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(Springfield) – When considering energy-efficiency upgrades and improvements to a home, it is important to know where to start and what will offer the greatest return on investment.

A home energy audit can show where the home leaks or has inadequate insulation, as well as, to help prioritize heating, venting, air conditioning, plumbing fixture and appliance replacement. In Missouri, homeowners may qualify for a deduction on their personal income taxes.

In 2008, Senate Bill 1181 was signed into law, providing a Missouri personal income tax deduction for qualified home energy audits and the recommendations of those audits, beginning with the 2009 tax year. SB 601 passed in 2014 extended this tax deduction through December 31, 2020.

Any taxpayer who paid an individual certified by the Division of Energy to complete a home energy audit may deduct 100 percent of the costs incurred for the audit and the implementation of any energy efficiency recommendations made by the auditor. The maximum subtraction may not exceed $1,000 per year, for an individual or $2,000 per year for taxpayers filing combined returns.

For more information, contact Jeff Barber at 417-881-8909, by email at barberj@missouri.edu, go online to extension.missouri.edu/greene.

(Melbourne) – After receiving a $50,000 donation from the late Gwenn A. Lea, Ozarka College has designated a portion of this gift for endowment scholarships that will benefit students in the new Aviation Program.

Ms. Lea, who was from Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas, passed away on March 1, 2015 and left funds to the College for scholarship purposes.

Ozarka College will offer two scholarships, endowed at $10,000 each, for students who have declared their major as Professional Pilot – Aviation at Ozarka College, to use for lab (flight) fees. Each scholarship recipient will be awarded $500 per semester, beginning in the Spring semester of the 2016 academic school year.

The deadline to apply for each of the Gwenn Lea Memorial Aviation Scholarships is October 1, 2015.

To apply for the Gwenn Lea Memorial Aviation Scholarships or for more information about enrolling as a student pilot in the Ozarka College Aviation program, please contact Nick Lenczycki, Ozarka College Director of Aviation, at 870-368-7926 or email nick.lenczycki@ozarka.edu.

Tony Schmitt, Dan Lamping and Joe Sikorski from the Cave Research Foundation remove graffiti from Chalk Bluff. (NPS photo/Chris Figge)

Tony Schmitt, Dan Lamping and Joe Sikorski from the Cave Research Foundation remove graffiti from Chalk Bluff. (NPS photo/Chris Figge)

(Van Buren) – Ozark National Scenic Riverways has announced that graffiti on Chalk Bluff has been removed.

The Cave Research Foundation successfully completed the removal of spray painted graffiti from the face of Chalk Bluff on June 29. Chalk Bluff, a scenic cliff that rises approximately 120 feet above the Jacks Fork River, is a well-known landmark within Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

Three members from the Cave Research Foundation rappelled down Chalk Bluff to reach the defaced bluff, which spanned 12 feet by 24 feet across. The group spent two days suspended from the bluff, carefully removing the paint from the stone surface using water, vinegar, and wire brushes.

The vandalism to Chalk Bluff occurred in late April. On June 11, Murray Anderson Jr., of Mountain View, pleaded guilty to one count of vandalism in the U. S. District Court in Cape Girardeau. Anderson Jr. paid $4,097.96 in fines and restitution to the L-A-D Foundation, which owns Chalk Bluff, to remove the graffiti.

Information about vandalism in Ozark National Scenic Riverways can be reported by calling the Arrowhead Regional Dispatch Center at 844-460-3604.

(West Plains) – Police in the city of West Plains will be out in force this holiday weekend.

City officials say the West Plains Police Department will be participating in the annual nationwide Fourth of July weekend “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, which looks to rid roads of people driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The crackdown, which will include high-visibility enforcement throughout West Plains will run from July 3-5.

Law enforcement also reminds citizens setting off fireworks in the city limits are prohibited.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – A Missouri tax on medical service providers that helps fund the state Medicaid program has been reauthorized by the governor.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday signed legislation to continue the tax for another year.

The measure extends taxes on medical providers including hospitals, nursing homes and ambulances. The revenue brings in roughly $3.6 billion for health care through the state’s Medicaid services, a significant chunk of the program’s funding.

The legislation passed on the final day of the legislative session in May after Senate Democrats broke a filibuster on an unrelated bill to allow a vote on the tax.

The tax would have expired in September if lawmakers took no action.

(Omaha) (AP) – A report on a June survey underscores previous survey signs that slower economic growth likely is ahead for nine Midwestern and Plains states.

The survey report issued Wednesday says the overall Mid-America Business Conditions Index rose to 53.0 from 50.4 in May and 52.7 in April.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says “improvements at the national level in housing, retail sales and hiring pushed supply managers to raise their expectations about future economic conditions.”

The survey results from supply managers are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests economic growth, while a score below that suggests decline.

The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

(West Plains) – The Missouri Humanities Council (MHC) has awarded a $2,060 grant to Missouri State University-West Plains to support the ninth annual Ozarks Studies Symposium, set for September 18-19 at the West Plains Civic Center.

The MHC is the only statewide agency in Missouri devoted exclusively to humanities education for citizens of all ages. It has served as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities since 1971.

The theme of this year’s event is “The Lure of the Ozarks”, and will feature presentations by more than 20 scholars, writers, artists and musicians who will explore such topics as anti-Semitism in the Ozarks; recent archaeological finds in the region; the career of illustrator, artist and writer Rose Cecil O’Neill, creator of popular Kewpie comic characters; the exclusion of the Ozarks from the literary canon; African Diaspora in the Ozarks; a commune established by the Dan Blocker Singers; the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s; the career of folklorist Vance Rudolph; among others.

The keynote address will be given by Dr. Steve Wiegenstein, associate dean for academic affairs and dean of graduate studies at Columbia College. Wiegenstein is the author of two novels, Slant of Light, which was the runner up for the 2012 Langum Prize in American historical fiction and a finalist for the 2014 Balcones Fiction Prize; and This Old World, which was a finalist for the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction.

The annual Ozarks Studies Symposium reflects Missouri State-West Plains’ commitment to serve as a link between the predominantly rural region it serves and the world of higher education and scholarship, facilitating communication between these two communities and fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between them.

Additional funding will be provided by the Missouri State-West Plains academic affairs office, the West Plains Council on the Arts, and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. All presentations are free, and everyone is welcome to attend.

For more information about the symposium, visit ozarksymposium.wp.missouristate.edu.

(Marshall) – After 66 years of service, John Huston has retired as Chairman of the Board of Wood & Huston Bank.

Mr. Huston began working full time for Wood & Huston Bank after he graduated from the University of Missouri in 1949. During his time at Wood & Huston Bank, the bank grew its deposits from $6.8 million to $510 million, an increase of 7,400%. Loans grew from $1.6 million to $486 million, an increase of 30,275%.

Huston is also an Army veteran, having served our country in the Korean War.

On the announcement of his retirement, the Board of Directors unanimously voted on a resolution to elect John Huston Chairman Emeritus of Wood & Huston Bank, effective on John Huston’s retirement on June 21. In separate resolution, Mark Thompson, executive vice president and CFO of the bank, was unanimously elected to serve as a member of the Board of Directors.

John Huston is married to his wife Donna, with whom they have four sons, along with their wives and 9 grandchildren. A lifelong resident of Saline County, John has been past president, director and member of numerous civic organizations.

Accepting the position of Chairman of the Board for Wood & Huston Bank is Nick Huston, who has been employed by Wood & Huston Bank for 33 years beginning his career at the bank in 1982. Like his father, Mr. Huston is also an alumnus of the University of Missouri and lifelong resident of Saline County. He is married to his wife, Leslie, has two children and, like his father, is an avid outdoorsman.

(West Plains) – Big plans are underway for the McDonald’s location off of Preacher Roe Boulevard in West Plains.

The long-standing building was torn down at the beginning of June to make way for a national prototype restaurant, according to owner/operator Andi Hilburn. She told Ozark Radio News that the new “Create Your Taste” menu and kiosk system, which was unveiled at the Porter Wagoner location last week, will be fully implemented in the new location:

She also talked about the layout of the new restaurant:

The new restaurant will also include a new play place for children:

Hilburn says the new McDonald’s is expected to open at the end of August or mid-September, however, that depends on weather.

A mock-up of the future location of Wages Brew Company in the South Ridge Plaza. (provided)

A mock-up of the future location of Wages Brew Company in the East Towne Village. (provided)

(West Plains) – An up-and-coming microbrewery in West Plains has hit a funding milestone in their effort to bring fresh, homemade beers in West Plains.

Wages Brewing Company was seeking over $10,000 to apply for a loan through the Ozarks Small Business Incubator, and hit that goal thanks to a number of people who have helped crowdfund the business.

Owner Phil Wages spoke with Ozark Radio News and told us more about the crowdfunding effort:

He also talked about the location and some of the brewery features:

Some people who may be interested in microbrews could be intimidated by the selection and the choices available. Wages says that, if you’re interested in finding a new spin on your favorite drink, you can come to them for help:

The brewery hopes to raise a total of $20,000 in crowd funding to fully fund the business.

The sponsorships start at $99 and include perks such as a custom glass or growler, and your first beer free each visit. For more information on the sponsorship program, you can email Wages at phil@wagesbrewco.com or call 417-293-3119. You can also find Wages Brew Company on Facebook.