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(West Plains) – The Ozarks Small Business Incubator in West Plains will be helping entrepreneurs who are thinking about starting or expanding a small business.

Jennifer Brown with the Ozarks Small Business Incubator spoke with Ozark Radio News and told us more about the eight-week course, called Operation JumpStart Online:

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The program begins June 2, and while the deadline to register has passed, the Incubator has a number of other programs available. For more information, visit www.ozsbi.com.

Vanya Shivashankar, 13, left, of Olathe, Kan., left, and Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, of St. Louis, hold up the trophy as co-champions after winning the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 28, 2015, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Vanya Shivashankar, 13, left, of Olathe, Kan., left, and Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, of St. Louis, hold up the trophy as co-champions after winning the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 28, 2015, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Oxon Hill) (AP) – For the second straight year, the Scripps National Spelling Bee ended with co-champions each holding onto one side of the golden trophy while they were showered with confetti.

Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam were the last two standing Thursday after exhausting the 25 words reserved for the final three spellers without stumbling. Before last year, there hadn’t been a tie since 1962.

No one was surprised to see Vanya and Gokul dueling for the title. They came in with high expectations – Vanya, the longtime darling of the bee, a five-time competitor and the sister of the 2009 champion; and Gokul, who last year had the trophy nearly in his grasp.

But the tie shocked Paige Kimble, the bee’s executive director and the 1981 champion, who predicted last week that another half-century would go by before the bee would crown two winners. As impressive as Gokul and Vanya were, she couldn’t believe they’d make it through.

“The most surprising words trip spellers up,” Kimble said. “I thought something was going to surprise us here. But it never happened.”

Vanya, 13, of Olathe, Kansas, was the picture of poise, smiling and nodding when she got a word she knew instantly – which was nearly every time. Her final word: “scherenschnitte,” which means the art of cutting paper into decorative designs.

Then it was Gokul’s turn. The 14-year-old from Chesterfield, Missouri, was told that one of two things would happen. He could get the word right and be a co-champion. Or he could get it wrong and Vanya would win.

“I wasn’t nervous,” he said.

The word: “nunatak.” Gokul didn’t even bother to ask the definition before spelling it. For the record, it means a hill or mountain completely surrounded by glacial ice.

“I knew it right away,” he said. “I didn’t want to keep everyone waiting.”

Roughly 11 million spellers entered local bees, and 285 made it to the national bee, which is held at a convention center outside Washington and televised by ESPN. The ten finalists included several other bee veterans and crowd favorites.

One by one, they dropped. Third-place finisher Cole Shafer-Ray of Norman, Oklahoma, stumbled on his first championship-level word.

That left 18 words for Vanya and Gokul before the final two: bouquetière, caudillismo, thamakau, scytale, tantieme, cypseline, urgrund, filicite, myrmotherine, sprachgefuhl, zimocca, nixtamal, hippocrepiform, paroemiology, scacchite, pipsissewa, Bruxellois and pyrrhuloxia.

Vanya appeared to struggle only with the Fijian-derived “thamaku,” which is a type of outrigger canoe. Gokul smirked and the crowd groaned when he got the German-derived “sprachgefuhl,” which means sensitivity to or conformance with the established usage of a language. But he knew it.

The former champions in the crowd were left to marvel at how far the bee has come, even in the past decade. Vanya is the first sibling of a past champion to win, but Kavya, now a student at Columbia University, said Vanya is a superior speller.

“I’m so, so proud and in awe of my sister,” Kavya said.

“Every year, they get better and better,” said Anamika Veeramani, who won in 2010 and is now a rising sophomore at Yale. “One thing that kind of surprised me was how often they were asking for roots. They never did that when I was competing.”

Like many spellers, Vanya went through a routine: Ask for the definition and the language of origin. Confirm all the roots you can. Pretend to write the word down before spelling.

Gokul didn’t ask many questions. He chugged through the letters like he had dinner plans.

Underneath his blue-and-white button-down shirt, Gokul wore the jersey of his idol, basketball star LeBron James. He hopes to attend Stanford and become an entrepreneur or stockbroker, but his immediate plans are to watch James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA finals.

Vanya, an aspiring cardiac surgeon who dedicated her victory to her late grandmother, hopes to spend more time pursuing another passion, acting. She’s also trying to talk her family into taking a Caribbean cruise this summer.

“It’s definitely going to be weird not doing spelling in high school,” he said.

The last 10 winners of the bee, and 14 of the past 18, have been Indian-Americans, a run of dominance that began in 1999 with Nupur Lala’s victory, which was later featured in the documentary “Spellbound.”

Vanya and Gokul each will receive more than $37,000 in cash and prizes, and while they held up the trophy together as they were being showered with confetti, each will get one to take home.

The winners don’t have to worry about spelling anymore. But Kimble is left to ponder a future when the toughest words still aren’t tough enough.

“I think it’s time to consider that the bee may be entering a new era where the level of competition is so intense that we need to entertain this as a possibility every year,” she said. “I think the popularity of the event drives up the competitive level and I think that’s a good thing.”

AP freelancer Meredith Somers contributed to this report.

(L-A-D Foundation)

(L-A-D Foundation)

(West Plains) – A philanthropist and conservationist who spent a majority of his life bringing life to the Ozark Highlands has passed away.

Leo Drey passed away on Tuesday, May 26 at the age of 98. Drey, the son of a glass manufacturing magnate, began buying land in the Ozark Highlands in the 1950s to protect and preserve the land, including a purchase of 90,000 acres of land in Shannon County. In 1962, he organized the L-A-D Foundation, and in 1964 began donating land to the foundation, much of which became Missouri Natural Areas and state parks, including Grand Gulf State Park in Oregon County. Today, L-A-D Foundation properties include “Pioneer Forest”, which encompases roughly 160,000 acres of land in Missouri, including 12 Missouri Natural Areas and nearly a thousand acres along the Ozark National Scenic Riverways and within the Current River watershed.

In 2004, Leo Drey and his wife, Kay, donated most of Pioneer Forest to L-A-D, marking the largest philanthropic donation in America that year and the largest private gift of its kind in Missouri history.

(Omaha) – Larry Johnson, a 32-year veteran of the National Park Service, has been selected as the new superintendent of Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

Previously, Johnson was the superintendent of Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota, and since January, 2015, has been on a detail assignment to the Riverways as Acting Superintendent. He begins his new assignment in mid-June.

Johnson holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Outdoor Recreation Resource Management from Iowa State University, and completed Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Executive Education Program, the NPS New Superintendent Academy, and the National Parks Institute. A native of Des Moines, Iowa, he began his NPS career at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site as a Supervisory Park Ranger. He has also worked as a District Ranger at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Yellowstone National Park, and Voyageurs National Park where he earned the Midwest Region’s Harry Yount Award for excellence in rangering.

(Van Buren) – A resident of Ellsinore was killed Wednesday after a one-vehicle accident near Van Buren.

The accident happened just after 6:30 PM on County Road 127, about four miles west of Van Buren, when the westbound sedan driven by 27-year-old Aaron Freeman ran off-road and overturned, partially ejecting a passenger, 51-year-old James Crouch. Crouch was pronounced dead at the scene.

A second passenger suffered minor injuries and sought his own medical treatment.

The death marks fatality number 8 for Troop G of the Highway Patrol for this year, compared to 7 at this time last year.

(Willow Springs) – Troop G of the Missouri State Highway Patrol has announced their traffic totals from the Memorial Day weekend.

Troop G reported zero fatal traffic crashes, and investigated 14 traffic crashes on C.A.R.E. designated highways, resulting in one injury. Troopers made nine DWI arrests, 21 drug arrests, and issued 314 speed citations. Also, 132 people received citations for not wearing a seat belt and six for child restraint violations. Over the course of the weekend, troopers also gave 733 warnings and had 201 calls for service.

Troopers participated in Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) from Friday, May 22 through Monday, May 25. Troop G troopers working on Highway 60 also participated in the 20-Mile Trooper project.

by Allen Reed, AP

(Little Rock) (AP) – Farmers across Arkansas are still weathering a series of spring showers that have flooded fields, smothered crops and swept away cattle.

National Weather Service Hydrologist Tabitha Clarke says some places have received more than double the typical rainfall since March 1, and 1 and 2 more inches of rain is expected to fall throughout the week.

Arkansas Farm Bureau spokesman Steve Eddington says it’s too early to tell what sort of economic impact the weather will have on the state, but that farmers will likely face financial loss.

Pictured left to right: Students Chad Bunch, Sarah Heath and Elaine Simmons; Kimball, Hathcock, and SCCC Instructor Christy Chambers. (provided)

Pictured left to right: Students Chad Bunch, Sarah Heath and Elaine Simmons; Kimball, Hathcock, and SCCC Instructor Christy Chambers. (provided)

(West Plains) – Ozarks Medical Center’s surgical services department recently upgraded their laparoscopic equipment and donated their used equipment to the South Central Career Center’s nursing program.

OMC officials say the equipment is being used in the Principles and Practices for Surgical Technology class at SCCC.

The SCCC is now accepting applications for the fall semester. You can visit www.scccwp.edu for more information.

(West Plains) – West Plains City Clerk Mallory Hawkins says that nuisance officer Tracy Morris has some advice to pass along concerning cleaning up your property and burning brush:

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To alert the West Plains Fire Department of a burn that you plan on conducting, call 417-256-2424.

Echols (Baxter County Sheriff's Office)

Jonathan Echols (Baxter County Sheriff’s Office)

(Mountain Home) – A rural Mountain Home man is accused of possessing drugs and counterfeit cash.

28-year-old Jonathan Echols was arrested on Tuesday, May 26 after a sheriff’s deputy checked on Echols, who was inside an out-of-state vehicle that pulled up to a home on Baxter County Road 29. Police say Echols had a suspended driver license and a misdemeanor arrest warrant, and was arrested by the deputy.

When Echols was placed under arrest, the deputy reportedly found that Echols was in possession of a bag of methamphetamine and $820 in cash, which he reportedly told the deputy was counterfeit.

Echols was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, felony forgery, and misdemeanor driving on a suspended license and contempt of court. At report time, Echols was held on $20,000 bond. Sheriff John Montgomery says an investigation into the counterfeit currency is continuing and additional charges may be filed.