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(Mountain View)- Mercy St. Francis Hospital in Mountain View is hosting a Halloween Hustle 5K Color Run/Walk on Saturday, October 25, on the Mountain View Football Field.

Registration will take place from 7:45-8:45 AM that morning, and the race starts at 9 AM. Organizers say that in order to receive a t-shirt you must register by October 6.

All proceeds raised at the event will go to the Mountain View Good Samaritan Care Clinic, which provides free health related services to uninsured people in southern Missouri.

For more information you can visit www.mercy.net or call 417-934-7000.

(Jefferson City) – If you were thinking about registering for the Great Central US ShakeOut, registration is still open. Brett Stevens has more:

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(Caulfield)- The Heart of the Ozarks Quail Forever chapter will be having their annual Youth Quail Hunt on Saturday, October 25, at 8AM at Ozarks Wings in Caulfield.

The event is free to youths between the ages of 11-15 that have their hunter’s certification. Space is limited, so preregistration is required.

Contact Jason Poor at 417-372-2544 to register, or for more information.

(West Plains) – West Plains Council on the Arts, revitalizing a tradition, invites the public to a community “Messiah” sing on Sunday, November 9 at 2:30 PM at the First Presbyterian Church, 112 Aid Ave., West Plains.

The performance is sponsored by West Plains Council on the Arts, with partial funding provided by Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

The Christmas portion of “Messiah” will be performed, under the direction of Larry Dame. The audience is invited to sing along in these favorite Messiah choruses: Glory of the Lord, And He Shall Purify, For Unto Us a Child is Born, Glory to God in the Highest, and of course, the Hallelujah Chorus, among others.

The “Messiah” composer, G. F. Handel, was born in Halle, Germany, February 23, 1685; a vintage year for Baroque composers as this was the same year Johann Sebastian Bach was born. Handel became a prominent German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, anthems and organ concertos.

The people of England were getting tired of music in foreign languages and wanted works they could understand. In the summer of 1741, Handel received an invitation from the Lord Lieutenant in Dublin to compose a new sacred oratorio which would crown a series of performances.

Rehearsals began for “Messiah” in March of 1742 and on April 13, 1742 Messiah was performed as a charitable performance in Dublin, Ireland. Word had spread about the music; therefore, expecting a large audience, the men were told not to wear their swords as was the custom at formal gatherings and the women were told to not wear the hoops in their dresses. Over 700 filled the hall for the first performance. Today, one can hear a performance of :Messiah” every year, not only at Christmas, but also around Easter.

Handel died April 14, 1759 and is buried in Westminster Abbey, London, UK.

Chorus participation is encouraged and needed. Practice CD’s and scores are available.  Call Kathleen Morrissey at 417-293-7751 if interested. For further information, email info@westplainsarts.org

(Mammoth Spring)- The Mammoth Spring Spooktacular event will be held on Saturday, October 25, from 3:30-7PM on Main Street in Mammoth Spring.

During this event there will be lots of games, treats, a pumpkin carving contest, and a costume contest. Costume contestants may only enter one of the four categories: Adult and Teenage contest, Child 12 and under Contest, Original Costume Contest for all ages where the costume must have been made, not purchased, or the Couples Costume Contest. which is also for all ages and must be a couple or set.

Booth spaces are available for $10 if you register before October 17, after that date booths will be $15.

For more information or to register for a booth call Jennifer Crowe at 870-625-3235.

(Melbourne) – Ozarka College will host their annual Friends of the Paul Weaver Library book sale on Friday, October 3 and Saturday, October 4 from 8 AM to 3 PM both dates in the lobby of the John E. Miller building, on the Ozarka College campus in Melbourne.

The book sale will feature hundreds of books of all kinds that appeal to children and adults. Other media such as videos and DVDs will be offered as well.

All proceeds will benefit the Friends of the Paul Weaver Library at Ozarka College. Funds from previous book sales have been used to purchase materials for the Paul Weaver Library and to support special events and activities sponsored by the college and the library.

For more information, please contact Mary Ellen Hawkins or Dan Lindsey at 870-368-2054 or 870-368-2055.

(Gainesville)- The monthly meeting of the Ozark County Democratic Party will be at the Gainesville Fire Department, on Thursday October 9 at 6 PM.

State Representative Lyle Roland will be in attendance, and will be given the $250 gift certificate from Walmart that he won at the Hootin’ n Hollarin’ festival. The group will also be discussing the upcoming election and the four proposed amendments to the Missouri Constitution.

Non-members are welcome to attend regardless of political party affiliation. For more information or directions contact secretary Dennis Lawson, at 417-712-4490.

(Sikeston) – Route Y in Texas County will be reduced to one lane as Missouri Department of Transportation crews perform drainage repairs.

This section of roadway is located from Route H to Route 137.

Weather permitting, work will be performed Wednesday, October 1 through Friday, October 3 from 7:30 AM to 3 PM daily.

(Mountain Home)- Join the Issues & Viewpoints book discussion at the Donald W. Reynolds Library this Wednesday, October 1, at 1:30PM.

The discussion will be on Sutton by J. R. Moehringer, a fictionalized account of Willie Sutton, one of America’s most successful bank robbers.  Multiple copies are available for checkout.

This program is part of a line-up of special programs slated at the Library during the run of the Crime Lab Detective exhibit, which will be at the Library through November 2.

For additional information, contact Kathe Altazan, at kathe.a@baxlib.org, or call 870-580-0987 ext. 2975 or visit www.baxlib.org.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Missouri’s public employee retirement plans generally are in better financial shape than those nationwide, though there is cause for concern about some, according to a state audit released Tuesday.

Auditor Tom Schweich’s report examined 89 public pension systems that are set up to pay defined benefits to 546,000 people who worked for state or local governmental entities. It found a wide discrepancy in the systems’ financial health, with some in “very good financial condition” and others in a “very poor financial condition.”

“Our pensions, by and large, are better managed than those nationwide,” Schweich said. “They have fewer problems, but there are still definitely some land mines out there, as far as future pension benefits go.”

Schweich placed 15 pension plans on an auditor’s “watch list” because of their finances, including those for the state transportation department and Highway Patrol employees and retirement plans for some public employees in Columbia, Joplin, Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis County. They could be subject to additional, in-depth audits, he said.

Statewide, Missouri’s pension plans had combined actuarial assets of $57 billion and accrued liabilities of $73 billion at the end of 2012, resulting in an unfunded liability of $16 billion, the audit said. The plans were funded at 78 percent of the present value of their future retirement payments – down from 83 percent in 2003 but several percentage points better than nationwide figures.

Unfunded liabilities grew in pension plans across the nation during the recession because investment losses and budget shortfalls made it difficult for governments to fully fund the plans. The audit noted several pension officials said their investment returns were much stronger in 2013 and 2014, thus improving the financial health of the plans after the timeframe covered by the audit.

Missouri’s largest public pension plan is the Public School Retirement System, which covers more than 140,000 people. It had $29 billion of assets, amounting to a funded ratio of 82 percent of its liabilities in 2012.

Schweich said a funded ratio of 80 percent or better is an indication a pension plan is “relatively healthy.”

Smaller plans had greater discrepancies, ranging from a low of 10 percent for the Cedar Hill Fire Protection District in Jefferson County, which covers 31 members, to a high of 164 percent for the Maplewood Police and Fire Retirement Fund, which covers 24 people.

Each year, actuaries determine how much money should put into retirement funds to ensure their long-term financial health. But those recommendations are not always followed by the governmental entities.

Nationwide, public pension plans received 80 percent of the recommended contributions in 2012. Missouri fared better with a 94 percent contribution rate, driven primarily by large plans that met or exceeded their targets. But the audit said 34 of Missouri’s pension plans didn’t get the full recommended contribution.

“This statistic is concerning, as it indicates sponsoring governments of some plans may not be committed to achieving plans’ overall funding goals,” the audit said.

Another financial indicator Schweich examined is the percentage of payroll costs devoted to pension plans. That figure rose over the past decade in Missouri, as it did nationally, but remained slightly below the national norm, he said.