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FILE - In this  Feb. 11, 2014 file image from video released by the City of Ferguson, Mo., officer Darren Wilson attends a city council meeting in Ferguson. Wilson has told authorities that Michael Brown reached for the gun during a scuffle, the Times reported in a story posted on its website Friday night Oct. 17, 2014.   (AP Photo/City of Ferguson, File)

FILE – In this Feb. 11, 2014 file image from video released by the City of Ferguson, Mo., officer Darren Wilson attends a city council meeting in Ferguson. Wilson has told authorities that Michael Brown reached for the gun during a scuffle, the Times reported in a story posted on its website Friday night Oct. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/City of Ferguson, File)

(Ferguson) (AP) – Missouri police have been brushing up on constitutional rights and stocking up on riot gear to prepare for a grand jury’s decision about whether to charge a white police officer who fatally shot a black 18-year-old in suburban St. Louis.

The preparations are aimed at avoiding a renewed outbreak of violence during the potentially large demonstrations that could follow an announcement of whether Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson will face a criminal trial for the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown.

Police and protesters have repeatedly clashed since the shooting, which prompted a national conversation about race and police tactics. Images of officers in riot gear and armored vehicles confronting protesters have drawn widespread criticism.

Many protesters want Darren Wilson indicted for murder. Grand jury proceedings are secret, but legal analysts say recently leaked information about Wilson’s testimony to investigators may be an attempt to prepare the public for the possibility that he might not be charged.

The decision could be made public within the next month.

In the meantime, law officers have adjusted their tactics for interacting more peacefully with protesters while also honing their procedures for quick, widespread arrests. They plan to have a large contingent of officers at the ready, but have been meeting with clergy, community leaders and students in hopes of building relationships that could ease tensions on the streets.

Law enforcement officers expect to receive at least a day’s notice before a grand jury announcement. That should provide time for them to execute security plans but may also allow demonstrators to prepare.

Wilson’s description of events was leaked recently, as was an autopsy report that showed Brown had marijuana in his system and was shot in the hand at close range. Wilson has alleged Brown was trying to grab his gun in the SUV.

Wilson’s attorneys have denied being the source of the reports.

The shooting stoked long-simmering racial tensions in Ferguson, a predominantly black community with an overwhelmingly white police force. Protests have continued for two months in the St. Louis area, often peaceful but sometimes devolving into clashes between police firing tear gas and demonstrators lobbing rocks and bottles.

(West Plains) – Howell County Sheriff Mike Shannon says that new concealed carry permits issued within the county have dropped significantly from last year:

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More information on concealed carry permits can be found by calling the Howell County Sheriff’s Office at 417-256-2544.

Crews from the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield had a variety of animals for children to see and touch. (ORN Photo)

Crews from the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield had a variety of animals for children to see and touch. (ORN Photo)

(West Plains) – The annual Haunting in the Hollows event in West Plains was held on Saturday, October 18, and city clerk Mallory Hawkins told Ozark Radio News that the event wouldn’t be possible without wonderful volunteers, including the Evans family:

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The city estimates that at least 4000 people attended the event at some point during the day.

(West Plains) – MSU-West Plains officials have announced that students at the school have once again scored above the national average in all categories of the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP) examination.

The test is broken down into five categories: writing skills, mathematics, reading, critical thinking and science reasoning. Graduates have scored at or above the national average in all five subject areas for 19 consecutive years.

Results of the testing show Missouri State-West Plains students posted a 62.8 mean score in writing compared to the national average of 61.5. In math, their mean score was 56.5 compared to the national mean of 56. In reading, Missouri State-West Plains students had a 61.5 mean score compared to the national average of 60.2, and in critical thinking, they posted a 63.2 mean score compared to 60.8 nationally. In science, students posted a 61.1 mean score compared to 59.2 nationally.

Area residents interested in learning more about the academic programs available at Missouri State-West Plains can call the admissions office at 417-255-7955 or visit the campus’ website at http://www.wp.missouristate.edu.

(Springfield) – This coming winter in the Ozarks is going to be colder than average with a below average snowfall and a few warm spells.

Well, at least according to persimmon seeds.

According to Ozarks folklore, a spoon shape on the seed indicates above average snowfall, a knife shape signals colder than normal temperatures and a fork shape means warmer than average temperatures. For this year’s weather forecast, officials with the University of Missouri Extension collected fruit from persimmon trees in Lawrence, Newton, Webster and McDonald counties and randomly selected 102 seeds.

18 percent of the seeds had a knife shape; 31 percent had a fork shape, and 51 percent had a spoon shape. Over the past five years, the average has been 57 percent spoon shaped, 13.6 percent knife shaped and 28 percent fork shaped.

Persimmons grow on a tree and look like an orange tomato. An unripe fruit can quickly pucker the lips of a person with its bitter taste. Native Americans taught early settlers that the fruit should be left on the trees well into October when it becomes ripe enough to eat. Once ripe, persimmons don’t keep well. They should be eaten right away or refrigerated for no more than a day or two. To freeze persimmons, simply spoon out the flesh of each one as it ripens, and store it in the freezer in an airtight container. When you have enough, persimmons are often used to make bread, muffins, cookies, cakes and pudding.

(West Plains) – Tender Mercies, a diaper ministry to young parents in the West Plains area, will be distributing diapers to parents in need on Saturday, November 1, from 9AM-12PM at First Christian Church in West Plains, located at 422 West Main St.

In order to receive diapers, participants must live in the West Plains R-7 or in the surrounding rural school districts. Qualified participants must call the church at 417-256-2887 for an appointment. Call times will be Monday and Tuesday, October 27, and 28, from 3-7 PM. A Tender Mercies team member will assign participants a scheduled appointment to pick up their diapers on Saturday, November 1.

For more information you can contact the church office at 417-256-2887.

(Jefferson City)- Nearly a dozen different proposals comprise the measure that ultimately won legislative approval to make changes to Missouri’s laws relating to school transfers.

While an effort was made to override the veto last month the Missouri House did not follow suit. This was the priority measure for Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles:

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Senate Minority Floor Leader Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City says that other issues were her priorities this year including some of the budget withholdings made b y the executive branch:

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Justus adds that she would not be surprised if tax reform becomes a discussion topic for Missouri Senators next year.

(Washington) – Congressman Jason Smith is seeking applications for nomination to the U.S. service academies.

Individuals interested in a nomination to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy or the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy should submit applications no later than October 31.

Individuals interested in a nomination from Congressman Smith must meet the following eligibility requirements for admission to a service academy: they must be at least 17 years old and a US citizen, they must be a resident of Missouri’s 8th Congressional District, they must be unmarried, not pregnant and have no legal obligation to support children or other dependents, and they must meet the medical, physical and academic requirements of the academy.

Students interested in a nomination should contact Congressman Smith’s Academy Coordinator Heather Peugh at 417-255-1515 or heather.peugh@mail.house.gov. The application can be downloaded at jasonsmith.house.gov/. Nomination applications for the entering class of 2015 are due by October 31.

(West Plains) – In the Spring of 2014, the first Boys and Girls Club Youth Turkey Hunt was held on the Piney River in Licking, MO. The hunt allowed two community youth to experience the opportunity of a lifetime, as they were paired with professional hunters, film crews and the great outdoors. The weekend was not about harvesting a Turkey, but mentoring, creating lasting friendships and passing on an Ozark heritage.

The Boys and Girls Club is back at it with a Fall Youth Turkey Hunt. The Fall Hunt will begin Friday the 24th of October when the dismissing school bell rings. The Fall Hunt is once again being held on the Piney River, near Licking, MO. This Falls hunt is being held by Earls Dodge, Turkey Federation Hall of Famer Ray Eye, Outdoor Guide Magazine, World Slam Adventures, Ozark Radio Network, 590 The Man, Spectra Shot, Indian Creek Shooting Systems, Mossberg and H.S. Strut.

We invite the media to join us for our send off at 3:45pm, Friday October 24th. A follow up release will be sent to all media, following the Fall Turkey Hunt.

For further information contact Dakota Crow at info@bgclubwp.com or 417-204-CLUB.

(Midway) (AP) – Two men injured in a northern Arkansas single-engine plane crash are recovering.

Thirty-six-year-old pilot Andrew Tuberville was released from the Baxter Regional Medical Center on Wednesday. Forty-eight-year-old passenger Ronnie Skaggs is listed in good condition at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.

The experimental airplane crashed Tuesday evening in a wooded area northwest of Ozark Regional Airport in Baxter County. Both men suffered head injuries but were able to walk away from the wrecked aircraft.

The cause of the crash is unclear. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.