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REMEMBERING THE historic INVASION | 75 years ago today
WWII veteran recalls medevac missions after D-Day

Today, 75 years ago, approximately 160,000 allied troops crossed the English Channel to establish a foothold against the Third Reich. 

Sgt. William Pollard was with General Dwight D. Eisenhower when he addressed troops on June 5, 1944.

“Yes, I heard him talk,” Pollard said. “As a matter of fact I have a picture of it, and he explained — very diplomatic — what was taking place.”

The D-Day operation, code-named Neptune, established five beachheads — Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword — on a 50-mile landing zone; transporting 850,279 troops, along with 148,803 vehicles and 570,505 tons of food by the end of June.

Pollard was with a medical air evacuation unit that would land in France and then transport wounded soldiers back to England.

“Some of them were in pretty bad shape,” Pollard said. “We had a team — was supposed to be an enlisted man and a nurse, but as things got busy, the flights got so frequent and everything, we split up ... one nurse going (on) one flight, an enlisted man on another flight. We were just quite busy.”

The successful operation planned by Eisenhower cost approximately 6,000 American lives and liberated Europe from Nazi control.

During Pollard’s time in England, between medevac missions, he’d sit down and help pilots who may have been shaken up after dog fights.

They’d say, “Get in here, help us out,” Pollard said. “We gave ’em whiskey ... We’d go around with a fifth and fill the glass.”

Leading up to the invasion fake hangars were constructed in England to lead Hitler to believe the invasion would happen further north, but instead, 75,215 British and Canadian troops traveled across the channel with 57,500 American troops.

The operation included towing two artificial harbors, so the Allied troops could offload supplies.

The estimated amount of German casualties are somewhere between 4,000 and 9,000.

Missouri official stresses safety over abortion access

ST. LOUIS — Patient safety takes priority over access to abortion, Missouri’s health department director said Wednesday after a court hearing on an effort by the state’s only abortion clinic to keep operating.

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams spoke to reporters after a court hearing on Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction that would retain its license to perform abortions at its St. Louis clinic. Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer did not indicate when he would rule.

The health department last week declined to renew the clinic’s license to perform abortions, saying March inspections at the clinic uncovered deficiencies. The agency cited “at least one incident in which patient safety was gravely compromised.” It also cited what it called “failed surgical abortions in which women remained pregnant,” and an alleged failure to obtain “informed consent.” Clinic leaders say the allegations are part of an effort by an anti-abortion administration to eliminate the procedure in the state.

Stelzer issued an order on Friday that allows the clinic to continue performing abortions while he considers Planned Parenthood’s request.

Williams told reporters that reviews of records raised concerns about patient care. He declined to elaborate.

M’Evie Mead, director of policy and organizing for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, said the state is playing a “political game,” and that Planned Parenthood has not been advised by the health department of any issues related to patient safety.

“The department, if they have any concerns about health and safety, especially grave concerns, they are obligated to outline them in clear words and say, ‘This is a deficiency and it’s at this level.’ They have not done that,” Mead said after the court hearing.

If the abortion clinic closes, Missouri would become the first state without a functioning abortion clinic since 1974, the year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

“We can never sacrifice safety for access,” Williams said. “We have to have both.”

Wednesday’s hourlong court hearing focused on technical legal matters. Planned Parenthood attorney Jamie Boyer argued that the health department regulations that relate to licensing abortion clinics exceed the authority provided by state law.

John Sauer of the Missouri attorney general’s office disagreed. He also argued that an administrative hearing, not a court, is the proper venue for Planned Parenthood’s effort to keep its license.

Stelzer ruled Tuesday that four former doctors in training who worked briefly at the clinic are not required to testify at the hearing. The refusal of those four doctors and a fifth to cooperate with the state investigation was at the core of the health department’s decision not to renew the license.

Lawmakers in Missouri and many other conservative states have recently passed new restrictions taking aim at Roe. Abortion opponents, emboldened by new conservative justices on the Supreme Court, hope federal courts will uphold laws that prohibit abortions before a fetus is viable outside the womb, the dividing line the high court set in Roe.

The number of abortions performed in Missouri has declined every year for the past decade, reaching a low of 2,910 last year.

The closest abortion clinic to the St. Louis facility is just across the Mississippi River in Granite City, Illinois, less than 10 miles away. Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinic in the Kansas City area is in Overland Park, Kansas, just 2 miles from the state line.

Assoicated Press  

File Photo - Anti-abortion supporters gather outside the Planned Parenthood clinic holding up signs Tuesday in St. Louis. On Wednesday, a judge held a court hearing on whether the clinic could retain its license.

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Council votes down motion to suspend City Manager

In a closed session on Monday, the St. Joseph City Council voted on whether or not to suspend City Manager Bruce Woody for one week without pay.

A sunshine request revealed that Councilmember Brian Myers called for the vote and it was seconded by Councilmember Madison Davis.

Councilmembers Myers, Davis and Brenda Blessing voted to suspend Woody. The vote failed 5-3, with all other councilmembers and the mayor voting against the suspension.

Councilmember P.J. Kovac was not in attendance.

Myers said, due to the fact the meeting was closed, he could not go into details about the discussion that lead him to call for the vote.

“Missouri Sunshine law does prohibit what statements we can make that happened during closed session,” Myers said. “There was a roll call vote that is publicly disclosed. I made a motion to suspend our city manager for one week without pay. That motion did not pass.”

Councilmember Kent O’Dell, who voted against suspending Woody, said the disagreement between Woody and the council stemmed from budget disagreements. He did not go into specifics about what items caused the issue.

O’Dell said he did not believe the situation was entirely Woody’s fault and it could have trickled up from other department heads or staff.

“There are things in the city that City Hall does that’s not anybody’s fault, but there’s holes, there’s voids in the way that things are working,” O’Dell said. “So sometimes things get lost in the paperwork or the shuffle from one office or one person to another.”

O’Dell said he defended Woody during the session because he felt that suspension was too harsh. He said he had his own business with employees for over 35 years and practiced a different approach.

“When you were displeased with something somebody did to the company or something, you brought it up and talked about it and discussed it and told them to either fix it or not to do it again,” O’Dell said. “If it happened again and you told them what the problem was ... some people like to suspend somebody for a week without pay, but I’m old school, I just chewed on some butt good and healthy and told him there wasn’t going to be a third strike.”

Myers said he does believe there are issues in the city staff that need to be resolved.

“This closed session aside, it is my personal opinion that we do have some leadership issues in our city amongst certain members of staff that need to be addressed,” Myers said. “I don’t think they’ve been appropriately addressed and that’s something I’m hoping to work on in the future.”

Woody declined to comment, stating only that he could not break the city’s code by discussing matters from a closed meeting.

Woody has been city manager since 2011, but has worked for the city of St. Joseph since 1997, when he started as the Director of Public Works.

Last August, Councilmembers Myers and Davis voted to dismiss Woody from his position. That vote failed 6-2, with the rest of the council and the mayor voting to keep him. Blessing was not in attendance at that meeting.

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County Prosecutor talks tough in Mayor's crime committee

In March, Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney Ron Holliday told a committee created by St. Joseph Mayor Bill McMurray that his office will no longer offer plea deals to some repeat offenders.

According to the March minutes of the Blue Ribbon Citizen’s Crime Advisory Committee, one of Holliday’s goals is, “Identifying Career Criminals and giving no plea bargain offers.”

“There is a major clash between state officials who want to reduce prison populations and expenses and those who are trying to prosecute legitimate drug and violent crimes,” Holliday said, according to the minutes.

“These issues are usually driven by money,” Holliday added.

McMurray said there isn’t a direct link between the committee’s creation and the drop in violent crime in the city, but that he has seen increased communication between different law enforcement agencies in the region. The meetings were set up after McMurray campaigned on reducing crime.

“There’s a lot of fake news about crime in St. Joseph,” McMurray said. “This committee has the charge to let people know that crime really is going down in St. Joseph.”

“I think it’s more of a communications committee,” he said. “The idea is to get people talking to one another about what’s going on in St. Joseph.”

In the beginning, the committee met once a month, but has since decided to meet quarterly. McMurray said the cost to the city is minimal, but some food and drinks are provided because the meetings are over the lunch hour.

City Hall also hosts a similar meeting, the Community Police Advisory Committee, which also meets quarterly. According to McMurray, the committees are not redundant because the CPAC only deals with the police.

“The police advisory committee is just what is says, it concerns the police,” he said. “This is much wider, this is the entire community.”

McMurray said his blue ribbon committee also has one other main component.

“Part of this is an educational role,” he said. “A lot of people on the committee have said, ‘I had no idea what all is going on with law enforcement in the city.’”

The committee’s chairman is Michael Meierhoffer. Its next scheduled meeting is on June 17 at 12.30 p.m. Which room it will be held in at City Hall is to be determined, according to the city’s website.

Mustangs win road game


St. Joseph puts up 16 runs, allows 11 in 3-game sweep of Joplin with return to Phil Welch coming today.

Details on Page C1