(Horseshoe Bend) – The Horseshoe Bend Area Chamber of Commerce is getting ready for the biggest and greatest Dogwood Days Festival in 29 years.
Chamber organizers say there will be over 90 events, exhibitors, and vendors throughout the day on May 9 at the festival location in downtown Horseshoe Bend, AR, Highway 289, north of Highway 56 and south of Highway 62/412. The day will start off with a Kiwanis-sponsored pancake breakfast at the Horseshoe Bend Methodist Church from 8-10 AM. The morning events include The World Championship Potato Shoot Competition starting at 10 AM on Turkey Mountain. Organizers urge people to enter this free event and bring their own potato gun and potatoes. Cash prizes will be awarded.
There will also be a Miss Horseshoe Bend Beauty Pageant for young ladies 13 to 17 and Ms. Horseshoe Bend for those 65 and older. There will be a free children’s area with a bounce house, pony rides, and various relays and games. Throughout the the day ,the town gazebo will host live entertainment, including local line dancers and a saddle making demonstration, with giveaways all day long.
At noon May 9, personalities with WGN’s new TV show “Wrestling with Death” will be available to meet and greet the public from 1-3 PM.
The Day will end with a pulled pork dinner and a performance from the Joe Beavers Trio and a street dance from 6:30-9 PM.
(Jefferson City) (AP) – Missouri senators have voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill removing several thousand low-income families from a welfare program.
The Republican-led chamber voted 25-9 Monday to pass a measure that cuts the lifetime limit for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program from five years to three years and nine months. The bill also imposes stricter work requirements.
The bill now goes to the House, where a two-thirds vote also is needed to override Nixon’s veto.
The Democratic governor says the bill would harm thousands of children due to the actions of their parents.
Republican supporters say the measure would end dependency on welfare and encourage people to get jobs.
The cash assistance program provides up to $292 a month for a single parent with two children.
(Bentonville) (AP) – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission says a piranha has been caught at Lake Bentonville.
The commission brought in a state biologist to confirm the species last week after a Bella Vista woman posted pictures of the fish on Facebook.
Assistant Chief of Communications Keith Stephens tells KATV-TV that piranhas are caught occasionally in Arkansas. He says people typically release them from aquariums.
Stephens says piranhas can’t survive winter water temperatures.
The commission says it’s illegal to introduce non-native species into the water and that violators face a $250 fine.
(Jefferson City) (AP) – A proposal from Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander to reduce fees charged to businesses is headed to the Senate.
The Missouri House Thursday approved a measure that would reduce fees charged to corporations, limited liability companies and nonprofits that file information with Kander’s office.
Kander announced the measure as one of his legislative priorities for the 2015 session. The House gave initial approval to the measure in March
He says the reduced fees would save business owners $6 million per year and make Missouri’s filing fees the lowest in the nation.
(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansas finance officials say a surge in tax collections in nearly every major category last month doubled the amount of money the state has collected above forecast for the year.
The state Department of Finance and Administration on Monday said the state’s net available revenue in April totaled $624 million, which is $53.8 million above the same month last year and $82.4 million above forecast.
The state’s revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 is $4.3 billion, which is $163.8 million above forecast.
Finance officials said individual income, sales and corporate tax collections were above forecast and the same month last year. The state also paid out less in individual and corporate income tax refunds last month than expected.
by Bob Salsberg, AP
(Boston) (AP) – Winter’s full fury arrived late in much of the country, but once it did it was relentless, forcing state transportation agencies to spend more than $1 billion to keep highways safe and passable, according to a first-of-its-kind survey.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials said 23 states reported combined spending of more than $1 billion on winter maintenance operations and 8 million work hours plowing or treating state roads from October to March.
The states that responded to Monday’s survey, obtained in advance by The Associated Press, also went through 6 million tons of salt and other huge quantities of brine and liquid deicing chemicals. One state reported using 216,000 gallons of beet juice, which can help salt stick to road surfaces.
“This winter the storms just came one on top of the other and there wasn’t time in between to replenish your salt piles and give your folks some time off,” said Rick Nelson, coordinator of the association’s Snow and Ice Cooperative Program.
A single season snowfall record was broken in Boston, with virtually all the 110 inches coming in a six-week stretch from late January to early March when temperatures rarely rose above freezing.
“In January, we were talking about what we were going to do with the surplus snow and ice funds,” recalled Thomas Tinlin, Massachusetts’ highway administrator. The Department of Transportation wound up spending $154 million on winter maintenance, well above its $107 million annual budget. Additional money was appropriated to assure the state’s private snowplow contractors got paid.
Massachusetts used 600,000 tons of salt and 1.6 million gallons of liquid deicer. Crews removed 17.5 billion cubic feet of snow from state roadways, equivalent to 40 times the volume of dirt excavated during the massive Boston highway project known as the Big Dig, state officials noted.
Pennsylvania, which budgeted $203 million for winter maintenance based on a five-year average of previous expenditures, spent $272 million to keep traffic flowing on the state’s 40,000 miles of roadway, according to Erin Waters-Trasatt, a transportation spokeswoman.
Pennsylvania also was among several states that sent crews and equipment to help out in Massachusetts, she said.
It wasn’t just the typical northern snow belt states that felt winter’s wrath.
“Normally we don’t budget for ice and snow because we don’t get it that often,” said Melinda McGrath, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation. But recent winters have brought several dangerous ice storms to the south, and this year Mississippi spent $3.1 million, used 887 tons of salt and devoted 64,704 work hours to keep state roads safe.
An even larger and longer-term expense, McGrath said, are potholes. It’s a universal headache for motorists and highway officials as freezing and melting cycles cause pavement to expand, then crack. Maryland was among several other states reporting a large increase in potholes this spring.
The actual taxpayer cost of winter road maintenance was much higher than measured by the survey. Not all states responded and the expenses incurred by municipalities for plowing local roads were seen as comparable to state governments.
Unlike the previous winter, AASHTO said there were no serious shortages of salt this year.
When lawmakers and the general public consider transportation funding, winter maintenance needs can often be overlooked said Bud Wright, the group’s executive director.
“When we think about funding transportation, we need to consider the total amount needed to keep people and goods moving throughout the entire year,” he said.
States are prohibited from using federal highway funds for snow and ice removal, but some sought federal disaster assistance to offset costs. President Barack Obama approved disaster declarations for Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut for a January blizzard, making those states eligible for 75 percent reimbursement. But a broader request from Massachusetts to consider all the major storms a cumulative disaster was denied.
(St. Joseph) – The former superintendent at the St. Joseph School District has resigned.
Dr. Fred Czerwonka, who was the former superintendent at the West Plains School District, resigned after the St. Joseph News-Press published a letter from Czerwonka to the school board that was sent to the newspaper. An attorney for Dr. Czerwonka confirmed to the News-Press on Friday that his resignation was effective immediately.
Dr. Czerwonka was hired from the West Plains School District to lead the St. Joseph School District in 2013. The school board moved to terminate Czerwonka’s contract in February, 2015, after the Missouri auditor’s office released a report that highlighted 17 areas of concern, including the mismanagement of district funds.
The FBI has been investigating the school district since April 2014.
(Mountain Grove) – A Mountain Grove man suffered serious injuries Sunday afternoon after the vehicle he was driving ran off-road, hit several mailboxes, and overturned.
32-year-old Michael James was taken by Mercy ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Springfield.
The accident happened at 1:45 PM on Peterson Drive, about 4 miles north of Mountain Grove.
(Willow Springs) – Four people suffered serious injuries Saturday night after a one-vehicle accident near Willow Springs.
The accident happened at 11:45 PM on Highway 63, about two miles south of Willow Springs, when the northbound vehicle driven by 24-year-old Latosha Cox of Mountain View ran off the left side of the roadway and struck a rock embankment. The vehicle then became airborne and hit a drainage ditch, according to a Highway Patrol report.
Cox and three passengers, 10-year-old Cadence Carter of West Plains, 5-year-old Levi Cox of Mountain View, and 27-year-old Kayla Warren of Mountain View all suffered serious injuries. Carter was taken to Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains, while the others were taken to Mercy Hospital in Springfield. A toddler also suffered minor injuries, and was taken to Mercy Hospital in Springfield.
(Batesville) (AP) – The daughter of a Southside, AR woman who was killed nearly a year ago has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in her mother’s death.
The Batesville Daily Guard reports that Jerrie Lynn Acklin of Mountain Home, AR, pleaded guilty this past week in Independence County Circuit Court to the June 2014 slaying of 65-year-old Linda Jo Stingley. Acklin also pleaded guilty to burglary and theft charges as part of a plea deal in which she was sentenced to 56 years in prison.
After answering questions from Judge Dan Kemp, Acklin declined an opportunity to speak during the hearing.
Stingley disappeared June 2, 2014, after leaving work at an assisted living center in Batesville. Her body was found two days later near Malvern – about 140 miles southeast of Batesville.