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(West Plains) – Sign-ups for spring sports are underway in West Plains, according to city clerk Mallory Hawkins:

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More information on sports leagues can be found at www.westplainsparksandrec.com.

(Sikeston) – MoDOT has scheduled some work in Howell County this coming week.

Highway 60 in Howell County, from Route RA to Route U, will be reduced to one lane as crews perform bridge deck washing Monday, March 30 through Thursday, April 2 from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Business 60/63 in Howell County will be reduced to one lane as crews wash bridge decks from east Business 60/63 to west Business 60/63 Monday, March 30 through Thursday, April 2 from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Also, Route NN in Howell County, between US 60 and the Texas County line, will be reduced to one lane while crews perform pipe replacement Monday, March 30 through April 2 from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

The work zones will be marked with signs. Motorists are urged to use extreme caution while traveling near the areas.

(Missouri State-West Plains Photo)

West Plains High School senior Bernice Worley, right, with volunteer Dakoda Trithara, a college adviser at West Plains High School. (Missouri State-West Plains Photo)

(West Plains) – 19 area residents, including students, parents or spouses, received free help filling out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) during Missouri State University-West Plains’ FAFSA Frenzy event Saturday, March 7, at the Lybyer Technology Center.

This is the sixth year Missouri State-West Plains has hosted the event, a program of College Goal Sunday, which gives students and their parents free access to financial aid professionals who can guide them through the application process. Donna Bassham, coordinator of financial aid at the university, said help was given to anyone planning to attend college, not just those who are current students or are planning to attend Missouri State-West Plains next fall.

Eleven volunteers assisted students with their forms. Bassham said university officials are looking forward to hosting the event again next spring.

ASUMH student, Brittany Lowry in Dr. Eddie Dry’s biology class, working with the new lab equipment. (provided)

ASUMH student, Brittany Lowry in Dr. Eddie Dry’s biology class, working with the new lab equipment. (provided)

(Mountain Home) – Biology students at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home (ASUMH) removed the dust covers on 10 new digital microscopes earlier this month. The 10 digital microscopes represent one of the largest collections at any higher education institution in Arkansas, according to a representative of vendor Delta Optical of North Little Rock, Ark.

Following the roll out of the new biology lab equipment, students took turns peering into the eyepieces of the new microscopes after obtaining slides from Dr. Eddie Dry, assistant professor of biology, and being directed to locate and identify the various phases of the cell cycle. Dr. Dry moved throughout the lab working one-on-one with the 23 students to ensure all were able to successfully locate cell cycle phases.

But a short time later, the lab was transformed as Dr. Dry directed his students to a cabinet holding laptop computers. Utilizing installation manuals and their critical thinking and technology skills, the students connected their microscopes to laptop computers. Those connections transferred the images of the standard optical microscopes where viewing is done one person at a time onto the laptop computer screens allowing Dr. Dry to instruct multiple students simultaneously about the phases of a cell cycle from the enlarged image.

With the new digital microscopes, visuals can be captured as still images or motion video, saved and edited. The software can also be used to measure small distances such as diameters of cells or the distance between cells.

Dr. Dry said, “These digital microscopes promote higher levels of engagement between me and the students and between students. It is awesome to see students excited about a class activity and seem them sharing information with each other.”

By upgrading the college’s lab with the new equipment, Delta Optical representatives advise ASUMH’s students are gaining experience with real-world equipment, noting a larger version of ASUMH’s digital scopes are utilized by Baxter Regional Medical Center’s pathologists.

The more than $30,000 in funding for the new equipment was made available through a Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education grant administered through the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

Amy McFall

Kimberly McFall

(Mountain Home) – The Donald W. Reynolds Library serving Baxter County is pleased to welcome Kimberly McFall as Marketing Coordinator and Adult Programs Co-Coordinator and Amy Huseby as Circulation Clerk.

A Mountain Home native, Kimberly McFall graduated from Mountain Home High School, earned her Bachelor of Arts from Arkansas State Tech in Russellville, AR, a Masters of Library Science from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, an Educational Specialists degree from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and is currently finishing her dissertation to complete her Doctorate in Educational Leadership at ASU.

McFall is a 17 year veteran of the K-12 classroom, having taught Music and Media in Texas, North Carolina, and Arkansas. Most recently, she was a graduate assistant at ASU-Jonesboro in the Educational Leadership department and taught at Black Rock School in Lawrence County. McFall says, “I look forward to working with the Library Staff and serving the community.”

Huseby

Amy Huseby

Huseby has 14 years of customer service experience working with the American Red Cross in Blood Services/Apheresis and most recently in the banking industry as a Customer Service Specialist. She grew up in the Chicago area, later moving to Springfield, MO and then to Mountain Home in 2001 to be closer to her parents who retired here in 1993. Huseby says, “I am very excited to begin a new and wonderful career with the Baxter County Library. Having a passion for knowledge and a love of books, the Library is a perfect fit, and I look forward to the journey ahead!”

(Little Rock) – Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has released his new weekly address, in which he talks about economic development:

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(Melbourne) – The Ozarka College Foundation is gearing up to host their annual Spring Gala on Thursday, April 9 at 6:00 p.m. This year’s event will be held in the new Student Services Center at Ozarka College, located at 218 College Drive in Melbourne, Arkansas.

In honor of this being Ozarka College’s fortieth year in higher education, the theme will be, “Forty Years Strong!” Centennial Bank will once again be the presenting sponsor of this ruby inspired occasion.

The Gala features dinner prepared by the award-winning Culinary Arts Department, as well as a live auction. This year’s auction experience will be even more exciting, thanks to a generous donation from Sissy’s Log Cabin. Attendees who are the highest bidder on an auction item will have the chance to win a beautiful ruby and diamond ring.

We would also like to express our appreciation to individuals and businesses who have already committed to being corporate sponsors: Arch Westmoreland, BanCorp South, Bray Law Firm, Broadwing Air Repair, Centennial Bank, CenturyLink, First Community Bank, First National Banking Company, First Service Bank, Freedom Ford, GH Miller and Sons, Hatfield Ready Mix, Hometown Propane, Lemon Tree, Mark Martin Chevrolet, Mark’s Pharmacy, NAEC, Paul Miller Motors, Robert Reeves, Simmons First Bank, State Farm Insurance, Stephens, Inc., Tim Gammell, Tucker Wholesale Auction, and White River Medial Center North Complex.

All proceeds from the Gala will support the Foundation in its effort to provide resources necessary for many students to have life-changing experiences through education at Ozarka College. For more information or to purchase your tickets, please call the Ozarka College Advancement Office at 870.368.2059.

(Maryville) (AP) – A northwest Missouri man has been charged in the death of a 10-month-old boy.

The St. Joseph News Press reports that 25-year-old Nicholas L. Bradshaw, of Maryville, faces two felony counts of abuse or neglect of a child, resulting in death. Bond is set at $50,000. No attorney is listed for him in online court records.

Nodaway County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rice filed the charges Thursday after a four-month investigation.

Maryville Public Safety said in a statement that the baby was hurt Dec. 5 and died two days later at Children’s Mercy. Bradshaw had been caring the boy when he was injured.

by Andrew DeMillo, AP

(Little Rock) (AP) – With the nation’s highest court set to hear arguments next month over the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans, legislation is advancing in several states that critics say gives businesses license to deny services to gays and lesbians on religious grounds.

More than a dozen states this year are considering measures aimed at preventing government from infringing on people’s religious beliefs. Supporters say the proposals mirror decades-old protections in federal law, while opponents say they’re a license for state-endorsed discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Here are some answers about the national movement for these laws:

Q: WHAT DO THESE PROPOSALS CALL FOR?

Sixteen states have introduced legislation this year calling for, or altering, a state religious freedom law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most of these proposals prohibit or restrict laws, regulations or other actions that burden someone’s religious practices unless a “compelling” interest is proven. Examples of practices conservative groups have said they’re trying to prohibit include the government compelling people to provide such things as catering or photography for same-sex weddings or other activities they find objectionable on religious grounds. They’ve also said the measures would help churches that want to feed the homeless but are barred doing so by local ordinances. Opponents, however, say it would lead to widespread discrimination against the LGBT community and have compared it to the way religion was used to justify slavery and racial segregation.

Q: IS THIS A NEW IDEA?

A: No. The legislation is patterned after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, and 20 states now have similar laws on the books.

Q: WHY ARE THEY GAINING SUPPORT NOW?

A: The climate has changed since this legislation first surfaced. Judges across the country ruled against state laws and amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman since the U.S. Supreme Court struck part of a federal anti-gay marriage law in June 2013, and gay marriage is legal in more than half of the U.S. Justices will hear arguments April 28 in a case over the constitutionality of such bans in a case that could legalize gay marriage nationwide. The push for the laws also has been buoyed by the Supreme Court’s ruling last year that Hobby Lobby and other closely held private businesses with religious objections could opt out of providing the free contraceptive coverage required by the Affordable Care Act.

Q: WILL THERE BE A BROAD EXPANSION OF THESE LAWS?

A: Mississippi approved a religious protection law last year, and Indiana became the first state to adopt one this year with a measure Gov. Mike Pence signed into law Thursday. Arkansas is poised to follow suit, with a final vote expected next week in the House on legislation that Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he’ll sign. The future is murkier for proposals in several other states, such as Georgia, where a religious protection bill has stalled before a House committee.

Q: WHAT’S THE FALLOUT?

A: Opponents of the measures are hoping that to halt these measures with the same type of backlash from businesses that prompted former Gov. Jan Brewer to veto similar legislation last year in Arizona. In Arkansas, retail giant Wal-Mart has said the religious protection proposal sends the wrong message about its home state, and the Human Rights Campaign has launched an ad campaign in Silicon Valley targeting technology firms Hutchinson is trying to lure to the state. The NCAA, whose offices are located in Indianapolis, has expressed concerns about Indiana’s law and suggested it could move future events elsewhere.

(Fairland) (AP) – The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says a Missouri man was killed when he was run over by a train that he apparently had fallen off of near Fairland.

The OHP said Saturday that 33-year-old Jesse Lloyd Bingaman of Springfield, Missouri, was found lying between two sets of tracks after being spotted by the crew of a train headed east.

The patrol says it appears Bingaman had been riding on a westbound train that had passed through the area earlier and that he apparently fell off and underneath the westbound train.

Bingaman’s body was found shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday.