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(Licking) – An inmate at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking has died of apparent natural causes.

A news release from the institution states that 56-year-old John Thompson was pronounced dead at Texas County Memorial Hospital just before 8:30 PM July 26 he was serving a 20-year sentence for two counts of forcible sodomy from Pulaski County.

He was first registered in the Missouri Department of Corrections on September 15, 2004.

Prison officials say that foul play was not suspected in his death, however, an autopsy will be performed.

(Washington) – AT&T has announced that they will be including FM chip activation in its smartphone device specifications for 2016.

NextRadio and TagStation, the Emmis Communications-owned entities that promote an FM listening app and radio station support infrastructure, made the announcement on Tuesday. Some of the models may be ready by the end of the year.

Phones with FM chips installed are turned into miniature radios, and are able to tune in to stations for entertainment or possibly life-saving information during important events such as severe weather, while using little to no data.

Sprint also offers the FM chips in a wide variety of phone models.

(West Plains) – The 37th Judicial CASA will be hosting a benefit art walk and sale on Friday, August 7.

The event will take place at the Frame Shop and Gallery, #3 Evans Arcade in West Plains, from 5-8 PM, and will coincide with the First Friday Downton Stroll in downtown West Plains.

Proceeds from the event will raise money for 37th Judicial CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, which represents children in court cases. CASA hopes to use the funding to recruit new volunteers, and to educate the public about CASA’s mission.

The art will be displayed and available for purchase at the Frame Shop and Gallery from 5-8 PM. Approximately 40-50 works of art have been donated for sale including works by local and regional artists, including Katheryn Fisher, Michael McClure, Regina Willard, Bill Dugan, Dennis Crider, Aly Dexter, Candace Butler, Nancy Jacobson, Jane Norris, Tammy Johnson, Jeremy Nicholas, and Juanita Herrell. Children who attend the Boys and Girls Club of the Greater West Plains Area will also have work dispayed.

In addition to the sale, there will be an art-walk around the West Plains historic downtown square. Retailers around the square have made their window and retail spaces available to display works by local and regional artists. There will also be a live-art demonstration by Katheryn Fisher and Michael McClure.

by Summer Ballentine, AP

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Missouri’s Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday that state ethics laws need to be revamped in light of accusations that led to the resignations of two state lawmakers this year.

Nixon criticized the culture of the Capitol during remarks at a school administrators’ conference in Columbia, calling the state the “Wild West” of ethics laws.

Missouri appears to be the only state with the trio of unlimited campaign contributions, unlimited lobbyist gifts and the ability for lawmakers to immediately become lobbyists after leaving office. Nixon called on lawmakers to end that next session. He also said the legislative session – which currently runs from January to mid-May – should be shorter.

The governor’s comments came only days after Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence, announced plans to resign following allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward interns, with one former intern accusing him of sexual harassment. Former Republican House Speaker John Diehl resigned on the last day of session in May after admitting to exchanging sexually suggestive text messages with a Capitol intern.

Lawmakers failed in this past session to pass legislation to change state ethics laws, and have been similarly unsuccessful in recent years.

Nixon said the next legislative session could be different partly because he said there’s public support for such changes and partly because of what he said have been “high-profile challenges” lawmakers have faced during a tumultuous year in Missouri politics.

Nixon said he plans to work with legislative leaders to revamp ethics laws. Republican Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey and Republican House Speaker Todd Richardson did not immediately return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

(West Plains) – Recent rains have caused some delays with city projects in West Plains, according to city clerk Mallory Hawkins:

Hawkins also reminds motorists that may be driving near projects to slow down and pay attention to avoid accidents with workers and equipment.

(ShutterStock)

(ShutterStock)

(West Plains) – Work continues on the creation of a manufacturing training center in West Plains.

City economic development director Bob Case spoke with Ozark Radio News and told us more about the effort that the city, MSU-West Plains, and the West Plains School District is putting into the project:

Case says that the city is waiting on learning on the results of a grant application. If the grant doesn’t work out, he says that the project will still move forward:

Case says that if everything works out as it should, they’re hoping to open the center by the beginning of the upcoming school semester.

(West Plains) – Several offices at Missouri State University-West Plains will offer extended hours in August to accommodate students with last minute business for the 2015 fall semester.

Offices hours and dates are listed below:

• August 10-13, 8 AM to 6 PM – academic affairs, admissions, Advisement and Academic Coaching Center for Empowering Student Success (AACCESS), the business office, Drago College Store, financial aid, registration and records, student services, the Veterans Center.

• August 15, 9 AM to 12 PM – admissions, AACCESS, the business office, Drago College Store, financial aid, Garnett Library, registration and records, the Veterans Center.

• August 17, 7:30 AM to 6 PM – admissions, AACCESS, the business office, Drago College Store, financial aid, registration and records, the Veterans Center.  (Academic affairs and student services offices will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

• August 18-20, 8 AM to 6 PM – academic affairs, admissions, AACCESS, the business office, Drago College Store, financial aid, registration and records, student services, the Veterans Center.

All offices will be open regular hours, 8 AM to 5 PM, Friday, August 14.

The Garnett Library will be open from 8 AM to 6 PM August 10-14, 9 AM to 12 PM August 15, and 7:30 AM to 10 PM August 17. The library will resume its normal semester hours (8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, 1-5 PM Saturdays and 1-9 PM Sundays on August 18.

University officials said these special extended office hours offer an opportunity for students to purchase text books and school supplies, check on financial aid matters, get another copy of their class schedule, visit with advisers, and finalize any other last minute paperwork for the spring semester.

The last day to register for classes is August 16, while classes begin August 17. A change of schedule period for students needing to add or drop a class will continue through August 21.

For more information about fall classes or how to enroll, contact the Missouri State University-West Plains admissions office at 417-255-7955 or visit the website at wp.missouristate.edu.

(Mountain Home) – After serving for 13 years as Children’s Librarian of the Baxter County Library, Deborah Edmonds will be retiring on August 3.

When she joined the Baxter County Library, Deborah assumed responsibility for planning and executing all children’s programming. From the beginning, her passion was to create lifelong readers, and her programs were designed “for children from birth to age 12.” Among other things, she has grown the story time program from a once-a-week activity to three times a week. She has also upgraded the library’s summer program offerings for children to include classes in arts, science, gardening, writing, safety, and almost every craft imaginable.

Prior to being the Children’s Librarian, she spent 28 years in the Mountain Home Junior High School as a Language Arts teacher. She has a Bachelor of Science in English and a Master of Science in Special Education.

A farewell reception will be held at 2 PM on Monday, August 3 at the library, 300 Library Hill in Mountain Home. All friends, coworkers and well-wishers are welcome to attend.

(Jefferson City) – Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway has released a follow-up report for the city of West Plains’ municipal court.

The West Plains municipal court was audited in December 2014 and earned an overall performance rating of “fair.” The follow-up report, which does not include an overall rating, highlights the steps the court has taken to implement audit recommendations and notes areas where concerns remain.

In the West Plains Municipal Court follow-up report, audit staff followed up on all ten recommendations. At the time of the follow-up review, seven recommendations were implemented, two recommendations were in progress and one was partially implemented. Steps included properly retaining individual case records, immediately processing court transactions, and that a system is in place to track traffic violation tickets and associated fines and court costs.

The follow-up review for West Plains Municipal Court was primarily conducted in June 2015.

A link to the complete follow-up report is available here.

(Jefferson City) – The Senate Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life held its first hearing in Jefferson City on Monday, July 27. The panel was formed as a result of recent videos that have surfaced that may relate to Planned Parenthood. The interim committee is chaired by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, who says — if the videos in question represent fact — then state laws have been broken:

During an organizational meeting, Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City — via telephone — mentions she wants the panel to do what is best for the state:

Abortion advocates and Planned Parenthood say that the video, which allegedly shows Planned Parenthood officials discussing the illegal sale of fetal tissue, are “heavily edited” and “sensationalized”.

The committee is expected to hold another meeting within a month.