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(Willow Springs) – The play “Who’s Haunting the Church for Christmas?” by Christy Cunningham will take place at 7 PM Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 19-21 at the First General Baptist Church, 2507 Railroad Drive in Willow Springs.

Organizers say the play is a sequel to last year’s Christmas play at the church, and includes many of the same characters from last year.

Admission to the play is free.

(Jefferson City) – Two officers with Highway Patrol Troop G have been honored with the Missouri Medal of Valor after a ceremony on Thursday.

In the early morning hours of April 18, 2013, Troopers Daniel Johnson and Jason Philpott helped rescue an elderly couple trapped in the mobile home near Route A and County Road 409 after heavy rains flooded the area. Troopers Johnson and Philpott launched a patrol boat, got to the home, outfitted the couple with personal flotation devices and placed them into the rescue boat. As they pulled away, the vessel’s motor stalled and eventually the boat capsized. All four occupants began drifting downstream in the swift moving water, headed toward a certain crash into a flooded concrete bridge. Troopers Johnson and Philpott each swam to and retrieved the elderly couple. Once they had them, they swam against the swift current and brought them to shore.

The Medal of Valor was first awarded in 2008 and is bestowed annually based on recommendations submitted by the Medal of Valor Review Board. Recipients must serve a public agency, with or without compensation, as a firefighter, law enforcement officer or emergency personnel. The nominating form states the Medal of Valor is awarded “to a public safety officer who has exhibited exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her own personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.”

(Houston) – The Walmart Foundation has provided a $35,000 grant to the Texas County Food Pantry through the Foundation’s state-level program to assist with Hunger Relief efforts in Texas County.

TCFP officials say that the grant will provide additional funding for food and equipment, food transportation costs, the salary for a food manager, and support for the Houston and Success Weekend Food Backpack Programs for schoolchildren.

The mission of the Texas County Food Pantry is to respond to the legitimate needs of the people who request assistance for the basic human needs of food, clothing, healthcare and shelter.  The staff and volunteers are committed to listen with a caring heart, in a manner that respects the person. We challenge and encourage our clients to use the services of the food pantry as an opportunity for change and growth in personal responsibility.

As part of Walmart’s $2 billion commitment to fight hunger through 2015, Walmart stores in Missouri donated 23.7 million pounds of food, in fiscal year 2013, or the equivalent of 19.7 million meals. Additionally, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave $43.3 million in fiscal year 2013 in Missouri alone.

(West Plains) – West Plains Bank and Trust Company was recently named a recipient of a $15,000 Strong Communities Fund grant awarded by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines. The Homeownership Fund award supports homeownership opportunities for families and individuals across five Midwestern states.

Through the Homeownership Fund, individuals and families who are unable to cover upfront costs can make their dreams of homeownership a reality. The program assists qualified families with the down payment, closing cost, counseling or rehabilitation of property.

Five eligible homebuyers will benefit from $3,000 each through West Plains Bank and Trust Company as a result of the Homeownership Fund grant.

Each year, FHLB Des Moines returns 10 percent of its net income to communities throughout its district, an investment of over $241 million which has created or rehabilitated more than 51,000 homes.

If you are interested in purchasing a home using the Homeownership Fund grant, contact a West Plains Bank and Trust Company mortgage lenders for details. For additional information on the program, visit www.westplainsbank.com or call 417-256-2147.

(West Plains) – Board Certified Radiation Oncologist Benjamin Yan has joined the staff at the Ozarks Medical Center Cancer Treatment Center.

He comes to OMC from Mason City, Iowa, where he served as a Radiation Oncologist for Mercy Medical Center. Dr. Yan joins Board Certified Oncologists/Hematologists Charles Morgan, MD, and Liana Makarian, MD, in providing complete cancer care for the community.

In addition to his medical degree, Dr. Yan completed a PhD in Pathology and Cancer Biology at Duke University Medical Center. His many accomplishments include identifying a tumor suppressor gene, DFF, and identifying the molecular mechanism underlying cancers developed from chronic inflammatory diseases. His discoveries have been presented in annual conferences for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR).

During his residency at the University of Mississippi and fellowship in radiation oncology at Duke University Medical Center, Dr. Yan published more than 20 publications in peer-reviewed medical journals and received a number of prestigious awards and honors including the AACR scholar-in-training award and ASCO Merit Award. He was selected as a top oncologist by the International Association of Oncologists in 2014.

Dr. Yan is Board Certified by the American Board of Radiology. He is a member of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology, the Radiosurgery Society, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Medical Association and the Radiation Research Society. He is an Associate member of the American Association of Cancer Research.

(Reuters)

(Reuters)

(Washington) – U.S. Missouri Senator Roy Blunt went before the U.S. Senate floor to discuss the impact of costly federal regulations on Missourians.

During his speech, he expressed that he believed that people want Congress and the government to be more responsive:

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Senator Blunt sited his Enforce the Law act, which he introduced and was passed in the House, as an example of how to deal with an un-responsive government.

(Willow Springs) – Willow Springs Superintendent Dr. Derrick Hutsell told Ozark Radio News that the district has seen some sickness in the past few weeks, and they are urging parents to make sure their children are practicing good hygiene and are aware of sickness:

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Hutsell added that if you child is feeling under the weather, it’s best to keep them at home. More information on the school district can be found at www.willowspringsschool.com.

(Little Rock) (AP) – The portrait for outgoing Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe will be unveiled at the state Capitol.

Beebe on Friday planned to host the unveiling of his official portrait, less than a month before he’s set to leave office due to term limits. The Democrat was first elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.

Beebe announced earlier this year that he had chosen Garland County art instructor Ovita Goolsby to paint his portrait.

Beebe’s portrait will be hung on the east side of the governor’s reception room at the Capitol, and former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s portrait will be moved from that spot to the second-floor rotunda. Beebe is being succeeded by Republican Asa Hutchinson, who will be sworn in Jan. 13.

 Mentalist Christopher Carter will present his show “Theater of Thoughts” at 7 p.m. Jan. 15 in the West Plains Civic Center theater.  The performance is being sponsored by Missouri State University-West Plains’ Student Government Association and University/Community Programs Department.  (Photo provided)

Mentalist Christopher Carter will present his show “Theater of Thoughts” at 7 p.m. Jan. 15 in the West Plains Civic Center theater.  The performance is being sponsored by Missouri State University-West Plains’ Student Government Association and University/Community Programs Department.  (Photo provided)

(West Plains) – The University/Community Programs (U/CP) Department and the Student Government Association at Missouri State University-West Plains will host mentalist Christopher Carter for a performance of his show, “Theater of Thoughts,” at 7 PM Thursday, January 15, at the West Plains Civic Center theater.

Tickets are $8 for adults, and children age 13 and under and Missouri State-West Plains students with BearPass IDs will be admitted free.

“Theater of Thoughts” will prove to local audiences why Carter is recognized as one of the world’s most skilled, creative and original thought readers. Through the powers of concentration, Carter can make light bulbs explode and identify serial numbers on currency he’s never seen. Other show segments include describing objects held up by audience members with his eyes held closed by duct tape; revealing personal facts about random audience members, and more.

Carter has been recognized several times by the Campus Activities Magazine Reader’s Choice Awards, including being named the 2006 Best Performer and 2014 Best Male Performer, being nominated for the 2013 Entertainer of the Year, and receiving runner-up honors as the 2012 Best Live Novelty act.

For more information about this presentation, contact the U/CP office at 417-255-7966 or visit www.wp.missouristate.edu/ucp/.

(Mountain View) – Resolutions are easy to break, but not if you have a team holding you accountable. Just in time for the New Year, Mercy St. Francis Hospital is bringing back its successful “Biggest Loser” challenge.

Teams and participants are encouraged to sign up now for the 12-week contest, which kicks off with a weigh-in on January 6. It will be followed by a series of fun events to get the community in better shape through March 31.

Last year, 57 people accepted the challenge, losing a combined 867 pounds – nearly a half-ton of weight. The Mountain View Food Bank received more than $400 in donations; this year, 25 percent of entry fees will be donated to the food bank’s backpack program.

Registration costs $20 and requires a signed waiver and photo. All weigh-ins will take place at Mercy St. Francis Hospital at 100 W. Highway 60 in Mountain View. The first will be Tuesday, January 6, from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM. The final weigh-in is Tuesday, March 31; winners will be announced by Friday, April 3.

Mercy will provide cholesterol and diabetes tests on the first and last weigh-ins for contestants who would like to track their progress; testing requires fasting.

Contest rules and a schedule of events are available at bit.ly/BiggestLoserMtnView. Those planning to form a team are encouraged to give Carol Schmidt a call by Dec. 31. She can be reached at 417-934-7097.