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R Jones

Rabonna Jones

Ta-Lonna Jones

Ta-Lonna Jones

(Mountain Home) – Two Gassville women were arrested this past Friday after police say they broke into a storage unit.

38-year-old Rabonna Jones and 27-year-old Ta-Lonna Jones were both charged with breaking and entering and theft of property, both felonies.

Police say that the two were caught removing property from a storage unit just outside of Gassville on Friday afternoon by the unit’s renter. After reportedly confronting the two, the renter called police. Deputies arrived and interviewed the suspects about the incident, where they reportedly learned of additional stolen items of property that were stored at a residence on Baxter CR 3.

The Joneses were both released after posting bond in the amount of $20,000 each, and they will appear in circuit court on April 16.

(Van Buren) – Ozark National Scenic Riverways is conducting a prescribed burn at Stegall Mountain Prescribed Burn on Tuesday, March 31.

The burn encompasses 4,010 acres and is located along the border of Shannon and Carter Counties near Peck Ranch. Park visitors near Rocky Falls, as well as those traveling on Highways H or NN, may notice smoke from the prescribed burn. A section of the Ozark Trail, from approximately Mile 8 to Mile 14 in the Current River Section, crosses the unit and will be subject to closure during the prescribed burn. Residents traveling on Highway 60 between Winona and Van Buren may see smoke several miles north of the highway.

The burn is being conducted in cooperation with Missouri Department of Conservation and The Nature Conservancy.

Hannah Kennish

(Montrose) – The Missouri State Highway Patrol says a 13-year-old girl who was taken from her home in rural Henry County has been found.

13-year-old Hannah Kennish was found near Albuquerque, NM, along with the man suspected in taking her, 55-year-old Raymond Valla, who has been charged with kidnapping.

Investigators say that evidence found on Hannah’s computers and phones indicated she had a relationship on social media with Vallia for several months, and believe Hannah left willingly with Vallia between 3 and AM Sunday morning. The nature of the conversations was not disclosed.

An Amber Alert for Kennish was issued Monday afternoon.


Raymond Vallia

After law enforcement interviews are conducted, Kennish could be home early next week.

Montrose, MO is roughly 200 miles northwest of West Plains in southern Henry County.

Previous report:

(Montrose) – The Henry County Sheriff’s Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol are looking for a 13-year-old girl who police say was kidnapped from her home in rural Henry County on Sunday morning.

13-year-old Hannah Sue Kennish is 5’2″, 130 pounds, and was reportedly taken from her home between 3-8 AM Sunday morning by 55-year-old Raymond Valla, who is described as being a white, 5’9″, 230 pounds, with grayish brown hair, and brown eyes. Police say he may be driving a black Ford F150 with Texas license plate CG18981.

Kennish’s mother noticed the girl was missing around 10 AM Sunday morning. The Amber Alert was issued across the state of Missouri around 1:40 PM Monday afternoon.

Kennish was last seen wearing a pink colored short sleeve shirt and pink capri pants.

Montrose, MO is roughly 200 miles northwest of West Plains in southern Henry County.

If you know of the girl’s whereabouts, or have any information, contact the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at 660-885-5587 or the Missouri State Highway Patrol at 816-622-0800.

by David A. Lieb, AP

FILE  - In this Jan. 24, 2002 photo is Robert "Spence" Jackson in Jefferson City, Mo. Jefferson City police said Monday, March 30, 2015 that Jackson, a spokesman for Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, has died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, a month after the state auditor also killed himself. (AP Photo/Kelley McCall, File)

FILE – In this Jan. 24, 2002 photo is Robert “Spence” Jackson in Jefferson City, Mo. Jefferson City police said Monday, March 30, 2015 that Jackson, a spokesman for Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, has died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, a month after the state auditor also killed himself. (AP Photo/Kelley McCall, File)

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Police say the spokesman for Missouri auditor’s office left a note before his apparent suicide, which came about a month after his boss killed himself.

Jefferson City Police spokesman Capt. Doug Shoemaker said Monday that 44-year-old Robert “Spence” Jackson died Friday evening or early Saturday at his apartment.

Shoemakers says investigators found a note, but he declined to say what it said.

Jackson’s body was found Sunday evening after police responded to a well-being check. Police say they believe he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Shoemaker says Jackson’s mother called police Sunday after not being able to reach him.

Jackson’s boss, Auditor Tom Schweich, fatally shot himself last month at his home in what police also have described as a suicide.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

The spokesman for the Missouri auditor’s office has died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in what police described Monday as an apparent suicide. The death comes about a month after the state auditor also killed himself.

Robert “Spence” Jackson was found dead Sunday evening in his home in Jefferson City after police responded to a well-being check, the Jefferson City Police Department said in a written statement. Police said they are investigating the case as a suicide.

Jackson’s boss, Auditor Tom Schweich, fatally shot himself on Feb. 26 at his home in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton in what police also have described as a suicide. His death roiled the Missouri Republican Party as it prepares for the 2016 election featuring races for U.S. Senate, governor and most of Missouri’s other statewide executive offices.

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, for whom Jackson also had previously worked, issued a statement Monday saying he was saddened to learn of his friend’s death.

“Spence was a gifted communicator who dedicated his talents in public affairs to public service,” Blunt said. “Spence was hard-working, well-liked and quick-witted.”

Jackson had remained as the auditor’s office spokesman after Schweich’s death. Police listed Jackson’s age at 45, though court records indicate he was 44.

Just minutes before Schweich’s death, Schweich had told an Associated Press reporter that he wanted to go public with allegations that the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, John Hancock, had been telling people last year that Schweich was Jewish. Schweich, who was Christian, said he perceived the remarks to be part of an anti-Semitic whispering campaign against him.

Jackson was among the first to suggest after Schweich’s funeral that Hancock should resign.

Hancock has remained on the job. He has denied making anti-Semitic remarks, though he has said it’s possible he might have told some people that Schweich was Jewish because he mistakenly believed that to be true.

Police said they responded to a call to Jackson’s apartment a little after 7 p.m. Sunday after one of Jackson’s family members said he had been unresponsive to phone calls.

A property manager provided a key to police officers, who found Jackson dead in his bedroom from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police. Police said there was no physical evidence of a forced entry or struggle, but that an autopsy is planned for Monday and detectives are continuing to investigate the case.

Jackson had worked in various Missouri government and political jobs over the past 15 years. He served as Blunt’s spokesman in his successful 2000 campaign for secretary of state and then joined Blunt’s official staff. Jackson also served as Blunt’s campaign spokesman in his successful 2004 gubernatorial bid and again rejoined his office.

Blunt moved Jackson to the state Department of Economic Development in 2006. When Blunt chose not to seek re-election, Jackson served as campaign spokesman for Sarah Steelman’s unsuccessful 2008 gubernatorial bid. He joined Schweich’s staff at the auditor’s office in October 2011.

(West Plains) – Ballots in Howell County will have a tax continuation proposal on the ballot April 7, and northern county commissioner Bill Lovelace says that the county stands to lose $100,000 from the general revenue fund:

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Lovelace says that if people would like to continue the tax, people should vote “no”:

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Presiding commissioner Mark Collins also spoke for the tax renewal recently.

Other counties facing similar ballot initiatives include Texas and Shannon county.

Cal Ripken, Jr. (provided)

Cal Ripken, Jr. (provided)

(West Plains) – Missouri State University-West Plains will participate in Missouri State University’s 2015 Public Affairs Conference, “The Ethical Citizen: Can You Make a Difference?,” April 14-17 by offering area residents the opportunity to hear conference speakers via interactive television (ITV).

Local campus officials are working with conference organizers at the Springfield campus to make arrangements for area residents to see and hear several of the event’s addresses on the local campus, said Emily Gibson, coordinator of theater and events with Missouri State-West Plains’ University/Community Programs (U/CP) Department, which is hosting the event locally.

This year’s conference, the 11th hosted by the university, will focus on what it means to be an ethical citizen and explore the definition, practice and implications of ethical citizenship, according to information on the conference website,

Speakers and topics include Major League Baseball Hall of Fame member Cal Ripken, Jr., who will speak on perserverance on ethical citizenship; Sandra Postel, founder of the Global Water Policy Project, who will discuss water policy and water issues facing the globe; Toshia Shaw, founder of Purple W.I.N.G.S., who will discuss sex trafficking; and Dr. Sarah H. Elsea, associate professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine, who will discuss genetic disorders and their implications for American society.

Immediately following this ITV presentation, several Missouri State-West Plains faculty and staff members will continue the discussion as part of an on-site panel discussion in Melton Hall Room 112. This continuation of the discussion will provide an opportunity for members of the West Plains campus and community to engage in a conversation about issues related to race relations. This special panel discussion is being coordinated by Missouri State-West Plains faculty and officials with the University/Community Programs (U/CP) Department.

All presentations are free and open to the public.

For more information about the local presentations of plenary addresses, call the U/CP Department office at 417-255-7966.

A list of the discussion topics can be found below:

“Get In the Game” by Cal Ripken, Jr., former Major League Baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles and a Hall of Fame member, 8 p.m., Tuesday, April 14, Melton Hall Room 112.  Cal Ripken, Jr., retired from baseball in 2001 after breaking countless records, including Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played.  He is admired not only for his relentless perseverance, but also for his unparalleled integrity and is a sought-after adviser and role model to fans from all walks of life.  He will offer insights on hard work and success that can be applied on and off the field and address ethical citizenship and elements of perseverance, including a strong will to succeed, consistency and conviction.

“The Global Freshwater Challenge: New Solutions for a Thirsty World” by Sandra Postel, founder of the Global Water Policy Project, from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, in Lybyer Technology Center Room 202.  Postel, who also lectures, writes and consults on global water issues, will discuss how a change in the way we use, manage and value freshwater must take place if we want to meet the food, energy and water needs of our growing population while sustaining the ecosystems that support our economies and the web of life on our planet.

“How to Make a Difference in the Lives of Sex Trafficking Victims” by Toshia Shaw, founder of Purple W.I.N.G.S., a multicultural nonprofit organization whose acronym stands for Women Inspiring Noble Girls Successfully, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, in Lybyer Technology Center Room 202.  A survivor of sex trafficking, Shaw will share insight and awareness of how each one of us can make a difference by lending our voices to raise awareness or by mentoring survivors.  It is estimated that more than 100,000 children are being sold into sex trafficking each year in the United States alone.

“Education, Communication and Family Well-Being: Unlocking the Power of Genetic Information” by Dr. Sarah H. Elsea, associate professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m Thursday, April 16, in Lybyer Technology Center Room 202.  Elsea, a human geneticist who works with families affected by developmental disabilities caused by a variety of genetic differences, also serves as a bridge for families in understanding the impact of a genetic diagnosis of complex neurodevelopmental disorders, including intellectual disability and autism.  She will offer insights into the world of genetics and their implications for American society.

“Ferguson and Beyond: Race Relations in Modern America” panel discussion moderated by Missouri State University System President Clif Smart, noon to 1:30 p.m., Friday, April 17, in Melton Hall Room 112.  Although the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri, last year sparked important discussions regarding race, troubling examples of racial tension continue to arise in our communities and on college campuses.  The panel, which includes actor Iké Amadi; Matt Marinec, confidential assistant to the director of the U.S. Office of Ethics; Yu-Hsien Sharon Wu, co-founder of U.S.-China Education and Culture Center; and Angela Holloway-Payne, principal of Dexter Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee, will discuss the current state of race relations in America and how citizens can build a more ethical, tolerant and stable foundation for American youths.

(Licking) – Two residents of Sullivan, MO suffered minor injuries Sunday afternoon after a one-vehicle accident near Licking.

The accident happened at 2 PM on Highway VV, about 2 miles south of Licking, when the westbound vehicle driven by 27-year-old Ryne Walker ran off-road and hit a road sign before impacting a ditch.

Walker and a passenger, 22-year-old Felicia Flamm, were both taken to the Phelps County Regional Medical Center with minor injuries.

(West Plains) – Ozark Action will be celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, and are encouraging the community to come out and celebrate during one of three events scheduled in the month of April.

The first event will be held Tuesday, April 14 from 5-7 PM at the Willow Springs Head Start Center, 409 W. Main St., Willow Springs. The second event will be held Thursday, April 16 from 5-7 PM at the Mountain View Head Start Center, 1402 E. Highway 60, Mountain View. The third event will be held from 4-6 PM Friday, April 17 at the West Plains Head Start Center, 2027 Clarke Ave., West Plains.

The central office will also hold a month-long event in October.

For more information, you can call 417-256-6147 or visit

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Missouri farmers could get money back for certifying their products as organic.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture this week announced farmers could get as much as $750 back for certification costs.

The department says the state received $127,800 in federal funds, which will pay producers and handlers 75 percent of expenses to certify their products as organic.

Businesses must renew or obtain certification and document costs to participate. Those who certify between October 2014 and Sept. 30 are eligible.

Money is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Missouri’s U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill will travel the state this week to hear about the concerns of senior citizens in Missouri on retirement, fraud and healthy living.

McCaskill will hold eight events on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the upcoming priorities in Congress that would affect seniors.

McCaskill says she wants to hear directly from seniors about how Congress can live up to promises made to older Americans, especially in regards to health and retirement.

The Democrat is the ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, which she says has allowed her to investigate scams targeting seniors, retirement security issues and concerns about Alzheimer’s disease.

Events will be held in St. Louis, Macon, Columbia, Chillicothe, Kansas City, Branson, Springfield and Farmington.