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Archive for September, 2012

(West Plains) (AP) – Air Evac Lifeteam’s president, Seth Myers, helped grow the rural ambulance service from its modest roots 25 years ago into one of south-central Missouri’s largest employers, with 600 local workers and a presence in 15 states.

But the demands of doing business in an isolated region led the company in June to relocate its headquarters to suburban St. Louis, costing Howell County 150 high-paying jobs. Another 45 employees are transferring to West Plains from a shuttered Air Evac office in Houston, Mo., 50 miles to the north.

“There’s a great workforce there. Our customers are rural-based,” said Myers, who along with other top brass is now based in O’Fallon, minutes from Lambert International Airport and closer to the suburban school districts and manicured lawns preferred by senior executives. “It was really logistics, first and foremost … . Had our company not grown to 15 states and created more of a logistical challenge, today we would still be in West Plains.”

Such explanations do little to mollify Wendell Bailey, a 72-year-old former Missouri congressman and state treasurer who returned to Willow Springs after his political career ended. The former car dealer, who lost a 1992 Republican primary for governor and the 2000 general election for lieutenant governor, recently helped form the Southern Ozarks Alliance for Rural Development.

The group, known as SOAR, includes more than 30 business and civic leaders from a 10-county region. Its mission is to forge a regional approach to job creation and economic development in a state where the political, civic and business culture is dominated by Columbia, Jefferson City, Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis.

“We’re generally the last place in the state of Missouri that becomes aware of, or gets funded by, any programs,” said Bailey, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980 but lost to Rep. Ike Skelton two years later after his district was eliminated in redistricting. “We’re just buried back in the hills.”

Statistics, history and anecdotes alike point to the region’s predicament.

In 2007, per capita income in the 10 counties ranged from a low of $18,876 in Shannon County to a high of $23,499 in Howell. The statewide average was $32,789. College graduation rates in those counties ranged from 7.6 percent to 10.8 percent – the highest being half the statewide average of 21.6 percent.

Bailey traces the region’s woes to the Civil War, when the region wasn’t fully aligned with either the South or North and suffered destruction from both sides. The area’s rough terrain and thin soil make agriculture impractical, and the hardscrabble Scotch-Irish mountain migrants from Appalachia were never much for formal education, he said.

And the young people who do succeed despite the poverty usually have little interest in sticking around, Bailey added. He counts nine natives of Willow Springs who have become doctors – eight of whom moved away after school.

The SOAR board president is Mary Sheid, owner of a successful physical therapy company and a former member of the Missouri State University Board of Governors. The collaborative approach is a new one for Ozarks communities that more often view one another as rivals, she said.

“We need to do a better job of collaboration. They haven’t really worked together collaboratively in the past,” she said. “If anything, there’s been competition.”

SOAR recently brought together 40 machine shop owners from its 10 counties to meet with Boeing Corp. officials about potential employment prospects. Its priorities include extending high-speed Internet service into the region’s rural reaches and luring employers with job-training and vocational programs. The group wants to work with school districts on dropout prevention and increase the area’s low-income housing supply.

Bailey and Sheid also are not reluctant to embrace the Ozarks’ regional identity, including some of the behavior depicted in the acclaimed 2010 film “Winter’s Bone,” based on a novel by West Plains resident Daniel Woodrell.

“We do grow up hunting for squirrels, we do grow up playing on the hay bale,” said Sheid, who was born and raised in Thayer on the Missouri-Arkansas border. “A lot of people heat with wood. … We have a culture in this area of self-resilience, of taking care of ourselves – almost to the point of being negative.”

As a politician, Bailey was known for his colorful stunts, including a campaign for treasurer in an armored truck and barnstorming jaunts in his campaign for governor in an old cab. Now firmly ensconced in the region he has called home since birth, Bailey said that it’s time for the rest of the state to pay more attention to a region he says is too often treated as “flyover Missouri.”

“We’re talking about hundreds of years of poverty,” he said. “What can we do about it? Frankly, we don’t know. But we have a plan.”

(Springfield) (AP) – A 68-year-old man with a long history of child sex abuse arrests in several states has been charged in southwest Missouri as a “predatory sexual offender” and could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of sexually abusing a young girl this summer.

Ronald Richard Reed was arrested Monday on a warrant for forgery. A day later, prosecutors charged him with first-degree child molestation and sexual misconduct involving a child less than 15 years, said assistant Greene County prosecutor Casey Clark.

Reed was being held Wednesday in lieu of $100,000 bond. The prosecutor’s office said it didn’t appear that he had obtained an attorney.

Reed had been living under an assumed name at a farm in Strafford, across the road from a children’s home that houses youth between the ages of 6 to 18 years old, The Springfield News-Leader reported. Strafford is about 14 miles northeast of Springfield.

A detective wrote in a probable cause statement that the children’s home reported three incidents since December 2011, in which a peeping Tom was seen looking into windows on the property.

Reed’s criminal history includes arrests and convictions for indecent exposure to minors and adults, sexual assault on a child, cruelty toward a child, rape, resisting arrest, attempted rape and possession of dangerous drugs. His convictions, dating back to 1968, were in Oregon, Colorado, Nevada and Missouri, and there’s still an outstanding warrant in Colorado for crimes against children, according to the probable cause statement.

He also has failed to register as a sex offender in Colorado, Iowa and Missouri, prosecutors said.

“Clearly we’re concerned about someone who has this alleged history living under an assume name,” said Stephanie Wan, senior assistant prosecuting attorney. “It’s a concern that the farm was across the street from a children’s home.”

Clark said an investigator contacted Reed at the farm on July 9, in relation to an 8-year-old girl’s claims that Reed groped her and exposed himself while giving her a riding lesson on a fake horse.

Reed, using the name Stanley E. Wills, agreed to go to the sheriff’s office after work to discuss the accusation, but instead got on a bus and fled the area, prosecutors said.

Two weeks later, he was found in Charles City, Iowa, where he was working with a carnival. Investigators said he had shaved his head and beard and gave investigators a false name, but later was identified through fingerprints.

He also was in possession of “three pairs of little girl panties, one pair of little boy underwear, a female wig, black ski mask and more than $4,000 in U.S. currency,” the probable cause statement said. Clark said Reed wasn’t taken into custody at that time.

“This is definitely an unusual case,” Wan said. “I’ve been doing this for five years. We don’t come across something like this very often.”

Greene County prosecutors charged Reed on July 19 with one count of forgery, but he wasn’t arrested on that charge until Monday, Clark said.

His extensive criminal history led prosecutors to charge him as a serial offender, which carries an extended term of life in prison.

(West Plains) – A bolt of lightning from today’s storms hit one of the main transmitting towers belonging to the Ozark Radio Network, affecting a number of our stations. The hit happened around 11:30 AM.

Here is the current status of our stations:

102.5 KDY – ON AIR


96.9 FM The Fox – ON AIR

100.3 KUKU FM – ON AIR


singer Andy Williams smiles as he speaks to reporters during his news conference at a Tokyo hotel, in this July 25, 2004 file photo. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

(Branson) – Legendary country crooner Andy Williams has died, according to family sources in Branson.

Williams died after a year-long battle with bladder cancer. He was 84.

Williams passed away at his home in Branson, MO,where he owns the Moon River Theatre, named after his signature song.

The singer, who also had a residence in La Quinta, Calif., is survived by his wife Debbie and his three children, Robert, Noelle and Christian.

(Springfield) – The two finalists for the 11th president at Missouri State University were announced on Monday – Dr. Randy J. Dunn, president of Murray State University in Kentucky, and current interim MSU president Clif Smart.

The on-campus interviews are scheduled for October 7-11, with visits to the West Plains campus scheduled for October 9 from 1:45-2:45 PM in Kellett Hall for Dr. Dunn, and October 11 from 2:45-3:45 PM in Kellett Hall for Mr. Smart.

The multi-day visits will include interviews with the Board of Governors, as well as individual sessions with faculty, staff, students and the community.

The two finalists were presented to Gordon Elliott, chair of the Board of Governors, by Joe Turner on behalf of the search committee. Elliott says that there was a strong and diverse selection of applicants, and that these two were the strongest finalists in the group.

The goal is to name a new president by November 1.

The Board announced on March 8 that it would go forward with a search after the departure of Dr. James Cofer as the 10th president of the college system.

The application letters, complete resumes, and on-campus interview itineraries of the two finalists are available on the presidential search web site at:

Dr. Randy J. Dunn
Murray State University
Murray, Kentucky

Dr. Randy J. Dunn was selected to be Murray State University’s 11th president in May of 2006 and his official duties began at the university on Dec. 1, 2006.

Prior to coming to Murray State, Dunn served as the state superintendent of education for the Illinois State Board of Education. Before that, he held the rank of professor in the department of educational administration and higher education at Southern Illinois University (SIU)-Carbondale. Dunn started at SIU as an associate professor in 1995, and was named department chair in 2000, before leaving to take the state superintendency. He began his academic career as an assistant professor in the department of leadership at The University of Memphis for two years before taking his faculty post at Southern Illinois.

His early career in Illinois education included teaching, service as a principal at two school districts in north central Illinois, and the post of district superintendent for two Illinois school systems.

Dunn received his doctorate in educational administration from the University of Illinois in 1991. He graduated from Illinois State University with a master’s in administration and foundations in 1983, and the B.S. in education in 1980.

During his time in higher education, Dunn has served on a number of committees, councils and task forces, including those for the American and Illinois Associations of School Administrators, SACS, the North Central Association, Learning Point Associates, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Association of School Boards, and other groups. He has consulted on education issues nationally and has served as the principal investigator or co-PI on numerous grants totaling nearly $650,000. His scholarly writing includes published articles on a range of education management issues in professional journals, as well as book chapters, book reviews and monographs. Additionally, he has evaluated a number of manuscripts for publication in journals and books and grant proposals for funding agencies.

Dunn is married to Dr. Ronda Baker Dunn and they are the parents of four adult children.

Source: Murray State University web site

Mr. Clifton M. Smart III
Interim President
Missouri State University

On June 27, 2011, Clifton M. “Clif” Smart III was named interim president of the university. Smart had been general counsel at Missouri State since Dec. 1, 2007.

Over the past 3½ years at Missouri State, Smart provided legal counsel to the Board, president, faculty, staff and administrators. He also has been involved in many campus-wide initiatives, including leading the university response to the state auditor’s report on Missouri State; serving on the JQH Arena Task Force; developing a comprehensive on-line policy library for the university; and chairing or serving on a variety of searches: vice president for diversity and inclusion, chief financial officer (twice), director of admissions, director of human resources and men’s basketball coach.

Smart joined The Strong Law Firm in 1992. He has been a shareholder in the firm since 1995 and vice president since 1998. Over the past 15 years, his practice consisted primarily of representing individuals and entities in catastrophic injury, medical malpractice and commercial cases.

Smart was selected to the panel of three applicants submitted to the governor for the vacant Missouri Supreme Court positions in 2002 and 2004. In February 2009, he was elected for a five-year term as one of the two lawyer members of the 31st Circuit Judicial Commission.

Smart was listed in Best Lawyers in America for 2007-08 in the fields of product liability, personal injury and professional negligence.

Prior to joining The Strong Law Firm, Smart worked for two years with the firm of Wright, Lindsey & Jennings in Little Rock, Ark. From 1986-90, he was with the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. in Ft. Knox, Ky.

Smart graduated from Fayetteville High School in 1979 where he was valedictorian. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University in 1983, graduating Summa Cum Laude.

In 1986, he graduated with his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law, receiving the second highest GPA (3.95) in school history. While in law school, he received the Leflar Scholarship, was an Oxford Scholar and was on the Law Review.

Smart and his wife, Gail, have two sons: Murray, who graduated in 2012 from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, and Jim, a sophomore at Hamilton College in New York.

(West Plains) – The voter registration deadline to vote in the November 6 general election in Howell County will be Wednesday, October 10 at 5 PM.

People who want to register can do so in the County Clerk’s office on the first floor of the former Bank of America building on Court Square in West Plains, as well as Willow Springs City Hall or Mountain View City Hall.

The county clerk’s office will have a voter registration booth at Pioneer Days this Saturday, September 29 and at Oz Fall Fest in Willow Springs Saturday, October 6.

People who are registered but have moved their residence are encouraged to transfer their registration in order to avoid delays in voting on Election Day.

(West Plains) – West Plains City Clerk Mallory Thompson has information on a street closing plus an update on the Haunting in the Hollows set for next month at Galloway Park:


The event itself will take place October 20.

(AP Photo)

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Republican congressman Todd Akin has made good on his promise to stay in the Missouri Senate race against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.

Tuesday’s final deadline for Missouri candidates to remove their names from the ballot came and went at 5 p.m. as Akin continued a bus tour across the state. It’s a final confirmation that he’s resisting calls from within his own party to drop his bid.

Many Republicans – including presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan – distanced themselves from Akin after his comments in August about what he called “legitimate rape.”

But on Monday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich appeared with Akin at a fundraiser. Gingrich predicted Republicans would return to Akin’s side in the coming weeks.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – A month after calling on Congressman Todd Akin to drop out of Missouri’s U.S. Senate race, the state’s incumbent Republican senator now says he’ll work for Akin’s election.

Sen. Roy Blunt was among several leading Missouri Republicans who urged Akin in August to quit his challenge to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. The pressure followed Akin’s televised comment that women’s bodies can avert pregnancy from what he called “legitimate rape.”

Akin has remained in the race and was campaigning Tuesday when a final deadline for him to withdraw came and went.

Tuesday night, Blunt issued a statement saying he and Akin “don’t agree on everything, but he and I agree the Senate majority must change.” Blunt added, “I’ll be working for the Republican ticket in Missouri, and that includes Todd Akin.”

In other Akin news, Sen. Claire McCaskill is airing a new ad highlighting Rep. Todd Akin’s much-criticized remark about rape, moving quickly to capitalize on her Republican challenger’s comment as it became clear Tuesday that he wasn’t dropping out of the Senate race.

Akin also sought to capitalize on Tuesday’s deadline for candidates to withdraw by court order from the Missouri ballot. Instead of quitting, the congressman rallied with about 200 supporters in St. Louis before launching a statewide bus tour and asked for donations to replenish his financially strapped campaign.

Akin has repeatedly apologized and rejected calls from top Republicans to quit the Senate race after a television interview aired Aug. 19 in which he said that women’s bodies have ways of averting pregnancy in cases of what he called “legitimate rape.”

At his St. Louis rally, Akin said he was “given a trust” by voters who nominated him in the Aug. 7 Republican primary. He also compared himself to former Missouri Sen. Harry Truman, who overcame opposition from fellow Democrats to win re-election in 1940, later becoming vice president and then president.

Earlier Tuesday, McCaskill’s campaign website debuted an ad citing comments Akin made over the past year expressing dislike for Social Security, questioning the constitutionality of the Medicare program and voicing opposition to the federal government’s role in setting a minimum wage and financing student loans.

The ad culminates by referencing Akin’s remark about rape and asks: “What will he say next?”

McCaskill’s campaign said the ad is running on TV stations statewide.

MDC’s area manager of Peck Ranch CA, Preston Mabry, leads the group on a tour of the elk holding facility at Peck Ranch. (Photo provided)

(Cape Girardeau) – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently hosted community leaders from Carter, Reynolds and Shannon Counties, all three counties within the elk restoration zone, on a tour of recent elk habitat work. The September 19 meeting showed management efforts on Peck Ranch Conservation Area (CA) that benefit a variety of native plant and animal species including elk.

A variety of habitat management sites including woodland, glade, and green browse sites, were explored throughout the day.

The group was hoping to get a glimpse of the elk, but the early rising elk were elusive. The group also toured the holding pen site where elk from Kentucky acclimated to their new home in late spring of 2011 and 2012.

According to Twin Pines Education Center Manager Melanie Carden-Jessen, elk viewing is already attracting visitors. Twin Pines is located near Winona, on Highway 60, so it receives its fair share of elk inquiries and pre-trip stops.

The elk herd is now over 75 in number and viewing opportunities have never been better, if it’s at the right time of day, when elk are more likely to be out in the open.

For more information on elk restoration in Missouri, go online to and search “elk”.