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(West Plains) – “Meet Our International Students” will be the topic of the next Friends of the Garnett Library monthly luncheon meeting Friday, November 14, from 12-1 PM in rooms 104 and 105 on the lower level of the Lybyer Technology Center on the Missouri State University-West Plains campus.

Students from Serbia, England, France, Panama, Norway, New Zealand and China will be introduced and discuss life in their home country.

Students, alumni and community members who are interested in the Garnett Library and the progress of Missouri State-West Plains are welcome to attend.

The cost of the meal is $10, payable at the door. Those wishing to eat are asked to make a reservation by calling 417-255-7940 or emailing FriendsofGarnettLibrary@MissouriState.edu by Tuesday, November 11.

For more information about Friends of the Garnett Library, visit the organization’s website, wp.missouristate.edu/development/FriendsHomepage.htm or call 417-255-7940.

(Houston) – The Texas County Memorial Hospital obstetrics department’s offers future parents the “Baby-Land Express” program to allow expectant moms without health insurance coverage to plan ahead and prepay for part of their obstetrical care.

The program covers hospital based charges and services including childbirth education classes; access to labor and delivery staff at TCMH; use of labor and postpartum rooms at TCMH; routine diagnostic services; access to an internationally board certified lactation consultant, and individualized education regarding care of mother and baby after delivery.

To participate in the Baby-Land Express program, expectant mothers must be preregistered at TCMH; have their physician’s approval, and prepay for their stay prior to delivery. Two prepayment plans are offered; a 24-hour or less stay after delivery or a 25-48-hour stay after delivery.  Both plans can include an optional epidural.  Pricing is for hospital charges for a single infant delivery. Physician fees, multiple births, or cesarean delivery are not included in the prepaid plans.

Payment options are available through the TCMH business office.  Each patient can work with patient accounts staff to set up a plan that works best for them.

For additional information about the Baby-Land Express program, contact the TCMH obstetrics department at 417-967-1275 or Sara Fields in the TCMH business office at 417-967-1292.

(Mountain Home) – Area teens are invited to a Scary Movie Marathon at the Donald W. Reynolds Library Friday, on October 24, from 6-12 PM.

Teens will enjoy movies all rated PG-13 and pizza will be served.

All teens in grades 7th–12th are invited. This event has no charge, but registration is required. You can register on-line and find more information about library events at www.baxlib.org.

(Willow Springs) – A Willow Springs man is facing charges of 1st degree murder, child abuse and child endangerment.

32-year-old Jamie Curnutt is being held in the Howell County Jail on $1 million bond.

A probable cause statement in the case states that on Friday, October 17, a call to the Willow Springs Police Department reported an unresponsive 2-year-old male. The child, who was not identified in court documents, was taken to Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains before being flow via helicopter to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, where he was later pronounced dead. Curnutt was interviewed by police that morning and reportedly said he found the child unresponsive on the floor. Court documents state that another child in the home told investigators that Curnutt had spanked the deceased child 5-10 times that morning because he was wetting himself.

Police seized a belt, which was allegedly used in several of the spankings, as evidence.

Information obtained from Ozarks Medical Center revealed that the child had a lacerated liver, head and forehead abrasions, swelling on the brain, and bruising around the neck.

Curnutt is scheduled to appear in court at 9 AM Monday, October 27.

(West Plains) – Dr. Dennis Lancaster has been named the permanent dean of academic affairs at Missouri State University-West Plains.

At their regular meeting Friday, October 17, in Springfield, members of the Missouri State University Board of Governors approved a recommendation from Missouri State-West Plains Chancellor Drew Bennett and Missouri State University System President Clif Smart to remove “interim” from Lancaster’s title. Lancaster had been serving as interim dean since May 20, 2013, following the resignation of Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Christopher Dyer.

Although the normal procedure for filling this position is through a national search, Bennett said university officials decided to forego the time and expense of such a search and recommend Lancaster for the position.

“I am honored to have been selected for the dean’s position,” Lancaster said. “In serving as the interim dean for the past year-and-a-half, I have learned this is a most complex position but a critical one in the teaching and learning processes of a college campus. While I will certainly miss the classroom and the day-to-day interaction with the honors students in particular, I hope I can use what I’ve learned and observed over the past 22 years here at Missouri State-West Plains to sustain and better the learning environment for all of our students. We have many challenges now and even more ahead, and I believe that a collaborative approach – one that involves instructors, staff members, administrators, students, parents and community members and like-minded organizations – is the only way we’ll be able to move forward with excellence in such a challenging environment.”

Lancaster has been affiliated with Missouri State-West Plains in a variety of teaching and administrative capacities for 23 years. He joined the campus as a per course English and journalism instructor in 1990 and was hired full time in 1992 as assistant director of university communications/lecturer. In 1997, he was appointed special projects coordinator/lecturer then became the assistant to the chancellor/instructor in September 2001. He served as acting chancellor/instructor for six months in 2007 and was appointed assistant professor/director of the Darr Honors Program in January 2009.

A 1980 graduate of West Plains High School, Lancaster received his bachelor’s degree in English (literature) and philosophy in 1984 from Drury University and his master’s in journalism in 1996 from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He completed his Ed.D. in higher education administration in September from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO.

(Photo by Donald W. Hall/University of Florida)

(Cape Girardeau) (AP) – The Missouri Department of Conservation says residents likely won’t encounter stinging caterpillars this fall, despite booming populations in southern states.

A large population of pus caterpillars in Florida this year has stung locals, leaving a swelling, burning wound.

Residents have been calling the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center asking about the creature.

Pus caterpillars look like a brown lump of fur. The department says only a small population lives in Missouri, although they cause the most severe reaction of the state’s 15 species of venomous caterpillars.

Forest Entomologist Rob Lawrence advises against touching hairy caterpillars.

Spines from the insects can be removed with a scotch tape. Stings should be washed with soap and water and monitored in case of an allergic reaction.

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) – Hundreds showed up for the annual Haunting in the Hollows event Saturday at Galloway Creek Nature Park.

The event featured live animals including snakes and frogs, face panting, a “troll bridge”, games and a whole lot more.

Photos from the event can be found here.

(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansans can begin early voting in this year’s busy midterm election.

Voters can cast ballots from 8 AM to 6 PM Monday through Friday, and 10 AM to 4 PM on Saturdays. Early voting wraps up at 5 PM on Monday, November 3 – the day before the general election.

Arkansas election officials predict that 51 percent of the state’s nearly 1.7 million registered voters will cast ballots for the general election. That’s an increase from the last midterm election in 2010, when 47.6 percent of Arkansas’ 1.6 million registered voters cast ballots.

This year’s ballot features a heated U.S. Senate contest between Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, along with the governor’s race with Democrat Mike Ross and Republican Asa Hutchinson seeking the office.

(West Plains)- The West Plains City Council will meet this evening at 5:30 PM for a regular council meeting in the West Plains City Council Chambers at West Plains City Hall.

During the meeting the council will look to make Bill 4358 into an ordinance. The bill will approve a settlement agreement with Centrylink and assigning a percentage of the settlement proceeds to the Missouri Municipal League.

There are also two other bills scheduled to be discussed – Bill 1007 would declare an intention to reimburse certain capital expenditures from proceeds of a proposed lease purchasing financing; and approving the engagement of certain professionals relating to the proposed financing, while Bill 1008 would adopt a city vehicle policy for the City of West Plains Employees.

The council will also hear a bid to replace handheld units for meter readers and the hearing of planning and zoning recommendations.

Economic Development Director Bob Case will give a Department Presentation followed by the administrators report.

(Mountain Home) – Mountain Home School District Superintendent Dr. Lonnie Myers will be retiring at the end of the school year.

Myers’ retirement was approved at a special school board meeting this past Thursday. Myers is in his fifth year as superintendent of Mountain Home Public Schools, and has a total of 39 years of experience in education.

Since becoming superintendent, Myers has overseen a number of improvements in the district, including improved ACT scores and an increased graduation rate.

His retirement will be effective June 30, 2015.