The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 24, 2013

Susan Redden: Melton recalls Dan Harmon and Democratic majorities

JOPLIN, Mo. — It sounds alien today when there are veto-proof Republican majorities in the Missouri Senate and House, but Emory Melton, a former longtime state senator from Cassville, pointed out last week that there was a time when Democrats dominated the two chambers.

Melton, a Republican who served in the Senate for 24 years, offered the observation in recalling former state Rep. Dan Harmon, of Noel, who served in the House in the 1970s.

Harmon died March 15 at the age of 84.

Melton said Harmon, a fellow Republican, was able to got a lot done for the region because he was well-liked on both sides of the aisle.

“He was very popular in the House with Democrats too. He was very bright and just an outgoing sort of fellow,” Melton said. “He didn’t sacrifice his principles; he just based it on friendship.”

Melton said Harmon often would be the House handler for legislation he had introduced in the Senate, adding, “At the time, it was difficult for Republicans to get very much done.”

Harmon served in the House from 1970 to 1976, then returned to Noel to manage family businesses, including Harmon Lumber Co. and Noel Water Co. In the 1980s, he served on the Missouri Campaign Finance Review Board, after Melton recommended him for the post.

Harmon served as Noel mayor from 1961 to 1965. During his tenure, the Globe ran a story with the headline “Dan Harmon ‘No Slouch’ When It Comes to Work,” along with a photo that showed him working alongside city crews on a culvert project. The story said he provided a truck for city use and got a salary of $15 a year.

Melton, in a telephone conversation from his Cassville law office, acknowledged his own long tenure in the Senate.

“I kept thinking sooner or later we’d get a Republican majority,” he said.

Melton was an ally of Richard Webster, of Carthage, another longtime Republican senator.

He said the two, along with Republican Sens. John T. Russell, of Lebanon, and Paul Bradshaw, of Springfield, were referred to as “the Ozarks Mafia.”

Melton still has a law practice in Cassville and was in court earlier on Thursday. He said he will turn 90 later this year.

Tax credits

State Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, had high praise for Jim Frazier on Friday for work the Joplin resident had done in Jefferson City on behalf of a measure that would authorize tax credits in support of efforts that attract amateur sporting competitions.

Richard said testimony from Frazier was instrumental in getting approval for the measure, which was passed by the House and Senate and sent to Gov. Jay Nixon. Speaking at a local “eggs and issues” legislative brunch on Friday, Richard said Frazier was such a persuasive advocate on the subject that he was sought out by organizations in Kansas City and St. Louis that support the bill.

Frazier, a former Missouri Southern State University football coach and athletic director, has been active in promoting sports in the Joplin area as an officer and one-time interim director of the Joplin Sports Authority. The group has brought dozens of events to the region, including USA Baseball tournaments and national cross country meets.

Also on the governor’s desk is a measure that would offer state tax credits for donations to efforts such as pregnancy resource centers, food pantries and organizations that serve children in crisis.

Susan Redden is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at sredden@joplinglobe.com or 417-627-7258. Follow her on Twitter @Susan_Redden.

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