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Months later ... city OKs July minutes

The Leadington Board of Aldermen approved the minutes from a previous meeting when it met in regular session Tuesday night at city hall.

That might not seem all that great of an accomplishment, but the board has been trying to pass the minutes from its July meeting for several months now. The delay was due to disagreements about how well the minutes reflected the actual contents of the meeting, leaving two of the aldermen — Cassie Schrum and Gary McKinney — at loggerheads with City Clerk Denise Johnson who ended up losing her job in large part due to her unwillingness to make the changes they had requested.

Johnson was fired less than 24 hours after the October meeting. She had been recently hired to take over for former city clerk, Debbie Eggers, who left her post at the end of October. In the weeks prior to Eggers' last day, Eggers turned over many of her duties to Johnson, so she could provide her training for the position.

Those July minutes began with the acceptance of Sgt. Jared Roark’s immediate resignation following his acceptance of a position with the Park Hills Police Department. Following this, the board discussed the possible employment of Matthew Misuraca to fill the vacancy. While Alderman Casie Braddy questioned the length of time Misuraca had worked with previous employers, Chief Dustin McKinney felt the officer would “be a good fit” and had “the potential to be a long-term employee. Upon McKinney’s recommendation, the board voted unanimously to hire Misuraca.

Following the hiring of Misuraca, the minutes state that “Alderman McKinney asks Chief McKinney about the number of tickets he writes. Chief McKinney states that he does not write a large number of tickets due to being in the office the majority of the time. Chief McKinney also states that if he issues a citation to a citizen and they have a complaint, the citizen has nobody to bring the complaint to other than the board, which might require the process of calling a meeting to discuss.

“Chief McKinney stresses that he has worked hard to change the image of the Leadington Police Department from how it was ran in the past and feels like he has done a good job with that. He states that many citizens have his personal number and feel comfortable talking with him day or night. Alderman McKinney asked Chief McKinney if he is not writing many tickets because he is afraid of social media. Chief McKinney responds with, ‘that’s part of it and I am afraid people will complain to the council.'"

The board next discussed the possible promotion of either Officer Erik Powers or Officer John Washburn to the then-vacant position of sergeant. After reviewing past evaluations for both officers, as well as certifications, seniority and job duties each perform, Chief McKinney said both had different strengths and weaknesses, as well as differing job duties.

At this point, Alderman McKinney said that in the event Washburn would be tasked with running the police department, he would have a difficult time doing so due to his personality. Chief McKinney stated that Officer Washburn was always at community events; and was named Officer of the Year in 2016 and Ambassador of the Quarter in 2017.

According to the minutes, City Clerk Johnson said she had witnessed Washburn offer to buy an elderly citizen’s groceries after conducting a well-person check. On the same day, Washburn was able to obtain an air-conditioner from a local business for a resident that did not have any air-conditioning. The officer installed the air-conditioning unit for the resident and then volunteered his time to do lawn-mowing and weed removal for another citizen who was physically unable to do the work.

The minutes read, “After a lengthy discussion, Gary [McKinney] made a motion to promote Powers — interrupted. Officer McKinney asked if it could be tabled for six months — around December.” The motion was tabled.

Other issues covered at the July meeting included motions to increase the starting pay for all full-time officers to $11.50 per hour; to increase Officer Trent Franklin’s hourly wage to that level effective Aug. 5; and to increase Officer Erik Powers hourly wage effective Aug. 5.

While the first two motions passed with little discussion, Mayor Dustin Winick voiced his opposition to Powers receiving a raise because he had submitted and rescinded his resignation twice within the previous month. Chief McKinney voiced support for the raise because Powers had not received a raise after his previous evaluation. Despite Winick’s concern, the aldermen voted unanimously to raise Powers’ pay.

The final item covered in the July minutes approved at the Nov. 13 meeting regarded Court Clerk Tracy Fisher who had been approached about temporarily working part-time for the city of Park Hills due to several vacancies within the city court. Fisher had agreed to work evenings for Park Hills, so there would be no conflict with her duties for the city of Leadington. No objections were raised by the board.

Fisher noted that she wanted to move from part-time to full-time at Leadington and stated that “she has been very busy doing her regular job duties and has been diligently working on record retention.” Fisher further stated that she worked for Leadington 40 hours a week, but only charged for 30. The council discussed the need to change Fisher from a part-time to full-time position and decided to bring it before City Attorney Mark Bishop at the August meeting.

Fisher subsequently resigned from her position as Leadington court clerk.

At the Nov. 13 meeting of the board, former City Clerk Johnson’s successor, Gina Phillips, presented the reformatted meeting minutes for the board to look over. While Schrum was still unhappy with the results, McKinney said the new version of the minutes was much improved over the previous one, but said he had several additional changes he wanted to make.

City Attorney Bishop told him he could write them in and then the board would vote on each one individually. Votes were taken on the changes and were passed. Alderman Debbi Matthews said she wanted statements made in the July minutes regarding Officer Washburn to be removed because she didn’t feel they should be made public.

Attorney Bishop said that the comments were made in the course of the July meeting and should remain for that reason.


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Still time to pack a shoebox

Sharon Rich was busy checking the numbers – then checking again.

Rich was working at the Operation Christmas Child Collection Center on Friday. She was busy checking the number of shoeboxes already packed and loaded on one of two tractor trailers sitting in the back parking lot of First Baptist Church of Farmington.

Shoeboxes from throughout the southeast district are brought to the church before heading out early next week to one of the distribution centers throughout the United States.

Gene and Barb Wilfong serve as co-directors for the Southeast Missouri District of Operation Christmas Child – which encompasses nine counties. Last year, more than 17,000 shoeboxes were packed, donated and shipped from the district for worldwide distribution.

The ministry marks 25 years this year.

The goal this year for the southeast district is 18,566 – about 8 percent above last year.

Rich said those wanting to pack a shoebox have until Monday to drop off boxes at the center in Farmington.

“We will receive boxes until 3 p.m.,” she said.

Packing a shoebox is easy – as directions from Samaritan’s Purse explain. Each individual box is designated for either boy or girl in the following age categories – 2-4; 5-9 or 10-14.

The box is then filled with age-appropriate toys and items - everything from dolls and soccer balls and pumps, to school supplies and hygiene items.

Some items were added to the “do not include” list and include candy, toothpaste, war-related toys, used or damaged items, and food or liquids.

Don Stephens was busy helping load cardboard boxes filled with shoeboxes into one of two semi-truck trailers.

The job is made easier this year thanks to the generosity of Botkin Lumber in loading rolling conveyors.

“(In loading) a 53-foot trailer, it saves us a lot of steps,” Stephens said. “Instead of (walking) back and forth (to load), we can just stack them. It saves handling them at least one time per trip.

“It really was a back saver and a step saver.”

Monday is when a large part of the donations arrive from the Cape Girardeau donation center. On Friday, more than 11,000 boxes were already prepared to make the trip to Farmington from local churches and collection sites.

“Monday is the big day,” Stephens said. About 500 cardboard boxes – each packed with anywhere from 12 to 20 shoeboxes – are loaded in each of the trailers.

For more information on the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.


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Officials clarify types of boil water orders

Farmington City Administrator Greg Beavers addressed the recent precautionary boil water orders issued by the city following water main breaks

Beavers spoke with the council during the Nov. 8 meeting about the recent orders issued.

He wanted to clarify for the council what “it means when we issue a boil water order.”

The city administrator stressed he knows the issuing of boil water orders are a concern to citizens and wanted to clarify the difference between the two.

The city issues two types of orders – precautionary and mandatory. Precautionary orders are issued after a leak in the system.

“If we have a water leak on the system – and those occur for a number of reasons,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a contractor digging up a water main, which happened recently and caused a main break.”

He said there was also an instance of a water leak caused to a blow-out on the main.

When the pressure on the system goes below 20 PSI, the mandate from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is issue a precautionary boil water order.

“That doesn’t mean, in those circumstances, that the water is dangerous or that we had bacteria in the water,” he said. “It just means the pressure went below 20 PSI, so there is a potential for contamination and we issue a precautionary boil water order.”

In those instances, a water sample is sent out for laboratory testing – with the order lifted once results come back to show no contamination.

“It doesn’t mean there is a problem with the water, there’s just the potential because of low pressure on the system,” he said.

Mandatory boil water order has not been issued in more than two years since the city began chlorination of the water system.

Those orders are issued following a “bad bacteria test,” Beavers told the council.

“In those circumstances, it’s a mandatory boil water order,” he said. “And, in those circumstances, we have to get two consecutive bacteria test. We send one test in, it comes back OK. Send a second test in, it comes back OK … then we can lift the boil water order.”


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Hornsey sentenced to 40 years

The man convicted of assaulting St. Francois County Deputy Paul Clark will be spending many years in prison.

On Friday, Circuit Court Judge Wendy Wexler Horn sentenced Donald Curtis Hornsey, 50, of Valles Mines, to 15 years for second-degree assault on a law enforcement officer and 25 years for armed criminal action. The sentences will run consecutively for a total of 40 years in prison.

A St. Francois County jury found Hornsey guilty of those two charges after a two-day trial in August. He was sentenced as a prior and persistent offender.

According to court documents, on Oct. 27, 2015, near Cedar Falls Road, Hornsey, knowing he had warrants for his arrest, fled from Deputy Clark and in the process struck him with his vehicle, causing injuries. The deputy died in July 2016 of natural causes.

At the beginning of the sentencing hearing, Judge Horn denied Hornsey’s request for an acquittal or a new trial.

Afterward, Clark’s daughter, Amber Clark, read a victim impact statement.

She explained that while Hornsey was not charged with causing her father’s death, the injuries her father sustained diminished her father’s health and caused him constant pain.

Months after being struck by the vehicle, he underwent surgeries for his knee and back. He said this caused his body to give out and that is why he is not here today.

She pointed out Hornsey refuses to take any responsibility for his actions. She said Hornsey is a liar and a criminal and not fit for society.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Pat King also said while Hornsey was not charged with causing Clark’s death, he believes Hornsey’s actions did shorten his life.

He reminded the judge that Hornsey has never once taken responsibility for what he did. He said while medical evidence said otherwise, Hornsey said he never struck Clark with the vehicle.

King said Hornsey should have turned himself into Clark but instead he fled and struck the deputy and then evaded authorities until being arrested in De Soto. King believes Hornsey also enlisted a family member to dissuade witnesses from testifying.

King said this is a man who has lived his entire life in and out of the criminal justice system. He indicated Hornsey needed to spend the rest of his life locked up. He recommended a 40-year sentence.

“He certainly deserves zero consideration … not only on this event but leading up to this trial,” he said.

Hornsey’s attorney, Chad Oliver, asked the judge to look at the risk assessment in Hornsey’s sentencing assessment report which suggested a sentence of 5.5 years for a crime of that matter and a criminal background like his.

He recommended a five-year sentence.

Oliver said the jury did not find Hornsey guilty of striking Clark with the vehicle. Rather the jury found Hornsey guilty of placing Clark in danger of injury.

He added Hornsey has been consistent with his story.

During the trial, Hornsey testified he ran from Clark because, while he did not know for sure, he suspected that he might have a warrant out for his arrest. He said he turned and ran with no real plan, but decided to get into his friend's F-150. At the same time as he put the truck into drive, Hornsey said, Clark fired a shot at the windshield.

Ducking his head in fear as Clark continued to fire, Hornsey said he continued driving. He testified that he steered to the right to avoid the deputy and had Clark in his vision until the point the two were essentially side-by-side. Hornsey said that moments later in his rearview mirror he saw Clark “slouching,” but knew that he had not hit him.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Horn told Hornsey it would have been easier to deal with the problem of the warrant. But rather than turning himself in, he let the situation get worse.

She said she does believe that Hornsey’s actions that day did diminish Clark’s quality of life significantly. She also noted Hornsey’s extensive criminal history.

She then sentenced Hornsey to 40 years in prison. When asked if they planned to file an appeal, Oliver stated that they would file an appeal.


St. Francois County Sheriff's Dept.  

Hornsey