(Jefferson City) – The group Women Legislators of Missouri are encouraging young Missouri women set to graduate from high school to apply for a $500 college scholarship.
Each year, the group selects one student from each of Missouri’s congressional districts to receive the award. Members hope to spread the word about the scholarship opportunity so that female students from all parts of the state will apply.
The Women Legislators of Missouri Caucus created the senior scholarship program to provide financial assistance to students on the basis of leadership, academics and community service. Candidates must fill out an application and are required to submit a 500-word essay answering the question, “If you were a state legislator, what would you hope to accomplish and why?”
A link to download the scholarship is located at house.mo.gov/. The submission deadline is Thursday, March 19.
The group will select recipients and then a hold a reception in their honor on Monday, April 27 at the State Capitol. Following the reception, the scholarships will be presented to the recipients in the Missouri House Chamber.
For further information, contact 573-751-5388 or 573-751-1490.
(Columbia) (AP) – The Boone County Sheriff’s Department has identified two shooting victims and a man who was shot to death by a sheriff’s deputy during the weekend.
The department says in a news release that 53-year-old Deborah Koontz and her 51-year-old brother, Donald Wilson, were shot to death Saturday night near Columbia. A third man, 44-year-old Willie Mays, was hospitalized with a gunshot wound.
The suspect in the shootings, 28-year-old Cornelius Parker, was pursued by Boone County deputies. Boone County authorities Parker died after he got out of his vehicle and exchanged gunfire with a deputy.
Parker lived with the three victims but investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the shooting.
The 32-year-old deputy involved in shooting has over 11 years in law enforcement.
(Springfield) (AP) – A Springfield man is accused of throwing a rock that shattered a patrol car’s windshield and then kicking a police officer during an arrest.
The Springfield News-Leader reports 32-year-old Jason Alexander is charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest and property damage.
According to a probable cause statement, officers found Alexander intoxicated in a parking garage Feb. 12 in downtown Springfield and told him to leave. Alexander initially refused to leave, but later left. As officers were leaving in their patrol car, Alexander threw two large rocks, with one breaking the windshield.
The statement says Alexander resisted arrest by kicking and punching an officer. He was booked into Greene County Jail on a $7,500 bond. It wasn’t immediately known if he has an attorney.
(Willow Springs) – The West Plains High School chess team took 1st place in the Willow Springs Chess Tournament on Saturday, February 21.
Individual winners were Kyle Seeley – 3rd place, Ben Holt – 9th place and Dylan Hathcock -10th place. Members of the chess team include Kyle Seeley, Ben Holt, Dylan Hathcock, Noah Collins, Drew Bledsoe, Josh Lowry, Bradley Sloniker, Jayden Wiley, and Chase Allen.
(Houston) – Due to the tragedy that occurred in the Tyrone community last week, the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce has canceled the March 3 meeting.
Brenda Jarrett, executive director of the Chamber, says that the next regular luncheon will take place on April 7.
(Jefferson City) – Representative Robert Ross (R-Yukon) issued a statement on Monday on the Thursday shootings in the Texas County community of Tyrone.
“While this is typically an opportunity that I take to report on measures working their way through our political process, the recent events of late last week are on the forefront of my (and our community’s) mind. At the outset I would like to say “Thank You” to our Coroner, Law Enforcement, and Emergency Services personnel for the work that they do on a daily basis, in a continual effort to keep us safe.
On the heels of just having received news about our Auditor Tom Schweich the previous day, I awoke early Friday morning to phone calls checking on my family’s well-being and details of this horrific situation. Although we know more now than was initially reported, a better understanding does not replace what has been taken from our communities. While these events occurred in/around Tyrone, they also directly affect Eunice, Yukon, Cabool, Licking, Summersville, Houston, Mountain View, Willow Springs; and our entire state. To make this situation more personal, these individuals were either family, friends, or neighbors that many of us have known our entire lives. We should continue praying for those affected, and be willing to assist/lend a hand in any way that we’re able.
In a time of crisis, there are always those that will attempt to use tragic events to advance their agenda, which is a despicable but unfortunate reality. In similar fashion to the phony businesses that descended upon Joplin following the tornado, or some of the ridiculous stories that have been printed purporting to explain Tom Schweich’s death, or the parallel statements made nationally concerning the recent murders here in Texas County; we should all be aware that this is coming and that evil/unscrupulous people can be found anywhere, waiting for an opportunity to take advantage of good people for their own corrupted motives.
We will never be able to change the events that recently occurred, and how the media at-large will associate this tragedy with our area. While this may receive the bulk of the media coverage, these individuals represent a tiny fraction of the actual populace, and a deeper look would reveal the truth of neighbor helping neighbor, caring for each other in a time of need, of which there are many examples as a direct result of these tragic events. If we choose to succumb to the fear precipitated by senseless acts such as this, evil wins. Regardless of the headlines drafted to sell newspapers, or the phrases used to drive web traffic; make no mistake that this is a defining moment in our community. I’ve said before that this is the best place in the world to live, and I would continue to argue the point. The caring, helpful, and giving virtues are what truly DEFINE us in this area; and we cannot, will not let that change. It’s up to each of us to continue that legacy.
Next week we’ll discuss matters of public policy, which seemingly matter so much less at times such as these.”
Ross represents the 142nd district, which covers Houston, Mountain View, Cabool, and Tyrone.
(Mountain Home) – The Baxter County Sheriff’s Office will hold a public auction March 30 at 10:00 AM at the east door of the Baxter County Court House in Mountain Home.
The auction is for a lot of land in Red Apple Acres in Gassville, and the house will go to the highest bidder.
For more information, call the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office at 870-425-7000.
by Eric Tucker, AP
(Washington) (AP) – The federal investigation of the police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, is expected to allege patterns of racial bias in the city’s mostly white department. But the probe, nearing release, is likely to stop short of charging the officer whose shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old touched off weeks of protests
The Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown led to two separate federal investigations: one looking at whether criminal charges should be brought against Darren Wilson, the white officer who shot the black teenager, and the other a broader examination of the city’s police department.
The results are expected to be made public in the coming days as Attorney General Eric Holder, who has made civil rights a cornerstone of his six-year tenure, prepares to leave the Justice Department.
Here’s a look at where things stand:
THE FERGUSON POLICE DEPARTMENT
Holder has repeatedly signaled that federal officials have identified problems with the Ferguson Police Department. He’s said the agency was in need of “wholesale change” and that “deep mistrust” had taken hold between law enforcement and members of the community.
The federal investigation is focused on police use of force as well as stops, searches and arrests of suspects and the treatment of inmates at the city jail.
One sign of concern was a 2013 report by the Missouri attorney general’s office that found police were far more likely to stop and search black drivers than white motorists, though they were less likely to find contraband among the black drivers.
The Justice Department has undertaken roughly 20 similar investigations nationwide under Holder’s tenure, usually for allegations including patterns of excessive force and discrimination.
These investigations usually turn up substantial problems, and the Ferguson probe is expected to be no different.
The Newark, New Jersey, police department consented to an independent monitor last year after a federal report found officers used excessive force, routinely stopped people on the street without legitimate reason and stole property from civilians. The city of Cleveland is currently in negotiations with the Justice Department following a scathing report that found problems with record-keeping, accountability and the way use-of-force incidents are investigated.
Most such cases end with police departments committing to make changes, though the Justice Department can take cities to court if they don’t commit to reforms.
THE POLICE OFFICER
The Justice Department is not expected to criminally charge Wilson.
To bring such a case, federal authorities would need to show that Wilson – who was cleared by a state grand jury in November – willfully deprived Brown of his civil rights by knowingly using more force than the law allowed.
That’s historically a heavy burden for prosecutors, particularly in shootings that occur during fast-unfolding encounters in which a police officer can reasonably claim that deadly force was needed to stop an imminent threat.
Wilson told a state grand jury that he feared for his life during the confrontation, which began after he directed Brown and a friend who were walking in the street to move to the sidewalk.
During a struggle, Wilson said Brown reached inside the driver’s-side window of his patrol car, struck him in the face and reached for his service weapon. Brown ran, and Wilson said he shot at him after the teenager charged at him. Some witnesses said Brown never posed a threat and was standing with his hands up before he was shot.
A grand jury cleared Wilson of wrongdoing, and he resigned days later.
The shooting touched off weeks of “hands up, don’t shoot” protests in the streets of Ferguson and other cities. Along with the police chokehold death of a New York City man suspected of selling untaxed cigarettes and the December killings of two New York police officers, the Ferguson case became part of a national conversation about race and policing.
The Missouri shooting and its aftermath also focused attention on how police departments use military surplus equipment and on whether more training is needed to help officers de-escalate situations. It accelerated a push for the use of body cameras by police departments nationwide and led to brainstorming discussions about how to build trust between officers and their communities.
President Barack Obama said Monday at the White House that the deaths of Brown and of Eric Garner in New York City exposed “deep rooted frustration in many communities of color around the need for fair and just law enforcement.” He spoke of a need for more cooperation, and a task force that he appointed is recommending more police training and better data collection on deadly force.
Holder, too, has called for more complete record keeping, including how often officers are themselves shot at.
FBI Director James Comey, in a blunt speech last month on race and law enforcement, said police officers may be informed by unconscious biases. He said, “We must better understand the people we serve and protect, by trying to know deep in our gut what it feels like to be a law-abiding young black man walking down the street and encountering law enforcement.”
by Nedra Pickler and Eric Tucker, AP
(Washington) (AP) – President Barack Obama said Monday that the deaths of unarmed black men in Missouri and New York show that law enforcement needs to change practices to build trust in minority communities, with a White House task force recommending independent outside investigations when police use deadly force.
The president said the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City exposed “deep rooted frustration in many communities of color around the need for fair and just law enforcement.” He said a policing task force that he appointed found it’s important for police and the communities they cover to improve cooperation.
“The moment is now for us to make these changes,” Obama said from the White House during a meeting with members of the task force, who worked for three months to develop the recommendations. “We have a great opportunity coming out of some great conflict and tragedy to really transform how we think about community law enforcement relations so that everybody feels safer and our law enforcement officers feel – rather than being embattled – feel fully supported. We need to seize that opportunity.”
Obama said the task force found great interest in developing best practices for police training to reduce bias and help officers deal with stressful situations. He recognized a particularly controversial recommendation would be the need for independent investigations in fatal police shootings.
“The importance of making sure that there’s a sense of accountability when in fact law enforcement is involved in a deadly shooting is something that I think communities across the board are going to be considering,” Obama said.
The task force echoed calls from officials including Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director James Comey for more complete record-keeping about the numbers of police-involved shootings across the country. Such data is currently reported by local law enforcement on a voluntary basis, and there is no central or reliable repository for those statistics.
“There’s no reason for us not to have this data available,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, a co-chair, who said he was surprised to learn that there were no reliable records kept. “Now that we know that this does not exist, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to develop that information.”
The task force held seven public hearings that included testimony from more than 100 people. The panel also met with leaders of groups advocating for the rights of blacks, Hispanics, Asians, veterans, gays, the disabled and others.
Laurie Robinson, a professor at George Mason University and co-chair of the task force, told reporters the type of community-police relations envisioned by the report does not happen quickly.
“It takes time, it takes relationship-building and it doesn’t happen overnight,” she said.
(Branson) – The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) approved $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to assist Taney County construct 24 apartments for people with developmental disabilities.
Using CDBG funds, Taney County will acquire land on which to construct 18 one bedroom units and six two bedroom units that will be 100 percent special needs priority. The 24-unit apartment building will be next to the Taney County Developmental Connections offices. Missouri Housing Development Low Income Tax Credits will be used for the construction of the apartments.
The CDBG program, administered by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, provides grants and loan funds to cities with a population under 50,000 and counties under 200,000 to assist in a variety of public works and economic development projects.