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(Cape Girardeau) (AP) – Suicide claims more lives in Missouri than homicides and DWI accidents combined, according to new data.

Statistics released Thursday by the American Association of Suicidology show that Missouri had a suicide rate of 15.9 per 100,000 people in 2012. That is higher than the national average of 13 suicides per 100,000 people and ranks Missouri 18th in the nation.

And the numbers are climbing: Data from the Missouri Institute of Mental Health show a steady increase in suicide rates since 2000, nationally and statewide. It’s also the first time Missouri has reached the 15-per-100,000 threshold since at least 2000.

Like some other medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, a combination of biology and stress can lead to depression and suicide, said Del McKinney, director of education at the Community Counseling Center in Cape Girardeau. Much like a person can be predisposed to heart disease, some people are genetically susceptible to mental-health issues, particularly when high-stress situations occur.

Getting back to a healthy state of mind can be a matter of “learning to manage stress, being aware of your emotions,” McKinney said. Medication is often prescribed, and other methods can be used to help with the situation.

Struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts “doesn’t mean you’re weak,” added Michael Hester, a licensed professional counselor and specialist in co-occuring disorders. “It means you’re human. If I have depression, I’m not defective. It’s OK to get help.”

When people reach the point of completing suicide, they are often not seeing the world as others do, Hester said.

“They might see everything as negative, when maybe it’s not,” he said. “They feel they’re worthless with an unchangeable future. They may think their situation is not going to get better, and view the world as totally bad and nothing good.”

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If you’ve considered suicide, you’re not alone. For help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number at 1-800-273-8255

(Willow Springs) – A number of arrests were made in Willow Springs earlier this month in connection with a party at a residence on South Center Street.

Officcer Brian Johnson pulled over a vehicle on January 16 that contained four subjects. The driver, a 16-year-old juvenile, was issued citations for driving while intoxicated, littering, not having insurance, minor in possession and having an open container. Three other people in the car were also arrested: 21-year-old Dakota Farrell of Willow Springs was charged with four counts of supplying intoxicants to a minor; 20-year-old Juan Dona of Willow Springs was charged with being a minor in possession of intoxicants. A 17-year-old male from Willow Springs was also charged with being a minor in possession.

Later that evening, Officer Jackson received information on a party on South Center Street. A press release says that upon his arrival, a number of individuals ran out the back door while he talked with a resident of the home. The resident, 23-year-old Brittney VanHorn, faces two charges of supplying intoxicants to minors. Three other youths, ages 16, 17 and 17, also face minor in possession charges, with the 16-year-old being referred to the juvenile office.

A total of 219 canned and non-perishable food items have been collected for the local Bridges program by members of the Grizzly Basketball team as part of its food drive this season, which is being conducted in partnership with the Enactus student organization at Missouri State University-West Plains.  With the collected items above are, from left, Enactus Co-Faculty Adviser Cathy Proffitt-Boys, Bridges Coordinator Cyndi Wright, Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker, freshman guard Dazhonetae Bennett, and Enactus Co-Faculty Adviser Renee Moore.  (Missouri State-West Plains Photo)

A total of 219 canned and non-perishable food items have been collected for the local Bridges program by members of the Grizzly Basketball team as part of its food drive this season, which is being conducted in partnership with the Enactus student organization at Missouri State University-West Plains.  With the collected items above are, from left, Enactus Co-Faculty Adviser Cathy Proffitt-Boys, Bridges Coordinator Cyndi Wright, Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker, freshman guard Dazhonetae Bennett, and Enactus Co-Faculty Adviser Renee Moore.  (Missouri State-West Plains Photo)

(West Plains) – Members of the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball program have joined with the Enactus student organization this season to collect non-perishable food items for the Bridges program in West Plains.

So far, the drive, which encourages Grizzly fans to bring the items to home games, has resulted in the collection of 219 individual food items for Bridges. Those who bring one canned food item receive one free ticket to the game.

Remaining home games will be January 27 and February 7 and 21 in Joe Paul Evans Arena at the West Plains Civic Center.

All items collected will be given to Bridges, a community-based program designed to help meet students’ needs in the West Plains R-7 School District and surrounding rural schools so they can focus on their education. So far during this academic year, 250 students have been helped by the program, according to Bridges Coordinator Cyndi Wright.

For more information about the food drive, contact the Grizzly Basketball office at 417-255-7991.

Front Row, Left to Right: Foundation board member Courtney Beykirch, Simon Hodges, Thomas Killion, Camrin Honeycutt, Foundation Board President, Ericka Atkins, Foundation board member Nathan Cropper. Back Row: Karen Moffis, Glenwood Principal, DeAnn Sellers – Junction Hill Counselor, Lenny Eagleman- West Plains Middle School Principal. (provided)

Front Row, Left to Right: Foundation board member Courtney Beykirch, Simon Hodges, Thomas Killion, Camrin Honeycutt, Foundation Board President, Ericka Atkins, Foundation board member Nathan Cropper. Back Row: Karen Moffis, Glenwood Principal, DeAnn Sellers – Junction Hill Counselor, Lenny Eagleman- West Plains Middle School Principal. (provided)

(West Plains) – The West Plains Education Foundation has announced the winners of the West Plains Reads Fall Reading Road Trip Challenge.

1st Place – Simon Hodges, Glenwood Schools – Winner of a tablet

2nd Place – Thomas Killion, Junction Hill – Winner of a gift card

3rd Place – Camrin Honeycutt, West Plains Middle School – Winner of a gift card

A winter challenge will be announced in late January. For more information on West Plains Reads visit www.westplainsreads.com.

(Cape Girardeau) – With the February 15 deadline for enrolling in 2015 Health Insurance Marketplace plans just weeks away, the Cover Missouri Coalition is ramping up efforts to educate Missourians about their coverage options.

Although 209,336 Missourians have already selected Marketplace plans, Cover Missouri seeks to increase this number even further as part of its broader and ongoing work to reduce the state’s uninsured rate to less than five percent in five years.

Coalition members will be holding free education and enrollment events and extending office hours for in-person application assisters, to help empower consumers with the factual information they need to select the right coverage for them. Specific activities include:

· Enrollment and education events offered in every region of the state. Missourians can find sessions in their area, by visiting www.covermissouri.org/events/

(Jefferson City) – Agriculture students throughout Missouri have two weeks to complete their application for the 2015 Missouri Corn Scholarship Program.

High school and college students interested in a career in agronomy or other agriculture-related field must submit the necessary forms no later than February 6 to be eligible for one of seven $1,000 scholarships sponsored by the Missouri Corn Growers Association and the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council.

Missouri Corn Scholarship applications are available online at www.mocorn.org or by calling 1-800-827-4181. Documents, including an application form, official high school or college transcript and at least one letter of recommendation, must be postmarked by February 6 to be eligible. Applications received by fax or email will not be considered.

High school senior applicants must be Missouri residents from a farm or rural area. They must plan to attend a two- or four-year Missouri college or university and major in agronomy or an agriculture-related field. The scholarship funds will apply toward the freshman year of college expenses for high school winners.

College applicants must also be Missouri residents from a farm or rural area and currently a junior enrolled in a Missouri four-year college or university majoring in agronomy or an agriculture-related field. The scholarship funds will apply toward the senior year of expenses for college winners.

To learn more about Missouri Corn programs, please visit www.mocorn.org.

(Mountain Home) – The Friends of the Baxter County Library invite the community to their monthly meeting Wednesday, January 28 at 1:30 PM at the Donald W. Reynolds Library, 300 Library Hill in Mountain Home.

A presentation will be made by Heather Powell with the Twin Lakes Literacy Council about the challenges involved in learning English as a second language.

For information on all Library programs, visit the Library’s website at www.baxlib.org.

(Lamar) – Obtaining a quality soil sample is vital for receiving accurate nutrient recommendations for a field.

Jill Scheidt, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension, says soil samples need to be taken every three to four years. The average soil test assesses nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, organic matter, neutralizable acidity, cation exchange capacity and pH levels.

The best time to take a sample for forages and spring-seeded crops is when the field is idle; usually after harvest in the fall or winter.

For fields with winter wheat and fall-seeded crops, sampling during the idle time in the summer is best. Pre-plant or pre-side-dress nitrogen samples for corn should be taken in the spring as close to planned nitrogen application as possible. Sample cores need to be at least six to eight inches deep since too shallow of a sample can cause an overestimate of soil fertility levels.

According to Scheidt, grid soil sampling, which is sampling the field in 2.5 acres per sample, is economical when used in high yielding fields; especially when significant variations in soil tests are anticipated.

Interpreting soil tests are the most difficult part of the process but specialists from University of Missouri Extension always add recommendations that make it easier.

After collecting the soil take it to the nearest University of Missouri Extension county office. The staff there can help with the paperwork and get your results in seven to 10 days for a modest fee.

(Little Rock) (AP) – The Arkansas Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint against Attorney General Leslie Rutledge that accused her violating state law by appearing in an outside group’s campaign ad last year.

Director Graham Sloan says the panel voted 4-0 on Friday to dismiss the complaint against Rutledge, a Republican who was sworn in last week as attorney general. Little Rock attorney and blogger Matt Campbell had filed the complaint against Rutledge over her appearance in a 30-second television spot by the Republican Attorneys General Association.

Campbell had argued Rutledge was illegally coordinating with an outside group, saying the $300,000 spent on the ad amounted to a campaign contribution.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Transforming the Missouri Department of Transportation headquarters into a space for some legislative and executive branch employees is among the projects that could be funded with new bond revenues.

At issue is last year’s bonding plan for about $353 million of renovation projects at higher education institutions and state facilities, the Columbia Daily Tribune reports. A proposal for using that money sets aside $35 million to convert the MoDOT building, which is just a few paces from the Capitol, into the “Capitol Annex.” An additional $40 million would be used for stone repairs to stop leaks in the Capitol itself.

“It will provide more office space, more hearing rooms and, probably more important, get staff to where they have decent working conditions,” Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, said as he presented a list of projects Thursday to the Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee.

Decisions on which legislative staff members and executive branch employees would move to the building have not been made, Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard said after the hearing.

Other Transportation Department buildings can house operations currently in the headquarters building, Richard said. Along with offices, the annex building would be outfitted with committee hearing rooms and a media center for lawmakers to do live television interviews.

Dozens of House members are now crammed into offices stacked on the Capitol’s first floor. The upper offices are cramped, hot and inaccessible to people with disabilities.

“Anyone who has been speaker of the House understands the problem,” said Richard, who was speaker from 2009 to 2011.

In his State of the State Address on Wednesday, Gov. Jay Nixon endorsed using the new bond authority. His budget proposal asks lawmakers to approve spending the money in the current fiscal year, a necessary step before the bonds can be issued.