their efforts no matter why they were there.

Thanks go to:
The St. Joseph News-Press

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

Updated 5/10/07, 7:12 PM

As it turn's out there was one fatality due to the flood. Our Grand Daughters birth Father lost his life while helping flood victims. Since the family wasn't close we didn't hear about it until today.

5/10/2007 4:24:00 PM

One death in St. Joseph died to flood (4:25 pm)

St. Joseph News-Press

This week's floodwaters have claimed the life of a St. Joseph man who helped residents evacuate their Lake Contrary homes, officials said Thursday afternoon.

C. Paul Clark, a 39-year-old South Side man, suffered a possible heart attack while volunteering himself and his pickup truck to assist people who chose to remove belongings out of their homes Sunday night, said Buchanan County Emergency Management Director Bill Brinton.

"He was carrying things back and forth," said Mr. Brinton, who was working with Mr. Clark near the St. Joseph Boat Club at the time.

"In talking to Mr. Clark's family, I have been told that whether he liked you or not, he was always there to volunteer to help in any crisis," he said.

First responders from the St. Joseph Fire Department treated Mr. Clark, who was taken to Heartland Regional Medical Center. He died Monday at the hospital.

Mr. Clark's death is being classified as flood-related by the State Emergency Management Agency since he was involved in the relief effort, Mr. Brinton said.

He met with the family and determined that Mr. Clark had not been previously ill.

Funeral services were held Thursday afternoon at Rupp Funeral Home.

Rest In Peace Mr. Clark

Thanks go to:
The Saint Joseph News-Press

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

What Are You Paying For Gas?

I was a little surprised to see one station in Saint Joseph, Missouri was selling regular for $2.99 per gallon after I read the following St. Joseph News-Press article.

5/9/2007 1:51:00 AM

Drivers feel pinch at the pumps

Nancy Hull
Education Reporter

St. Joseph is flirting with a record that drivers are anything but happy about.

Regular unleaded gasoline prices in much of the area surpassed $3 a gallon Tuesday, and numerous locations topped the area's all-time high of $3.04 a gallon. The American Automobile Association (AAA) is expected to release Tuesday's average high for the region this morning.

The area's record came in September 2005 after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.

Nationwide, prices soared Tuesday to an average of $3.036 a gallon, just 2 cents short of the all-time high. In the Midwest, St. Louis shattered records in recent days with a $3.17 a gallon high.

Ongoing problems at the nation's oil refineries have led to a downturn in gasoline production, experts say.

In St. Joseph Tuesday, some filling up at the pumps were considering switching to bikes and canceling summer vacations.

Amanda Blumer, who filled up her 8-gallon car at downtown's City Star Gas & Convenience, spent more than $24 - a high for her. Gas was $3.04 there in the afternoon.

"It's crazy," she said. "If it goes up any higher than this, I'm going to start walking, riding my bike or riding a city bus."

Vince Griffey shook his head as he talked about the prices while paying for gas at the downtown station.

"I'm not going to be able to travel near as much this summer as I usually do," he said. "There's just no way - not if the gas prices stay the way they are."

The summer outlook isn't promising.

Tuesday, the U.S. Energy Department raised its summer average pump price by 14 cents to $2.95 a gallon. The department is expected to report today a rebound in gasoline inventories, although it won't be significant.

Darrel Murphy, a manager at Speedy's Convenience on Frederick Avenue near 24th Street in St. Joseph, doesn't know what to expect of today's prices. Tuesday, he watched his station's prices increase from $2.89 to $3.04 a gallon.

"We're seeing it go up all over town," he said.

The Associated Press

contributed to this report.

I'm sure I'll have to get gas again before my next payday. I wonder if I'll end up wishing I did it today, but the article shows me the price has came down since yesterday. Every time I fill the tank anymore I feel like a mugging victim. Does anyone know of a reason for gas prices going up other than they know we'll pay it?

Let's do a price check. What was a gallon of regular selling for in your area the last time you bought gas?

Thanks go to:
The St. Joseph News-Press
God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Question Of The Week, 5/6/07

Good morning. I thought of this weeks question while I was reading my local morning paper.

Stage set for fetal-rights debate
Issues of ‘fetal personhood,’ abortion rights arise in court cases


Two Northwest Missouri court cases could fuel discussions on fetal rights when mothers use drugs during their pregnancies.

The cases spotlight a growing debate in Missouri and across the country, with both sides digging in for a potential showdown on abortion rights.

The issue of "fetal personhood" is seen by some as an attack on a woman's right to privacy, which could snowball into a challenge against Roe v. Wade. Others see it as a no-brainer solution to the problem of children being born with illegal drugs or alcohol in their systems.


In DeKalb County, Meghann Jones, 24, of Cameron, Mo., faces child endangerment charges after her daughter was born prematurely and tested positive for the presence of marijuana. Meanwhile in Buchanan County, prosecutors in a related case are challenging a public defender's motion for dismissal that Circuit Judge Patrick Robb approved last year.

While women across the state have been convicted of felony neglect or child endangerment when their newborns tested positive for drugs or alcohol, the Buchanan County case is believed to be the first to reach the state appellate court level.

Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Scroggins filed a felony child endangerment charge last year against a 28-year-old St. Joseph woman. Mr. Scroggins said he has decided to appeal Mr. Robb's decision - which held that prosecutors failed to prove that child endangerment occurred - and anticipates arguments from the Western District Court of Appeals sometime this summer and a possible decision by fall. A public defender recently submitted a reply to Mr. Scroggins' appeal.

"The immediate issue will be what the appellate court does with it," Mr. Scroggins said. "It seems clear to most that using drugs during pregnancy should be a crime and we believe the Legislature believes it is already adequately covered by the endangering statutes."

One statute Mr. Scroggins has cited in the case defines endangerment as a crime when "the person knowingly acts in a manner that creates a substantial risk to the life, body, or health of a child less than 17 years old."

The St. Joseph case involved a woman who allegedly used methamphetamine and marijuana while pregnant with her son. In both situations, Mr. Scroggins and DeKalb County Prosecuting Attorney Bart Spear are relying on a 1988 Missouri statute they interpret as extending the same rights to unborn children that are available to other state residents.

Mr. Robb had a different interpretation of the law when he chose to dismiss the charge against Ms. Wade.

"This statute specifically excludes the conduct of a woman for failing to properly care for herself and any resulting harm to her unborn child," he wrote. The current law states that a woman can't be charged for "indirectly" harming her unborn baby.

An appeals court decision disallowing fetal rights would likely force state lawmakers to clarify the issue. A bill is currently floating through Jefferson City that would clarify the current law to read that a woman can be charged with a felony if she "chronically and severely exposes an unborn child" to a controlled substance, such as meth and marijuana. With two weeks left in the session, the bill is dying in committee.

Clarifying the law aside, some wonder if criminalizing drug-addicted pregnant women is the right avenue to treat what some view as the wrong approach to fighting drugs. Mr. Scroggins, for one, thinks punitive measures are needed.

"This has been an issue as long as people have been using drugs," Mr. Scroggins said. "Now we're seeing meth babies. We're seeing crack babies."


The prevalence of fetuses being exposed to alcohol or drugs is a concern nationwide. About 5.5 percent of newborns are prenatally exposed to one or more illegal drug, according to a recent study by the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The percentage balloons to about 11 percent when exposure to alcohol is factored in, researchers at the University of California-San Francisco recently reported.

A lesser number of Buchanan County babies testing positive for drugs have been linked to heroin, and the type of drugs testing positive in infants are a reflection of drug culture in society today, Mr. Scroggins said.

While newborns testing positive for alcohol or drugs is "absolutely tragic," criminalizing the mothers is misguided, said Pamela Sumners, executive director for Pro-Choice Missouri. Part of the problem with "policing" pregnant womens' activities is where to draw the line, she said. For example, should a pregnant woman who smokes cigarettes be criminally penalized since the activity has the potential to harm the newborn?

"The women who have these problems didn't get pregnant and turn into an addict - it's the other way around," Ms. Sumners said. "It's tragic when something like that happens, but obviously we should put our societal resources into rehabilitation and preventative measures."

Samuel Lee, an anti-abortion lobbyist in Jefferson City, Mo., and founder of Campaign Life Missouri, said the issue should be criminalized, in most part, because it's common sense.

"When there's a conscious abuse of an unborn child with drugs or alcohol - where she knows the child is in danger - she should absolutely be penalized," he said. "They have an obligation to that unborn child ..."

But the proverbial elephant in the room is that the issue could set the table for a serious challenge to abortion laws.

A worst-case scenario for Mr. Lee would be if the higher courts rule in the Buchanan County case that Mr. Robb was correct to dismiss the charge.

"No one wants (pregnant) women to be charged for not taking their vitamins," Mr. Lee said, "but they could interpret it as anyone else who is assaulting her or causing her harm (is subject to prosecution), but not the woman herself."

Ms. Sumners said her organization is monitoring the issue because of a ruling's far-reaching effects.

"We always keep a careful watch on any move that would grant the rights of personhood to a fetus that hasn't been born yet," she said.

President Bush signed new rights for fetuses into law in 2004 by creating a criminal offense for harming an unborn child when a violent crime is committed against a pregnant woman.

A preliminary hearing for Ms. Jones' case is tentatively set for June 20. Her daughter has been placed into foster care.

Ray Scherer can be reached at rscherer@npgco.com and Aaron Bailey can be reached at aaronbailey@npgco.com.

This weeks Question Of The Week is. If a woman test positive for alcohol or illegal drugs during her pregnancy should she be charged with child endangerment?

I'll post my answer in the Comment Section Monday night.

Thanks go to:
The St. Joseph News-Press

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Updated (5/3/07) HIV Trial Proceedings Closed To The Public

I had always thought you could always walk into a court room and observe the proceedings just because you were interested in the case. I figured most juvenile cases would be closed to the public unless you were somehow involved in the case. I'm a voter and a tax payer so I'm the judge and prosecutors boss/supervisor. I should be able to walk into that court room and see how they handle their job at any time shouldn't I? Imagine my surprise when I read this St. Joseph News-Press article.


HIV trial proceedings closed to the public

Aaron Bailey
Courthouse reporter

A jury trial began Monday for a Kansas City man accused of knowingly infecting a St. Joseph woman with HIV through sexual contact.

Sean L. Sykes, 33, faces a maximum of life in prison if convicted due to his prior conviction about 10 years ago on two similar charges. A Jackson County jury found Mr. Sykes guilty in 1997 of knowingly infecting two women with HIV, which was appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.

The case made national headlines as Mr. Sykes' appeal was denied. He received a sentence of 10 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Buchanan County prosecutors allege that after being paroled from prison, Mr. Sykes had consensual sexual contact with a St. Joseph woman between December 2003 and December 2004. Mr. Sykes allegedly never told the woman he was HIV positive. The woman then contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, a potentially fatal disease.

Monday's proceedings - as well as the remainder of the three-day trial - have been closed to the public. One of Mr. Sykes' public defenders, Michelle Davidson, filed a motion in November to exclude the public. Circuit Judge Daniel Kellogg said Monday that he sustained the motion due to the sensitive nature of the charges and to protect the potential witnesses from exposure.

Closing a criminal trial is "very unusual" for any reason, said Jean Maneke, an attorney for the Missouri Press Association. There has been one other trial closed to the public in Missouri relating to HIV, but that case was closed to prevent the release of medical information, she said. Circuit Clerk Mary Beattie couldn't recall the last time a criminal trial was closed in Buchanan County Circuit Court.

Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Scroggins said that closing the proceedings could be the determining factor for a victim to press charges. If a victim of a similar crime knew that the court proceedings were open to the public, they might not come forward, Mr. Scroggins said.

"If someone believes that what goes on will be public knowledge," he said, "it has a chilling effect for anyone coming forward and disclosing (information)..."

It has been the policy of the News-Press and other media organizations to withhold the names of certain victims, including those in sexual assaults and cases involving juveniles, even when the trials are open to the public.

Ms. Maneke said that keeping criminal proceedings open to the public is crucial to a democratic justice system.

"First of all, it's a court proceeding. The courts have always been open to the public...," she said. "When you start closing court proceedings, you've got the beginnings of secret courts in the state of Missouri."

Jury selection dominated Monday's proceedings, but attorneys were able to make opening statements, and one witness was called for the prosecution. The jury consists of eight women and five men, including the alternate, all of whom are Caucasian.

Mr. Sykes has been charged with the Class A felony of knowingly infecting someone with HIV, or if he's found guilty, the jury has the option to convict Mr. Sykes of the lesser crime of Class B felony recklessly exposing someone to HIV. He faces a sentence of 10 to 30 years, or life imprisonment, Mr. Scroggins said.

Attorneys for both sides said they were optimistic that the case will be handed to the jury on Wednesday, despite the lengthy jury selection process.

I'm not even going to get into what I think they should do with Mr. Sykes, this is going to be an interesting case. I don't like the idea of closed court rooms/secret courts. If they do it once they will do it again. I don't know about you but I don't think I'd care to be the accused in a closed court room/secret court.

Thanks go to:
The St. Joseph News-Press

God Bless America, God Save The Republic

Updated 5/3/07

The jury has reached a verdict. I thought I'd update this. I was not surprised by the verdict.

Spreading HIV nets man guilty verdict

Aaron Bailey
Courthouse reporter

A Kansas City man faces life in prison after a jury decided Wednesday that he knowingly exposed a St. Joseph woman to HIV.

It took a jury about two and a half hours to convict Sean L. Sykes of exposing the woman through consensual sexual contact to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Mr. Sykes was convicted by a Kansas City jury on two similar charges in 1997 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Mr. Sykes showed no emotion when the jury read the verdict and remained slumped in his chair next to his public defenders as the jury exited the courtroom. There were no family members or friends of Mr. Sykes present - the only spectators were legal aides and media.

Because of his prior convictions, Mr. Sykes, 33, faces between 10 years and life in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in June.

Mr. Sykes faced a Class A charge of knowingly "giving" someone HIV without permission or consent, but the jury found him guilty of the lesser Class B felony of "exposing" someone to HIV.

Prosecutors alleged that after being paroled from prison, Mr. Sykes had consensual sexual contact with a St. Joseph woman between December 2003 and December 2004. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kathleen Fisher argued that Mr. Sykes never informed the woman he was HIV positive. The woman later contracted HIV.

Mr. Sykes' public defender, Michelle Carpenter, argued that the woman knew he was infected with HIV and agreed to sexual contact knowing the danger of contracting the virus.

In a rare move, the three-day trial was closed to the public after Buchanan County Circuit Judge Daniel Kellogg sustained a motion by Mr. Sykes' public defenders to exclude the public during. Mr. Kellogg said he made the decision due to the nature of the charges and to protect the witnesses from exposure.

The verdict was opened to the public, but cameras weren't allowed in the courtroom.

Only one other criminal trial was closed to the public in Missouri relating to HIV, according to Jean Maneke, an attorney with the Missouri Press Association, but the reasoning was to protect medical information.

A juror told the News-Press that the St. Joseph woman who was infected by Mr. Sykes testified Tuesday morning. Although the juror called the woman's testimony "emotional," he also said it was difficult to believe. He added that both Mr. Sykes and the woman had "shady" lifestyles, making it difficult to decide who was more truthful.

Public Defender Michelle Davidson said the defense presented evidence of a notarized statement that the woman knew Mr. Sykes was infected with HIV before engaging in sexual contact. Ms. Fisher said there was "conflicting" evidence that the woman wrote a letter stating she knew of Mr. Sykes' condition.

Mr. Sykes' earlier conviction in Jackson County was appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, which upheld the convictions. It's unclear if anyone in Missouri has ever been convicted three times of infecting someone with HIV.

Mr. Sykes will be sentenced June 12 at 8:30 a.m. in Division 4. He remains in custody at the Law Enforcement Center in lieu of $250,000 bond.

I find it hard to believe that anyone would agree to have sex with someone they knew had tested positive for HIV, "Mr. Sykes' public defender, Michelle Carpenter, argued that the woman knew he was infected with HIV and agreed to sexual contact knowing the danger of contracting the virus." but there are some real strange people out there. I guess we will never know since there were no spectators allowed in the court room.

Thanks go to:
The St. Joseph News-Press

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.