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Archive for April, 2014

(Jefferson City) (AP) – A renegade Republican teamed up with minority party Democrats on Wednesday to deliver the first affirmative – albeit symbolic – vote of the year for a plan to expand Missouri’s Medicaid program to hundreds of thousands of lower-income adults.

House Health Insurance Committee Chairman Chris Molendorp voted with four Democratic members to attach the Medicaid expansion proposal to an unrelated Senate bill pending in his committee. Molendorp said he planned to do the same thing to any other Senate bills sent his way before the May 16 end of the legislative session.

A Republican from Belton who is not seeking re-election, Molendorp has been at odds with a majority of his GOP colleagues who remain firmly against expanding Medicaid eligibility under the terms of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

His committee voted 5-2 for the expansion plan, with the other Republicans on the panel either voting “no” or leaving the room before the vote. An affirmative vote typically would advance a bill to the House Rules Committee and then, potentially, to the House floor for debate. But Molendorp acknowledged that Republican leaders are unlikely to allow the bill to be debated by the full chamber.

The committee vote was intended “to make a statement that the Republican Party needs to do the right thing,” Molendorp said. He added: “It’s symbolic, I understand that, but someone’s got to lead on this issue, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Under the federal health care law, states that expand adult Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the poverty level – about $27,000 annually for a family of three – can initially receive full federal funding for those added to the rolls. That federal aid is then gradually reduced to a 90 percent share, with states picking up the rest.

About half the states have chosen to expand Medicaid eligibility.

Many Missouri Republicans, who hold overwhelmingly majorities in the House and Senate, have raised concerns about the long-term costs of an expanded Medicaid program once the state has to start paying part of the bill.

The House and Senate both have repeatedly rejected Democratic attempts to add funding for a Medicaid expansion to the state budget.

The plan endorsed by Molendorp’s committee was developed by Republican Sen. Ryan Silvey, of Kansas City, who has been unable to get it debated by the full Senate. It’s been pushed by a coalition of health care and business groups whose lobbying corps includes former Republican U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, of Missouri. Supporters describe the plan as a conservative approach to Medicaid expansion.

Silvey calls the measure a comprehensive overhaul of Missouri’s Medicaid and welfare programs. It would use managed care insurance policies administered through the Medicaid program to cover adults living in poverty, with new incentives for healthy behaviors and requirements for some participants to make co-payments. For those living slightly above the poverty level, the state would subsidy premiums through a federally run health insurance website.

Among other things, the bill also would require food stamp recipients to seek work, further their education or engage in community service.

Joe Pierle is CEO of the Missouri Primary Care Association and chairman of the Coalition for Healthy Economic Growth, which is backing a Medicaid expansion. He said the committee action was the “first positive vote since the session started” in January but acknowledged the measure is “tied up in politics” with no clear path to passage.

“How you disassociate this from Obamacare is the biggest obstacle,” Pierle said.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – A Missouri woman died in prison Wednesday while serving a life sentence for the 1989 slaying of her teenage daughter in a crime that was chillingly captured on an FBI surveillance tape and apparently prompted by the girl’s resistance to the family’s Islamic traditions.

Maria Isa, 70, died at a prison in Vandalia “of apparent natural causes,” the Missouri Department of Corrections said in a written statement. Isa had been in prison since 1991.

She was convicted along with her husband, Zein Isa, in the fatal stabbing of their 16-year-old daughter Palestina Isa in St. Louis. The killing was caught on a surveillance tape by the FBI, which had placed a microphone in the family’s apartment because it suspected Zein Isa of being involved with the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

The recording captured the girl’s screams for mercy and her father saying in Arabic, “Die, my daughter, die!” The FBI wasn’t monitoring the taping at the time of the killing.

Zein and Maria Isa initially were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1991. While awaiting execution, Zein Isa died in prison in February 1997 after a long illness.

Maria Isa’s sentence was overturned on appeal because of questionable jury instructions and, after a new hearing, she was re-sentenced to life without parole in June 1997.

Isa was accused of holding down her daughter while her husband repeatedly stabbed her after Palestina Isa came home from her first day of work at a fast-food restaurant. Maria Isa’s attorney had asserted in 1997 that she had been trying to protect the girl.

Witnesses at the couple’s trial testified that the daughter was a popular and accomplished student who frequently clashed with her fundamentalist Muslim parents and older sisters over her boyfriend, job and time spent away from home.

The slaying of Palestina Isa was the focus of a 1995 book by St. Louis author Ellen Harris that was entitled, “Guarding the Secrets: Palestinian Terrorism and a Father’s Murder of His Too-American Daughter.”

The nonfiction book described the slaying as an Islamic “honor killing” in which a man kills a female relative for disobeying or disgracing the family. It included comments from other members of the Isa family, including the girl’s older sisters, who said Palestina had wanted to be like American teenagers against her family’s wishes.

(Vilonia) (AP) – The deadly tornado that tore its way through a central Arkansas community earlier this week also injured or displaced dozens of pets.

Vilonia Animal Clinic office manager Melanie Gentry says nearly 50 pets have been taken to the facility – the only veterinary clinic in the city- for either shelter or treatment. Animals that have been taken into the clinic include dogs, cats and two goats.

Three animals – two dogs and one goat – have died from their injuries.

A Lost and Found Pets Facebook page created by stay-at-home mom Melinda Davis is working to reconnect lost pets with their owners. It has almost 4,000 likes since it was made on Sunday when the twister hit.

From left, back row, Dakota Crow, Boys and Girls Club Executive Director, Emily Grisham with the Club, Paige Ferguson, and Maggie Gohn. Seated is Libby Gohn, and Akhil Shah, being held by Robin Morgan. (ORN Photo)

From left, back row, Dakota Crow, Boys and Girls Club Executive Director, Emily Grisham with the Club, Paige Ferguson, and Maggie Gohn. Seated is Libby Gohn, and Akhil Shah, being held by Robin Morgan. (ORN Photo)

(West Plains) – This chair, valued at $400, was donated by Clea’s At Home Market for the 2nd annual Derby Social for the Boys and Girls Club of the Greater West Plains Area.

The derby social, scheduled for May 3, will feature a number of events tied to the Kentucky Derby. For more information, visit

News Director Ed Button and Assistant News Director Tim Church. (ORN Photo)

News Director Ed Button and Assistant News Director Tim Church. (ORN Photo)

(Jefferson City) – The Ozark Radio Network is a finalist in two categories at this year’s Missouri Broadcasters Association Awards ceremony, which will be held June 6-7 at the Branson Convention Center in Branson, MO.

The News Department at the Ozark Radio Network received two nominations, one in the “Complete Newscast” category for a newscast done February 11, 2014 on 102.5 KDY, and one in the “News Series” category for our coverage of the battle between the Baxter County government and the American Humanist Association and the Appignani Humanist Legal Center over a nativity scene displayed by the county in 2013.

The Missouri Broadcasters Association Awards event honors radio and television stations in the state of Missouri for exemplary work in the previous year, and also honors broadcasters and managers in the Missouri Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame, which started in 2011. Ozark Radio Network founder Robert Neathery was named to the inaugural 2011 class.

“This continues the tradition of excellence we strive for at the Ozark Radio Network,” said News Director Ed Button. “To have statewide recognition for our work has been extremely humbling and exciting.”

For more information on news sponsorships and how you can advertise with the Ozark Radio Network, call 417-256-3131.

(ORN Photo)

(ORN Photo)

(West Plains) – Clean-up is underway at an abandoned home at 1045 7th Street in West Plains that was deemed a health hazard by the West Plains City Council around a week ago.

While watching the clean-up, West Plains City Clerk Mallory Prewitt shared with Ozark Radio News that she wasn’t sure when the clean-up would be completed, but she was glad to see that the process has begun. The home, which has been abandoned since October 2013, was found to have garbage and animal waste throughout the home.

Brad Vannada, police officer in West Plains and general contact point for property owners concerning nuisances, told Ozark Radio News last week during the City Council nuisance tour that once the building is cleaned, the city will put a lien on the property to attempt to recoup the cost of the clean-up.

(West Plains) – AmVets Post 98 of West Plains has announced a memorial service for a member killed in a motorcycle accident Monday.

A celebration of the life of Bill Leatherwood will be held starting at 1:30 PM Saturday, May 3 at the AmVets Post 98 meeting hall, 1852 County Road 6070 (Old Highway 160) in West Plains.

After meeting at 1:30 PM, a short memorial ride through the downtown area will take place at 2:30 PM. A memorial service, which will include an honor guard detail at the AmVets memorial on the hill at the post, will be held at 4 PM.

AmVets Post 98 representative Terry Brown says there will be a family-style service for those who knew Billy and his family and would like to pay their last respects. There will be no public funeral or graveside service.

The family has requested in lieu of flowers a donation be made to the Billy Leatherwood Memorial Fund, which will be set up Wednesday at Community First Bank in West Plains. Funds donated to the memorial fund will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project and St. Jude. Brown adds there will also be a box in the Meeting Hall on Saturday for cards and donations to the family.

 Nyden, center, associate professor of accounting/entrepreneurship at Missouri State University-West Plains, received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education during an April 2 luncheon in Columbia, Mo.  With her are Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education David R. Russell, left, and Missouri State University System President Clif Smart.  (Photo provided)

Nyden, center, associate professor of accounting/entrepreneurship at Missouri State University-West Plains, received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education during an April 2 luncheon in Columbia, Mo.  With her are Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education David R. Russell, left, and Missouri State University System President Clif Smart.  (Photo provided)

(West Plains) – Barbara Nyden, assistant professor of accounting and entrepreneurship at Missouri State University-West Plains, recently was honored by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon with the Missouri Council on Public Higher Education’s Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education.

The 15 recipients of this year’s award were recognized during a luncheon in their honor on Wednesday, April 2, at the Reynolds Alumni Center on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia. The annual award honors outstanding faculty from post-secondary public schools, colleges and universities within the state.

In nominating Nyden for the award, her peers noted her ability to bring real world application into the classroom because of her long and diverse career in business. Off campus, her nominators noted she has been a force for positive change in the community.

Nyden has eight years of teaching experience, all at Missouri State-West Plains, and 30 years of applied accounting experience in the business world. She received an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Programming degree from College of Lake County in Grayslake, IL, in 1988, a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration/Accounting Concentration from Mundelein College of Loyola University in Chicago, IL, in 1992 and a Master of Business Administration – Health Services Management from Keller Graduate School of Management in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, in 1998.

(Mountain Grove) – A Mountain Grove man suffered moderate injuries Tuesday morning after the vehicle he was in ran off-road and overturned.

A report from the Highway Patrol states the accident happened at 7:15 AM on Highway N, four miles west of Mountain Grove.

27-year-old Donovan Finch was taken from the scene of the accident to Mercy Hospital in Springfield by ambulance.

(West Plains) – A reporter from the St. Joseph News-Press recently visited West Plains to talk with community members and officials to look for more information concerning their current school district superintendent and the former West Plains superintendent, Dr. Fred Czerwonka, who left the West Plains district last summer to work for St. Joseph.

Alonzo Weston is the education reporter for the St. Joseph News-Press. He told Ozark Radio News that the paper is looking for a well-rounded picture of their school district superintendent:


Czerwonka reportedly paid $250,000 in stipends to administrators, principals and assistant principals at the beginning of the school year. The AP reports that Czerwonka told the board that administrative salaries and morale were low when he took over, and the stipends were a temporary way to address those issues. Since then, he has been under fire from the community for what is seen as egregious and unnecessary spending, and from the school board for attempting to allocate funding without board approval.