We started out the week great with a groundbreaking at the Wildwood Ranch for a new nursing home designed to replace one of those lost in the tornado.

We started out the week great with a groundbreaking at the Wildwood Ranch  for a new nursing home designed to replace one of those lost in the tornado.

This center will incorporate some of the newest and most innovative ideas for its residents. One area will be designated explicitly for those with memory problems, another for those who are recuperating from surgeries, and even a special area for those who want a little more relaxed lifestyle. They can sleep in if they want and enjoy a late breakfast and more leisurely day (that's the one Jane wants). They are planning on completion in 120 days. I'll keep you posted on the grand opening. This will sure help to get us back to normal.

Tuesday evening was the Crowder Foundation’s annual Festival of Wreathes. There was a great turnout and a record amount of money was raised to benefit worthy students with scholarships. You could bid on everything from a side of beef from Adams cattle Co. to a week stay in the Lindquist's cabin in Colorado. There was some marvelous artwork available and Jane found something for the river house. The astounding thing about this is with an economic downturn like we are experiencing, Newton and McDonald County people are still willing to help out worthy causes. That says a lot about the quality of folks we have here!

Thursday afternoon, we were at yet another groundbreaking. This time we were at Jane for the new McDonald County campus of Crowder College. We had great weather for the event and it was very well attended. Mr. Jim Tatum was able to see a long time dream come to fruition and he was the keynote speaker. Among other things, he pointed out that we were already training nurses in a temporary facility at Pineville and the program is expected to increase greatly with the new facility. With the critical need for healthcare workers, this couldn't have come at a more opportune time. Great work, Mr. Tatum!

Friday found us in Kansas City as guests of the Kansas City Child Abuse Roundtable. There were about 75 attendees from every imaginable occupation. Their sole purpose is to improve understanding of child abuse issues and identify strategies for tackling the problems surrounding abuse. The Missouri Kids First Deputy Director cornered me after the event and introduced me to a forensic pediatrician. His field of expertise is examining injuries and determining how the injury was obtained. We had a fascinating discussion and I learned things I couldn't imagine. For example, he is able to determine whether a child's arm is broken by a fall or by being thrown. He also pointed out that many times a parent is accused of abuse and he is able to prove the injury was simply an accident. The more I learn about child abuse, the more amazed I become. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go before we can solve this horrific problem.

For too many years the popular solution to these problems has been to inject more and more money into the system.

Unfortunately, this has only resulted in creating an ever expanding bureaucracy and make a wider gap between the salaries of the service worker on the front line and the multi levels of supervision. There were people there from the governor's budget office who actually said that in Missouri, personal income is no longer declining. Maybe the reason is it is as low as it can go? The next person from the State Budget Office stated that they were hiring an outside contractor to secure more Social Security for people. When I look at the amount of people employed by the State in the Social Services Division, I have to ask why they need an outside contractor to find ways to put more people on social security? My hope is that our joint committee will be able to find solutions to some of the problems we are experiencing in reporting, removal of children from abusive situations, and acquiring and keeping good foster care facilities.

The Christmas season is upon us and with it we are going to be treated to festivals and parades all over the district.

Every day my list of places to attend grows! My hope is that amid all the rush and hubbub of this time of year, we remember the reason for the celebrations! Remember to "keep Christ in Christmas."

Until next time, I am and remain, in your service.

Bill Lant represents the people of Southwest Missouri in the Missouri House of Representatives. Contact him locally at 437-8223 or at his Jefferson City office at (573) 751-9801 or email him at bill.lant@house.mo.gov.