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(Sikeston) – Route JJ in Shannon County will be closed next week as Missouri Department of Transportation crews perform bridge repairs.

The bridge located over the Castro Valley Creek is between County Road JJ-350 and County Road K-349. Weather permitting, work will take place Monday, April 20 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The work zone will be marked with signs and motorists are urged to use extreme caution while traveling near the area.

(West Plains) – Vendors at the West Plains Farmers’ Market are holding a semi-annual yard sale on Wednesday April 22 and Saturday, April 25 from 9 AM to 2 PM.

Regular market hours are 8 AM to 2 PM Wednesdays and Saturdays through the fall.

For more information on the market, visit the market’s Facebook page.

(Willow Springs) – The Willow Springs Seventh-day Adventist Church, at the corner of N. Walnut and 4th Street, will be having a yard sale from 8 AM to 6 PM May 5-7 in the fellowship room.

Event organizers say a wide variety of clothes, toys, dishes, and other items will be available at the event.

Proceeds will benefit the center and their operating expenses. For more information, call the church at 417-469-2090.

(St. Louis) (AP) – A federal judge in St. Louis has approved the release on bail of two people who are accused of supporting Islamic State fighters overseas.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports U.S. Magistrate Judge David Noce on Friday said 35-year-old Sedina Hodzic could be released on house arrest if $250,000 bond were posted. She also must comply with a number of other conditions.

On Tuesday, the judge also approved the release of 37-year-old Armin Harcevic of San Jose, California.

An indictment says those two and four others – who remain jailed – supplied money to Hodzic’s husband, Ramiz Hodzic, who sent cash and supplies to Islamic State fighters and others overseas.

by Philip Elliott, AP

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

(Washington) (AP) – Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says he will tell supporters on May 5 in the hometown he shares with former President Bill Clinton whether or not he will seek the Republican presidential nomination

Huckabee unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in 2008 and has been taking steps to launch a White House bid in recent months. On Friday, he told his former employer, Fox News Channel, that he has given a lot of thought to the race and would share his decision in Hope, Arkansas.

Ahead of his visit with Fox News, he sat down with reporters and outlined a potential campaign, as well as lessons he took away from his 2008 failure. Chiefly, he has been focused on the cash he will need to compete with better-funded rivals.

by Jim Salter, AP

In this April 16, 2015 photo, Sean Like, who is serving a 25-year sentence for second-degree murder, sits with Petey during a ceremony at the Missouri prison in Bonne Terre marking the 3,000th dog adoption through the Missouri Department of Corrections' Puppies for Parole program. Petey was born without eyes and is looking for a home. The program takes dogs from shelters. Over an eight-week period, inmates at 19 Missouri prisons train them so that they can be adopted. (AP Photo/Jim Salter)

In this April 16, 2015 photo, Sean Like, who is serving a 25-year sentence for second-degree murder, sits with Petey during a ceremony at the Missouri prison in Bonne Terre marking the 3,000th dog adoption through the Missouri Department of Corrections’ Puppies for Parole program. Petey was born without eyes and is looking for a home. The program takes dogs from shelters. Over an eight-week period, inmates at 19 Missouri prisons train them so that they can be adopted. (AP Photo/Jim Salter)

(Bonne Terre) (AP) – Sean Like can only smile as Petey, a white mixed-breed dog with black spots his face, wags his tail and squirms beside him.

Like, a big and burly 31-year-old, is serving 25 years at the prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri, for second-degree murder. Training dogs like Petey for the Missouri Department of Corrections’ Puppies for Parole program has changed his outlook on life, he said.

“I know now what it was like when I took someone from a family,” Like said. “I know what my mom is going through.”

A ceremony this week at the Bonne Terre prison – the same place where death row inmates are executed – marked the 3,000th dog adoption through Puppies for Parole.

Corrections Department director George Lombardi started the program in 2010. Lombardi, a dog lover, gathered the state’s wardens and told them of his vision for a program that could not only save countless shelter dogs from euthanasia or a lifetime in a cage, but also offer inmates an opportunity to learn life skills, patience, and regard for other beings.

“If there is a key thing missing (in many inmates), it is compassion for others,” Lombardi said.

Since its beginnings, the program has spread to 19 of Missouri’s 20 prisons. It works like this: Shelter dogs are paired with inmates for eight weeks of behavioral training. At the end of the program, the dogs are put up for adoption.

Most find homes immediately, many going to prison staff members who fall in love with the animals during the training process. Others go to the general public.

Amelmia Blanton, 25, of St. Louis, first learned of the program while she was a student at Saint Louis University, where she now works. When she and her husband decided to get a dog, she knew she wanted a Puppies for Parole graduate.

So on Thursday, Blanton was on hand to pick up Jan, a black, white and brown mixed-breed hound officially designated as the 3,000th adoptee.

She had already met Jan weeks ago and was taken by her calm demeanor. She was also impressed with her inmate handlers.

“There are stereotypes about what people in this facility are like,” Blanton said. “This program breaks that down. They’re people who love animals, just like me.”

Cynthia Jones, director of the Diana’s Grove dog rescue in Cabool, Missouri, said many of the dogs who enter the program have been badly neglected since birth. In prison, she said, they get their first bath, their first grooming, often their first real human interaction.

“Going to prison is the best day of a dog’s life,” Jones said. “We have seen dog after dog after dog go through amazing transformations.”

Similar programs have emerged in prisons across the U.S. Some go beyond basic training, with inmates helping to prepare service dogs for use with autistic or disabled children, the blind, veterans and mental health patients. A few of Missouri’s Puppies for Parole dogs get advanced training as helper dogs.

Maryland’s prison system operates several dog programs, including one called America’s VetDogs in which incarcerated veterans and other inmates train service dogs for adoption by veterans.

Mark Vernarelli, communications director for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said the inmates who train the dogs meet with the veterans who will be recipients through Web-based conference calls. Some recipients bring the dogs back to prison for visits.

“It’s been a phenomenal success,” Vernarelli said. “The connection that these particular men make with this program is beyond comparison.”

Dog programs have extended into some jails, too. A program in Atlanta called Canine Cellmates pairs shelter dogs with inmates at the Fulton County Jail.

“The change in participating inmates is enormous,” Canine CellMates Executive Director Susan Jacobs-Meadows said. “It teaches them responsibility. It gives them accountability. As the guys start to achieve the goals, it starts to change how they feel about themselves.”

Bonne Terre Warden Troy Steele agrees. Many inmates come from dysfunctional homes and arrive in prison lacking normal human emotions, he said.

That changes as they work with the dogs. “You’re getting that affection and companionship, and you know that it’s real,” Steele said.

Ralph Wilmas has worked with the dogs in Bonne Terre virtually from the inception of the program. Wilmas, 53, is serving a life sentence for kidnapping, robbery and armed criminal action.

“This is the only program I’ve seen in 27 years of incarceration that gives you direct responsibility for another’s life,” Wilmas said in a speech during the Puppies for Parole ceremony.

“The dog softens my heart.”

Like’s dog, Petey, was born without eyes but is happy and well-adjusted. Like knows he’ll make a great pet.

Separating from Petey is hard, Like said. He’s already eager for the next dog.

“I’ve seen this program work miracles in guys’ lives,” he said.

(West Plains) – Spring Creek Community Church will host the Second Hand Blessings clothing share on Saturday, April 18 from 9 AM to 4 PM.

Organizers say a wide variety of clothes will be available at the event, in a variety of sizes. There will be no limit to the amount of clothes you can take home.

From West Plains, the church is located 5 miles down K Highway on the left.

For more information call or text 417-274-2675.

(West Plains) – Arvest Bank will host a grand reopening event for their West Plains branch, 1311 Porter Wagoner Blvd., starting at 11 AM April 24 to celebrate a recent expansion and renovation project.

Bank associates will serve hamburgers and hot dogs while 102.5 Hot Country KDY broadcasts live from 12-2 PM. The public will also be able to register for a weekend vacation to Dawt Mill in Tecumseh, MO that includes 2-one night stay for two at the Cotton Gin Inn at Dawt Mill Resort plus a one day canoe rental from Blair to Dawt Mill. Registration for the two vacation giveaways will begin at 8 AM on April 20 and people can register until 1:30 PM on April 24.

The winners will be drawn during the live broadcast with KDY 102.5 on April 24 around 1:50 PM.

(Monett) (AP) – Attorney General Chris Koster has filed a lawsuit accusing a small southeast Missouri meat-processing plant of polluting a steam with slaughterhouse waste.

The suit filed Friday in Cape Girardeau County Circuit Court charges Fruitland American Meat in Jackson with water pollution, illegal discharge and reporting failures. The suit says the animal waste discharges resulted in dark brown or red, foamy stream water with an offensive odor. Koster’s office says in a news release that more than 900 fish were killed on one occasion.

Koster is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting the company from violating the Missouri Clean Water Law. He’s also seeking a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each day the alleged violations occurred. The company didn’t immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – The Missouri Revenue Department would be blocked from considering how much a contractor would pay back to the state for running license offices under a proposal moving forward in the Legislature.

The Missouri Senate gave unanimous approval Thursday to a measure that would stop what some legislators have criticized as a pay-to-play arrangement that has disadvantaged nonprofit groups.

The Revenue Department has awarded contracts to run offices that issue vehicle and driver’s licenses in part based on how much of the profit bidders promise to pay back to the state.

Democratic Sen. Gina Walsh, of Bellefontaine Neighbors, says the money should stay in communities and the bidding process should more heavily consider nonprofits.

The bidding process was required under a 2009 law that ended a political patronage system.