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A state lawmaker has taken an interest in the case of a Carthage High School senior who was suspended last week for having a gun on campus.  Representative Mike Kelley of Lamar was asked to get involved after Sawyer Shepherd brought a disassembled shotgun to campus last week.  Kelley tells News Talk KZRG his talk with the Carthage Superintendent and High School Principal last Friday (4/24) went well.

"Both of them feel really bad about the situation.  As they said, Sawyer is a good young man, not someone who has ever caused them any problems.  But they have rules in place and things that they have to follow through.  Unfortunately, a lot of school districts create blanket one size fits all solutions.  And I gave them some suggestions on some ways to alleviate things like this happening in the future."

Kelley added this wasn't a dangerous situation, but one where someone made a mistake.  He says there's a good chance Shepherd will be able to take part in his graduation.
Joplin High School honored part of its past Sunday (4/26). The entrance to the High School was named Jack Holden Way, in honor of the late Jack Holden.  He taught social studies at Joplin for 30 years and was also public address announcer for Joplin and Parkwood High football games. Keith Zeka, Joplin High Principal when Holden was teaching, tells News Talk KZRG it's a fitting honor.

"It's a very fitting thing that's been done today, by far, in his memory.  Because he gave a lot of time and effort and he supported this system, this high school, very much.  He attended every music event, whether it was vocal or instrumental.  He went to every school play. He was a speech and debate judge for the big tournament, they used to have an Ozark tournament here every year. Those kind of things he was part of: American Legion, Boys State, Girls State, those kind of things."

Holden also helped document most of the history of Joplin Schools.  Jack Holden died in 2012.
Kansas is expected to increase taxes to close a budget shortfall, but Republicans who control the Legislature don't yet agree on the outlines of a plan.

Republican Governor Sam Brownback wants to protect major income tax cuts he pushed legislators to enact in 2012 and 2013 to help stimulate the economy.

He's proposing to slow down future income tax cuts and is pushing to increase tobacco and alcohol taxes. He also has said he's open to raising the state's sales tax.

But at least a few GOP legislators contend the state must rethink a personal income tax break for business owners sparking a radio ad campaign by a group representing small businesses to counter such an effort.

Lawmakers also could consider raising the state's gasoline tax.
Kansas smokers are upset about plans to sharply increase the cigarette tax to help fill a budget hole. Governor Sam Brownback has proposed boosting the tax on cigarettes from 79 cents a pack to $2.29 to address a deficit of about $422 million. The proposal isn't popular among some lawmakers, especially those who live on the border with Missouri, where the cigarette tax is a nation's-lowest 17 cents. The Kansas Division of the Budget projects the higher tax would generate nearly $81 million more during the next fiscal year.
All three investor groups interested in developing a southeast Kansas casino have met the minimum financial and management requirements.  The Kansas Lottery Commission affirmed Friday (4/24) that each group met the standards necessary to be forwarded to a seven-member Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board. The board is responsible for selecting the best strategy for what would be the fourth state-owned casino, with a decision expected as early as July.
A 63-year-old Miami man is dead after an altercation with police at a driver's license checkpoint Friday night (4/24/15). According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Gary Collins fled the checkpoint in his vehicle near Highway 69 at around 9:30pm. After being pursued by a trooper for a short distance, police say Collins got out of his car holding a firearm, which prompted the officer - whose
"Free Shep." That's the social media hashtag started by supporters of Sawyer Shepherd, a Carthage High School senior suspended after officials found a disassembled shotgun under the seat of his vehicle earlier this week. Webb City State Representative Charlie Davis tells News Talk KZRG he thinks the school's reaction was a bit much.

 

"I believe it's an
The Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce recognized its outstanding citizen of the year Thursday night (4/23).  Peggy Fuller, vice president of marketing at Southwest Missouri Bank, was recognized for her volunteer work with Spiva Center for the Arts, Bright Futures and Pro Musica.  Fuller tells News Talk KZRG she was honored and surprised by the award.

"I know when Shelly Kraft was up on stage and talking about the person that was going to win, it took me a long, long time before I realized--it was me."

Fuller thanked her family and Southwest Misssouri Bank for making it easy for her to donate so much time as a volunteer.  She says she's been volunteering since she was a teenager.  "It's just something that I've always been interested in and I've always gotten a lot of pleasure out of it.  I always feel that if you're working with something that your're passionate about, it's certainly not drudgery and it's not a chore.  It's not something you feel like you have to do."

Fuller adds she's made many friends while volunteering and that has also enriched her life.
The Joplin Blasters unveiled their uniforms, and their manager Friday (4/24).  Carlos Lezcano was making his first appearance in Joplin after being hired by the American Association baseball team.  Lezcano tells News Talk KZRG he's ready to go.

"You guys are going to be proud of this team.  I look at the stadium, it's going to be beautiful.  I just can't wait to start. You're going to see players that respect the game, are going to play hard, do things the right way.  The people that pay to go see us play are going to get money's worth.  They're going to hustle and do things the right way."

Lezcano will have to wait a couple weeks, though.  The Blasters season opener against Wichita isn't until May 21st at Joe Becker Stadium.

Joplin Mayor Mike Seibert helped Lezcano and Blasters General Manager Shawn Suarez unveil the teams' uniforms.  You can see more in the photo gallery at NewsTalkKZRG.com.
A research group is warning the state's 10-year highway program could be threatened if the Kansas Legislature continues to use State Highway Fund money for other state expenses.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports state transportation officials remain confident the projects in the highway program, called T-Works, will be completed. They acknowledge some projects meant to prevent more costly repairs in the future might be delayed.

The Kansas Center for Economic Growth said in a report released Thursday (3/23) that the state is maintaining a commitment to scheduled projects that result in new bridges and roads but it is falling behind in maintaining existing roads and bridges that lead to the new projects. The nonpartisan, nonprofit group has been a frequent critic of tax cuts championed by Governor Sam Brownback.
If you see lots of emergency vehicles at Missouri Southern State University Saturday--it's a drill.  Students in the Emergency Medical Technician and paramedic programs at Southern will participate in an all-day training exercise. Students will be responding to a car accident.  Damaged vehicles have been donated to create a realistic scenario.
Missouri has extended football coach Gary Pinkel's contract through the 2019 season and upped his yearly salary to $4.02 million, making him the 10th Southeastern Conference coach to have a yearly salary of at least $4 million.

Pinkel is headed into his 15th season at Missouri and is already the winningest coach in school history with 113 victories. He was making $3.2 million per year.

The 62-year-old Pinkel has led the Tigers to SEC East titles the last two years. Missouri, which joined the SEC in 2012, has won five division titles under Pinkel, including three in the Big 12.

Pinkel was coach of the year in the SEC last year, guiding the Tigers to an 11-3 finish and Citrus Bowl win after being picked fourth in the division.