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(Marshfield) (AP) – A southwest Missouri man is charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 22-year-old Springfield woman.

The Webster County Prosecuting Attorney on Friday charged Kevin Newman in the death of Ashley Onescu. She was last seen June 30, 2014, in Springfield getting into a car with two men she knew. Mushroom hunters found her remains outside Fordland last month.

Newman is currently jailed in Greene County on unrelated charges. His bail is set at $1 million.

Online court records do not indicate that Newman has an attorney.


(Jefferson City) (AP) – A Missouri man sentenced to life without parole for marijuana-related offenses is eligible for parole Friday after Gov. Jay Nixon commuted his sentence.

Nixon’s action means 62-year-old Jeff Mizanskey will be eligible for parole immediately. Mizanskey has served more than two decades in prison after being sentenced and convicted as a persistent drug offender under Missouri law that’s since been changed.

His son, 37-year-old Chris Mizanskey, said he was in awe at the news and planned to go see his father in the morning.

“It’s amazing,” Mizanskey said. “To be able to talk to him, to be able to sit here and have a conversation with him. To have my son sit on his lap, for him to be a part of his grandkid’s life, our lives, my whole family. I mean really words can’t even describe it.”

Jeff Mizanskey had two previous felony convictions for marijuana-related offenses when he was sentenced in 1996 to life without parole for a third felony offense. At the time, the law allowed a sentence of life without parole for people with three felony drug convictions and has since been changed.

Police said Mizanskey conspired to sell six pounds of pot to a dealer connected to Mexican drug cartels. Nixon said in a statement that none of the offenses were violent or involved selling to children.

“My action provides Jeff Mizanskey with the opportunity to demonstrate that he deserves parole,” Nixon said.

Mizanskey’s previous felonies were for possession and sale of marijuana in 1984 and possession in 1991. Family members, lawmakers and advocates for marijuana legalization have campaigned for the Missouri man’s freedom. Mizanskey was the only person in Missouri serving a life sentence without any possibility for parole for nonviolent marijuana-related offenses.

Nixon also on Friday pardoned five nonviolent offenders he said had completed their sentences and demonstrated an ability to turn their lives around.

Nixon pardoned Michael Derrington, a substance abuse counselor who had a misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction; Nicole Lowe, a loan officer who was convicted of misdemeanor stealing; Bill Holt, a former school bus driver convicted of misdemeanor non-support; Doris Atchison, who was convicted of misdemeanor stealing; and Earl Wolf, who was convicted of misdemeanor burglary and larceny.

(Mountain Home) – Michael Schwarz of Conway uses photography to preserve the memories and history of Arkansas places which are steadily disappearing from the landscape.  Schwarz, creator of the website, will be the guest speaker for the May 26 meeting of the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society.

“My interest in abandoned structures started at a young age,” says Schwarz, “when I first viewed the film Titanic.”  The images of the remains of the ship at the bottom of the Atlantic “stirred my emotions for abandoned places,” Schwarz says. His interest led him to explore an abandoned circus in Oklahoma “ to see how to build a short film around this interesting site. This led me to other abandoned structures.”

A television newscast in 2012 reported a fire at the abandoned Dunjee, Oklahoma High School, a place Schwarz had visited many times before. He went to the school to photograph the remaining ruins of the building and met the widow of the former principal. “Her story evoked strong emotions because, through her tears, she revealed this building was the last tangible memory which remained of her husband. This story changed my perspective of abandoned buildings from this point forward,” Schwarz says. “I started to realize they weren’t just buildings but places that hold history and valuable memories for many people.”

When Michael Schwarz enrolled at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, he wanted to do more than just share his photographs with friends on social media, so he created the website. The site now documents over 300 locations in Arkansas and Oklahoma, including Mountain Home’s amusement park, Fun Mountain.

Schwarz will share his photos and his plans “to continue this diary of bygone days” with the Historical Society. The May meeting will be on Tuesday, May 26, at 6:00 p.m. in the Knox Room at the Library. There is no admission and visitors are always welcome.

 From left are Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker, who presented the awards, and recipients Quinn Lockett, Krista Poole, Angelina Denton-Howell, Andrew Grisham, Shelby Harris and Ashley Howell. (MSU-WP)

From left are Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker, who presented the awards, and recipients Quinn Lockett, Krista Poole, Angelina Denton-Howell, Andrew Grisham, Shelby Harris and Ashley Howell. (MSU-WP)

(West Plains) – Thirty-two students at Missouri State University-West Plains received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for 2014 during the annual Celebration of Leaders student awards ceremony April 16 at the West Plains Civic Center.

The award honors those who make valuable contributions to their communities through volunteerism and recognizes them at three different levels based on the number of volunteer hours completed in one calendar year.

Receiving the Bronze Award were Brandi Blankenship, Anyta Cavitt, Lemuel Emunah, Andrew Grisham, Shelby Harris, Ashley Howell, Sarah Martin, Deborah Skinner and John Turner, all of West Plains; Kyra Bunch, Willow Springs; Christopher Kaiser, Stoutland; Jaime King, Dora; Jo Lewis, Norwood; Maranda Phillips, Hartville; Brian Powers and Sarah Powers, both of Pomona; and Janiece Wilbanks, Mtn. View.

Receiving the Silver Award were Ginger Barnes, Willow Springs; Shelby Belt, Amy Kutter and Taler Sutherland, all of West Plains; Anna Cantrell, Conway; Jeff Collins, Elkland; Alicia Martin, Winona; and Kristina Russback, Alton.

Receiving the Gold Award were Sarah Agee, Conway; Zach Collins, Willow Springs; Angelina Denton-Howell, Deborah Fox and Kelsey Robinson, all of West Plains; Quinn Lockett, Koshkonong; and Krista Poole, Jefferson City.

(Missouri State-West Plains photo)

(Missouri State-West Plains photo)

(West Plains) – Darrius Young, St. Louis, received the Multicultural/International Leadership Award during Missouri State University-West Plains’ annual Celebration of Leaders student awards ceremony April 16 at the West Plains Civic Center.

The award recognizes students who make the greatest contribution to and/or exceptionally represents the multicultural/international community through involvement in campus and civic organizations.

He received his award from Director of Developmental Education Michelle Branton.

(West Plains) – Work on the Howell County courthouse in West Plains has wrapped up, according to northern Howell County commissioner Bill Lovelace:

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Construction on the current courthouse began in 1935, and the building was dedicated in 1937. In February of 1862, the original courthouse was damaged by cannon fire from Union troops during the Civil War, and the courthouse was burned down in 1863.A new courthouse was constructed in 1869.

(West Plains) – Two Dora residents suffered serious injuries Thursday afternoon after a one vehicle accident near West Plains.

The accident happened just before 4 PM on Route 14, about 7 miles west of West Plains, when the westbound vehicle driven by 29-year-old Jeremy Green ran off-road and overturned.

A report from the Highway Patrol states a passenger, 11-year-old Conner Green, was ejected from the vehicle.

Both were flown from the scene of the accident to Cox Hospital in Springfield.

(West Plains) – Tender Mercies, a diaper ministry to young parents in the West Plains area, will be distributing diapers to parents in need on Saturday, June 6, from 9AM-12PM at First Christian Church in West Plains, located at 422 West Main St.

In order to receive diapers, participants must live in the West Plains R-7 or in the surrounding rural school districts. Qualified participants must call the church at 417-256-2887 for an appointment. Call times will be Monday and Tuesday, June 1-2, from 3-7 PM. A Tender Mercies team member will assign participants a scheduled appointment to pick up their diapers on Saturday, June 6.

For more information you can contact the church office at 417-256-2887.

(Omaha) (AP) – A new survey suggests the economy will remain weak in rural parts of 10 Western and Plains states because the strong U.S. dollar is hurting exports and the bird flu is hitting poultry farms hard.

The overall Rural Mainstreet index improved to 49 in May from April’s 46, but the index remained in negative territory below 50.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says agriculture and energy exports are suffering.

The survey indexes range from 0 to 100. Any score below 50 suggests decline in that factor in the months ahead.

Sales of farmland and farm equipment are slowing, and the bankers surveyed are less confident about the next few months.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

by Marie French, AP

(Jefferson City) (AP) – A Republican candidate for Missouri secretary of state on Thursday filed an initiative petition that would allow the Legislature to require voters to present photo identification at the polls.

St. Louis attorney Jay Ashcroft filed the proposed constitutional amendment with the secretary of state’s office to permit a photo ID requirement. Republican supporters, including Ashcroft’s opponent in the GOP primary Sen. Will Kraus, have pushed to amend the state’s constitution since the Missouri Supreme Court declared photo ID requirements unconstitutional in 2006.

Supporters of requiring photo ID at the polls say it would prevent in-person voter fraud and protect the integrity of elections. But Democratic opponents say the measure would make it harder for minorities, women and the poor to vote.

Ashcroft said he supported making it easy for people to get any ID that would be required and said the constitutional amendment would simply allow lawmakers in the future to enact requirements if they chose to do so.

Aschroft entered the race for after current Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat, announced a bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Roy Blunt. Kraus, of Lee’s Summit, has introduced measures in the Legislature to place voter ID on the ballot in the Legislature.

Kander opposes voter photo ID requirements. A report he released in 2014 estimated that a House measure to enact photo ID requirements could disenfranchise more than 200,000 eligible voters.

The Republican-controlled Legislature succeeded in passing both an enacting bill and constitutional amendment for photo ID requirements in 2011 but Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill and a Cole County judge struck down the ballot question wording lawmakers had drafted. Since then, versions of photo ID have passed the House but stalled in the Senate.

This year’s bill would have required a non-expired photo identification issued by Missouri or the federal government. College IDs or expired documents would not be accepted, placing Missouri alongside Indiana and Texas as one of the most restrictive states for photo ID.

The bill would have required the state pay for a photo ID and for a birth certificate needed to obtain the identification for registered voters lacking another form of photo ID. If money was not allocated for those provisions, the law would not have taken effect.

Initiative petitions need to be approved by Kander’s office before they can be circulated and must garner roughly 160,000 signatures – or 8 percent of registered voters in six of the state’s eight congressional districts – to appear on the ballot.