KOMU.com http://www.komu.com/ KOMU.com Target 8 Target 8 en-us Copyright 2018, KOMU.com. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Sun, 18 Mar 2018 HH:03:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 KOMU.com http://www.komu.com/ 144 25 TARGET 8 Follow-Up: Bill would fund training for coroners http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-follow-up-bill-would-fund-training-for-coroners/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-follow-up-bill-would-fund-training-for-coroners/ Target 8 Thu, 15 Mar 2018 10:32:47 PM Jamie Grey, KOMU 8 Chief Investigator TARGET 8 Follow-Up: Bill would fund training for coroners

JEFFERSON CITY – A bill moving through the state legislature would help fund training for Missouri’s coroners. In February, KOMU 8 News investigated the state’s coroner system, finding there are some coroners not attending training and a lack of laws regulating how the elected officials do their jobs.

"I believe it's a step to make the coroner's office a stronger office. Better coroners, better identification of how somebody passed away, and I think it's definitely something that's needed,” bill sponsor Rep. Dan Houx, R-Warrensburg, said.

Currently, Missouri law states coroners must get 20 hours of training, and they can be fined $1,000 for not attending. But the executive director of the Missouri Coroners’ and Medical Examiners’ Association, Kathleen Little, said not everyone is attending, and not every county is levying the fine.

“There’s no real requirement for them to even come to training,” Little said. “There’s no punishment involved and it’s up to the county commission to decide whether they’re going to punish the coroner for not attending training. There’s no standard training for coroners across the board.”

Houx’s bill would establish a coroners training fund by collecting a one dollar fee on each death certificate. The association would get the money and use it for training, ideally from a national organization. The bill would also take away a coroner’s power to sign death certificates if he or she does not attend.

“It’s a problem because they are not being trained. There are some people that have been a coroner for a long time and possibly just don’t feel they need to have training,” Houx said.

Houx said coroners should be forced to have continuing education no matter how long they’ve been in office.

“Just like myself, I’m a real estate agent, licensed realtor, and we have to have continuing education. Same with an attorney. This is a situation that needs to have continuing education. Especially a new, first-time coroner needs to have training up front and continue on,” Houx said. “This bill allows it to have teeth to have some activities to take care of them when they don’t go to training.”

One family’s story

One father who lost his son sparked the original Target 8 story. Jayke Minor’s death was initially ruled an accidental drug overdose, but two years after his death, toxicology reports showed he only had THC, the metabolite of marijuana, in his system. Drug experts do not believe people can die from marijuana.

Unfortunately for Jayke Minor’s father, Jay Minor, there was no autopsy and most evidence from his death is gone.

"Nothing proves anything of what happened or might have happened. It was just completely overlooked and not investigated,” Jay Minor said. "I don't know what happened to Jayke. I was led to believe he died from drugs. So that's what I believed for two years. Then I began to question it.”

Some other county coroners said those questions could and should have been answered, if the initial coroner had done more investigating. Saline County Coroner Willie Harlow has been working with Jay Minor since last summer when he found out about his story. He has testified in favor of the bill in committee.

"If there's standardized training, then there is a standard operating procedure that we follow, and in this case you do this, in this case you do that. Instead of where we are now, where you just do whatever you want and there is no recourse or discipline whether it's right or wrong,” Harlow said.

Bill now in Senate committee

Houx first became interested in the issue of coroner training when there was an election in his own county; a man who was in the funeral home business and the son of a coroner was running for the office but so were other people, with no background in death – including a taxi driver.

“We had a couple other people run that never had any training or had anything to do really with the death of a person So it was interesting to see you had somebody that wanted to run that had no training,” Houx said. "I feel for the Minors and what happened there. Somebody who needed a little more training. A very sloppy case there.”

Houx said this is the first step in reforming the system, and he is interested in other ideas for change. One idea that seems unlikely, however, is taking the office away from a citizen coroner system on the county level, which is how most Missouri counties operate.

“In the rural areas, we’re having issues just having doctors, so to have one country doctor in an area and ask them to do the coroner and take away time… They maybe have to get up the next morning and perform a surgery, and for little pay of what the coroners do get paid,” Houx said.

House Bill 2079 is currently in a Senate committee. Houx is confident it will get to the floor after legislative spring break and that the bill will have strong support. It passed the House 144-10. An identical Senate bill is also in the same committee.

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TARGET 8 Fact Check: Senate Majority PAC attacks Josh Hawley in TV ad http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-senate-majority-pac-attacks-josh-hawley-in-tv-ad/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-senate-majority-pac-attacks-josh-hawley-in-tv-ad/ Target 8 Thu, 8 Mar 2018 5:39:10 PM Mackenzie Huck, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8 Fact Check: Senate Majority PAC attacks Josh Hawley in TV ad

COLUMBIA - Missouri's Senate race between Attorney General Josh Hawley and Sen. Claire McCaskill is shaping up to what some are calling one of the most competitive and most dramatic elections this midterm election season.

Attack ads have already hit the airwaves, and Columbia College political science professor Terry Smith said the number of ads are only going to increase in the next few months. 

“In 2016, at just the federal level alone, there were $8 billion spent on elections," Smith said. "There’s lots of money out there. In Missouri, the laws are pretty flexible and permissive. Just wait until this season progresses because there are going to be tens of millions of dollars spent in Missouri on this Senate race.”

Senate Majority PAC's latest ad takes aim at Attorney General Josh Hawley's alleged link to mega donors and his self-proclaimed record of fighting corruption in Jefferson City. Here is the Target 8 team's analysis of the ad against Hawley.

Claim: Josh Hawley took nearly $3 million from a single donor who was accused of an illegal "pay to play" scheme with lawmakers.

We found this claim to be true. According to the Missouri Ethics Commission, the donor referred to in the ad, Joplin businessman David Humphreys, donated $2.75 million to Hawley's Attorney General campaign in 2016.

Humphreys was then accused of a "pay to play" scandal involving Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard (R-District 32). Both men have denied any wrongdoing. 

Smith said SMP is going to capitalize on the idea of "pay to play," the relationship to Humphreys and Hawley's campaign promise to combat corruption.

Smith said "pay to play" is shorthand for "somebody making a donation to a campaign and then having some expectation of a payback in the sense of maybe supporting a policy or proposing legislation or maybe opposing legislation that benefits the donor."

Smith added, "that’s why people are so skeptical of campaign finance because that looks like corruption to lots of people. It’s really normal business."

When asked about the situation in April, Hawley told KCUR that his office didn't have criminal jurisdiction over "pay-to-play" allegations in the Capitol. He said that would have to be handled by the local county prosecutor.

Claim: Hawley has taken no action. He said he saw nothing wrong, and admits he hadn't looked at evidence in the case. This in reference to the "pay to play" scandal.

We found this claim to be incomplete. When Hawley spoke about the case to the Kansas City Star, he said he doesn’t see any evidence of corruption involving Humphreys and Senate Pro Tem Richard’s relationship because there is no evidence.

“You have a contributor who gives to someone, and that’s not against the law,” Hawley told the KC Star. “We’ve received no evidence in that case that would suggest any wrongdoing. In fact, we’ve received no evidence at all in that case.” 

SMP communications director Chris Hayden said Hawley is not looking hard enough for evidence.

“An attorney general, if they’re really concerned about it, they can look for evidence and make it a priority for them. Josh Hawley does not believe this is a priority for his office," Hayden said.

Ad takes shots at Hawley's Public Corruption Unit

When Hawley ran for attorney general he promised his office would “take a more aggressive role in aiding local and federal prosecutors investigating allegations of corruption.”  Since he was elected, Hawley has created a "public corruption unit." 

In an email, Hawley for Senate spokeswoman Kelli Ford said he has stuck to his campaign promises. She said there are people working specifically for this unit and they've prosecuted four different people. 

“The bottom line is Hawley has prioritized prosecuting public corruption and created a team to make it happen," Ford said. "Regardless of whether the group is a team or unit, Hawley’s office still has a working group of lawyers who have already prosecuted four officials for public corruption.” 

Hayden is standing by the ad's claims.

“It’s that kind of disfunction that you’re seeing with Gov. Greitens that Josh Hawley said he would clean up, but he’s not," Hayden said. "He’s trying to run from that job. He has shown no ability to clean up Jefferson City. Missouri voters should not trust that he has any ability to clean up Washington, D.C.”

In addition to the creation of a corruption unit, Hawley has also enacted an ethics policy for his employees that prohibits them from accepting gifts from lobbyists.

Ford said claims made about Hawley's record have been false in the past, and this is another attempt to discredit his campaign.

"Claire McCaskill is pushing false information about Josh’s record as attorney general in hopes of pulling the wool over voters' eyes – and all of her liberal friends are in on it,” Ford said. “Their claims about his efforts on public corruption were rated ‘mostly false’ months ago. Unfortunately, this shows what kind of campaign she’s running. She is in the worst position of her 36-year political career, and she will do anything – even lie – to tear Josh down.”  

Voters will head to the polls for the midterm elections set for Nov. 6. For more TARGET 8 Fact Checks, click here.

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TARGET 8: Complaints about meat labels trigger investigation http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-complaints-about-meat-labels-trigger-investigation/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-complaints-about-meat-labels-trigger-investigation/ Target 8 Wed, 7 Mar 2018 8:01:43 PM Carolina Brigagao, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Complaints about meat labels trigger investigation

COLUMBIA - "Stinking rotten discolored meat" prompted a customer of Prenger Foods to contact KOMU 8 News and ask for an investigation.

The email said meat at several locations of the grocery chain had "outdated stickers" on the packages "as many as 3 stickers" piled on top of each other.

KOMU 8 News looked into seven out of the nine Prenger Foods stores throughout north mid-Missouri. The Target 8 team found the problems centered on how the meat was handled and labeled.

The investigation started at the Prenger Food store in Hallsville. On Feb. 1, KOMU 8 News went to the store and bought a package of chicken drumsticks that had three price date labels stacked on top of each other, each layer concealed by the next. The uppermost sticker had a sell by date of February 8, 2018. The two labels under that showed sell by date Aug. 1, 2017. 

A store manager said he did not know how that happened. 

"It is weird. See, this comes in from our warehouse. We just got these in this week,” he said. "If you want, I can just refund your money, and I will send this back to the warehouse. I am not sure why that is like that. Cause, like I said, we just got those in on Tuesday.”

KOMU 8 News contacted the chain and talked to Amanda Prenger, daughter of one of the owners. She scheduled a meeting with Prenger's meat manager Eric Richardson. 

He said the labels on raw chicken drumsticks are placed by the stores and not by distributors. 

Package Labels

According to USDA regulations, a raw meat or poultry package label should include the name of the product, what the product is composed of, the retailer or company name, weight, price and safe handling instructions. 

The same USDA regulations also specify how the label should be placed on a meat package:

"Any word, statement, or other information required by this part to appear on the label must be prominently placed thereon with such conspicuousness and in such terms as to render it likely to be read and understood by the ordinary individual under customary conditions or purchase and use.

The stacking of the labels on the Prenger's chicken drumsticks didn't make the original sell by date clear. 

The same practice of stacking labels was found at Prenger's Sturgeon location.

At the Huntsville store, more than one label was applied to meat products, but the labels were positioned in such a manner that allowed the customer to view both sell by dates, weights and prices, making it clear the label on that product was changed. USDA code requires that any date changes be made obvious; "that the change in the date is identified on the label, e.g., 'original sell-by date' and 'new sell-by date'."

The Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) code states that the "principal display panel," which is the label that contains the product's weight and price, "shall be the part of a label that is most likely to be displayed, presented, shown or examined under customary conditions of display for sale."

In the case of red meats, other labels such as "reduced price," "reduced for fast consumption," "keep frozen" and "previously frozen" can be used in raw meat packages for clarity purposes. But, the FSIS has specific regulations for poultry.

Jeffery Canavan, USDA deputy director of labeling and program delivery staff, said,  "If a product is labeled as fresh, and it was subsequently frozen, the reference to fresh would need to be removed from that label."

Otherwise it's misleading, he said.

"I believe in that type of situation, FSIS should recommend that there be a statement on there to let consumers know: previously frozen, keep refrigerated or refreeze for your protection,” Canavan said.

Meat and Poultry shelf-life 

Under USDA and FSIS regulations, retailers are allowed to extend the sell by date of raw meat if it is still deemed safe for consumption.

Sell by dates on raw meat and poultry packages are used for quality control. 

Even though there are not specific regulations explaining how much retailers can extend food sell by dates, Canavan said the retailer should have a clear reason.

"We don't support randomly changing the dates unless there is a reason behind it," Canavan said.

Sell by dates on raw meat packages are not required by federal law, and according to a University of Missouri Meat Science Professor, Bryon Wiegand, placing a sell by date is a courtesy done by the retailer. 

"On packages you see a sell by date, those are largely for inventory control for the retailer. So, that is not necessarily an expiration date," Wiegand said. "In fact, it's not a expiration date." 

Wiegand offered an example.

"If we are on day four of a product, and we reduce it for sale at the end of day four, somebody may say, at the end of day five, 'If we don't sell that we might freeze it and sell it as a frozen product, or we may just throw that product away.' And that is restrictively the retailer’s prerogative,” he said. 

But again, if there is a date listed and then changed, code states that change should be clear to the consumer. 

In 2016, the USDA revised its guidance on raw meat and poultry date labeling in order to reduce food waste.

“From a FSIS position, you know, if a date is applied and than a second date is later applied, extending it, we would expect that they do something to it; further process it, or maybe is refrigerated," Canavan said. "That would be a situation that you could change the date.”

According to the USDA, each meat or poultry cut has a different storage time limit in order to keep refrigerated food safe for consumption. 

Freezing and Thawing 

How did Target 8 buy a 6-month-old chicken? 

Canavan and Wiegand said it's likely the chicken was previously frozen.

"That sounds consistent with a product that has been frozen and thawed," Canavan said. "The freezing process and the subsequent thawing will, you know, there is not a safety concern there, but it will affect the quality over time because the ice crystals will penetrate the cells."

Wiegand said the situation seems odd.

"I don’t necessarily know why a retailer would do that and not sell it as a frozen product,” he said.

The chicken drumsticks bought at the Prenger Food in Hallsvillle didn't have any label that said it had previously been frozen. 

Wiegand said, "That would be a little curious. That’s how it went through the store. So, I don't know what their particular protocol would be, but typically, if it was put in the freezer, on the original sell by date, would stay in the freezer and be sold as a frozen product."

Target 8 made several attempts to talk to the owners of Prenger Foods, but got no response.

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TARGET 8: Insurance policy leaves some ER patients uncovered http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-insurance-policy-leaves-some-er-patients-uncovered/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-insurance-policy-leaves-some-er-patients-uncovered/ Target 8 Sun, 4 Mar 2018 10:40:23 AM Nora Faris, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Insurance policy leaves some ER patients uncovered

JEFFERSON CITY - Simple symptoms can sometimes have deadly diagnoses. A splitting headache could be a migraine, or it could be an aneurysm. Arm pain could just be muscle soreness, or it could be the onset of a potentially fatal heart attack. 

Making that judgement call is usually the domain of doctors and medical professionals. But now, health insurance company Anthem is making some Missouri patients decide whether they are experiencing a true emergency before visiting the ER - or risk turning a health scare into a financial nightmare.

Under the policy, Anthem determines coverage for patients based upon their diagnoses, not their symptoms. For example, if a patient arrived at the ER experiencing chest pain - often a warning sign of a heart attack - and was actually suffering from acid reflux, their claim could be denied under the Anthem policy.

Even though the symptoms might have been serious, the diagnosis was not. Anthem could deny the claim, saying the patient's use of the ER was a "non-emergency."

Medical professionals and health care organizations in Missouri are pushing back against the policy, saying it puts patients at risk and discourages them from seeking prompt emergency care.

An Unfolding Emergency: A Timeline of the Anthem ER Policy

Anthem initiated its ER policy in Missouri beginning on June 1, 2017. So far, Anthem has rolled out the policy in a handful of other states, including Ohio, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Indiana and Georgia.

A Doctor's Dilemma

Dr. Jonathan Heidt, an emergency physician at University Hospital in Columbia and president of the Missouri College of Emergency Physicians, has the knowledge and training to identify true medical emergencies and save patients' lives—but only if they come to the ER first, he said. 

One of the problems with the Anthem policy, Heidt said, is that it requires patients to make a judgment best left to an emergency physician. 

"I went to medical school for four years, trained in emergency medicine for four years after that, and have been practicing for six years," he said. "Just based on symptoms alone, even I can't always know what's an emergency and what's not. I need to see the patient, examine them, and even run some tests."

Heidt serves as the president of the Missouri College of Emergency Physicians, an advocacy group that has been fighting Anthem's ER policy. 

The Missouri Hospital Association, Missouri State Medical Association and Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons have joined MoCEP in opposing the Anthem policy.

Cutting Back on Avoidable ER Visits

When Anthem rolled out its ER policy in 2017, the company said it was trying to reduce the inappropriate use of hospital emergency departments. 

In a statement to KOMU, Anthem said its goal "is to ensure access to high quality, affordable health care, and one of the ways to help achieve that goal is to encourage consumers to receive care in the most appropriate setting. For non-emergency health care needs, ERs are often a time-consuming place to receive care and in many instances, 10 times higher in cost than urgent care."

But Heidt said the overuse of the ER that insurers and politicians tend to decry is a misdiagnosis.

According to the "International Journal for Quality in Health Care", less than 5 percent of emergency department visits are avoidable. 

"This policy won't just affect the health care decisions of that small percent of people misusing the ER," Heidt said. "It'll change the decision making process for anyone who's thinking about going to the ER."

He said it could have deadly consequences.

"It'll affect the people who may be having a heart attack, who may be having a stroke, but who will delay their care, because either themselves, or a family member or a friend will have had their visit denied," Heidt said.

In May 2017, Anthem sent a letter to Missouri policyholders, warning them: "Save the ER for emergencies -Or you'll be responsible for the cost."

The letter offered other care alternatives to the ER, including urgent care and retail health clinics (i.e. clinics in supermarkets, pharmacies or stores).

Anthem also reminded policyholders of their access to LiveHealth Online and the 24/7 NurseLine, which they could use to obtain remote medical advice from on-call medical professionals.

Heidt said Anthem's policy is a step too far. He said co-pays are already a disincentive for insured patients to use the ER when another care option is appropriate and available.

The insurance co-pays are higher for emergency room care than for urgent care or primary care clinics, meaning most patients are already weighing a significant personal financial cost in their decision to seek care at the ER.

Dave Dillon, spokesperson for the Missouri Hospital Association, said the Anthem policy undermines the purpose of health insurance.

"If I were an Anthem policyholder, I would be particularly concerned about this, because this policy would expose me to the exact problem that individuals without health insurance have," he said.

In a 2017 study by Morning Consult, 4 in 10 adults reported they delayed or avoided seeking emergency care in the past two years, "fearing the cost of co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles." According to the study, nearly half of those who waited to seek care had their medical conditions worsen.

Dillon said the Anthem policy could have an even more pronounced influence on patients' decisions to self-diagnose and delay needed care.

The Heart of the Matter

One night in 2011, Christie Fain could tell something just wasn't right. 

"It felt like a rubber band was snapping in my chest," she said.

Fain had none of the risk factors for a heart attack. She lived a healthy lifestyle, didn't smoke, and had no family history of heart disease.

But instead of shrugging off her symptoms, Fain decided to dial 911.

"On the ambulance ride to the hospital, the EMT was leaning over me and told me, 'You're not our typical heart attack patient,'" Fain said. "We were all surprised that I had a heart attack."

Fain was found to have had a 100 percent blockage of her circumflex artery. An emergency surgery helped save her life.

She said, in a situation like hers, it would be difficult for a patient to discern what's wrong without visiting the ER.

"Call 911, and let the doctor determine whether it's indigestion, or a heart attack or a dizzy spell," Fain said. "Don't leave it to your hands to make that determination." 

But Anthem's policy doesn't give patients that choice—and that's the heart of the matter.

Because if it's not a heart attack (or another condition that Anthem considers "emergent"), the patient will be left to pay for the full cost of the visit. 

Legally, insurance companies must operate using a "prudent layperson" standard. 

That means, if a patient with an average level of medical knowledge, like Fain -thinks her symptoms and condition warrant an emergency visit, that visit should be covered. 

Heidt said, under the standard, a company should consider a patient's symptoms, rather than his or her diagnosis, when making a decision about that patient's claim.

Anthem says its medical directors "review the claim information submitted by providers, using the prudent layperson standard."

But Heidt said Anthem's policy inherently violates the idea of the standard, since the policy retroactively judges the claim by the diagnosis, not the symptoms.

Heidt said he reviews denied emergency claims for University Hospital. He cited a case where a patient was hit by a car, came in to the ER on a backboard with a neck collar, and received CAT scans and a full evaluation.

But, because the patient was not actually seriously hurt, their claim was initially denied by Anthem. 

"Getting hit by a car, that seems like a pretty obvious reason someone would have gone to the emergency department," Heidt said.

A Change of Heart?

Earlier in 2018, Anthem debuted some revisions to its ER policy. 

These exemptions will now be covered by Anthem:

  • ER services for children under 15, regardless of the diagnosis
  • ER services for patients who do not have an Urgent Care facility within 15 miles
  • ER services for a patient directed to the ER by another physician
  • ER visits that occur between 8 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. Monday or on major holidays
  • Emergency care for a patient traveling out of state
  • Emergency care if a patient receives any kind of surgery
  • ER visits associated with an outpatient or inpatient admission

Anthem has also said it will review ER claims it previously denied.

Political and health care leaders still aren't satisfied.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said Anthem's policy still compromises patient wellbeing, and in a December letter, she demanded Anthem provide more information about the policy.

This week, McCaskill and Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) sent a letter to Alex Azar, Department of Health and Human Services secretary, opposing Anthem's policy and demanding action by HHS.

Their letter asks HHS to look into whether Anthem's ER policy hurts consumers and violates federal law and the prudent layperson standard.

An Emergency Fix

Several bills intended to alter Anthem's policy are currently under consideration in the state legislature.

Senate Bill 928 and House Bill 2225, would reinforce the prudent layperson standard and require all ER claims to be reviewed by an emergency physician licensed to practice in the state of Missouri.

In the meantime, Heidt said if you're a patient who has been affected by the Anthem policy, you can lodge a complaint with the Missouri Department of Insurance.

What's Your Emergency?

Many serious emergency conditions, like heart attacks and strokes, have subtle symptoms. 

A 2013 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that there can be as much as a 90 percent overlap in symptoms between medical emergencies and non-emergencies.

This infographic highlights some simple symptoms that could be signs that something is seriously wrong.

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Target 8: Films and TV shows set in Missouri, rarely filmed in Missouri http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-films-and-tv-shows-set-in-missouri-rarely-filmed-in-missouri/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-films-and-tv-shows-set-in-missouri-rarely-filmed-in-missouri/ Target 8 Fri, 2 Mar 2018 1:32:57 PM Dallas Parker, KOMU 8 Reporter Target 8: Films and TV shows set in Missouri, rarely filmed in Missouri

LAKE OZARK-  'Ozark,' a Netflix series, named after a real town in Missouri appears to be filmed at the Lake of the Ozarks.

But some residents of the lake say the show did not portray the people there very well.

“It could have depicted the people here a little better. It kind of showed us as back hood, Kentucky moonshiners. Which is, if you know the lake area, it’s not true. Most people took it very seriously, but you've got to think it’s just a story. You know it’s not a true story, just a story,” said Lake Ozark resident, Pat Collins

Others wanted more accurate landmarks.

“The school, that wasn't our school, we did have a Piggly Wiggly here years ago, but their grocery store was Piggly Wiggly, that’s not accurate,” said Suzanne Brownell, an extra in 'Ozark' who was born and raised at the lake.

Since the show was released, one business owner at the lake actually opened a bar and grill called 'Marty Byrde's' after the series' main character.

But the fact remains that the majority of the series was actually shot at a lake just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. There were only a few establishing shots actually filmed at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, also appears to be shot in Missouri, but Ebbing, Missouri is a fictional town. The entire film was shot in North Carolina.

It picked up two Oscars Sunday night, for best actress and best supporting actor.

Over the year, many films and television shows have been set in Missouri, and in the beginning most of them were actually shot in Missouri as well.

But that’s no longer the case.

In looking into why this is no longer reality, we found that money is the root of reasoning.

Many states offer tax credit incentives when filmmakers scout locations for shooting.

Missouri no longer does.

The program incentivized large productions by offering up to 35 percent of production costs back to filmmakers as tax credit.

Missouri filmmaker, Brian Maurer, said the state of Missouri is missing out on economic boosts by not offering credit to productions, and sometimes in show business it's cheaper to just film establishing shots.

“It a process where they come in and evaluate the cost, and unfortunately in recent cases, they've come here," said Maurer. "They've evaluated the cost of three or four days of filming exterior shots of the beautiful landscape, and then its just cheaper, to just do that and go somewhere else to film the rest of the project."

According to Maurer, the last production to benefit from the tax credit program in Missouri, released in 2014.

"The last film to kind of squeak through was Gone Girl and it was produced in 2014, it had filed for the tax incentive...got it,  and they filmed it along the Mississippi river hills area, which was great," said Brian Maurer. "It was a great benefit to the state and it was great exposure to the industry and what we are able to provide. But that was the last one."

The state's film tax credit program ended in November 2013. Some lawmakers pushed to have the program restored in 2017. As of now, it still remains expired.

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TARGET 8 Fact Check: Americans for Prosperity ad attacks Claire McCaskill http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-americans-for-prosperity-ad-attacks-claire-mccaskill/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-americans-for-prosperity-ad-attacks-claire-mccaskill/ Target 8 Tue, 27 Feb 2018 11:00:36 AM Daytona Everett, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8 Fact Check: Americans for Prosperity ad attacks Claire McCaskill

COLUMBIA – Missouri is a battleground state for this year’s Senate race between Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, and Republican Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Being two well-known candidates in the political world, it’s no surprise their campaigns are already in full force.

"This is going to be the premier senate race in the country,” University of Missouri political science professor Marvin Overby said.

Two outside organizations released their first wave of political ads, which consisted of claims to downplay the other candidate.

The PAC, Americans For Prosperity, released the first ad as an attack on McCaskill’s stance on tax reform and the middle class.

"They rarely lie to you; they're more misleading than they are outright fabrications," Overby said.

Here is the Target 8 team's analysis of the ad supporting Hawley. We also fact-checked the ad supporting McCaskill.

Claim: McCaskill said she'd support tax cuts for hard-working Americans, when she had the chance, she said no.

In response to this claim, Mccaskill’s office said her motives are clear when it comes to the middle class.

"She has worked hard to reach across the aisle for a bipartisan compromise on tax reform that would help small businesses create jobs and provide real tax relief for the middle class," McCaskill's website said.

When it comes down to it, Overby said she did vote against the GOP tax bill.

"They cite her vote on House bill one which is the big sort of Trump administration tax cut," Overby said.

State Director for Americans for Prosperity Jeremy Cady said he's sure the tax reform will have positive results for the middle class.

"Those on the other side, they might want to re-write history, but it is absolutely crystal clear, Missourians are feeling the positive effects of tax reform," Cady said.

McCaskill’s office said it's concerned the bill will only benefit the rich and leave the rest of the country, including the middle class, with the “scraps.”

"Instead of forging a bipartisan compromise that would provide meaningful and lasting tax relief for the middle class and help small businesses create jobs, the Republican Congress passed a partisan law that was a giveaway."

A press release stated McCaskill supported the Working Families Tax Relief Act which is confirmed by Congress’ website.

McCaskill worked with Republican representatives to introduce a bill that would “extend tax cuts for small businesses and American workers.”

Result: We found this claim to be incomplete.

The one vote cited does not indicate her entire voting record on the issue.

Claim: "... Voting against tax cuts with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi."

After analyzing the vote for the GOP tax bill, we saw McCaskill did vote "no" to the tax cuts alongside Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Pelosi.

Result: We found this claim to be true.

In response to the ad as a whole, communication director Meira Bernstein said in a statement exclusive to KOMU 8 News:

"Claire has made it abundantly clear that she doesn't care if an ad is for her or against her, Missourians should pay no mind if they don't know exactly who is paying for the ad."

It turns out, politicians have very little say on the ads put out by political action committees.

"They have much less and legally really no input into what the outside groups run on their behalf," Overby said.

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TARGET 8 Fact Check: Claire McCaskill ad attacks Josh Hawley http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-claire-mccaskill-ad-attacks-josh-hawley/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-claire-mccaskill-ad-attacks-josh-hawley/ Target 8 Fri, 23 Feb 2018 1:06:25 PM Emily McCarter, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8 Fact Check: Claire McCaskill ad attacks Josh Hawley

COLUMBIA – It’s a senate race some are calling one of the most important in the country.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, and Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley are the two big candidates for the 2018 Missouri senate election.

“If you’re putting money on it today, you would say this is gonna be the premiere senate race in the country,” University of Missouri political science professor Marvin Overby said.

Both sides released their first round of political ads, hurling allegations at the other candidate.

Senate Majority PAC released an ad supporting McCaskill in response to an ad for Hawley by the PAC Americans For Prosperity. Below both ads here is the Target 8 team's analysis of the ad for McCaskill. We also fact-checked the ad for Hawley.

Claim: McCaskill supported a middle-class tax cut

We found this to be true.

McCaskill’s team sent KOMU 8 News several instances where she did favor middle-class tax cuts.

McCaskill offered GOP tax plan amendments to protect deductions for Missouri's working families.

A press release states McCaskill supported the Working Families Tax Relief Act. Congress’ website confirms she cosponsored the act.

McCaskill introduced a bill alongside Republican Senator Susan Collins that would “extend tax cuts for small businesses and American workers.”

SMP Communications Director Chris Hayden said this is evidence McCaskill fights for middle-income earners.

“She has a long history of supporting bills that are really focused on the middle class,” he said.

Kelli Ford, spokesperson for the Hawley for Senate campaign, said McCaskill does not favor middle-class tax cuts, because, in another vote, she did not support the Republican tax bill.

Claim: Hawley supported the tax plan giving 83 percent of tax benefits to the richest 1 percent of Americans

We found this to be incomplete.

A Tax Policy Center analysis shows about 25 percent of tax cuts will go to the top 1 percent in 2025.

The amount of tax cuts going to the richest Americans does jump to 83 percent in 2027, but only because most individual income tax changes expire then.

Hawley’s team called the attack false in a press release saying, “It’s a classic case of politicians using a technically accurate statistic but without the context or explanation it requires.”

Claim: This tax plan adds $1.5 trillion dollars to the national debt

We found this to be incomplete.

The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation released a report that found, after taking into account economic growth, the tax plan would add $1 trillion dollars to the debt.

However, there’s no consensus among economists on how much, if any, the tax cut would pay for itself.

Hayden said Senate Majority PAC stands by these claims.

“It’s clear that Claire is someone who really understands Missouri and represents all of its people and is willing to fight for everyone and not just to fight for wealthy billionaires,” he said.

The purpose of campaign ads

Overby said campaign ads serve multiple purposes.

“One of the first things these campaign ads are to do is to introduce the candidate to the public,” he said.

Ads also deluge the public with the candidate’s name.

“People tend to vote for the candidate whose name they know," Overby said.

In this case, both political ads were funded by outside groups. Overby said this practice is common, since senate campaigns are so expensive.

“We can count on both candidates in this campaign spending at or above 20 million dollars,” he said. “There’s an old saying in politics that half of everything a campaign spends is wasted money, but they just don’t know which half.”

Overby described political commercials as often deceptive and misleading.

“They rarely lie to you,” he said. “They tend to be more misleading than they are outright fabrications.”

Overby said it’s often what these ads don’t say, especially when it comes to tax cuts.

“Most economists think it’s probably bad public policy to be cutting taxes in a period like this of economic expansion,” he said.

A race to the finish

There’s no strong data showing how much of an affect political ads have on an election.

“On a lot of these campaigns, they’re hoping this is gonna be one of those ads that really sticks,” Overby said. “It’s really hard to predict.”

Both parties said they’re confident their candidate will win the election.

“Claire is not a typical politician,” Hayden said. “Claire is someone who doesn’t sidestep any question and she tells it to you straight.”

Ford said Hawley is fully committed to Missourians.

“Missouri voters deserve better than discredited Democrat talking points,” she said.

Overby expects the Missouri senate race to be a tight one.

“You’ve got two very attractive candidates,” he said. “It’s gonna be interesting to see.”

The Missouri senate primary is Aug. 7, with the general election to follow Nov. 6.

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TARGET 8: Missouri approx. $19 million behind on jail payments http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-missouri-approx-19-million-behind-on-jail-payments/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-missouri-approx-19-million-behind-on-jail-payments/ Target 8 Fri, 16 Feb 2018 6:04:50 PM Chris Joseph, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Missouri approx. $19 million behind on jail payments

JEFFERSON CITY - Not all convicted Missouri inmates run from the law, but most run up large costs for the state. Missouri is falling behind on those bills. 

Every day across Missouri, county jails hold inmates destined for Missouri Department of Corrections prisons. 

State law requires the DOC to reimburse the counties for housing, feeding and transporting those inmates if and when there is a conviction.

State is falling behind on payments

Karen Pojmann, DOC director of communications, stated in an email the department is approximately $19 million behind on those payments.

The state reimburses county jails $22.58 per inmate per day, for as long as they are held in the county jail.

Missouri only pays out reimbursements for inmates who are convicted of violating state law and transported to a DOC prison.

It does not give reimbursements for inmates who are acquitted or whose charges are dropped. 

The state gives the Department of Corrections roughly $10 million every quarter ($40 million per year) to pay reimbursements. Once the $10 million is spent, the department has no money to pay reimbursements until the next quarter. 

The bills are adding up.

Pojmann gave KOMU 8 News a snapshot of what the department owed every county as of January 5. The total unpaid reimbursements added up to over $14 million.

She said the snapshot did not account for reimbursements yet to be approved or filed. 

As of that date, the state owed Boone County Jail more than $543,000. It owed Cole County more than $100,000 and Callaway County more than $236,000.

Pojmann did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. 

Short budget, short staffed

The state reimbursements are used to fund facilities, resources or personnel for county jails.

Callaway County Sheriff Clay Chism said his jail is understaffed. Three or four corrections officers run a jail of approximately 85 inmates every day.

"In the hypothetical perfect world, which I wish would occur, I would have six corrections officers at any given time," he said.

Chism said the jail also needs more transport staff. Currently, one deputy handles all the inmate extraditions from Callaway County to jails across the state.

The deputy is responsible for transporting prisoners to court and doctor's appointments. 

Chism said the Callaway jail population is rising while his staffing has remained stagnant. 

The Council of State Governments Justice Center presented a 2017 report to the Missouri Justice Reinvestment Task Force, which was appointed by Gov. Eric Greitens in June of last year.

That report said the Missouri jail population increased approximately 50 percent from 2000 to 2015, to more than 10,000 inmates. 

"This is not just Callaway County, this is a predicament nearly every sheriff across the state of Missouri is facing," Chism said.

Backlog in the courts 

The council report cites backlogged courts for extended inmate stays in jail, which swell the population.

"We have inmates who are here for considerable lengths of time waiting for their court cases to make it through the judicial process," Chism said.

According to the report, the average time it takes for Missourians to be convicted and sentenced is 191 days. That is 10 percent higher than in fiscal year 2010. 

The report blames an under-funded public defender system. Over-worked public defenders with a larger caseload ask for delays to build a case.

According to the American Bar Association, public defenders need 47 hours per case. In Missouri, they get nine. The association said the state needs 300 more public defenders to reach acceptable levels. 

Missouri currently ranks 49th in public defender pay. The Missouri Public Defender Office went before the house budget committee in February to request a $30 million increase in funding.

Sounding the alarm and finding solutions

Callaway Commissioner Gary Jungermann spoke to the House Appropriations subcommittee on corrections in late January about the reimbursement issue.

He said the lawmakers were understanding, but his county needs a solution.

"We just don't have the money to keep throwing at the jails, because we've got other things we need to do for the citizens of the county," he said.

Callaway County officials estimate the daily cost of housing an inmate is more than $40, and the state reimbursement only covers about half of that at $22.58.

Jungermann said he wants there to be a conversation between commissioners and the state about repaying the debt and improving the system going forward.

Rep. Karla May, D-St. Louis, is the ranking minority member of the appropriations subcommittee on corrections. She said she supports increasing the funding for the Public Defender's Office and said the subcommittee has had positive conversations on the issue.

"Even with the budget chair, in these conversations, they've been favorable that we need to increase funding in the public defender's office," she said.

In December, The Council of State Governments Justice Center presented a set of recommendations to the task force on the corrections system.

Those recommendations included encouraging counties to streamline the reimbursement request process, growing release/diversion programs for jail inmates and improving state data collection on jails.  

Note on chart: The values displayed are the unpaid county reimbursement invoices as of January 5, 2018. The Department of Corrections may have paid and/or received more invoices since that date. The department pays its invoices in the order they are received. 

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TARGET 8: "Answer Bots" wasting spammers' time through innovative app http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-answer-bots-wasting-spammers-time-through-innovative-app/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-answer-bots-wasting-spammers-time-through-innovative-app/ Target 8 Mon, 12 Feb 2018 1:44:55 PM Stephanie Sandoval, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8:

COLUMBIA - Telemarketers and spammers are targeting people nationwide, especially during tax season, but there are some innovative apps fighting back against the scammers.

RoboKiller, an iPhone app created and developed by TelTech, automatically blocks robocalls and telemarketers, even if the callers spoof a local number that’s not theirs to begin with. 

The vice president of Product for TelTech Systems, Ethan Garr, contacted KOMU 8 News after our Target 8 team ran a story on spoofing. 

Garr said the app wasted an estimated over 15,000 hours of spammers' time in January compared to December, which wasted around 12,000 hours. 

“Our attitude is 'time is money for these people' and the calls are very cheap to make and that’s why this whole industry exists, so if we could figure out a way to steal time from them, we steal money from them and we essentially put them out of business and that’s our goal,” Garr said.

The app uses audio fingerprinting and a machine-learning algorithm. The app also fights back by answering spammers with RoboKiller “Answer Bots” that talk back to the spammer to waste their time.

“They’re really funny and they’re hilarious and they drive the spammers crazy because they think they’re talking to a real human,” Garr said. 

According to data collected by the RoboKiller Task Force, there are 2,726 spam and robocalls made every second in the United States. 

TelTech is also the maker of SpoofCard, an app that can easily disguise your caller ID and make it so you’re calling from a different number. Garr said SpoofCard “was never intend for a nefarious reason.” He said many professionals use SpoofCard as a way to keep their personal phone numbers private from clients, customers or patients. 

“We’re always trying to solve problems for people on their mobile phones and while spoof card gets a bad rap, the vast majority are using it for very legitimate purposes,” Garr said. “If you’re a doctor, and you need to call a patient from home at night, being able to protect your mobile phone number so you don’t get calls every night from a patient is a very common use.” 

There are many other apps similar to RoboKiller, too, such as Nomorobo, TrapCall  and Avast Call Blocker. 

Each app claims to stop robocalls, though each app is unique.

According to Nomorobo’s website, it has services for bot cellular and landline phones. As stated on its website, Nomorobo for landlines uses a feature known as "Simultaneous Ring.” If the call is an illegal robocaller, the app intercepts the call and hangs up. 

Another landline option is a call-blocking box, which costs anywhere from $20-$150.

TrapCall claims it puts names and faces to callers with Live Caller ID and unmasks unknown callers. According to its website, it will show you “who they are, where they live and how they look even before you answer the call.” It also records incoming calls. 

Avast Call Blocker claims it won’t access your contacts list in your phone for those who have privacy concerns. The app also claims it allows people to block any number they want — not just spammers. 

Melinda Kidder, private investigator and owner of Columbia Investigations, said apps like these are excellent, but are not 100 percent effective.  

“If you’re only having one or two calls here or there every now and then, and it’s only mildly annoying then I wouldn’t recommend it,” Kidder said. “But if it’s something that is someone is obsessively calling you or you're excessively experiencing robo dial calls then I absolutely recommend that kind of service.”

Kidder said to always check into a company because “different models may have different issues.” She recommends reading the reviews, checking prices and privacy policy before deciding on which app to use. 

“If someone has the same type of phone, same type of phone service provider that you use, same type of voicemail that you use and if they use another call forwarding service that you use,” Kidder said, “then I would check into any issues that they may have had with the service prior to using that app.” 

However, she said apps like this may not be the right app for people who live rurally and utilize call forwarding. Kidder lives in a rural area and uses Google Voice, which allows a call to be forwarded to another phone, so if a call drops she can pick up the other phone. 

“But if I were to engage in a service like RoboKiller or Truecaller or Avast Call Blocker, then that would interrupt the call forwarding,” she said. 

Another concern is privacy. Most of the apps available blocking robocalls save calls or recordings on its servers instead of saving it on the person’s phone. Kidder said technically developers could go in and look through voicemails. 

“Chances of them going in and doing that are slim,” Kidder said. “But let’s say you’re a doctor or a psychotherapist or something and you receive confidential calls. That may not be a service for you.” 

Garr said an Android app version of RoboKiller is in underway. He expects the app to launch in early March. 

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TARGET 8: 'Flawed' death investigation highlights problematic coroner system http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-flawed-death-investigation-highlights-problematic-coroner-system/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-flawed-death-investigation-highlights-problematic-coroner-system/ Target 8 Tue, 6 Feb 2018 1:21:05 PM Jamie Grey, KOMU 8 Chief Investigator TARGET 8: 'Flawed' death investigation highlights problematic coroner system

FAYETTE – Multiple coroners around the state of Missouri say their system is flawed, that elected citizen coroners are acting with little or no training, making sometimes irreversible decisions that could pose hazards to the community and pain for families. They say some cases are being mishandled, and there are likely too few autopsies being ordered.

Now, those coroners and their professional association are asking for a change. They want better and more training and standards set in place to update laws that, in many cases, haven’t seen a governor’s signature since the 1940s.
‘I never questioned anything until three years later’
Jay Minor was asleep in the bunk of his semitruck when his phone rang. It was July 21, 2011, and he was driving his rig across the country, taking his evening stop in Columbus, Ohio. On the other end of the phone was the girlfriend of his son, 27-year-old Jayke Minor. She broke the news. His son was dead.
“A police officer got on the telephone, and he said that my son had passed away. And honestly from that point, I can’t tell you any more of the conversation because I was frantic,” Minor said.
Jayke’s girlfriend told Fayette police he’d been sick for three days, acting confused the day he died. She said she’d left the mobile home around 4:30 in the afternoon on July 21. When she returned about an hour later, Jayke was in his bed, not breathing. Police said he was dead when they arrived; his skin was already cold. Officers decided CPR wouldn’t make a difference. Jayke had been dead too long.
Minor said Jayke had a history of drug problems, a history local police in Fayette knew about all too well. That history drove a critical decision by Howard County Coroner Frank Flaspohler: He ruled Jayke died from accidental drug overdose.
Jay Minor was disappointed, but he also accepted the news. It seemed possible, probable even.
“I didn’t question anything because I just figured he did his job, and that’s what happened,” Minor said.
But then came questions about a string of nonexistent records, a lack of drug test results and odd interactions with the county. Minor started to doubt the ruling.
“The more things that started to come about, the less I believed that. And, of course, when we got the toxicology report back, it started falling apart,” Minor said.
It was in 2013 that things really began to spin for Minor; the idea Jayke died from an accidental overdose of drugs was slipping.
‘For the job that the coroner did to make me believe for two years that my son did die of a drug overdose, and then to find out that he didn’t’
Minor said Flaspohler initially told him there was a delay at the state lab, then that the samples of his son’s blood were lost by the lab. Then Flaspohler said he hand-carried another blood sample to the lab.
In 2013, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Lab finally returned a report. Jayke did have drugs in his system – but not drugs coroners commonly believe could cause death. The only positive result: THC – the metabolite of marijuana. 
“You don’t die from marijuana,” Minor said. “So for two years, we thought he died of an accidental overdose. Now it comes back and says there’s no drugs involved.”
More than a year after that toxicology report, Flaspohler filed to correct the death record in 2014. Jayke, he determined, died of natural causes and cardiac dysrhythmia.
“The death certificate was changed, with no evidence to go by, to cardiac dysrhythmia, which basically means his heart stopped. But I don’t know why it stopped,” Minor said.
There was no autopsy. Jayke was cremated. The blood that went to the lab was destroyed as part of the usual protocol. The evidence was gone, but the questions kept growing.
‘Nothing proves anything of what happened or what might have happened’
While the toxicology results took a long time, it was even longer before Minor got a copy of a coroner’s report. It took intervention by another coroner, Pettis County Coroner Skip Smith. A chance meeting at a hospital brought Minor to Smith, and Smith said he’d help get some records.
In March 2016, Smith began his search, asking Flaspohler for the records. He ultimately sent two formal letters asking Flaspohler for the papers. He said Flaspohler finally agreed to meet months later at the gates of the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.

Smith got the report, and it took only seconds to see the first problem: There was another deceased man’s name on the top of the report. That man’s name was scratched out, replaced with a hand-written “Jaykeb Minor.” Smith took that report to Minor, who was horrified and hurt.
“It’s way beyond a cut-and-paste error. I mean, it’s so unprofessional that he could have overlooked that,” Minor said. “It was so short and unexplanatory. There’s not much to it, really, when you start off with the wrong name on it. Then I notice there’s no date anywhere on the report.”
The coroner’s report: Discrepancies and errors
Minor turned over all of his records to KOMU 8 News for investigation. Immediately, it was clear there were obvious issues with the coroner’s report. The name was wrong. There was no date of death clearly indicated. While the police report stated Jayke Minor was in a bedroom when he died, Flaspohler stated his body was in the living room. While the police report stated Jayke Minor was cold when officers arrived, Flaspohler stated he found the body warm, even though he arrived after emergency responders.
“It just leaves you not knowing what happened. I mean there’s no way to tell what really happened,” Minor said.
Saline County Coroner Willie Harlow agrees there are no answers for Jay Minor about his son. Harlow and Minor first met in June 2017 when Minor took his frustrations to the Missouri Coroners’ and Medical Examiners’ Association Board, on which Harlow holds a seat.
“From the very get go, this case was flawed,” Harlow said. “You had EMS personnel, police personnel, and a coroner who all had three different reports as to where the body was and how the body was positioned; whether or not the body was cool or warm.”
Harlow does not mince words on this case; he directly blames Flaspohler.
“He killed the voice of Jayke Minor because he did not investigate, he did not do his job. And this family will never have closure,” Harlow said. “He made a quick decision that he was a drug user, so he died of a drug overdose. And at that moment in time, Frank Flaspohler was done with that case.”
Harlow: ‘We will never know the truth as to why Jayke Minor died’
Harlow said he believes Flaspohler absolutely should have ordered an autopsy on Jayke. His age alone was enough in Harlow’s book.
“Twenty-seven-year-olds do not just die for no reason. I mean, there has to be a reason they die. And the only way to determine that, unless there is a visible sign of a cause of death or manner of death, you have to do an autopsy,” Harlow said. “An autopsy reveals so much about what is actually going on inside of a person that you can’t see with the naked eye. But that was not done in this case.”
As for Jayke’s history of drug use, Harlow said that’s not enough to make a decision on a cause and manner of death, especially since the police report stated officers “were unable to find any evidence of drug use.” Again, Harlow said this was a case where an autopsy should have been ordered and referenced for a determination.
“He didn’t have toxicology. He didn’t have a needle sticking out of Jayke’s arm. He didn’t have drugs in the house. But yet he says he died of a drug overdose. That, in and of itself, is enough to tell someone there that this is someone who did not do their job,” Harlow said.
‘Whose blood was that?’
Once the toxicology results of the blood sample came back from MSHP’s lab, Minor said he was immediately suspicious. Harlow had the same feeling.
“So, he sent in blood that was at least two years old, unpreserved. And there’s very little evidentiary value to blood that is that old. And then the question comes into play: Was it really Jayke’s blood?” Harlow said.
Since the blood was destroyed, Harlow said, there is no way to know for certain if it was Jayke’s blood hand-carried to the lab. Workers there didn’t type the blood, so there’s no way to even find out if it’s possibly Jayke’s or someone else’s.
“You know, Jayke, as his parents have said, had used drugs but was never known to use marijuana, and then all of the sudden, you have this toxicology report come back that there is THC in the blood. It leaves the mind to wonder, whose blood was that?” Harlow said
‘I think it’s an accurate tox report’
Flaspohler met with KOMU 8 News outside the courthouse last week to discuss the blood sample, the coroner’s report and the lack of autopsy in Jayke’s death. He said the case took too long, but he is confident in his investigation and his findings.
While he doesn’t normally save blood samples for years, Flaspohler said, he did in this case:

“I really don’t know why I had some left over,” he said. “I don’t remember other than if there was too much in the syringe, and so I put a little more in the other one.”
Flaspohler said he is “100 percent sure” the blood he brought to MSHP was Jayke’s blood – and he said it was preserved. When asked if the blood could have degraded or lost some other toxins, he said no. He is confident THC was the only drug product in Jayke’s system, but he now says he believes that’s what killed him. That raised another question.
KOMU 8 News: “Why does it say natural rather than drug overdose if you believe THC was the cause?”
“Basically because cardiac arrhythmia is a natural cause. And I actually talked to the highway patrol lab about the THC, and I said there’s no quantity here. He said we don’t quantify it. I asked him why, and he said because you can’t overdose on THC. Which was the theory or the idea six years ago,” Flaspohler said. “This year, there’s been some death certificates signed out by physicians or forensic pathologists that list THC as an overdose now, instead of natural causes.”
Other coroners KOMU 8 News spoke with, including Harlow, were incredulous at the idea THC killed Jayke.
“I have never seen a case where someone died from an overdose of marijuana. It’s not to say that it hasn’t happened. But I have never seen that in my years of being coroner,” Harlow said.

The DEA stated it has zero reports of overdose from marijuana.
Why was the report so inaccurate?  
When KOMU 8 News initially spoke with Flaspohler over the phone and asked about the discrepancies in the initial coroner’s report, he admitted the report had errors beyond the name: that many of the inconsistencies, like the location of Jayke’s body, happened because he had deleted pieces of the old report from another death and entered new information but forgot some elements.
“He was in the bedroom and that one said he was in the living room,” Flaspohler said over the phone. “That’s because I start with one of those reports and go down there and change and make it fit the situation. My pictures even show where he was at.”
Flaspohler said the inaccuracies in the report can be attributed to using old reports as a guide when he starts a new case.
“When I’m at the scene, first thing I do, I write out all my stuff. So, I have it handwritten. Then when everything is done, and this is after all the autopsies, if they’re done, or blood work is done, then eventually I will sit down and put it into the computer,” Flaspohler said. “I don’t have a computer program. It’s one we fixed up in Word that simply has a coroner’s thing and a form to put it in. And what I do is I made one, it worked, so the next time when I did a report, I just go in there and type over everything. And it also helps keep me, as far as the consistency. I don’t know why I didn’t finish it, but went back, and the report wasn’t correct.”
He also told KOMU 8 News in that phone conversation he had a corrected report, a report no one else in this story had ever seen.
A new report and the other man: Inconsistencies remain
With that new information, KOMU 8 News requested a copy of the new corrected report – as well as the report for the other man whose name appeared on the top of Jayke’s report. It could point to when Jayke’s report was really written and whether there were similarities that could prove the report had swapped language.
Flaspohler gave the new report to KOMU 8 News at the in-person interview, one week after he mentioned the corrected report on the phone. What we found – the other man died in November 2014, five months after the date of Flaspohler’s addendum to Jayke’s record. That meant Jayke’s report was not actually typed up as dated on the form.
The new report is signifantly longer and more detailed than the initial report. But it still contains inconsistencies when compared with the initial police report, including the temperature of Jayke’s body. It still states “victim is warm,” when the police noted he was “cool to the touch.” The report for the man whose name was initially on Jayke’s report does not have details that would be similar to Minor’s and explain leftover information from an old report; for example, the man died at work, not in a living room.
KOMU 8 News asked Flaspohler how he could be confident in the accuracy of his reports if he did not type them out for years after being at the scene and only relied on his handwritten notes.
“Because my official report says almost exactly what my handwritten notes say,” Flaspohler said. “There wasn’t anything additional in there, other than the lab work.”

Since no one had seen the new report obtained only recently by the station, KOMU 8 News asked if he had produced the new copy since the phone call. He said he made the new report shortly after he met with Smith at the State Fair gates in 2016.

Why wasn’t there an autopsy?
Flaspohler said, in his more than 20 years as coroner and estimated 1,000 coroner calls, Jayke case was the first he’d marked as “pending investigation” on his initial ruling (a detail only added to the most recent report). Even though he was waiting for results and there were no physical marks on Jayke’s body, Flaspohler decided not to do an autopsy. Jayke’s history of drug use heavily affected that decision.
“Talked to the two policemen on scene. They said nope, there’s nothing suspicious. There was some history there,” Flaspohler said.
But again, the police report also stated officers were “unable to find any evidence of drug use or of a struggle.”
Minor said, “All of these things point to the fact that he should have done an autopsy. If he was sick for three days, we need to know why. Did he get sick from something in the community? Maybe everybody’s at risk. But we’ll never know that.”
Flaspohler still said he made his decision not to autopsy because he did not see anything that indicated anything criminal.
“It’s a balance between spending the taxpayer’s money as frugally as you can, but still covering the things you need. So, six years ago, it was pretty… well, there were a couple of exceptions. It had to be criminal in order for me to authorize the autopsy and have the county pay for it,” Flaspohler said.
He said if he autopsied everyone who died in the county, paying the approximately $1,700 bill on each, he’d run the county up close to $200,000 a year. According to records obtained by Jay Minor’s girlfriend, Debby Ferguson, Flaspohler has returned money from his autopsy and inquest budget to the county nearly every year.

“Frank seems to think that he should not be spending money on autopsies,” Harlow said. “And if that is a coroner’s mindset, that they should not be spending money on autopsies, then they’re probably not doing a very good job of being coroner, because that’s what we do.”
Flaspohler said the county’s commissioners are receptive to him and would help him pay for more autopsies if needed; however, he said, he’s still trying to strike a balance in being responsible. His budget has increased from $2,000 in 2007 to more than $5,000 in 2017.
‘We have zero authority over the coroner’
Minor and Ferguson have been on a mission to tell people in power what happened in Jayke’s case, going to everyone from lawmakers to those in the field of death investigation. Their stop at the coroners’ association meeting in summer 2017 was one of those steps, but they found they couldn’t get much help there.
“Unfortunately, there are more cases like this out there,” said Kathleen Little, of the Missouri Coroners’ and Medical Examiners’ Association. “As executive director, it’s very frustrating to look at a family member or tell them over the phone, I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do. We can look into it. But we have zero authority over the coroner.”
Little, who served as coroner for ten years in Clinton County just north of Kansas City, said she is “very frustrated” with the coroner system and laws about death investigations in the state.
“Missouri’s laws are very behind,” she said. “Truly, there are no regulations for when a coroner is doing their job or not doing their job.”
In Missouri, anyone can run for coroner who is over 21-years-old, a one-year resident of Missouri and a six-month resident of his or her county. No prior medical knowledge or death investigation training is needed.
Once elected, the coroner is supposed to attend 20 hours of training per year, but Little said not everyone is attending. While a county is supposed to fine a coroner $1,000 if he or she doesn’t attend, Little said that doesn’t always happen.
“There’s no real requirement for them to even come to training. There’s no punishment involved, and it’s up to the county commission to decide whether they’re going to punish the coroner for not attending training,” she said.
‘It took way too long’
When it comes to the Minor investigation, Flaspohler said it has made him think about changes.
“I will tell you it took way too long. I totally agree with that,” Flaspohler said. “I’ve had 1,000 calls, never had one that took this long.”
He said he is now tracking his cases using a new computer system and is making sure records are done faster. He said does attend training, including additional, optional training, and he is in favor of upping the training requirements for coroners across the state.
He also said a recent coroner’s inquest related to a teen’s suicide death related to bullying has made him look at things differently.
“I’ve actually spent the last year dealing with this inquest and saying we need to look at the schools and say we can do better. So, I can look at me and say, I can do better. We can find a better way. We can get more training. We can get a better computer program,” Flaspohler said.
‘It’s not about him anymore. It’s about getting change.’
While this case has frustrated Minor for the last six and a half years, he and Ferguson are using it to try to push the state of Missouri to make changes. They have called the governor’s and attorney general’s offices, gone to the county commission, the coroner’s board and now lawmakers.

In Missouri, the decision on whether to autopsy and to determine the cause and manner of death are completely in the hands of coroners. The only exception currently is that children under a year old must be autopsied when they die. Coroners say that’s because they are looking for evidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Other than that, a coroner, who may or may not have training, is making decisions that can impact criminal cases, disease statistics, life insurance payouts, or, at the very least, a family’s sense of closure. 
“Some of the rules the coroners are supposed to follow are so broad that they can do these things, but if they don’t, nobody can hold them accountable. As long as that’s the way it is, this will continue,” Minor said.

Ferguson recently started a letter-writing campaign, sending a letter with all of the documents they have to every coroner, medical examiner and lawmaker in the state.
“It’s not about him anymore. It’s about getting change, Ferguson said, “It’s not really going to be up to us what happens to Frank. It’s up to the voters and just making sure it doesn’t happen to everybody else. The only way we can do that is to get a law passed. We want a bill that says not what a coroner should do, is what they must do.”
Legislature considers bill that would fund expanded training
Little, as executive director, is pushing for changes to be made, including the addition of guidelines for when certain tests should be done.
“There really needs to be a standard guideline for coroners to follow to tell them this is when you should be doing autopsies and this is when you should be ordering toxicology. And you know, they should be doing their job, which is figuring out the cause and manner of death,” she said.
Since meeting Minor and Ferguson, Harlow has been fighting to use their story to create change. He is set to testify in a scheduled hearing Tuesday evening for a bill that would attach a fee to death certificates that would fund training for coroners in the state. It would also make it illegal for coroners who do not attend training to sign death certificates.
“For me it has nothing to do with Frank. It has to do with the office of coroner. And it happens to be that, in this particular case, Frank is the coroner, and he holds that office. But the job was not done. And we have to have standard operating procedure for all coroners so that this doesn’t happen, and continue to happen, in the state,” Harlow said.
The training is the first step. Harlow, Little, Minor and Ferguson want to see more standards in the laws to ensure no other family has to go without knowing exactly how their loved one died.
“We have hit one brick wall after the other, but bricks can come down,” Ferguson said.” You just have to be willing to do the work. Hopefully people will step up and help us now.”
Other states: Where does Missouri stack up?

There are other states with similar issues; families in Colorado are raising concerns over similar situations. In some states, the coroner is a de facto position that’s bundled with another office; for example, in small towns in Georgia, the mayor is the coroner.

According to a 2015 report by the CDC, Missouri is one of around 25 states that operate with some version of a county coroner system, though the requirements are lower in this state than some others. For example, in Kansas, coroners must be licensed medical doctors and are appointed, rather than elected.

Some states with citizen county-based coroner systems require coroners to get some type of specialized training once in office; in Minnesota, for example, coroners must become death investigator certified within a few years of taking office. Little said that is one option Missouri might consider examining to help increase training while maintaining the benefits of local control.

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TARGET 8 UPDATE: Children in home for up to nine months during abuse investigation http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-update-children-in-home-for-up-to-nine-months-during-abuse-investigation/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-update-children-in-home-for-up-to-nine-months-during-abuse-investigation/ Target 8 Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:52:21 PM Chris Joseph, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8 UPDATE: Children in home for up to nine months during abuse investigation

RANDOLPH COUNTY - The wife of Carl Sheets, the Moberly man facing charges involving the rape and incest of minors, has been charged. 

27-year-old Angie Sheets faces eight counts involving her "acting in concert with Carl Sheets, aided or encouraged Carl Sheets."

The charges include:

  • Sodomy in the first degree
  • Two counts of child molestation in the first degree
  • Two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree
  • Two counts of incest
  • Felony of rape in the first degree

Court documents stated Angie Sheets was in the bed when Carl Sheets would allegedly sexually assault an underage victim.

The documents describe one scenario where Angie Sheets performed oral sex on Carl Sheets as he assaulted the victim.

Moberly police received a Children's Division Hotline call about Angie Sheets in reference to possible sexual abuse in November 2017.

Angie Sheets was arrested in late December 2017.

Children removed from home

Moberly police received hotline calls about Carl Sheets in September 2015 and then again in 2016.

Angie Sheets' new court documents stated the underage victim in her case was put into foster care after the first hotline investigation into Carl Sheets, which is information not previously available. The documents also clarified all children were removed from the Sheets' home by June 2016, nine months after the first call.

Carl Sheets was not arrested until August 1, 2016, which was after the second hotline call.

37-year-old Carl Sheets faces thirteen charges.

They include:

  • Sodomy in the second degree
  • Statutory sodomy in the second degree
  • Three counts of incest
  • Statutory rape in the second degree 
  • Four counts of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree
  • Rape of the first degree
  • Abuse of a child
  • Three counts of domestic assault in the second degree
  • Unlawful use of a weapon

Court documents stated Carl Sheets would use sex for punishment and there were times when he would sexually assault the victims while Angie Sheets was in the room.

There are six victims in the Carl Sheets case. 

Carl Sheets is in the process of securing a public defender. His preliminary hearing is currently scheduled for March 2.

A bond reduction hearing for Angie Sheets is scheduled for February 5. 

Data: Most child abuse happens at the hands of parents

Statistics from the Missouri Department of Social Services show there were 5,059 natural parents who committed some form of child abuse in the 2016 fiscal year.

838 parents or parents' paramours and 406 step-parents were also substantiated child abusers.

Natural parents made up the majority of child abuse perpetrators. 

In fiscal year 2016, there were 1,250 substantiated cases of child sex abuse in Missouri.

The 24/7 Missouri Department of Social Services hotline for child abuse is 1-800-392-3738.

Note on graph: All statistics from Missouri Department of Social Services, fiscal year 2016. Substantiated perpetrators may have more than one relationship to the victim or be present in more than one case. As a result, they would be represented more than once on the chart.

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TARGET 8: Victims of sexual assault at mid-Missouri massage businesses raise questions http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-victims-of-sexual-assault-at-mid-missouri-massage-businesses-raise-questions/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-victims-of-sexual-assault-at-mid-missouri-massage-businesses-raise-questions/ Target 8 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 3:27:42 PM Claire Kopsky, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Victims of sexual assault at mid-Missouri massage businesses raise questions

COLUMBIA- An increase in the national conversation about sexual assault has more victims of inappropriate behavior speaking out about mid-Missouri massage therapy businesses.

KOMU 8’s investigation began during the fall of 2017 after it was announced the Relax Station massage parlor in Columbia was facing a lawsuit due to an employee being charged with sexual assault. The employee did not have a license to perform massage therapy in Missouri, nor in Florida where there is a cease and desist order against him for practicing without a license.

The US does not have a national regulator for massage therapists or massage therapy businesses. There is, however, a Board of Therapeutic Massage in the state of Missouri that licenses therapists and businesses. Missouri’s Professional Registration website features a search tool allowing anyone to search for active licenses of therapists and businesses.  

Angela McPike, a Columbia resident, used to frequent Relax Station in the Columbia Mall, and has been to other massage businesses, often with coupons to save money.

McPike, who has been enjoying massages her whole life, reached out to KOMU wanting to tell her story about her experience with a Groupon coupon that led her to a man’s home.

“Whenever I pulled up to the address, it turned out to be a house and I was just kind of sitting there in the driveway and thinking, "Oh, this is kind of weird,'" McPike said.

The therapist came outside in scrubs and waved McPike in. 

“It was just the normal thing to do. Like, I will admit that whenever I pulled up and it was a house and then it turned out to be a man I felt like pulling away but, it just, you know, it seemed like the normal thing to do,” said McPike. “Like I would have to explain myself, why did you just pull off with no reason you know, we had an appointment set.” 

Due to the way Groupon functions, McPike had already paid for her massage when she printed the coupon. 

McPike said the interaction inside home seemed normal and the space was clean. She saw the therapist’s license posted on the wall, so she went into the massage room. She said it was not until about halfway through the 60-minute massage that she knew something was really wrong.

“It started off pretty gradual because I didn’t feel like the draping was quite appropriate but it was kind of a small thing so I didn’t think too much of it at the time,” said McPike. “I was just like, ‘he’s no good at draping.’ But it wasn’t really until halfway through that it got to the point where I was like, this is incredibly inappropriate and there’s you know, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is on purpose.”

McPike said the inappropriate touching continued escalating during the second half of the massage but she did not feel she could move. 

“I definitely thought about leaving a million time a second, it seems like. I was just like, ‘okay if I get up and leave’…and and I just had all these thoughts going through my head of ‘Will he hurt me?’ ‘Will I have time to put my clothes on?’ ‘Will I be able to get my keys?’ You know, and I was even thinking, ‘I’ll leave my purse here, I’ll get a new phone,’ McPike said. “And I did at one point think ‘I’ll just run out there naked and someone will stop.’ And I just couldn’t do it. I just felt like I was frozen.”

Once the massage was over, McPike said the inappropriate behavior stopped. 

“He just said we’re done and then he left and I put my clothes on and I was just like shaking. And the minute I walked out of the door, I was like ‘Oh my god, I made it.’”

KOMU reached out to the man who gave McPike the massage. He declined to comment on the record about the incident.

Using the massage license number he gave KOMU and his full name, a quick search on the Missouri Professional Registration website showed the man has an active license through the beginning of 2019.

If you’re searching in Columbia, the man’s company is one of the top searches on Groupon with dozens of reviews and a five star rating.

“I have not had a massage since then," McPike said, "But I like massage, I hope to be able to go back and what’s so sad about it is it’s supposed to be something you’re doing for yourself to try and cope with things. It’s self care to make yourself feel better and we just need to be safe.”

Buzzfeed’s national investigation into Massage Envy showed 180 women have filed sexual assault reports against the company.

KOMU tried to find out how many of those reports are from Missouri. Missouri’s Board of Therapeutic Massage denied the request for reports against Massage Envy but told KOMU in the past five years, 104 complaints were filed regarding massage therapy businesses and 38 complaints regarding massage therapists. 

Next, KOMU looked at court cases filed by defendants against Massage Envy. Of the four KOMU found, one case was dismissed by the parties involved, another dismissed by the court and the other two cases are still ongoing. One of those cases started as a sexual assault allegation from a St. Louis location.

Another woman who was willing to share her story was a victim of an inappropriate massage at Columbia’s Massage Envy in February of last year. She said she didn’t know she could file a report with the Board of Therapeutic Massage.

“I had no idea that I could even do that. It never crossed my mind it would be ultimately kind of a government issue,” she said.

Through a phone call with Massage Envy, the victim verified in December the man who gave her the massage is no longer employed at Massage Envy in Columbia. 

Through another quick search using the Missouri Professional Registration website, KOMU verified the victim’s therapist still has an active license in the state of Missouri proving individuals may have a license, but that doesn’t mean the therapist is performing appropriate massages.

The woman with the alleged sexual assault at Massage Envy summed up the sentiment from all the victims KOMU spoke to.

“Do what you need to do to make sure that you’re safe and not worry about how it’s going to be perceived by other people if you insult someone by thinking that they’re a creep, it’s better to apologize for that than to live for the rest of your life knowing that you have been assaulted by someone,” she said.

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TARGET 8 fact checks study claiming arsenic, lead found in baby food and formula http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-checks-study-claiming-arsenic-lead-found-in-baby-food-and-formula/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-checks-study-claiming-arsenic-lead-found-in-baby-food-and-formula/ Target 8 Fri, 8 Dec 2017 10:18:49 PM Shaletta Norwood, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8 fact checks study claiming arsenic, lead found in baby food and formula

COLUMBIA - Dorothy Willy is a new mother to her five month old baby. 

She said she loves everything about motherhood and looks forward to her baby's first big moments.

"I really can't wait for those first words," Willy said. "I just would love to hear the words Mama and I love you." 

Willy said she exclusively breastfeeds at this time. She said she was nervous about it in the beginning, but now she is used to the process.    

"I didn't know what to expect, whether I would be uncomfortable with it and the whole aspect of being out and about and not having a bottle," Willy said. "But I wanted to give her what was most natural." 

In October, a non-profit organization, the Clean Label Project, stated it found positive traces of lead, arsenic and other chemicals in baby food items like formula and jarred foods.

Executive Director Jaclyn Bowen said the organization purchased 600 top-selling baby food items and tested them for more than 150 industrial environment contaminants such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and BPA. She said the organization wanted to see what was in America's baby food. 

"We found that 78 percent of products had measurable levels of arsenic, 36 percent of products had measurable levels of lead," Bowen said. "We also found that certified organic products did have less pesticides; however, some of those same organic products had twice as much metals."

When the Clean Label Project released the study, news outlets throughout the country reported on the results. 

Willy said the study alarmed her. She said even though she breastfeeds, she is not against baby formula and food items. She said the study made her feel uncomfortable as a new mother. 

"It's a little scary and disturbing, especially for babies," Willy said. "They're so tiny and their digestive system isn't fully developed."

CEO of the Sweetwater Science Labs James Gawenis said he is skeptical when it comes to the study. He said there isn't a definite way parents could interpret the information on the organization's website. 

"Anyone looking at this website, as an expert in foods analysis, I would be saying don't even bother," Gawenis said. 

Gawenis said the main issue he noticed was the study had not been peer reviewed, and the information was arbitrary. He said data has to be transparent and measurable.

"Without a known value to based off of whether or not this is actually a dangerous material," Gawenis said, "You can't make an arbitrary evaluation." 

Bowen said people have questioned why the Clean Label Project did not release raw data or have the study peer reviewed. She said both of those things are in process.

"On the Clean Label project website, you can find our raw data and how we unmasked nearly 75,000 data points for parents," Bowen said. "We wanted to make it quick and easy, so we pulled that down and drilled it down to a five- star rating system."

However, Gawenis said the five-star system doesn't give parents a clear explanation of the organization's findings. 

"They just have this star system that doesn't tell you what it means, especially on the baby formula," Gawenis said.

The Analytic Chemistry Lab, Ellipse Analytics, conducted the organization's study. On the website, the study sample is shown only once, meaning there are not multiple tests on samples shown. 

Gawenis said parents should be cautious of that. He said the organization is also using words such as "nutritional value" and "contaminant", but not defining the meaning of those words.

"If you're not willing to make those definitions, all they are doing is creating a scare tactic to get you to buy certain things over the other," Gawenis said. "That's a sales gimmick."

Willy said she plans to stick to breastfeeding. She said she doesn't judge anyone who doesn't breastfeed and understands if baby food items are their only option.

"If I had to, I would," Willy said. "It would be nice if they were making a little more clear labels for parents."

Bowen said the Clean Label Project has five different funding sources, which are grants, donations, a certification program that it offers to manufacturers, a crowd-funding campaign and an Amazon smiles beneficiary.

Gawenis said he hopes the organization did the study for the right reasons. 

"It's good they're trying to do something good," Gawenis said. "But if they're not willing to give out what the actual demarcation lines are, it's useless information." 

If you are a parent who is concerned with your baby's food intake, contact the FDA, which has safe and quality food requirements. 

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TARGET 8 Follow-Up: Four sex offenders still found living near elementary schools in Columbia http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-follow-up-four-sex-offenders-still-found-living-near-elementary-schools-in-columbia/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-follow-up-four-sex-offenders-still-found-living-near-elementary-schools-in-columbia/ Target 8 Fri, 15 Dec 2017 2:13:14 PM Jenna Puritz, KOMU Reporter TARGET 8 Follow-Up: Four sex offenders still found living near elementary schools in Columbia

COLUMBIA - Fourteen sex offenders were found in Columbia living within 1,000 feet of schools a year and a half ago. Now, there are still four living in that illegal distance. 

The sex offender registry is readily available on the Missouri State Highway Patrol's website. Anyone can type in an address or name, choose a radius and see sex offenders living within that radius. 

When searching all of Columbia Public Schools and other childcare facilities' addresses, KOMU 8 News found four schools in Columbia with offenders living too close to schools. Those schools are Ridgeway Elementary, Parkade Elementary, West Boulevard Elementary and Carousel Playschool.

You can see in these four pictures taken from the Missouri State Highway Patrol's sex offender registry that there are offenders living within the radius of 1,000 feet.

Missouri Law states, "certain sexual offenders may not reside within 1,000 feet of any public or private school up to the 12th grade or childcare facility which is in existence at the time of the offender establishing his or her residency."

All four schools mentioned previously were built years before any of the offenders were charged. Also, all four offenders registered in the homes near the schools are marked compliant. They themselves are responsible for moving and complying with state laws. 

Rachel Hidborg, a mother who lives across the street from West Boulevard, was more than shocked when told a sex offender is living that close to the school. 

"I never even considered sex offenders," Hidborg said. "I find it disconcerting that there can be sex offenders that are living so close to the school without my knowledge." 

Hidborg grew up in Columbia, moved around for 10 years, and is now back in Columbia raising her two-year old daughter. 

"After hours, when my daughter gets older and would perhaps walk over to the park by herself or other kids in the neighborhood, that's an issue for me knowing that they do live so close to the school and in my neighborhood," Hidborg said. 

Owner of The Schoolhouse Day Care, Alma Tapp, said she feels the same. 

"My main concern is that the children are safe here," Tapp said. 

Tapp has been in the day care business for about 50 years. She said she's never had trouble with offenders before. 

"It's something that I can't be worrying about everyday you know. It's just you have a program, and you want the program to run as smoothly as it possibly can," Tapp said. 

"You don't want to have to worry about people coming in and disrupting your program," she said. 

Tapp recently received a letter from the state telling her there were people with child abuse records in the neighborhood. 

"They gave me a diagram of where these people lived and the names of the people on the diagram," Tapp said. "I had to make a plan for registered sex offenders in the neighborhood and had to mail it back to them." 

Tapp said the offenders weren't living within the 1,000 feet of the day care, but she is still concerned with seeing unfamiliar faces in the neighborhood. 

"Most of the people here are retired people. I'm probably the youngest one in the neighborhood, and everybody else, we know each other," she said. 

Both Tapp and Hidborg said they are concerned with who's being held accountable for these offenders living too close to schools.

"For me it doesn't really make a difference for who is accountable, as long as someone is accountable," Hidborg said. "I don't think I should have to take my time out of my busy life to find out where or if there are sex offenders in my area." 

For Tapp, she just wants to make sure her kids at the daycare remain safe. 

The Boone County Sheriff's Department is responsible for updating the registry and monitoring offenders. The sheriff and spokesman refused multiple requests for interviews. 

To see sex offenders living near your neighborhood go to the Missouri State Highway Patrol website. 

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TARGET 8: Downtown store owners concerned about trash buildup http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-downtown-store-owners-concerned-about-trash-buildup/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-downtown-store-owners-concerned-about-trash-buildup/ Target 8 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 9:56:07 PM Lydia Nusbaum, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Downtown store owners concerned about trash buildup

COLUMBIA - Iron Tiger Tattoo parlor in downtown Columbia mops its floors nearly three times a day. It didn’t use to be this way, but with the recent trash bins put near their store, they’ve had to clean more.

The reason why: people are tracking grease into the store.

Lee Sensintaffar is the manager of Iron Tiger Tattoo and said the store is constantly scrubbing the floors whenever they see grease.

“It’s kind of hard to keep up with,” Sensintaffar said.

This grease and food waste is leaking from the trash bins lined up against Iron Tiger Tattoo’s building when the garbage truck comes to pick up the trash. 

“A river of grease coming out of that alley way down tenth street into the stormwater drains,” Sensintaffar said. “You’re seeing grease. You’re seeing flies. You’re seeing vermin.”

Store owners in the area said this is happening because restaurants are just dumping grease and food waste into the trash bins without a trash bag. Melissa Frier is the manager of Aardvarx, which is right next to the alley.

“It is leaking out of the dumpsters and flowing out of the alley into the front of the alley and down the street and it's causing a lot of a mess,” Frier said.

A City of Columbia ordinance does not require people to put trash in bags. Currently the ordinance says trash should be wrapped in paper. This isn’t a method used by many people anymore. However, the ordinance does say grease should not be put in the trash bins. Instead, restaurants need to hire a private contractor to dispose of the liquid.

“I think the main concern as the manager of this shop is ‘are people going to walk by that?’ Frier said. “The smell of the sight is not great at all, and "are people going to want to walk by that to come into our business?" 

The owners said this problem started happening nearly two months ago. This is around the time when the city replaced a trash compactor with the six trash bins lined up against Iron Tiger Tattoo.

The compactor used to be on private property because it was too large to be put in the alley, which is public land. However, the property owner asked the city to take the compactor away. The compactor was leaking grease, which was then washed into the basement of a business when it rained.

The City of Columbia does not have a firm solution to fix the problem, but listed two possibilities. One solution could be to change the ordinance to make people use trash bags. The Downtown Community Improvement District said they would bring this up to the solid waste commission at a meeting Tuesday, December 19.

Another solution is to educate business owners about the proper way to dispose of trash and grease. The CID held a meeting a month ago to hear what business owners were thinking. Since then, the CID has sent out letters to help educate people on the correct way to get rid of trash.

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TARGET 8: Superfund site recommended in Camdenton after TCE contamination http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-superfund-site-recommended-in-camdenton-after-tce-contamination/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-superfund-site-recommended-in-camdenton-after-tce-contamination/ Target 8 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 6:30:40 PM Zara McDowell, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Superfund site recommended in Camdenton after TCE contamination

CAMDENTON -  The Missouri Department of Natural Resources recommended an old manufacturer in Camdenton as a Superfund site.

Money will be used to clean up the toxic waste at this manufacturer. DNR said it will continue to investigate the site to determine how contaminated it is.

At almost the southernmost point of the Lake of the Ozarks sits a town of nearly 4,000. Camdenton, Missouri is a small lake town known for its state park filled with castle ruins and one of the most scenic caves in the United States, and most concerning for residents, TCE, or Trichloroethylene contamination.

TCE can be found in soil, water and air. And it has been found in Camdenton, Missouri, according to Missouri Department of Natural Resources. 

While state officials have said everything is safe, they have also opened up numerous investigations where the chemical was used. Residents are concerned, and they believe loved ones are getting sick and dying from this contamination.

A few manufacturers in Camdenton used TCE from the 70's to December 1990 to get rid of grease from metal parts, without knowing the health effects. As a result, employees were in contact with it a lot.

Workers at these manufacturers dumped TCE, or sludge it’s also called, on the ground when they finished using it.

And that’s not exclusive to Camdenton. TCE was commonly used before it’s health effects were known.

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry said, “That contact -- and therefore that exposure -- can occur when you breathe, eat, or drink the contaminant, or when it touches your skin.”

However, the agency said, “Even if you're exposed to trichloroethylene, you might not be harmed. Whether you are harmed will depend on such factors as the dose (how much), the duration (how long), and how you are exposed. Harm might also depend on whether you've been exposed to any other chemicals, as well as your age, sex, diet, family traits, lifestyle, and state of health.” 

TCE is a colorless liquid with a sweet smell.

There are four different properties in question for TCE contamination in Camdenton: 221 Sunset Drive, the Hulett Lagoon or Mulberry Well, Dawson Metal Products Camdenton Facility #2 Site and Camdenton Sludge Disposal Area Site. For continuity purposes, we have referred to properties as DNR refers to them.

“Would I say people are in danger? Yes,” Jerry Rogers, former employee of all three companies said, “Most of the early years, we used it indiscriminately.”

“We had a tremendous amount of oil that we operated with inside the plant on our machine operations, and the cleaning agent we used was Trichloroethylene.” Rogers said. “We used Trichloroethylene to clean oil for anything … We washed our hands in it, we cleaned the equipment’s with it, if we had a spill, we mopped it up with TCE.”

“I don’t know why the city is not up in arms about it, as we the community are,” Rogers added.

Camdenton City Administrator Jeff Hancock said, “From the city’s standpoint of water pollution and contamination, we are not worried whatsoever.”

DNR Superfund Chief Valerie Wilder said there is not any contamination in Camdenton's drinking water and there is nothing that residents should be concerned about currently. However, she said if she were a Camdenton resident, she would keep an eye on the upcoming investigations to see the results.

The wells were monitored for many years on a quarterly basis and since 2010, annually. “No TCE has been detected in those wells," Wilder said.

According to documents obtained from DNR, what Wilder said has not always been true. TCE was detected in the wells. The Mulberry Well was taken offline because it had traces of TCE. DNR documents state the Hulett Lagoon was decommissioned, or taken offline, in 1998. The city administrator says it was officially taken offline in 1999.

221 Sunset Drive

One property currently under investigation, according to DNR, is 221 Sunset Drive where three different companies operated at one facility from 1967 to 2012. Dawson Metal Product, Sundstrand Tubular Products Inc., and Modine Heat Transfer Inc.

Rogers lived through each company change and each TCE hand wash, “I went to work February of 1972 and finished employment the day it closed March 30, 2012,” Rogers said. “I was a supervisor for 34 years. Virtually everyone that worked there worked for me.”

According to an October report, DNR said, “Investigations conducted at the facility and in the surrounding neighborhood have documented TCE contamination.” 

In the past, there have been efforts to clean up the facility from any contamination.

DNR said investigations for potential sources of contamination are still continuing with some further investigations planning to take place in early 2018.

DNR is also conducting an investigation within nearby residential areas. Currently, it is in the process of taking indoor air samples from 24 homes in the area. “Because temperature and other seasonal changes can impact the movement of TCE vapors, quarterly indoor air sampling was/is being conducted to ensure TCE concentrations are below certain levels in each season before the indoor air is determined to be protective of human health.”

According to DNR’s results from that investigation, 20 homes were completely tested (four homes still remain under investigation). Of those 20 homes, two required mitigation system installation because of TCE vapors at concerning levels.

Here’s what Modine said about it’s use of TCE, “"While Modine has not operated in Camdenton since 2012, we greatly value the relationships we established during our time in the community. Although Modine never used Trichloroethylene (TCE) at Camdenton after acquiring the facility in 1990, we are committed to helping the community achieve peace of mind. That is why we continue to cooperate fully with and support the work of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as it addresses TCE in Camdenton."

The investigation is ongoing.

Hulett Lagoon/Mulberry Well

The City of Camdenton operated the Hulett Lagoon from 1961 to 1989. According to DNR, during this span of time, this lagoon received wastewater with TCE from the Sunset Drive facility.

Hancock admitted the well ran again in February 1999, after it was taken offline.

He also said, “Because the levels were beginning to move up, the city built a brand new well and closed Mulberry Well.”

Not according to DNR documents.

DNR said, “In February 1998, TCE above the drinking-water standard was detected in the Mulberry Well, located about 600 feet southeast of the Sunset Drive facility and 1,000 feet south of the former Hulett Lagoon. Due to the TCE contamination, the city officially took the Mulberry Well offline in January 1999. The Mulberry Well is no longer connected to the city's water supply system and is not used for drinking water." 

“The city currently operates the well to remove TCE from the groundwater and contain the spread of contamination. The department regularly tests the public water system that provides drinking water to this area and has not detected TCE concentrations in excess of health standards,” DNR added.

DNR found TCE above the drinking-water standard in February 1998, but the city didn’t take the well offline until January 1999. 13 months. KOMU 8 News asked the city why it waited 13 months to stop using the Mulberry Well. 

DNR also found TCE in the soil and groundwater in and around the Hulett Lagoon in 1998 and 1999. However, DNR states the TCE that was in the soil at the time was limited to the area “within the footprint of the former lagoon.”

Once again, DNR said they plan to conduct further investigations. 

“The city will continue pumping the Mulberry Well to extract and treat groundwater in the area. Further investigations will be conducted to determine whether the contamination poses risks to human health or the environment and to identify long-term cleanup options,” DNR added. 

A 2003 investigation found TCE and DCE concentrations above detection limits, “in one soil boring at about 9 feet below ground surface.” It also found, “Laboratory analysis identified TCE and DCE in several monitoring wells above detection limits.”

However, that same investigation also states, “based upon the presence of impacted soils in very limited, isolated areas, the minimal potential exposure to humans…leaching into groundwater at levels above regulatory limits, the need for soil remedial activities does not appear to be warranted.”

So, nothing was done to fix the TCE in the soil, but DNR says, once again, the investigation is ongoing.

Dawson Metal Products Camdenton Facility #2 Site

Sunset Drive initially housed Dawson Metal Products, but there was a fire in 1972 that forced them to temporarily relocate to another building in Camdenton. DNR said this building was known as the Cox building; it is located at 1225 US Highway 54 in Camdenton.

In October 2017, DNR found TCE in 14 of the 23 soil samples it collected. It said surface exposure does not pose any risk to human health. DNR said it will conduct further sampling to understand the full extent of the contamination.

During the same time frame, DNR also investigated the air surrounding and inside the facility. TCE was not detected in the outdoor air. TCE was detected in several of the indoor air samples. Indoor air samples do not exceed “health-based action levels.”

An Associated Press story that was printed during the time the Dawson Manufacturing Company owned the plant said, “A fire started at the Camdenton plant of the Dawson Manufacturing Company about midnight yesterday and several hundred persons were evacuated from the area because of the threat of poisonous gas from the fire. Authorities said the threat was caused by the burning of trichloroethylene at the plant, which produces air-conditioner parts.”

“In the summer of 72 is when we had the fire.” Rogers said. “I was working the night of the fire… after that night we spent a week cleaning up the Sunset Drive to the best of our ability.”

Rogers said employees cleaned using TCE without any protective gear.

At the new building, a former employee admitted to improperly disposing of the sludge waste and “just dumping it out the back door” when he worked there.

Rogers said after the fire, “We moved part of our operation over to, what’s being called by DNR, site #2. Over at that facility we took care of the final clean and pack out of assemblies that we sent to Chrysler, but we had no degreaser to degrease the parts, so what we did was split a 55 gallon barrel in half and filled a half of a barrel with cold trichlor and that became out first rinse and final rinse.”

Rogers also said the barrels were dumped out the back door, “on a daily basis, shift-ly basis. We brought the chemicals in one door and dumped them out the back door.”

Rogers said. “We cleaned those (Chrysler) parts by hand and we also had no ventilation system in that facility.”

DNR said, it “conducted sampling during the first week of October 2017. The department sampled soil, indoor air, sub-slab vapor, springs and private drinking water wells to determine whether past disposal activities pose risks to human health or the environment. The department will update the public about this investigation once results are finalized.”

Once again, the investigation is ongoing.

Camdenton Sludge Disposal Area Site 

According to DNR, The City of Camdenton closed Hulett Lagoon in 1999, and the city said it got rid of the sludge at the Camdenton Memorial Airport. The city said it had permission to do this through a permitted land application. 

DNR stated, “The department conducted an investigation in 1999 and did not detect TCE in soil or sludge samples or in water samples from three private wells in the area.”

DNR said it received concerns from citizens about this site and the possibility of other sites as well where the sludge was dumped. DNR said it has not found any other sludge disposal sites from the Hulett Lagoon.

“As a measure of caution, the department sampled additional private drinking water wells within one-half mile of the sludge disposal area during the first week in October 2017. The department will update the public about this investigation once results are finalized,” DNR added.

Once again, the investigation is ongoing.

Health Concerns

According to DNR, “Long-term exposure to TCE can cause potential effects to the immune system and potential increased risk for certain cancers such as kidney, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and liver.”

The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry said short-term exposure to TCE can cause headaches, dizziness and sleepiness. Large amounts can cause coma and death.

The city administrator was unaware of the health effects from TCE. “But the city is concerned of the health and well-being of all our citizens of Camdenton,” Hancock said.

“Trichlor headaches were unreal, so we tried to keep as fresh air as we could,” Rogers said. “I’ve seen fellows rub it up and down their arms, and it will kill poison ivy, let me tell you.”

“Some people who breathe high levels of trichloroethylene may develop damage to some of the nerves in the face. Other effects seen in people exposed to high levels of trichloroethylene include evidence of nervous system effects related to hearing, seeing, and balance, changes in the rhythm of the heartbeat, liver damage and evidence of kidney damage,” the agency said.

This hits home for one Camdenton resident. James Gohagan owns a home in Camdenton with his wife, Andrea, and their toddler son James. He says his wife was diagnosed with Lupus after moving to Camdenton.

Gohagan said after they moved to Camdenton, “she had a noticeable drop in energy, especially on rainy days. Those were once our favorite days to hang out and watch movies, but those days were hard for her to get out of bed, thought it might have been a postpartum deal after we had my son for the longest time, then when she started getting a rash on her forehead and got diagnosed with lupus, it was odd because there was no auto immune diseases on ether side of her family.”

After living in Camdenton for seven years, he started looking for answers. “I started digging around, and causes for lupus. My dad worked at Modine for 30 years and he had told stories about them dumping and burying that stuff (TCE) on the parking lot.”


More than 300 signatures are on an online petition waiting for the next step. People from all over the world are writing their stories or their loved ones’ stories explaining how they believe TCE in Camdenton impacted their families.

“My Dad worked for Dawson. Sundstrand... Modine and passed away with Cancer!! I believe this company should have to pay for the lives they destroyed and the lives that are in danger!” - Sandy Shivers of St. Louis.

“Trichloroethylene began affecting our community years ago with many health issues that were shoved under the rug. My daughter got Aplastic Anemia from only drinking water in 1997-98 without being notified it was in our water.” – Rusha Johnson of Orlando.

“I believe there is so much more to this story. Why has taken 20 years to start taking care of this situation? The public needs to know what has happened.” – Joyce Thompson of Lake Ozark.

And there are 75 more comments with similar stories and concerns.

What Happens Now

DNR formed an advisory team, which it describes as a, “community-led team designed to provide a public forum to present and discuss the community’s needs and concerns related to the sites.” James Gohagan and Jerry Rogers were two of the seven selected members to join the team.

Now, it appears to be a waiting game for DNR’s investigation results.

Despite the continued number of investigations, Hancock said, “From the city’s water situation, there isn’t a concern and DNR says there isn’t a concern, period.”

Many residents, former employees and family members have lawyers assisting them with this case.

“I’ve been trying to reach out and get people in so that we can build a legitimate case, which I think we have, but you never know when is enough,” Rogers said. “In order to get our severance we had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so I’ve been told non-disclosure agreements brought on by extortion are not really enforceable, but I think there are people afraid that if they say anything, are going to get in trouble.”

As for Rogers, he still has a lot of questions and puzzle pieces to collect about how the contamination has spread and how it was cleaned.

“Was it done correctly? Are there locations that we don’t even know about? That’s part of the reason that we’ve put this committee together is so we can hunt people and make calls.” Rogers said. “It’s kind of like putting together a big jigsaw puzzle, everybody’s got a little piece and until you get enough people together, you can’t see how bad it really is.”


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TARGET 8: Hundreds wait in jail as public defenders struggle with caseloads http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-hundreds-wait-in-jail-as-public-defenders-struggle-with-caseloads/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-hundreds-wait-in-jail-as-public-defenders-struggle-with-caseloads/ Target 8 Wed, 13 Dec 2017 1:37:07 PM Sarah Trott, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Hundreds wait in jail as public defenders struggle with caseloads

JEFFERSON CITY - Many people accused of crimes are languishing in county jails as the Missouri State Public Defender System struggles to get through cases.

Missouri has 376 public defenders who take on more than 85,000 cases a year. They represent suspects who cannot afford a private attorney or to pay bond.

Justin Carver serves Cole, Miller and Moniteau counties. He’s been in the public defender's office for 15 years and said the system “has always been bad, it’s just degrees of bad.”

Carver has filed nearly 200 motions this year to decline or withdraw from the influx of cases to his staff of attorneys, but circuit judges have been denying his requests.

Missouri ranks 49th in funding for state public defenders, according to the ACLU. The system receives less than half of one percent of appropriations compared to all other state departments.

Despite working overtime and on the weekends, Carver said, “I literally need twice the number of lawyers I’ve got. I mean, I can’t make twice the number of hours in the day."

Just this year, his office had nearly 200 applicants for public defender services. At one time, Carver had 268 open cases assigned to him at once.

To ease the burden, private attorneys are required at times to take on public cases without compensation. Jefferson City lawyer Scott Evans is one of many lawyers in the area asked to take on cases for free. He said this system isn't a long-term fix.

"I don't see appointing private counsel as the solution because it's just shifting the liability from the public defender's office to the private bar," he said.

While Carver balances his time sifting through casework, responding to clients and preparing legal work, many of his clients remain in county jail.

“There are people stuck in jail right now without a lawyer. If I were their father, brother, mother, I would be furious because it’s horribly unfair. The state is supposed to provide a lawyer to these people and the state is completely falling down on its responsibility,” he said.

The ACLU is currently suing the Missouri State Public Defender System. Its lead plaintiff, who it claims had a "winnable case," spent 42 days in jail before meeting with his public defender. 

The American Bar Association requires “lawyers provide competent representation” and “control workload so each matter can be handled competently.” However, Carver’s requests to decline or withdraw from cases has added to the backlog of casework.

Both public and private attorneys are at risk of disciplinary action or having their bar license revoked for not providing enough attention to each case.

“The legal standard for competence means, not just the knowledge and skill, but also includes the preparation and right now, I don’t have any time to prepare my cases,” he said.

Carver also cited retention issues with employees who burn out in the public defender system.

Carver said the enormous backlog of work raises ethical questions because clients are not getting a fair and speedy trial.

"The speedy trial right exists on paper, it's not being enforced by the courts," he said.

A report from Rubin Brown, an independent consultant, shows public defenders in Missouri aren't giving enough time to ethically represent clients. In their 2014 study called The Missouri Project, it found defenders were spending less than half the time required on some cases.

Based on statistical averages, sex felony cases should take 63 hours of time to complete, but public defenders were dedicating only 25 hours of their time, the report found.

Another independent consultant, The Spangenberg Group, concluded "for close to a decade the MSPD has received no substantial increase in appropriations" and "each day in Missouri, the state places the lives of poor citizens into the hands of attorneys who are underpaid, overworked, and badly supervised."

This fall, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled public defenders hoping to ease their caseloads must get the permission of circuit judges in order to lessen the amount of assignments.

In 2013, legislation voided the Public Defender Commission's excessive caseload rule. The new procedure requires judicial approval for public defenders to turn away an excess of cases.

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TARGET 8: Columbia drivers concerned about number of crashes on one road http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-columbia-drivers-concerned-about-number-of-crashes-on-one-road/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-columbia-drivers-concerned-about-number-of-crashes-on-one-road/ Target 8 Mon, 4 Dec 2017 6:51:12 PM Char'Nese Turner, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Columbia drivers concerned about number of crashes on one road

COLUMBIA - Azaria Foster did not anticipate her experience at MU would begin on such a traumatic start. She was riding down Rock Quarry Road at dusk when the unexpected happened. 

"It was my first day here actually at Mizzou last year. My roommate at the time and I were going back to campus. We got on from the Grindstone end of it, and within 10 seconds of being on the road, our car was flipped over," Foster said. 

The car hit a pole and tumbled three times before stopping near a cliff. Foster and the driver walked away with minor injuries. 

"I had major anxiety coming back to school. I brought my car this semester, and I didn't take Rock Quarry Road for the longest because it’s nerve wracking," Foster said. "If the sun’s setting you won't see me near Rock Quarry Road just because I prefer not. I know that it’s going to be really dangerous for me."

Richard Stone, Engineering Manager for Columbia Public Works, said the city does not deem that road, or any road, dangerous. 

"We don't use the term dangerous. Sometimes when we are looking at roads we consider some concern if we notice a pattern of collision," he said. "But driving, the actual process of driving can be dangerous if they don't obey speed limits, distracted driving, that kind of behavior, can lead to dangerous outcomes, but the roadway itself is a roadway."

KOMU 8 News obtained crash data from the Missouri State Highway Patrol. After analyzing the numbers, we found there were 94 crashes along Rock Quarry Road in nearly four years and a total of 51 injuries. 

The data also suggested these crashes are not all happening on weekend nights. Most are occurring in daylight on weekdays. 

Brooke Wiggins is also concerned about the visibility of the road following her accident two years ago.

"I knew that I had two cars in front of me. When I went around this turn I couldn't see anything besides basically what was on the left side of the road," Wiggins said. "I slowed down to go around the turn, and low and behold they were stopped up into the turn. I hit the car in front of me, and they hit the car in front of them." 

Wiggins said she believes more proactive measures to improve the road are needed.

"I think if we had those blinking lights that said ‘be prepared to stop’ and they were activated if someone stopped at a certain point that would help tremendously," she said. "The trees are a problem also. The trees are beautiful, but if I can’t see around a curve to see the person in front of me then the trees aren’t pretty anymore."

Foster said, "I think it would be very beneficial to have rails on each side so that if something does occur someone’s car is not going off the side of the cliff. Street lights would help for sure." 

Stone said the city's goal is to keep drivers on the road, but that is a hard task because Rock Quarry is not up to city standards. 

"The number one thing we want to do is keep people on the road, and if that doesn’t work and they do run off the road we want to make sure that they have the ability to correct the situation without a poor outcome, some sort of collision," Stone said. "Rock Quarry from that perspective is not as good as other roads that have been improved over time. That road has not been built to current city standards."

City street standards were last updated and adopted in 2004. The design standards include specifications bikeways, sidewalks, arterial streets, residential streets, non-residential streets, and collector streets. 

The standards state roadways "must balance the conflicting goals of traffic movement and access to land. Arterials are primarily for the movement of through traffic; collectors provide equal attention to land access and through traffic; and local streets provide access to individual parcels of land at the expense of through traffic."

Rock Quarry Road is classified as a Major Collector in the CATSO/City Major Roadway Plan.

Stone said Rock Quarry Road is substandard because the current road was constructed before the current street standards.

He said improving the road would come with a cost the city is not able to pay at this time.

"There’s no funding set aside for any kind of improvements to Rock Quarry Road. And there's currently no specific issues about the roadway that we are examining to change," he said. 

If directed by the city council the city could make small physical changes to the road. 

"We can also do some surface treatments that will provide a little bit better gripping surface for tires. That is an option that might be pursued in the future if we get directed to do that," Stone said.

The city is currently working on roads specified in the 2015 Capital Improvement Project. Rock Quarry Road is not on that list. 

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TARGET 8: Racist property covenants still on the books in Boone County http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-racist-property-covenants-still-on-the-books-in-boone-county/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-racist-property-covenants-still-on-the-books-in-boone-county/ Target 8 Wed, 6 Dec 2017 11:37:56 AM Stephanie Sandoval, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Racist property covenants still on the books in Boone County

COLUMBIA - Property restrictions based on race and ethnicity are not a thing of the past. In fact, they can still be found today, including in Boone County, even though they've been unenforceable for decades.

KOMU 8 News dug through property records in the county recorder's office to find this type of covenant still on the record today. After spending days in the office, Target 8 identified 11 covenants that specifically stated black people are not allowed to live in certain communities.

Once KOMU 8 News found the covenants, we found other people working on the same research. One city councilman has even taken steps to talk about it in the community. He said understanding the current context of racism needs to start with looking at history, including things like race restrictive property covenants. 

MU librarian collecting restrictive deeds

Rachel Brekhus, a librarian at Ellis Library, is digging deep into America’s past to a time when certain property could not be sold to African Americans. It's part of a tedious project she's working on, documenting racially restrictive deeds in Boone County.

“It was part of owning their house,” Brekhus said. “They had to agree, you know, not to build such and such on the side of their house, and they had to agree not to make certain changes on the building and they had to agree not to sell to black people.”

Her goal is to develop a data set so historians, and people interested, can have something accessible and easy to work with — and she's looking for volunteers. 

She and a student have found over 80 restrictive deeds so far from areas like the Grasslands subdivision, Bateman Place addition and Western Heights addition. 

The exact language used can vary from deed to deed. 

“I'm finding some where it says, 'not of the white race,' sometimes it will say like 'specifically of the Negro race,'” Brekhus said. “It will sometimes say, 'not of the Caucasian race,' sometimes the word race is capitalized, sometimes it isn't. It’s a little bit all over the place.”

Some of the land was owned by key public figures in Columbia like James S. Rollins and John A. Stewart, who both have streets and other noteworthy landmarks like parks and buildings named after them. 

Brekhus found one restriction between Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and the Stewart family. 

“This one was unusual in several ways,” Brekhus said. “It was the only one I've seen so far where the racial part of it talks about the Negro or Jewish race. It was also the only one that disallowed these people from enjoying the property.” 

In 1948, a US Supreme Court case, Shelley v. Kraemer, made it so restrictions based on race were unenforceable. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 made them illegal.

“There’s city racism, there’s institutionalized, legalized racism that affects people even today, even though these things are completely unenforceable and have been since 1948 and actually the practice is all over the country.”

Removing restrictions 

In order to change the restrictions that are filed, a landowner would have to gather signatures from a majority of the homeowners on the land. Nora Dietzel, Boone County Recorder of Deeds, said a new document would need to be drawn up by either the person wanting the change or the homeowner’s association.

“They would have to have a majority of the landowners sign off on that, and then that would be filed here in my office also and it would take precedence over the older document,” Dietzel said.

The documents are not prepared in her office, only filed after being completed. 

“It’s a very quick process for us to record that and put it on record and we immediately hand it back to the person that filed it and it’s a done deal,” Dietzel said. 

Systemic Racism

Columbia City Councilman Ian Thomas is sparking a conversation about race through his new newsletter series: Poverty and Racism. It’s a three part series. 

“I think a lot of people feel that since the Civil War in the United States of America, we have kind of gone beyond that and everything’s pretty much level now. But it really isn't,” Thomas said. 

He’s also hosting “Constituent Conversations” at Dunn Brothers Coffee. He’s hoping the conversation will lead to suggestions for addressing poverty and racism in Columbia. He’s asking questions like "Why is race such a significant predictor of poverty?" and "What is race?"

“The reason why I'm interested in writing about racism and poverty is that I think there are a lot of misconceptions about it, and I think there’s a lot of lack of knowledge about the history of racism in particular,” Thomas said.

“People who don't even end up or start out wanting to be racist find themselves enmeshed in a system that is racist,” Brekhus said.

In his newsletter, Thomas also argues systemic racism “creates the environment for economic injustice.” 

“It’s because there were systematic forces particularly in the 1950s and the 1960s regarding access to housing and access to the wealth building process of owning a house that were available to whites and not available to blacks,” Thomas said. 

He said the first step to fixing the problem is by understanding the history. 

“The fact is that there is a history of white people dominating other races and creating the unbalanced playing field that we have right now,” Thomas said. “And we need to understand it, and then we need to create a vision of a truly equitable society that does not discriminate.”

Melody Cox and Ethan Stein contributed to the research of this story.  

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TARGET 8: Nine counties without a hospital in mid-Missouri http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-nine-counties-without-a-hospital-in-mid-missouri/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-nine-counties-without-a-hospital-in-mid-missouri/ Target 8 Wed, 6 Dec 2017 1:25:26 AM Danielle Katz, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Nine counties without a hospital in mid-Missouri

MORGAN COUNTY - KOMU 8 News mapped out all of the hospitals and ambulance bases in mid-Missouri and found that nine counties in our viewing area do not have a hospital. KOMU 8 then mapped out driving directions using Google Maps and found numerous cities and towns that are at least 25 minutes away from the closest hospital. Even though ambulances can legally drive faster than the speed limit, on many of the roads in rural Missouri, that's not possible.

The following Google Map also lists information on how many beds are in each hospital and if the Department of Health Senior Services considers it as critical access, meaning it meets criteria for protection by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The nine counties without hospitals are:

  • Chariton County
  • Howard County
  • Miller County
  • Maries County
  • Moniteau County
  • Monroe County
  • Montgomery County
  • Morgan County
  • Osage County

These cities and towns KOMU 8 News mapped out are among those more than 25 minutes away from the nearest hospital:

  • Fayette- 27 minutes
  • Salisbury- 28 minutes
  • Paris- 30 minutes
  • Vienna- 30 minutes
  • Tipton- 31 minutes
  • Tuscumbia- 31 minutes
  • Belle- 32 minutes
  • Owensville- 34 minutes
  • Glasgow- 35 minutes
  • Stover- 36 minutes
  • Versailles- 44 minutes

In an emergency, minutes matter. The American Stroke Association said patients should get a CT scan within 25 minutes of initial symptoms. Lee Kempf, Mid-Mo Ambulance District administrator, said he knows this is not possible for his area, which covers two counties, Morgan and Moniteau.

“Anything that you can think of that, ‘Boy I think an ambulance should be there in 10 minutes,’ is just not going to happen when you’re that far away from people,” Kempf said.

He has worked in these counties for more than 20 years, so he understands that some people want to live away from the “rat race” of the cities.

“People have a tendency to like to be off the beaten path so that they have nothing but nature around them,” he said.

'There's no way we're going to get there in time'

But being so deep in nature can come with a consequence.

“If someone calls and says, ‘I don’t think my husband’s breathing.’ If they truly aren’t breathing, there’s no way we’re going to get there in time to do anything,” Kempf said.

Road conditions can make the distance worse, according to Kempf. Privately maintained roads, mud, snow and ice all pose a challenge.

“Those roads are sometimes virtually impassable,” he said. “You can have all the care in the world, and you don’t have the ability to get somewhere, it doesn’t matter.”

Ivy Bend, a town in Morgan County, can be up to an hour away from the closest hospital, Lake Regional Hospital. Kempf said his district answers multiple calls a week there, which can increase response times for other calls because of the total time it takes to answer.

“If we’re deep in Ivy Bend, the total time from the time we get the call until the time we get back in services is around two and a half hours,” Kempf said.

Jesse Jackson, who lives in Versailles, said he would most likely go to his local doctor if he was in a life-or-death emergency.

“If I was having a heart attack or a stroke or something, I would want to get somewhere quickly,” Jackson said.

He said he would ask his doctor to get a medical helicopter or whatever she needed to keep him alive because she lives 10 miles away from his house.

District concerned about future of its ambulance service

Kempf has two ambulances in Morgan County and two in Moniteau County. This number has not changed in his 20 years at the district, even though the number of calls has increased.

“When I first came here, we had four ambulances and we responded to a total of a thousand calls district-wide the first year I was here,” Kempf said. “We now respond to about 32, 33 hundred calls with the same number of ambulances.”

He said his district’s $3 million budget is tight because he operates with a $60,000 reserve and has to replace an ambulance each year. He is concerned about having to cut an ambulance in the future because of the cost of replacing one.

“If we don’t stay ahead of it, somehow, someway… that’s just something I don’t even want to think about,” he said.

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