(Jefferson City) (AP) – The state budget director says Missouri’s revenues continue to increase compared with last year’s.
Budget Director Linda Luebbering on Monday reported revenues have grown 7.7 percent this fiscal year. That’s far over Gov. Jay Nixon’s estimate of 4.6 percent.
Nixon had used that estimate to guide spending restrictions on hundreds of millions of dollars approved for use by the Legislature last session.
Net general revenues also increased 11.9 percent in April compared with the same time last year. Individual income tax collections grew 15.4 percent last month, bringing the total collections this year up 8.5 percent.
The increasing revenues allowed the state to return $400 million borrowed from the state’s reserve fund. The constitutional deadline to repay that money is May 15.
(West Plains) – The West Plains High School Beta Club sponsored the 6th annual Zizzer Throwdown Dodgeball Tournament on Friday, April 24, and raised $1000 at the event.
Organizers say approximately 150 people participated in the event, and roughly 200 spectators attended.
The Zizzer Beta Club will be donating the proceeds to the West Plains American Legion Veterans Association.
(Houston) – Texas County Memorial Hospital is the beneficiary of a new hysteroscope, thanks to a grant from the Bess Spiva Timmons Foundation and funding support from the TCMH Healthcare Foundation.
An Olympus brand hysteroscope was purchased with a $4,500 grant from the Timmons Foundation, and the hospital’s own Healthcare Foundation kicked in the remaining $2,500 in funds needed to make the complete purchase of the surgical instrument.
Hysteroscopy uses a hysteroscope—a thin, lighted tube—to examine the cervix and inside of the uterus, and can be used for diagnostic or operative purposes. Hysteroscopy may be used to correct polyps and fibroids, adhesions, septums and abnormal bleeding. Patients undergoing hysteroscopic procedures may experience a shorter hospital stay and shorter recovery time, require less pain medication and avoid hysterectomy or open abdominal surgery in the future.
The Timmons Foundation is a private family foundation of the descendants of Bess Spiva Timmons. The late Dr. Joe L. Spears, a long-time family practice physician from the Cabool area, is a past president of the Timmons Foundation Board.
(Mountain Home) – Arkansas State University-Mountain Home’s (ASUMH) Funeral Science program received a three-year accreditation on April 15 from the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE).
The ABFSE serves as the national academic accreditation agency for college and university programs in funeral service and mortuary science education. The ABFSE is the sole accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation in this field. Programs of funeral service or mortuary science education accredited by the ABFSE are required to undergo a comprehensive evaluation at least once every seven years.
ASUMH’s Funeral Science program is guided by a 12-person advisory board made up of industry professionals from Arkansas and southern Missouri. It is one of ASUMH’s most successful areas of study, with more than 50 students participating in the program during this academic year. Funeral science students are prepared for entry into the profession after graduation. Many graduates of the program are now industry leaders across the region.
The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Funeral Science degree at ASUMH prepares students to pursue a career as a professional funeral director and embalmer. The aims of the program are to enlarge the background and knowledge of students about the funeral service profession; to educate students in every phase of funeral service; to help students develop the proficiency and skills necessary of the profession; to educate students concerning the responsibilities of the funeral service profession to the community at large; to emphasize higher standards of ethical conduct; to provide a curriculum at the post-secondary level of instruction; and to encourage research in the field of funeral service. Graduates of the program will have the skills necessary to serve the bereaved members of their communities with compassion, dignity and respect. A Technical Certificate (TC) in Funeral Science is also available for a career in funeral directing.
For more information on the program, contact Matt Buel at 870-508-6157 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Horseshoe Bend) – The Horseshoe Bend Area Chamber of Commerce is getting ready for the biggest and greatest Dogwood Days Festival in 29 years.
Chamber organizers say there will be over 90 events, exhibitors, and vendors throughout the day on May 9 at the festival location in downtown Horseshoe Bend, AR, Highway 289, north of Highway 56 and south of Highway 62/412. The day will start off with a Kiwanis-sponsored pancake breakfast at the Horseshoe Bend Methodist Church from 8-10 AM. The morning events include The World Championship Potato Shoot Competition starting at 10 AM on Turkey Mountain. Organizers urge people to enter this free event and bring their own potato gun and potatoes. Cash prizes will be awarded.
There will also be a Miss Horseshoe Bend Beauty Pageant for young ladies 13 to 17 and Ms. Horseshoe Bend for those 65 and older. There will be a free children’s area with a bounce house, pony rides, and various relays and games. Throughout the the day ,the town gazebo will host live entertainment, including local line dancers and a saddle making demonstration, with giveaways all day long.
At noon May 9, personalities with WGN’s new TV show “Wrestling with Death” will be available to meet and greet the public from 1-3 PM.
The Day will end with a pulled pork dinner and a performance from the Joe Beavers Trio and a street dance from 6:30-9 PM.
(Jefferson City) (AP) – Missouri senators have voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill removing several thousand low-income families from a welfare program.
The Republican-led chamber voted 25-9 Monday to pass a measure that cuts the lifetime limit for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program from five years to three years and nine months. The bill also imposes stricter work requirements.
The bill now goes to the House, where a two-thirds vote also is needed to override Nixon’s veto.
The Democratic governor says the bill would harm thousands of children due to the actions of their parents.
Republican supporters say the measure would end dependency on welfare and encourage people to get jobs.
The cash assistance program provides up to $292 a month for a single parent with two children.
(Bentonville) (AP) – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission says a piranha has been caught at Lake Bentonville.
The commission brought in a state biologist to confirm the species last week after a Bella Vista woman posted pictures of the fish on Facebook.
Assistant Chief of Communications Keith Stephens tells KATV-TV that piranhas are caught occasionally in Arkansas. He says people typically release them from aquariums.
Stephens says piranhas can’t survive winter water temperatures.
The commission says it’s illegal to introduce non-native species into the water and that violators face a $250 fine.
(Jefferson City) (AP) – A proposal from Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander to reduce fees charged to businesses is headed to the Senate.
The Missouri House Thursday approved a measure that would reduce fees charged to corporations, limited liability companies and nonprofits that file information with Kander’s office.
Kander announced the measure as one of his legislative priorities for the 2015 session. The House gave initial approval to the measure in March
He says the reduced fees would save business owners $6 million per year and make Missouri’s filing fees the lowest in the nation.
(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansas finance officials say a surge in tax collections in nearly every major category last month doubled the amount of money the state has collected above forecast for the year.
The state Department of Finance and Administration on Monday said the state’s net available revenue in April totaled $624 million, which is $53.8 million above the same month last year and $82.4 million above forecast.
The state’s revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 is $4.3 billion, which is $163.8 million above forecast.
Finance officials said individual income, sales and corporate tax collections were above forecast and the same month last year. The state also paid out less in individual and corporate income tax refunds last month than expected.
by Bob Salsberg, AP
(Boston) (AP) – Winter’s full fury arrived late in much of the country, but once it did it was relentless, forcing state transportation agencies to spend more than $1 billion to keep highways safe and passable, according to a first-of-its-kind survey.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials said 23 states reported combined spending of more than $1 billion on winter maintenance operations and 8 million work hours plowing or treating state roads from October to March.
The states that responded to Monday’s survey, obtained in advance by The Associated Press, also went through 6 million tons of salt and other huge quantities of brine and liquid deicing chemicals. One state reported using 216,000 gallons of beet juice, which can help salt stick to road surfaces.
“This winter the storms just came one on top of the other and there wasn’t time in between to replenish your salt piles and give your folks some time off,” said Rick Nelson, coordinator of the association’s Snow and Ice Cooperative Program.
A single season snowfall record was broken in Boston, with virtually all the 110 inches coming in a six-week stretch from late January to early March when temperatures rarely rose above freezing.
“In January, we were talking about what we were going to do with the surplus snow and ice funds,” recalled Thomas Tinlin, Massachusetts’ highway administrator. The Department of Transportation wound up spending $154 million on winter maintenance, well above its $107 million annual budget. Additional money was appropriated to assure the state’s private snowplow contractors got paid.
Massachusetts used 600,000 tons of salt and 1.6 million gallons of liquid deicer. Crews removed 17.5 billion cubic feet of snow from state roadways, equivalent to 40 times the volume of dirt excavated during the massive Boston highway project known as the Big Dig, state officials noted.
Pennsylvania, which budgeted $203 million for winter maintenance based on a five-year average of previous expenditures, spent $272 million to keep traffic flowing on the state’s 40,000 miles of roadway, according to Erin Waters-Trasatt, a transportation spokeswoman.
Pennsylvania also was among several states that sent crews and equipment to help out in Massachusetts, she said.
It wasn’t just the typical northern snow belt states that felt winter’s wrath.
“Normally we don’t budget for ice and snow because we don’t get it that often,” said Melinda McGrath, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation. But recent winters have brought several dangerous ice storms to the south, and this year Mississippi spent $3.1 million, used 887 tons of salt and devoted 64,704 work hours to keep state roads safe.
An even larger and longer-term expense, McGrath said, are potholes. It’s a universal headache for motorists and highway officials as freezing and melting cycles cause pavement to expand, then crack. Maryland was among several other states reporting a large increase in potholes this spring.
The actual taxpayer cost of winter road maintenance was much higher than measured by the survey. Not all states responded and the expenses incurred by municipalities for plowing local roads were seen as comparable to state governments.
Unlike the previous winter, AASHTO said there were no serious shortages of salt this year.
When lawmakers and the general public consider transportation funding, winter maintenance needs can often be overlooked said Bud Wright, the group’s executive director.
“When we think about funding transportation, we need to consider the total amount needed to keep people and goods moving throughout the entire year,” he said.
States are prohibited from using federal highway funds for snow and ice removal, but some sought federal disaster assistance to offset costs. President Barack Obama approved disaster declarations for Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut for a January blizzard, making those states eligible for 75 percent reimbursement. But a broader request from Massachusetts to consider all the major storms a cumulative disaster was denied.