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Man sentenced

Colton Albright receives 65 months for misdemeanor charge and six months each on dogfighting charges.

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Bulldogs lose

to Tigers

East Buchanan softball season ends after defeat by Marceline.

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Community weighs in on SJSD facility plans

The St. Joseph School District and architecture company DLR held the first of several community sessions Wednesday evening at emPowerU, 518 S. Sixth St., to get more targeted feedback on their Master Facilities Plan.

Five separate high-school-related concepts were shown to the public, each one showing the pros and cons of such a change as well as its estimated cost. Community, members, teachers and organization heads came out to examine the concepts and provide feedback through sticky notes.

Concept A is a single-high-school model, and would have the district close down Central, Benton and Lafayette to establish a new building. Notes across the accompanied board said such a model may throw extracurricular activities into flux. Others said the school would be too big for St. Joseph.

Concept B, the construction of two new high schools while closing the others, seemed to be the most supported, though one note asked how the boundary lines between the schools would be enforced.

Concept C would have the district build a new high school while renovating Central. The most common criticism of such a plan seemed to be that both Benton and Lafayette students would feel displaced.

Concept D, renovating the three current schools, seemed to be divisive. The pros and cons were clear: Tradition and teacher-student relationships would remain intact, though many mentioned that the overall problems with the schools and the district wouldn’t be fixed in the long run.

Concept E would have the district close the three high schools and build a ninth-grade center as well as a new 10th- through 12th-grade high school. Feedback indicated that the ninth-grade center would be too disconnected and that the student-teacher relationships there wouldn’t be as strong.

“It’s a bit of a challenge. These folks have a lot of thoughts and ideas that we want to hear,” Superintendent Dr. Doug Van Zyl said. “But I would say that for the most part, people are saying that they’d like something different.”

School Board President Seth Wright said that he’s happy that community members are seeing the pros and cons for each model, though sometimes it’s easy for them to focus on the latter as opposed to the former.

“I think there is sometimes a tendency to sometimes focus on what people are losing in this process, especially when you’re talking about closing high schools where they may have an emotional attachment,” Wright said. “And I think as we move forward in the process, we’ve got to then demonstrate what they’re going to gain.”

As the district has planned for more community sessions, both Van Zyl and Wright encouraged people to come out and provide feedback. As opposed to social media sites like Facebook where people may guess or assume what the possibilities may be, Van Zyl said coming out to talk with members of the board and DLR will give them a clearer picture.

Sharon Miller, a junior at Benton High School, said she was happy to discuss her concerns with members of the board, and that while some traditions may be lost with a number of the presented plans, she believes the overall academics of the area are important.

“I feel like there needs to be a change, because if you look at all the facilities right now, and all the high schools, it’s not really up to date,” she said. “This was a good way for me to see what the future was going to look like, and it gave me a good perspective on what was going to happen. And also, I came to kind of be the relay of all of the information to tell my folks and all of my friends back home who may be affected by this.”

The St. Joseph School District and DLR will host a second community session from 5 to 8 p.m. this evening at emPowerU. Daytime sessions will be held from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29, and Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Board of Education Conference Room, 925 Felix St.

Life Story | An ongoing series of articles about noteworthy people from the News-Press readership area
With bird dogs, trainer finds a winning formula

Quick and stealthy, Jack moves along the fence line, wind in his face and doing what comes naturally.

Bloodlines put him on this track, the English Pointer born to do what he does. His gait has purpose. His nose seems true to the task.

As if a brake has been applied, Jack stops. Not a rolling stop, but like his nose has hit an invisible wall. The tail goes roughly perpendicular to the ground. His left front paw rises in a pose, the look of a job done to perfection.

None of this surprises Joe Worsham. The owner and trainer of Jack — the registered name actually reads Worsham Silver Comet — got his first bird dog in 1973. He knows genetics do their best with these exquisite animals. He knows, too, the training, the “finish,” that goes into taking them to another level.

This matters in the circles where Worsham and Jack spend time. Sound construction. Lung capacity. Intensity on point. The fundamental desire to hunt, to get to where pheasants, quail, woodcocks, chukars, grouse and prairie chickens might be ... and then hold them in place, wait with a deep and unshakable patience.

All these qualities worked out last month when Jack won the National Amateur Chicken Championship in Saskatchewan, Canada. The Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America sanctioned the event.

“A field trial dog is a perfectly finished, great hunting dog,” Worsham said, “and the competition is that my dog is better than yours, and I’m going to show you.”

Originally from Louisiana, Worsham moved to Northwest Missouri for a job, working as a sporting goods manager at the North Belt Highway Kmart. He left that position in 1981, spending the next 37-plus years as a representative for different manufacturers of hunting and fishing wares, everything from lures to bullets.

That first dog, a Brittany, proved a gateway to what came later. Worsham began bird hunting and loved it. After the Brittany, he got an English Pointer, a really good one, it turned out.

Worsham had taken part in trap-shooting competitions and fishing tournaments, and he had done all right. But he wanted something beyond this.

The Pointer won its first field trial, a sanctioned event, in about 1977. “I’ve been at it ever since,” Worsham said.

The field trials become a proving ground for all those attributes a hunter really appreciates. Plaques in the Worsham basement, the home on a rural property in Buchanan County, attest to considerable success.

Training and preparation do not guarantee a championship, though. The goal of “perfect manners around game” can be elusive. Even the best canine can lose focus, stray from the task. It can cost a long futile drive and a quickly lost entry fee.

It helps to laugh, Worsham decided. And the work goes on.

In the trials, the trainer goes against people he has known for years, competitors in Saskatchewan coming from North Carolina, California, Alabama and other states. It’s a welcoming club, folks anxious to share information and help one another.

Worsham got Jack from a breeder in Indiana, the dog one of proven bloodline. Another person developed the dog in Tennessee, and the Buchanan County man works the competitor through the fine points.

A bonus comes from the friendship that forms with the animal. The training should be exacting, Worsham said, but never overly harsh. In correcting bad habits, the trainer takes care not to create even bigger problems.

Still, the thrill of the competitions will keep Worsham in the game. His recent retirement looks to have something to fill the time.

“I’ve got two good young dogs and a little bit of time on my hands and, fortunately, with the approval of my wife going along with all of this, I’m able to go and compete,” Jack’s owner said. “If everything lines up, I think I can be competitive nationally.”

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Murder charges filed in missing brothers case

A Caldwell County man was charged with two counts of first-degree murder Wednesday in the deaths of two missing brothers from Wisconsin.

Garland Joseph Nelson also is charged with two counts of abandonment of a corpse, two counts of tampering with physical evidence, two counts of armed criminal action, one count of tampering with a motor vehicle and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm in the deaths of Nicholas and Justin Diemel. The brothers, from Shawano County, Wisconsin, were on a trip related to their cattle business when they disappeared in July after visiting Nelson at his farm near Braymer, Missouri.

In a probable cause statement, Caldwell County Sheriffs Office Maj. Mitchell Allen said the two brothers were last seen at Nelson’s farm on July 21 to collect a $250,000 check. As previously reported, the pair were reported missing after they didn’t make their return flight home from Kansas City International Airport to Wisconsin in July. The statement said Nelson confessed to intentionally killing both men after waiving his Miranda rights, but did not give a reason. However, Nelson did allegedly admit to having a firearm in his possession, according to the statement.

The statement also said someone drove Nelson back to his farm after he abandoned the brothers’ rental truck near Holt, Missouri. No other person has been charged in the case, and the statement does not say who drove him home.

“Based on the investigation, it is believed Nicholas and Justin Diemel never left the property when they arrived and were intentionally killed,” Mitchell said.

“Garland Nelson was contacted (by law enforcement) and throughout the investigation provided hours of interviews with investigators and gave many misleading explanations and recollections of events,” Mitchell said.

The probable cause statement said DNA evidence was recovered from Nelson’s farm in the ensuing investigation, and added Nelson used several different methods to dispose of the bodies, including stuffing them into 55-gallon drums and then burning them. Mitchell said DNA from a bloodstain found on Nelson’s shirt matches Nicholas Diemel.

“After the bodies were burned, Nelson said one or both of the bodies were placed into a manure pile,” Mitchell said in the statement. “Nelson said he used a skid loader to crush the barrels the bodies were burned in.

“Nelson said he at some point returned to a pole barn and used a shovel to remove what he believed to be blood from the floor where it is believed the Diemels were killed,” Mitchell said.

Authorities from multiple agencies spent days in July combing Nelson’s farm for evidence in the case.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Caldwell County Sheriff Jerry Galloway read from a statement but did not take questions, other than to say that this is one of the toughest cases he’s worked as a law enforcement officer.

“It should be noted that charges against a person are just allegations and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Caldwell County Prosecuting Attorney Brady Kopek said in a statement. “This is an extremely complex case and has required the hard work of many officers and agencies joining together to investigate and solve this case, and we appreciate their efforts.”

A special prosecutor has been assigned to the case. Stephen Sokoloff of the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services has been assigned.

Until Wednesday, Nelson had only been charged with tampering with a motor vehicle. He has pleaded not guilty to that charge and already was being held without bond, something his public defender said was uncommon for Caldwell County.

Nelson was convicted in federal court for fraud after illegally selling cows in 2013 and 2014 and was sentenced to two years in prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. According to the federal indictment, Nelson tried to sell cows that were under his care to graze but that he did not own. The indictment also said he sold cows that were mortgaged by the Farm Service Agency. Nelson’s past criminal history also shows multiple lawsuits, criminal charges and an order of protection.

Court records indicate Nelson is scheduled for an arraignment at 10 a.m. today at the Caldwell County Courthouse. His case is currently assigned to Judge Jason Kanvoy, who also is handling the original tampering charge.