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(Eminence) – Sen. Roy Blunt’s staff will be holding a listening post meeting in Eminence on April 29.

The meeting will be held from 11 AM to 12 PM at the Shannon County Courthouse in Eminence.

Mobile Offices are opportunities for Missourians to discuss their questions or concerns with the federal government one-on-one with members of Senator Blunt’s staff.

For more information on the meeting, or if you have complaints to pass along, call the Senator’s Office of Constituent Services at 573-442-8151.

Birthday Blessings wrapping volunteers with all of the May birthday bags ready for delivery. Left to Right: Director Lynette Hirsch, Cheryl Scism, Sherry Venneman, Debbie Billing and Director Candi Johnsen. (provided)

Birthday Blessings wrapping volunteers with all of the May birthday bags ready for delivery. Left to Right: Director Lynette Hirsch, Cheryl Scism, Sherry Venneman, Debbie Billing and Director Candi Johnsen. (provided)

(West Plains) – Birthday Blessings, a local non-profit organization that helps foster and at-risk children in the 37th Judicial Circuit, just celebrated a birthday of their own.

Since they have been in operation, Birthday Blessings has provided hundreds of area foster and at-risk children with birthday party supplies.

The children they serve are referrals through the 37th Circuit Children’s Division, which includes Carter, Howell, Oregon and Shannon Counties. The kids are either in foster care or live in poverty where limited family resources do not include birthday parties.

The volunteers at Birthday Blessings put together a party tailored to each child based on a wish list the kids submit. Each recipient typically gets a cake mix, candles, frosting, birthday plates, cups, napkins, and other party supplies. Then, several gifts are selected and wrapped. With permission from the caregivers, Christian items are also included, with everything is put in a sturdy duffle bag for delivery.

Left to right: Directors Lynette Hirsch, Shannon VonAllmen and Candi Johnsen celebrate the organization’s second birthday. (provided)

Left to right: Directors Lynette Hirsch, Shannon VonAllmen and Candi Johnsen celebrate the organization’s second birthday. (provided)

While the organization has given out more than 270 birthday parties, they also assist with other needs, including Christmas gifts, clothing, or rewards for special achievements.

To find out more about the organization or how to make a donation, visit www.birthday-blessings.org, like their Facebook page or call 417-372-5306.

(West Plains) – Scenic Rivers Girl Scout Service Unit #753 will host the 1st Annual Arts and Crafts Fair at the West Plains Civic Center from 12-8 PM on Friday, June 5 and 10 AM to 6 PM Saturday, June 6.

Booths are available for area craft vendors as well as Girl Scout Troops. Booths are approximately 10’x10’ and include 1 table. Electricity is available for a limited number of booths. Booth space is $30 per day for vendors. Girl Scout Troops interested in setting up a booth can call Denise at 417-274-1898 for more information. Booth registration is requested by May 22.

Organizers say money raised by the event will be used to host Girl Scout events in the region, buy supplies, and fund community projects.

Admission will be free with one non-perishable food item per person. Food items will be donated to West Plains Food Pantry, Christos House, and Martha Vance Samaritan Outreach Center.

For additional information or to reserve your booth space, call Denise at 417-274-1898.

FILE - In this April 10, 2015, file photo, Blue Bell ice cream rests on a grocery store shelf in Lawrence, Kan. Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries issued a voluntary recall Monday, April 20, 2015, for all of its products on the market after two samples of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeriosis. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

FILE – In this April 10, 2015, file photo, Blue Bell ice cream rests on a grocery store shelf in Lawrence, Kan. Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries issued a voluntary recall Monday, April 20, 2015, for all of its products on the market after two samples of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeriosis. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

(Brenham, TX) (AP) – Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries issued a voluntary recall Monday night for all of its products on the market after two samples of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeria, a potentially deadly bacteria.

The company “cannot say with certainty” how the bacteria was introduced to its facilities, Blue Bell’s chief executive Paul Kruse said in a statement. Blue Bell issued the recall that includes ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks distributed in 23 states and international locations because other products “have the potential to be contaminated,” according to the statement.

“We’re committed to doing the 100 percent right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe,” Kruse said.

The first recall in the family-owned creamery’s 108-year history was issued last month after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked ice cream contaminated with listeria to three deaths at a Kansas hospital. Five others in Kansas and Texas were sickened with listeriosis, which can cause fever, muscle aches, gastrointestinal symptoms.

The illness was tracked to a production line in Brenham, Texas, and later to a second line in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The most recently contaminated samples were discovered through a testing program the company initiated after its first recall, according to the statement.

Monday’s recall extends to retail outlets in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming and international locations.

The manufacturing facility in Oklahoma where operations were suspended earlier this month for sanitizing will remain closed as Blue Bell continues to investigate the source of the bacteria, the statement said.

Blue Bell is implementing a process to test all of its products before releasing them to the market, with plans to resume limited distribution soon.

The company said it is also expanding its cleaning and sanitization system, beefing up its employee training, expanding its swabbing system by 800 percent to include more surfaces and is sending daily samples to a microbiology laboratory for testing.

Listeria primarily affects pregnant women and their newborns, older adults and people with immune systems weakened by cancer, cancer treatments, or other serious conditions.

by Summer Ballentine, AP

(Jefferson City) (AP) – A panel of Missouri teachers and parents tasked with reviewing the state’s education standards is so divided that members told the State Board of Education on Monday they have split into two groups.

At issue are the goals for what K-12 children should learn in each grade. Missouri now uses the national Common Core standards, which have been criticized by some parents and conservative lawmakers, who say they were adopted with little local input. Supporters say the standards create consistent, rigorous standards across state lines, which could help students from military families who frequently move.

Lawmakers opposed to Common Core last year required a review of the standards with the goal of replacing them with ones recommended by Missouri parents and teachers. But that process so far has been divisive, with some members interested in referencing Common Core standards and others pushing to abandon those guidelines completely, among a slew of other differences.

Tensions between the two factions were further demonstrated by a split in the group evaluating English and language arts guidelines for grades 6-12.

Stacy Shore, a parent who is a member of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core and Concerned Women For America of Missouri, said she was among those who broke from that group. She said she realized “why education is broken in our state” after participating, and said her concerns include lack of enough input from educators and experts, as well as Department of Elementary and Secondary Education intervention in their efforts through a paid facilitator. Department officials have denied that accusation.

Keri Skeeters, a teacher who spoke on behalf of the original English work group, said “it’s unfortunate” members parted ways.

“Everyone actually has a common end goal in mind,” she said. “It’s just that we disagree on how to get there.”

Board President Peter Herschend said the way the work groups are structured – with appointments from the governor, lieutenant governor and legislative leaders – fosters political divides. But he said it’s “perfectly OK” for the groups to break and submit separate recommendations for new learning standards, “as long as they are positive and constructive.”

“Everybody in this room will not be pleased at the end of day,” Herschend said.

The groups have until Oct. 1 to recommend revised standards to the board, which has final authority over what learning goals the state uses.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – The state’s attorney general will defend the Missouri Senate in a lawsuit filed by a liberal advocacy group over alleged violations of the state’s open records law.

Attorney General Chris Koster’s office said Monday in a statement the office would provide legal counsel in the case involving administration of official Senate business.

Progress Missouri filed the lawsuit challenging the policy of some Senate committee chairman of prohibiting the group from filming hearings last week. The lawsuit names the Senate and three Republican committee chairmen.

Missouri’s Sunshine Law allows public bodies to establish recording guidelines to minimize disruption, but the suit says the filming wouldn’t have been disruptive.

Senators on Thursday endorsed a measure that would allow the body to hire private counsel, partly in response to the lawsuit.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – A measure that would change municipal court operations and lower the money cities can get from traffic violations is nearing a debate in the Missouri House.

A House committee voted unanimously Monday to approve the bill. It’s aimed at addressing concerns voiced by Ferguson protesters about predatory revenue-generating practices in some St. Louis area cities.

The House version includes a limit on the fine local governments can levy for minor traffic violations.

It would also restrict detainment for such violations, end failure to appear charges and require alternative payment options.

The Senate version focused primarily on lowering the percentage of revenue cities can get from 30 percent to 20 percent for most cities. Both include lower caps for cities in the St. Louis area.

(AP/Post Dispatch)

(AP/Post Dispatch)

(St. Louis) (AP) – The St. Louis Post-Dispatch photo staff is the winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography.

The journalism awards were announced Monday. The Post-Dispatch was honored for its photo coverage of protests that followed the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black, by a white Ferguson police officer in August.

The award cited the “powerful images of the despair and anger in Ferguson,” calling it “stunning photojournalism that served the community while informing the country.”

It was the 18th Pulitzer in the history of the newspaper, which was founded by Joseph Pulitzer.

(ORN Photo)

(ORN Photo)

(West Plains) – Crews in the West Plains area are working to clean up a food spill on Highway 63.

West Plains Police Department dispatch told Ozark Radio News that a truck carrying a load of pasta, pasta sauce, and chicken lost its load on Highway 63 just south of Richards School around 3 PM.

Both lanes of Highway 63 are slowed at this time due to clean-up. If you are traveling on Highway 63, please exercise caution and pay attention to traffic.

(West Plains) – The Howell County Health Department says the first confirmed case of rabies in the county this year has been reported by the Missouri State Public Health Lab in Jefferson City.

The case involved a rabid skunk near the South Fork area, which exposed a dog that was not current on its rabies vaccination to the virus. Since the dog was not up to date on its rabies vaccination, it was required to be euthanized.

This is the first confirmed cases of rabies in Howell County, and the third rabies case statewide. Howell County ended 2014 with a total of 5 positive rabies cases, all involving skunks, with 27 cases reported statewide. In 2013, 4 rabies cases were reported to the Howell County Health Department, 3 involving skunks and 1 involving a cat. In 2012, Howell County had a total of 6 positive rabies cases, which all involved skunks.

In 2008, a Texas county man died from rabies after being bitten on the ear by a bat, marking the first human rabies death in Missouri since 1959. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 40,000 persons in the United States receive the anti-rabies series of shots annually, after possible exposure to a rabid animal.

Although rabies is transmitted to humans almost entirely through bites from rabid animals, contamination of open wounds or mucous membranes with saliva or nervous tissue from a rabid animal could potentially constitute an exposure. It is important to remember that personal pets should not be handled without protection directly after being exposed to wildlife due to the potential for carrying residual saliva from an infected animal.

Health department officials remind the public that rabies is 100% preventable. To help combat the virus, the health department and veterinarians in Howell County will hold a number of vaccination clinics on May 2. Clinic times and locations are as follows:

WEST PLAINS
8 AM-5 PM – Kramer Animal Hospital, 109 St. Louis Street, 417-256-2014
8 AM- 12 PM – West Plains Vetinerary Clinic,  1716 W. Highway 160, 417-256-4515
8 AM-1 PM – Talburt Animal Health Center, 3001 Porter Wagoner Blvd, 417-256-2838
8 AM-11:30 AM – Animal Clinic of West Plains, 1101 Route 17, 417-256-6145.
12:30-2:30 PM – Animal Clinic of West Plains, Heart of the Ozark Fairgrounds, Highway 63, 417-256-6145.

WILLOW SPRINGS
8:30-11 AM – Dr. Lewis, Booster Field, 417-469-4138
8 AM – 5 PM – Barn Hollow Veterinarian Services, 417-934-0234.

Animal Clinic of Willow Sprintgs 10:30AM -12:30PM

MOUNTAIN VIEW
1-3 PM – Mountain View Farmer’s Market, 417-934-2323
8 AM – 5 PM – Barn Hollow Veterinarian Services, 417-934-0234.