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The refuge portion of the Missouri Department of Conservation's Peck Ranch Conservation Area will be closed from April 1 through July 1. This is one way to increase the chance of elk calving success, which will be taking place in the refuge during this period.  (MDC)

The refuge portion of the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Peck Ranch Conservation Area will be closed from April 1 through July 1. This is one way to increase the chance of elk calving success, which will be taking place in the refuge during this period. (MDC)

(Van Buren) – Missouri Department of Conservation officials say ensuring the population stability of a popular wildlife resident is the primary reason behind the upcoming closure of the refuge area at the Peck Ranch Conservation Area.

Peck Ranch Area’s refuge will be closed April 1-July 1 to minimize stress and human interference during the elk calving period. Peck Ranch is home to 125 elk, the majority of which roam on Peck Ranch’s 11,500-acre refuge. The spring closing of Peck Ranch’s refuge has been an annual occurrence since MDC’s elk restoration project began in 2011. Public access will still be allowed to the approximately 12,000 acres of the area that are outside the area’s marked refuge fence. Peck Ranch’s elk-viewing automobile route is included in the area that will be closed to the public.

Peck Ranch Conservation Area encompasses more than 23,000 acres in Shannon and Carter counties.

Peck Ranch’s refuge will also be closed Oct. 10-11, Oct. 24-26, Nov. 14-24 and Dec. 5-6 to accommodate deer hunting opportunities during those time periods.

For more information, call the Peck Ranch Conservation Area, 573-323-4249 or MDC’s Ozark Regional Office in West Plains, 417-256-7161.

Sen. McCaskill, left, during Wednesday's hearing. (provided)

Sen. McCaskill, left, during Wednesday’s hearing. (provided)

(Washington) – Pointing to a report from the Alzheimer’s Association issued earlier this week that costs associated with Alzheimer’s care could reach $1.1 trillion by 2050, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill said on Wednesday during a hearing that additional investments in research funding are necessary to combat the disease.

McCaskill discussed the critical importance of both investments in medical research to combat Alzheimer’s, and the importance of funding and expanding Medicaid programs for long-term care:

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McCaskill and Chairman Susan Collins (R-Maine) head the Senate Special Committee on Aging, which leads discussion and debate on matters relating to older Americans.

by Allen Reed, AP

(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansas would have some of the strictest requirements in the nation on how information is provided to a woman before an abortion under a bill endorsed by the House.

Lawmakers voted 75-1 Wednesday to advance the bill to the Senate.

The proposal by Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum of Springdale would increase the amount of time between the in-person meeting and the procedure from 24 hours to 48 hours. It would also require doctors to discuss alternatives, health risks and the probable physical description of the fetus.

Arkansas would join Alabama as the second state to require a two-day wait. Three states have 72 hour waiting periods.

Lundstrum says the change will ensure women get quality information.

Opponents say information required in the mandate is medically inaccurate.

(stock/Shutterstock)

(stock/Shutterstock)

(Little Rock) (AP) – The Arkansas Senate has voted to allow a display of the Ten Commandments near the state Capitol, with the lawmaker behind the idea calling the monument a nod to history.

The bill approved by a 27-3 vote Wednesday would allow a privately funded monument to the commandments built on the Capitol grounds, with its design and location approved by the secretary of state. The measure now heads to the House.

Republican Sen. Jason Rapert has said the monument would commemorate the role the commandments have played in the nation’s legal system. Opponents have said the monument amounts to a state endorsement of religion and would be unconstitutional.

(West Plains) – The city of West Plains is working on an engineering study, according to city clerk Mallory Hawkins:

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The traffic study project will cost $12,000, with the city paying roughly $4000 of that thanks to transportation funding provided by the Missouri Department of Transportation. The study will be finished before September 1, which is the deadline to use the MoDOT money.

(West Plains) – The University of Missouri Extension has announced a new livestock specialist has been hired for Howell County.

Randy Wiedmeier was raised in Montana beef cattle ranching and cereal grain farming, and was on the faculty at Utah State University in the Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences Department for 25 years.

MU Extension officials say Wiedmeier will help develop and provide high-quality educational programs for livestock producers in Howell, Douglas, Wright, Taney, Texas, Ozark, and portions of Oregon Counties.

For more information on the Howell County office or the MU Extension program, call the office on S. Aid Avenue in West Plains at 417-256-2391.

(West Plains) – The First Friday Downtown Stroll events in the city of West Plains will return for the year 2015 with the Friday, April 3 event.

From 5 PM until roughly 8 PM that day, businesses on the downtown square and in the downtown area will be offering extended hours for shopping and dining. Restarted in 2013, the strolls offer visitors a unique opportunity to browse in stores normally closed during the evening while enjoyed a stroll around the historical downtown square and down Washington Avenue. The event may be canceled or postponed due to weather.

For more information about the First Friday Night Downtown Stroll, people may contact Mary Mike Taylor at 417-827-8334.

(West Plains) – Students and area residents interested in Missouri State University-West Plains’ short-term, study away program to India this summer still have time to apply, as the application deadline has been extended to April 2.

The program, India: Encountering and Contesting Development (GRY 197), is a three-credit-hour class set for July 9-24 and is being coordinated through the Office of International Programs at Missouri State University in Springfield. The cost of the trip has been reduced to $3,311, not including class tuition, meals, transportation to and from Chicago O’Hare International Airport, passport and visa.

School officials say the objective of the course is to look at some of the key emerging and ongoing developments that shape lives, livelihoods and possibilities for change in India.

Those interested in enrolling or wanting more information should call 417-396-9027. Those interested will need to pay the program fee in full through the Study Away storefront at www.international.missouristate.edu/studyaway/ before the program departs.

For more information about the trip you can also visit the Missouri State University Study Away website at international.missouristate.edu/studyaway/.

(West Plains) – The West Plains School District has announced they have received a subpoena from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

West Plains Superintendent Dr. John Mulford says the records subpoena, which was received by the school district on Tuesday, was related to the current FBI investigation of the St. Joseph School District. Former West Plains Superintendent Fred Czerwonka was hired by the St. Joseph School District in 2013 and was fired in February after an audit by the state of Missouri found that at least $25 million in unapproved stipends had been handed out to school administrators.

Other problems revealed in the St. Joseph audit include the district promoting employees to positions they were not qualified for, using school funds for unreasonable purchases, holding closed meetings that violated the state Sunshine Laws, and mismanaging investments.

West Plains School District officials did not identify Czerwonka by name.

“Neither the West Plains School District nor any current employee are involved in this investigation,” stated Dr. Mulford, who added that the district is complying with the request and will cooperate fully with the FBI.

“It is important to note that this investigation is not about our school district,” school board president Jim Thompson said, “Openness and transparency are priorities for members of the West Plains School Board of Education and our board takes great pride in doing things the right way. Our district will work with the FBI to provide the requested documents.”

by Allen Reed, AP

(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansas House members have passed a bill to restore a capital gains tax break that had been reduced to help pay for a middle class income tax cut proposed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

The House voted 68-17 Wednesday for the bill and sent it to the Senate. It would raise the percentage of a capital gain that is exempt from the income tax to 50 percent, which would cost the state $6 million in the coming fiscal year and $11 million the following year.

The Legislature repealed part of the 2013 tax break as part of a $102 million tax cut Hutchinson signed into law last month. Hutchinson previously said he’s looking into changing his $5.2 billion proposed budget for the coming year to accommodate the extra tax cut.