KOMU.com https://www.komu.com/ KOMU.com News News en-us Copyright 2019, KOMU.com. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Thu, 17 Oct 2019 HH:10:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 KOMU.com https://www.komu.com/ 144 25 Man ordered to repay settlement from jail injury lawsuit https://www.komu.com/news/man-ordered-to-repay-settlement-from-jail-injury-lawsuit/ https://www.komu.com/news/man-ordered-to-repay-settlement-from-jail-injury-lawsuit/ News Thu, 17 Oct 2019 12:50:00 PM The Associated Press Man ordered to repay settlement from jail injury lawsuit

COLUMBIA (AP) — A judge has ordered a man to repay most of a $2 million settlement he received after claiming he was injured while he was an inmate at the Boone County jail.

U.S. District Judge Nanette Kay Laughrey this month found Derrick Houston committed fraud to obtain the settlement. He was ordered him to replay almost $1.3 million, to stop spending the money and to pay the county's legal costs.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports Houston claimed in 2016 that he was left permanently paralyzed after suffering a fractured vertebrae in jail. A magistrate judge found the county's insurer, the Missouri Public Entity Risk Management Fund, felt forced to make a quick decision to settle the lawsuit.

Five days after receiving the settlement, Houston was seen walking unassisted while causing a disturbance at a Columbia hotel.

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Rep. Elijah Cummings, key figure in Trump investigations, dies at 68 https://www.komu.com/news/rep-elijah-cummings-key-figure-in-trump-investigations-dies-at-68/ https://www.komu.com/news/rep-elijah-cummings-key-figure-in-trump-investigations-dies-at-68/ News Thu, 17 Oct 2019 10:04:01 AM Clare Foran and Manu Raju, CNN Rep. Elijah Cummings, key figure in Trump investigations, dies at 68

(CNN) -- Rep. Elijah Cummings, a longtime Maryland Democrat and key figure leading investigations into President Donald Trump, has died at age 68, his office announced early Thursday morning.

He died of "complications concerning longstanding health challenges," his office said in a statement.

The congressman, who had represented Maryland's 7th Congressional District since 1996, served as the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, one of the panels involved in the impeachment inquiry of Trump.

He oversaw a range of investigations into the Trump administration, from issues relating to the impeachment inquiry to the treatment of migrants at the southern border to the use of personal email for official use by White House officials to how a citizenship question was considered for the US census.

And it was his committee that grilled Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in a blockbuster hearing this past February.

It was not immediately clear who will succeed Cummings as chairman of the Oversight Committee or how his passing will affect the swirling impeachment investigation into Trump. The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee will nominate a new chairman to fill the vacancy before the full House votes to confirm the pick. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have a major say on who the next chair will be.

Cummings had been in failing health in recent weeks. He had been in and out of the hospital, missing votes and business in his committee. He was spotted several times with a breathing tube in his nose connected to oxygen while sitting on the House floor. When speaking to reporters, he would have to wait for 15 to 20 seconds or so to catch his breath before speaking. He would drive around on a motorized wheelchair through the Capitol and then walk in using a walker.

Although he was chairman of the Oversight Committee, he had not been in command of the investigations on his panel. His staff did a lion's share of the work and his staff has been helping lead the charge in the impeachment inquiry.

Prominent Trump critic

As he has led the investigative efforts, Cummings also clashed publicly with the President. Over the summer, Trump tweeted disparaging remarks toward Cummings and his Maryland district, which includes much of Baltimore, calling the majority black district a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess."

Responding to some of the President's tweets -- in which Trump suggested the congressman needed to spend more time fixing his district -- Cummings said on Twitter: "Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents."

Trump's first reaction to Cummings' death came in a tweet Thursday morning in which he wished his "warmest condolences."

"I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!" Trump tweeted.

Trump and Cummings did not always disagree. More than two years ago, Cummings emerged from a White House meeting with Trump and told reporters that the two men had found common ground on their shared interest in lowering drug prices.

At the time, Cummings also said he urged the President to rethink his language on African American communities after Trump repeatedly painted a grim picture of inner-city life on the campaign trail.

"I want you to realize that all African American communities are not places of depression and where people are being harmed," Cummings told reporters, recalling his conversation with Trump. "When we hear those words about carnage and we are living in depressed situations, I told him it was very hurtful."

In another high-profile moment earlier this year, Cummings stood up for Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, one of the President's closest allies and staunchest defenders in Congress, in the face of accusations of racism. The chairman referred to Meadows as one of his "best friends." When Meadows learned of Cummings' passing Thursday, he said he was "truly heartbroken."

"I have no other words to express the loss," he told CNN's Dana Bash.

Leading African American voice on Capitol Hill

Cummings, who grew up during the Civil Rights Movement, had become a leading voice among African American lawmakers on Capitol Hill at the time of his passing, and his death triggered an outpouring of grief from his colleagues.

"He spoke truth to power, defended the disenfranchised and represented West Baltimore with strength and dignity," Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, House Democratic caucus chairman and a fellow member of the Congressional Black Caucus, tweeted Thursday morning. "Congress has lost a Champion. Heaven has gained an Angel of Justice. May he forever #RestInPower."

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler called Cummings a "giant of public service," and Sen. Ben Cardin said his fellow Marylander "guaranteed a voice to so many who would otherwise not have one."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz told CNN's John Berman on "New Day" that Cummings was "a mentor and someone who in every situation would do the right thing, would put his community and the cause above everything else. Including himself."

The Florida Democrat said watching Cummings continue with his duties despite his health struggles was inspirational.

"We'll walk in his shadow, in his shoes that will never be filled," she said.

Veteran of Civil Rights Movement

Earlier this year, Cummings discussed how, even at a young age, he faced racial violence in trying to integrate parts of his neighborhood.

"We were trying to integrate an Olympic-size pool near my house, and we had been constrained to a wading pool in the black community," Cummings told ABC's "This Week" in July. "As we tried to march to that pool over six days, I was beaten, all kinds of rocks and bottles thrown at me."

Cummings said Trump's racist remarks against four minority members of Congress echoed the same insults he heard as a 12-year-old boy in 1962, which he said were "very painful."

"The interesting thing is that I heard the same chants. 'Go home. You don't belong here,' " he told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. "And they called us the N-word over and over again."

Cummings was born and raised in Baltimore -- the city that is home to his district. The son of former sharecroppers, Cummings was born in 1951 and graduated from Baltimore City College High School in 1969.

He practiced law and served for 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates, where, according to his congressional website, he became the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tem.

In 1996, he was first elected to the US Congress. Cummings was reelected last year in the 7th Congressional District with 76% of the vote.

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Jefferson City church to host climate change discussion https://www.komu.com/news/jefferson-city-church-to-host-climate-change-discussion/ https://www.komu.com/news/jefferson-city-church-to-host-climate-change-discussion/ News Thu, 17 Oct 2019 12:03:36 AM John Pottebaum, KOMU 8 Reporter Jefferson City church to host climate change discussion

JEFFERSON CITY - Immaculate Conception Catholic Parish's discussion panel will center on the "Faith Response to Climate Change."

The event will revolve around Pope Francis' stance on climate change. The Pope said the issue relates to "every person living on this planet."

One event organizer said this makes it a pro-life issue.

"This is an issue that affects all life," Jim Kemna said. "Animal, human, around the world. And will be affecting all life in the future."

The event will begin with a presentation by Dr. Jack Fishman, a professor of Meteorology from Saint Louis University.

This will be followed by a response by Mike Hoey on how Dr. Fishman's presentation relates to Catholic teaching. Hoey is the former Director of the Missouri Catholic Conference.

"It is a fairly complicated and involved presentation that they are going to have," Kemna said.

Kemna added that living in Missouri causes people to not experience the impact of climate change as heavily as other places, but that education can help bridge the gap.

"If they hear a little bit more and see a little bit more of what is involved here, I think they will begin to see this is a pro-life issue," Kemna said.

The event will be held at Jefferson City's Immaculate Conception Catholic Church starting at 6:30 p.m. Organizers are expecting 30 to 40 people to attend, however they said they would love to have more.

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Callaway County considers Prop 1 & 2 ahead of Nov. election https://www.komu.com/news/callaway-county-considers-prop-1-and-2-ahead-of-nov-election/ https://www.komu.com/news/callaway-county-considers-prop-1-and-2-ahead-of-nov-election/ News Wed, 16 Oct 2019 10:43:19 PM James Stanley, KOMU 8 News Reporter Callaway County considers Prop 1 & 2 ahead of Nov. election

FULTON –  Callaway County has existed for nearly 200 years without taxes that support law enforcement or the county judicial system. That could change during the county election on Nov. 5.

"We never have had any type of law enforcement or judicial-specific sales tax," Callaway County Sheriff Clay Chism said. "These two propositions cover all aspects of the criminal justice system in Callaway County."

Callaway County has scheduled two public forums to field questions and educate county residents before election day.

The first meeting is scheduled for Thursday at the Holts Summit Municipal Court Building, located at 213 S. Summit Dr. at 6 p.m.

The second forum will take place next Thursday in Fulton at 54 Country on Gaylord Drive.

Proposition 1 would provide funding to increase the number of deputies on patrol, investigators, corrections officers, assistant prosecutors and support staff while raising the pay for Callaway County law enforcement to a rate competitive with surrounding counties.

The sheriff told KOMU 8 News, on some overnight shifts, there are only two sheriff deputies to cover the 842 square miles in Callaway County.

According to the sheriff's office, during those same shifts, Holts Summit and Fulton have the same number of police officers on patrol to cover their cities which are only a mile wide.

Chism said more deputies would mean better safety for the sheriff's department and Callaway County residents, as well as better response time to calls.

"It’s not only a community safety issue, but it's an officer safety issue," he said. "There's many calls those two deputies are handling that there should be four or five deputies going to, especially any type of call that involves weapons."

Proposition 2's funding would be used to construct a new Callaway County justice center and expand the Callaway County Law Enforcement Center.

The jail is 30 years old and on any given night may hold five to 10 more detainees than its designed capacity.

Chism is hopeful the new law enforcement center would last longer than the old jail.

"I have had extensive conversations with the architects that are involved in this," Chism said. "My number one request has [been] it needs to be built to where it can be expanded later."

He said it's a matter of posterity.

"I don’t want the next sheriff 30 years from now scratching his head trying to figure out some of the things I have had to figure out as sheriff now," Chism said.

The 80-year-old courthouse's few courtrooms and narrow halls, some of which are no more than 6-feet wide, put domestic violence victims in close proximity to their abusers while awaiting a hearing.

In an informational YouTube video published by Callaway County about the propositions, Judge Sue Crane of the 13th Judicial Circuit in Missouri cited an instance where an attorney compared the cramped conditions in the courthouse to "running a gauntlet" for his client.

The limited number of courtrooms has also led to the cancellation of court hearings.

Each proposition adds half a percent each to the current county tax rate of 5.725% which, according to county officials, is one of the lowest sales tax rates in the state.

The benefit of using a sales tax versus a property or income tax to fund the propositions is a large portion of the burden will be shouldered by non-Callaway County residents.

Three of Missouri's most traveled roadways in I-70, Highway 54 and Highway 63 run through Callaway County which brings travelers who spend money inside county lines.

"Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% of the sales tax money that is created in Callaway County is created by people that do not live in Callaway County," Callaway County Commissioner Gary Jungermann said.

According to Callaway County officials, the increased number of travelers inherently means an increase in the number of people breaking the law and getting arrested, which makes up around 40% of those held in the county jail.

Jungermann continued, "The people we're housing in our jail, we firmly believe, need to help pay for their stays here in Callaway County."

County officials said both propositions need to pass in order to be effective in fully supporting Callaway County law enforcement and the judicial system.

In addition to the forums, officials have encouraged the public to call the county commission at (573) 642-0737 for more information on the propositions.

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NOAA says our planet just tied 2015 for the hottest September on record https://www.komu.com/news/noaa-says-our-planet-just-tied-2015-for-the-hottest-september-on-record/ https://www.komu.com/news/noaa-says-our-planet-just-tied-2015-for-the-hottest-september-on-record/ News Wed, 16 Oct 2019 9:49:00 PM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist NOAA says our planet just tied 2015 for the hottest September on record

COLUMBIA - On Wednesday morning the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released an update to global land and ocean temperatures for 2019, now including their data from September. Here are some of the main points from NOAA:

  • The September temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.71°F above the 20th century average of 59.0°F (tied with 2015).
  • The 10 warmest Septembers have all occurred since 2005, with the last five years (2015-2019) having the five warmest Septembers on record.
  • September 2019 also marks the 43rd consecutive September and the 417th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average.
  • The year-to-date temperature (Jan-Sep) across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.69°F above the 20th century average of 57.5°F. Only January-September 2016 was warmer (+1.91°F). 
  • The U.S. had its second warmest September on record, but combining the data with the rest of the continent indicates that North America had its warmest September on record.


Of course, September 2019 in Columbia, MO tied 1897 as the hottest on record. 

Currently 2019 is battling 2016 for the hottest year on record, with 3 months to go.


This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.

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Vape store owner speaks out after Parson announces 'Clean the Air' campaign https://www.komu.com/news/vape-store-owner-speaks-out-after-parson-announces-clean-the-air-campaign/ https://www.komu.com/news/vape-store-owner-speaks-out-after-parson-announces-clean-the-air-campaign/ News Wed, 16 Oct 2019 9:11:35 PM Austin Walker, KOMU 8 Reporter and Marisa Rios, KOMU 8 Digital Reporter Vape store owner speaks out after Parson announces 'Clean the Air' campaign

MEXICO – A vape business owner defended their products after Governor Mike Parson released his ‘Clean the Air’ campaign Tuesday. The campaign is intended to ensure all youth and those who supply them with these products understand the real risks identified with youth vaping.

But, Anchor Vape Lounge co-owner Rachel Lake said people are buying THC cartridges and pods from drug dealers, putting these on their vaping devices or JUULs. She said THC cartridges and pods are causing the epidemic.

The CDC said as of October 4th there have been 22 cases of vaping related illnesses in Missouri. This includes one death.

"People are misusing vape pen batteries that are intended for nicotine vape products to put their illegal THC cartridges on to," Lake said.

Lake said people have been misinformed about what is causing the deaths in young teens. Her revenue has gone down in the last four weeks.

“On a normal day, it is about $1,000 a day. I have about $100 in the register today,” Lake said.

Lake said she only sells vaping devices, no JUUL products. Lake said vaping devices and JUULs are often put in the same category, but they are different. 

“They want to attack something they don’t know anything about,” Lake said, referring to the vaping devices. “Nicotine in E-Liquids is not killing anybody.” 

Customer James Williams said his lungs collapsed in an accident, causing him to quit his smoking habit. Williams turned to vaping devices because he said it was a safer option.

“If people don’t have the option to vape, they are going to go back to cigarettes,” Williams said.

Lake said she is worried about a possible ban on vaping devices, causing her business to shut down.

“I literally can’t sleep at night. I wake up everyday worried and I don’t know what my family would do,” Lake said. “I have a wife and three kids to support.”

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Police search for person who fled after car crash https://www.komu.com/news/police-search-for-person-who-fled-after-car-crash/ https://www.komu.com/news/police-search-for-person-who-fled-after-car-crash/ News Wed, 16 Oct 2019 8:07:03 PM Emily Wolf, KOMU 8 Digital Producer Police search for person who fled after car crash

COLUMBIA — Police chased a person through Columbia Wednesday night after they said the suspect failed to pull over for a police car and then crashed into a tree in front of Grant Elementary School. 

Public information officer Jeff Pitts said officers tried to stop a vehicle in the area of I-70 Drive and West Boulevard because the vehicle's license plate was obstructed. The vehicle didn't stop, so officers initiated a pursuit. After the vehicle crashed into the tree, Pitts said the driver fled the scene on foot. They have not been located at this time. 

Pitts said a passenger who was in the car at the time of the crash was injured and transported to a local hospital for treatment.

Officers from the Columbia Police Department, MUPD, and troopers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol all assisted in the search for the man. An MSHP helicopter was searching an area around the Daniel Boone Regional Library. 

Police asked anyone with information to contact them at 573-874-7652 or CrimeStoppers at 573-875-TIPS (8477) to remain anonymous.

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Galloway issues audit of funds under Department of Commerce and Insurance https://www.komu.com/news/galloway-issues-audit-of-funds-under-department-of-commerce-and-insurance/ https://www.komu.com/news/galloway-issues-audit-of-funds-under-department-of-commerce-and-insurance/ News Wed, 16 Oct 2019 6:48:34 PM Trinidy Thompson, KOMU 8 Digital Producer Galloway issues audit of funds under Department of Commerce and Insurance
JEFFERSON CITY - State Auditor Nicole Galloway released an audit Wednesday of the Insurance Dedicated Fund and the Insurance Examiners' Fund.
The report highlighted concerns in two areas.
The first area found that $1.5 million from the Insurance Dedicated Fund was used to pay costs incurred by the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) for maintaining and operating a poison control hotline.
State law requires appropriations from the fund to be used solely to pay expenditures incurred by the Department of Commerce and Insurance.
The second finding concerned the tax credit that insurance companies are allowed to receive for examination costs.
Missouri is one of only five states to provide such a credit, and insurance companies received approximately $14.8 million in examination fee tax credits in the three fiscal years covered by the report.
A similar issue was noted in both in prior reports.
The audit found the Department of Commerce and Insurance makes no attempt to determine the cost-benefit of the tax credit in an annual analysis provided to the General Assembly.
Measuring the cost-effectiveness of the program would better help legislators determine if continuation of the tax credit program is justified.

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Dallas County Dog Breeder sued over conditions at kennels https://www.komu.com/news/dallas-county-dog-breeder-sued-over-conditions-at-kennels/ https://www.komu.com/news/dallas-county-dog-breeder-sued-over-conditions-at-kennels/ News Wed, 16 Oct 2019 5:48:43 PM Trinidy Thompson, KOMU 8 Digital producer Dallas County Dog Breeder sued over conditions at kennels

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit against Cory Mincey and Puppy Love Kennel of Dallas County for violations of the Animal Care Facilities Act.

Inspections that began in October of 2018 showed recurring violations of the Act, including buildup of feces in enclosures, loose or bloody stool found in enclosures, algae or debris filled water, inadequate veterinary care, dogs observed with thin body condition, unidentified dogs, and more.

Earlier this month, the Compliance Administrator for the American Kennel Club alerted the Department of Agriculture to concerns witnessed by their own staff.

Inspections by the Missouri Department of Agriculture found multiple continued infractions and sustained substandard conditions.
“Despite multiple inspections, missed inspections, and official letters of warning from the Department of Agriculture, Cory Mincey and Puppy Love Kennel have shown that they cannot responsibly breed or care for dogs,” said Attorney General Schmitt in a release.
According to the referral letter sent by the Department of Agriculture, Ms. Mincey repeatedly failed to make her facilities and animals available for inspection, sometimes preemptively canceling inspections.
Minor violations were corrected during the inspections, but because of the recurring violations and Ms. Mincey’s unavailability, multiple official letters of warning were issued by the Department of Agriculture.
“Unfortunately, actions of breeders like Puppy Love Kennel and Cory Mincey cast those responsible breeders in a bad light," said Schmitt.

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African American Heritage Trail markers unveiled in Columbia https://www.komu.com/news/african-american-heritage-trail-markers-unveiled-in-columbia/ https://www.komu.com/news/african-american-heritage-trail-markers-unveiled-in-columbia/ News Wed, 16 Oct 2019 5:48:01 PM Connor McCann, KOMU 8 Reporter African American Heritage Trail markers unveiled in Columbia

COLUMBIA - The Sharp End Heritage Committee unveiled seven new markers Wednesday that will be placed on the African American Heritage trail. The markers have information on historic African-American people and institutions that had an impact on Columbia.

The committee chair, James Whitt, said adding the markers was part of the plan when the trail was first created.

"We had identified a little over 30 sites that we wanted to recognize," Whitt said. "We've done a few of them, and today we have the remainder of the markers to get the trail started."

The purpose of the markers is to teach people about the history of African-Americans in Columbia, told by African-Americans in Columbia.

"I think it's important to get these stories out," Whitt said. "With Columbia's bicentennial coming up next year, we want the stories of black Columbians to be heard."

One of the markers honors Alvan B. Coleman, who owned many different Columbia establishments such as Coleman Coal and salvage. His granddaughter Donna Noble-Cavitte unveiled his marker.

"This was like a dream come true for me," Noble-Cavitte said. "I've always looked up to my grandfather as a strong entrepreneur in Columbia. 

Noble-Cavitte said the trail and its markers are a very important part of the city.

"Because we don't have a lot of history about our black communities in many places, this will be that testament where the structures and the people are no longer here, but the things they accomplished, the businesses they owned and the contributions they made will be a permanent marker," Noble-Cavitte said.

The committee will also be unveiling six more markers next Wednesday.

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Man sentenced for failing to register as a sex offender https://www.komu.com/news/man-sentenced-for-failing-to-register-as-a-sex-offender/ https://www.komu.com/news/man-sentenced-for-failing-to-register-as-a-sex-offender/ News Wed, 16 Oct 2019 2:42:06 PM Trinidy Thompson, KOMU 8 Digital producer Man sentenced for failing to register as a sex offender

MILLER COUNTY - A Tuscumbia man has been sentenced to 15 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections for failure to register as a sex offender.

Leonard Wilson pleaded guilty to the felony of failing to register as a sex offender and sodomy Tuesday in court.

Wilson was originally required to register when he pled guilty to restraint and sexual misconduct in a Pulaski County case. 

He admitted that in August he was not compliant with his obligations to register as required by Missouri law. 

Wilson also pled guilty to the class D felony of second-degree sodomy for having “deviate sexual intercourse” in July.

A third failure to comply with Missouri’s sex offender registration requirement increases the charge and requires a minimum of two years in prison before the possibility of parole.

Wilson will be subject to extended life time supervisions as sex offender. 




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New campaign teams up with gun dealers to prevent suicides https://www.komu.com/news/new-campaign-teams-up-with-gun-dealers-to-prevent-suicides/ https://www.komu.com/news/new-campaign-teams-up-with-gun-dealers-to-prevent-suicides/ News Wed, 16 Oct 2019 2:34:48 PM Daniel Perreault, KOMU 8 Reporter New campaign teams up with gun dealers to prevent suicides

COLUMBIA - In an effort to decrease the number of suicides across the state, a non-profit group is teaming up with gun retailers.

Safer Homes Collaborative, the non profit group, has approached nearly 550 gun stores across the state of Missouri about displaying materials with information about how to spot suicidal behavior and how to help.

When Joe Gilbert was first approached last winter, he was worried the non-profit was political.

"We didn't want to be involved with something that is anti-second amendment, but they are truly a-political," he said. "I don't think there is a person I have ever met who has not been touched by suicide, so with the sole focus of saving lives, I jumped on board."

According to the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, six out of 10 suicides involve firearms. While people often attempt to take their own life using other methods, the National Library of Medicine says using a firearm is fatal 85-90% of the time.

While the conversation about guns tends to center around homicides, suicides account for nearly two-thirds off the total number of gun deaths in the U.S.

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, there were 726 suicides in the state last year. Since 2008, the department says suicides have been on the rise, increasing 53.5%. Missouri has the 13th highest suicide rate in the country.

For Missourians between the ages of 10 and 34, it is the second leading cause of death. A recently released report from America's Health Rankings found the suicide rate among teens between the ages of 15-19 has increased 54% in the past three years.

Currently, 420 gun stores across the state of Missouri are displaying the suicide prevention materials.

"If they are gun owners and they are going through a tough time, we want to ask them if we can keep their guns for them because we care about them," he said.

By putting the materials in gun stores, the non-profit hopes to break down some of the stigma in talking about the issue.

"This is a difficult discussion for most people," he said. "We are trying to remove that stigma and let everyone know that we all have tough times and if we can separate the means and create a little bit of time."

He said the desire to commit suicide typically only lasts a few minutes.

"If we can stop somebody, if they don't have access to lethal means at that moment, odds are that will pass."

Since meeting the representative last winter, Gilbert has become a board member and trainer for the group.

"After I did some research, attended a meeting and started understanding the material, it became apparent to me that this was for the greater good," he said. "If we can't make a little time and sacrifice with our time to help other people, there is no reason to be here."

Gilbert said he believes the program will save lives.

"You often hear that one life saved is a justification, but I believe we will and have saved many lives," he said.

If you or someone you know have suicidal thoughts, it is important to recognize the warning signs of suicidal behavior.

  • Talking about suicide or wanting to die
  • Increased substance abuse
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Isolation from friends or activities
  • Extreme mood swings or anger

There are a number of programs and resources available for those who have suicidal thoughts.

  • Missouri Ask, Listen, Refer is a free, online program for community members that takes roughly 20 minutes to complete.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255)) is available for free, 24/7 access to trained crisis workers who will talk about problems and direct people to further mental health services in their area.

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Three former Cole County EMS employees claim discrimination https://www.komu.com/news/three-former-cole-county-ems-employees-claim-discrimination/ https://www.komu.com/news/three-former-cole-county-ems-employees-claim-discrimination/ News Wed, 16 Oct 2019 2:33:43 PM Destinee Patterson, KOMU 8 Reporter Three former Cole County EMS employees claim discrimination

JEFFERSON CITY - Three former Cole County Emergency Medical Services employees filed lawsuits against the county on Monday, claiming discrimination by former Deputy Chief Jerry Johnston. 

The lawsuits, filed separately, claim Johnston discriminated against the plaintiffs for their age. Each lawsuit says Johnston "would frequently socialize with younger employees in and out of work, while excluding older employees."

Aaron Steenbergen worked for Cole County EMS for "more than twenty-two years" and was a captain when he was fired, according to his lawsuit.

Michael Burks worked for nine years and was employed as a emergency medical technician. 

Their lawsuits say both of the employees performed well and had a good work history.

Kim Kline, a former paramedic, also included claims of sexual harassment in her lawsuit. 

Kline claims Johnston invited her to his home to "drink some beers" and use the hot tub. Kline said she declined, after which Johnston "stopped interacting and speaking with" her. It also says she received low scores on her performance evaluation eight months later. 

Julianne Germinder is representing all three former employees in their cases. 

"These three obviously were hurt, hurt by the actions. Their careers, their futures are still damaged by what they did," Germinder said. 

All former employees were fired on April 20, 2018. Johnston told Steenbergen and Burks the company was making a change in staffing. He told Kline the company was "restructuring" but later recanted his statement. 

"[Cole County EMS] was making people work so many shifts, that probably could have been a dangerous situation," Germinder said. "At the same time they decided to let three people go?"

"The staffing numbers back then are nothing like the staffing numbers today. They're almost fully staffed," Cole County Counselor Jill LaHue said.

Johnston served as Deputy Chief for about a year and a half. He resigned in July of 2018, about three months after he fired the employees.

LaHue told KOMU 8 News he now works out-of-state. She also said his resignation had nothing to do with the employees' firing. 

"It's just a stressful job," LaHue said.

Matt Lindewirth took over Johnston's position. 

"He's gone but the county didn't do anything to fix the situation," Germinder said.

"What the lawyer is alleging the environment was in April 2018, is completely not the current environment," LaHue said. 

Cole County has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit.

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Precautionary boil water advisory issued in Jefferson City https://www.komu.com/news/precautionary-boil-water-advisory-issued-in-jefferson-city/ https://www.komu.com/news/precautionary-boil-water-advisory-issued-in-jefferson-city/ News Wed, 16 Oct 2019 2:16:44 PM Trinidy Thompson, KOMU 8 Digital Producer Precautionary boil water advisory issued in Jefferson City

JEFFERSON CITY - A precautionary boil water advisory has been issued for Missouri American Water customers in Jefferson City after a contractor broke a 12-inch water main on Missouri Boulevard between Bolivar and Highway 50.

The break caused a pressure drop in the water system and is strictly a precautionary measure with no evidence of contamination, according to a press release.

The advisory affects approximately 8,000 customers in Jefferson City. Customers can visit a website to enter an address and confirm whether it is within the affected area. 

Customers in the advisory area should bring their water to a rolling boil for three minutes before using it to drink or cook. Tap water is safe for bathing and washing clothes.

The precautionary advisory will be in effect until water quality samples confirm that the water is safe for consumption.

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Class-action lawsuit filed in response to Hyvee data breach https://www.komu.com/news/class-action-lawsuit-filed-in-response-to-hyvee-data-breach/ https://www.komu.com/news/class-action-lawsuit-filed-in-response-to-hyvee-data-breach/ News Wed, 16 Oct 2019 1:31:03 PM Cory Johnson, KOMU 8 Digital Producer and Skylar Webb, KOMU 8 Reporter Class-action lawsuit filed in response to Hyvee data breach

COLUMBIA - A Pennsylvania law firm has filed a class-action lawsuit against Hy-Vee.

The lawsuit comes after the grocery store chain announced a data breach across select stores.

The suit claims more than 5 million of HyVee’s customer’s credit card and debit card information is being, or once was, sold on the dark web.

The Chimicles, Schwartz, Kriner, and Donaldson-Smith law office said in the suit the data breach was the "inevitable result of Hy-Vee’s inadequate data security measures."

A lawyer on the case, Ben Johns, says the suit was filed largely due to the timeframe in which Hy-Vee notified its customers of the breach.

"Sometimes when retailers like this get breached, they will immediately come clean and explain what happened so people who were affected by it aren't kind of strung out on their own and basically told to figure it out on their own, which is what Hy-Vee is doing," Johns said.

Hy-Vee first announced the breach in August while later naming the affected locations on October 3.

Locally, Hy-Vee's Market Grilles and fuel pumps at 3120 W. Broadway and 25 Conley Rd. were impacted by the breach.

Specific time frames vary depending on the location, but the company said the malware was present in fuel pumps from Dec. 14, 2018 to July 29, 2019 and Jan. 15, 2019 to July 29, 2019 for restaurants and drive-thru coffee shops.

Hy-Vee has removed the malware but urged costumers to continue to check their payment card statements for unauthorized activity.

Johns said the "ball is really in [Hy-Vee's] court" at this point in the lawsuit.

The Des Moines Register originally reported that credit and debit card information of some Hy-Vee customers was sold on an Internet site for $17 to $35 a piece in August.

Columbia resident Dustin Murray is named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The suit claims Central Bank notified Murray his debit card was affected by the data breach on September 16 but he has not received any communication from the chain as of the October 3 filing date.

Murray closed his debit card account and was issued a new card, according to the suit.

KOMU 8 News reached out to Hy-Vee to comment on the suit and they said they do not comment on any pending litigations.

Anyone wishing to join the class-action lawsuit may contact the law firm at chimicles.com.

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GM and union reach tentative deal that could end strike https://www.komu.com/news/gm-and-union-reach-tentative-deal-that-could-end-strike/ https://www.komu.com/news/gm-and-union-reach-tentative-deal-that-could-end-strike/ News Wed, 16 Oct 2019 11:05:35 AM The Associated Press GM and union reach tentative deal that could end strike

DETROIT (AP) — Bargainers for General Motors and the United Auto Workers have reached a tentative contract deal that could end a monthlong strike that brought the company's U.S. factories to a standstill.

The deal, hammered out Wednesday after months of bargaining, won't bring an immediate end to the strike by 49,000 hourly workers. They will likely stay on the picket lines for at least two more days as two union committees vote on the deal. Then members have to approve it.

Terms of the tentative four-year contract were not released, but it's likely to include some pay raises, lump sum payments to workers, and requirements that GM build new vehicles in U.S. factories. Early on, GM offered new products in Detroit and Lordstown, Ohio, two of the four U.S. cities where it planned to close factories.

The company offered to build a new electric pickup truck to keep the Detroit-Hamtramck plant open and to build an electric vehicle battery factory in or near Lordstown, Ohio, where GM is closing an assembly plant. The battery factory would employ far fewer workers and pay less money than the assembly plant.

GM and the union have been negotiating at a time of troubling uncertainty for the U.S. auto industry. Driven up by the longest economic expansion in American history, auto sales appear to have peaked and are now heading in the other direction. GM and other carmakers are also struggling to make the transition to electric and autonomous vehicles.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump's trade war with China and his tariffs on imported steel and aluminum have raised costs for auto companies. A revamped North American free trade deal is stalled in Congress, raising doubts about the future of America's trade in autos and auto parts with Canada and Mexico, which last year came to $257 billion.

Amid that uncertainty, GM workers have wanted to lock in as much as they can before things get ugly. They argue that they had given up pay raises and made other concessions to keep GM afloat during its 2009 trip through bankruptcy protection. Now that GM has been nursed back to health — earning $2.42 billion in its latest quarter — they want a bigger share.

If approved, the contract agreement will set the pattern for negotiations at Fiat Chrysler and Ford. It wasn't clear which company the union would bargain with next, or whether there would be another strike.

The union's International Executive Board first has to vote on the GM deal, then union leaders from factories will travel to Detroit for a vote on Thursday. The earliest workers could return would be after that.

In past years, it's taken a minimum of three or four days and as long as several weeks for the national ratification vote. Workers took almost two weeks to finish voting on their last GM agreement, in October of 2015. Then, skilled trades workers rejected it, causing further delays.

This time around — with a federal corruption investigation that has implicated the past two UAW presidents and brought convictions of five union officials — many union members don't trust the leadership and likely won't want to return to work until they've gotten a chance to vote on the deal themselves.

In August, the FBI raided the suburban Detroit home of UAW President Gary Jones. He has not been charged and has not commented on the raid. Earlier this month, Jones' successor as union regional director in Missouri was charged in a $600,000 embezzlement scheme, and another UAW official pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks from union vendors. Eight other people — including five UAW officials — have been convicted over the past two years of looting a jointly run Fiat Chrysler-UAW training center for blue-collar workers. Another official was charged in September.

There's also no guarantee that the first contract deal with GM will pass. Some workers on the picket lines said they may not vote for the first offer.

"We're not just going to take the first thing that they give us," worker Tina Black said in September from the picket line at an engine and transmission plant in Romulus, Michigan, near Detroit's main airport.

But Louis Rocha, president of a UAW local in Orion Township, Michigan, said recently that union bargainers have taken strong positions against the company. "I think we're going to be OK," he said of the ratification vote.

The strike had shut down 33 GM manufacturing plants in nine states across the U.S. It was the first national strike by the union since a two-day walkout in 2007 that had little impact on the company.

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Cole County man dies in tractor crash https://www.komu.com/news/cole-county-man-dies-in-tractor-crash/ https://www.komu.com/news/cole-county-man-dies-in-tractor-crash/ News Wed, 16 Oct 2019 9:53:56 AM Cory Johnson, KOMU 8 Digital Producer Cole County man dies in tractor crash

COLE COUNTY - A St. Thomas man is dead after a tractor crash Tuesday evening.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol crash report, 83-year-old Robert Luebbering was driving a 1967 John Deere 3020 at the time of the incident.

The report said Luebbering was travelling down a driveway in the 1300 block of Lower Bottom Road in St. Thomas when he began to veer off the drive and overcorrected twice before striking a tree and overturning.

Luebbering was pronounced dead on the scene at 8:28 p.m.

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Racist message mimicking Gentry Middle School home page appears on Google https://www.komu.com/news/racist-message-mimicking-gentry-middle-school-home-page-appears-on-google/ https://www.komu.com/news/racist-message-mimicking-gentry-middle-school-home-page-appears-on-google/ News Tue, 15 Oct 2019 9:24:42 PM Stacey Woelfel, KOMU 8 Manager, Melody Cox, KOMU 8 Digital Producer and Micki Neiman, KOMU 8 News Reporter Racist message mimicking Gentry Middle School home page appears on Google

COLUMBIA - The Columbia school district is investigating after a racist image imitating the web site of Columbia's Gentry Middle School showed up on Google.

Viewers sent a screenshot of the image to KOMU 8 on Tuesday.

In the image, the school's name was altered with the N-word in place of the word "Middle" in "Gentry Middle School." It also replaced the word "Students" in the slogan "An Excellent Education for All Students."

One community member, Adonna Mason, said she is not standing for this. She, as well as her grown children, all went through the Columbia Public School system and she is upset with how this instance is being handled.

"Just because my kids aren’t in the system currently, doesn’t mean I don’t care," Mason said. "It affects our community and I want us to do better.”

In a statement Tuesday night from spokeswoman for Columbia Public Schools, Michelle Baumstark said, "Yesterday we were alerted to some inappropriate images posted to a Google search engine page related to Gentry Middle School, including the image in question. Google immediately removed the images at the request of the school district."

Baumstark said CPS is taking the incident seriously and is currently investigating. She also said the school's actual web page was never compromised.

"Appropriate disciplinary action is being taken," Baumstark said. "Columbia Public Schools and Gentry Middle School are committed to maintaining a positive school-community for everyone."

While CPS is taking steps to move forward with the investigation, Mason is not happy with how it has been handled.

“It’s bothersome that this came out on social media as opposed to an alert from the schools that that had happened," Mason said. "I realized that this is a public website and CPS has no control over that, but once that happened they should’ve come out and said something to the community, to the parents about the incident itself.” 

In a follow-up email Wednesday, Baumstark said the district is taking steps to inform parents.

"Parents were sent a letter alerting them to the incident and that it was being taken seriously and addressed," Baumstark said. 

As this advances, Mason said she is ready to be even more hands-on with the community. 

“I will find myself probably at a few more city council meetings and school board meetings," Mason said. "Just to find out who’s running the show and how they handle this going forward.”

[Editor's note: This story was changed to reflect information received from Columbia Public Schools that the image being shared on social media was of a mocked-up image of the school web page, not the school's actual page.]

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MUPD: Sexual assault reported near campus https://www.komu.com/news/mupd-sexual-assault-reported-near-campus/ https://www.komu.com/news/mupd-sexual-assault-reported-near-campus/ News Tue, 15 Oct 2019 7:53:38 PM Melody Cox, KOMU 8 Digital Producer MUPD: Sexual assault reported near campus
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri Police Department (MUPD) is investigating a sexual assault that happened over the weekend near the MU campus. 
According to a news release, officers received a report saying a sexual assault happened at a house in the 400 block of Burnam Avenue. This is in the University of Missouri's Greek Town.
MUPD provided few details, stating a female was the victim of a sexual assault by a male acquaintance.

The department is asking anyone with information to contact MUPD at 573-882-7201 or call Crimestoppers at 573-875-TIPS

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Local watchers weigh in on Democratic debate https://www.komu.com/news/local-watchers-weigh-in-on-democratic-debate/ https://www.komu.com/news/local-watchers-weigh-in-on-democratic-debate/ News Tue, 15 Oct 2019 7:44:10 PM Zola Crowder, KOMU 8 Reporter Local watchers weigh in on Democratic debate

COLUMBIA - Twelve Democratic presidential candidates took stage Tuesday night in Ohio while mid-Missouri viewers watched on television. The debate focused on foreign policy, Hunter Biden’s work on the Ukraine energy company, Biden’s health, the prospect of Trump’s impeachment, and more. 

In Columbia, Mid-Missouri Young Democrats, Mizzou College Democrats and Our Revolution Mid-Missouri hosted a watch party at Shakespeare's Pizza downtown.

The president of Mizzou College Democrats, Sadie Jess, said the debate should produce a clear front runner. She said debates like this give her organization a way to be involved in the presidential election on a local level. 

“We have a situation where Democrats leave Missouri because they are less represented here,” Jess said. “I want to follow through and plant my roots here to make my community and state a better place.”

Elisabeth Condon, president of the Mid-Missouri Young Democrats, said the debate was a challenge since it was the most candidates on a single stage for the Democrats this year. She said it’s important to pay attention and be engaged since the policies will affect the state of Missouri. 

“Just when home isn’t working out that doesn’t mean we should abandon it,” Condon said. “We want to make sure this is somewhere people want to stay and other people want to come to.”

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